While listening to the sound of the rain outside, and still completely aware of California’s drought status, I’m writing tonight about the Elements. Many spiritual traditions give particular reverence to the elements, which are believed to be the building blocks of Creation.
The Lion was pacing to and fro about that empty land and singing his new song. It was softer and more lilting than the song by which he called up the stars and the sun; a gentle, rippling music. And as he walked and sang the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool. It ran up the sides of the little hills like a wave.
~C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
According to classical cosmology, Air is in the east, Fire in the south, Water in the west and earth in the North. In my baby Pagan days, I came across these associations in many of the books on wicca or witchcraft. The elements represent many things: the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma), the building blocks of the body (bones, blood, breath, electrical impulses), etc. It wasn’t until I became acquainted with Native American traditions that I learned that different cultures have their own correspondences; I was fascinated.
In preparing for this post, I picked up T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft, to gain her perspective on the classical elemental view. She writes that while studying in California, she learned from a Tradition that assigned the elemental directions based on what they could see or experience: the ocean is in the West; vast forests own the North; dry heat to the South. The sun rises in the East, which naturally speaks to new beginnings and the clarity of Air. The assignments are not arbitrary but based on deep connections to the natural world.
I was truly struck by her descriptions, which resonated deep in my gut. After all, I’ve lived in California for nearly 14 years; they make perfect sense to me. However, I want to share a little about what the Unnamed Path teaches about the Elements and the Directions. Just so you know, what is revealed below does indeed differ from what Eddy originally said about the Elements, which he broadcast back in 2008. During his continued work with the Ancestors of Men Who Love Men, more was revealed which expanded and shaped his thinking. As the inheritors of his legacy, it will be up to the current and future Initiates to maintain this ancestral dialogue, thereby illuminating more of their teachings.
This emerging shamanic path for Men Who Love Men draws its power from the resolution of polar opposites. For us, the Elements function as opposing pairs:
- Hot in the East
- Cold in the West
- Life in the South
- Death in the North
The assignment of the directions follows a primal instinct, much influenced by our Ancestors as they traveled from place to place, tribe to tribe. For us, the sun is in the east, the source of warmth for the entire planet. It quickens new life in the soil and stirs us all into action. It’s opposite, Cold, rules the west. Indeed, the deepest, darkest parts of our world lie at the bottom of the oceans. Warmth fails in the face of an embracing darkness, and dreams come.
Going even deeper, we have Life in the south, the direction of the tropics and lush jungles. Vegetation and animals are found in abundance. Finally, we look north towards the mountains, places that become quieter the farther we travel. The fewer people we encounter, the more silent and still our journey becomes. The ultimate silence and stillness: Death. Again, two sides of the same coin of duality.
We as shamans stand as a bridge between states of being. We work with and speak to the Living, and to the Dead and Dying. When we call up our sacred space, our Circle, our Crossroads, we stand in the center between Hot and Cold, Life and Death. We see this as a place of power, a nexus from which to summon the energy of Creation into our workings.
Are you familiar with the Powers that stand with you in the Four Corners? You work with them, perhaps even daily, but have you taken the time to stand upon a high cliff and revel in the fleeting nature of the wind in your hair? Have you looked into the flame and seen echoes of the Big Bang? Using your visualization and meditation skills, try journeying directly to the elemental sources and commune with them, feeling them deeply. Learn from them, about what forces they bring to bear in magical workings. Trust your instincts. The Elements are much more than just constructs in our mind, more than tools at hand. They are allies who continually work with the Powers That Be to give birth to the unfolding Creation. Allow them to help guide and shape your magic, just as they help gather and contain the forces that you call up in spell work. As you become more familiar with their power, you become more familiar and comfortable with your own. After all, aren’t we all made up of the essence of stars?