I've been fiddling around in my garden a lot lately. (In fact, I just hurried outside to check on the status of my lettuce beds before I came back to finish this post!) So it makes sense that, as I contemplate the elements, I talk about Earth first.
One of the things that draws me to Paganism (and particularly to some sort of folklore-based faith that probably isn't named yet...hee) is that there is such a rich history of beliefs and ideas about "the basics." The elements are no exception.
For example, Earth has long been associated with Mother-deities or with creation myths, which is sort of a no-brainer, if you think about it. Plants come out of it, we go into it when we die, etc. Astrology links it to signs which are known to be stubborn, sensual, hardworking, and harsh. It's associated with Winter and the North in the Wiccan-ish tradition I follow, which I suppose is a nod to death and the barren heaviness of earth in the winter. (As a side note, check out this site I found while doing a little background for this post. It'll make your brain hurt, but it hurts sooo good. Heh. Sorry.)
All of that history stuff aside, for me, Earth is the most beloved of the elements, because it has such powerful connections with me. Some of my first memories are of sifting tilled soil through my fingers or observing the points of asparagus peeking from the dirt in my father's garden. The smell of wormy dirt in the Spring literally can bring tears to my eyes. I am a collector, a hunter-gatherer from the get go and I find my treasures in soil and sand: arrowheads lying perfect and sharp on the crust of earth in a planting field after a good rain, shark's teeth doing the same on the sand of my favorite beach, strange rocks and stones and pieces of wood crossing my path on walks through the old pasture. When we visited Ruby Falls a couple of years ago, I couldn't keep my hands off of the stone walls, pulling some sort of strength and (I know this sounds corny) love from the limestone. I am fascinated by the color of dirt, by the process of composting, by the stacked layers of shale and earth on the sides of the highways.
And of course, there is my garden. I feel such peace there, such connection to Mother and community. The simple act of putting a seed into the ground is HOPE, isn't it? (Because only my arugula is up, y'all, and while I'm happy about it, I need my lettuce and peppers to get a move on.) I love feeding my family with my labors and adding oxygen to the air and cultivating a sense of independence from commercialism.
I use Earth in almost all of my rituals and charms. My talismans are all stones, of course, but I also use paper that's been tinted by dirt from my garden to write any words that are necessary. I slip a bit of dirt into my travel charm (btw, time to recharge your charms on Wednesday--it's the New Moon) every month. I frequently ask folks to dig a bit of dirt to put into their charms if I feel they need grounding.
That's what Earth means to me: grounding. It is a steady element, strong and nurturing. It holds me up and draws me down. Earth means safety to me, but also wisdom. Age and time feel suspended in Earth to me.
What does Earth mean to you? Do you use it in your rituals? Is it even something you ever really think about?
One last thing: I just became a member of BlogFrog under my original blog, I'm Not Hannah. On BlogFrog, you can become members of communities and discuss topics ranging from the serious to the mundane. I'd love to be able to have a free-flowing conversation about stuff that just comes up: everything from Paganism to raising kids to politics, etc., and I LOVE how diverse our followers are on Divining Women. So I'm inviting you to join my community. I'd love for the community to be a place where we can talk about the things that matter the most to us, as well as the silly little things that make us laugh or cry or whatever. I'd REALLY like to see a good discussion (or discussions) about Pagan issues, because from what I can tell, the BlogFrog community is fairly non-Pagan right now. Ooh, let's be trendsetters! :) Hope to see y'all there...