Previously we discussed the four elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These are the elements we call into our circle first when preparing our ritual. But there is a fifth element, Spirit, which is handled differently. In this article, we’re going to look at what Spirit really is, and how it is represented in ritual.
Spirit has many different meanings. The word itself comes from the latin word spirare, meaning to breathe, and in that root lies the true meaning of spirit. It is the breath of the Godhead. To be more precise, it is the outward breath, which causes our Universe to be manifest as it is now.
In Qabbalistic terms, one could say that it is the Ain Soph Aur – the Limitless Light; the first true self-realization of deity, that leads to the creation, formation and manifestation of our universe, our world and ourselves.
It is Kether – the first Sephiroth from which all others flow, and of which all Sephira are merely aspects. It is the Supernals – the first separation of deity into God and Goddess, the first and second person that allows the Godhead to experience itself, but which is still little more than an instinctual state.
Out of this creation springs the formation, and the individual deity archetypes – the Maiden, Mother, Crone, Hero, Father and Mage aspects that form the basis for the greater deities of most pantheons.
This formative world also contains the lesser deities, and the guardian angels, and the souls of mankind, consciously aware of individual identity, and yet also aware of their oneness with the Universal Spirit.
Finally, it represents the Human Spirit on the material plane. That characteristic which separates us and elevates us above the other animals. It is our never-say-die, damn-the-torpedoes-full-steam-ahead indomitable nature.
Since spirit is clearly such an important aspect of any ritual or working, why is it not represented individually like any other element? Well in fact, in some traditions, it is. I have seen spirit called in the north east position during closing and opening of a circle by more traditional Wicca traditions. It is however, strongly represented within circle in several forms, primarily with candles.
Many traditions use either a single candle (often purple) to represent the Source (Kether or Ain Soph Aur in the Qabbalah). Others incorporate candles representing Form and Force (The material and formative worlds mentioned above) and these are usually black and white. You may also see God and Goddess candles (usually Gold and Silver, or colors appropriate to the respective deities) that represent spirit in its dual aspect.
The charges of the God and Goddess are also individual calls to the Spirit, as is the wine blessing, and the sharing of cakes and ale.
So even though Spirit may not be mentioned directly by name in your particular ritual, you will most likely find that it is there – in one or more of its many forms. Since our very selves and everything around us is ultimately part of the Godhead – how could it be otherwise?