The four elements, like the Celtic three realms of Land, Sea and Sky, are within us as we are within them. We all depend on Earth, Air, Fire and Water to live, and we are all always constantly in relationship with them in a process of ongoing exchange.
How can we really honour the elements, in ways that are more meaningful than simply greeting them with fine words in ritual and meditation?
Consider how we live on and with the Earth. Where does the food we eat come from? Are we eating locally and seasonally or relying on food grown on the other side of the world and transported by ship or worse, by plane, for thousands of miles? Consider how we travel on the Earth. Do we make an effort to travel lightly, walking or cycling if we are able, or using public transport as much as possible? What waste are we generating and how are we disposing of it? How much is sent to landfill?
Our relationship with Air is literally vital: without it we cannot breathe. Yet here in the UK, our air polluton levels are some of the worst in Europe. How much of this pollution are we contributing to, either directly or indirectly? Do you know your carbon footrpint, how much CO2 you’re putting into the air each year? There’s a handy calculator online – if you’ve never done this exercise it’s a useful and eye-opening reminder of the need to work to reduce emissions in as many aspects of our lives as possible.
We drink Water, we wash in it, we take it and use it. But what do we give back? How much water is taken from the rivers and aquifers to grow our food, to produce our clothing? How many times do we (and I am guilty as anyone) grab a quick plastic bottle of water when travelling because it’s convenient? The water has to come from somewhere, and the plastic has to go somewhere.
Fire may seem harder to relate to in our daily lives, after all few of us still have open coal or wood burning fires in our homes. But we have seen the world on fire this year, rainforests deliberately burned to make way for cattle ranching, wildfires spreading further and faster due to climate crisis. How are our choices, whether in food or industry or travel, fuelling these fires? How much of our electricity is being generated by coal-burning power stations? Consider perhaps switching to a green energy supplier like Ecotricity if possible.
To call and honour the elements in ritual without thinking about how we honour them in our daily lives and choices to me rings hollow. For me, Druidry is about awareness – being awake and aware of our connections and relationships to all other beings and forces in this great web of existence. Everything we do affects everything else, and everything we do matters.
The four elements remind us that at every moment we stand in the centre of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, connected to the whole.
[Prompt from Alison Leigh Lilly’s 30 Days of Druidry]