We started the day at Lenzie with a chat about the shared cultural connections around the five elements, particularly through the Himalayan area, from India, Tibet to China and Japan. We looked at the variety of meanings as well as the different approaches of the Godai Buddhist five elements, Bon and the Gogyo Chinese Five Phases.

Looking at the shamanic origins of the Chinese characters and the curvy Tensho calligraphy style was helpful to connect to the elements in a deeper way.

Margaret had prepared a fire for us to all enjoy sitting with, so we sat in meditation by it. The wind funneled the flames and smoke with real speed and energy but it was still calm sitting there by the trees.

Experimenting with inks and holding the Japanese fude brushes, we made some marks to explore our feeling and experience of being with fire.

The wood burning stove also helped us stay in the mood and continue the relationship to fire from outdoors. When we moved onto the character for wind, kaze, we had some extra inspiration from the Shakuhachi flute!

Larger brushes, paper and orange sumi ink were used to play around with some large versions of fire and wind ?

After a quiet lunch with hearty sweet potato soup and riceballs, we had a short break then walked to a small river to peacefully engage with the water and space elements, helped by Margaret. It was really peaceful sitting by the water and contemplating the flow, sometimes fast or slow, looking at the sense of edge at the banks, and being surrounded by the greens of river reeds and plants.

It began to rain softly which enlivened the colours and helped make us more aware of the space element on the way back. We made some watery flowing marks then worked on the kanji characters (with both kaisho and tensho styles) for water – sui, space/ sky/ emptiness – ku, and earth – chi.

We then had some time to try out more of the tensho style or go for it and combine all five characters together on a single sheet of washi paper.