Thursday, April 7, 2011


The poet Taliesin names the four ancient elements of earth, air, fire and water; and then adds three more; mist, flowers and southerly wind. Mist is air and water, wind is air and fire. Flowers? They’re the most spectacular combination of earth, water and fire and air carries their scent, their soul if you will, into the world around them.

Tom Cowan takes the old philosophy class stand by of the falling tree in the forest a step further. He asks “if there is no one to smell the perfume, does a flower still have a scent?” Of course it does, he says, and that eventually the soul of the flower will reach out and enfold you. Even if it has to cross half the world to find you.

There is an old Irish poem about the winds;

Wind from the west, fish and bread,
Wind from the north, cold and flaying,
Wind from the east, snow on the hills,
Wind from the south, fruit on trees.

So the west wind brings basics for survival; fish and bread. The winds from the north and east can bring hardship; cold, a wind that cuts right through you and snow that makes travel even harder than it already is in a society that depended on muscle power to get anywhere. But the south wind? That brought leaves to trees, perfume from the blossoms and fruit to delight the eye and help that fish and bread go down a little easier.

Cowan goes on to say that “Mist, flowers, and southerly wind defy the distinctions and dualities of the elements by reminding us that the elements merge and flow into each other like Celtic braid work. Each of these three is a combination of elements with air being common to all. Is this because air like soul, is always both in and around us?”

We are mist, flowers and southerly wind. We are the oaks in the grove and the oaks are us. We are the rivers and the rivers are us. We are the clouds and the clouds are us. We are the headlands and breakers crashing below and they are us. We are sunlight, moonbeams and starshine. And they are us.

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