Create Peace, Balance and Alchemy!
For the past several weeks we’ve been looking at the elements (fire, water, earth and air), the related temperaments (choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine) and how they interact in pottery and in people.
As the calendar year draws to an end, in preparation for our New Year’s Resolutions, we might do well to review the highs and lows we have experienced. Over the past year have we tended to be more passionate, impulsive, and bossy, or quick, intellectual and shallow or intuitive,emotional and deep or practical, grounded and dug-in? Have we felt burned out, insignificant, overwhelmed or stuck?
If you recognize a pattern of imbalance in your overall behavior pattern, now is the time to develop your understanding of the ways in which the elements and temperaments work with and against each other.
In the making of pottery we’ve learned that it all turns out well when we use the elements in a balanced way…each one appropriately. With air for example – remove all the air from the clay by wedging it before we form the mug or bowl, then use the air to dry the pot before putting it into the kiln, and to cool it when it comes out.
So – air in the clay when it’s in the kiln is detrimental, and useful when it comes out.
Earth is the clay itself. And, there are many kinds of clay, for many different purposes! We’ll be looking at these in the weeks to come, but suffice it to say that you want to use the right kind for the right function. You wouldn’t get a good result if you used edible clay to make pots, or pottery clay to cleanse your pores!
So – clay serves us well when we pay attention to its nature and use it accordingly.
Water is what holds the dusty clay together – but only in the right proportion…similar to whatmay happen when too much water from the pail is poured over a beautifully built sand castle!
So – the right balance of earth and water creates a stable form.
Fire is what created the clay in the first place, and is the essential alchemical element to bake the form into a beautiful and useful vase or teapot. If the fire in the kiln is too hot though, just as with a cake in the oven, it will burn, discolor and maybe even melt!
So – when the earth, air, and water is applied in balance, and given into the right degree of heat, magic – alchemy happens…and a long lived functional beauty emerges.
It’s similar with us.
When we own the reality that we each have a predominant element or temperament, and yet at the same time know that every strength when overused becomes a weakness, we can accept what appears to be opposing truths…we are who we are, and the only change
we can be assured of making is within ourselves!
We are born with a particular body type – our clay form. We can’t be taller if we’re petite, willowy if we’re sturdy. We can though worry and fret about this until we’re ready to explode, or we can wedge – work out all the useless opinions, beliefs, and thoughts, and accept our body…appreciate how it serves us, then be good to it – build our health and strength with good food, fresh air and exercise!
“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”
― Rumi, The Essential Rumi
We all have had experiences in life – some traumatic, some exalting – These are the ways in which we’ve been forged in the fire. We can choose to live in the past and allow ourselves to sink into depression, or sail on an inflated ego, or we can live consciously – be in the moment…notice the opportunities that life puts before us and choose to create the life we want to live. We can have the courage to build our castle in the sand while knowing that even though the tide will take it, we can build another and another!
“what is joy without sorrow? what is success without failure? what is a win without a loss? what is health without illness? You have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. Thereis always going to be suffering. it’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.”
― Mark Twain
It is said that the only true constant is change. The sun rises and sets, the seasons flow from autumn to winter and yet it’s the knowing that the sun will rise again and spring will return that really keeps us stable. We often forget to put our trust in these realities. We may forget too that we choose our thoughts and have control of our emotions and actions. Let’s remember in the last days of the mutable/changeable part of the Fall, that we have access to all the elements, and so the power to change – to let go, to reclaim, to discover, and to explore. That is the true nature of Alchemy.
Clay Alchemy from the Voice of Clay has evolved from facing the fears, doubts and the losses of life, and owning the gifts, taking the opportunities and meeting the ongoing challenges. We invite you to come and engage in life with us at the pottery wheel or the astrological wheel – breathe with us, celebrate the seasons of your life with us, and celebrate yourself!