There is a lovely phrase that I have incorporated in my devotions: that the divine is the “source and ground” of all that is. I think Yule and the season of the Element of Earth are the perfect time to contemplate this perspective, the importance of the ground itself.

In Wicca, our practice of grounding and centering acknowledges and makes use of our intimate connection with the earth as an aspect of the divine. The metaphor of grounding draws partially on an image of electricity, in terms of grounding as removing excessive energy, but much more often the imagery used in actual visualizations is that of living things, plants or trees, making grounding more of an exchange, a chance to both release what is no longer needed and an opportunity to draw in the nutrients that are needed to refresh your own organism.

This is the sense in which I understand the idea of “source and ground,” meaning that the Earth, the planet, is the source of our physical being, and it is what we ground into throughout our lives, and it is what our physical parts return to when our lives are ended. Thus the Element of Earth, although it is the most stable and least active of all Elements, is perhaps the mother of all the Elements, as the planet is the embodiment of our experiences of all of them together.

In Wicca, when we cast circles, we start from the north, the direction of Earth, and we return there to complete the circle. Many Wiccans place their altars facing north, seeing it as appropriate because that is the direction of darkness and mystery, and thus our altars face into the mysteries, the unseen, the place of starlight vision that we need to see beyond (or within) the everyday realities around us. And although we speak to the East first when calling the Elements, we end with the North, always returning to our ground, our source of being in this embodied existence.

As I wrote in the Story of Sif, even the wonders that we know of come from the ground, ultimately, because this is a physical existence, where the physical defines and, yes, delimits the possible. It is up to us to discover and enjoy the wonders possible within those limits. Wicca is not a religion that seeks transcendence or escape from reality above all other things; there is no liberation from the physical world within Wicca, nor a promise of escape into a better, easier paradigm. Instead there is the promise of the transcendent that emerges within the world as we discover it to be, and especially within the world as we can shape it to be more full of love, more full of beauty, and more full of meaning.

In Tarot, the Element of Earth is represented in the suit of coins, also called disks or pentacles in some decks. This suit has to do with the physical, and yes, it has to do with money, and all the things related to money, especially work and possessions. But I don’t think the Tarot has to represent or assume a capitalist relationship with the world; I think it can represent these things as simply energy embodied, and thus it can represent a relationship of love and of exchange, the natural give and take, within the context of that love.

May this Yule be a time for you and yours to connect to your source and ground and face the return of the light refreshed.