When I think about the Element Earth, the first thing that comes to mind is soil, the stuff out in the garden or the park that plants grow in. Meditation takes me into that soil. It feels moist and crumbly and cool. I can feel its richness against my skin. The soil contains and stores all the minerals and moisture plants need to live. It also contains all the minerals we use to build our world. When it comes down to it, everything we are, and everything we have, comes from this element. We come from it, and at the end of our lives we return to it.
No wonder the Earth Element is associated with abundance and prosperity. This is where material things grow and have their foundation. The Earth Element is abundant and rich in every way. In the soil itself live countless kinds of organisms and animals, from worms to moles. The soil nurtures millions of different species of plants, each of which produce an abundance of roots and leaves and flowers. Look at an apple tree in Spring: it is a luscious bouquet of flowers, and no two are the same. Walking upon the Earth gives me a sense of wonder and riches.
Elemental Earth is also rock and mountain, the solid foundations of our world. Rocks and stones are dense and still, and it takes some time to hear them, they speak so slowly. Earth is our rock and foundation. It stabilises and grounds us. Sitting upon the Earth and growing roots into it is a very useful daily meditation. It levels me out after busy activity and brings me home to myself.
The Earth Element is associated with the Northern Quarter of the Wheel, the Quarter of night, Winter, and old age. In this quarter of the sky, the Sun and Moon never shine. It is the place of darkness, dark as it is inside the Earth. It is a time of reflection of what has gone before, a time of letting go. Every night we let go of our normal consciousness and enter sleep and the realm of dreams. From these visits to the Otherworld we sometimes bring back valuable insights that become the seeds for action.
Winter should be a time of reflection in just the same way. A time to let go of our mistakes and misfortunes, and a time to affirm the valuable lessons we have learned in the past year, so they can become seeds for further growth in the year head. In the middle of this period, the light is reborn at the festival of Midwinter. It has become a time of stress and commercial activity, while it is meant to be the still point of the Year, the pivot on which the Wheel turns. It is essential for our physical, emotional and spiritual health to make time for reflection at this turning point of the Year.
In old age, too, people become more introspective, if not always by choice. The body becomes a cause for concern rather than a source of pleasure. Doing anything takes much longer than it used to. I can see how this process causes my grandmother pain. Yet this, too, can be a time of reflection, and a time to go within to the deep source of wisdom. I believe that even very elderly people can make a valuable contribution to the Web of Life in that way.
While we receive from Earth prosperity, nurture and stability, we can give to it our practical work. Any practical action you undertake for the good of the Web of Life honours the Earth Element. It can be as easy as taking a plastic bag on your next walk through the countryside and collecting rubbish. Or as challenging as organising a protest against another piece of the Goddess's body being built on. Any action you undertake to heal your life and your soul also honours Earth.
The colours of Earth are the colours of the season: black nights, brown soil, dark green dormant grass, and the white of frost and snow. Also the grey of rock, which clothes the Cailleach, Goddess of this Quarter.
On my altar, a little dish of soil from my garden represents the Element Earth. For my magical work I use an earthenware dish with a pentagram on it. It holds the communion bread in a ritual, and is also used for meditation on the five points and paths of the pentagram.
Bread is at home in this Quarter. It is made out of the seeds that, when placed in the soil, grow into new life. Seeds, nuts and pulses are the energetic foodstuffs that give body to our Winter stews.
Main picture: Blooming Moss taken by Alex