Earth as a Teacher
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This page is the unfolding of a path to explore the metaphor of a four element system. This post directly deals with the Earth as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
Table of contents:
Purity and the Elements – Main post, Introduction to four element system and why
Earth (this post)
Air – mental wisdom body
Fire – spiritual wisdom body
Water (coming soon)
Earth is the first element we start off with, because there is a need to be grounded and centered in this world. Our needs of the physical body can be symbolically represented by the element of earth in this four element system. My teachings are based off of the four basic wisdom bodies. In this series, Earth represents the physical body, Air represents the mental body, Fire represents the spiritual body, and Water represents the emotional body. Before we can venture into any of the other bodies, we must take care of the vessel. We cannot venture into the spiritual or emotional bodies with a clear mind if we are sleep deprived, malnutritioned, or in a state of panic/worrying about our safety. This is why the most logical approach at a healthy start is through the earth element. When following a true path of shamanism, it is about the depth of relationship. Lots of people have superficial relationships with people, nature, and most often themselves. People that have a good relationship with the element of earth tend to be people that feel secure with who they are and bring a sense of belonging with them. Have you been around a person who just feels “solid” as compared to a person who is scattered, or doesn’t really feel like they belong? A person can feel rooted in one particular area of their life, but then when they get moved out of that environment of safety, their “stability” can change (having social awkwardness, not good at public speaking, etc.) and they can become fidgety, nervous, and not be as interactive as they once were in their “safe zone”. Meanwhile a person with a strong earth element can bring this sense of “home” or safety with them, emanating it. Others who feel less secure can gravitate towards this type of person with a strong earth element. The thing is, very similar to the earth, our relationship with the earth element can grow. Things that we were once uncomfortable with, we can explore and “grow into” liking. Very similar to how a plant takes time to grow, we ourselves can grow into a different person, changing our comfort level as time goes on.
Technically speaking, there are two different “earth” energies. One is earth as an essence energy, and the other is spirit of the earth as a planet. Most indigenous cultures have words that distinguish the difference between the two, but in the English language we have one word that represents both. This is why some make the distinction and say “Mother Earth”, “Pachamama”, or “Gaia”. For the simplicity of this series, we will mostly be talking about the earth element, and I will emphasize the spirit of earth with a capital E. The earth element represents cleansing, grounding, centering, and a sense of belonging. It can help restore connection and interconnectedness. It is the element that we go to for restoration and rejuvenation. The Earth as a planet is an archetypal energy that can be reflected through many different avenues (most common ones are Goddesses or consciousnesses such as Pachamama or Gaia), but an archetype is the energy that is behind a Goddess. The Earth represents the wisdom that comes from the spirit of the Earth. We go back to the Earth for restoration, it can be the driver of a slow transformation (as compared to fire, which is a quick type of transformation).
There are two different sides to each coin. A healthy relationship with earth looks like what we have listed above. Someone who feels secure with themselves, their choices, and their decisions. They know their place in the great web of life, and are grounded/centered individuals. There can be “too much” of a good thing, and earth in excess can appear depressive, stagnant, too heavy, slowing down/unmoving, feeling like you’re not going anywhere, or having a low self esteem. There could also be a time where there is a feeling of betrayal, as if we had an idea of what our life/life’s purpose was – but then we got “dropped” from the big web of life. This is usually an act/event that breaks trust within the person. Broken trust makes us feel like we are unstable and on “shaky ground”, so doing something that helps re-establish a right relationship with earth can be helpful in bringing us back on track.
What are some ways to work with the earth? It is definitely helpful to have a “hands on” approach with this, because the earth element is about our physical body. It’s great to receive messages from spirit, but the main thing the earth element teaches – is how do we ground these visions we see into reality? There is a tendency in this westernized contemporary culture to “overthink” things, spending way too much time in the mental realm instead of the physical realm. This is why we have predispositions to anxiety and fast racing thoughts. When we learn to slow down and take a walk through nature, we can learn to appreciate our physical body and recharge. For those that need a refresher on energetic health and recognizing when we need to focus on our relationship with earth, please read the Energetic Bucket metaphor. When we feel that we are feeling “drained” or our energy is running low, sometimes replenishing ourselves by eating some comfort food, getting a good nights rest, or simply taking a walk outside in nature can help to “refill our bucket”. It’s good practice to feel the earth on our skin. When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? Getting into our bodies is the first step into getting us our of our heads. For some that have trouble with the earth as an element, taking up gardening or finding a nice park to sit in could be helpful things to help restore our connection to this element. We often go to the Earth to listen for the heart beat and to synchronize with a bigger picture, and feel connected to something larger then ourselves. Restore that sense of awe and bring gratitude back into our daily practice. The Earth carries an innate wisdom to be whole, as well as how to heal. If we are having trouble with a particular sore spot, or wound (whether emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually), we can go to the wisdom of the earth to help correct this balance.
When we begin to work with earth as an element, we begin to talk about our boundaries and our sovereignty. Sovereignty is having a healthy relationship with our ego, making sure not to dip into arrogance, but having a firm knowledge that we are in control of ourselves and establishing dominion with our choices. Most people who are operating on “auto-pilot” tend to not be aware of their own actions and their impact on others. For those raised in a dogmatic household, perhaps we have been taught from a young age that it’s bad if we stand up for ourselves, and things are “wrong” if we do them a certain way. We could have a past history of abuse and have had our trust broken so many times that we don’t know how to begin to open up. Perhaps we might have a lot of clearing work to do before we can actually get down to the real working relationship of earth. With a more balanced earth element, we can set our own rules, and take up responsibility for our actions. We must be willing to take up space. For those with a spotty relationship with earth, they will often find themselves shrinking when they are not sure of themselves.
When working with the element of earth, we ask ourselves these basic questions:
- Why am I here?
- Where do I stand?
- What do I stand for?
- How do I gain confidence in these aspects?
The healthiest aspect of being in a working relationship with earth is carrying your sense of belonging with you. This cultivates Presence. There is a difference between engagement (which is chatter) and presence (going deeper). Many people can talk a big talk, but what is the solidarity behind their words? What actions do they take in the real world which back up what they are saying? A person with a healthy relationship with earth will be able to say something, and then follow through with it. We must remember to be nomadic, and bring this sense of presence with us. Where have we been laying double standards? Where we get upset at someone for doing something when we do it ourselves? Maybe deep down we are really upset at ourselves because we keep performing an action that we resent ourselves for and instead are projecting our upset onto someone else. It’s easier to see the sickness in others rather then ourselves.
Whenever there is a light, there is always going to be a shadow that is cast. For every aspect that we will talk about in this four element system, we will also briefly explore the shadow aspect. The shadow is not a bad thing, however many people put a negative connotation on it because of this societies fear of death and polarization (good vs. evil mentality). In an indigenous culture or true shamanic path, there is no such thing as good or evil, everything is perceived of as a lesson. This polarization is a relatively new concept which indicates that anything that has “darkness” is bad. The shadow (the term coined by Carl Jung, one of the major influences of modern Psychology) is originally supposed to be an archetype that represents a respite, a break because of a challenge/trauma. Now-a-days, the shadow is pretty much a closet that we shove repressed aspects of ourselves in because it’s been viewed as “bad” or “not fitting in”. We still have access to these parts of ourselves, but they come out in “shadow patterns” or archetypes. The shadow of earth is represented by an earthquake. Again, this innately is not a “good” thing or a “bad” thing, because the earthquake represents a time in our life where we need to be reminded of our bare bones of who we are. Many times when there is an earthquake, our relationship with earth has become so shaky that the shaking energy has the ability to bring us back home again. If we have created a life built on an illusion of what we believe we are supposed to do in this world, an earthquake can be extremely detrimental because we realize that underneath we don’t have the best foundation. For those that have a healthy relationship with earth, an earthquake will just reinforce the “support structures” of our life, and realize how unshakable we really are.
Abundance is not dropped from on high, it is cultivated from the earth. Don’t forget to look down at your foundation. Who are you? Why are you here? What do you stand for and why do you stand for it? If you journey, it is an activity that is question driven. Some good journey questions to ask for the element of earth are:
- What does my relationship with earth look like?
If your relationship is not what you had originally envisioned, you can then ask:
- What does a healthy relationship with earth look like for me?
If it’s still something that makes you uncomfortable, the next journey question should be:
- How do I bridge the gap? What are the next steps for me to take to create a healthier relationship with earth?
Hopefully these questions will begin to help kick start you on the path of finding your stability and relationship with your own inner world. For those that tend to be more auditory learners, feel free to listen to this helpful 45 minute podcast from Why Shamanism Now about Earth.
Any questions, concerns, or generalized comments, please feel free to call/text 571.306.3197 or email email@example.com
Fly high, everyone!
7 thoughts on “Earth as a Teacher”
March 31, 2017 at 11:24 am
[…] Earth – Physical Body […]
March 31, 2017 at 12:30 pm
[…] Earth – Representation of our Physical Body […]
April 1, 2017 at 8:07 am
[…] Earth – Metaphor for our relationship to our Physical Wisdom Body. Our physical body contains the innate wisdom of how to heal, and how we can live well in this world. […]
April 1, 2017 at 8:18 am
[…] Earth as a Teacher Brief Summary: Expansion on Purity and the Elements. Goes into what the earth element represents as well as how it can be a useful introspective tool which helps us clarify our boundaries, stability, and ability to flourish Words: 2,100 words Average read time: 8 minutes […]
April 1, 2017 at 10:39 am
[…] last two months we have been working on the topic of earth as an element, and exploring that relationship as a metaphor of our physical body. The rest will be as follows on […]
May 9, 2017 at 8:03 am
[…] Earth – Representation of our Physical Body […]
May 9, 2017 at 9:05 am
[…] February and March: Earth – getting the grounding, boundaries, and centering under wraps. This is a crucial part to understanding the element of earth […]