aether, Chinese philosophy, cosmology, dominant elements, five elements, four elements, Jyotish, mapping the universe and ourselves, poem, poems about the elements, poetry community, poetry prompt, Torrin A. Greathouse, Vedic astrology
Have you ever asked yourself, “Of what am I made?” (Yes, because the voices in our writer heads are all of course grammatically flawless;) If so, you’re certainly not alone.
Vedanta philosophy, ancient Greece, modern atomic theory, even the average inquisitive three year old, have attempted to determine what it is that comprises our being and our universe. I find it fascinating and profound that primitive cosmologies find matter in the four basic elements of earth, air, water, and fire, but after more seeking, must include one more element: the mysterious aether. And that this illumination of our own limited cognizance of creation is seen today despite our “advancements” in technological observation: the more we try to penetrate matter, the more empty space we encounter. This scientific or existential journey mirrors the wisdom of the sages throughout time: “the more you learn, the less you know.”
The Chinese also identify elements, being earth, water, metal, fire, and wood, but are specific in defining them as “changes” or “energetic states of being,” a consideration which closely aligns with the dynamic and interconnected world in which we live where nothing is fixed or unhindered by external stimuli. Natural cycles and their interaction with the material play a large part in understanding the physics (and metaphysics) of our world.
Tonight, let’s do a little homework and discover what some of these cosmologies say about you. Depending on your birth year, month, lunar month, or day, these systems attribute a dominant element to that time frame. Explore one or more of the above systems and then write a poem about or tangential to your element. You may also want to write a poem about the dance (or war) among all the elements as you view them within you (or without you.)
Take a look at Torrin A. Greathouse’s new poem and how she could have answered this prompt with how she views the life-giving force flowing within her:
Phlebotomy, as Told by the Blood — Torrin A. Greathouse
Consider these parallel histories: An emperor once declared war on the sea, sent his men drowning toward victory, & the Red Sea is named for the dead algae blooming within it. Can you tell me the difference? Maybe I too am red for all the slaughter carried within me, bastard child of water, lake swelled with rotting fish. What are you searching for when you drag me from you? Your vein a riverbed dredged of impossible children. Cells tested for the echo of your mother’s name. Once you were carried in your mother, her belly a lake. If the child before you & all those after sunk, are you the blood or the water? A boat or the first unfinished wolf, wrenching itself from the sea? A bridge too carries bodies & the water carries it. Does this make the bridge a mother or a child? Your mother once told you that if she gave you life she could take it back. Does this make her the bridge or its necklace of nooses? The river or its surface tension? Liquor is lighter than water & so is gasoline. Both burn. Both stained-glass a surface in the sun. Common language says we drown in liquor, perhaps this means your mother is a lake beneath another’s surface. What does that make me? A bridge or a glass? Your mother’s mother? Sometimes I worry that you’ve forgotten me. Dry & sober as a boat. Your survival a matter of surface tension. Maybe you believe that you are the bridge, suspended above all your dead. Don’t forget, everything erodes. A canyon is just a river’s bastard child. Bruise deep in the dirt. All of man’s inventions topple, each bridge’s arches bullied down to cliché rust. Another history blooming the water red.
Here a few links for further study:
Chinese Five Element Theory (Remember, this zodiac is based off of the lunar calendar, so if you’re born in January or February, be sure to check your birthdate. You may have actually been born at the end of the previous year.)
Here’s how to join in:
•Write a poem and post to your blog.
•Enter a link directly to your poem and your name by clicking Mr Linky below.
•There you will find links to other participating poets.
•Read and comment on their work, and be sure to check back in the following 48 hours for more entries.
•Please link back to dVerse from your site/blog and encourage your readers to engage.