Last time I was in Sussex, staying by the coast in my favourite place to escape from the city, I decided to walk down to the beach to try out my visualisation on the element of water.
It seemed appropriate and it was a lovely day with a clear blue sky - what better excuse did I need to spend a little while outdoors? I sat down with my back to a breakwater - a wooden wall across the beach intended to stop coastal erosion. It might not look the most attractive place to sit and meditate but it trapped the sun and sheltered me from the wind.
I soon realised the beach was perhaps not the ideal place to meditate, with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach then dragging shingle across stones as they retreated, a sudden boom as another wave hit the breakwater, the shriek of a seagull overhead and the wind howling through the cracks in the breakwater. No, this was certainly not somewhere quiet, where I could concentrate on my own inner journey, guided by the words of the visualisation.
Then I was suddenly soaked by a shower of spray as the incoming tide sent a particularly large wave over the top of the breakwater from the other side. I gave up the meditation. I could do it later, at home, in peace and quiet.
If I wanted to enjoy the element of water, I realised, all I had to do was open my eyes.
So, I stood up and walked to the water's edge. I took off my shoes and stood on a huge treetrunk that had been used as prop in the construction of the breakwater. It had been warn smooth by the tides and was much less cruel to the feet than sharp stones on the beach.
I felt I was at a nexus of the elements; warmed by the hot sun, buffeted by the wind, the ground under my bare feet and the waves crashing at my toes and around my ankles. I soon felt soaked with spray, rimed with salt, burned by the sun and lashed by the wind - but it was hard not to be immersed in the joy of the moment, just experiencing these powerful forces of nature in their eternal battle.
And I felt I had learnt a lesson - that in witchcraft it is important to get the right balance between intellectual work done indoors and direct experience of nature outdoors.