Monday, October 12, 2020

Elemental Magic: A Complete Guide to Air Folklore & Correspondences

air magic, witchcraft, air witch, air folklore, air correspondences, elemental magic

I know it's been a while since I posted anything in this series and I apologize. I've been spending more time working with the other elements before moving on to Air for a variety of reasons. However, I am now ready to tackle Air, the element of wisdom, communication, reasoning, logic, and breath. It is the perfect element to work with during the fall months because this shifting of the seasons often requires us to look inward and assess our situation; to take a deep breath and let go of what no longer serves us; to communicate our truths, even if it's just to ourselves; to set a new path for the future. After working with the previous elements, you have likely changed and need to communicate this new self with others and maybe even to yourself, especially through journaling. In some cases, you may need to spend time figuring out your new truths. I know I have changed and its time to make that self known. In today's post, I will discuss the element Air, from his history to his correspondences to how he works with the other elements.

Much of the folklore associated with Air encompasses weather magic and the wind itself. In Greek mythology, the Anemoi were the four winds, each of them corresponding to the four cardinal directions. They were the children of Eos, goddess of dawn, and Aeolus, Keeper of the Winds. The first of the sons was Boreas, the god of the north wind and bringer of cold winter air. He is often depicted with a beard in a short, pleated tunic and said to have a violent temper. When Orithyia, a princess of Athens, refused to marry Boreas, he stole her away to marry her in the clouds where they later had two sons and two daughters together. From then on, Boreas was seen as a relative by marriage and they called upon him for protection when attacked by neighboring kingdoms. In 480 B.C. Boreas supposedly sank 400 Persian ships that threatened the Athenians. A cult was established as gratitude for his help and he was routinely called upon to strike down enemies. Boreas's Roman equivalent is Aquilo and according to Virgil, Now had the sun rolled through the year's full circle, and the waves were rough with icy winter's northern gales" thus associating Aquilo with the winds of Winter. The second son, Zephyrus or Zephyr, is the god of the west wind. He is the gentlest of the winds, blowing in Spring and warmer weather. Zephyrus appears in a number of stories, each one often depicting a different lover both male and female. His amorous relationships make him a fertility god, which makes sense since he is said to bring in Spring, the ultimate icon of fertility. The god of the south wind, Notus, is associated with the hot, desiccating winds of Summer that blew in after the Summer Solstice. It was him that brought late summer storms, destroying crops in his wake. And finally, there was Eurus, god of the east winds, who was believed to be responsible for the turbulent winds during storms at sea. Seafarers would often try to appease Eurus to ensure a safe trip and would place protection charms on their ships to ward off ill will.

Aeolus, however, was just as famous as his four sons. In Homer's Odyssey, Aeolus provides Odysseus and his men shelter for a month before providing them with a gentle westerly wind to carry them home to Itcha. As a parting gift, Aeolus gives Odysseus an ox-hide bag of all the winds except the west to ensure their safe return home. Upon approaching Itcha, Odysseus becomes overwhelmed with tiredness and falls asleep. Out of curiosity, his crew opens the bag, releasing the destructive winds of the north, south, and east, which blow their ship away from Ithica and back to Aeolus. At this point, Aeolus refuses any further help, believing their voyage to be cursed. This tradition was continued by witches and sorcerers throughout Europe would be commissioned to capture winds in bags and tie the bags closed using a series of knots. The winds could be controlled by sailors by loosening or tightening the knots.

In other traditions, Air is deeply associated with breath, the life-giver. In ancient Greece, this breath of life was referred to as pneuma, which later became translated into soul or spirit. I'll address pneuma in more detail in later posts, but I wanted to mention it here because, without breath, life ceases to exist, and as such a number of superstitions arose around breath. For example, when passing by a cemetery one should hold their breath to avoid breathing in the spirit of someone who recently passed. In multiple cultures around the world, we see tales of the night hag, a demon who sits on your chest and steals your breath away, a phenomenon now referred to as sleep paralysis. For centuries in England, it was believed cats should suck an infant's breath away, causing the baby to die. In 1791, a jury in Plymouth, England convicted a cat of infanticide while in 1929 in Nebraska, a supposed doctor claimed to have witnessed a cat "lying on the baby's breast, pay on either side of the babe's mouth, the cat's lips pressing those of the child and the infant's face as pale as that of a corpse, its lips with the blueness of death." This idea persists even in modern times, despite their not being any evidence that cats suffocate babies in this way. However, the idea that breath is linked to life is an important one, giving Air its association with life and death.

In modern times, Air is often associated with wisdom, logic, and knowledge, although where this originated from is largely undocumented, at least I couldn't find any folklore associated with it. Knowledge is often linked in folklore to the cauldron, which is a symbol of Water, not Air, so if you happen to know where this tradition originated from, please reach out to me. 

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

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mercury, Jupiter
Time: Dawn
Season: Spring
Direction: East
Tarot Cards: Wands (or Swords depending on the tradition)
Zodiac: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Symbolism: Intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, logic, thought, communication, truth, inspiration, intuition, memory, creativity
Symbols: Feather, wand, staff, incense, censer, pen, broom, bell, sword, sky, wind, clouds, breeze, breath, wind chimes
Deities: Zeus, Aradia, Nuit, Thoth, Urania, Cardea, Enlil, Kheoheva, Merawrim, Shu, Arianrhod, Hermes, Morrigan, Mercury, Aeolus, Boreas, Zephyrus, Notus, Eurus, 
Nature Spirits: Winged fairies, sprites, spirits, sylphs, zephyrs
Colors: Yellow, gold, white, light blue, pastels
Food and Drink: Beans, lentils, leafy greens, toast, cabbage, grains, carbonated beverages, popcorn, tofu, vinegar, rice cakes, puffed rice, dates, lingonberries, chickweed
Herbs: Bergamot, lavender, marjoram, peppermint, sage, dandelion, bluebell, clover, frankincense, primrose, lemongrass, pine, aspen, yarrow, violets, vervain, myrrh, dill, anise, aspen
Crystals and Gemstones: Amber, topaz, citrine, jasper, agate, pumice, alexandrite, amethyst, fluorite, mica, clear quartz
Animals: Birds, flying insects, spiders, bats

How does Air work with the other elements?

Air with Fire: Air can breathe life into Fire, helping the flames grow and spread, or Air can snuff Fire out when removed or if blown too hard. 
Air with Water: Air can hold Water in the form of humidity or clouds, blowing Water around the world. In their more powerful forms, they can also create hurricanes and thunderstorms.
Air with Earth: Air can erode Earth and carry particles of it away, while Earth can remain steadfast, even in the toughest of winds.

Your task for the next week or so is to track your local wind patterns. This can be done with a weather vane, windsock, or by licking your finger to feel which way the wind is blowing. If there is a particularly windy day, which many of us experience during the Fall months, stand with your face toward the wind, close your eyes, and lightly meditate with the breeze. Record these wind patterns along with any weather details, signs, symbols, or messages received while meditating with the wind.

In the next post, I will breakdown my findings and walk you through an inclusive Air connection ritual to deepen your connection with this lovely element.

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

Elemental Magic Series

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  1. This series is soooo good! The amount of research and work you do for all of us is super appreciated. :)

    1. Awww! Thank you! I am really glad you are enjoying the series. It has definitely been a labor of love! I'm already trying to figure out what to do for my series next year. Any suggestions?

  2. I had to sit and think for a bit before responding, and I've concluded that I would love to see more information on rituals of all types. Now I know specifics can be very personal, but delving into the history and lore behind various rituals is something I would love to do. The posts you've made in the past about rituals are some of my faves. :)

  3. You know, I almost never read the posts in this series just once. In the moment, I will savour them at least 2 - 3 times, and frequently return to older entries. Each feels like (and, in many ways is) a chapter in a book and I simply cannot lap up the knowledge they house abundantly enough.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. You are so sweet. I'm glad people are enjoying the series. I am a little behind though. Haha!


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