Monday, 28 January 2008

Four elements vs Three realms

The term “elements” has some different meaning according to the frame of reference we are talking about.

In science, when we refer to elements, we refer to the atomic chart of elements that conform the human known universe. From Hydrogen to Ununseptium, the 117 elements are for use in chemistry and physics.

As for realms, science considers to be five main living realms animalia (animals or metazoans), plantae (vegetables), fungi (superior fungus), protista (protozoan, eukaryotic alga & inferior fungus) and monera (bacteria and prokaryote alga).

These definitions are in constant change, with the new discovers that science make everyday.

I said that to avoid any confusion for the topic I’m going to talk about. As many spiritual definitions, we are not talking about science words, but metaphors.

In western tradition is very common to refer to the four elements for everything is created, or related, four main forces that conform the spirit of the things.
This concept came from pre-platonic Greeks, the elements, as you probably know are:

Γαια, gaia earth
ύδωρ, hydor, water
άήρ, aer, air
έιλή, heile, heat (fire)

They represent in Greek philosophy, science, and medicine the realms of the cosmos wherein all things exist and whereof all things consist.

Pythagoras added a fifth element, Aether αιθήρ, also called quintessence (from the Latin quinta essentia, "fifth element") representing the space above the earth, but also representing the spirit, soul and ideas. A non-matter element.

There’s a beautiful song by Cielo y Tierra, a Mexican quartet that says “Tierra mi cuerpo, agua mi sangre, aire mi aliento y fuego mi espíritu” (earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit).

This concept is also found in one of the most ancient pagan religions, Hinduism.

Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth
Ap / Jala — Water
Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind
Agni / Tejas — Fire
Akasha — Aether

How ever, this concept is far of being a universal one, as an example, Chinese tradition speaks of five “earthly” elements: metal, wood, water, fire, earth.
Some has used the scientific idea of the four states of matter, to validate the greek concept (solid, liquid, gas and plasma) but is an inaccurate one, since plasma is not fire as we know fire, moreover fire (or heat) is used to change a matter from one state to another (and not all matter can be changed from state, for example, living things, I mean the Carbon based life, can’t pass to gas or plasma state, since carbon is reduced to ashes.

That leads me to the Celtic point of view about the cosmos and how is it form.

As state shortly in a post below, three was a sacred number to the celts. They see even numbers as unbalanced ones, there’s a need of something between that bring balance to that; so was with elements.

This elements were called Talam (earth) , Muir (sea) and Nem (sky). This elements are not total abstractions, we can see them surrounding us, we can feel them as we walk in our lifes. Celtic rituals don’t invoke these elements, nor dismiss them, since they’re always present in our lives. “Invoking” the elements makes no sense, since they are within us and around us.

How ever, the spiritual meaning for each is not only their physical description. It’s important to take into account that the meanings are not to be associated with the dualistic paradigm. They are not Good/Bad, Female/Male, Light/Dark elements, we can encounter these attributes within them, but not limited to. As told before, the dualistic approach of the western culture, including the mainstream monotheist religions and most of the pagan ones, is not applicable to the celtic point of view.

Talam, is the land, and the centre, where we walk, where we live, it’s the midworld. It means solidity, and stability. We can manifest it as a rock, or a tree. It’s our body.

Muir, is the ocean, the water that sorround us far or close, it’s emotionally and spirit oriented, transformative, chaotic, liminal, it’s our sensorial and intuitive being. We can manifest it as a water, from a river, from a well, from the sea. Well are often used as passages to the Underworld, were we can encounter our ancestors, It’s our blood.

Nem is the sky, it’s mind and wisdom oriented, illuminating, ecstatic, is the source of life and consciousness, a life force. Ancient Celts believe that the soul was in our heats, as part of our mind. It’s manifest in the world as the sky, and if we travel beyond we can encounter with the stars. It’s our breath.

There’s also a denomination for these in welsh celtic tradition, as Calas, Gwyar & Nwyfre

That is applicable to all human experiences, and inter-relations, I read an example that makes it clear.

Let’s take our food, the Talam are the elements of the dinner: meat, vegetables, grains, etc. Muir is the cooking process, the transformation, the flow from raw to cook. Finally, Nem is the mental dimension, how we select the ingredients, the recipes, the skills and personal seasoning of the cook. This is a easier example, but you can think in several more.
Irish has a name for the colour of the three realms, Glas, this word means green/grey/blue, colours associated with the Other World, the Tir nan nÓg. Green for the earth, grey for the sea, blue for the sky. Meaning a state where the three realms join and pure wisdom and illumination is reached.

Returning to the initial thought, about the states of matter, solid, liquid and gas could be far easy associated to the realms, and plasma could be interpret as a travel beyond the sky, when we reach the stars… an Aislingthe (let’s remember that plasma is a very new concept, not known by the Celts, or even by our fathers when they went to school)

Meditations about these realms are far and beyond the uses of this blog, but I hope to get the spirit and explanation of why a Celtic ritual and worship, shouldn’t include the four greek elements.

. . . muir mas, nem nglas, talam cé . . .

`the beautiful sea, the blue heaven, the present earth . . .'

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Earth Pilgrim

Thanks to Liz from OBOD message board, I was able to see this magnificent and inspirational video.

In this unique BBC 2 Natural World documentary Resurgence Editor Satish Kumar reflects on our connection to our natural environment. Using the traditional English landscape of Dartmoor as his natural muse he offers a very Indian perspective through the changing seasons.

It's very interesting that cultures so separated by distance as the Hindu and the Druids, had so much in common, so much that happen to be lost by our western industrializated and postmodern world.

This Indian wise man, share his point of view of the nature in the frame of the Celtic land of Dartmoor, recognising the Druid point of view about nature, and giving his own.

Monday, 21 January 2008

A stone circle by the sea

Whilst working in the Sacred Grove meditation exercise, I manage to find another place, in addition to the image of a forest grove. This place came to my mind when I wish to relax and experience the nature as a whole. I imagine a circle of stones (actually a half circle) near by the sea, where I can feel the three realms, Earth, Sea and Sky. And I go there very often in my mind to meditate about several things, I use the forest grove, when I wish to ask somebody to come to me and talk (or simply listen)

I told you that, as an introduction for the experience I had yesterday.

I went to the Brighton Pier on the afternoon, to read. I spent some time in the pier, went for a coup of tea, and then, when it goes dark, I went to the beach.

I wish to experience of being in a place in this world, close to the one I go in my inner world. So, I stand in front of the sea, and as it was night (and cold) I have the privacy I was looking for.

I closed my eyes and start the exercise. In my mind I start a ritual, a ritual that I named as an "approchment or closeness ritual". I salute the four winds, ask for the blessings of what I consider my elder brothers, Zephyrus, Boreas, Notus & Eurus. (I like the greek names when referring to them). I salute the spirits of the place and ask for their permission. I thank our good Mother, Empress of the world; and thank our creator, my God, and ask for guidance.

I start just feeling the cold wind, listening to the waves of the sea, smelling the ocean, after a while of connecting physically with the place, some images and feelings came to my mind.

I became a tree, and the ocean waves touched my roots, a flowing energy goes through all my being in to the sky. The energy came from the earth, but at the same time from the sea and ends in the sky.

With every new ocean wave, the tree grows taller, until I felt like leaving behind the atmosphere. I continued growing with a thousand tree-arms trying to reach the stars; finally I touch one, a white and bright one. The roots and trunk remain on the beach.

Then I asked the owl that has become like a totem animal in this path, to come, I saw her flying in to the circle of stones and stand there. I said to her "I'm not afraid of you, come closer" so she did and fly in to the tree. I hear her saying "I'll be along with you in your entire path". Suddenly I was again in the beach, in human form, but it was night no more, It was the dawn, and I heard the voice again saying "Run in to the aurora, run in to the sea".

So I ran in to the sea, jump into it and became a shark, that dived into the sea deeper and deeper, then I swim to the surface and jump, became a Hawk flying to the sun, to the dawn, behind me there were a half circle of seagulls, flying along, just behind the hawk. Then I realise that I wasn't flying in to the sun, but in to the white star. I reach the star and became the star, feeling every flow of fire, every flare, every explosion on its surface, and suddenly went down in to the earth again, so quick that it hurts. Then I saw my self from above, the human body near to the sea in the night. At the same time I saw the shark diving in the black sea, and the Hawk flying in the dark night; all the images at the same time.

I saw what it looks like a spiral galaxy, but in movement, like a hurricane that it's seen from above. I was in the centre, the star, the shark; the hawk came in to me.

At that time I opened my eyes in the "real" world, and feel dizzy, I look above and there were clouds surrounding the moon, in form of a spiral, and from one part of that spiral, the clouds form a path, that went beyond the horizon. I saw a bird flying in to the city.

I realise that I have tears on my eyes, and start walking back. I felt like when you spend hours crying, tired, with some sadness, but at the same time, relief and relaxed. I walk slowly because I was like not having the strength to do it. I was still very dizzy, so I sat for a while, turn my mp3 player and the random selected melody was "The longships" by Enya; a beautiful melody, that bring the images back, but now, as I was watching a movie. After the dizzy feeling went out, I return to the city.

I was a very deep and hard experience, and I wished to share it with you. I'm not sure of all the meanings, and what exactly happened, that make me feel like this with so intense repercussion in my physical body. That to find out it's a personal quest, so I share it as it is, with no further interpretations.

Well that's it, my two cents for today

The Longships:

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

My sacred place

Since the begining of times, human beings have created sacred places, for meditation and worship.

For me, to have such a place, is not as a religious matter, in the common sense, rather, I like to view it as a place where I can meditate and think about thinks, a place that reminds me of the path when I'm feeling apart.

It's a place that has personal meanings, personal and individual features and images. Inspired on the triad point of view, I create a composition with mirrors, that forms a new image with the reflection of other two. Three candels also are present on the composition.

Who visits me

Locations of visitors to this page
eXTReMe Tracker