Thursday, May 7, 2020

Elemental Magic: A Complete Guide to Earth Folklore & Correspondences

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The second stop on our elemental journey is Earth, the element of stability, grounding, and steadfastness as well as fertility, rebirth, and death. It is the perfect element to work with during the spring and early summer months because it is during this time that the Earth is coming back to life and we can venture into Her depths once more. After working with Water, you likely opened some emotional doors, whether you intended to or not. Such work often requires us to ground and center, using the Earth as our loving Mother. In today's post, I will discuss the element Earth in all her glory, from her history to her correspondences to how she works with the other elements. Unlike the other elements, however, Earth has very little folklore dealing specifically with the physical Earth. Much of our Earth folklore deals with trees, plants, and individual crystals, which is not what I wish to focus on in this post. Nevertheless, I've put together as much folklore as I could for your learning pleasure!

When it comes to the Earth, much of the focus of our folklore focuses on how our planet was actually formed. These myths shed a great deal of light on our magical associations with the element Earth, especially in regards to rebirth, fertility, and death. The name Earth comes from the Norse goddess Jord, pronounces "yurdth," who was a personification of Earth. While she is not an official goddess of the Norse pantheon as she was a jotnar, it is believed she coupled with Odin to bear a son known as Thor. Jord was believed to be the life force of the planet, causing trees to fruit and seeds to sprout at her touch, thus strongly associating her with fertility, birth, and new beginnings. Her personification was adopted by a number of cultures across Europe and eventually became known as Mother Earth or Mother Nature. Greek Mythology has a similar goddess known as Gaia. According to Greek creation myths, Gaia (the Earth) emerged from Chaos. Without assistance, she bore Uranus the Sky who then fertilized her. From this union, the Titans were born of which the Gods and Goddesses were born. As such, Gaia is the personification of Earth, the mother of all life. In Roman mythology she is referred to as Terra, meaning Earth. Similar myths can be found in every culture around the world, but they all have two things in common, the Earth is usually a feminine figure associated with birth and life.

Apart from creation myths, Earth also appears as the golem. According to Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated human-like creature made of mud and clay. Through ritual work, a creature could be brought to life using clay and mud to do the life-givers bidding. Some reports say to bring the golem to life, the Hebrew equivalent of the word "shem" was written on a piece of paper and placed in the golem's mouth while other reports say "emet" which means truth was written on the forehead of the golem. To "kill" the golem the paper was removed or the last letter of the word truth was removed to turn the word into dead. In Prague, Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel brought a golem to life to protect the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks. The golem was believed to be able to communicate with and summon spirits as well as go invisible. He kept the ghetto safe for quite some time and every Friday evening, the Rabbi would remove the shem from the golem's forehead to allow it to rest without spoiling the Sabbath. However, one Friday he forgot to remove the shem and the golem went on a murderous rampage. The Rabbi managed to pull the shem from the golem's mouth in front the synagogue where the golem fell apart. Supposedly the remains of the golem are stored in the attic of genizah of the Old New Synagogue waiting to be restored should the need arise. There are many similar legends across Eastern Europe featuring golems that were originally created to protect or carry out menial tasks. However, many end in the golems becoming unruly and needing to be tricked into their demise. Either way, the creation of a golem from nothing but Earth lends to the belief that Earth is the giver of life and a protector, much like the Cherokee creation myth which suggests the Earth and all Her life was created from mud.

The rest of our Earth folklore focuses on ley lines, a grid of Earth energies that circle the globe that connect important sacred sites. In the British Isles, these lines were sometimes referred to as "fairy paths" and it was believed to be dangerous to walk along them for fear of being snatched by the fairies. In general, these lines not only connected sacred sites, but also certain hilltops in the countryside, and were liminal places between realms. We still view them as such today, recognizing the energy found among them is potent as well as liminal. Alfred Watkins, a landscape photographer, was the first the describe ley lines in 1921 when he noticed that our ancestors built and used prominent features in the landscape as navigation points and that these landmarks could be connected in straight lines. These scared sites include standing stones, such as Stonehenge, stone circles, barrows, fairy mounds, hill forts, ancient moats, pre-Reformation churches, crossroads, and prominent hilltops across the British Isles. But its not just in the British Isles that we see this. In fact, all major historical sites, such as the pyramids, line up in straight lines around the world. Watkins did not believe ley lines were magical or mystical but instead believed them to be routes that were followed by our ancestors for religious rites or trading. However, while Watkins coined the term, he wasn't the first to describe the phenomena. In 1870, William Henry Black theorized there were "grand geometrical lines across the country" that connects monuments in western Europe. While there is no scientific evidence supporting that these areas are any different from the surrounding areas, energy work and dowsing usually connect one with them quite quickly. Captain Robert Boothby and Reginald Smith of the British Museum apparently linked ley-lines with underground streams and magnetic currents using dowsing, concluding that areas where "positive" and "negative" lines crossed correspond with sacred sites. Despite the fact that many scared sites align, the biggest challenge facing ley lines is that not everyone considers the same sites holy; what one local region designates as a holy place, may not be considered holy elsewhere. This makes it difficult to plot all scared places along ley lines. Furthermore, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and most trackways were in straight lines where possible historically so it makes sense that such sites would be aligned in a straight line. No matter what you believe, however, most find these areas to be teeming with Earth energies, using them to reinforce magical workings regarding the Earth, to amplify magic, and as a way to connect with the Otherworld.

Below is a quick correspondence guide for water, including a free printable page for your Book of Shadows!

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus, Saturn
Time: Midnight
Season: Winter
Direction: North (although if the closest body of earth to you is a different direction, use that instead)
Tarot Cards: Pentacles, Coins
Zodiac: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Symbolism: Grounding, strength, healing, success, stability, sturdiness, steadfastness, foundations, empathy, fertility, death, rebirth, wisdom, nature, animals, plants, money, prosperity,
Symbols: Rocks, plains, soil, caves, fields, stones, trees, gardens, canyons, forests
Deities: Cerridwyn, Demeter, Gaia, Terra, Jord, Ceres, Rhiannon, Persephone, Epona, Ptithivi, Pan, Herne, Cernunnos, Thoth, Adonis, Tammuz, Dionysus, Athos, Mah, Nephtys, Marduk, Athos, Arawn, Cybele, Leimarel Sidabi, Opes, Proserpina, Mat Zemlya, Pachamama, Houtu, Umay, Sif, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Geb, Asintmah, Zemes mate, Mlande, Mlande-Ava, Nerthus, Veles, Mokosh
Nature Spirits: Gnomes, fairies, trolls, dwarves, dryads, faun
Colors: Green, brown, black, gold
Food and Drink: Beer, vodka, whiskey, bread, salt, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, nuts, rice, oats, butter
Herbs: Oak, cedar, cypress, honeysuckle, ivy, primrose, sage, grains, patchouli, nuts, magnolia, comfrey, vetivert, moss, lilac, lichen, roots, barley, alfalfa, corn, rice
Crystals and Gemstones: Emerald, peridot, amethyst, jet, tourmaline, granite, quartz, salt, jasper, azurite, onyx, bedrock, tiger's eye, rutilated quartz, fluorite, slate, lead, iron, moss agate, tree agate, coal
Animals: gopher, bear, wolf, ant, horse, stag, deer, dog, cow, bull, bison, snake, worms, moles, voles, grubs

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How does Earth work with the other elements?

Earth with Fire: Earth can be used to smother Fire, while Fire can be used to melt Earth into magma or reshape it into precious crystals.
Earth with Water: Earth is fertilized by Water, bringing it lifegiving properties for plants, while Earth can pollute Water, making it unsuitable for life. Earth also hold Water, giving it a place to reside.
Earth with Air: Earth can be eroded and carried by Air, while Earth often remains steadfast, even during the strongest winds.

Your task for the next week is to find ley lines in your area. There are many ways to do this, but I suggest you pull out an old fashioned map first and circle some historical sites of religious or spiritual importance. Use sites indigenous people found sacred, not areas colonizers picked. Indigenous people were much more in tune with the land and naturally followed these lines of power, compared to colonizers whose only goal was to tame and conquer the wild world. Once you have found some spots in your local area, see if any of them match up in a perfectly straight line. If they do, you have likely found a ley line. If not, it may be you have found spots on different ley lines. Finally, pull up a map of ley lines in your country and see if any of these maps correspond with what you found. The reason I want you to check Google last is because I am encouraging you to develop a more local practice. By learning about local history, sacred sites, and whatnot, you are slowly developing a more localized practice and becoming more in tune with the world in your area. These steps are necessary for working with the Genius Loci or spirits of place. 

Next week I will dive into how to connect more deeply with Earth using a simple yet effective ritual. I'll also share my ley line research and follow up the post later in the month with tools of Earth and finish out with Earth spells and rituals you can easily perform from home!

Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Elemental Magic Series

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  1. Fantastic post! I swear, I doff my (witch's) hat to you again with every new entry in this stellar Elemental Magic series. Each one is highly engaging, informative and enjoyable. I usually read them 2 - 3 times in the moment and know, unquestionably, that I'll return to them again as time goes on.

    Sunny mid-May blessings of safety and positivity coming your way,
    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Aw! Thanks Autumn! I am glad you are enjoying the series. I am really enjoying writing it. :)


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