I have a friend who follows a Druidic path in his spiritual journey. He is often talking about the elements in terms of these three components: land, sky, and the sea. For me it seems to be missing an element, but I wanted to understand more from where he was coming from. There are other cultures that include other elements into their belief system. Chinese perspective has additional elements like wood and metal, many pagans who subscribe to the pentacle as a symbol include spirit as the top element of the pentacle’s point. What is so different on this Druidic path that incorporates the entirety of the elements in only three areas? This I needed to look into further to truly understand.
The pagan world often refers to the three worlds of the Druid path as the Celtic elements, allowing for sky to be made up of fire and air, but really representing three distinct worlds or realms: Sky = Upper World, Land= Middle World, and Sea= the Under World. Some refer to it as the ancient trinity.
While I am finding that the traditional elements, earth, air, fire, water, are represented more in the ritual circle of the Druid, the focus seems to be more in the understanding and respect for the three worlds and their interplay in our lives and in the natural world as a whole. This focus on space or realms rather than each individual element is a way of honoring the Spirits of the natural world and nature at large rather than the reducing them to the basics of the elements. It is a recognition and respect of these spirits in the calling and honoring of them in the Druidic journeys. It seems that reducing it to a new way of perceiving the elements is not really accurate and misses the key point of the perspective. It is more about the realms and how they function and how the person interacts with them than the focus on the specific element as a whole. An example of this is a focus not on the elements of fire and air so much in the Sky as functions of the Upper World and the relationship with energy, spirit and the actions of that realm, or Sea as the element of water or unconscious as it is a realm of the Under World and trance work.
This is a way of being, a way of thinking, and a way of seeing the world as a whole. It changes your perspective on all things when this is the filter that you use to experience the world. I can relate to it more than I thought that I would. I can honestly say that I did not think really in terms of elements or realms other than the physical world and the spiritual world for so long. I dealt with things as they were brought to me, my guides and animals often connect with me through various energetic channels and I worked with healing in that way. However, I am beginning to explore more paths and see what else is out there and am trying to gain new perspectives of understanding my fellow pagans. I find it all so fascinating.
I can see how the focus of elemental magic can feel more alchemical, more scientific, forgetting the Spirit aspect of the natural world and how focusing more on the honoring of the environmental deities, Devas, and other such spirits in their respective worlds or realms seems more organic or natural if you will, less sterile. Funny, I never thought that I would refer to magic as sterile, but yet when I understand the intention of the focus on Land, Sky, and Sea, it does to some degree seem to me anyway, a sort of sterility and perhaps even more like tools than the living entities of these worlds. I can see how one might find this Druidic perspective more harmonious with the perspective of nature worship than the traditions of elemental focus. I am not in any way saying that there is anything wrong with that way of thinking, certainly it is something that I have been investigating myself, but I find that the subtle or not so subtle shifts in the various pagan perspectives of paths certainly each have their points and valid reasonings.
I think that in exploring the various perspectives we can gain greater understandings of the differences in the paths and build tolerance and acceptance of one another. There is no right way, there is only what speaks to you for you, each of us individually. Shifting to a perspective of Druidic realms in some way allows one to be in more alignment with a naturalistic view of the world. I grasp that I have only scratched the surface of understanding, but even my simplistic explanation of it has shed so much light for me and hopefully the reader on this perspective. I encourage further exploration on this topic, certainly I will be continuing my efforts for understanding on the subject.
2016 copyright by Katie Pifer http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com
Original art, “Land, Sky, Sea” by http://www.moonhouseart.com