Over the past four days, we’ve gone through Roderick’s exercises of consecrating a bowl of water, a bowl of salt, a candle flame, and incense. However, I’ve long not been entirely comfortable with using another candle flame in this grouping. In Wiccan circles, we tend to turn off all the lights and anything electric, so if we circle during night, it’s a pretty safe bet that lots of flames will be involved. If the circle is inside, chances are there’s going to be a bevvy of candles already in use. If the circle’s outside, there’s probably going to be some torches and a bonfire. Bringing in yet another flame–one that’s just going to chill out–seems a little redundant.
So for years I’ve been taking a page out of Deborah Lipp’s book (almost quite literally: look at pages 9 and 10 of Elements of Ritual) and using the incense to symbolize air and fire. To be more exact, I consecrate the smoldering charcoal as the element of fire, then I consecrate the dish of loose incense for the element of air. The joining of the fire and air–the smoke–I then use to consecrate myself and the physical space where my circle will be.
I find that this creates more balance. It more closely matches what we do with the water and salt: we join those female elements together at the beginning of the circle after we consecrate them and sprinkle ourselves and the space with the salt water, so why not do the same for the male elements?Of course, you can do anything you want so long as it makes sense to you and forms a working symbol system for your own practice.