My own religious and mystical practices are, blatantly, syncretic. I could hold forth on my fusion of Western mysticism, Taoism, Buddhism, various religious, plus whatever I found lying around. I’m of the firm belief religion is an interface one constructs to connect with the universe, and I’m eclectic in everything else in my life. I’d like to tease out one part of that for a discussion of the Four Elements – Air, Earth, Water, and Fire.
I was recently contemplating the ways some of we mystics invoke the four Elements – they are oft associated with the Quarters of the world and thus guardian spirits. Indeed, I have similar associations with my own daily invocations. It struck me that tying elements to various guardians is appropriate as these elements represent the very life we have on earth. Indulge me, if you will, on a deeper exploration of these elements and some mystical thought.
Earth of course is where we all come from, and what we are made of. It is the soil in which our food grows, on which we live, and to which our bodies return. There is no life without Earth – I mean it’s also where we keep all our stuff.
Water is vital to every living thing as we all need water – in many ways the cornerstone of life. It is our oceans and their great dynamic energy, it is our blood and bodily fluids. There is no life without Water.
Fire is the sun, the heat that drives the great engine of our planet. The heat ensures life can exist, the light fuels the plans upon which we depend. Our bodies are great chemical reactions that produce heat as well – we are Fire. There is no life without Fire.
Air is the atmosphere, the breath. Much like water, we are constantly in an exchange with the air that allows us to live. It is also our speech, our communication. There is no life without Air.
It’s appropriate we tie such elements to whatever guardian forces we invoke, from angels to the Guardian Beasts because these elements are why we are alive. When we call upon the elements or beings associated with them to protect us it makes sense. In fact, associating such guardians, such preservers and pillars of the world seems appropriately respectful to the foundations of our world.
With these associations in mind, my own daily invocations take on a deeper, more urgent meaning. I not only understand the powers I call upon deeper, I also have developed more respect for them. There’s something visceral when you invoke Fire (or the Archangel Michael, or the Vermillion Bird, etc.) and also think of the sun, of life, of plants growing. There’s more respect.
There’s also a little healthy fear. We depend on these Elements for life – and humanity has made a good job of trying to screw them up. To invoke guardian powers of these forces, wether you think of them as metaphorical or alive (or both) is to remind oneself life exists in a balance, and we depend on that balance.
I present this not just for fun and conversation, but as a personal insight on why mystical correspondences are so important – they make us think. A simple contemplation of my daily activities led me to a deeper, more visceral place of respecting my environment and my own occult practice. Even a simple musing might lead you to some great insight and thus greater connection.
And perhaps, a little appropriate fear.