Category Archives: elements

E is for Energy

energyBy energy I mean “subtle energy” which in various cultures and languages and traditions has a multitude of names like chi, ki, prana, mana, orgone, quintessence, azoth etc… But for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to just say energy.

The concepts of subtle energy seem primarily rooted in eastern systems of metaphysics and cosmology. In most western metaphysics and esoterica from before the occult revival, there wasn’t much focus on it. In fact I would say the only recognition of subtle energy is when Agrippa mentions quintessence, the fifth element. Moving into the 20th century, energy becomes the thing, with it’s heyday really taking off in the 60’s and 70’s with the Aquarian arrival and the widespread blossoming of new age philosophy, theosophy and other organizations that are more influenced by Eastern metaphysical systems being blended into Western metaphysics.

Some people really embrace energy metaphysics. Other people see everything as energy, which can be a useful frame of reference for some things. Other groups reject it completely and see everything through a different lens, like spirits, or information, or psychological context. I personally see them all as useful frames of reference to work through them all at different times depending upon context and necessity. To me it just makes sense and has a certain usefulness when dealing with different situations. I also find it interesting how they can all overlap and interact. But this is post is about energy.

Energy is something that is really quite useful to work with in the modern culture that we live in. For one thing, thinking about energy is something that most countries and regions need to think about. How to move it, how to supply it, to whom it is supplied, and what the energy is sourced from. As technology advances energy slowly becomes more available to more people, we can see the effect of how energy production from various sources effects the environment, people and culture. What is interesting to me is that all of these physical productions of physical energy that is used to power technologically advanced areas and nations can also be sourced into for the kind of energy I’m talking about here. If you don’t believe me, tap into the spiritual power of electricity around you. Take some of it into you, carefully, and see how it’s power is available. Other people have tapped into the energy production from nuclear power and fossil fuels, but as time moves forward we also have solar, hydro electric, and wind power (hopefully) becoming more available and widespread. Of course, most spiritual practitioners will already be tapping into energy of the Sun, Water and Wind, albeit in different ways.

Of course, once you have that energy, it’s all a question of what do you want to do with it. While flinging lightning bolts around sounds fun (cause that would be awesome) there is so much more to do with energy then just that. The obvious first one that many people turn to is healing. So much so that “energy healing” is the phrase for various types of metaphysical healing. Although I find the exact combination of words kind of humorous (cause you’re healing energy?) even though I know it means that you’re healing with metaphysical energy, it is still very amusing to me. The next common thing is using that energy to produce results. The energy of the elements, or the undifferentiated energy of creation, or other energies can all be focused on achieving results of a more material focus. Gaining wealth, drawing love, influencing people, encouraging crops, creating protection etc… are the second most common use of energy. This is usually done by visualizing the energy, putting the intention into it and then sending it on it’s way to do it’s thing. While some energies are easily recognized and accepted within various metaphysical communities, there are some that are more modern. Like the energy of money. How do you visualize that? What about the energy of Love? The energy of beauty? Maybe you could draw from Earth, or Venus, or Water, but what about just those energies themselves, on their own. What about the energy of a curse? Or the energy of harmful spirit? If you can visualize that and make it work, you can easily just manipulate the energy of those things in ways that other people might see differently coming from a more tradition perspective. If you are being followed by a spirit of the dead, being able to manipulate the energy of the dead, or death could be a useful trick to have to limit it’s effectiveness, or change it around and send it away (or back).

Of course, the other side of working with energy is that it is very personal. It’s much more about the ability and skill of the practitioner then anything else. At least in working in other frames of reference, like spirits, where it’s more about the relationship of the spirits and the practitioner and keeping the favor of the spirits then anything, energy is much more individual focus. I think that is why energy is more popular and acceptable means of working in this 20th century western culture because we are so individualistic. We want to be distinct and different and do things on our own. Having to rely on spirits is much harder thing to deal with then just being able to “plug in” and complete the circuit. It’s much more mechanical then other methods. Information and psychology can also do that, but there is still something about energy that is more accessible. Energy is much more fluid, free form, spontaneous, more natural gift and talent that people are more desirable to have. It can also be a great way to explain various extra sensory phenomena, from divination to psychic intuitive and mediumship, whereas looking at them from other models doesn’t always work well with everything. Explaining everything as energy is just a useful frame for many things, and one of those frames is that of the personal practitioner, and their personal energy, and being able to connect with external energy.

As an exercise, pick something in front you, right now, and draw it’s energy into you. Do it gently. Give some of your energy to it, again, gentle. If you feel like you’re going to get a headache, you’re pushing too hard. Feel how that energy of the object is different from yours. Feel how the object changes when you put your energy into it.

Another exercise is to examine your own energy. Stop, and feel your energy. How does it feel right now? Do you like how it feels? If not, why? Now change it. Change the energy to match up with a perception of how you want it to feel. When you have changed your energy, how you do feel now? Is it different from before? Now, reach out to the source of pure cosmic energy within you. Some people see it as just from the top of their heads. I tend to see it as coming from the center of my being, a pinpoint of shining light deep within. Let that pure cosmic energy fill you. How do you feel now? Do you like that feeling? How is it different from before when you first felt your energy? How is it different from when you shaped your personal energy into something more desirable? Now collect that pure cosmic energy and form it into a sphere or ball. You can use your hands if you want, but you have to. Let the ball fill up and become dense. Then turn that energy into any other kind of energy that you may want. Then take the ball and either send it to someone, or fill yourself with it’s energy to charge you with it. Notice how being filled with that energy feels differently, but also how you interact differently with the world while filled with that energy. Try this exercise with different energy at different times or different days. Maybe even stack energies together, to see how they mingle and what effects they have.

Runes of Air

The element of air is not very apparent in the natal cosmology that the runes sprang from. It is just kind of there, and everything that inhabits it comes about later. For that reason, there is very little clear relation to the element of air in the runes, although using some investigation it is possible to make connections between some of them.

In various books about runes, you will find some of the following runes listed as connected to the element of air. They are:

Os/Ansuz, Raidho, Gebo, Eohlx/Algiz/Elhaz, Tiewaz, Mannaz and Yr

Some of these are related esoteric symbolism (like Eohlx which quite a few relate to Valkyries, which fly about in the air, or Mannaz which has connections to the mind and thus the mind/intellect/air connection). Others are directly related like Os/Ansuz which is about the mouth, and thus the movement of breath through the human body. Tiewaz could also fall in this category as it’s rune poem reference both mists of night but also the means to be guided through them, IE the stars in the heaven.

For myself, I have a slight longer list of runes, based on a greater perception of what makes up interaction and relationship with air and both it’s physical and esoteric qualities.

Here is my own list.

Thurisaz, Os, Raidho, Wunjo, Nauthiz, Jera, Iehwaz, Eohlx Tiewaz, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Dagaz, Aesc

I attribute Thurisaz because of the associations it has with violence and misfortune, but also with power. It is a fickle rune, and so Air is a fickle element. It is not always the gentle breeze, but sometimes the terrible storm and hurricane. It can be the breath of life, or the poisonous gas that takes life away.

Os is given because it is the mouth, and the words that come from it, bringing wisdom or folly. It also connects to breath, and to song.

Raidho is given because it is the traveling and wandering nature, always moving, always restless. In most forms of travel is is always good to have the wind at your back.

Wunjo mainly because of the sound of the name. It just sounds windy and airy. I can also see an symbolism in the comforts, the joy, the deep breath of calm and relaxation in prosperity and ease.

Nauthiz I give for reasons similar to Thurisaz. The challenges and obstacles of need are often symbolized by the power of air and it’s challenges, but also the method of resolving them lies in the preparation by planning and mindfulness, which can help to overcome them

Jera I establish because of the rune poem mentions the King of Heaven. While it could be a reference to Christianity. The idea of harvest, season and summer and the warm air and light that fills it as blessings from Heaven and thus being communicated through the air. This also just adds to the complexity of this rune.

Iehwaz, the yew tree, is another one of those mysterious and complex runes. While I don’t give all the trees mentioned in the runes to Air, there is a connection I feel that comes from the high reaching branches of trees to reach up. Yew also being identified as one of the trees of Yggdrasil, which reaches from the underworlds up into the heavenly realms.

Eohlx I also give as an air rune because of it’s potentially violent power, as the rune poem mentions the elk grass as being able to cut people who handle it roughly. Air also lends itself to protective magic that is more aligned with the watchful guarding nature of Eohlx

Tiewaz I give for the reasons already given above. Stars, mists, and the wisdom and guidance that Tiewaz imparts

Ehwaz is the other side of the moving runes. Instead of the wandering nature of Raidho, Ehwaz is the fast paced speed of movement. It is more direct and blunt then Raidho, because it channels everything into the direction it is moving to get there quickly. It also has symbolism to loyalty and trust, what I see as the ideals of air.

Mannaz as the rune of the mind, and also of friendship and connection based upon the rune poem. It also has the tragic element of the absolute end of all connections, death, which I see as the ability of the mind to contemplate all things and thus be prepared to deal with all events.

Dagaz as the rune of Day, while it is strongly a rune of light, it is also the medium which light passes through, namely air and the bright airs of daytime which serves to inspire hope and happiness.

Aesc the ash tree, another world tree, but this one I associate with the upper worlds. The ash grows high, and the particular powers of this rune seem to be about inspiration and enthusiasm, the descending powers of the gods as they flow into us, bringing prophecy, insight and perhaps madness. It is a rune that connects to the Divine Mind, the Nous or Wod, and be filled with divine possession.

As I indicated before, Air is one of those invisible elements in the northern cosmology. It is always present and yet never really talked about or focused on. Only in it’s particular manifestations as winds or breath, mists or odors does it make itself known. Finding runes of air is a challenge, as it requires interpreting symbolism and meaning and application in many ways of what air can symbolize, how it flows and acts, and it’s deeper esoteric possibilities.

Runes of Fire

Fire elemental power can be seen in different ways, which include and exclude various runes depending upon the way it is perceived. In some of the earlier works about runes, the following runes were given the qualities of fire:

Feoh (primal fire), thurisaz (destructive fire), kenaz (helpful and illuminating fire), nauthiz (needfire), sowelo (sun), dagaz(daylight)

Another method of looking for the qualities of fire is by referencing the various rune poems, for example, in the Anglo-Saxon rune poems the following runes mention fire or flame or flame producing items

Kenaz, (the torch) Eihwaz (a guardian of flame) and qweorth (the fire twirl)

These two are the most common methods by most people of connecting with fire through the runes. After spending some time in contemplationg on this, I came to a third conclusion. The runes of fire by quality. In this case, it has to do with the qualities of fire. Things like radiance, heat, light, will, passion, destruction, are all qualities of fire, qualities which are also reflected in a multitude of runes. Some of these qualities might be more relevant to specific acts of magic, seeking the illuminating quality of fire instead the heating expression might be more useful in a spell to reveal things.

Kenaz – the fire of illumination, passion, inspiration, knowledge
Hagalaz – destructive fire
Sowelo – Fire of radiance, light, warmth, success, victory
Eihwaz – protective fire
Ehwaz – speed, action, impulse
Dagaz – renewing transforming fire
Tiewaz – starlight, heavenly fire, guiding light
Qweorth – sacred fire, holy fire, essential fire

You could also create a bindrune that combines these elements into one sigil of elemental fire that could serve as a key and gateway to connect with the power of fire through the runes, and maybe also be the sigil that is an elemental fire ally that could help you to channel, connect and work with the power of fire.

Elements and Runes

The 4 (+1) elements play a very significant role in most of Western esoteric traditions and their magical experiments. Tools, directions, colors, values, correspondences are almost ubiquitous for all the elements and the numerous lists of that which goes with this, and this aligns with that. It seems almost de rigueur that people would try to make elements correspond with the runes. Much like any other system, there are also an equal number of lists which gives what elemental value to what rune (or aettir, or grouping etc…) and you could probably exhaust yourself trying to fit them all together or make them all align. Some authors have even created their own elements using the creation myths of the Norse, so you get elements like ice, venom and salt. In the end, it doesn’t seem like any of them really fit the bill for how the classic elements of earth, water, air, fire, and aether/spirit/azoth/ond really fit together with the runes. I just don’t see it being as simple as lagu equals water and kenaz equals fire and then you are left to ponder what wunjo might be or hagalaz or aethel because they don’t have a clear elemental association.

My answer to this dilemma is that the runes are not elemental in nature. They arise from that strict division. Some of them do embrace an elemental resonance, but their true nature is above that. If they are strongly aligned with any element, it would be aether/ond; the clear light of being that is beyond duality but in all dualities. That being indicated, I think all the runes can have an expression in each element. You can have the fire of kenaz, but there is also the air of kenaz, the water of kenaz and the earth of kenaz. It also applies to other runes as well. The earth of feoh, the water of sowelo, the fire of tiewaz are all areas that can be played in, played with and worked with to bring about results.

It is interesting to look at what elements get mentioned in the rune poems and to explore those runes with the strong elemental associations though. It can help to make an idea clear or how to best perform a working using those runes and what other symbolic elements need to be included.
I am going to spend the next couple entries contemplating elements and runes. Looking at the clear runic-elemental correspondences, but also exploring the not so clear ones where perhaps some runes might overlap in certain elemental affinity.