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The Elementals Quartet

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

PRELUDE - Created in the Chaos of Time

Our Universe, our very world, is filled with seen and unseen elements that I ponder with spiritual yearning and scientific wonder. Oh! To understand these mysteries of life: the fires of energy, the winds of space, the waters of dimensions unknown, and the earth of rocks, minerals, dirt. These are the Elements – Fire, Air, Water, Earth – known by the Ancients across our planet. They may vary somewhat from culture to culture, but the Wise Ones of Old recognized the hidden powers they hold.

In Renaissance alchemy, mythic beings called Elementals were attributed to these four, giving form to the spirits of Nature Forces. In many of the societies I’ve (lightly) studied, the Elements are animated with properties of aliveness. Is the anthropomorphism only our human attribution to help us make sense of the world we live in? Or as I have come to sense, are these elements really in some mystical way, incarnate beings? Science might argue with me, but I like to think of Elements as Elementals in the elegance of spirit-language. My contemplations give rise to this quartet of poems and photographs to celebrate the world of Earth, our home.

May the cosmic current of our universe and Spirit’s energy flow from these meditations as blessing.


Spirits of friendships long past

burned in the fire of sun-measured time

Some linger

with the sweetgrass smoke of offering


blown as ashes

by wind

sifting and unwrapping loves entangled by earlier breezes


where with when ~ place with time

As vortex whorls pull side to side


Delicately balancing to peace


River to snowflake

Mist to rain

Cloud to ice

Moment by moment a Changeling



Gathered in cycles of transformation and rebirth

no beginning…no end

Sit with the River

Allow it to teach the wisdom of flow

the Zen of movement

Drift on its passage that defies ~ dares! ~ Time to interfere

An ebb tide pulls the River back

while a current carves a middle way of silver at its center

Restless wanderer. Flowing to the vaster waters of the Bay

Counting Time in ripples and waves.

Water reflects the All That Is in limitless hues of rainbow

the achingly deep blue of ocean

the pink-orange-beige of lakeside sunset

sheer aqua in a calm lagoon

browns of muddy clay in otherwise pure mountain streams

frosted green-gray ice from glaciers’ depths

Dependent on Earth and Sky for color, yet always –

always – Water is freely and clearly herself

Tiny droplets merge to One

One glass

One fishbowl

One pond

One creek, river, stream…

And ocean, where water’s rhythms sustain my soul

Clouds embroider the sky white with mythic creatures

or darken to storm fury

Mist dances in Spirit world, veiling what it chooses

then disappears, leaving the earth fresh, the air like new

Essence of life…sweet…potent...pure

Water! What are you telling me?

It pulses and my thoughts become random. Capricious. Formless. Frozen. Changing.

Elusive Water

Pouring through my soul in images that fade

like morning haze ~ or dreams ~ before they can find word-life on my page

Oh Water! Dwelling of goddesses and gods of ancient lore

You charm me with spells of rhythmic power. I bow, smitten beyond words


The Now of heat and light

that names the elements with hot embrace

Alive with simple knowing

But not so simple, really

Alive within its own Truth


knows its center

and burns away unneeded things

as I know my center, the core of being

where my flame holds true


with a heart of flame

that doesn’t want to die

So, I tend it

with mesmerized care

Watching seductive flickers

that whisper shadows along the pines

and give life to the edges of the night

Fire knows the Truth of galaxies

that burn in distant spirals

tracing star-paths to a center of black gravity

Yet glows in my backyard fire ring

Its heat a comfort in the cold of approaching fear

Touching the dark with crackling pops

A minor blaze in the scope of Universe,

but enough to illuminate my circle

I seem easily to forget Truth

But Fire never forgets

Fire knows the True

and follows it to the very soul

where life and flame

communicate with the Divine

in some reverberating grace


I hold the stone in my left hand, palm up, fingers cupped as a cradle

and touch Azurite in deep matte blue

and streaks of green Malachite

and patches of coppery brown

This craggy orb has the look of Earth glimpsed from space

Up close, crystalline surfaces reflect tiny glints of light in the growing morning

Crevices, like caves, beckon my spirit to an adventure of mind

to take me deep into the Soul-world of Earth

Particles dust off to my gentle touch

I am this stone, this rock

And we are old, as old as the beginning of Time.

Millions of years from now, will the imprint of my being last as this nugget has lasted?

I will crumble eventually to the dust I have always been.

Then who but Earth and Wind and Fire and Water and Spirit Herself will remember?

If my dust has life and I am part of Earth-dust, why have I not seen before that She,

the very Earth, is living? Sentient in my hand, this stone is alive

in stillness silent only to ears that do not hear

Stone teaches me the quiet wait of unhurried wisdom

Do not speak words to unwilling hearts

Do not cast your pearls that way

POSTLUDE - Behind the Scenes

I often find myself wanting to explain my writings, especially the poetry, to let readers trace how it all came about in my head. Then I think ~ no ~ allow the words stand on their own.

This quartet, however, calls to me differently. It has developed over a number of years, slowly shaping from the center of my soul, clinging to the light of Spirit for illumination. All of my writings are, of course, reviewed and edited. These four poems especially have been revised many times, undergoing often radical transformations. One began: “Water, you charm me with spells of rhythmic power” and then sat there, a single sentence for over a year before any more of the poem was drafted.

Wind came first, breathed into life in the dry breezes of Sedona where daily saunters on secluded trails revealed grandeur at every turn. My life had been changing dramatically in the five years leading up to this poem. The concept of this series was forged on those journeys, animated by my readings and observations of this world, its nature, its peoples, its magic.

Naively, I thought the quartet would be easy; it was not.

Fire was next and was the fast moving of the poems. One evening after wine and cheese and conversation by our firepit, the entire creation burst into being. It was reshuffled several times, but almost all of the words and phrases were penned in the dark of that cold, winter night.

Although I love to dig in the dirt and watch life emerge from soil, though I love to walk in the woods experiencing the fragrances of each season, the poem Earth took a different spin. Over time I wrote alternate poems of Earth, to Earth, with Earth only to realize they didn’t fit this quartet. So, with sighs, I put them all aside.

Then, one inky morning, meditating before sunrise, I glanced at the beautiful Azurite/Malachite stone on my desk. And she spoke. Holding her gently, the weight of the colors played a wisdom song of love and joy.

Water. I love water. The Element I thought would be easiest, wasn’t. The more I pondered, the more the very complexity of water overwhelmed me. It can be liquid, or solid, or vapor. Write about one? Include them all? Words tumbled like a cascade, but without form. Finally, I decided to simply allow my myriad thoughts to surge as they wished. At one point I thought of adding a stanza on glaciers and ice and snow, but I am a child of southern warmth. Cold is a painful stranger to me, so I merely acknowledge these stunning ice forms and move on. But Ice is important to our world as we know it. Melting polar caps signal huge world changes that we humans do not seem prepared to acknowledge. Ah, Water. It will be what it will be. Can we cope or just muddle through? Will we even survive?

These Elementals also challenged me to look simultaneously at both the physical/scientific and spiritual/mystical qualities of each element. Though the poems may focus more on spirit, the physical elements were not far.

Wind played the chimes on my back porch, joining my meditations.

I sat by the Fire or in the flicker of a candle while writing and allowed light and warmth to surround me.

I pondered the Earth poem each time I weeded, planted, blew leaves, walked woodland paths. Some people like to have music playing while doing yard work. Not I! These are not chores, but special occasions to listen tenderly to this little piece of Earth I am privileged to care for...

and call home.

Atlantic Ocean, York River, and many creeks were nearby during my water contemplations. Even ice clinking in a glass or the hovering mist in our backyard turned my thoughts to a water poem. Clouds told me stories of all manner of animals, of mythic dragons, and endless heroines and heroes.

Through these writings the idea streamed – always – that we are together in this. All of us, all humans and all of nature, all elements and all of the universe. Our atoms are fundamentally star-stuff. One.

Elementals speak of a Spirit that I believe is deeply present everywhere. Our individual Onenesses are part of a greater All that defies boundaries. There is Mystery that both science and religion long to unravel, and we mortals are here to consider these unknowns with mind, body, and soul. Through this quartet I ponder imponderables with gratitude for the Love that energizes this Life. Thanks be to God.*

*My preacher father and prophetic mother, both of Baptist persuasion, taught me very, very early in childhood that the entity we call God is neither masculine nor feminine. God, they explained, is Spirit and far beyond what we call gender. So, I started to simply end this with “thanks be,” but the old familiar form called me to its music. Thanks be to God.

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