Here in Las Vegas, even on a moonless night the sky is bright with street lights and casino lights; even the quieter subdivisions seem ever-lit by porch lamps carelessly allowed to burn throughout the always active, constantly busy, nights.
In the two years I have been here I cannot remember seeing a single star.
Our house sits on the corner of two streets lined with little houses deep in the middle of a fairly large subdivision. Our backyard consists of a cement slab, surrounded by pink rocks, three high cement walls and three dry, barren looking “trees.”
I miss my home.
In some ways, moving to the desert has given me a new appreciation of what Earth is, and what Fire is. It has also reminded me of the importance of family, of spirit, and of how lonely it can be when you feel relentlessly cut-off from or out-of-balance with the elements.
And yet, it was here in this barren treeless valley that I decided it was time to live a pagan life with my children. It was here that I decided I could no longer hide who and what I really am, and so it is here that I struggle to find new ways to appreciate the unseen and the untouchable, for myself and for my children.
It is spring.
Yet the only environmental indicators of such are the rapidly rising temperatures by day, and the sudden infatuation the boys in the neighborhood have, once again, with baseball. Today, despite my determination against it, I actually had to turn on the air conditioner, and I have to admit, that even my Jayson seems to have caught baseball fever. I, however, feel we have skipped Spring entirely and are already well into another, hot, endless summer.
Which brings me to the point of this article –
“How do you teach your children to recognize and internalize the signs of the seasons if you cannot recognize or internalize them yourself?”
That is the question I have been asking myself a lot lately – and the other night, Grandmother Moon inspired in me, an answer.
“Find it,” she said, “find it and take a picture!”
So, that my friends’ is exactly what my children and I intend to do. You’ve heard of, I’m sure, those photo-a-day challenges, or photo-every week- for a year challenges. Well – we’re going to photograph the elements, every week, a few times a week, until we feel that we REALLY know them. Whether it takes a few months, a few years, or a few decades – we are going to seek out and photograph the Elements, even, no- especially, when they seem no where to be found.
Yes – there will undoubtedly be the obvious: a photograph snapped of a flame for Fire, or a fountain for Water, maybe a bird caught mid-flight will represent Air and a rock for Earth; but as we explore and really seek out the Elementals, I’m hoping to see photographs of more discreet representations – Water represented by Old Age, or Air represented by Intellect or Inspiration; a photograph of a young child or the strength of muscular man to represent Earth and perhaps Fire will be represented by a simple snapshot of a newborn inhaling the breath of life for the very first time.
- For myself, I take this challenge very… not seriously, but very deeply. It is a challenge, to learn to see them where I have previously taken their presence for granted – to find them where they are not typically found.
- For my oldest son, I wish to inspire him, to see the Elementals in their natural, obvious states, and to question them. For every obvious photograph of Water, is there not also a representation of Fire? Of Earth? Of Air? I seek to challenge him to see it, to feel them and to learn from them; to find balance in every manifestation.
- For my younger children, including my oldest daughter – I wish simply to introduce them. Just as we have walked 100 times before, physically touching and discovering the elements through nature walks and scavenger hunts – now through the eye of a camera, I wish them to discover the elements in things they cannot so easily touch or take with them; to find them in the bigger picture, and to find them within a smaller frame.
Now, instead, of a bag to bring home our treasures, we take with us our cameras and our field journals, and when we get home we can pull them up on the computer, discuss them, print them and create for ourselves our own private Book of Elements to grow with and to pass down through the generations. And what a wonderful teaching tool it will be…
Blessings and Namaste,