Air is the element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life.
Deities & Creatures Associated With Wind
In many magical traditions, air is associated with various spirits and elemental beings.
- Sylph - They are typically connected with the air and the wind - these winged creatures are often related to powers of wisdom and intuition. Paracelsus described these beings as invisible beings of the air. They are mortal, but soulless.
- Stribog - The Slavic god of winds, sky and air. He is said to be the ancestor (grandfather) of the winds of the eight directions.
- Tate - The Lakota wind god or spirit. There are four primary wind spirits, referenced in relation to the four directions. It is thought that the wind unites “all” in one spirit, and that eagles, who stand on the wind, are the carrier of vision. Tate is said to guide one through obstacles. As the invisible realm, wind connects past present and future, connecting ancestors and future generations , uniting humankind into the essential, eternal spirit.
- Zephyr - In popular lore Zephyrs are the guardians of the winds. Zephyr was the west wind in Greek myth, son of Aurora, goddess of dawn. He was the lover of Flora, goddess of flowers and together they cause the flowers to grow in spring.
- Thunderbird - It is considered a supernatural bird of power and strength. The thunderbird’s name comes from the common belief that the beating of its enormous wings causes thunder and stirs the wind.
- Skosrå - They are Swedish wood spirits that are present whenever a violent whirlwind appears and the trees are shaken to breaking point.
Gifts of Air/Wind
Breath is a divine gift, returned to the giver at death. The secret of breath is part of the magic of air. We take air into us which contains vital energy that some call prana and others chi. When we breathe in deeply we inhale this life force and rhythmic breathing exercises helps to attune you to the powers of air.
Inhaled air is the sustaining breath of life, while exhaled air carries the words, poetry, and song that communicate human ideas and knowledge. In many myths creation is brought to life when a god breathes into it. It was often thought that spirit could be blown into or out of people; demons were blown out of people.
The powers of air are also concerned with the intellect, the powers of the mind, knowledge [as opposed to wisdom], logic, inspiration, information, teaching, memory, thought and communication. Like the other elements, the powers of air can be constructive or destructive. The gentle breeze cools and brings the life giving rain, but it can become the destructive hurricane. It is for this reason that the magical symbol of air is a two-edged sword.
The voice of the air spirits is heard in the wind. There were many scared groves where the voices of spirits were heard in the wind whispering in the trees. The head of the alder was used as whistle so that the spirits might speak through it. The druids were attuned to interpreting these voices, and druid means ‘oak knowledge’.
People who have air dominant in their psychological make-up are flexible, versatile, dextrous, tasteful, idealistic, original, individual and tolerant. However, they can also be distant, self opinionated, easily bored, impatient, self-deceiving, superficial, indecisive, quarrelsome, manipulative, thoughtless, cruel, fickle, inconsistent, unreliable and two-faced.
- In Feng Shui, wind chimes are believed to bless one’s home with prosperity and happiness. Hang a set by your front door so that good energy will be brought in every time the wind blows. In contrast, in parts of Appalachia, wind chimes are considered a bad idea, because they call up spirits of the dead.
- Sailors had a number of superstitions about wind and air. In some cultures it was said that if a ship was becalmed at sea, sticking a knife in the mainmast would draw the wind to the sails, as would throwing a ha’penny overboard. Shooting stars meant the wind was about to pick up, and whistling aboard ship could call up an ill wind.
- In parts of the British Isles, tradition says a howling dog indicates that the wind is coming to take away the spirits of the dead.
- A shooting star shows that wind is coming from the direction toward which it goes.
- Do not fish when the wind is in the west; the fish will not bite.
- Direction of The Wind - The direction of the wind on New Year’s morning is said to predict prophesies about the coming year. Wind from the south, expect money and happiness. Wind from the north, foresees a year of foul weather. Wind from the east brings famine and bad luck, while wind from the west brings milk and fish, but the death of someone important. No wind brings joy and prosperity throughout the year.
Yes. Do it.
WRITE THE FLASHBACK.
(in the distance, the sounds of writers crying out that flashbacks are right up there with prologues/epilogues—worthless wastes of time)
But right now I’m going to argue YES, write that flashback. Write that prologue and epilogue. Just because you write it doesn’t mean you have to keep it in the final draft. For a first draft, write them all with no regrets. The flashbacks will help you in revision. They’ll improve your character development and character arc. They are FOR YOU.
(similarly, a prologue/epilogue is usually to help you figure out your plot)
Flashbacks will help you (the writer) get to know your character. Sure, this is stuff you should be revealing through real-time dialogue and action. But the better you know their intimate histories and agonies, the better you can show who they’ve become in present day. What makes them happy or upset? Who were they close to in their childhood? These things shaped who they are today.
You’ll learn what bothers your character. What do they regret? What do they miss? What do they want? This ties into the whole swoons and wounds thing I’m always going on about.
For example, let’s say one of Alice’s favorite memories is breaking her arm when she was four. Breaking her arm?! A happy memory?! Yes, because her parents actually stopped fighting for long enough to bring her to the hospital. They worked together for her sake. So, knowing about this point in her past lets me know how much she longs for a happy family, and how she sees herself partly at fault for her parents’ later divorce—she couldn’t be the glue to keep them connected and cooperating.
Where have you been, where are you going? Who they were at the time of the flashback isn’t necessarily the same person they are now… but parts will still be the same. How good are they at letting go? Do they hold grudges? If they’re still thinking about the things mentioned in the flashbacks you write, then you’re starting to get an idea of where they’re headed. Or at least, where they might be headed if they don’t change their ways. (hint: character arc)
So yes, please write those flashbacks. Let them help you figure out your characters.
Later, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll want to cut those flashbacks (as sad as it will make you), but don’t delete them entirely. Keep them on a separate document! They’re like resources for sharpening and strengthening your character’s development and build.
Flashbacks are friends!