To know the elements is to know the secrets of nature. To be able to observe and classify different situations and emotions in life means that we're able to change them more easily by using subtle elemental interactions.
As practitioners of magick we're expected to be in balance, to be knowledgeable and ready for anything that life throws at us. But are we really?
Our physical and mental health go hand in hand. The organs can impact our emotions and mood as much as the emotions can impact our organs. Fear makes our kidneys sick, anger makes the liver sick, too much joy or ambition can hurt the heart, worry impacts the spleen and stomach and sorrow can make our lungs and immune system weak, and vice versa. So what do we do to prevent the excess of some energies within us? Do we do anything at all?
Western civilization is largely focused on patching the holes and the damage that already occurred, instead of preventing the damage from ever happening. We eat the food that we know is bad for us, thinking that we'll deal with the results once they occur, as if we're stealing something precious from life by cheating. We keep saying stuff that hurts the people around us, hoping that a "sorry" and a couple of excuses about our sad past will mend it all. We don't have the thoughts of structural integrity. Once we've had a heart attack, there is tissue in there that is weakened and will never be like it was before, and once we've been mean to someone, there are some serious cracks in our relationship. Both the weakened tissue and the cracks is where the next emergency will show up.
The cycles of nature
There are 2 cycles that rule the elements. Sheng is the nourishing cycle, or mother-son relationship, where one element passes energy and strengthens the next element.
Wood feeds the fire, fire warms the earth, earth bears metal, metal enriches water and water nourishes wood or tree.
Ke is the controlling cycle, or grandmother-grandson relationship, where every element controls the one after the next. Wood stabilizes the earth (roots prevent soil erosion), earth contains and directs water, water dampens and regulates fire, fire melts and refines the metal, metal chops the tree.
These cycles are also called positive because their interaction is natural and preventative, in order to ensure the nourishment of every element and to prevent excess. There are also a weakening and an overacting cycle which can happen once the damage is already done.
If we act according to nature, we can expect to be healthy and our energies to be at their peak.
Analyzing where we stand and which direction to choose
Once we know enough about the elements to be able to link anything we see to them, we can choose to use that knowledge to get further in our practice. If we show certain symptoms and emotions repeatedly, we can say with certainty which elements are impacted, in what way and what to do to raise their energy. Very often, we can also connect the problems in our magical practice with the problems we experience on the physical plane. And in the same way, we can connect our emotions and behaviours to the issues that come up over and over.
We are walking open books for the people that know how to observe and read us. Every extreme in our behaviour, speech patterns we use when we talk, even the colors we wear can point to the exact issue that we have and try to hide in our every day interactions. Those issues can point to our weaknesses in our magical practice as well and where we're vulnerable. For a species (witches) that claims we're one with nature, many of us are so detached that it's painfully obvious. And I am aware that we're all doing our best, yet we could be doing even better by working on prevention and not on damage control, especially once the damage already happened.
In life we're instructed not to act out of anger or make decisions when we're upset. We're instructed not to shop while we're hungry and not to make long term commitments while we're in love. These wisdoms come from thousands of years of human collective experience and they are deeply rooted in our human genetics. Humans as a part of nature are pretty predictable once we know what to look for.
Once we've analyzed certain behaviours or symptoms, we can very accurately predict in which direction a person will move or how they will act.
Magick is all about prediction
Let's say we're to do a ritual for someone and we know their life story and their issues, but we can't quite decide what to do to help them. The lady, someone close to us, tries to get away from her abuser, they battle over custody over their children, there's also the house they bought together and many other things that just hang there in front of us with no real solution in sight. We can all say it's quite different than when a girl comes over and asks us to break up her best friend and the guy she likes. There are no strings attached to that situation, if we were to do it (please don't actually do it, it's just an example) that would be easy. But in a situation that is complex we might feel lost.
So how do we approach it?
We can analyze our friend and ask about the emotions she's dealing with the most. Is it fear, is it resentment and worry, is she feeling heartbroken or vindictive, is she still in love with him? You'd be surprised by what people consider to count as love.
From this we can determine what kind of support she needs. Would it be self care? Can she do most on her own? Does she need protection or ancestral help?
Additionally, we can analyze the other person involved.
Is he straight up cruel and like that every day, is he doing this when he's drunk, would he enter a bar fight without thought or is he a weakling that would scream if a man would approach him aggressively? How is he with the kids? Is he obsessive, possessive or not caring that they exist? Does he want the custody out of spite and to control?
All these dominating traits can show us a clear course of action. Will a legal battle be enough, does he need to be repelled or straight up bound and banished or worse?
This is a hypothetical situation and I know that practitioners from different paths might not agree with the examples here, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we're able to pinpoint the problem, the element that is weak or excessive, and choose actions that will most appropriately deal with the situation.
If we know how someone acts, we can predict what they will do next and that is prevention at its finest.
What if the lady that came to us is the aggressor? She might be neglecting the children and abusing them. On the outside she acts like a victim but is, in fact, the factor that tears the family apart. And what if her partner drinks occasionally because he feels stressed and helpless and has never raised his hand. They might have argued but in the end he wants to protect his children and this is the reason he wants the custody.
Would you be able to feel this, to find it out on your own by observing the way someone talks to you?
Witches and personal responsibility
The video contains several examples of unbalanced behaviours, so I won't be mentioning them here again.
When it comes to being a magical person, the title comes with certain responsibilities.
We're not a good witch if we're not dealing with our own shitty behaviour. In that case we're just egomaniacs with a cute title we can hide behind. In order to be able to help others we first must be able to fix ourselves.
This is the first issue that comes up once we start exploring our elements. If we're ready to balance them, we'll start working on fixing our own issues right away. Only after that are we able to help others. A witch is aware of the patterns that haunt them in life. A witch is also strict and works to dismantle unbeneficial learned behaviours.
As witches we inhabit the liminal spaces. We're in between planes and we should be embracing the uncomfortable, the thing we don't like to hear and that one thing that we should have dealt with years ago. Talking about the elements and the power to wield them should imply that we're able to control them in ourselves. Our magick is the reflection of what is inside. We're only projecting on the outside what is going on inside us.
So what makes you uncomfortable? What triggers you? How angry or relieved or happy are you right now?
How much did you know all along? What did you sense in others without being able to categorize it?
We're missing out on power
We're definitely missing out on possibilities by not knowing enough to actively work with the elements. Most of us know that our own rituals and spells will often work better than ones that someone else wrote. We can use the words and symbols that mean something to us and are way more accurate. How exciting would it be to know the colors, scents and items we could use in our own rituals to make them extra potent? Just by knowing on which elements we'll be working and what belongs to those elements we can achieve outstanding results.
Or how amazing would it be to be able to focus in a direction we want something to happen by using correspondences that will guide us into the element we want to reach?
Knowledge is power. Knowledge is metal, which is engaging the change, and change can lead us to just about anywhere we want to be.