When we hear the word nature, our minds usually revert to the classic green scenes of parks, gardens and abundant forests. If our minds are in a particularly expansive place, we might introduce mental images of the beach, ocean and perhaps a little memory detour of a recent trip to a garden centre.
We rarely think of nature as the elements of earth, air, fire and water, but they serve as such a powerful way to reconnect to nature. Stemming from ancient Greece, Ayurvedic teachings, spiritual schools of thought and nature-based practices such as Wicca and Neo-Paganism — all of which extol the benefits of incorporating these elements into our daily lives as tools to optimise our health and wellbeing. It’s not only the zodiac signs that are grouped into the four elements, but also tarot cards, herbs, crystals and colours.
There is a plethora of Instagram accounts dedicated to plants, while crystals are infiltrating the high street and more yoga classes seem to be held in local parks than in actual studios. We’re all trying to reconnect and embrace nature – and you don’t need to hug a tree to do it. If you’re ready to reacquaint yourself and reap the benefits of unplugging, here’s your cheat sheet for adding the elements to your self-care, wellness rituals and physical space.
From the soil under our feet to rocks, trees, seeds and everything in between, earth provides us with our foundation. It’s a life source and represents the emotions we have that tie into our need for support and stability. Utilising this element is really great for keeping you grounded when life throws you off balance. It’s also helpful for the times when you’re stressed about money and material goods and need to regain a sense of calm and security.
To connect with this element, you can head to your local garden centre, walk around your house barefoot and go for long walks and picnics in the park. You can also represent earth around your home with crystals such as hematite, diffusing vetiver and patchouli essential oils and having a mini bowl of natural salt on your coffee table.
It only takes a moment to look up at the sky, hear the wings of a bird flapping and feel the strength of a gust of wind as it turns your umbrella inside out, to understand that air is all around us. Associated with our mental landscape and communication, it’s an ever-changing and oxygen-containing force of nature.
Working with this element is a key component in your wellness practice as its both restorative and cleansing. The obvious and easiest way to connect to the air is via your breath. Take a quick breathing break in the day for an energy boost and to detox your mind when you’re overthinking. You can simply focus on each in and out breath or follow a breathing pattern of inhaling for three counts, holding for three and exhaling for three. To represent this element in your self-care rituals, you can do a smoke cleanse to clear out any stagnant or unwanted energies with bundles of herbs such as rosemary, thyme or mugwort and allow the smoke to pass through your space.
If you’ve ever stared at a flame for long enough, you’ll know how intoxicating fire can be. It comes in equal measures of transformation as it allows us to cook and feed ourselves to the danger that it brings with it. It’s an element that needs to be treated with reverence. If you’re a fire sign (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) you’ll know that there’s an intense passion and creative energy associated with fire. It’s governed by the sun and is associated with alchemy and strength.
A scented candle can change the mood of a space in an instant and you can take your nightly candle routine to the next level by spending some time gazing at the candle flame. Protect your eyes by softly focusing at the base of the flame, spending a few minutes here to feel a sense of peace and calm. It’s a great way to meditate if you find it hard focusing on your breath alone. Bring your loved ones into the ritual with a late night bonfire where you can spend some time writing out what you want to release and let go of and burn the papers together. There’s also non-fire related ways to bring some fiery magic into your life. Carry red jasper, garnet or carnelian crystals for when you need a dose of energy and motivation.
Forget the aisles filled with every variety of mineral, filtered, spring and sparkling water that we have at our disposable, and let’s go back to basics. We simply can’t survive without it and on an energetic level, water corresponds to our emotional landscape, the moon, our intuition and dreams. It’s at once calming and soothing, but there’s also a sense of release when we cry and feeling of power in the rain, storms and its ability to put out fires.
The wonderful thing about this element, is that it’s so easy to add in to your everyday routines. Indulge in a ritual bath and pay attention to how the water feels on your skin and fill the tub with your favourite bath salts, oils and dried flowers. Of course, swimming and taking a soak in the ocean is a preferable option but your local pool is also a great way to utilise this element if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to self-soothe. Another way to turn water into a ritual is by going all-out on your next cup of tea and doing a herbal tea meditation. From the moment you boil the kettle to the very last sip, just take your time and treat it like a mindfulness practice. Notice the sound that the kettle makes as it boils, savour every sip of tea, paying attention to how it tastes, the temperature and how it makes you feel.
The bonus fifth element is everything that we’re made of and everything that’s around us, we’re all energy and we’re all connected, so as great as all these tools are, you’re the one who brings the magic. To give all of these elemental rituals a bit of a super-boost, deepen the relationship you have with yourself first. Take the time to add some stillness into your daily life by closing your eyes so you can open up your third eye (the centre of intuition and insight), even if you only have five minutes. Tune into your intuition by regularly checking in with your mind and body before making decisions. Do you get the same filter coffee every morning? Check in and ask if that’s actually what your body wants and trust your gut to guide you. Whether you’re working with crystals or doing a smoke cleanse, you need to set an intention first as that’s where the real power and benefits come from.
Giselle La Pompe-Moore is the founder of Project Ajna and offers one-to-one healing sessions that are rooted in spirituality, mysticism, wellness and self-care.