Elemental Medicine Work
Consciously connecting to the elements is a powerful way to help us remember our connection to the earth – our mother – and our relationship with her. Elemental Medicine work serves as a tool to anchor in mindfulness practices, to offer a creative structure from which we can process whatever may be bubbling up through these mindfulness practices. Processing through the channel of Elemental Medicine work can offer a fun and creative way to transmute, shift and alchemize our emotional and physical experiences.
We are all in relationship with “the elements” daily, which is why they are such an accessible tool. For example we all know what water is. We can conceptualize water and easily identify ways we interact with water.
My exposure to more intentional elemental work began when I started participating in ceremony and ritual practices. Initially this was in women’s circles, studying the goddess’, breath work, shamanic journeying, plant medicine, and witch work. But it wasn’t until I dove deep into the Underground Sacred Economy movement of Dreamweaving where Elemental Medicine really started working it’s magic on me. Now it feels as natural as breathing. As I build my own Intensive Elemental Medicine Program, I thought it would be fun to explore the richness and fun that can be had with this work!
Working with the elements is to be in an intentional relationship with our body and our planet – she who gives us a home and all the resources we very literally depend on to survive. It is a way of honouring this dependency and relationship. It is also a way to play with the gifts we have been given as human beings, and to use them to do what we are meant to do here on earth, CREATE!
Every element has a character. And that is what we will explore in more detail here. We will take some time to look at 4 elements – Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. Metal, Wood and Ether are also considered elements in many practices, but I have much less experience working with them specifically, and so I will not include them here.
Fire is connected to the heat we build inside of ourselves. Heat that can come from fiery emotional energy, and also from the physical movement of our bodies. This is one reason why movement is such a powerful tool to “move” a fiery emotion such as anger.
We also have internal Fire to digest our food, and we have all experienced the magic Fire brings to augmenting the taste and digestibility of food. In many ancient healing traditions too much dampness in the body is a condition that can greatly impact our capacity to digest food properly. In the same way throwing water on a fire would reduce the capacity to cook food, dampness in the gut diminishes our capacity to digest food effectively.
Fire is also the energy that sparks our passions and creativity. We say in the English language that “we burn” for someone when we feel strong feelings of desire. Love is often visually expressed using a red colour spectrum, a colour strongly associated with Fire. There is also the common saying of having “a bun in the oven” when referring to the creation of life in the womb. And the creation of human life is merely one expression of creativity. Creativity lives in the spectrum of Fire, as to create is to transform one thing into something new – ingredients into soup, cells into life, ideas and materials into art and form.
The element of Fire has the capacity to say “NO! I do not accept this!” We can express our boundaries very powerfully when we express anger. And it also has the capacity to burn everything around us, so that it never looks the same. The Goddess Kali is a beautiful example of the element of Fire in action. She is the Goddess of transformation, of Revolution, for she can burn down everything around her she deems dysfunctional, leaving only the ashes. Within the ashes hold the molecules that mix with the other elements to create new growth, the birth of new systems. Fire is a necessary replenishing force in nature.
I think Fire is my favourite element to work with. I feel like I have a lot of Fire inside of me, so it is one that I connect with easily. The capacity I have to be in a very close relationship with my own anger was definitely my first conscious foray into the element of Fire. But there are so many ways to connect with all the elements, as they are shape-shifters in their own right.
Air travels into our bodies to give us life as Breath. Without Air we would not survive more than mere minutes. Our breath can offer us a place of focus, a vehicle in and out of the body, a reference point to come back to. The ease with which the breath travels communicates to us. Is there an experience of softness or restriction in the breath? How does this feel?
The element of Air is the element of communication, as we go “on Air,” or speak our truth and “air our grievances.” For it is our voice, our word, and how we use it, that can serve as one of the great influencers in this world. Air can move us with its words and with it’s song. Working consciously with Air can help us to deepen our understanding and blocks in our own relationship with communication. What is our comfort level with expressing our feelings, our boundaries, and our needs?
Air gives us flight, and the capacity to move high into the sky to gain the Eagles perspective. We can create space with Air; space to see things from a different point of view and to gain a more objective perspective. Air represents maturation, as we take the time to contemplate our experiences and then choose what to share from a place of deeper awareness.
The ‘winds of change’ are Air medicine. How do we respond to movement and changes in life? Air can feel fast and furious like a tornado or wind storm, feeling destructive and destabilizing. Air can also be soft and soothing, creating the perfect amount of energy to break up stagnation but without feeling chaotic.
I’ve always experienced Air as a great Initiation into the Self. As we get more clear and practiced with communicating from a place of personal truth and allowing others to do the same, without taking it personally, or at least checking our projections and triggers, we step into a massive growth portal. Our capacity to navigate all of our relationships without sacrificing who we are increases, we open to having much deeper connections to our communities, and even to finding the communities that most nourish who we are and what we need as individuals.
Earth, our Mother – the Pachamama. The Earth element can hold us in her embracing arms, and she can show us a cold hard reality. Soft dark nutrient rich soil, dry hot sand or hard dense heavy rock, Earth can take many forms and provides us with many opportunities for reflection.
As mineral rich soil, Earth offers us a place to root ourselves, to feel safe and nourished as we gently sprout and spring up and out into the world. Earth also allows us to dive deep into our depths so we may uncover what is underneath the surface. Deep in the caverns of our subconscious lies the opportunity to find our gold, the parts of ourselves that have been buried and rejected. When these rejected aspects of ourselves are brought up and into the light, we can finally see our Gold. We can see it glimmer and shine in the sunlight, reminding us that we are so valued and worthy in our wholeness.
Earth teaches us to be of service. She shows us how abundant we are and how natural it is to give without attachment. When we tap into Earth medicine we exercise the inner parent in ourselves. We learn how to provide and show up for ourselves so that we can be strong for others in our community.
She teaches us structure and models for us that all her lasting creations have deep roots and solid foundations.
The Earth element reminds of us of the rhythm of time and the cycles of nature; rhythms and cycles that are reflected inside of us. Earth is always singing her song to us, the song of remembering – we came from the earth and we shall return. A reminder of our humanness, a reminder to love our vessel, to practice gratitude for our body and the gifts and wisdom she provides to nurture ourselves.
Water is wise and free. Waters flow down the path of least resistance and as we begin to integrate Water Medicine into our lives, we too learn to let go of our own resistance. As we learn to “go with the flow” the truths of our potential become more tangible. Tears are allowed to fall from our bodies, unapologetically and without shame. As tension and holding diminishes, the volume of fluid in our body (which is incredibly substantial!) regains ease in its path to all our internal structures that rely on it for oxygen and minerals.
The element of Water is a cleansing force. We bathe in water and emerge purified, even reborn. There is a reason water is utilized in ritual to connect to the Divine, for it is the element that bridges the space between the seen and unseen, the element that carries us into this life. We gestate in the Waters of the Womb and will always be carried back to our truth when we allow ourselves to be carried and nourished by Water.
Water teaches us the mastery of shape-shifting, the different experiences and applications for moving through liquid, solid and gas. I feel Water as energetically “the eldest” of the 4 elements we’ve discussed here. For Water springs up from the depths of our Mother, offering us wisdom from deep within the Earth; wisdom that will nourish and sustain growth. And as we practice leaning back into our Waters, learning to manipulate and interfere less with the process of life, we are taught Trust and Faith in the Divine, in whatever way that connects to us on an individual level.
Elemental work is beautiful. For me it is like bringing poetry into my life at any given moment. The creative potential and inspiration that can emerge from consciously connecting any part of your day, your struggles, your joy, your life, to the elements, adds magic to existence.
To be in intentional relationship with the elements can be as simple as one moment of acknowledgement; What am I feeling? What is around me and how are we in relationship? What can be utilized here to shift something, or create something new? What is the opportunity here?
The elements live inside of us. We are all Fire, Air, Earth and Water, and here we are entering into a deeper understanding of ourselves and what it means to be alive. As we watch and learn from the elements we can see how our behaviour and our nature is reflected back at us. Like the elements, WE are constantly merging, communicating and creating together. Here is a place where we can begin to acknowledge and even embrace the interconnectedness of all beings and all of life; and the beauty that is waiting here for us to experience.