Well, I think it’s safe to say I learned a few things by going through the days of elemental and elemental king meditations. At the very least, I learned my subconscious has a very healthy “inner child” thing going, what with the way the elementals often appeared like cartoon figures from my childhood. Honestly, My Little Ponies and Pokemon? Adorable seals and Harry Potter garden gnomes? Well, I guess I’m glad I’m not a straight-laced stick-in-the-mud through-and-through. (Holy hyphens!) Funnily enough, I’ve subsequently found it a lot easier to visualize elementals now that I’ve done personal meditations and found these forms. I hope I don’t outgrow them too quickly!
A major surprise for me, though, was that all the elemental guardians came to me as male. I’ve been struggling to understand why this was so, especially since so much of my circling over the past few years has been following Hartwood Grove’s pattern and visualizing males–Gwydion and Mannanan–at air and water and females–Brigid and Arianrhod–at fire and earth. I should be used to a gender balance!
I’ve pondered this a lot, and I think the male connection is the result of several variables. In the first place, I think I was mentally primed to accept male figures because I was invoking KING ____, and that title is exclusively reserved for male rulers. I also think that I haven’t worked with a gender-balanced set that’s made internal sense to me for a long time. I’m not exactly big on Celtic mythology, but the Gwydion-Brigid-Mannanan-Arianrhod guardians we use in Hartwood has always rung flat for me. In my mind, Brigid is an aspect of the Great Goddess. Were I practicing alone, I would petition Her as a Goddess instead of Guardian. So too with Mannanan. Gwydion and Arianrhod, though, are more mythological heroes to me, and not particularly aligned with the elements. I also tend to favor air and fire as the masculine elements and water and earth as the feminine pair, which is not observed in the Hartwood calls.
I think a bigger factor, though, is the fact that I am a mostly-straight woman. As the primary magical worker in my solitary practices, it sort of makes sense that male guardians would balance out my female energy. And it is true that each of my male guardians was decidedly different from each other. Air’s Paralda was a blond wisp of a teen. Fire’s Djin was a smoldering dark man in his 30s. Earth’s Ghob was a stout, bearded, auburn good ol’ boy in early middle age. Water’s Necksa was an older, fit gentleman with a full emotional range. Each of them tapped a different energy, and that was noticeable in their very physiognomy. They didn’t need differing genders for more variety.
I think I’ve learned a great deal–the least of which is discovering the faces I can see whenever I call my own elemental guardians in the future.