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The Elemental Tides

Continuing our recent thread on Dion Fortune and Paganism, another fascinating aspect of Dion Fortune’s work was her recognition that the year was divided into four ‘Elemental Tides.' These are:

Earth: Summer Solstice to Autumn Equinox
Air: Autumn Equinox to Winter Solstice
Water: Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox
Fire: Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice.

This scheme emphasises the quality of the energy that underlies each season, and DF taught that we should respond appropriately to the nature of this elemental energy and live our lives accordingly. One of the advantages of observing the seasons this way is that the passage of the Elemental Tides encompasses all religions and spiritualities whether pagan, Christian, Egyptian or Celtic and can happily accommodate solar and lunar festivals and major astrological influences.

The Earth Tide: Summer Solstice to Autumn Equinox

For example, as I write this we have just passed the Summer Solstice and so are now moving into the three months of the year that are ruled by the element of Earth. DF considered that at the Summer Solstice, when the sun is at its height, there is a direct run through of power emanating from remote spiritual contacts straight into the inner Earth. The next three months until the Autumn Equinox are therefore a time when we will experience the effect of this descent of power as it manifests in ‘Earthly’ terms of events, occurrences, happenings that take place in the outer world and in the here and now. It is a period when we should focus on grounding ourselves, putting energy into the outer circumstances and structures of our lives - and generally should expect the unexpected.
Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
At last we have passed the Vernal Equinox, following what has felt like a particularly long Winter. We are now moving into the Fire Tide which will lead us up to the Summer Solstice. From the third week of March onwards we begin to express in our outer lives those initiatives which our soul or higher self aspires to achieve, and which have been germinating throughout the Winter. Whatever has remained buried within our soul’s purpose and destiny now starts to emerge, seeking light, air and creative expression.
The corresponding inner forces of the Earth also burst into life, drawn upwards by the longer hours of daylight and the increasing warmth of the sun. It is worth observing any changes that start to occur in our lives at this time because they may be an indication of our next few steps along the spiritual path.
In the Christian tradition this is signalled by the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that is traditionally celebrated on 25th March. Our lives may not change in such an extreme manner as this! But we may notice events occurring around this time which later turn out to be significant, offering a hint as to what is to come.
In the exoteric world the 1st April or All Fools Day is a day for playing practical jokes, although the origins of this tradition are not clear. In esoteric understanding the day is associated with the symbolism of the Tarot card of the Fool who puts all that he has previously owned behind him so that he can calmly step out into the unknown, unencumbered by the 'baggage' of the past.
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
The Winter Solstice is the time of the ‘Midnight Sun,’ so-called because the Sun is at its lowest point in our visible world - at least, in the northern hemisphere. However, the Solar Power is undiminished: it continues to communicate with the human spirit in ways which are often beyond our rational understanding. We can therefore welcome the Winter Solstice as the time in which we may each re-experience and re-connect with the incarnation of the spirit. It is a time when spiritual fire makes contact with the Earth, and within the heart of each of us on Earth.

Following the Winter Solstice, our renewed contact with this influx of the pure spiritual fire of incarnation propels us into the cleansing period of the Water tide, and this can often be experienced as an uncomfortable three months, particularly as we approach the Vernal Equinox. We tend to discover during this period that familiar or habitual ways of thinking and doing are tried and tested against the renewing influence of the spiritual fire. New concepts have ‘incarnated’ within us and some of the old ones are necessarily cleansed and purified.

I am brought to mind of the words of the poem New Heaven, New War by Robert Southwell (1561 - 1595). The language is that of a 16th century Jesuit priest, but the words are a powerful evocation of the potency of the incoming spirit and its effect in expelling anything that prevents us from following our true destiny.

This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at His presence quake,
Though He Himself for cold doth shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell He will surprise.
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
As we reach the Autumn Equinox so the Inner Tide now becomes ruled by the Element of Air, which is connected with the Mind. This period is initially characterised by the activities of ‘harvest home’ in which we literally reap what we have sewn, and when our achievements earlier in the year are absorbed into our consciousness so that they become integrated into our spiritual understanding.

This process of review and integration not only applies to our daily lives but also - if we are involved in spiritual matters - it is the time of year when we should try to make a clear-sighted assessment of our spiritual progress. It is said that even the work of the Inner Hierarchy is reviewed in the nature of its relation to humanity and to the Great Work.

It is on the basis of this objective review and understanding of our present position that we can now begin to open our minds to the first hints and intuitions of what we may achieve in the the following year even though, as yet, these 'seeds' remain as ideas.

Immediately following the Autumn Equinox is the Feast of Michaelmas or St Michael and All Angels, on 29th September. The ‘angels’ are in fact the four Archangels, traditionally invoked at the quarters in formal ritual magic: Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel.
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
As we continue our progress through the Earth tide I am reminded that Dion Fortune regarded August as the most difficult month in the esoteric year and advised against any formal magical work during August, so that the ‘earthing’ process which began at the Summer Solstice could run its natural course. She thought of it as a period of 'cleansing' in earthly matters. Often, during August, there does indeed seem to be a particular 'bumpiness,' both in world events and in our personal lives. In Chinese medicine it is said that all the seasons of the year are experienced in August, and that certainly seems to be true at the moment!
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