Elemental Medicine: Reconnecting to the Sacred

by Rosie Sommerhalder on March 16

Elemental Medicine


In our modern western patriarchal society, we focus most of our awareness and energy into the physical and mental aspects of our being, our masculine side. We are geared towards achieving success through gaining material possession and a perfect body; the right clothing; stimulating our over-active and anxious minds with TV, computer games and drugs. We are all about ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’. The emotional and spiritual aspects of our being, our sacred feminine side, has been largely neglected and discouraged. As a result, The Self has become fractured and fragmented. We have forgotten how to be a whole, complete being with all four aspects: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, in balance and harmony.

Last year I graduated from the Phoenix Institute of Higher Education with an Advanced Diploma of Transpersonal Art Therapy. This course, as well as my life experience, research and mentors including my mother, have taught me about the use of practices based on Shamanism, Native American Spirituality and Astrology to help me reconnect to my natural ways of being, to listen to the wisdom of all my bodies, discover more about myself in order to heal, grow and reach my potential as a human being. I’ve drawn on these wisdoms to develop the concept of what I have decided to call, Elemental Medicine.

Elemental Medicine involves reconnecting with nature and its natural cycles: Birth, Life, Death; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. The four building blocks to these cycles in Nature are the four Elements: Air/Wind, Fire/Sun, Water and Earth. Each element corresponds with one of our bodies: Earth is Physical, Water is Emotional, Air/Wind is Mental, and Fire/Sun is Spiritual. These concepts are based on the wisdom from the Native American Medicine Wheel.


Beginning with our physical body, Earth represents our connection to the planet and our grounding to the here and now. Through connecting, listening to and learning from our physical body, we can learn to be more present with our consciousness and awareness. A simple practice of walking barefoot on the earth can allow us to tap into the sacred energy of Mother Earth, which helps us replenish our own personal energy when it is depleted. Our bodies are just as Sacred as Mother Earth herself. Practices such as dance, yoga and walking bring us back into our sense of knowing through how our body feels.


Water is connected to our emotional body. Our sensitivity, compassion, empathy and love for Self and all emotion – from joy, fear, sadness to anger – stem from this body.  Water can help us return to living in flow, having the ability to release and let go of difficult emotional experiences. Water has the power to cleanse and heal in order for us to continue to grow and develop our potential. Bathing in the salt water of the Ocean with the intention of letting go and releasing anything that is holding us and back or no longer serving us is a very healing practice. Even our daily shower can be used as an opportunity to cleanse our selves.


Air or Wind is linked to our mental or intellectual body. In our busy and stressful lives, our mental body, our mind, can wreak havoc on our beings. This can create a never ending stream of thoughts that torment us with worry, fear, sadness and pain. Reminiscing too much about the past or fantasising about the future, we forget about the present moment. One way in which we can use the element of Air or Wind to reconnect with the present moment and develop a healthier and more positive mental body is through our breathing, through the Breath of Life. One way this can be achieved through the yogic breathing exercises.

Being mindful of the process of breathing, of air moving into and out of our bodies is a simple, yet effective way to calm the mental body and become more present, content and at peace with ourselves. A simple mantra said in our minds or aloud (sound is also carried through the air) can be repeated during our meditations with the breath. Inhale and say “here” and exhale say “now”,’ or inhale “let” and exhale “go.”


Lastly, is our Spiritual Body and our connection to Fire. Fire, The Sun, Life Force, Spirit. It represents our connection to all that is, to Mother Earth, Great Spirit, God, The Universe or whatever deity, source or belief we hold. This is our creative fire, our Higher Self, our sense of Divinity and Oneness. Standing out in the sun and feeling its energy warming our skin and igniting our life force is a way to connect to our higher self, our spiritual body. Lighting a candle as a prayer to your higher self and placing it in a sacred altar in your home is also another powerful ritual one can practice.


We can use the power of performing and practising ritual to reconnect with Nature and return to our wholeness. Ritual is a way to make our lives more sacred and more meaningful. When we mindfully and intentionally repeat rituals, we actually help to create new neural pathways in our brain and new ways of being as a result. As a society we have lost the much of the importance of ritual and as a result much of the sacredness of life.  It can be as simple as making time in our day, even for five minutes, to practice mindful breathing, walking barefoot on the grass, swimming in the ocean and lighting a candle in our home.

Recently, I facilitated a series of four Elemental Medicine workshops. These workshops consisted of a combination of art therapy processes, ritual and various forms of meditation and guided processes to explore the connection between our four bodies and the four natural elements. My mother, Ruth Summer-Rain, helped support me in facilitating the group. Her guidance, wisdom and passion for the transpersonal provided a valuable contribution and knowledgeable presence to the group. Together we became journey doulas: holding space, bearing witness and helping eight women to journey beyond The Self and rediscover their connection to Nature. The rituals seemed to resonate especially strong, it was almost as though these women were tapping into our collective history as Pagans, Native Americans, Mayans and other ancient cultures whom lived in sync with the natural rhythms and flow of life.



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Rosie Sommerhalder

Rosie Sommerhalder is a qualified Transpersonal Art Therapist, Visual Artist and Social Worker. She has been working in the justice/trauma fields for the past 5 years. Rosie's late Grandfather and Artist Desmond Norman was an inspirational figure in her life and to whom Rosie's owes her passion for creative expression. Rosie practices modes of healing that stem from ancient indigenous cultures and focuses on helping others to become more whole, more balanced and more content. You can find out more about her work on Facebook

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Rawlinson March 17, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Thank you very much, a lovely article


Juliet Makin April 12, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Rosie and her family are life-long friends but even more so family. Rosie is an inspiring woman warrior to myself and many other friends. I am so grateful for all the precious and magical moments we create in life together, spreading out to a large group of friends and our families. I have been blessed to have been involved with one of her workshops with Ruth. A beautiful calming energy to be around. Mother and daughter. Connected to our Mother Earth so strongly and thus truly connecting with being. I also was blessed to have gone along to one of Rosie’s art therapy classes where she works with the elderly with dementia. A peaceful and inspiring class to see that anyone can truly create and feel free.


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