Winter is typically a time to go within and to rest, reflecting the Earth and how it gets covered by a blanket of snow. As we enter into the spring in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a tendency to emphasize a theme that leans toward planting seeds and beginning to emerge from the slumber that is winter. As we unfold and begin to awaken, the Journey group shall reflect upon basic foundational understandings and go back to the simplicity that is the elements. What are the elements? How do we relate to them? Can we harness the wisdom inherent in them to find deeper meaning within ourselves and others?
There are many cosmologies out there that deal with the foundations of the elemental systems. They span anywhere from a three element system, to a seven element system (sometimes even more). They are akin to an operating system on a computer, and each works better for different individuals and for different purposes. There’s nothing wrong with preferring a Mac over a PC, or vice versa. The problem that we encounter most is that a lot of people are running on autopilot, not aware of how they operate on a foundational level. All of these systems are right in their own way, and the purpose of these journey groups is to find out what your personal foundation is, and to create/maintain an operating system that is right for you.
I will be introducing these concepts from a four element perspective because that is what I am most comfortable with. I do not want the individuals attending to limit themselves to condensing to my viewpoint of how I see things. If you follow one of the other numbered element systems, feel free to read through these blog posts and take what you need. Come to the groups and share your knowledge. Find the hidden gems to deepen your own practice. All paths are welcome, and I encourage others with different viewpoints to come. It brings diversity and a clarity of shared vision to the whole.
If we go back to the elements, we go back to the simple nature of the way things used to be before humans even got here. Human beings have this tendency to add layers of complexity. I have seen many of people anthropomorphize the elements in a negative connotation, because interacting with another human is what makes them feel more comfortable. This creates a complexity that sometimes muddies the clarity we receive from the oldest of ancestors. By not opening up to allowing the river to interact with us as just a river, we can sometimes project human qualities onto natural forces. What that does is add the “baggage” in association with being a human. Human beings are beautiful, creative messes. But humans are fallible. Not all anthropomorphizing is bad, because there are underlying archetypes that relate to our psyche on a subconscious level (Mother, Father, brother, sister, etc.)
The reason why I work with the elements? Because they’re pure and simple. They just are. They do what they do and there’s no motivation to be anything different than what they are because they have been that way since the beginning of time. There is a story that I will tell, that one of my Shamanic Teachers first taught me when I was learning from her. This is a shared story by a lot of shamanic cultures, and these are the roots to a lot of “creation” stories.
Back in the beginning, there was nothing. There was a void. For us as humans, it’s hard for us to understand the vast nothingness because we are something.
But for some reason, this nothingness dreamt. And out of this dream was birthed a spark of fire, and crystal of ice. As the first two manifestations of these dreams emerged from the great nothingness, they began to dance.
The spark of fire grew bigger, and it began to melt the ice crystal. The ice began to melt, and the water began to flow. As the water flowed, it began to put out the fire. When the fire was almost out, it grew cold and the water began to crystallize. When the water crystallized, the fire began to grow stronger again.
This was the first dance of our oldest of ancestors. Grandfather Fire, and Grandmother Ice. And because they were born of the great dream – they too had the ability to dream. Because all dreamers that come from the big dream have the same ability to create and have dreams of their own.
When the water and fire grew, they needed land to support them. That is when Mother Earth was dreamed of, and then birthed. When the rivers had a place to run, the fire found that he needed more fuel to grow. Father Sky was dreamed into being and we get the introduction of air. From the dreams of the earth, air, fire, and water, the first ancestors began to dream of the things to be grown in the ground. They dreamt of plants, of trees, of mountains and landscapes. The dreams of these natural landscapes gave birth to creatures that walked the land, swam in the water, and flew in the sky. Eventually humans were dreamed into creation. And because we come from that dream, we have the ability to dream ourselves. We can create things that still carry that spark of dreaming that comes from the great dreamer that gave birth to us all. This dream weaves us all together, as we are all a part of this Big Dream. Nightmares happen when we feel we are apart from this dream, and there is this lie of separation where we feel disconnected or isolated. The simplest way to connect the closest to these dreams and to have our dreams synchronize with the big dream – is going back to the first ancestors. The elements.
The reason why I shared the story of shared story/concept of creation is because we are all born out of the big dream, and we have the ability to return back to the big dream if we align our thoughts, actions, and behaviors with simplicity. In this creation story, we are introduced to the concept of complementary dualism. In a lot of Eastern Traditions, it’s best explained as yin and yang. Most westerners get confused between the concept of dualism because there is a difference between antagonistic dualism and complementary dualism. Most are accustomed to an antagonistic dualistic perspective, so it’s hard to sometimes see the flip side of the coin without bias. Antagonistic dualism is believing that there is a concept such as good and evil, and that they constantly battle each other. Antagonistic dualism feeds the “lie of separation” because the sides tend to be clearly distinguished between good and evil, and there becomes this “other” that people view themselves as separate from. For a lot of westerners, it’s hard to wrap their minds around the concept of complementary dualism when their major core beliefs and values uphold the lie of separation. They may grasp these concepts in smaller doses and say that the concept of duality can be applied in certain aspects of life, but it is a process of opening up to this system of philosophy that encourages a state of “one-ness”. In a lot of shamanic cultures, there is a core belief that we are all a part of this bigger unity, and everything is connected to each other in ways that are interconnected and interrelated.
When one begins to drop the “lie of separation” and see everything from a more “holistic” sense (and being a part of that whole), then they understand that everything in life is a balance. Yin is a word used to describe the inner aspect, while yang represents the outer. Everything has a yin and yang aspect. When there is too much yin energy present, that leads to a stagnation. If there is too much yang energy, that leads to a depletion. When looking at the elements in this four element system we will be exploring, the elements that represent more of a yin quality are water and earth. These are the elements that are restorative, that which we lean into when we feel tired or exhausted. They are replenishing. The yang elements are represented by the fire and air. We typically go to these elements to carry out certain actions, or to be viewed by other people in a larger setting. They are how we interact with each other (one of the main archetypes that air typically brings is communication). Fire is interesting because it’s an element that requires the other elements to even be initiated. The environment has to be right, and the right potential for combustion needs to be present. Fire needs to constantly be fed, and all of the other elements need to be in balance for a fire to be more properly utilized – otherwise it burns out of control and causes chaos.
There is a simplicity to the elements, but there is also an implied complexity that is intuitive. The four element system correlates to the four wisdom bodies of the human consciousness. Earth is directly correlated with the physical body. Water corresponds with the emotional body. Air corresponds with the mental body. And finally Fire corresponds with the spiritual body. When we apply the four elements to these four wisdom bodies, we can harness our own elemental alchemy for personal transformation. When we bring these questions of self discovery to uncover our own “operating system” to spirit – we get personalized answer back from our helping spirits through journeying.
Journey track as follows:
Month of March: Earth/Wisdom of the physical body
Month of April: Air/Wisdom of the mental body
Month of May: Water/Wisdom of the emotional body
Month of June: Fire/Wisdom of the spiritual body
Remember that even if you are in a distant location and cannot make it in person, there is the option of joining us through Google Hangouts 🙂 Hope to see you there!