Part Two W icca Introducing the Elements

I am Earth. I am your mother

I am the ground of your being

I am your bones, your feet, your hands

I am the distant, wild hills

I am the track of a wolf through the forest

I am a field of ripening grain

I am the patterns in the bark of an oak

In me you raise your food

On my skin you live your life

In my arms you are buried

I am silence

I am strength

I am Earth.1

Look around you. Notice your surroundings—the ground or floor underneath you, the trees lining the street, the soil underfoot, the house you grew up in. Feel you body—the strength of your hands, the beating of your heart, the pumping of your lungs. These are all things of the element earth—aspects of the physical world in which we live. It is this element that gives us shape and form, substance and density.

Of all the alchemical elements, earth is perhaps the most basic, and the most native to our way of understanding the world around us. We are creatures of earth. We have physical bodies. We grow. We plant. We harvest. We live. We die. These are all characteristics of earth. It is the element we are most intimately aware of—it provides the very basis of our existence. We feel hunger from the moment we are born. We feel the need for security. We recognize fear as a survival instinct. All of these things are outgrowths of our need to survive physically, and all things related to the physical body, the physical earth, and the physical universe are all things of earth.

From a purely eco-spiritual standpoint, earth is perhaps the most easily revered of all the elements. Wicca and other nature-reverent religions recognize the immediacy of the Divine through nature. We worship outdoors underneath the expanse of sky, for all of creation is our temple. Every stone is an altar, every river a chalice. We call upon Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Gaia, and we rock and sway to the rhythm of the land that sustains and nurtures us.

And yet, in the workday world, earth is perhaps the most vilified, the most mundane and least sacred of the elements. Earth is yin—it is associated with the feminine, the secret, the cold, the dark. Earth is receptive, quiet, yielding. We live in a society that ravages nature and the earth for a potential profit. We also live in a society that subjugates women, breeds violence, and shuns passivity. Many people, notably ecofeminists and social ecologists, have asserted that all of these are related, and that it is our lack of respect for both the Earth and the element earth that has placed us in the precarious position we are in today.

Nevertheless, within Wicca earth plays a vital role. Earth is associated with the direction of north and the season of winter. It is associated with the challenge "To keep silent" of the Witch's Pyramid. Its colors are brown and green, its scents pine, cedar, sage.2 Its elementals are called gnomes, and the Archangel associated with it is .

To know the element earth, spend time outdoors. Let yourself smell the earth, feel it squish under your toes. Know your body and its cues. Have an understanding of the ecology where you live—what animals and plants are native to the area? Are there fault lines? Where does your food come from? Get acquainted with the skills and talents you have. Perhaps you are talented at craftsmanship, or athletics, homemaking, or cooking. All of these things are of earth, and knowing them more intimately will help cement your understanding of earth.

1 From "Call of the Elements" by Dianne Sylvan, originally published in Philosophy of Wicca

As with most all correspondences, these are neither absolute for definitive. As you explore the element of earth over the four weeks of class dedicated to it, you will come to your own conclusions about earth's associations and properties. ■

Blessedways Textbook, Version 1.0 Introduction to Magical Herbalism | 41

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