TWS: Chapter the First/The Elements Path.

I’ve been reading The Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine. The subtitle says it all: “a journey to the realm of magic, healing, and action.” Since I entered the realm of Wicca-doo, I’ve been drawn more and more to a spiritual practice that incorporates magic and spellcraft. It seemed important to start researching these things and this book was the highest recommended. Plus, everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?

The first thing that is taught in this chapter—is in fact the key to the whole chapter—is to recognize that something is missing. Starhawk says that an initiatory journey usually begins because something is perceived to be off, wrong, missing. It’s started to rectify a situation that is out of balance. In order to discover what is wrong, we have to step outside the box (the metaphor used is the castle walls). It is only in purposely undertaking the act of leaving something known for the unknown can the journey begin.

While reading this section, I found myself nodding to a lot of the points she was making. When it was mentioned feeling like something was missing, I sat bolt upright. It was like a shock to the system. Wasn’t that what I was saying not that long ago? That something was missing or wrong? Then this is dropped into my lap and the coincidences were done piling up. It was at that moment when I said, “Yeah, this is important.”

There are three paths that are discussed in this chapter. The first is the Elements Path. This is the path that I am concerning myself with. It is a basic, beginners path, the point of which is to get back to basics.

We have all lost a connection with Mother Nature. This connection served humanity for thousands of years. Humans and Mother Nature lived a simpler life. The relationship was nearly symbiotic. Starhawk goes on to say that with the less of the Goddess-based religious practices, so too did we lose our connection with Mother Nature. (I’m not going to respond to that because my thoughts are too fragmented, at present.) Starhawk goes on to say that it is in this generation that a connection is coming back.

The book says that Mother Nature had always been there, telling us all that we were imbalanced but it is now that we hear her again. I can understand this. And it is this, the listening and the willingness to act, that is the important aspect of the Elements Path. There’s more to it than that, but the first base on the diamond is taking responsibility to correct what is out of balance. And, of course, to do that, one must get back in touch with Mother Nature.

The first lesson is the reason behind creating sacred space.

My personal opinion of sacred space is mixed. On the one hand, I think it is a good basic skill to learn. It would help should a group setting ever occur. (Doubtful, but one never knows.) On the other hand, I don’t think it’s at all necessary aside from the most dire of circumstances. I mean, isn’t your home a form of sacred space? And even if it isn’t, the whole point in magic is to shape the will and make it happen. What the hell do you need sacred space for if it’s all about will power?

However, in further reading, I think I changed my mind on all of that. Heh.

The creation of s.s. is a form of ritual in itself. You are moving from a world of chaos (your life) into a world of serenity. The book also classifies it as a way to move from Talking Self (the conscious being) to the Younger Self (the subconscious being; the child within). It’s like… changing clothes from one event to another, but in a metaphysical way. The book states that “magic is the art of communicating with Younger Self intentionally…” (She explains the need to connect with YS because it was as a child that the belief of magic was manifest. It is only as we grow up that we forget.) In the end, the result will be a connection with Deep Self, which is classified as our personal connection to the divine, the gods, etc.

The goals of this path are to (a) create sacred space with magic that YS is comfy with; (b) study the four elements and learn magical techniques the correspond; and (c) learning to rely on Mother Nature and develop a relationship with the divine.*

( *In the book, she actually refers to the Goddess and not the divine. The reason I changed it is because I am not comfortable with this phrase. Morag explained that its a generalized term, more a way to counteract all the years of the one God who is of male descent. I understand this, but I prefer the divine.)

The rest of the chapter is utilized for exercises in grounding, purifying, casting a circle, and then dismantling a circle. The very end of this section stops with learning about the element of Air. I was going to add to it here, but I think it deserves its own little discussion. I actually wanted to talk about the various exercises.

As anyone who has been reading this blog for even a micro-second will know is that I have exceeding difficulty with centering/grounding exercises. Now, as a side note, I don’t know why they don’t get into centering. I think it’s very important that if someone is going to do the whole grounding thing, then they should be able to do the centering aspect as well. They’re both intertwined and interconnected. From what I’ve seen and read in various parts of the Internet, I feel like they’re two halves of the same coin. To do one, you must have the other. But, that’s really neither here nor there. Just something to throw out there as food for thought.

Like I was saying, anyone who is anyone knows that I cannot ground myself because I cannot visualize the way other people do. To be completely frank, I don’t understand what the fuck I do differently than other people, but that’s not really the point in this post. I already got into it once (and I’ll probably get into it again…). The point I’m trying to make here is that I’m stuck.

For me, I cannot see the point in going on to learning to purify as is mentioned in the book, nor casting and demolishing a circle, without the ability to ground. And this baffles and irritates me. I don’t want to continue with the book until I’ve mastered at least a portion of what’s been set out as practicums. I mean, I want to get with the down and dirty. I want to be able to say that I’ve “graduated” from the first chapter and am happily moving on. However, this one. fucking. thing. is binding me up. Probably getting rip-shit pissed about it is not the best way to handle this problem. Of course, I’m not usually prone with going with the best option in the first place.

This frustrates me—the being stuck thing. It probably shouldn’t and I probably should be able to just brush it off, but I can’t. It’s like I’m the new kid in school and people are all staring at me because we never covered *insert subject matter here* at my old school. I know that no one is staring at me and I know that I’m not the only person in the world with this problem. However, I feel like I am the only person in the world with this problem because it’s happening to me.

I always thought I could learn anything from a book. I didn’t have to, you know, have real-life experience because the book is the way of the world. And I still believe that knowledge is powerful stuff, and knowledge is the alpha and omega as well as the fact that books are just awesome things full of good information. However, I’ve come to realize that I can read all I fucking want to, but that’s not going to help me visualize or ground or center myself. It’s not going to correct the imbalance that has been steadily growing inside of me… and not just because I don’t rely on Mother Nature.

For a while now, I’ve felt loopy and out-of-control. This is because my power base (control) was taken away from me. It’s recommended all over the Internet and in books and by living people that when you feel that way, centering and grounding is the best way to get rid of said problem. Except that I can’t. So the imbalance keeps growing. And I don’t know how to fix it.

Wooooo! That was a load off my shoulders! Let’s get away from the seriousness and move on with my conclusion in regards to chapter one.

So, in picking up this book, I was incredibly excited to be a part of something that other people were doing. (It was like being in a learning group or book group via the Interwebzes.) I was part of the ‘cool crowd’ or something. However, I also wanted the book to help me get back to what I had started with. I started with magic, but found it… dull and fizzled. I found it difficult to cast spells and I felt that I hardly ever saw results. I know the reasoning behind that stuff now and want to start again from a different perspective. This book is supposed to help me get there and so far? Aside from the grounding problem, I think it might actually take me somewhere.

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One thought on “TWS: Chapter the First/The Elements Path.

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t visualize grounding or centering, I just do it. Sometimes, if I find myself unable to ground, I will take off my shoes and stand on stone or earth, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll get down on my knees and just push that energy down right into the earth to make it work. I don’t visualize really at all- I *do*, and that’s what seems to work better. If you can’t “visualize” purifying yourself, then use a bath to do so, if you can’t visualize a circle, get salt or cornmeal or glitter and use it to draw one. So much magical nonsense comes from “you must imagine a white light around you” stuff.

    If you don’t have the sight, you don’t have the sight, and you probably won’t ever have it, and all that aura-visualizing-etc stuff goes along with having the sight, at least to truly be able to see energies. Too many armchair pagans get caught up in the “I can just visualize this” aspect of magic and never DO! So sink your toes into the earth, stand centered, use things that YOU understand, that you can see and feel and whatever. The universe rewards action, not inaction. It’s why we have herbs and stones and candles and all this cool magic stuff, so we can USE them!

    Visualization can help, sure, but sitting there carving your intent into the wax of a candle makes your message to the universe a lot more clear, despite what others might say, or call it ‘low magic’ or whatever. They sacrificed and burned offerings and used candles/lamps in temples for centuries, they relied on herbs and crystals and all these things because they work. What puts our modern society above this? Even if you can’t afford things, a handful of dirt is free, and you can strike a match with the same intent as a candle, and matches can be found for free. People are just lazy.

    If you can’t astral project, you’re not missing anything except a lack of rest while you sleep. Seriously.

    P.S. I have always thought, with utter respect, that Starhawke was …. a little much too out there for me to jive with her.

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