When we first began, it seemed appropriate that an event based on the four elements should begin with their invocation. Or at least, it did to me, with my pagan witchy roots, and the same could be said of the core members of the team who were helping me make this new vision manifest.
Two years on, the circle has to be two people deep in order to fit into the venue, but still we turn together to the East, West, South, and North, and invite the elements of each quarter into the space. The participants are encouraged to notice each element as it manifests outside of them, and also as it manifests within. Later, they will find their way to the spaces inspired by and infused with each element; they’ll dip strawberries in the chocolate melting in Earth, join a cuddle puddle in Water, boogie down into their bodies on the dance floor in Air, and frolic and make love in Fire.
And this is just one of the rituals I hold of which the four elements form a core ingredient. In the last few years, I’ve found myself blessing and binding couples with them in handfastings; calling upon them to cleanse the recipient of a rite of passage as they stepped through a ritual portal into their new identity; and, as my second and final year of Interfaith Ministry training gets underway, I find them making a seemingly inevitable appearance in my every ceremony assignment.
But what I’m reflecting on today are the ways in which I’ve noticed Air, Water, Fire, Earth entering into my personal practice again; how they support and sustain me, the gifts they offer when I seek to be cleansed, healed, and nourished. And so I wanted to close this loose triptych of posts about finding spiritual and sexual healing in the face of this mad year with something of an ode to those elements, and a reminder to lean back, to breathe, drink, surrender, and ground yourselves in them.
There will be days when all you can do is breathe.
And on those days, your only task is to remember how that goes –
Remember to breathe out.
You are allowed to empty yourself, little by little, exhale by exhale, of all the weight and shame
All the fears, whatifs, whatthens
All the rivers behind your eyes, and the bruises in your heart.
Give them, one by precious one, to the out-breath.
Take your time emptying your lungs.
Take your time emptying your heart.
Remember to breathe in.
You are allowed to be in your body.
You are allowed to occupy your life.
You are allowed this constant gift of breath, this ever present, ever patient, ever generous reminder that you are not alone.
Breathe in. Be welcome here.
Notice, you are alive.
This is enough.
You are enough.
There will be days when all you can do together is breathe.
Let that be enough. Congratulate your togetherness for getting through another day of breathing the same air.
If you can, pause a moment. Notice your together breath.
One of you, breathe in. Other, breathe out. Other, breathe in. You, breathe out.
Exchange breath. Share the gift. Pass life back and forth.
Here you are. Breathing. Together.
Let that be enough.
Go to the Water.
Find running water, and let it run through your fingers, and from your fingers, let it comb through your heartstrings.
Find rhythmic, rolling water; listen closely, and let it reset your heartbeat.
Draw deep, warm water, and let yourself be immersed in it.
Let yourself float,
Until enough of the shit has washed away that you can feel your heart again.
Carry each other to the Water.
Cradle each other’s heads above the water.
Tenderly cup the water, tenderly cup your lover’s breast, and bring them together.
Rediscover your beloved’s skin by slowly, painstakingly, polishing every inch of them with the water.
Carefully clean each other. There is little more intimate than the gift of relaxing into such a basic need being met.
Float in your togetherness,
Until things flow between you again.
Release each sharp thing that cuts you from within
Into the flame.
Let is be eaten by the greedy, giggling fire.
This is the gift I offer, the magic I most love to wield
The reason I apply flame to ecstatic skin.
But you can cast notes to an open fire
Or light a candle for each sorrow
And watch them melt into the light.
Feel something in you melting into the light.
Remind each other of your shared Fire.
Give your evenings to long, lingering, half-forgotten kisses.
Explore caresses as though for the first time.
If your heart and body are too tight to feel a caress as anything beyond a tickle, take the touch deeper.
Lovingly, firmly, squeeze each part of the limbs until the skin muscles push back; pause, hold, release, repeat.
Coax and massage your beloved into their skin.
Bite and scratch at their body until their grief bleeds out.
Let a little fire into your touch, and help them to feel again.
Plant your feet upon the Earth.
Give her the time to plant new seedlings of hope and wonder in your heart.
Walk upon her, and let her marvels get under your skin.
When you are afraid, or tired, or otherwise in need, drop your imaginary roots down into her from your feet and the base of your spine. Wriggle them down through dirt and silt, water and rock, and feel her warm welcome, and the unreserved love she has for you.
Breathe in the strength she offers.
You are welcome, you are wanted, on this Earth.
Encourage each other to be here on Earth.
Hold and squeeze and tussle and snuggle the fuck out of each other in the ever-indulgent arms of gravity.
Nourish each other’s bodies, put time and energy and love into making and sharing and tasting food.
Wrap each other up, keep each other warm.
Stop in the middle of your daily scurrying to stand still together, to grin madly at each other, give each other bear hugs, and say:
“Thank you for being here, and thank you for being here with me.”
Merry Solstice everyone.
Thank you for being here, and thank you for being here with me.