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Author Topic: Elemental spirits are like my pals, not tools I control. Anyone else? Is this weird?  (Read 1190 times)

TinyToad

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Just starting out and mostly winging it, I have been going with whatever feels right and makes sense to me. I have read several books and webpages on others' perspectives, beliefs and ways of going about spellwork, some material has been very inspirational, some not so much for me personally. At the end of the day, though, I really just go with what calls to me and floats my boat.

I have been very attracted to working with the elements. I made a dedicated seat for each one on my alter, using incense, feathers, shells, water, dirt, stones, candles, etc. I wanted one member of each group of elemental spirits (so like, one water spirit out of all the water spirits) to work with me, like my own little team.

Before I started reading all that much, I had already formed a concept for approach that appealed to me. My natural approach without reading into it or over-thinking it has been to call and request their assistance. I get rather chatty during spellwork and try to maintain a constant interaction. I also have a heavy emphasis on teamwork from all of them, and have a bowl of botanical items in the center to represent their combined efforts and what they can accomplish together. I always make sure they are all relevant and have a purpose in every spell.

However once I started reading a lot on how others go about working with elements, a lot of it seems to be way different. The elements are often written of as those they need to be forcibly summoned and then willfully controlled, and they don't seem to get as much respect as say the moon which is often personified to deity status. It seems like the elements are seen more so as a tool that needs to be wielded.

But honestly I see them as my spellwork and spiritual growth buddies. I don't call them from the cardinal corners or try to control them. I just call and invite them, and then ask them to work together and work with me, in various ways, as a large part of any given spell.

I just started out doing whatever felt right to me, going with my gut and intuition, and then after lots of reading, I feel like I put way more emphasis and interaction with the elements than most.

Is my spellwork weird? Is my relationship with the elements weird? Is anyone else similar to me in approach, in this regard? I would honestly feel really uncomfortable trying to command and control them. I feel like we have a good working relationship, the four of them plus me.

If this isn't totally wonky, is there are name for this type of spellwork? With a heavy emphasis on working with the elements?

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Quote from: TinyToad;179488


 
It sounds like you have a more animistic than ceremonial approach to things, that's all.  That's totally fine, plenty of people (including myself) are not much for the ceremonial end of the spectrum.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

TinyToad

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Quote from: Darkhawk;179495
It sounds like you have a more animistic than ceremonial approach to things, that's all.  That's totally fine, plenty of people (including myself) are not much for the ceremonial end of the spectrum.

 
Thanks for the response. I looked up animism, and yeah I agree that it sort of fits me. Most of my spellwork so far has been trying to self-improve and learn from the natural world. I am not sure even if they are spells in the most common sense of the word.

In my last endeavor, I really wanted to do an extended water fast for mental, emotional and spiritual cleansing. I've never been able to water fast for more than a day before, so my spell involved asking them each for assistance. From air, to give me wisdom and clarity throughout the fast. From water, to help cleanse and heal my emotional issues that make me so addicted to food in the first place. From earth, to give my body strength and stamina to endure throughout the fast. From fire, to bolster my will to help me actually complete the fast. There were other aspects involved, but the major emphasis was on them working together to assist me.

So far I am on day 3 of this fast and doing well. I feel accountable to them because I work with them and ask them for help, so I actually take the time to dwell on their different contributions and aspects and how I can be improving and growing. I think that is a large part of why it works so well for me. So maybe that is why I can't imagine giving up that feeling of respect and partnership in favor of calling them from corners and controlling them to do my bidding. It would feel so off and awkward.

Weatherwax

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Quote


I have been very attracted to working with the elements. I made a dedicated seat for each one on my alter, using incense, feathers, shells, water, dirt, stones, candles, etc. I wanted one member of each group of elemental spirits (so like, one water spirit out of all the water spirits) to work with me, like my own little team.


 
This is one of the best descriptions of the elements I've read so far: "my own little team." :) You might want to look into the concept of "devas" if you're really interested in elements. It's more an Hindu concept (it's VAST and has more than one meaning, also gods, anything divine really FWIU) but New Age beliefs also used the term. Not to incorporate the beliefs about devas,  just to have access to more material about the elements.

And I think summoning elements is a Ceremonial Magick tradition and not that common with other traditions, especially not in highly Animistic traditions or in Druidry. Thinking of them as forces of nature/things that make up the material world and allies works best for me too.

TinyToad

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Quote from: Weatherwax;179505
You might want to look into the concept of "devas" if you're really interested in elements. It's more an Hindu concept (it's VAST and has more than one meaning, also gods, anything divine really FWIU) but New Age beliefs also used the term. Not to incorporate the beliefs about devas,  just to have access to more material about the elements.

 
Thanks for the suggestion, I will do some online searches and check it out. I think most of the material I've read so far has been very Wicca-centric. It seems to be an extremely popular religion, and so it seems like most of what I find while looking for witchraft and spellwork reading is Wicca themed. So I will enjoy reading about something a little different. I like a lot of what I read in Wicca material, it just doesn't seem to suit me exactly and completely.

Weatherwax

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Quote from: TinyToad;179513
Thanks for the suggestion, I will do some online searches and check it out. I think most of the material I've read so far has been very Wicca-centric. It seems to be an extremely popular religion, and so it seems like most of what I find while looking for witchraft and spellwork reading is Wicca themed. So I will enjoy reading about something a little different. I like a lot of what I read in Wicca material, it just doesn't seem to suit me exactly and completely.

 
Are you looking specifically at magic? I'll try to see if smth comes to mind that is non-Wiccan magic though most things I come accross is usually at least a little influenced by Wicca -or is completely from a Ceremonial Magick background. You could always carry on the way you've been working? For example, there are pretty generic (more like folk magic) candle magic rituals and you could add your own understanding of the elements -plus gods/spirits if you would like that- into the ritual/spell. Do I make sense? :)

I did my first candle magic spell when I was back in junior high and I had NO idea what I was doing. I had just carved stuff on the candle and really wanted it with intent (the way teenagers can, I guess.) I had no access to any magical books, this was the early 90s. I didn't even know modern paganism or anything named Wicca existed. So if your thing works for you I think you should go with it and just add things you feel good about.

Micheál

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Quote from: TinyToad;179513
Thanks for the suggestion, I will do some online searches and check it out. I think most of the material I've read so far has been very Wicca-centric. It seems to be an extremely popular religion, and so it seems like most of what I find while looking for witchraft and spellwork reading is Wicca themed. So I will enjoy reading about something a little different. I like a lot of what I read in Wicca material, it just doesn't seem to suit me exactly and completely.

 Is there anything particular you've been reading? Wicca does have that ceremonial heritage to its rituals,  however it's also a creature of its own that is very attune to the elements.  My coven particular spends a large amount of time dedicated to, and honouring them, so it helps to have some good sources to look towards.

TinyToad

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Quote from: Micheál;179515
Is there anything particular you've been reading? Wicca does have that ceremonial heritage to its rituals,  however it's also a creature of its own that is very attune to the elements.  My coven particular spends a large amount of time dedicated to, and honouring them, so it helps to have some good sources to look towards.

 
I have read material by Anne Moura, Scott Cunningham and Christopher Penczak as of late (not that all the materials were focused on Wicca, just rattling off some of what I've been poking into), but most of my reading has been on the internet on various webpages. I've just been looking into witchcraft in general, and have stumbled upon a lot of Wicca material. I find the Wicca material to be mostly inspiring, but I'm a bit of a stubborn and wild one, and have a hard time conforming to specific rules, structures, ritual, etc. It's like I would want to do almost everything just a little bit different, so I would probably just be an oddball pain in the arse to a potential coven haha. I see it more like I would enjoy being friends with Wiccans and being inspired by them, but ultimately I think it's best that I do my own thing.

Jenett

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Quote from: TinyToad;179590
I find the Wicca material to be mostly inspiring, but I'm a bit of a stubborn and wild one, and have a hard time conforming to specific rules, structures, ritual, etc. It's like I would want to do almost everything just a little bit different, so I would probably just be an oddball pain in the arse to a potential coven haha. I see it more like I would enjoy being friends with Wiccans and being inspired by them, but ultimately I think it's best that I do my own thing.

 
One of the things I'd suggest is looking at the reasons why those practices are done a certain way. (that doesn't mean *you* have to do them that way, but it'd be informative.)

One of the complexities of elemental work is that many people are intuitively drawn to 1 or 2 elements, have difficulties with 1 or 2, and have 1 or 2 which they are pretty neutral about.

This can, over time, lead to imbalances in your home life, your general life, and so on. If you're really struggling with earth, you may also find, say, that your finances suffer, your home is a mess, you have constant stability issues in your work life and personal life, etc. Which is not so much fun, and a distraction from other things you'd rather be doing, at best, and a lot worse at worst.

Some of those ritual techniques (especially things like an explicit invitation and an explicit 'ok, we're done with the thing we were doing now, time to go home so I can go to bed') are a way to deal with that issue. It's certainly not the only method, but it and others have been tested and continue to be used for reasons, you know?

(As to why you want to say "Ok, time to go home now", well, you may like your friends a lot, but you don't necessarily want to live with them 24/7, with them demanding your attention the whole time, right?)

In terms of things to read, I'd suggest Deborah Lipp's books on the Elements, _The Way of Four_ and then there's a workbook. She's Wiccan, but she has a good background in other Pagan traditions, and those books are a good overview of a lot of the 'hey, think about the balance' part.

On the fiction side, I'd suggest a series by Sharon Green, the Blending series, for an example of the good and bad parts of focusing heavily on a particular element, and Mercedes Lackey's first few books in her Elemental Mage series do a good part at this too. (Basically, though, read them for 'this is what imbalance can create, so you can avoid the problems. Later books in both series don't do as much with this, or as well, in my opinion.)
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Quote from: Jenett;179599
Mercedes Lackey's first few books in her Elemental Mage series do a good part at this too. (Basically, though, read them for 'this is what imbalance can create, so you can avoid the problems. Later books in both series don't do as much with this, or as well, in my opinion.)

 
I was about to recommend these too, more from the angle of 'treating elemental spirits as allies' which crops up several times. I agree that the quality varies from book to book; my personal recommendations are The Fire Rose, The Serpent's Shadow, The Wizard of London and Reserved for the Cat. Fair warning, though: another major theme in this series is Victorian-era gender inequality, so a lot of potential triggers there.

TinyToad

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Quote from: Jenett;179599


One of the complexities of elemental work is that many people are intuitively drawn to 1 or 2 elements, have difficulties with 1 or 2, and have 1 or 2 which they are pretty neutral about.

This can, over time, lead to imbalances in your home life, your general life, and so on.

 
Do you think the opposite could also be problematic in spellwork, too? One of the things I've been contemplating is that maybe by trying to always include all of the elements equally in spellwork, that maybe I am over-complicating things and maybe even cancelling things out.

As a light-hearted example, such as trying to use all four elements in a fasting and weight loss spell, even though I always want to bring all four elements into it, maybe working with earth in a spell meant for cleansing my body with water and losing weight just isn't meant for earth, but maybe water and even fire.

This probably sounds silly, but initially I had this big worry of the elements not being seen as equally important and valued, so I always wanted all of them to play an equal role in everything I did. But lately I am contemplating what I've been doing so far and where I might need to change or improve things, and I'm wondering if my approach has been off. Like maybe by trying too hard to make all the elements equally valued and included in everything, I've been diluting their unique aspects. Or something.

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Quote from: TinyToad;179613
Do you think the opposite could also be problematic in spellwork, too? One of the things I've been contemplating is that maybe by trying to always include all of the elements equally in spellwork, that maybe I am over-complicating things and maybe even cancelling things out.

As a light-hearted example, such as trying to use all four elements in a fasting and weight loss spell, even though I always want to bring all four elements into it, maybe working with earth in a spell meant for cleansing my body with water and losing weight just isn't meant for earth, but maybe water and even fire.

This probably sounds silly, but initially I had this big worry of the elements not being seen as equally important and valued, so I always wanted all of them to play an equal role in everything I did. But lately I am contemplating what I've been doing so far and where I might need to change or improve things, and I'm wondering if my approach has been off. Like maybe by trying too hard to make all the elements equally valued and included in everything, I've been diluting their unique aspects. Or something.

 
There's two ways to look at balance - static, and dynamic.

A static balance is everything equal all the time.  That sounds like what you're talking about right now.

A dynamic balance is more over time.  You're not bringing in dirt to the shower or setting the garden on fire, right?  So why do it with spellwork?  What's appropriate when is a dynamic balance, over time.  Dirt in the shower just defeats the purpose.

TinyToad

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Quote from: HeartShadow;179614
There's two ways to look at balance - static, and dynamic.

A static balance is everything equal all the time.  That sounds like what you're talking about right now.

A dynamic balance is more over time.  You're not bringing in dirt to the shower or setting the garden on fire, right?  So why do it with spellwork?  What's appropriate when is a dynamic balance, over time.  Dirt in the shower just defeats the purpose.

 
Thanks for that perspective, very straightforward and makes sense to me. I've never looked at it that way, static vs dynamic. I guess my initial gut approach was static, but now thinking about it, dynamic seems more sensible.

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Quote from: HeartShadow;179614
There's two ways to look at balance - static, and dynamic.


What HeartShadow said, yep.

The thing is, if you only ever do spells that focus on, say, water and earth, you can find yourself with some kinds of problems. You might have good reasons for doing that (or at least doing it for a period of time) but at least if you know you're doing it, you can take steps to be aware of other options.

And likewise, some kinds of workings may just not be suitable for all four elements, and if you're always going for all four, you may limit some of your choices.

There's no single obvious correct answer here. The right answer for you is going to be dependent on a bunch of details about what you want to do, the framework you're doing it in, the particular things you're hoping for or wanting to avoid, and to some extent, your own skills and inherent tendencies (or how much you correct for them.)
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