Fire Up, Water Down & Elemental Japan

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Fire Up Water Down: Exploring the Elements

Jann Williams

Quote:‘Fire up Water down’ covers the many and varied aspects of the ‘elements’ – fire, water, earth, air, aether/void/space, metal, wood, spirit/consciousness – and related subjects. Something fundamental about these ‘intuitive’ elements resonates with human-kind. They create and shape the world we live in. People often know or sense them without the use of rational processes, by using perceptive insight. For much of human history these elements have been viewed as the building blocks of nature and the universe. The essence of life. The embodiment of energy. Eastern and western cultures, the ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds, indigenous cultures, all have embraced them. Despite the recent ascendancy of science and rational thought in the west, the attraction of the elements persists. They generate a sense of awe and wonder and appear to be an integral part of being human. We are hard wired-in to relate to them one could say. Since March 2014 I have written over 80 posts about the elements – their story is one that deserves to be told.

This blog ranges across diverse topics related to the elements. These include, or will do, alchemy, astrology, astronomy, architecture, cartography, chemistry, ecology, education, food, indigenous belief systems, magic, martial arts, medicine, music, mysticism, nature, performing arts, personal experiences, philosophy, popular culture (including Apps, video games, clothing and shoes!), psychology, religion, science, visual arts, well-being and witchcraft. The blog explores the wonder and interconnectedness of the elements, their pervasiveness in space and time, and our often sub-conscious responses to them. By tapping into this instinctive response, the aim is to build stronger connections between people and the natural world. The universal language of the elements has the potential and power to achieve this.

Fire and water, which are described as both complementary and opposite, are often ‘paired’ as elements; as they are in the title of this blog. It is the nature of water to move downwards, to find the lowest point, and for fire to move upwards as the heated gas becomes less dense. Fire up Water down. For those interested in following these elemental explorations, the easiest way is to ‘follow’ my blog(s). In March 2014 when I started ‘Fire up Water down’ my goal was to compose one post a week on average. While that turned out to be a dream, I continue to share my elemental stories as often as I can. My ability to do so regularly has been tempered by my increasing focus on the elements in Japan, as described next. I will continue to write about the elements in other places however, when I am able.

On May 1st 2016 I started a complementary blog titled ‘Elemental Japan‘...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(This post was last modified: 2021-02-05, 05:46 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
Elemental Japan

Jann Williams

Quote:Why ‘Elemental Japan‘?

Japan and the elements have an intimate association. Geographically the archipelago sits on The Ring of Fire where the earth moves and grinds due to the action of tectonic plates. As a consequence, volcanoes, earthquakes, hot springs and tsunamis are part of the Japanese experience. If that isn’t elemental enough, Japan is also located in the typhoon belt, which is at its strongest in the summer months. The long coastline and mountainous interior of Japan are also defining features. Fire, water, wind and earth – all have full expression.

The geographic setting of Japan also brings the distinct seasonality the country is famous for – cherry blossoms, the summer heat, maple leaves, a snow-clad Mt Fuji –  that is expressed in much of the art, poetry, food and aesthetics in Japan.

In addition to the geography of Japan, the influence of Taoism and Buddhism sees the elements widely embedded and expressed in Japanese culture. This is through the pervasive influence of yinyang (J. inyo) and the five phases/elements (J. gogyo) (as described here) as well as the Buddhist five and six great elements (J. godai and rokudai). Shinto, the indigenous belief system of Japan, adds an animistic perspective on the elements (for example, see The Japanese cultural tradition contains a vast storehouse of notions and practices which may help establish a culturally-grounded ecophilosophy.

As someone with a passion for the elements, taiko drumming, and things Japanese, Japan inexorably drew me under its influence. So much so that I am writing a book with the working title  ‘Elemental Japan: feel the energy.’ This blog, which is informal and hopefully informative, shares some of the learnings and experiences of researching the book along the way.  Each post is based on my impressions, a stream of consciousness if you like. They are a way of keeping track of my journey of discovery and identify where further research is required. As importantly, the posts reflect the energy, beauty and mystery of the elements as I explore Japan...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

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