My 100th post is dedicated to my mother Edna. Our wonderful and marvellous mum passed away on December 22nd this year at the age of 90. She has returned to the elements – her body to the earth and her spirit to the heavens. She, and we, ARE the elements. The elements represent expressions of energy that can take many forms. These are the two messages that have come across most strongly in the 100 posts written in my two elemental blogs – fireupwaterdown.com and elementaljapan.com. These messages embody the intimate connection many cultures have with the elements: earth, water, fire, air, metal, wood, ether and consciousness.
It makes sense that we have this intimate connection to the elements. They give us life: the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, the energy within us. The elements can also take life, through floods, fire, drought, intense storms and other extreme expressions of external energy. They engender delight, respect…. and in some cases fear.
In response to these natural forces, cultures around the world have developed ways of life and wellbeing based on the elements and energy within us. These are epitomised by the energy centres (chakras) and five elements in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. While the elements in the Indian and Chinese systems are different, the teachings are the same – the elements provide us with a detailed explanation of how the energy in our bodies work. Both systems also relate personality types to the elements. We are the elements.
One of the most striking images I have discovered in my exploration of the elements is reproduced below. This really bought home that we are beings of energy, and the elements. Instead of showing the energy centres/elements within our bodies, the body and its chakras are shown within the Japanese ‘Stupa of the Five Elements‘ (from the bottom up – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space/Void). The sixth element, consciousness, is present by implication in the stupa form.
In September 2014 I gave a presentation at the Ecological Society of Australia conference titled ‘Fire, air, water and earth – An elemental ecology of Tasmania revisited‘. If I gave the presentation again, having now written 100 posts exploring the elements, I would include more images of people and place more emphasis on humans as elemental entities. As many cultures have taught, this way of being connects us with the world around us through flows of energy that shape our planet – past, present and future. The neurobiologist Jill Bolte Taylor put it eloquently when she described herself as an ‘energy being’, a sensation she experienced when having a stroke at the age of 37. Her TED talk titled ‘A Stroke of Insight’ tells a remarkable story about consciousness and our choices in life.
If I was asked for one key message learnt on my journey it would be this: the challenge of our time is to raise the elements, as experiences common to all human kind, from our collective unconscious to our consciousness – and use our connection to nature as a foundation for action.