Creating Place and Navigating Space
An important aspect of honoring the elements and their corresponding meanings is the centering and grounding which can occur.
In understanding and accepting the inherent gifts of the different elements, while also acknowledging any common struggles we share in our humanity, one can identify where they are at present and, thus, discover more about how to move toward the direction they aspire to journey.
We are all walking around the Sun...and we're all walking each other home.
The Four Directions
Following are the basic correspondences for the
four directions and four elements...each aspect
is part of a cycle, connected at center, and categorized as such:
DIRECTION | DAY | SEASON | LIFE CYCLE | ELEMENT | ATTRIBUTE
East | Morning | Spring | Infancy | Air | Intellect
South | Midday | Summer | Youth Fire | Purpose/Passion
West | Evening | Autumn | Maturity | Water | Emotions
North | Night | Winter | Elder | Earth | Creativity
Center | A Day | A Year | Life | Spirit | Self & Truth
An Introductory Understanding of Metaphorical Elements
The elemental forms traditionally assigned within each direction help to metaphorically, and literally, reflect meaning and deeper understanding of both the gifts and challenges within each elemental facet of being human. Our humanity reflects the multifaceted joining of the four elements, and our own unique balance of the corresponding gifts and challenges.
East, Morning, Spring, Infancy, Air, & The Intellect... Respiration...Re-Spiriting! We breathe...we bring air into our lungs and have the ability to transform that breath into voice...creating sound waves of our thoughts. Inspiration...In-Spiriting! What is it to be inspired...to have thoughts rise up like the morning sun, born of our imagination?
When considering the relation between Air & Mind it can be fun to start with the idea of a cool breeze and how that can represent laughter in life...enjoyable, yes? What about other forms of air? There are days when the air, and our mind, may feel heavy or foggy.
There are days when the air is still and calm, or excitedly windy...at the change of seasons and weather patterns, or at a threshold in our own lives when our mind is excited at the idea of change. Strong winds are occasionally necessary in nature, those winds help in many ways by moving weather systems, seasons, debris, and seeds.
When one is experiencing "strong winds"...a metaphor for anger (consider the wind of shouting), it may be a time when it is important to see what boundaries are being crossed, and whether there is need for preservation or protection. Thus, anger can be healthy and essential, just like wind, anger can act as an indicator that it may be time to clear away debris, or make changes in our own thought patterns...or clear away that which distorts our vision or inhibits our serenity in life.
Then again, there are hurricane winds and tornadoes...those destructive forces which move through our lives, like rage-full anger that has the capacity to destroy relationships.
In nature these destructive forces pass over in time, but when we are out of balance our anger can develop into an unnatural long-term resentment. Rage has its own brain chemistry and the release of its toxicity can become itself an actual addiction. In balance our metaphoric air holds a great level of clarity and coolness, we find our breath...a healing breath, and use our voice in the expression of greater truth.
South, Midday, Summer, Youth, Fire, & Will / Purpose... We are conceived within a spark...and born with life's intention toward itself. We are all star-born. We are gifted all the energy it takes to last our lifetime, however long that life lasts. The arc of our energy burns from that initial spark throughout the years until it glows back down into the quiet embers of our death. As Mary Oliver asks in her poem "Summer"
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Mary Jane Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019)
Fire is likened to your purpose and passion in life...how do you use the fuel of your life force...what drives you? We all have different balances of these elements within our lives. Some move through life with a determined force...their fire burning clear and bright. Some of us are a smoldering fire and some have volcanic energy. Some provide bursts of energy within their collaborations in life while others, unchecked and unaware, move from group to group leaving a trail of burn victims on their path.
How can one balance their fire, their life energy so that the beam of force is in proper focus? How can one improve their sense of vitality and feed the flames of their desires in life...finding the determination to manifest dreams?
West, Evening, Autumn, Maturity, Water, & Emotions...It can be easy to understand why water is connected to our emotions. Metaphorically we know that our feelings ebb & flow like the ocean, that our sorrow, and our joy, is often expressed in tears that are not unlike rain. Some of us emote wildly, like the rapids of a fast flowing river, while others are more reflective, like a lake on a calm day. One thing we know, that like the nature that we are immersed within...we hope that our emotions are clear and clean, rather than stagnant or polluted.
It is important to know when we have found ourselves "stuck in the swamp" too long, or when we are too far from shore and in over our head. There are times in life when we can't seem to "come back up to our own level" and we may need the help of friends or even a professional to try to find buoyancy even while dwelling within the flood.
North, Night, Winter, Elder-hood, Earth, & Creativity ... Our body is made of earth, we are skin & bones just like the earth is wood & stone. We continuously create our body with the nurturance of earth. We create the shelter where our body dwells, and our hands mold and shape our world. We are all artists of our own lives. The home we live in, the clothing we wear, the food we cook, these are just a few of the most basic, and beautiful, elements of how we create in our world.
The earth element calls upon us to manifest energy into form.
Center , A Fullness of Day, A Cycle Around the Sun, A Lifetime, & Spirit... The center of our being is our own individual balance of the four elements, or four directions. We all have our own center and our own varying levels of different elemental strengths and weaknesses. Our center is like the axis of the compass. Navigating our path forward necessitates understanding from what point we are beginning. Questions such as where our center is at present, and how we interpret our balance, can lead to insight into gaining direction.
Knowing that we are made of the same essences as Earth, that we are a natural part of the Universe, can help us navigate our world in a metaphorical sense and translate into deepening spiritual understanding of life. Knowing that we ourselves engage in seasons, growth cycles, patterns of ebb and flow, as well as natural occurrences that feel destructive, can help us understand that we are part of the whole, experiencing part of our natural existence. Seeking insight about what natural balance looks like and feels like from our center, as well as within our place in community, can be developed as a spiritually interpretive tool for gaining perception about our own well health, and a vision toward increased well being.
Star Gazing; Engaging the Wisdom of the System
Vintage Style Astronomy Posters available on Amazon...search for Cavallini
Sometimes setting the stage can clarify our place in the systematic movement of time...and can assist in defining and marking significant points of acknowledgement, renewed awareness, and celebration, in our lifetime.
In ritual space we can set the circle with our agreed upon parameters. One such parameter is the one that represents the astronomical belt of constellations through which the Sun , Moon and All Planets traverse. Of the imaginary coordinate lines that astronomers and navigators use in mapping the sky, perhaps the most important one is the ecliptic, the apparent path the sun appears to take through the sky as a result of the Earth's revolution around it.
Seasonal occurrences such as the Spring & Fall Equinoxes and Summer & Winter Solstices become apparent in the light relation between Sun & Earth, as do eclipses and other heavenly occurrences...which are marked upon this ecliptic. And many of these annual occurrences have recognition in the form of ancient time-keeping festivals and celebrations around the world.
Living in the context of modernity we can occasionally take for granted the foundation of intelligence of natural science that ancient astronomers have passed down. Look to the beauty of their tools, the cross cultural, global connections made in the naming of stars and constellations, seek out images created by telescopes such as the Hubble...and you will find an invitation to base yourself in elementary knowledge as well as the beauty and the mystery that still exists in our own galaxy and beyond.
To have a tangible representation of our universal/astronomical movement can be intriguing and informing. This information is one of humanity's treasured sciences, and can also be intelligently relevant as an insightful metaphorical map...and can be used as a navigational reference for life.
Creating space that represents the science of astronomy, combined with the interconnected relations of seasons, space, and the directions, is a way of honoring and solidifying the wisdom of the system. We can use these tools and gauges for developing a sense of self awareness within the greater cosmos. Call to mind the poetic wisdom of a beloved astronomer...
The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.
On this shore, we've learned most of what we know.
Recently, we've waded a little way out,
maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting.
Some part of our being knows this is where we came from.
We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us.