The English word Spirit (from Latin Spiritus "breath") has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body. The word Spirit is often used metaphysically to refer to the consciousness or personality. The notions of a person's Spirit and soul often also overlap, as both contrast with body and both are understood as surviving the bodily death in religion and occultism, and 'Spirit' can also have the sense of 'ghost', i.e. a manifestation of the Spirit of a deceased person. The term may also refer to any incorporeal or immaterial being, such as demons or deities.
Primarily, for this post, Spirit (Ether, Akasha or Soul) is unbeingness. It's harder to define than air. Spirit resides within and without, around, above, and below all things. Although you can experience earth, air, fire, and water directly with your temporal senses, Spirit is elusive, and to be witnessed it requires both faith and metaphysical senses.
Native Americans call this fundamental, life-sustaining energy Grandfather or Arch of Heaven. In Hindu writing, atman is the Spiritual essence of creation. Polynesians and the Jains have a similar idea but use the terms mana or jiva respectively, meaning that which animates all life or the life principle.
Its energy, which extends everywhere throughout the universe, has not yet achieved form and substance. It's the primal source of energy that creates and fuels all. The Spirit is said to represent your soul, your aura, the unknown energy around you.
It is one thing to eat well, exercise regularly, be in rewarding relationships and to be managing well on a mind/body level – but the component that often gets overlooked, is the one we don’t ever really see. It is the unknown, the intuition we feel but can’t explain where it comes from. It’s that little spark that goes off when you feel like you have just heard something you thought you already knew, or those moments when something just 'feels right'. It’s that energy that follows you throughout life, showing you signs, guiding your flame, making you feel something and leading your thoughts.
Most Pagans believe that Spirit is not something we humans alone possess by virtue of having a soul (in the Christian sense) or by virtue of having complex brains (as the scientific worldview). Rather, we see Spirit manifesting everywhere: in the plants and animals we share this world with, and in the grand, slow life of the cosmos as a whole.
The Spirit is all knowing, all encompassing energy that follows your physical body through life. It is neither masculine nor feminine – but something else. You do not have to be a Spiritual person to understand the basics, you don’t have to burn incense, charge your crystals and chant into the wind – it’s all about connection. Once you understand that everything is connected, mind/body/soul are all but one thing – you start to find what really makes you tick.
What makes the Soul enchanted is its very engagement with the World. Sufi tradition tells of the soul given an opportunity to dance in the human body and, liking it so much, it did not want to leave. This is exactly your sentiment with the world. Your soul is attracted to beauty, affection, connection, and celebration; it is severely wounded by rejection, alienation, violence, and ugliness.
The first step along the Path begins with lighting the lamp of your own sacredness. Your own sacredness is your first sanctuary. Your body is a place as worthy as any temple, a place in which the Soul can dwell. Your mind just doesn’t control your thoughts or will; it holds the intuition and intelligence of the Divine. Your Soul is enchanted, a temple of the heart in which your wiser Self abides alongside your awe-filled Child of Joy. Within your sacredness is your connection to peace.
In truth your life is a sacred gift of enchantment to this Earth. You have something very special to offer. It is a multifaceted jewel that emits knowledge, wisdom, playfulness, humor, and celebration — a jewel that makes the world a more enjoyable place for the soul to dwell. To discover this divine gift amongst the Hall of the Heart is what makes the pursuit of Sanctuary in daily life more like play instead of work.
Air is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. It's supposed fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and Spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare. Invisible, unpredictable, unreliable, playful, soothing, destructive, inspiring and life giving: the element of air or wind is all these things and much more. Center on the Spirit of Air. As soon as we call to mind the air element within the body — the air in our lungs and other body cavities, even the gases dissolved in our blood — we’re immediately aware of the breathing, aware that air is flowing rhythmically in and out of the body.
Cut away all that society has taught you. Go within to find what makes you happy – your passion is what will drive you into your blissful place. Do more of what makes you happy. Listen to your intuition. Your Body is a Temple, Your Mind is Divine and Your Spirit is Enchanted.
Excerpts from forthcoming book: Islands of Grace: Creating Sanctuary in Daily Life. By Dr.Christopher Forrest McDowell and Tricia Clark-McDowell