I thought I could write something about the three realms of Land, Sky and Sea today.
In modern Paganism we often talk about the elements, and most people are familiar with the concept of air, fire, water, and earth. In most of ritual work, practitioners will call upon the elements and may even draw a circle based on them.
I work myself with the elements, but not in ritual work. My path has a lot of Celtic influence and so I thought I’d share the concept of the three realms of Land, Sky and Sea with the sky above us, the earth beneath us and the sea all around us.
If you are used to the four elements, you might think that it is just the elements of earth, water, and air, leaving out the fourth element - fire. But remember the realms are places, not elements.
One reason I don't really use the elements in rituals is that this concept puts an element in each of the four directions like earth in the north, but earth is beneath me. Same with Air, it is not in the east, air is in the sky and all around me… and so on.
In many of the Celtic tales we can read about the three realms, for example in „The Cattle Raid of Cooley“ from the Ulster Cycle to give you one example.
In these stories the three realms are seen to represent the natural order and any imbalance would have catastrophic consequences.
The Land is symbolic of your homeland, where your feet wander, where your ancestors once walked the same paths as you do. It represents the comforts of home, security and nourishment. But it does not just represent our earth, it extends beyond our world and reaches to the stars that we observe in the night sky. When you work with the land you can also invoke the gods and goddesses of the land, planets, the moon, the forest, and the plants.
Take some time to explore the concept of land, and how it is more than the earth itself.
Kristoffer Hughes wrote:
„The Land is the living expression of the universe.“
Journal, meditate or get creative when you explore the concept of Land; how did your own area transform over the years? How do you experience your surrounding landscape? If you work with deities, which one could be representative of the land?
The Sea represents the universal soul, it connects everything else to itself. Everything that exits is connected to you and vice versa. The realm of the sea gives you the message that you are not alone. If you call upon the sea, you call upon the source of all things. In mythology we can find many stories that represent the transformative power of the sea.
Even if you don't live close to the sea, you can still explore this realm in your mind. But it is not only the ocean, as we know, the sea connects all things and every spring, creek and river eventually leads us to the ocean. Explore the realm of water in your own area, and discover which paths nearby rivers must follow to reach the ocean.
You can also do some research about deities of the sea and gods and goddesses that represent interconnection.
The Sky is symbolic for spirit, it is a place of inspiration, creativity and vitality. It also serves as a bridge between matter and ether. Ask yourself what the difference is between spirit - the sky realm, and soul- the realm of the sea. Let your mind wander and get creative with this not so easy task.
To explore this realm further you can work with the gods and goddesses of high places, or of the sun and moon.
In some sources we can discover an old way of making oaths in which a person swears that if he or she does not meet a condition, ” may the sky fall down and crush me, may the earth open and swallow me, and may the sea rise up and drown me.”
So we can see these realms, representing the powerful forces of creation and destruction, are to be taken seriously in Celtic-inspired traditions.
If you want to experience all the realms you gan go to liminal places where the three are present.
So you can go to the sea and stand on a high cliff, where land sky and sea meet. If you don’t live near the ocean you can go to freshwater lakes or rivers. Feel the air around you, with its warming sun, walk the earth with your bare feet and sit still at the water.
How can you now bring these three realms into your ritual work?
In the book „Celtic Magic“ by Kristoffer Hughes, it is suggested to have a cauldron, or something similar, it should be able to take some heat and it should be watertight.
In my case I simply use the fire pit in my garden if I’m doing my rituals outside.
The way the ritual is represented in this book the cauldron should be the center of your ritual space and it functions as a portal. The cauldron is a symbolic inspiration and magic that seeps into our world.
When you stand in your ritual space close your eyes and imagine a triskele taking shape. Then you open your eyes again and go to the terminal points you visualized and mark these points with a candle or something that is representative of land, sea, and sky.
Further in his book, Kristoffer Hughes describes a whole ritual, with a text you can say to call upon land, sky and sea.
I will not write this down here, but know you can use your own words.
Work and explore the three realms and when you understand what those realms mean to you, you can write it down and use it for your rituals.
This is only a brief introduction to the three realms, I hope this was helpful or may inspire you to take a different spin on your rituals if you wish to change a few things.