Elemental Play – Origins Of The Wild Harmonic Oracle, Part Three

“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” -Sun Tzu

“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” -Sun TzuThe Wild Harmonic Oracle is covertly an attempt to help people get back in touch and in harmony with the elemental realm. I believe that our dissociation from nature and the earth below our feet is at the root of our modern problems. With this deck, I hope to encourage more dialogue between our realm and the elemental realm and thereby foster a reconnecting of the earth to itself.

What we think of as the classical elements, earth, water fire and air, date back to antiquity and beyond. This grouping of four is thought to have been brought together by the philosopher Empedocles (45 BC) and certainly other ideas leading up to his go much further back. A fifth, perfected element, variously called Aether or void, gets mentioned as early as Plato.

These five elements endlessly fascinated magician types down through the ages. Likely somewhere in the renaissance (possibly by Agrippa) the elements got placed on the pentagram. With that the idea of balancing the elements to open secret power was born. (My shallow history here should not be taken as accurate. Far more geeky minds know far more about this than I do, and new information seems to be discovered regularly. But you get the idea.)

Just what exactly it means to equilibrate the elements will differ depending on who you talk to. Even though one might write lucidly on the topic and thereby give the impression there are strict and clear rules to the undertaking, it is actually a hyper-personal process. We can learn from each other, no doubt, both how to begin and variously along the path, but to make the journey, we must ultimately find our own way.

For me, the basics of equilibration of this type comes in two forms. The first is sacred ritual which uses elemental symbolism and energies to play with reality. This is a fantastic approach to nurturing good relations between realms, and it is also enriching, educational and empowering in other important ways. Many of the ideas in the deck are informed by my years of ritual practice. I encourage all who are interested to at least dabble a bit. The world needs more folk magicians.

The second approach to working with the elements, which I will speak of here, is the contemplation of the elements. This is done by learning about them and then learning to see them in your experience. Once you can see them then you can begin to learn directly from them. We find them inside our bodies, throughout our environment and even very subtly in our minds and altered states like dreaming.

So to begin with, you might consult a basic list of elemental traits like this:









This list is taken from the four humors’ teachings and is rich with insight for those who thrive on anachronistic thought. For those with a more contemporary mind, you might have something like this:









You may find playing with such lists as these helpful for your learning to perceive the elements. If so, go for it. But for some, it can be a bit boring. And one thing, in my experience, that elemental perception is not, is boring. So I, in part, made this deck as a tool for learning to perceive the elements at play in your world, inside and out.

Of course, I didn’t make the deck one-dimensional like the lists above. I made it playful. Rather than focus on each element in isolation, the elemental teachings in the deck are each about relationships between two elements. This deck asks you to entertain ideas and take them with you to see where and how you find them for yourself. While I believe in clear and direct teachings in many regards, in the realm of the enigmas of inter-dimensional consciousness, to teach in riddles is the only way to elicit self-understanding.

As they say in our ancient future: if you take someone to another dimension, they will have a fun day. If you teach them to see the ways between worlds for themselves, they will have a lifetime of adventures.

What About Spirit, Celestial & Dimensional?

In this deck, the Aether element is called Spirit. This is partly due to its association with the 5th psychic center of the throat. Spirit is the 5th element, and in its realized form contains the highest traits of the terrestrial four (earth, water, fire and air). One version of this might go like the following: from the earth it gets its unyieldingness, from the water its adaptability, from the fire its transmutational capacity and from the air its penetrating persistence. Like Spirit, a powerful voice resounds and expresses these traits to shape the world around it.

As the deck took shape, the elements of celestial and dimensional emerged to facilitate the integration of elemental relationships and the psychic centers of the human body. These additional two elements are not meant to be strictly distinct elements from Spirit, per se, but rather subtler and deeper permutations of it. Much more can be said on this topic and is addressed in depth in my course on the psychic centers. Suffice it to say, they represent far more transpersonal aspects of reality than the first four elements. When realized, they open the paths of higher consciousness and a more enriching and down-to-earth life.

Declaration Of The Four Sacred Things

The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.

Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.

To call these things sacred is to say that they have a value beyond their usefulness for human ends, that they themselves become the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. No one has the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy.

All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance: only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.

To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.

To this, we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this, we dedicate our lives.

—Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing