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Thread: The elements and non-theistic or pantheistic paths

  1. #1
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    The elements and non-theistic or pantheistic paths

    Hi all,

    I've been delving into forging my own non-theistic spiritual path for some time now, utilising various types of pagan symbolism and metaphor, but I've had a hard time deciding how much to draw in from my older more Wiccan path, and how much to just let go of completely.

    My question is - for those of you who don't view the elements as literal energies, do you include them in your practice? If so, how and why? What metaphorical or symbolic use do you find they have? I have so far included them as a means to meditate on the essence of life and those things necessary to us to flourish. However, if anyone has any alternative ideas, I'm all ears.

    I also have a major issue with cardinal directions. I have a basic understanding of where the connection came from originally, but seeing as none of that stuff is anything I believe in, I have started either ignoring the cardinal directions or acknowledging them separately to the elements.

    However - for any of you who would have a similar viewpoint to me, do you connect the elements to the cardinal points? And again, if you do, why? Is there any naturalistic way to do so?

    I'm asking this because I'm finding my current observance of the "elements" to be a bit hollow, and I miss associating them with the cardinal directions. On the other hand, making that connection seems a bit off to me, as I can't find a logical reason for it.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
     is offline I was not born under a rhyming planet.
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    I use the elements in meditation sometimes. Psychologically I have always found water very comforting and peaceful. Earth very stable and resilient. Fire violent and powerful and I Air to be refreshing, so if I need to feel calm I meditate on water for example.
    Previously known as Njorun Alma


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  3. #3
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    Hmm yes I've been neglecting the psychological aspects somewhat, but I have similarly strong reactions to them, so I might try bringing that into it. Thanks!

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    The elements can be taken as parts of the person doing the meditation:

    Earth: The physical body, ie, the part left over when the individual dies.

    Water: The emotional body. More nebulous than the physical, but still concerned with the physical world. This would be as far as animals go, so we're still dealing with man as mere ape.

    Air: The intellect. Still associated with a specific physical manifestation, namely the 3 lbs of gray jelly between your ears, but this is where we leave even social animals behind and start dealing with Civilization.

    Fire: The soul, or if you prefer an agnostic metaphor, the self-consciousness. Whatever you think the nature of the soul might be, you can't point to any specific group of cells and say "there it is."

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    Another interesting take, thank you! I suppose another way of looking at that would be earth as physical body, water as unconscious or instinctive mind, air as the conscious mind, and fire as the divine self, soul, deeper unconscious, sense of self, or whatever one wants to call it.

    I'm still not sure about connecting them to the elements, though. Obviously earth makes sense, if we're talking about the parts of our bodies that are solid and will return to earth, but my issue with this kind of thing is why exactly the other three are connected to aspects (as I see it) of the mind. I'll need to think about that some more. I understand that it could just be seen as metaphorical, but I guess I like to have a very solid reason that resonates with me personally behind my metaphors!

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    The elemental connections are traditional, but I figured that the logic was water=blood=emotion in that we tend to perceive strong emotions as relating to the circulatory system. Love makes the "heart race," rage makes the "blood boil," fear makes the "blood run cold" a lusty person is "hot blooded" while an emotionally suppressed or distant one is "cold blooded."

  7. #7
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    Hmm yeah that might explain the connection alright.

    I think for the moment within ritual I'm going to stick to acknowledging the elements as states of matter or essential conditions for life - but viewing fire as more of a symbol of energy or process, and the other three as matter. But I'll start working the more psychological/connected to the body aspects in meditation and go from there.

    Thanks for your answers - and if anyone else has any thoughts, please do share!

    I'd particularly love to hear some opinions on connecting them to the cardinal points - as of now, I've decided against doing that entirely.
    Last edited by Aine de Morrigan; September 28th, 2012 at 06:53 AM.

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