The Spirit of Air




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Air is one of the four classical elements (air, fire, water, and earth). It is a messenger element, carrying sounds and scents from near and far. Psychologically, it is the element of communication and thought. Physically, of course, it is essential to life. This is bound into the metaphors of our language: breath is synonymous with life itself, and the words for spirit and breath are connected in most languages.

These days, we spend so much time in climate-controlled environments that we may take the air for granted. Outside air is full of personality and changefulness - stormy, gusty, breezy, heavy, hot, cold, dry, moist, fragrant, silent, whispering, howling, swirling. Air conveys the changes of the seasons and the diurnal cycle of night and day.

For a number of years (with varying degrees of dedication), I have made it a habit to greet the morning outdoors, without clothing, doing yoga or perhaps giving an offering to the Goddess and speaking a prayer of gratitude. It is my time of communion with the air, when I am fully aware of the temperature, the motion, and the quality of it. One can also connect with air through focused breathing, singing, or speaking with attention to the breath.

Air is a carrier for the other elements as well, it conveys heat and light from the sun, carries water in the form of vapor and clouds, and picks up earth as dust. The entire atmosphere of the planet is in circulation. It brings us into contact, whether we know it or not, with places in distant parts of the globe.

Incense and fragrant oils can symbolize air in magical work, because it is air that carries them to our senses. Birds (and feathers), airborne seeds (such as dandelions), insects (butterflies and dragonflies), and bells and chimes also symbolize air. In traditional forms of Wicca, air is associated with the direction east (and hence morning), the color yellow, and the wand as a magical tool. Air is considered a masculine element.

Astrologically, the signs associated with air all relate to thought and communication: Gemini (dialog and debate), Libra (harmony and fairness), and Aquarius (idealism and innovation). People who are strongly aligned with the element of air tend to be verbal, sociable, and reflective, living in their heads more than in their hearts or bodies.

The elemental creature traditionally associated with air is the sylph, a fairy-like being with insect wings. Air elementals are noted for the restlessness and unpredictability. They delight in blowing out ritual candles at critical moments, scattering papers, and creating other distractions.

For magical work, air and its symbolic counterparts can be used to enhance communication, planning, exchange of ideas, knowledge, clarity, intellect, teaching, learning, inspiration, and skill. Air is also a cleansing element, like water. Air magic can help us mediate disputes, become better informed, or reveal truth.

I have always thought of myself as an air witch, a weaver of thoughts and words and a teacher and mediator. Whenever I find myself getting trapped in my own thoughts, I take a walk outdoors and let the air remind me that everything is in motion, and that a new wind blows in and out each moment.

Earth Powers is a regular feature of Starweaver's Gems from Earth and Sky

Copyright © 2008 Tom Waters