FIRE: Elemental thinking

Recently I was honoured to be asked to be part of performing a handfasting ceremony for a couple of friends. We used the elements to bless them. As I waved the candle around their joined hands, and said words of blessing, there was a pause, as something tried to come out of my mouth, an idea half-shaped; instead of appearing on the beach, it has taken a few more parts of time to emerge. Here it is, for my friends, and for anyone else that cares to read it.

Home is where the hearth is

Home is where the hearth is

Fire, the element of action; of motivation, the spark that lights our fuse, burns steady in our hearths and hearts, bringing light to our worlds, visibility to our lives. Fire needs feeding, and as we collect and prepare firewood for the home fire, we can see the work required to tend the fires of lives, of our relationships. Keeping an eye on when it needs poking, and when it ought to be left alone to burn low and give those gorgeous glowing embers from which we skry visions of other worlds. We roam about, finding suitable materials to carry home, to provoke our senses and enthusiasms, words pictures tales, acts which shape our bodies and minds, sticks that we like the look of.

These materials are raw, and often need trimming, refining, cutting to length, stacking up as a pile with which we can later build the flames of entertainment or warmth.

To ignite our fires, we need a spark, a match. Kindling, whether twigs or papers, to catch the first flare and carry it to larger things, breath to give live to the growing crackling entity we conjure to manifestation. Carefully we add to our fire, feeding it, as experience teaches us when to add more, when to wait developments.

‘Doing fire’ can be viewed as a process, from the decision to gather a bundle of fuel, to clearing away the ashes. The time of manifestation of that flame makes the process have a tangible result, which is Fire. Symbolically though we must remember to include the larger actions, fire representing actions, as well as using energy. (NB Food transformation also forms a large part of the firey lore, but you can hopefully extrapolate that for yourselves.)

Our relationships follow patterns we could relate to this process, the gathering of raw materials as fuel for presenting to each other, and tools (skills) to tend our interactions and conversations. An easy remark, to spark a conversation, a sharing of each to the both of us. Bringing our attention to our partners especially, as well as other relationships, we ought to remind ourselves of how much time and effort it takes to maintain the glow of loving kindness, and of how worthwhile that can be.

Light from these flames can illuminate our current behaviours, cast shadows upon our living room walls, flicker on loved faces as we share the contents of our times and heads.

[At this time of year (in this part of the world), outside hearths come into their own, whether in our gardens or in more transient settings; sitting around a fire with friends has to be, for me, the most convivial of all places. I should make an effort to do it far more often…]

Put your trust in Magick; but mind to keep your matches dry, and your kindling plentiful.


Viva España!

A few months ago, I was invited to speak at a day of talks about chaos magick in Bilbao. I agreed, and then googled where Bilbao actually was…

At the southern edge of the Bay of Biscay, in the Basque country, Bilbao is a northern industrial city. Therefore, grim, I suspected. The airfare arrived the next day, courtesy of some unexpected proofreading work, and I booked my flights. I packed for cold weather, with a waterproof coat as my prize last minute purchase! Optimistically I bought some sunblock at the airport. Both proved essential, as Blibao’s weather is the most abruptly changeable I have ever encountered.

The locals seemed very friendly, the food delicious, and the city easy to enjoy. Not grim at all, although certainly robust in places.

The talk itself presented a few issues. I cannot speak any Spanish, and my audience was unlikely to have much English. Making an opportunity out of this, I gave a talk on language and non-verbal communication. I include the notes below:


¡Hola! No hablo nada de castellano. Es una pena, lo siento mucho. Mi amigo traducirá por mí, y voy a tratar de ayudar mediante el uso de gestos.

[Hi! I do not speak any Spanish. This is sad. I am very sorry.  My friend will translate for me, and I shall try to help by using gestures.]

Words shape our thoughts. They are the containers of our concepts, or we can think of them as the handles by which we move abstract ideas around in relation to one another.

These sounds that indicate either physical objects, like this table, or non-physical objects, like April (Abril), allow our species to share our intelligence and emotions with each other. With this group mind, we can achieve different things than as individuals.


Words alone only communicate a small amount. Most of our evolutionary past did not use ‘words’. Other signals gave us ways to share information and emotions.

Knowing another person’s internal emotional state proves vital. Our current technological social media recognises this as the primary motivation, shared status updates are where it begins.

Acting together as a group has always been important. In ritual space we often need to co-ordinate our movements. Giving verbal instructions can interrupt the flow of the ritual.

Today we can see if we can perform a ritual, using a few words as possible.

We will be creating parts of it together too, and as we do not share expertise in one language we will need to communicate using other tools as well as words.

There are chalks to draw with, we can use sounds and gestures. We will practice these in a moment.

Words are used so much today as we type and write to each other so easily. We sometimes forget to learn about other ways of listening to others, ways of understanding what they really feel or know.

Magicians like to escape from the patterns and traps of the usual. We sometimes use made up languages (so, not like the ‘real’ ones we all speak everyday…), like Enochian, or ancient ones like Latin or Greek, or strange sounding multi syllabic Ouranian barbaric. This gives the narrative verbal parts of our awareness something to play with, while our consciousness can then focus on getting meaning from other levels of communication signs.

If we add in a simple repetitive set of movements, to entertain the bodily awareness too, our intellect is freed to wander, to see directly what remains outside of words, outside of existing categories. The attention floats free, as in los sueños. And, this helps us to find ourselves in magickal states of consciousness.

Rituals often require these components, meaningless sound, and repetitive movements.

Today we will do a ritual which we construct as a group.

We will do the whole process with very few words, using sounds, and movements.

All the elements of Bilbao

The basic elements of Bilbao


*takes paper. Writes on it, big* This is a spell, the result: For all of us to gain the power to understand what people are REALLY saying to us, by paying attention  to their non-verbal communication.

Explain charging stuff in centre

The power of the spell becomes alive when we charge it, a word which has echoes of charging a phone with energy.

It also means to give instructions, to give responsibility for a task.

These objects *place them on paper* will catch the charge, and act as talismans to carry this spell with us, to help it to come back from the ritual into our daily lives, acting as a physical reminder (until we lose it, by which time it won’t matter as we will be the talismans ourselves…).

Charging a thing can take many forms *demonstrates*


Many systems use four elements one for each direction. *demonstrate* Other qualities can be mapped onto these four, according to local cultural and geographical influences.


We do not all know a common language, so we will just make random sounds. Practicing: Take a breath, let the air out through open mouth. Let the air make sounds, as it wishes to.

Sound & movement

*Get groups to make up elemental evocation, and they each charge the spell with their elemental power*

Four groups

*People into four groups* Name each element.

Say stuff about each one.


Give chalks out/have them in situ in advance

Charge stuff in centre, by non-verbally leading the group through holding hands and raising cone of power.

Everyone gets a talisman or several, moment of silence while holding them before breaking out into laughter.

The group of nearly 20 people joined in with gusto, and the talismans worked well, with very few problems with communicating during our stay! Some intelligent questions were asked, and excellent conversations had.