Monday, November 29, 2010

Calling the Elements

I've been thinking a lot lately (well, it's sad; you get old, your mind wanders down strange pathways, but at least I've been thinking about this in between v practical issues for a rather demanding appellate brief; my job does do wonderful things for me) about the role that Calling the Elements really plays in Wiccan ritual. Coming, generally, at the beginning of the ritual, I think that Calling the Elements serves a role greater than the sum of its parts.

By that, I mean that Calling the Elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water! Come be with me; I'm your daughter. Air, Fire, Water, Earth! To my better self now give birth. Fire, Water, Earth, and Air! Bring me now the power to dare. Water, Earth, Air, and Fire! I call you now with all my desire.) is one of the parts of ritual that speaks most clearly to Younger Child and, as a result, can, when well-done, lead us quickly into that space between the worlds where magic is, indeed, possible. And when done perfunctorily, or as an afterthought, or as an Oh-Shit-I-Volunteered-to-Call-Water-and-then-Forgot-about-It-Well-Let-Me-Start-Babbling-About-Flow-and-Drops-Coming-Together-and-Hope-this-Works (I've been totally guilty of this), it can put a damper on the entire ritual, can make it that much more difficult for the magic to happen.

Younger Child, at least as I conceive of Her, is that part of us that responds to poetic language, to symbol, to things just below the level of language and conscious thought. It's funny (well, funny-strange, not funny-ha-ha, except in the sense that the Universe and I have, for almost 55 years, been having grand jokes on each other and then, of course, it's also funny-ha-ha) that, for many years after reading and understanding (intellectually) the concept of Younger Child, what I said to myself was: "But I'm deficient in this area. I'm too left-brained to have much of a Younger Child. If I see a sigil, I translate it into words and turn that task over to Talking Self, so, really, I don't have much of a Younger Child."

And, then, somehow, I remembered the first time that, as a child, I somehow wound up in a v nice section of a v nice restaurant. My memory is foggy about how this happened: I was the oldest of five kids in a working-class family and we didn't spend much time in any restaurant, much less one that wasn't (a special treat) a McDonald's. But I have this vague sensory impression of being in such a place, of reveling in the way that sounds were muffled there and that empty space provided room for one's being to expand. Once I made the association between that impression and the way that it made me feel as if maybe I could be who I'd always meant to be (this is shallow, I know; so is Younger Child), dozens of similar impressions came flooding back to me.

The way that great architecture has always made me feel. The way that fountains instantly make joy bubble up within me. The way that wearing elegant, well-fitting clothes has always changed the way that I move, the things that I say, the way that I feel towards others. The feelings of both groundedness and airiness that the scent of lilacs can induce in me. Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man. The way that a man's cologne can make me weak in the knees. Poetry.

So, I'm a slow learner; it took me a long time to get in touch with my own Younger Self; the one who didn't get much validation from my writer-father or my left-brained, Vatican II Catholic education. And, yet, once I did, I quit worrying about whether or not a sigil or rune induced anything within me and began to focus on the many ways that my Younger Self could be induced to feel comfortable, expand, do magic, invoke what I needed.

And, so. Here's Margaret Roach, in A Way to Garden, discussing the element of Air:
Where I live, I’d have to count wind—not cold, despite my Zone 5-ish climate—as the most destructive force in the garden, bringing down or splitting apart woody plants when it roars, and desiccating evergreens in winter. Particularly when it combines with or follows drought, as it is this year, it’s a force to be reckoned with.

For now, all that means is a few stray sycamore leaves (Platanus occidentalis). We’ll see what . . . other tricks it has in mind this winter. Batten down the hatches, won’t you?

Can you invoke Air more powerfully for your next ritual? I'd love to see it in comments.

Picture found here.

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