Roderick makes an excellent point in this discussion that I’d never really thought of before: the elements express themselves in a balance of light and dark, active and passive. I must admit, I’ve only really ever thought of the elements in a single way–knowing, daring, willing, and silence–but that, as Roderick points out, are the outward expressions: the “visible, active expression of unseen, subtle, elemental forces. There is a flip side, of course–the receptive internal process and manifestation of these forces.
The outward expression of air is, of course, the power to know. In magical terms, this is–as Roderick says–a representation of “the acquisition of rational understanding of the world around you”, so all areas of knowledge and communication feed into this–art, theatre, film, television, acting, writing, production, publishing, philosophy, psychology, education. These are all air pursuits, of course.
But when there’s too much of the outward expression and not enough of the inward, a person can get a little out of balanced. Too much emphasis on knowledge with a lack in wonder can make a person “appear flighty, talkative, overly analytical, hypercognitive, exclusively rational, and only able to experience the world through mental understanding”. I think that this, carried to its extreme, might be a magical cause of some of the social disorders being diagnosed today, as well as some really complicated spectrum disorders like autism.
Roderick asks us to write down our own relationship to the energies of knowing:
- In what ways do you feel you are connected to the power to know?
- In what ways do you feel disconnected from the power to know?
- Has knowledge been an important part of your life? Your culture? Your upbringing?
- What part does knowledge play in your life today?
I do feel like I’ve got a strong connection to this power. I’m very analytical, and I do try to bring myself through logical argumentation whenever I come to a disagreement. In fact, this is what I teach as my job. I’m also generally hungry for all manner of trivial information, and I love bringing together disparate parts of information to see how that juxtaposition changes our assumptions of how things work.
At the same time, I sometimes feel that air and knowledge elude me. It’s tiring trying to do that work, and frequently my body rejects pursuing it. I get all procrastinate-y and want to do more material things like bake cookies or just chill out with my friends and family. The bigger a knowledge project is and the more stakes are involved, the more likely I am to run away.
Knowledge has been an important part of my upbringing. My parents always stressed scholastic performance with me, and they encouraged and enabled me to search for and find answers. This was a fun thing for all of us.
Today, knowledge plays a huge role in my life since I elected to become a scholar…though I often wonder why I thought that was a smart choice, given how prone my colleagues and I are to dissatisfaction.
Practice: Rebalancing Knowing
When you notice that you are overanalyzing and too caught up in knowing, take time to practice this grounding exercise. stand outside in a breeze, or if there is none, stand in front of a fan. Whether you are outside or indoors, stand facing the breeze directly. Open your arms and welcome this energy into your being. Close your eyes. Imagine that you have become transparent, and allow the breeze to pass directly through you, blowing away your thoughts. Imagine that this leaves you empty and clean. Stay with this visualization for at least ten minutes. When you are finished, jot down notes about your experience.
Mmm…so lovely to do this on a warm, sunny spring day. I feel lovely and refreshed and surprisingly out of ‘head space.’ I feel like I should go on a walk or mix up some lemonade! How bizarre.