I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for the third time. Before I knew that I was getting a better job, one that would allow me to comfortably pay the bills and have some breathing room, I was beginning to feel the old notions of depression. I was sleepless. I would cry uncontrollably in the car, trying not to let anyone know. In short, this economic spiral downward was getting to me on a level I didn't think money problems would ever take me to.
So, I did what I have done since I was 13 years old and used late-90s acoustic music to medicate my depression about not fitting in with the East Texas population. I popped in a sure-fire ticket to pull me back to sanity. However, since I'm a bit older and my problems are a bit more complex, my inner turmoil couldn't be sorted out with one spin of Alanis Morissette's latest masterpiece. Instead, I had to turn to a favorite novel. It's done the trick, and in the process I found the strength to really pursue other ventures. Thus, the serving gig.
Now, to the topic at hand. In the third section of the book, Indonesia, the author learns a meditation called the Four Brothers meditation (pgs. 251-253). The very basics are this:
- You have Four Brothers. Everyone has Four Brothers. They are with you from the womb, and at that time were represented by the placenta, the amniotic fluid, the umbilical cord, and the waxy substance that coats a baby's skin. These materials are collected after birth, placed in a coconut shell, buried in the front yard, and treated as a shrine forever.
- These Four Brothers can be called upon anytime you need extra help, and should always be spoken to as though they are your family. Meditations and conversations with them should always be comfortable and informal. They're just your brothers, after all.
- Each brother has a name - Ango Patih, Maragio Patih, Banus Patih, and Banus Patih Ragio. You may, and should, call to them when you are washing yourself, when eating, and when you are about to go to sleep. Your brothers will join you in each task, protecting and watching over you. When you speak to them, let them know who you are by naming yourself with the nickname they have for you: Lagoh Prano (Happy Body).
- The brothers represent and inhabit the four virtues a person needs to be safe and happy: intelligence, friendship, strength, and poetry (my favorite).
- When you die your brothers collect your spirit and carry you to Heaven.
And we thought the idea of Four Elements was so western. It's universal. Obviously, if you want to put this into your own practice, you could easily change Four Brothers to Four Elements, or associate them with an element. For example: Strength/Earth, Intelligence/Air, Friendship/Water, Poetry/Fire, or whatever. It is just important to find the balance, the aspects that you believe orient you into the center of the universe, into balance.
Remember, they're just your family. So don't be so formal in ritual with them - or anytime you're calling up a sacred circle. The powers you're calling upon are simply an extension of yourself, and nothing that is manmade - especially manmade ceremonies - should formalize these energies. It's unnecessary and takes away from the simple, familial aspect of nature and the gift of magic She has endowed us all with.
Love and Lyte,
P.S. BUY EAT, PRAY, LOVE!!!!!!!!!! It's so worth it.