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Author Topic: The Supernatural  (Read 3914 times)

Nymree

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The Supernatural
« on: March 05, 2016, 04:17:40 am »
I've been researching for the first time in this area, but my resources have a number of inconsistencies. I've a few questions if anyone is willing and able to answer?

1) what are the Elementals? It's a seemingly simple question, but each page presents a unique definition with the only consistent  belief being that Elementals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Wiccan Handbook by Eileen Holland presents them as dangerous and harmful, yet many blogs and forum posts take a far more varied approach and some even refer to them as helpful and benelovent beings.
2) I've come across many people say that they do not believe in the supernatural, but the natural. I don't entirely understand what this means, but if anyone shares this belief would you mind clarifying this? I'll seek out more individual interpretations of this, but I feel its still a relevant question.

Thank you to any and all replies made.

Faemon

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2016, 05:33:17 am »
Quote from: Nymree;187607

1) what are the Elementals? It's a seemingly simple question, but each page presents a unique definition with the only consistent  belief being that Elementals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Wiccan Handbook by Eileen Holland presents them as dangerous and harmful, yet many blogs and forum posts take a far more varied approach and some even refer to them as helpful and benelovent beings.

Western tradition via Greek philosophy considered the elemental components to be air, earth, fire, water; Elementals bodilessly embody these, so they would be varied and strange especially as I doubt they call themselves that. We call them that. We call different thems that. So, it gets weird.
Quote

2) I've come across many people say that they do not believe in the supernatural, but the natural. I don't entirely understand what this means, but if anyone shares this belief would you mind clarifying this? I'll seek out more individual interpretations of this, but I feel its still a relevant question.

 
So-called supernatural phenomena is utterly natural phenoma, but we don't know everything about the natural world yet. That can be one way to dodge the stigma of the term. But the same phrase can also mean that what we already know about the natural world is all we need to work with, or simply that the speaker doesn't do woo-woo.
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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2016, 12:33:12 pm »
Quote from: Nymree;187607
I've been researching for the first time in this area, but my resources have a number of inconsistencies. I've a few questions if anyone is willing and able to answer?

1) what are the Elementals? It's a seemingly simple question, but each page presents a unique definition with the only consistent  belief being that Elementals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Wiccan Handbook by Eileen Holland presents them as dangerous and harmful, yet many blogs and forum posts take a far more varied approach and some even refer to them as helpful and benelovent beings.
2) I've come across many people say that they do not believe in the supernatural, but the natural. I don't entirely understand what this means, but if anyone shares this belief would you mind clarifying this? I'll seek out more individual interpretations of this, but I feel its still a relevant question.

Thank you to any and all replies made.

 
1) Like Faemon said, they are embodiments of the four classical magical elements. Most commonly they are considered to be gnomes (earth), undines (water), sylphs (air) and salamanders (fire).

I'm not sure why any of them would be considered inherently dangerous or harmful - that idea strikes me as kinda weird, since back in the 90s during my Wicca 101 days, I distinctly remember reading "how to meet the elementals!" instructions in some book or another.

I seem to remember Dion Fortune claiming that working exclusively with one type of element can lead to "imbalance" that may manifest in psychological problems. (A sort of obsession with the element itself, or things associated with it.) But that's the only warning I can recall off the top of my head.

2) I think Faemon had a pretty perfect answer. So if somebody tells you they don't believe in the supernatural you'll probably have to ask more questions to figure out what it is they actually mean.

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2016, 02:51:47 pm »
Quote from: Nymree;187607

1) what are the Elementals? It's a seemingly simple question, but each page presents a unique definition with the only consistent  belief being that Elementals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Wiccan Handbook by Eileen Holland presents them as dangerous and harmful, yet many blogs and forum posts take a far more varied approach and some even refer to them as helpful and benelovent beings.


So, one of the things that's complicated is that people talking about the elementals are talking about several different kinds of things. And a lot of people are not always very clear about which they're talking about.

The biggest thing to remember about them is that they are not human: they don't think like humans, they don't react like humans, they don't have priorities like humans. There's a lot of parallels here to how people talk about the fae / Good Folk / etc. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble if you assume human interactions or motivations.

(Thinking about them a bit more like, oh, snakes or bears or badgers or whatever might be a help: you can, over time, see patterns that are consistent, but the actual motivations may escape you, and if you guess wrong, there's a significant chance of maybe getting hurt.)

I look at it like this:

Elementals:
Beings of a particular element (the classic Platonic four: earth, air, fire, water), all of which have inherent characteristics related to the element. Elementals out of control are thought to create chaos (floods for water elementals, and so on), not just on a physical level, but an emotional one.

In this scheme:

Air : Sylphs : associated with creativity, inspiration, communication, speed, but also with flightyness, distraction, lack of control, and so on. Wind, air, storms.

Fire : Salamanders : associated with transformation, drive, will, passion, but also with anger or strong dangerous emotions (envy, hatred), ego (especially the kinds that are associated with taking risks).

Water : Undines : associated with dreams, the subconscious, emotions, intuition, all of that - but can also be associated with being overwhelmed by emotion, flooded with the inability to make choices, anxiety, etc.

Earth : Gnomes : assocated with growing things, and the cycle of growth, but also things like prosperity, money, physical forms of success. On the down side, sometimes very stagnant and resistant to change (rootbound), sometimes very greedy or clingy to what is theirs.

In other words, there are strengths and weaknesses - and unlike humans, who are seen as the mingling of the four elements plus spirit in a number of systems - they don't have the pull of other elements or components to balance it out.

Oddly, one of the best books I've read for analysis is Mercedes Lackey's _The Fire Rose_ (later books in the series go places with the concept that I find less solid, and some of the ritual magics in the later books make me make incredible faces.)

You can also see some fascinating elements of elemental analysis if you dig into the longer meta commentary on Hogwarts houses, from people who aren't satisfied with the surface explanations. (The Sorting Hat Chats tumblr is a good example of this, though I disagree with some of their conclusions. However, it's a great discussion of how the same basic concept can have both good and bad aspects, or can be twisted or damaged.)

Elemental rulers
Besides the elementals themselves (generally seen as less individualised) there are the elemental rulers, who are 'kings' of that element, a more individual force. They're often called in ritual, in this sort of "I'm talking to you, and then you talk to your people, and we go on from there."

Names vary a bit across sources.

Elemental guardians
These are more - human, for lack of a better word. Often seen as human-shaped (often with wings) they're a specific role that stands between the elemental plane/spaces/whatever you call it) and the space in circle, the details of which vary a lot by path/tradition/etc. They're usually very mono-focus, however, on the element and the elemental associations, not on other things. Again, names vary a lot, depending on source/path/practice.

In terms of danger or risk:
It's *possible* to anger any of the three types, just like it's possible to make people angry. And if they're angry, then you end up with imbalances and problems and complications. It's not terribly likely if you're consistent and make an attempt to be polite and so on.

One of the other complications with the elementals is that some paths compel or order them to appear, and others invite them, and mixing the protocols really doesn't work out well (lots more chances for raising strong feelings or unintentional rudeness.)

Often, the paths that invite them have some degree of 'preintroduction' involved. In my tradition, part of our ritual work is formally presenting us to each of the elemental beings we work with, where our teachers basically go "Hey, this is a student, we are teaching them, please forgive them if they mispeak, they're still learning" and then over time, it builds up to us doing things on our own and taking responsibility (and then, eventually using our established relationships with these beings to introduce the next generation of students.)

That's something that people working on their own can't do, and it means figuring out the appropriate polite protocols is perhaps both more necessary *and* a lot more complicated.  And thus, probably a higher rate of error.
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Nymree

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2016, 05:09:32 am »
Quote from: Jenett;187631

Elementals:
Beings of a particular element (the classic Platonic four: earth, air, fire, water), all of which have inherent characteristics related to the element. Elementals out of control are thought to create chaos (floods for water elementals, and so on), not just on a physical level, but an emotional one.

  Thanks everyone, these are great answers and really helpful. I'll have to be careful in my workings with Elementals. I've heard of some people excluding work with Elementals completely and simply calling upon the Gods/Goddesses etc. associated with each Element for their Circle. Is this safer, simpler or just a personal preference, to anyone's understanding, and is it in any way less effective? Thanks again everyone.

unveiledartist

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2016, 10:06:35 am »
Quote from: Nymree;187607
I've been researching for the first time in this area, but my resources have a number of inconsistencies. I've a few questions if anyone is willing and able to answer?

1) what are the Elementals? It's a seemingly simple question, but each page presents a unique definition with the only consistent  belief being that Elementals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Wiccan Handbook by Eileen Holland presents them as dangerous and harmful, yet many blogs and forum posts take a far more varied approach and some even refer to them as helpful and benelovent beings.
2) I've come across many people say that they do not believe in the supernatural, but the natural. I don't entirely understand what this means, but if anyone shares this belief would you mind clarifying this? I'll seek out more individual interpretations of this, but I feel its still a relevant question.

Thank you to any and all replies made.

 
Mornin.

1. I actually only know elements earth, wind, fire, water. Is that what you refer to?

2. I dont believe in the supernatural. Supernatual makes me think of vampires, ghosts, and goblins. If it exist in the world, its natual. Spirits exist just as my cell phone does. Its not the nature of what I refer to: spirit or phone but how I relate to it: ancestors or complicated metal, plastic clear screen computer object in my hands.

I guess the relationship and perception makes one think one is supernatual and one is not. If its part of this world-reality as we know it-its all all'natual.

Jenett

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2016, 10:33:17 am »
Quote from: Nymree;187651
Thanks everyone, these are great answers and really helpful. I'll have to be careful in my workings with Elementals. I've heard of some people excluding work with Elementals completely and simply calling upon the Gods/Goddesses etc. associated with each Element for their Circle. Is this safer, simpler or just a personal preference, to anyone's understanding, and is it in any way less effective? Thanks again everyone.

 
Well, they're different beings, with different skill sets, so you get different results.

Personally, I've always found the 'deities at quarters' model a bit puzzling: deities are much more complex beings, with a much wider scope of action than elementals or even guardians, and it's always seemed to me to be a bit rude to say "Hey, I'm having a ritual, can you come guard the door?" and then turn around and say to other deities "But you! You get to come to the party and be honoured and celebrated guests we're focusing on!"

There are times that might be appropriate (there are, after all, deities who have a significant role as gatekeepers or guardians of doorways), but most of the time, it's just totally the wrong mode of interaction.

When you're doing it at the quarters, it also puts those deities into odd combinations of interaction that may not be what you want (where the guardians are used to working with each other in that way and balancing each other without necessarily being in opposition to each other.) This is a place people often pick deities from different cultures, and where I think that really doesn't work well.

I also find a lot of the deity choices ... overly simplified or un-nuanced approaches to the deities in question, which can also cause difficulties. in other words, that people focus on one aspect of a deity to slot them into a quarter, and ignore others.

My tradition's ritual structure invites the *powers* of the elements (the associated things that we want in that ritual), as well as asking the guardians to, well, guard. We occasionally invite the elementals and elemental rulers, but only at specific rituals (mostly those focusing on learning about them or working closely with elemental powers.)

As I mentioned, part of my trad's training is developing relationships with those guardians, but it's possible to build them slowly over time - it's just it's like any other relationship. Ongoing work to learn about and understand each element, and to connect to the core concepts for that element (both on its own and in interaction in the larger system) are a good start.

If you're trying to figure out how to start this in ritual, I suggest not inviting any being you don't have a good start at a relationship with (i.e. beginning to learn and build an interaction outside ritual, through meditation or reflection or spending time learning / immersing yourself in that element and its associated things), and starting by inviting the powers of the elements, i.e. the corresponding associations.

These will vary depending on ritual structure and elemental associations, but for example, air is often associated with creativity, communcation, discernment. Water with intuition, emotion, wisdom as distinct from knowledge. Fire is desire and drive and will, earth is prosperity, stability and so on. (There are also many many other aspects, but these are common ones that make up a fairly solid base for a lot of ritual work.)

Some exercises that might be helpful:

- Spend a week focusing on each element, and making a list of things in your life that are associated with that element, and another list of things you have in your house (don't go shopping!) that are associated with that element.

- Commit to spending at least a month getting to know an element in depth: some combination of meditation, reflection, a daily or frequent ritual practice involving that element, getting to know it in different settings.

When I've done these, I've created a playlist for that element, and I've also read at least one book in that month that's strongly related to that element (so it might be about mining or gemstones or financial management for earth, or creativity or a particular artist's biography or the history of flight or something for air...) You can expand this in all sorts of useful directions.
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Emma Eldritch

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2016, 12:16:47 pm »
Quote from: Nymree;187651
Thanks everyone, these are great answers and really helpful. I'll have to be careful in my workings with Elementals. I've heard of some people excluding work with Elementals completely and simply calling upon the Gods/Goddesses etc. associated with each Element for their Circle. Is this safer, simpler or just a personal preference, to anyone's understanding, and is it in any way less effective? Thanks again everyone.

 
That feels a bit like saying, "I've heard chihuahuas bite, so instead I'll use a wolf for a guard dog."

That said, I have seen the approach advocated before. I would say it's a personal preference of a select few, and most certainly not safer or simpler. If you're trying to call on water, why pick a water god? Why not just pick water?

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2016, 12:17:33 pm »
Quote from: FreeSpirit;187655
Mornin.

1. I actually only know elements earth, wind, fire, water. Is that what you refer to?

2. I dont believe in the supernatural. Supernatual makes me think of vampires, ghosts, and goblins. If it exist in the world, its natual. Spirits exist just as my cell phone does. Its not the nature of what I refer to: spirit or phone but how I relate to it: ancestors or complicated metal, plastic clear screen computer object in my hands.

I guess the relationship and perception makes one think one is supernatual and one is not. If its part of this world-reality as we know it-its all all'natual.

 
Wouldn't vampires, ghosts and goblins be natural, too?

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2016, 01:09:43 pm »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;187659
Wouldn't vampires, ghosts and goblins be natural, too?

 
If they actually existed in real life. Do you think they do?

Nymree

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2016, 01:46:37 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;187656

If you're trying to figure out how to start this in ritual, I suggest not inviting any being you don't have a good start at a relationship with (i.e. beginning to learn and build an interaction outside ritual, through meditation or reflection or spending time learning / immersing yourself in that element and its associated things), and starting by inviting the powers of the elements, i.e. the corresponding associations.

These will vary depending on ritual structure and elemental associations, but for example, air is often associated with creativity, communcation, discernment. Water with intuition, emotion, wisdom as distinct from knowledge. Fire is desire and drive and will, earth is prosperity, stability and so on. (There are also many many other aspects, but these are common ones that make up a fairly solid base for a lot of ritual work.)

Thanks, this is really helpful advice and as soon as I free up some time I'll dedicate study time to each Element, the Guardians and the Elementals to get to know them better.
Thanks again, bright blessings.

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Re: The Supernatural
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2016, 02:48:59 pm »
Quote from: FreeSpirit;187660
If they actually existed in real life. Do you think they do?

 
I do believe in ghosts, yes. The other two I think depends on how you define them - if 'vampires' include things like incubi or even just people who suck your energy, then I am open to their existence, sure. If goblins count as some sort of faerie, sure again.

That's the thing with non-corporeal junk - it gets pretty hard pretty fast to decide which invisible entity is more real than another.

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