Earth Beat by Monica Crosson
Early spring is one of my favorite times of the year to be outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. I am witness as the Maiden unfurls her magick slowly, allowing us to savor each and every moment of her awakening, from the black cottonwood that parades some of the first haze of green and seduces our senses with its resinous perfume, to the first bright blossoms of trillium, flowering currant, and Indian plum that dot our fairy-tale forests. I can’t help but be in love with my Pacific Northwest home, where forty species of ferns grow with wild abandon and moss covers anything that stands still.
It was on such a morning, almost twenty years ago, when I was out in the garden carefully breaking up the soil that would soon play womb to our seeds, that my son, Joshua, came up to me. “Mama,” he said, “dirt makes you happy, doesn’t it?”
I put my broad fork down and sat beside him in the dark loamy soil. “How can you tell?” I asked.
“Because when you’re in the dirt your eyes smile.” I picked up a little of the soil and rubbed a bit on his cheek. He giggled.
“Looks like dirt makes you happy, too.”
Joshua playfully threw himself into my vegetable bed and pushed his arms and legs back and forth.
“Are you making a dirt angel?” I asked.
“No, Mama.” He stood. “I’m making the Goddess.”
“She’s beautiful,” I said.
“Do you wanna give her a hug, Mama?”
Though I felt a little silly, I leaned into the dirt and gave Joshua’s artistic interpretation of the Goddess a hug. He was soon lying beside me. The scent of fresh earth and Joshua’s own scent, a mixture of both sour and sweet, infiltrated my nose, and at once I remember feeling strangely comforted—as if all my fears, in that instant, had been lifted as I lay content within the arms of the Mother.
“Mama,” Joshua whispered.
My eyes still closed, I answered, “Yes, sweetie.”
“Does the Earth have a heartbeat? I think I hear it,” he said.
I remember the faint buzzing of insects just around my face, the sensation of the soil beneath my cheek, the scent of new grass, and the distant drumming of a woodpecker. The vibrations of Mother Earth speaking, breathing, and moving all around us. “Yes, Joshua,” I said. “Her heart beats strong and wild. A lot of people just don’t take the time to stop and listen.”
“I like the sound,” he softly breathed. “Can we listen for just a while longer?”
“Of course, Joshua, of course.”
The Element of Earth
I tend to work with the element of earth the most in my practice. For me, magick is more than elaborate ritual or a quick spell found in a book or on the Internet. It is working hands-on with the natural world. I listen for its secrets that echo through the forest. I feel its rhythm in a meandering stream and experience its bliss in the chance meeting of wild animals that we share this world with. Magick is written within the petals of a flower and rises with the scent of rain.
As the oldest form of magick, earth magick is about discovery. Finding that unity between human beings and the earth. Unearthing inner peace, learning stability and understanding the rhythms of our own bodies. Earth is solid, enduring, grounding, and serene. Use the element of earth when manifesting your ideas, for prosperity and fertility magick, for grounding, and for attuning with the natural world. Its direction is north and its season is winter. To experience earth’s calming power one needs to only go outdoors. Take a walk in the park or sit under a favorite tree. Plant seeds in the garden, build a sand castle on the beach, or make mud pies with the kids.
People whose signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn were born under signs of earth. They are self-disciplined and persistent and can easily reach any goal they set up for themselves. Magickally, earth signs make excellent herbalists or Kitchen Witches. They are well attuned to their natural surroundings and may enjoy garden magick or working with rune stones or crystals and gems.
Goddesses Connected with the Element of Earth
Gaia: A Greek mother goddess and the personification of the earth itself. She stretched out, at the beginning of time, laying out the land and providing sustenance for all her people. Zeus determined the site of Delphi by locating the naval of Gaia, or as the Greeks believed, the center of the earth. Invoke Gaia in spells for abundance and the harvest, ecology and healing of the land, divination, and parenting.
Demeter: Greek goddess of the harvest and the underworld, marriage, sacred law, and the life and death cycle. She is the mother of Persephone, who was kidnapped and taken to the underworld. Demeter’s mourning for her daughter causes the world to become cold and barren for six months, only to rejuvenate in the spring upon her daughter’s return. Call upon Demeter to bless the land, for fertility magick, for wisdom, when dealing with legal matters, or when “birthing” a new creative endeavor.
Cel: An Etruscan earth goddess whose name means “earth” or “soil” and comes from the Etruscan root, kel, meaning “to grow.” Also a goddess of the underworld and of fate, she was called upon when interpreting omens. Invoke Cel at Mabon to bless your meal of thanksgiving, as the Etruscan month Celi (our September) was named for her. Also call upon Cel for divination, growth, and wisdom.
Danu: The most ancient of the Celtic deities, Danu was known as the “Flowing One.” An earth goddess connected with the faery hills, she is the grand creator who birthed all things and mother of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Call upon her regarding enlightenment, fertility, luck, wisdom, and inspiration.
Five Ways to Experience
the Element of Earth
I was a bit of a wild child growing up. My hair blew tangled about my face and my knees were perpetually scraped. Summer was my favorite time of year, not only because school was out, but because I was allowed to sleep outside and run around barefoot all of the time. Remember summers spent barefoot? How delightful was the sensation of warm sand pressing against the soles of your feet as you played at your favorite beach or the way the grass tickled as you ran through the yard on cool summer evenings? Well, it’s time to reawaken that inner wild child by going barefoot once again!
The act of simply slipping off our shoes and spending a few minutes barefoot in the grass or on a sandy beach reawakens a very basic connection to earth, creating a bond with the Mother that has become lost to most of us with modernization.
Make Friends with a Tree
Do you have a favorite tree that you feel connected to? If not, go into your yard or a favorite park and get to know a tree. Maybe you are drawn to maples for their connection with love, prosperity, and longevity. Or what about the mighty oak (the classic Druid’s tree), used magickally for protection, fertility, and luck? There is always the apple tree, also known as the “Silver Bough,” long used in love spells and divination.
I have made a strong bond with a willow tree that gracefully watches over our property. Willow is connected to the Moon and my watery soul. She guards against evil and has allowed me use of her branches for both my wand and a besom.
Making a connection with a tree is simple. First, go into your yard or favorite park and find a tree that resonates with you. Visit the tree a few times—maybe take a book or a set of tarot cards with you, or just meditate and enjoy its calming energy. Once you’ve settled on the perfect tree, mentally ask the spirit of tree to be your teacher and guide.
Working with plant allies is a wonderful way to gain a deeper understanding of earth magick. Take advantage of their wisdom and transformative powers.
Beat a Drum
Many Native American tribes likened the beating of drums to the heartbeat of Mother Earth. This powerful instrument is used in ritual to raise power, to heal, to send messages to the spirit world, to aid in meditation, and for social ceremonies.
Drumming is a great way to connect with the earth’s natural rhythm. The low, constant beat reverberates through your feet (remember—go barefoot) allowing one to enter a relaxed state and move one’s consciousness into that inner world where our spirits are fed.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a traditional native hand drum, you can use an old cookie tin or oatmeal container to get yourself started. Rhythmically striking a large rock with a strong stick works, too. You may also consider joining an established drum circle or forming a new one with your circle or coven.
Plant a Garden
If you are lucky enough to have a piece of land (even a small yard or containers on a balcony), utilize that green space by growing your own herbs and flowers for spellwork and maybe a few fruits and vegetables for your family to consume. Plunging your Witchy hands into the soil is not only a great way to make that connection with the element of earth, but it reminds us of the wise women and cunning men before us who gleaned medicine and magick from their gardens.
This is also a great way to get the kids involved in the earthy fun. Infuse your garden with magickal energy by having the kids paint pots with magickal symbols, create a faery house, or make magickal mosaic stepping stones. When your garden is complete, why not dedicate it to the elves?
Bring the Element of Earth Indoors
Having a few potted plants or natural found objects in your home lends a wonderful green energy to your living space. When our children were small, our family’s altar/nature table would fill up seasonally with found treasures, including hag stones, cones, leaves, driftwood, antlers, hazelnuts, and interesting rocks. Their placement designated a quiet haven where the kids could go to reflect on nature’s gifts.
If you feel you’re not equipped with a green-enough thumb to conquer an outdoor garden, give indoor gardening a shot. Choose houseplants for your home whose energy you would like to project. Maybe a little protective magick is what you seek—try a nice cactus near your front door or hang potted ivy near your windows. Would you like to promote a harmonious home? Try the lovely peace lily. Want to test your skills at Kitchen Witchery? Set up a few favorite herbs in a sunny window in the kitchen. Some of my favorites include:
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): This member of the mint family is used heavily in Mediterranean cooking. Magickally, use basil for protection, wealth, and to encourage love.
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana): This herb is related to oregano and makes a suitable replacement in cooking. Magickally, use marjoram in dream pillows and in spells for love, peace, health, and happiness.
Sage (Salvia officinalis): This woody perennial is a favorite in holiday cooking. Magickally, use sage in spells for wisdom, purification, intuition, and abundance.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): One of my favorite herbs, this Mediterranean herb lends itself well to sauces and pork and lamb dishes. Use rosemary in spells for remembrance, love, mental powers, purification, and protection.
Decorate a few small pots (or one large one) with Witchy symbols, words of power, runes, etc. Use your newly decorated pots to plant your herbs using a really good potting soil and then place in a sunny window. Bless them by saying,
Like the wise women (cunning men) of old,
I will work my spells with these gifts of the earth
To give comfort, to heal, to nourish, to give mirth.
Bless these herbs with the power of three
As I weave an earthy magick—so mote it be!
Gentleness and Grace: Deer Wisdom
The element of earth’s wisdom and teachings can come to us in many ways. Working with the land teaches us thankfulness and responsibility for the next generation. Seasonal change teaches us to embrace change in our own lives. From trees we learn the importance of being well grounded, and from the earth’s varied landscape we learn to appreciate beauty in all its forms.
Animals associated with the element of earth also have lessons to share. Bears are protective and intelligent. They remind us to be strong and courageous. Coyote is the classic trickster, teaching us adaptability, playfulness, and resourcefulness. The wolf helps us discover freedom and trust our instincts.
But it is the wisdom of the deer that I most often seek. Maybe it’s because they are most commonly seen at the edge of a wilderness setting, representing a bridge between the wild and the tame (much like myself). In Celtic mythology, deer were able to move between the worlds, and hunting a stag represented the pursuit of wisdom. A stag’s antlers were representative of a tree, and because they were shed and regrown every year, they were a perfect symbol of rebirth.
A deer’s gentle spirit and swift, delicate movement remind us to have grace under fire. Their innocent nature teaches us to find that lost childlike quality within ourselves and to use that ability to look at things from another perspective. The deer spirit can also be used to help develop your intuition and refine psychic abilities. Magickally, the deer spirit can be used in spells for renewal, life’s mysteries, grace, intuition, and peace.
Animal Spirit Meditation Beads
An animal spirit guide is much more than just an animal whose qualities we admire. It is the embodiment of our subconscious mind and a guide to help us acknowledge those aspects of our lives that need to be transformed, inspired, or comforted.
There are several ways to cultivate a connection with an animal spirit, including observing nature and keeping track of repetitive sightings of a specific animal, shamanic journeying, dream work, and meditation. Animal spirit meditation beads can work as an aid in focusing your intention on a specific animal spirit while in a meditative state.
You will need:
13 beads to represent the lunar months (use turquoise, peridot, hematite, or another earthy stone)
3 beads representing the triple Goddess
Spacer beads of your choice (wood is nice)
A charm representing whatever animal spirit you connect with
Lay out your beads in a way that is pleasing to you. String them onto your beading string and knot it securely at both ends.
Strong and Wild
That scruffy little blond-haired boy who taught me to really take the time to hear the heartbeat of the earth is now all grown up. Between college classes, his job, and social activities, I don’t spend near as much time with him anymore. But just a few months ago, in the quiet of the evening, when the wind had stilled and the bullfrogs had hushed their throaty song, I watched him sitting on the side porch, alone, his head tilted.
“What are you doing?” I finally asked.
He held up his index finger to silence me, waited a moment, and smiled. “I know you can hear it, Mom,” he spoke low.
I listened. I could hear the movement of a toad searching for grubs beneath a daylily, the restless movements of swallows in a birdhouse near the window, and the creak of branches deep within the surrounding forests. “Her heart beats on,” I said. “Strong and wild. Can I hang out here with you awhile and listen?”
He smiled. “Of course, Mom, of course.”
McKosato, Harlan. “Drum: Heartbeat of Mother Earth.” Native Peoples Magazine, July/August 2009. Accessed on October 5, 2016. http://www.nativepeoples.com/Native-Peoples/July-August-2009/Drums-Heartbeat-of-Mother-Earth/.
Took, Thalia. “Cels.” The Obscure Goddess Online Directory. ThaliaTook.com. Accessed on October 5, 2016. http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/cels.html.