We learn geology the morning after the earthquake. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Earth. The element of certainty and security. It’s the ground we walk on, the home we live in (whose foundations are planted in the ground), the income (coins) we earn. The food we eat, and the health of our bodies.
But the Earth can betray us. Remember the old Westerns where the hero often had to be rescued, or rescue himself, from quicksand? Ground that looked solid wasn’t. In The Princess Bride, Westley and Buttercup walk through the Fire Swamp, their security threatened by fire spouts and lightning sands. The books and TV series of Game of Thrones are one tower, earth-shaking moment after another—people die, battles are fought, walls are destroyed.
And is anything as unnerving as an earthquake?
When I do tarot readings, one of the cards clients often hate to see is the Major Arcana card of the Tower. On the card is a tower being struck by lightning, with people jumping or falling from the it. The card speaks of extreme upheaval, extreme situations, and violence, but also of transformation.
When the Tower card appears, I advise clients to shake things up, to rock and roll, otherwise the Universe will do it for them.
In the four suits of the tarot’s Minor Arcana, the element of Earth is represented by the suit of Coins or Pentacles. It represents anything you can touch, taste or feel, especially home, health and wealth (like the minerals in the earth).
In astrology the three Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
In your writing, think about how shaking things up in material, physical ways can often be the vehicle for change and transformation in your story. Someone is murdered or gets pregnant. Someone is caught having sex outside of a committed relationship. A battle or war occurs and families are torn apart, structures destroyed.
When you develop characters with strong Earth qualities, think of muscular men, Venusian-type women, earth mothers, salt-of-the-earth people. Think of heroes and heroines who had experiences early in life that were earth-shattering and therefore life-changing. These characters may be slow to change their minds, may dig in their heels and plant themselves. And yet, these may also be the characters that give one a sense of homecoming, of healing, of security and safety.
Earth-like careers could be bodyguards,builders and contractors, engineers, accountants and businessmen, personal trainers, beauticians and aestheticians, iron workers and miners, chefs and cooks, craftsmen and farmers. And yes, I may have mentioned some of these careers for water and fire but some, like chef, work with more than one element.
In your writing process, this is where the butt meets the chair, and then you produce page after page of words. This is what moves the book from air, water, and fire, into earth. Take care of your body because that is important for the health of your work as well. Get up and move frequently, preferably outside. Walking on the Earth restores your energy and your motivation. Remember too to pay attention to the physical details of your workspace. Use smells, sounds and visuals that nourish you.
These sensory details are also important in your story. How does the room smell? What does his skin taste like? What subtle sound is warning of danger but isn’t being heard?
And when the story slows, what physical shakeup will turn things topsy-turvy and keep your reader turning pages?
Oh, element of Earth, I honor and welcome your presence here on the altar of my creativity. Help me to see the many facets of my work and my story. To value the treasure that lie buried within. And let me not be afraid to make the ground of my work tremble and shake so that I can reveal the hidden depths of my story and message.