Day 234: Elemental Consecrations, Air

If fire enlivens the earth, air encourages fire.  As Roderick says, the “Hermetics assert that air spiritually encourages the life spark of fire” so “in blessing air, you are symbolically fanning the flames, feeding the fires of life that you have invited into your magic circle.”

What You’ll Need:

  • Air incense or dried white sage or dried sandalwood powder
  • Air oil
  • Fire candle
  • Self-igniting charcoal

If you are using sage or sandalwood, blend it with a few drops of air oil.  Light your fire candle and use this flame to ignite the charcoal for your incense.  Once the coal is hot enough, sprinkle it with incense.  As the incense smolders, cup your hand around the smoke.  Inhale deeply and imagine that with each inhalation you draw in a yellow light of energy.  With each exhalation, you send that yellow energy into the smoke that fills your sacred space.  Once you visualize the incense is filled with the spiritual energy of air, say the following words:

I consecrate thee, O creature of air,
In the names of the Great Mother and the Horned Lord.

Bless yourself with air by gently fanning the smoke toward your body.  Draw the smoke first toward your forehead and then continue fanning downward along the vertical center line of your body, down to your genitals.  You may also hold the incense anywhere near a body part that could benefit from additional blessing by air.  While doing so, say:

I am consecrated with the element of air.

Imagine that a yellow radiance fills you.  If you want to bless someone within your circle, hold the incense toward his or her forehead and use your hand to fan it along the center line of their body, down to the genital area, saying:

I consecrate thee with the element of air.

Allow the incense to extinguish on its own.  Once it stops smoking, you can dispose of it in running water.  If you must dispose of it indoors, do not assume the charcoal is cool.  Scoop it out of the censer with a soup spoon and drop it into a toilet.

My incense to be consecrated.

My incense to be consecrated.

The room I’m currently inhabiting is so small that a little bit of incense on a charcoal briquet produces too much smoke at one time for the smoke detectors to handle, so I’m on mini-sticks for awhile.

After two really difficult rounds of consecrations, I was due for one that just clicked.  As more and more sandalwood filled the air, it became really easy to feel yellow air energy surrounding me and to circulate it about the room.  Better yet, my space feels almost sparkling clean now even though I’ve got a few bits of clutter on my desk and floor.

Day 215: The Wand, Personal Symbol of Power

On day 214, we were to have magically infused the sigils into our wand by inscribing them into a pair of yellow candles and writing them in black ink onto a circle of yellow paper.  We were then to sprinkle the paper with air incense, twist it closed, and burn it on a piece of charcoal as we held the wand in the smoke, chanting “By the blessed thirteen moons, Sealed are ye by sacred runes!”  We were to finish by laying the wand between the candles and leaving it there until the candles burnt out or below the inscriptions.

Today, we are to do this with our own personal symbol of power.  In order to find that symbol, though, we go through a guided imagery meditation.

Reader:

Close your eyes and take several deep breaths.  Scan your body from head to toe and note wherever it is you seem to hold physical tension.  As you note tension, breathe through the body part and release the tension.  Continue relaxing each part of your body until you feel wholly still and internally silent.

(Reader:  pause for a moment.)

Although your eyes are closed, imagine that you can see the wand you hold in your hands.  Imagine now that you hold the wand up to the eastern sky and say: “I summon thee, O symbol of power!”  Suddenly, a warm breeze blows and it carries a multitude of tiny glowing golden symbols–all of them are alike.  The symbols float and dance like fairies in the air around the wand.  Within moments, the wand blazes with a golden energy.  You peer at it and discover that it is engraved with the power symbol you saw floating nearby just moments ago.  Remember the symbol that you see, as well as where it is engraved upon the wand.

Once you have seen your air power symbol, allow the vision of the magical meadow to face and then open your eyes when you feel you are ready.  Record the symbol on a blank piece of paper and transfer this to the wand by painting it, engraving it, or magically infusing it.  When you have finished setting the personal power symbols on the wand, place it in a visually prominent location for the remainder of the day.

This is apparently my air symbol.  I like to think of it as a gust of wind.

This is apparently my air symbol. I like to think of it as a gust of wind.

I have to admit that I wasn’t all that certain I’d see a symbol going into the meditation, but–sure enough–my inner vision was full of these mirrored curls.  They’re not unlike the zodiacal symbol for Ares, but the staves don’t form a V, and it’s tilted to oneside.  I prefer to think of it like a gust of wind.

My air incense is still packed away, but I did pass my wand through a stick of sandalwood planted in some sand wherein I traced my symbol, then set it between two anointed yellow candles onto which I inscribed the symbol.  I think it will be nice start to building a better relationship with my wand, which is unfortunately the least used of all my tools.

Day 197: Elementals, King Paralda

As skeptical as I am about assigning these names and personalities to the Guardians, I decided I was willing to perform this exercise much as Roderick suggests.

What You’ll Need:

  • Air incense
  • Air oil

It is best to try this practice in the location near your home where the sylphs reside. Light the air incense and allow it to waft over your body. Dab some of the air oil on all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, and crown of the head.

Find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. With your eyes still closed, begin to intone King Paralda’s name, one syllable at a time for each exhaled breath:

Inhale slowly. Exhale, intoning the sound: Pa.
Inhale slowly. Exhale, intoning the sound: Ral.
Inhale slowly. Exhale, intoning the sound: Da.

Repeat these intonations twice more and then practice the following guided imagery. You can read it and memorize the energy sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes close, or tape record it for later playback.

Reader:
Imagine that you stand once again on the cliff overlooking the vast grassy plain that you visited before when you first met the sylphs.

Hold your spirit hands up and flex the palms of your hands so that they face outward toward the grassy plain, and again draw up the energies of this place and cast them in a circle of light that surrounds you.

You are now completely surrounded by this field of energy. Raise your hands to the sky and mentally summon forth King Paralda. Soon the wind begins to blow and he arrives, standing just outside of your magic circle. Do not waste Paralda’s time–get right to the point and ask him what powers he offers to your life and what powers he diminishes in your life.

Reader: pause for a moment.

When you have heard his answer, bid him farewell and watch him fly away. When he has vanished, it is time to banish the circle you created. Hold your hands up again to the east and begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Allow the energy to return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.

Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.

Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of Paralda and write down what powers he offers and diminishes in your life.

This picture of actor Chord Overstreet is about as close to my mental Paralda as it’s going to get.

It took me a minute to actually be able to see ‘Paralda’ materialize before my circle.  In fact, I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to show–and why would he, given my skepticism?  However, I tried a sort of visualization Y. taught us once when we were going over calling the quarters.  He said that when someone went around the circle to proclaim the “Ekos”, he pictured knocking at a great door–the portal to the element.  The guardian would open the door, and Y. would visualize this.  Later when we called the quarters, the guardians would step through the door.

I knocked, and a young, slender, blonde, and vaguely sullen young man opened the eastern door…which royally shocked me since the “Gwydion” I see answering in Hartwood’s calls is much older, bearded, and stronger.  A greying, blond warrior with a humorous twinkle in his eye.  Paralda was decidedly more ‘twink’ than Gwydion’s ‘crazy uncle.’

At any rate, this teenager eventually told me that the gifts he brings me relate to my creativity and my ability to draw connections between things–to see the influences missed by others.  I use this so much in my work, and it really is what makes criticism fun.  Of course, the flip side is that he diminishes my staying power.  Prone to distraction by new ideas, I inevitably struggle with procrastination.

Day 196: Elementals, Sylph Offerings

Today the quest is to go to the place the sylphs revealed in yesterday’s guided meditation and make an offering to them; a libation to assure the sylphs become good magical partners.  Here is Roderick’s suggestion:

What You’ll Need

  • A cup of red wine (or a red fruit juice)
  • A piece of a baked good

When you first arrive at the place of the sylphs, sit on the ground and close your eyes.  Imagine the sylphs gathering behind plants, stones, trees, or buildings.  Open your eyes and pour out a cup of wine.  Grasp the filled cup and baked good in your hands.  Hold your arms out, to shoulder level, offering the food to the spirits.  Cast your gaze to the ground (a respectful gesture), saying:

Sylphs of the air, Lord Paralda,
Accept this offering of food and drink!
May the magic that I do be aided by your powers,
The powers of life that were, that are, and that shall be,
So Mote it Be!

Leave the baked good on the ground and pour the wine over it, saying:

From east to west, from south to north,
Ancient ones, I call thee forth!

Quickly gather your belongings and leave this enchanted spot. Return only when you wish to contemplate the sylphs or if you wish to invoke their magical energies for some purpose.

I am going to modify this.  I think it is a nice thing to offer the elementals a libation, but I think it is a tricky prospect to ask them to aid my powers in a blanket sense.  From what I understand about elementals is that you must be clear and direct in your requests, asking them nicely and then thanking and clearly and thoroughly dismissing them.  None of this “go if you will, stay if you like” sort of thing…after all, a fire elemental that chose to linger around might just cause a bit of havoc.  It bothers me that there is no clear dismissal after Roderick asks us to “call for the ancient ones.”

I think I will go out, take a minute to breath deeply, and whistle a tune to get in touch with the sylph energy, then offer some flower petals in the breeze.  I think my invocation might go something like this:

Sylphs of the air, Lord Paralda, I summon you.
Accept this offering of scent in the wind.
I give this in thanks of your aid in my past magic
and hope you will answer my call in future works.
Enjoy this offering, and depart!
So mote it be.

My sylph offerings

I did, in fact, do much as I suggested when I finally set to the offering. As it happened, a housemate had baked some good, whole grain, whole fruit apple muffins and another housemate had left an unclaimed bottle of white wine in the fridge, so I took a bit of each and added it to my more ‘airy’ offering of incense. I took a moment to deeply breathe and whistle a tune (“Whistle as you Work”…I’m working hard at my exams right now!) before I really felt the sylph presence and proceeded with my invocation and offering (adding a line about cake and wine in addition to ‘scent in the wind’). I then broke the muffin into four pieces and tossed one to each of the four winds, then cast the wine out in front of me.

I wasn’t able to make it to one of the buttes today, but I went as high in my house as I could, opened a window, and felt the (cold!) autumn breeze rush into the house.

Day 195: The Elemental Spirits, Sylphs and Fairies

Jordan Greywolf's depiction of a sylph

The Oxford English Dictionary lists the etymology of ‘sylph’ as coming from the modern Latin sylphes or sylphi or the German sylphen.  It also notes that Paracelsus may have arbitrarily coined the word from sylvestris (of the forest) and nympha (young women, demi-goddess).  There might also be a connection to the suleviæ, or female tutelary spirits venerated in Gaul.

Roderick says that “traditional occultists claim that sylphs live within the etheric dimensions of the element air” and that they–like all elemental creatures–are spiritual helpers who “impart the spiritual powers and energies of air.”  These power and energies are clear thought, imagination, creativity, communicative skills, listening skills, and intellectual capacity.  The sylphs can also diminish these skill, which can lead on to become ‘air-headed’, confused, unable to communicate or understand ideas.  Roderick concludes by saying “witches work with sylphs when they want to rebalance their own air energies, or when they work with the magic of air.  They also call upon sylphs to guard and protect the eastern quarter of the ritual circle.”

I think Roderick is a little off, especially with that last bit.  I think that, like the Greeks, I will maintain that all matter must be comprised of parts of all four elements and that things that have only one element–like the elementals–are outside matter.  As such, I really don’t think I would call elementals to guard and protect a fourth of my circle.  They are incapable of acting in any way but that of their element.  Sylphs, for example, are incapable of acting with feeling or with will.  We need something with Spirit–that fifth animating force which emerges from combining elements–to offer the balance guardianship requires.  I also don’t think the elementals purposefully ‘impart’ their powers to humans.  We’re very much outside of their restricted comprehension, and I don’t think they have any innate regard for humanity.  Maybe they don’t have any for the Gods either.

I prefer Deborah Lipp’s description, which I’ve replicated below:

Sylphs are composed of Air.  They think and they float.  They are rarified and elusive.  They do not respond to feeling, and they do not feel.  They cannot be praised, fed, or excited.  They are exclusively beings of wind, thought, and flight.  you cannot persuade a sylph to care, because caring is emotion–Water.  Do not expect deep connection with sylphs, because depth is not in the nature of Air.

Renaissance art depicts sylphs as winged, with human forms, often appearing to be tiny cherubs.  It is likely that the modern idea of fairies, such as the Victorian artist Arthur Rackham depicted in his illustrations of fairy tales and Shakespeare, has more to do with sylphs than with the fey folk.  Like wind, sylphs move quickly and suddenly, and can travel great distances.  Like the element of Air, sylphs are masters of thought and speech.  They are intelligent and persuasive.  Remember, though, that the gift of gab is a double-edged sword.  Sylphs are not known for their honesty or concern.  Although no person is made purely of intellect, if you think of people who are mostly intellectual, you’ll realize that sylphs can also be superior, disdainful, and dismissive.

Practice:  Meeting the Sylphs

What You’ll Need

  • Air Incense
  • Air Oil

To begin, light some air incense and dab the air oil at all seven body-energy centers:  base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, crown of the head.  Next you will engage in a guided imagery.  As always, you can read it and memorize the imagery sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes closed, or tape record it for later playback.

Reader:
Find a comfortable lying-down position and close your eyes.  Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed.  Slowly allow the earth to hold you completely.  Surrender your body weight to the planet, where it belongs.

Imagine that you stand on the cliff overlooking a vast, grassy plain. The cliff faces the east. You hold your spirit hands up and flex the palms of your hands so that they face outward toward the grassy plain. Feel the energy of the land circulate through you completely until you feel that you are one with the energy. Then imagine that you cast this energy out through your hands and it appears as an electric-yellow power that crackles and sizzles. Imagine that you turn your spirit body in a clockwise direction, casting a circle of protection and containment with this energy that bursts forth from your hands. When you face the east again, the energy stops emanating from your hands.

You are now completely surrounded by this field of energy, yet you are able to clearly see through it, out across the grassy plain. Raise your hands to the sky and mentally summon forth the sylphs, the spirits of air. Soon the wind begins to blow and little by little they appear. They surround your magic circle. take time to observe them carefully. As they surround you, your circle takes on a sparkling golden hue. Ask the sylphs where you can find them near your home. Remember what they tell you.

when you have heard their answer, bid them farewell and request that they return to their magical realm. Little by little, you observe them fly away, leaving only the golden aura that surrounds you and your magic circle. This aura left behind is the balancing force of air. Feel it balance you, center you, and cause you to become whole.

Reader: pause for a few moments.

When you feel you have absorbed enough of the elementals’ powers, it is time to banish the circle you created. Hold your hands up again to the east, begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Allow the energy to return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.

Reader: pause for a few moments.

Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.

Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of the sylphs, and to write down where you can find them near your home.

Wind Whistler from My Little Ponies

Oh, I’ve been watching way too much ’80s cartoon reruns through YouTube these days.  The sylphs I saw once I drew the yellow circle (a very nice visualization, if I do say so myself), were very quick little buggers, flitting around from here to there so fast, I couldn’t see them clearly.  However, they were a little reminiscent of ponies!  More embarassing, they kind of looked a little like Wind Whistler from My Little Ponies.  Very pale, ice blue bodies and streaming clouds as their manes.  I’m sure they had wings, too…though I really couldn’t see them through the billowing clouds.

I never would have thought about it before, but I supposed winged horses make sense as air sylphs.  They are decidedly ‘airy’, of course, and through the legends of Pegasus have lots of connections with inspiration:  Pegasus was also known as the “horse of the muses”, and everywhere his hooves touched the ground, inspiring springs would burst forth.  Though these are waters (and though Pegasus’s father was Poseidon, god of the seas), the inspiration draw is very clearly something in the realm of air.  (After all, ‘to inspire’ is also ‘to breathe’.)

It wasn’t surprising to me where the sylphs said they could be found in my area:  at the tops of the buttes, and in the parks near the hills.  Basically, they can be found in places where you can go ‘up’ and escape the heavy, particle-filled valley air.

Day 170: Becoming Air

Roderick begins today’s description by saying that it is “important work to learn how to transform into each of the elements in order for you to gain complete mastery of the elemental world”, which we will do through a very focused meditation in which our very bodies will become the element itself.  In other words, we’ll effectively be surrendering our bodies and minds to the element.

Roderick notes that this can give some people the willies, for they fear losing the self.  Roderick asks them to question what is the self that they fear losing and to spend time contemplating the source of the fear before they begin with this practice.  Try to identify where the fear began and whether or not it is legitimate, and to come to terms with the answers.

This type of surrender is supposed to be liberating, or–as Roderick says–“a direct shamanic experiential practice that can help you surpass the usual obstacles and boundaries of your life.”  In effect, we’re all free-falling through time and space, so just let go and enjoy the ride a little more fully:  “exercises that encourage a sense of surrendering allow you to vividly experience this truth.”

To begin, light the Air incense and sit down facing the east.  Place the bowl of lit incense in front of you.  With your middle finger, dab a drop of air oil approximately at the center of your brow.  Gather some of the wafting incense into your hands and bring your hands toward your face.  Witches believe that this process blesses and cleanses the practitioner with the element.  Repeat this cleansing process twice more.

Assume a meditative sitting posture, your spine straight and aligned.  Now, focus your attention on the gentle, curling tendrils of incense.  Allow your breathing to become deep and rhythmic.  Continue to focus intently upon the smoke, barring all other thoughts.  If you should have a thought unrelated to the smoke, simply observe it and allow it to pass through you.  Do not allow it to disturb you.  Most importantly, do not allow it to take your focus.

Imagine that with each inhalation, your mind becomes the smoky incense that surrounds you.  Feel your body become the smoke; it should feel light and expansive.  Feel the place where you sit becoming the smoke and all objects around you becoming the incense.  Focus intently so that nothing exists but the incense smoke.  Stay focused, preferably for 20-30 minutes.

When you are done, take time to close your eyes and imagine that your smoke-body solidifies and becomes stable once again.  Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor to ground and center your personal energy.

When you are ready, open your eyes and stretch.  Take time to journal about your experience or discuss it with a friend.

I performed this meditation almost immediately after waking this morning.  Of course, I had to run a brush through my hair, drink some water, make my bed, and wash up my oil warmer, but I was able to begin the meditation within 20 minutes of waking up.

It was a little difficult to envision the smoke (well, warmer steam) becoming me and all my surroundings, but I eventually did when I closed my eyes.  After awhile, I became a particle of that steam, floating about in the air.  The air would quickly push me in one direction, and then I would hover and sink a bit for a moment before a new currant would quickly tug me in another area and let me linger there for a second, too.

I began to feel that this is the nature of inspiration, a wholly air quality.  When the currant hits you, it strongly pulls you full force to it, and then you linger in that place for a while, studying whatever it was you needed to study, preparing, making, doing.  And then it will hit again at some point, either taking you to a new project or allowing you to get deeper on the current one.

To be one with inspiration, well…corny as it was, it was inspiring!  As I came out of the meditation, I couldn’t wait to begin journaling, then to grab a shower and breakfast, and then begin with my own studies today.

Day 169: Air, Incense and Oil

I’m starting to think I should have bought stock in small 1 ounce bottles.  At this rate I would have had 8 Sabbat oils, and now we’re gearing up for four element oils.  The handful I picked up from Specialty Bottle have all been used up.  Luckily, I found a store in Eugene that carries them at a reasonable price.

As always, Roderick notes that we are to burn air incense any time we want to bring about the energies of the element of air (which, of course, includes thought, mental acuity, the arts, communication, verbal and written expression, and knowledge) or to anoint ourselves and others with the oil to activate air’s magical energies.

Air Incense:

  • One handful of powdered sandalwood
  • 2 tablespoons star anise, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons dried eucalyptus leaves
  • 10 drops lavender oil
  • Vegetable glycerin

In a medium-sized bowl, place your powdered sandalwood.  Stir in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin.  Add the tablespoons one at a time and then mix with a metal whisk or fork.  You simply want to create a soft, fluffy compound.  Do not add the second tablespoon of glycerine, if it feels like it would be too much, causing the incense to be too wet.

Now add your essential oils and whisk.  Add your dried herbs and mix thoroughly.  Wait for at least a day for the compound to settle before you sprinkle it on hot coals.

Air Oil:

  • Vegetable glycerin
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 3 drops bergamot
  • 2 drops eucalyptus
  • Pinch of dried sage or lavender

Fill a one-ounce bottle halfway with vegetable glycerin.  Add plain water until the bottle is 3/4 full.  Add your essential oils.  Add your dry ingredient, close the lid, and shake the bottle.  You can use this magical oil immediately.

I’m abstaining from making the incense, as per usual, but I would heat some sandalwood, eucalyptus, and lavender oil in my oil burner to get an offering effect.

I have to admit, I really didn’t think too much about the scents as I mixed up the oil, but the final effect…yeah. That’s air. The bright energy of the bergamot recalls sunshine filled days or relaxing with a book and a cup of Earl Grey (which is scented with bergamot, actually). The lavender is immediately relaxing, but–like the Earl Grey, not entirely soporific. Instead, both work together to give a calm and focus that would let you watch paint dry. The eucalyptus brings a hit of menthol-y goodness to perk things up…you can watch paint dry and have an animated conversation about it. It’s an odd combo, but I quite like it. I might make up another bottle to keep in my office on campus.

Day 168: Air, Contemplation

Today Roderick asks us to get in touch with air energies through guided imagery, and asks us to journal about the experience afterwards.

As with most guided meditations, begin by sitting or laying in a comfortable position.  Commit the words to memory before you begin, or record the meditation or have it read to you.  Clearly, I am a fan of the recording method.

Close your eyes and take three deep, slow breaths.  Allow your breathing to become deep and rhythmic.  After a few moments, imagine that a twisting white mist begins to form in a ring around your feet.  You notice that with each inhalation, the ring of mist grows, expands, and climbs your legs.  Continue to visualize that with each inhaled breath the mist climbs your body until it covers you completely.

Once you feel the mist covering you completely, you begin to feel it lift you up.  Your body becomes as light as the mist that surrounds it.  Soon you are hovering over the place where you were sitting.  Imagine that the mist now begins to move you across a colorless, imageless void.  It is moving you through time and space.  It is taking you to a sacred place of magic and power.  Soon the movement stops and the mist dissipates.  The swirling mist vanishes to reveal a grassy meadow at dawn.  As you inhale deeply, you smell the scent of weeds and wild herbs, blossoms and morning dew.  Face the dawn and raise your arms.  In moments, you notice that a soft wind begins to blow from the east.  The wind picks up some force; it is warm and strong, but it does not threaten.  Begin to take deep, slow breaths.  With each inhalation, you take in the clean, clear powers of air.  Notice how this energy feels as it enters your body.

As you continue to inhale and absorb this element, you notice that the wind dies down.  Look now at your own spirit body and you’ll notice that you’ve taken on a golden aura.  You are filled with the element and powers of air.

Reader:  pause for a few moments.

It is now time to return to the place where you began your journey.  Look down at your spirit feet and you’ll notice that the glowing white mist has already begun to encircle your body like a cocoon of magic.  Once it covers you completely, it lifts you and swiftly carries you back to the place where you began.  When you are ready, open your eyes and stretch.  Take note of how different you may feel now that you’ve taken on the qualities of air.

Mmm.  I feel light and free:  very refreshed and open to…well…inspiration!  I have to admit that there’s a strong part of me that’s now itching to tackle my stack of grading where I was completely dreading it just before the meditation.  I want to find my friends and get coffee and talk about our projects and ideas.  I just feel so bright, both mentally and in receptivity.

Day 167: Air, The Power to Wonder

This is so brilliant, I can’t understand how I never thought of it before, but wondering is the polar opposite of knowing.  Wonder occurs when you don’t know why something is happening and just taking simple pleasure in the affective.  Roderick says that “wondering is about unlearning your life and your relationships to everything and everyone [… it] is experiencing the wisdom that emerges when you release opinions or judgments about life.”  It also opens up extreme flexibility of response and can bring one around to the most creative expressions and solutions.  Eventually, “the power to wonder allows Witches to discover truth as it reveals itself in each moment without resorting to fixing perceptions, cognitive understanding, or mental anticipation.”  Unfortunately, with wonder unchecked by knowledge, individuals can appear “inattentive, spacy, sleepy, distractable, dense, and dull-witted.”

Roderick asks us to evaluate our own relationship to wonder by answering the following questions:

  • In what ways do you feel you are connected to the power to wonder?
  • In what ways do you feel disconnected from the power to wonder?
  • What are the dangers of not knowing?
  • Would not knowing have any benefits in your life?

I think I am drawn to wonder, but I don’t know how to just let myself go.  I’m drawn to magic, which is inherently something wonderful…but there’s still a part of me rationalizing why we Witches do what we do and placing explanation over the actions.  Therefore, I have a great appreciation for it, but I think I’ve gotten too estranged from the childlike place to find my way back.

The dangers of perpetual wonder would probably be a social estrangement.  In the Harry Potter books, for example, the character Luna Lovegood could be considered a person completely lost to wonder.  None of the other characters quite understand where she’s coming from because she basically has a vocabulary of her own–she responds to the world in her own way, and no one else can ever really share that response with her.  On the bright side, Luna is also one of the most insightful characters and is not afraid to speak her mind–she has full confidence in her convictions and delights in sharing them.  It’s an odd tightrope.

Practice:  Rebalancing Wondering

When you notice that you are imbalanced in wondering, take time to practice this grounding exercise called “adjusting the breath.”  Sit in a comfortable chair and align your head and spine.  Instead of beginning your usually breath by inhaling, begin a breath by exhaling and voiding the lungs completely.  Allow your solar plexus region to contract inward, toward the spine, as far as it can.  What is important here is that you get all of the air out of your lungs.  Once you reach your own limit of inward contraction (and please don’t do this to the point of discomfort), release your hold and allow the lungs to fill naturally.  Do not try to compensate for the voiding of your lungs by deeply refilling with a large breath of air.  Instead, simply allow the lungs to release from the contraction and fill naturally, of their own accord.  Repeat this process three more times.  Finally, allow the breath to settle into its own natural rhythm of inhalation and exhalation.  Following this exercise, your mind should be refocused and clear.  If not, repeat the process as needed.

Hm.  I think perhaps I should take up some basic yoga practices again.  I actually had a hard time with this.  Voiding the lungs was sort of easy, but refilling them was a hurky-jerky process to keep from taking in that large breath of air.  I could stand to practice this exercise a lot more, but from this take, I can see how it can help bring more focus instead of wonder to a mental perception.  I feel much more prepared to say something purposed rather than bask in wonderment.

Day 166: Air, The Power to Know

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.