#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, simple living, spirituality

Living in the Deep: What it means to live a slow, passionate, creative life

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Creative Commons Zero | Dreamstime.com

In the past few years, I have been trying to strike a careful balance between opening myself up to the world, fully living in it, and living slowly. There have been missteps along the way. Taking a part-time job quickly turned into an energy suck. But letting go of it made space for the opportunity to teach English as a second language, which quickly unlocked a passion for working with underserved communities. I almost made the mistake of joining every writing group I could, but I’m trying to choose those that best serve where I’m at now in my writing career.

We can’t be everything to everybody. We have to choose a few things and do those really well. And we all have varying levels of energy. Some people can function in a high-energy state of overdrive with very little downtime. I, personally, suffer from several chronic medical conditions that are in and of themselves part-time jobs. They require management, attention, and downtime.

When I was in undergraduate, my journalism professor told me, when it came to opportunities, “You’re the belle of the ball. Dance with everyone.” And that was fantastic advice for a twenty-year-old. I went to grad school, interned at a daily city newspaper, had lots of awesome experiences.

But then I entered adulthood, post-college, and kept doing it. I was working three jobs and volunteering. I experienced a level of burnout that took a lot of recovery. I was exhausted and sick and no one could figure out why. “Maybe try doing less,” my doctor suggested when all the tests turned up nothing.

So, I did. I started focusing exclusively on writing. And then, later, I added in teaching ESL. I’d like to start fostering for the animal shelter again, if my husband is up for it.

I make time for slowness in my life. Some of the best parts of my day are those sunny afternoons when the animals and I just chill in the backyard. It’s actually very little sitting. It’s mostly herding cats and stopping the dog from digging, but it is so wonderful. It’s my happy place. Well, one of them, anyway.

I make time for moments that involve nothing but me, a comfy spot to sit, a warm blanket, and a cup of tea. I turn thoughts over like a hound turns over leaves searching for rabbit scents. I open myself up the goddess and god and wait for their guidance. I seek the part of myself that is calmness and light in a stormy sea of chaos.

I am often overwhelmed, with too many to-do items waiting in the wings. I read in a simple living book that we’re better served choosing three items to accomplish each day rather than crafting a rambling to-do list, and I’ve tried to work from that. Three is manageable. Anymore and I feel like I’m failing. Three forces me to prioritize. Three allows me to make time for stillness and self-care and all of my other responsibilities, from walking the dog to doing dishes, and space for relationships—cuddle time with my husband, phone chats with my siblings, coffee dates with friends.

I am learning. I am imperfect. I am a work in progress.

This week was an example of that. Overwhelmed by all the things I’ve taken on, I managed to revise one chapter. Not as many as I’d like, but I feel like this book is deepening, opening up to a level it hadn’t been at before, and I am so proud of what I wrote this week. I finished my word-cloud and sent it off to a blogging expert who’s helping me hone this aspect of my writing. I started off strong with visiting others’ blogs, but fell off toward the end, so there’s room for improvement there.

In terms of tending the hearth fire, the new washer and dryer are in! Finally. It was quite an ordeal, but we have a new washer and dryer. We’re still in the midst of the living room redecorating, and creating a message center in our hallway to organize incoming mail, action items like bills and whatnot, and receipts, which are all problem areas for us organization-wise. We have some major projects are on the horizon, but I think we both want to focus on some smaller ones before we tackle anything large like this again.

And so, I head into next week looking for some time to recharge. It snowed today, believe it or not, but the weatherman assures us warmer days are on the horizon, and I trust in the promise of spring.

I have always craved stillness and depth and purpose and magic. I have tried to fill my life with those things. There are, of course, the mundane things—the bills to be paid, the errands to run.

But in the midst of these things, there is magic.

Washing the dishes, the slightly citrusy scent of the dish soap filling my nostrils, Celtic tunes playing in the background, I am reminded that in the midst of the everyday, magic glitters.

We just have to be paying attention.

What about you? How did your week progress? How do you seek out calm and stillness in the midst of everyday chaos?

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#ROW80 check-ins, personal journeys, simple living, spirituality

The Practice of Stillness

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Creative Commons Photos | Dreamstime.com

“The Page of Cups is sentimental. She is a true romantic at heart, and in a world that is filled with so much noise and bustle, she longs for the time and space to simply breathe and to truly take in the pleasures that abound. She listens to the still voice from deep inside that speaks with understanding and intuition, and she longs to believe in the impossible.”—Stephanie Pui-Man Law and Barbara Moore, Shadowscapes Companion

The other night I was reading Tarot with my beloved Shadowscapes deck, and I stumbled across this beautifully written description of the Page of Cups. It resonated with me on so many levels, but most importantly because it’s a great description of the life I am striving to cultivate. A life in which stillness is appreciated, revered, and celebrated. A life where intuition is listened to as a trusted guide, its voice never silenced. A life where creativity emerges naturally because it is given the space to do so. A life where beauty is celebrated for its own sake.

I think the first step to a journey toward a simpler, more purposeful, more creative life is to cultivate stillness. It doesn’t have to be a monthlong vow of silence, or an hour-long practice per day. Even five minutes of stillness can go a long way toward creating a space for a new way of life to emerge.

This week was a perfect example. Tuesday night, I honored the super blue blood moon (you heard that right—lots of power wrapped up in that name) by drumming and meditating. It was a space to connect with spirit; a space to honor the earth, moon, and stars; a space for reflection, pause, magic, and connection.

Stillness, in the right quantities, doesn’t create disconnect or foster loneliness. The right amount of stillness, especially for introverts and highly sensitive persons, cultivates warmth, compassion, gratitude, and creativity.

When we are still, we are open to ideas that will take our creative practice to new heights. When we practice stillness, we create a small space inside of us that is filled with calm and connected to our intuition. We can then call on that calm and intuition during the more frantic, busy, chaotic moments of our day.

This week, in a quiet house, since my husband was away on business for most of the week, I connected to stillness. I worked magic. I listened—to my heart, to spirit, to my intuition, which are all perhaps one and the same.

I find myself recharged, reenergized, ready to get back to the business of making art, ready and energized in a way that I haven’t been for a while.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. It doesn’t even have to be every day. Look up. At the full moon, the stars, the patterns of the clouds, a flock of geese, a hawk soaring high above.

Once we’re still, and we’re looking, we can then begin to listen.

I’d like to end with a brief ROW80 check-in. Again, I’ve divided my goals into three categories: creative living, simple living, and healthy living.

CREATIVE LIVING

The big news for the week is that Oak-Bound is finished and out on submission!

I also wrote a new opening scene for my novel Spellfire’s Kiss, the first in a series. I did a ton of brainstorming for that series. I realized one of the key ingredients that was missing was a strong sense of setting. My theory is that if you could pick up the characters and plot and plop them down in another place, if they lift right out of the setting, there’s something off. And I wanted a town where magic, while not necessarily openly acknowledged, could coexist with our world. Enter Gladewood, Virginia, bordered by Emerald Creek. Thus, the new series name is Emerald Creek Magic, and a new fictional place is born. Now that Oak-Bound is submitted, I’d like to revise a chapter a day, but that might be pushing it with all the changes I want to make. Some chapters might take two days.

SIMPLE LIVING

Some meditation, and making a point to be present, to savor the moment, and to practice slowness and stillness this week. As I do so, I feel my creativity opening up like a flower to the sun, and I’m reminded of how closely linked simplicity and creativity are.

On the decluttering front, I used to have a tote bag crammed full of stuff sitting beside the sofa—in addition to a small, round storage ottoman full of stuff. I dumped everything out on the floor and sorted through it. Now, the tote bag is empty and tucked away upstairs to be used for trips to the beach, and the storage ottoman is organized, with a few essential items neatly tucked inside.

Saturday, I took a few things up to the attic for temporary storage. I have developed a system where I label the box with the date I packed it, and if I don’t need anything in that box within six months, I’ll take it to the thrift store. This is mostly to appease my husband, who has more trouble parting with things than I do. I boxed up another box of stuff from the kitchen and that is heading to the attic as well.

HEALTHY LIVING

I did a lot of walking with Leo this week, so I definitely got some good exercise. I didn’t eat a lot of sugar or fatty foods, but I need to get better about making sure I don’t skip meals during the day. Often, I get so caught up in tasks that I forget to stop and eat something healthy, and then by the time I’m hungry, I just grab the first thing I see, which isn’t always the healthiest thing to eat.

(A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge for ordinary folks who want to set their own manageable goals and find a supportive community to cheer them on in their journey. Click here to join us.)

What about you? How do you make room for stillness in your life? How did you practice living simply, creatively, and healthfully this week?

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#ROW80 check-ins, spirituality

Embracing the Life of a Kitchen Witch

Recipe Book

This week has been all about going deeper into my spiritual life. I meditated, worked on my book of shadows, started a book of magical recipes, and spent time in nature, breathing in the scent of loamy soil, fresh-cut grass, and pine. For a long time I’ve walked an eclectic path as a Witch/Pagan, but this week I felt called to explore a more specific path—that of a Kitchen Witch. It works well with my belief that all aspects of our lives are magical—even the seemingly mundane tasks of chopping vegetables and scrubbing the counters are imbued with magic. I’m just beginning to tread the path of a Kitchen Witch. We will see what I find as I explore the magic of hearth and home.

As far as writing, this week I wrote 2,460 words in Bewitched by the Dragon. I’m still feeling this story out, so I might switch over to Fates Entangled for a few days. I think the former wants to be a trilogy, and I’m trying to listen and see what that story needs from me.

I’m currently reading two books, Courting Darkness, the tenth book in Yasmine Galenorn’s Otherworld series, and The Goddess is in the Details, a work of spiritual nonfiction by Deborah Blake.

Although my word count for the week wasn’t anything too grand, it was still a very creative week. I’ve embraced the path of a Kitchen Witch. I added three pages to my book of shadows and started another scrapbook, a collection of magical recipes. So, special recipes for the Sabbats and Esbats, etc., will go in that book. That way I don’t touch my regular book of shadows with greasy hands. This one (see photo above) is designed to be in the kitchen where the action is.

Mostly this week was about embracing the changing nature of life. I’m adjusting (slowly) to life without my cat Roo. I still have Tigger and Zander and my very crazy puppy, Leo, to keep me company, but Roo was my writing companion, and I miss her—which probably explains why sitting down to write was so hard this week. And I’m embracing changes on my spiritual path, and hubby and I are talking about how our life might change next year when he’s out of graduate school. Where we’ll live, etc. Will we stay in this area but move to a house in the country, some place with a fenced-in yard for Leo? Will we uproot our lives and explore a new region of the country? That’s life, full of change and possibility. Forward we go.

What about you? What changes have you encountered recently, and how have you dealt with them?

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#ROW80 check-ins, spirituality

What the Tarot had to say…

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Photo by Vangelis Liolios, Dreamstime.com

As a practicing Pagan, the Tarot is sacred to me. It’s a way to commune with the Goddess and God, to seek out their guidance, to find a light in the dark when I’m fumbling in the shadows of midnight.

Reading Tarot cards is a regular part of my spiritual practice, a guiding light in my life when the path is shrouded in darkness. So, recently, I turned to the cards for guidance in my writing career.

The card I drew was The Hanged Man, one of the cards in the Major Arcana. It wasn’t surprising, given that I’ve been making really slow progress lately. This card depicts a man hanging from his foot from a tree, and it represents a period of stillness, but one in which we are still in order to learn the secrets to freeing ourselves.

As Biddy Tarot writes of The Hanged Man:

“This is a card that is all about suspension and waiting, and suggests that this may be just what you need to do in order to allow new possibilities to arise. Sometimes not acting will help to shed more light on what other options are available to you and will allow more attractive opportunities to emerge.”

I realized that what I’ve been doing is grappling with my writing, confronting it and demanding it move forward. I used to have a beagle, a beautiful, gentle soul named Angel. When she found a scent she wanted to study, there was no moving her. She would lock her legs and refuse to budge. Trying to move my writing forward has been like trying to urge a beagle onward. For whatever reason, it wants to stay where it is.

This card can represent a period of waiting and gestation in between chapters in life, and my intuition tells me that change is on the horizon. My writing career is going through a period of incubation that precedes a transformation. We will see where this leads.

In light of this, I’m revising my goals for the remainder of 2016 to be more fluid. Here they are:

  • Do something writing-related every day, seven days a week: journal, write a poem, take notes on a story, read a writing book, brainstorm, etc.
  • Reconnect with my spiritual practice.
  • Start a regular yoga practice.
  • At least twice a week, explore another creative outlet, anything from scrapbooking to cooking to home decorating or Feng Shui.

So far this week I’ve written two poems, written a meditation/spell for one of the full moons, and started a couple redecorating projects around the house.

What about you? Have you ever entered a period of stillness in your creative life? What did you learn?

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#ROW80 check-ins, spirituality, sunday summary

Sunday Summary

I’ll keep this one brief. Not much happened this week, just a whole lot of editing.  I finally finished a manuscript critique for someone and sent my comments, so the next few weeks I can dig into my next writing goals: Revising my novella Spellfire’s Kiss and writing a couple more novelette-length fairy-tale retellings.

I’ve been trying to reconnect spiritually, and I had a great full moon ritual this week. And I finally started my Book of Shadows. Here’s a peek:

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Long evening strolls on which I’ve made a few discoveries—a pine branch the perfect size for a wand, and a pristine bird’s feather—have helped fuel my creativity and helped me connect to the divine.

And lastly, this week’s ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals: Edited White Wolf, Red Cloak and sent to critique partners. Edited Spirits of Embers and sent to beta reader. Line edits on The Faerie Key. That one needs to go to the proofreader, but I think I need one more read-through first.

(Oh, and my author website now features a Coming Soon page, where you can learn about upcoming releases and get sneak peeks of covers.)

Reading goals: Read Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing by Dean Wesley Smith, which I found helpful. I’m currently reading Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne, which started a little slow, but has picked up and has a really fascinating world. (Basically, humans are hunting vampires instead of the other way around.)

Life goals: Some exercise—long walks, playing Frisbee, and partner yoga one evening. No work on painting the house. I had time Saturday, but painting the kitchen is going to be such a chore that I just…didn’t. Sigh.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you reconnect? What are some ways you maintain your creativity outside of your writing practice?

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#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, spirituality

The Promise of Spring & ROW80 Check-In

Has spring arrived in your neck of the woods yet? Here, the daffodils are in full bloom and the buds are bursting on the trees.

Spring holds the promise of renewal and rebirth, of transformation and new beginnings. And with that promise comes a sense of connection to the world around us, and to the inner self that is called to the world’s magic the way a seedling is coaxed out of the ground by sunshine and spring rain.

In honor of the promise of spring, here’s a lovely little tune I’d like to share, “Bird Song,” by The Wailin’ Jennys. A sample of the lyrics is below. Enjoy, and happy spring.

 

I smell the flowers blooming, opening for spring
I’d like to be those flowers, open to everything

I feel the seasons change, the leaves, the snow and sun
I’d like to be those seasons, made up and undone

I taste the living earth, the seeds that grow within
I’d like to be that earth, a home where life begins

–The Wailin’ Jennys, “Bird Song”

ROW80 check-in

ROW80Logocopy1.) Writing:

  • Work on revising Made of Shadows, a paranormal romance novel. I set this story aside for a while so I could get some distance, but I think I’m ready to return to it with a fresh perspective. Finish short story/novelette that I just started. Wrote 3,679 words in this project. I’m still working on a title.
  • Finish the second draft of the novella I finished in Round 1, Good, Old-Fashioned Magic. On hold until I finish the short story I started. Planning on starting the second draft in May.

2.) Read 4 books on the craft/business of writing. Currently reading “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King.

3.) Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter daily. Goal met for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, not for Monday or Friday.
  • Comment on 3-5 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Target met all days except Monday.
  • Blog 3 times a week with new blog schedule. Blogged twice this week. I’m thinking of changing this back to two times per week instead of three, since that schedule seemed to work better.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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mash-ups, spirituality, sunday summary, yoga

The Intersection of Yoga and Writing–and this Week’s Mash-Up

photo from stock.xchng

Earlier this year, I rediscovered my yoga practice. For those of you who don’t do yoga, it’s more than a form of exercise; it’s a spiritual practice meant to bring mind, body, and soul into balance.

For most of my life, I’ve celebrated and revered the life of the mind. From the mind all great inventions and creations spring: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Einstein’s theory of relativity. Gradually, I allowed my spiritual practice to fall away, too consumed with what I was doing. I saw my body merely as a tool, not as something to be honored in its own right.

By forcing us to become aware of our bodies–every muscle, every movement, every breath–yoga reconnects our busy minds, our stressed bodies, our neglected souls. Its art is in its simplicity: The focus on breathing in and out, the holding and releases of poses. Even wiggling the fingers, flexing the toes, following the breath from nose to belly, draws the awareness. We release the worries of our day. The books to be written, tasks to be completed fall away. And in that space, mind, body, and heart become one. By the end of the practice, we stop chiding ourselves for our failings. We accept ourselves as we are. True, that feeling rarely lasts, but it becomes easier to cultivate with each breath, each posture, each intention.

At the beginning of every practice, my instructor asks us to set an intention. In November, our focus has been gratitude. What are we grateful for? In that space, there’s no room to overthink. I’m grateful for my body, my life, my job, my art, the simple blessing of attending yoga class each week and the kind souls who join me there. We can also dedicate our practice to something, if we choose. The options are endless. These are not goals, but intentions–simpler, deeper, powerful.

Such a practice can also be helpful for us, as artists, as writers. Too many blog posts and articles tell us to set goals. We create Excel spreadsheets and track our word counts. Ours is a very goal-driven society, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes, it’s not the quantity of words written. It’s the intent with which we write.

During our yoga class, the sun’s last rays filter in through the high windows. Candles flicker from all corners of the room. Wooden floorboards creak gently beneath our feet as we stretch and move between poses. Quiet music plays in the background. There’s no competition; we’re too focused on our own breath, each person reaching as far into the pose as she can. Like writers before the blank page, it’s just us. No one is watching.

If you were to set an intention each day as you sat before the blank page, what would it be? An intention isn’t a goal, a number, something measured, easily achieved or clearly delivered. It comes from a deeper place.

The next time you sit down to write, how would you answer this question: Why are you writing today? What is your intention?

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness:

Mila Ballentine interviews enchantress of tales Tonya Kappes in this inspiring interview.
Michelle Davidson talks faerie-tale inspiration in this guest blog post at Nicole Zoltack’s blog.
Wisdom and Whimsy: Join the bloggers over at the Fantasy Collective for a celebration of author Anne McCaffrey’s work.
Lisa Lin offers tips to keep the procrastination faeries at bay.
In the midst of NaNo, memoirist Wade Rouse offers authors 10 ways to stay true to themselves in publishing.
Graphic designer, photographer, author. Melinda VanLone does it all, and Diane Capri caught up with her to chat about her upcoming release.

spirituality, the seasons

Autumn: The Season of Letting Go

As the wheel of the year turns, we celebrate Samhain, also known as Halloween, a time to honor our ancestors and embrace a new season. Autumn is quickly yielding to winter’s freeze, and the season offers us a time to honor our ancestors and those who have passed before us.

But autumn also offers us something more. It is certainly a time of remembrance, but it is also a time of release. Just as autumn leaves tumble toward the ground, we release what is no longer working in our lives: habits that are holding us back, thinking patterns that are moving us backward instead of forward, stale projects that have become less than fulfilling.

“A study in Scarlet 1” by boogy_man at stock.xchng

We understand that this season isn’t an end but part of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It’s only by the trees shedding their leaves and entering the frozen winter season that we can celebrate the spring’s renewal. Even in winter, the forest holds its promise of life’s return.

“Everything lost is found again,
In a new form, in a new way;
Everything hurt is healed again,
In a new time, in a new day.”
–Kore Chant

At Samhain, or Halloween, we can take time to reflect on that which has left our lives, preparing ourselves for something new. We offer gratitude for the harvest, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, but also prepare for a new season, a new year.

Last year, I left my teaching position at the university to focus more on my other two jobs, my job in public relations and my role as a writer and blogger. I plunged into social media, joining the WANA 1011 tribe. And I really, truly started to figure out what I wanted in my life.

I realize now that I had kept myself so busy—wanting to impress, determined to pave the road to success—that I forgot to be present in my life. I forgot to enjoy each season. I needed to slow down. Because I’d been so busy checking items off my to-do list, creating goals and achieving them, I’d lost touch with my inner guide.

“We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”

–Jane Austen, in Mansfield Park

I’ve still been busy. But health issues forced me to take a time-out and shift my priorities. I’d been so focused on the mind, I’d lost the body and soul parts of the equation. 2012 became a year of searching for balance and equilibrium. I don’t know if I’ve achieved them, but my inner guide tells me I’ve set off on the right path. Health mysteries remain. In September, I suffered a migraine so severe that I actually ended up in the ER. It scared me, forced me to realize that I have to live with the limitations I’m given. That doesn’t mean I can’t work, merely that I’m working within those limitations. That migraine got so out of hand because I was too caught up in all the different roles I play to push the pause button and take care of myself.

This year hasn’t all been roadblocks. I submitted my first manuscript for publication and, while I received rejections, the criticism I received was both kind and useful. It helped fuel my desire to revise my story and continue submitting. I’m learning and growing in the craft of writing. I attended a conference and presented a workshop on author brand, and I finally started feeling comfortable with my blogging voice.

Most of all, despite—or perhaps because of—the bumps in the road, I reconnected with the life I truly want, the one I wanted for a long time but lost sight of. I’d always been grateful, for my work, for the people I love, but I hadn’t appreciated my health. I realize now that I have to learn to take better care of myself. The life of the mind is great, but the body, too, deserves our attention. And I’ve had more time for spiritual practice—even if, sometimes, that practice simply means a long, slow walk in the park on a beautiful day. I’ve begun to cultivate, once more, a life of simplicity and frugality. And, as usual, my husband and I are dreaming dreams together—a house and some roots, a life close to nature, travels both near and far, a journey taken hand-in-hand.

We all move within these seasons of our lives. In the past year, I’ve watched a close friend uproot her life and rebuild it in another place, sowing the seeds of a new life that has come to offer a depth that, I believe, is surprising even her. By letting go, my friend found something far more fulfilling than she could’ve by clinging to her old life.

So, as I turn toward Samhain, I embrace the new and release the old ways of thinking that don’t work anymore. Because that is the only way toward the next season, the next harvest, the next year—the way toward new dreams, new beginnings, new goals, new stories, new journeys. What about you? What have you let go of this year? What have you gained because of it?

Whether you celebrate Samhain, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, or All Hallows Eve, I hope you have a great day and a great season. Blessed be.

magic, spirituality, symbolism

Exploring the Elements, part 4: Air and Balancing the 4 Elements

This is the fourth and final post in my series on the four elements. Previous posts covered earth, water, and fire.

Photo by Rebecca Barray in WANA Commons

A single kingfisher’s feather floats to the ground. A hawk circles, its sharp eye searching the ground below for prey. The smoke of incense dances toward the sky. A foggy morning gives way to a summer day, complete with a clear, blue sky stretching on toward the heavens. Each day is framed by the splendors of sunrises and sunsets.

The element of air is linked to communication, intellection, new beginnings, and creativity. Air signs are often “ideas people,” fascinated by the future or possibilities. People who are strongly connected to the air element are often creative, practicing some form of art, whether their medium is cooking, writing, painting, or a musical instrument. Because air is associated with sound, communication is also a key component of this element. But because air is ever-shifting and constantly changing, it can also be associated with a lack of being grounded (“pie in the sky” thinking), daydreaming, or flightiness. Someone with too much of the air element in their life can seem disconnected from reality, full of ideas but lacking a practical plan to complete them.

What do you picture when you think of air? I imagine curtains wafting in a fresh spring breeze, clothing drying on the line, a bird soaring to impossible heights, and humans’ fascination with flight. Finding a bird’s feather, whether belonging to a turkey or a blue jay, can set our imagination going. In fact, I often use feathers to represent the air element when I do magic work.

Air brings in freshness to complement earth’s stability. It fuels fire’s passions. It rounds out water’s undercurrents of emotion with the ability to communicate and express those emotions. If you need “a breath of fresh air” in your life–whether it’s a relationship, a project, or your day-to-day comings and goings–consider bringing in air symbols to your surroundings. This can be a piece of jewelry (an air gemstone or a pendant featuring a bird, feather, or wings), a wall painted an air color, or an object associated with this element. Whether we need inspiration or are seeking to articulate an idea or vision, air allows us to accept change more readily and express ourselves more easily.

Balancing the 4 elements to bring harmony into our lives

Most importantly, the four elements are all about balance. When our lives have too much earth, stagnation takes root. We resist the change that is as natural to our lives as the cycle of seasons. Too much fire leads to aggression. Too much water makes us overly sensitive or emotional. Too much air brings us too many ideas and not enough follow-through–we’re all thought, but no action. Every room should have some representation of each element. If one element is lacking, imbalance and disharmony often follow. That’s why, on every magical altar, each element is represented and honored.

For example, as a Sagittarius, I have the passion of a fire sign. Because there’s a lot of air influence in this sign, I’m also very creative and intellectual. But sometimes I need more water to temper my pursuit of my goals with a sense of harmony and emotional balance; water can “cool off” the sense of urgency or impatience with which fire signs often grapple. The earth element is essential because it allows me to ground my air-and-fire-inspired goals with a practical plan and to nurture this body that I often take for granted.

What, if any, elements are lacking in your life? Which element do you need to draw in more?

Associations with the air element:

Photo accessed at stock.xchng

Cardinal direction: East
Season: Spring
Zodiac signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Colors: sky blue, violet, yellow
Gemstones: lapis lazuli, sapphire, topaz
Herbs and spices: lavender, marjoram, mint, parsley, sage
Plants: clover, elder, maple, pine
Fantasy creatures: angels, fairies, sylphs
Altar items: feathers, incense, wand

For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources:

“Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway. Llewellyn Publications.
“Herb Magic for Beginners” by Ellen Dugan. Llewellyn Publications.
“Feng Shui Home” by Gill Hale, Stella Martin, and Josephine De Winter. Barnes & Noble Books.
“True Magick,” Amber K, Llewellyn Publications.

magic, spirituality, symbolism

Exploring the Elements, part 3: Fire

This post is the third in a series about the four elements. Previous posts explored the symbolism behind the elements of earth and water.

Photo by Lisa L. Wiedmeier at WANA Commons.

Perhaps no element is as contradictory as fire. It provides the warmth necessary to heat our homes and prepare our food, yet it is capable of tremendous destruction. It is associated with both passion and rage, with the ability to create and destroy. Smoke can be blinding and suffocating, but the torch’s light can be illuminating and comforting. Fire is also the only element that cannot exist on its own: It needs fuel and air.

Much of the language associated with creativity calls to mind the fire element: the spark of creativity or kindling an idea. In the forge, we can create weapons and tools. Where water is associated with emotion and love, fire is associated with passion and romance. Where earth is associated with stubbornness and stagnation, fire is associated with anger and action. Most fire signs are intense. Whether outwardly aggressive or inwardly focused, most fire signs know what they want and pursue their passions with intensity. They can have tempers, though their flares of anger can also be short-lived. Fire is also associated with courage and strength–a willingness to fight for what is right. When harnessed properly, the energy of fire can inspire us to creative acts or empower us to stand up for ourselves.

Like water, fire is an active element. While too much fire in your life can result in anger, rebelliousness, intensity, or aggression, too little fire can result in weakness, submissiveness, or inactivity. Call on fire whenever you want to spark creativity in your work, stir up passion for your goals, or fire up your love life.

Associations with the fire element:

Photo by karylmc in WANA Commons.

Cardinal direction: South
Season: Summer
Zodiac signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Colors: copper, gold, orange, red
Gemstones: amber, fire opal, garnet, hematite
Herbs and spices: allspice, basil, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, witch hazel
Plants: ash tree, calendula, chili peppers, hawthorn, holly, oak
Fantasy creatures: dragons, phoenix, salamanders
Altar items: athame, candles

For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources:
“Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway. Llewellyn Publications.
“Herb Magic for Beginners” by Ellen Dugan. Llewellyn Publications.
“Feng Shui Home” by Gill Hale, Stella Martin, and Josephine De Winter. Barnes & Noble Books.