The Elements are the metaphysical building blocks of everything that is. They are individual energies whose combination determines what the resulting form will be. In the Western view, there are four physical Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, as well as Spirit, the animating factor which is no less than that glowing little spark within all life that is nothing short of Divine.
While it is possible to work with these energies individually (this practice does, in fact, comprise a major part of a traditional Wiccan ritual: the Calling of the Elements and the Gods,) but it is important to remember that each of us is a compilation of these energies: one person is not one element (i.e. my Element is Earth, your Element is Water,) this is a huge misconception. However, it is possible to have an imbalance in the amount of a certain Elemental energy within you, but this is entirely different and does not mean you have any sort of affinity or correlation to that Element.
Each element has its own correspondences and association, which vary from one tradition to another as well as from culture to culture. The focus within this series of short articles will be on the Western view of the Elements, with traditional European based associations that many Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans are familiar with.
This element is comprised of the other four elements yet it surpasses them all. It is divinity without the personification or implied sense of consciousness that we give to individual deities, for Spirit is all deities. It is the driving force behind the Universe. It is everything and it is nothing. It is the cause, the effect, and the affected. It is you, me, all animal life (no matter how large or small,) all plant life, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, everything (and nothing.) It is simultaneously the connection between all things and every individual thing -yet it is also that which keeps all things separate and it is the empty spaces in between.
As such, nothing can truly be attributed to it as all are its attributes (just as none are its attributes.) For more on this, I suggest a good cup of tea and a nice quiet spot outside, preferably in the shade of an old tree or a large rock, in which to sit and think away the day.
Formless and life sustaining, the ebb and flow of Water is the very rhythm of our lives. It governs our emotions, movement and change, sleep, and psychic abilities. The lesson of Water is one of detachment, of letting go and moving on.
Just as the Earth is comprised of about 80% water, so too are we. Water is the very “blood of life,” without which we could not exist, and it is also the very blood within our bodies.
In Western Magickal Tradition, Water is most commonly associated with the West and the season of Autumn. Its colors are generally blues and blue-greens, but Water is also associated with grey, silver, and white by other cultures and traditions.
Water is also strongly tied to the Moon, as the Moon elicits great force upon Water, seen in the tides of both the Earth and of plants and animals, including humans (i.e. the Moon pulls on the waters of our being, physical and emotional, effecting sleep patterns, female reproductive cycles, mating habits, and emotional levels.)
By far, the most complicated of all the physical elements, not only is it the very spark of life, but Fire also has the ability to sustain life (it keeps us warm, cooks our food,) and the ability to destroy it. It is an element of transformation, for nothing it touches is able to remain the same.
The heat of this element lends itself to passion and lust, but not just the kind that pulls two bodies together but also to blood lust and war. As such, Fire is also the Element of protection, courage, and physical strength. In certain situations, it can be used for healing, to burn away disease.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Fire rules the direction of South; in the Southern Hemisphere it rules the direction of North.
The most common color attributed to Fire is red, but also appropriate are bright orange, scarlet, blood red, and black.
More than just the wind rustling through the tree leaves, it is also the very breath within our lungs and the thoughts within our heads. It is that which inspires us to continue searching, imbues us with wanderlust, and gives us hope.
The lightest of all the Elements, Air is the Element of constant change, the mind, communication, and travel. It keeps things “fresh” and, as such, Air rules over new beginnings and the season of Spring.
In Western magickal tradition, it is most commonly aligned with the direction of East, as this is the direction from which the Sun rises and thus the direction from which the Day begins, however some may align it to the West as this is the direction from which the Jet Stream comes. Color association is commonly yellow, but other cultures and traditions do assign it white, blue, or gold.
It’s the very Earth beneath your feet, the bones within your body, and that feeling of safety and calm when everything is good and certain within your life.
The Element of Earth is the heaviest of all the Elements, lending itself to stability and all things that are “fixed” or “set.”
It can be cold and unmoving, harsh and intolerant. No wonder then that it is the Element governing Winter and, appropriately, in the Northern Hemisphere it rules the direction of North while in the Southern Hemisphere it rules the direction of South.
Yet, like the very Earth for which it is named, it is full of life. This Element encourages growth, fertility, expansion, and prosperity. Common color association in Western magick is green, like growing plants and paper currency. Other cultures color it black (as in fertile soil,) yellow, and brown.