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The Elements - Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Spirit


Guest WoodSong
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One of the major building blocks of the ritual work I do (or rather five of the major bulding blocks!) are the elements. The group I work with is not Wiccan, but wiccan influenced, which is where the elements come in.

 

We work with:

 

Air: East, Spring

Fire: South, Summer

Water: West, Autumn

Earth: North, Winter

 

Obviously there is a lot more to working with the elements than this, and different aspects are called on at different times of the year or for different purposes.

 

A brief list of some of my personal associations with the elements:

 

Air: Blue, white. Ideas. Head in the clouds. Floaty. Inconstant. Hurricanes.

Fire: Hot, passionate. Yellow, red and orange. Sultry. Angry. Purifying. Warmth or destruction. Hearth or forest fire. Extremes. Creative spark.

Water: Green, turquoise, some blues. Emotion. Communication. Travel. Mutability. Seas, lakes, rivers. Storms, tempests, whirlpools. Hidden knowledge. Tides.

Earth: Greens, browns, gold. Some reds. Stability. Maternal feelings. Protectiveness. Roots. Stone, caves. Hearth and home. Hills and landscape. Earthquakes. Steadiness. Feet on the ground.

 

And then we have spirit, the fifth element, made of a combination of all four others and yet more than those. Hmm - still working on those associations.

 

I'm also working on making physical representations of the elements to focus my mind on study - water is a cross stitch, earth will be a rug, the others are yet to be decided.

 

Anyone else care to share their views on the elements? Do you use them, do you call them? Do you see them as represented as a human type representation? Do you have associations I haven't listed? (I'm learning the tarot ones!)

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i think many have there own way and colours to represent them. these are how i see them and how they work for me.

 

east, fire, passion, emotion and smell

west, water, reflection,divination, dreaming

north, air, intuition, touch

south, earth, creation taste.

 

i dont have seasons to match because all four are to me part of the whole.

but your personal associations are basically what i think of them, so we must be doing something right.

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There is a very intersting book about the elements and how they corrospond to peoples personalities...

 

its called: Making magick by Edain McCoy

 

She talks about foods, etc. which corrospond to the elements too its really a very interesting book.. ^_^

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Lovely topic Woodsong! :lol:

 

Your elemental associations actually tie in very much with my own. I've done a lot of work, working out which direction meant which element to me and so on, and so here's mine:

 

Air. East. New beginnings. New day. New ideas (is there a theme emerging here?! :o_bounce3: ). Creation, freshness, breezy, bracing, invigorating, changeable. Purifying. Outward looking. Optimism. Light blue, purple, grey, pale yellow. Spring. Babies.

 

Fire. South. Slumber. Heat, warmth, laziness, indolence, arguments. Comfort, hearth, fun, fiesta, passion. Growth. Drought (of land and of ideas). Blazing orange, tropical green, zesty citrous. Youth.

 

Water. West. Hidden depths, hidden and underestimated powers. Emotions, deep thoughts. Ever changing. Slate blues and turquoise. Destruction. Adulthood.

 

Earth. Solidity. Stability. Basis for growth. Contemplation and planning. Home. Comfort. Warm blankets and shelter. Tales and sagas. Stubborness, immovability. Midnight blue, earthy brown, forest green. Old age and wisdom.

 

:)

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So do we have anyone on here who assigns different elements to different directions? Or associates them with different qualities to those mentioned?

 

My personal perception of the elements is pretty similar to what's already been mentioned, but I believe that some paths have a very different view of them and I'd like to know more.

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So do we have anyone on here who assigns different elements to different directions?

46584[/snapback]

 

Because I currently live in the southern hemisphere I use fire as north and earth as south. The logic behind this is as fire is associated with noon, fire is always the direction from which the sun shines at noon. This means earth is in the south. Also sunwise in the southern hemisphere is counter-clockwise.

 

However, because I was born in the UK, did secondary schooling in the UK, the northern hemisphere correspondances were stronger in my mind. It took me a while to change to the sytem. I wanted good reasons to change apart from books saying to reverse them. Alot of the time they gave no reason.

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Stormy's a different set of directions, though it's one I briefly worked with :-) I believe it's the Luciferian system - air is north because it's above you, earth is south because it's below your feet, fire is east because the sun rises in the east (Lucifer son of the morning), and water is west because - well, it's left :lol:

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Stormy's a different set of directions, though it's one I briefly worked with :-) I believe it's the Luciferian system

46673[/snapback]

 

Ah, that'll teach me to speed read! :rolleyes: That's really interesting, I've never come across that idea before, but it certainly makes sense.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use:-

 

East-Water ( to my East lies the North sea)

 

South- Fire (The sun attains its highest point in the South)

 

West- Earth ( from my location on the coast all to the West is land)

 

North- Air (Cold refreshing)

 

 

It sound okay to me anyway.....

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I've been working on the elements with my 13 year old son and we've been doing a collage. We've started with Earth and have collected items such as soil (obviously), bark, pebbles and small stones (including a piece of volcanic rock). We've also used pieces of fabric like tweed, hessian and velvets as well as various other textures (tissue paper etc.) and colours from brown through to red. We've also made some interesting "spatters" (for want of a better word) of brown wax. We finished by drawing the four points of the compass in the corner emphasising N for north.

 

The bits and bobs were collected over a period of time during many of our walks and it was great discussing our thoughts at each new find.

 

For our next element, Nick has chosen Air and we have started our collection of feathers, leaves, bit of fabric (nice breezy ones) and paper in blues, lilacs and whites etc.

 

I think once we have completed them all, they'll be framed and I have the perfect length of bare wall waiting. No doubt, I'll try do the same with my 5 and 3 year old in time.

 

PS We may need a little help with Spirit mind you - answers on a postcard please!!! ;)

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  • 1 month later...

I tend to rate the elements by their energy pattern and how 'light' I see them:

 

Fire- Extreme outwardliness, all that gives energy forth, bright light, the extremes of light

 

Air - Some outwardliness, gives some energy forth, a soft light, the next step down from fire

 

Earth - Some inwardliness, takes some energy in, a dim light, the next step down from air

 

Water - Extreme inwardliness, all that takes energy in, darkness, the next step down from earth

 

Something new?

 

DMaster

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The anthroposophical system, which I guess may derive from the ancient Greeks, relates earth to the physical body and the melancholic humour: careful, reflective, sympathetic. Water relates to the astral body, emotions, and the phlegmatic humour: easygoing, lazy, sensual, loyal. Air relates to the etheric body, life forces, thought, the sanguine humour: outgoing, interested, flighty. Fire relates to the sense of self and the choleric humour: decisive, confident, forward looking.

 

I think of earth in the north, air in the east, fire in the south and water in the west, for much the same reasons as others are giving. Recently I have been learning about a brand of shamanism that puts them in a different order and I can't get my head round it. This is where sticking to one system would be the sensible option.

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New to me, DragonMaster!

 

 

Thanks for reminding me of that Julai, a friend of mine (Shoog where are you!) related the elements to parts of the body -

 

Earth - bones

Water - blood

Air - breath

Fire - soul, the divine spark

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the elements lets see...

 

Enochian and Kabbalah...

 

Fire - south - salamanders - heat and dryness

Air - east - sylphs - heat and moisture

Water - west - undines - cold and moisture

Earth - north - gnomes - cold and dryness

 

for the body (as a whole) myself i tend to use...

 

Fire - soul

Air - mind

Water - emotions

Earth - body

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The only thing that is different is the colours...

 

Earth:Green

Air:yellow

Fire:Red

Water:Blue

Spirit:White

 

I can never get my head around the southern hemisphere directions though as every book iread is different.If any southerners have the any they use i would love to hear them...

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I've been working on the elements with my 13 year old son and we've been doing a collage.  We've started with Earth and have collected items such as soil (obviously), bark, pebbles and small stones (including a piece of volcanic rock).  We've also used pieces of fabric like tweed, hessian and velvets as well as various other textures (tissue paper etc.) and colours from brown through to red.  We've also made some interesting "spatters" (for want of a better word) of brown wax.  We finished by drawing the four points of the compass in the corner emphasising N for north.

 

The bits and bobs were collected over a period of time during many of our walks and it was great discussing our thoughts at each new find. 

 

For our next element, Nick has chosen Air and we have started our collection of feathers, leaves, bit of fabric (nice breezy ones) and paper in blues, lilacs and whites etc.

 

I think once we have completed them all, they'll be framed and I have the perfect length of bare wall waiting.  No doubt, I'll try do the same with my 5 and 3 year old in time.

 

PS We may need a little help with Spirit mind you - answers on a postcard please!!! :P

49546[/snapback]

 

 

this sounds wonderful! :o_angry: will you be taking pictures at all? because i would love to see the finished products.

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oh yeah.... oops i almost forgot that 1 "SPIRIT" LOL

cheers silverowl11 thanks for reminding me!

 

but i dont really class spirit as an element for the same reasons i dont class chaos as an element but hey if i was too...

 

 

Spirit - White - above/center - divine

 

Fire - red - south - soul

Air - yellow - east - mind

Water - blue - west - emotions

Earth - green - north - body

 

chaos - black - below - evil

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does it make a differance if you are colour blind.

56752[/snapback]

 

hmmmmm......

 

i suppose intent of purpose is more important than specific details considering there seams to be much variation in the attributes themselfs!

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I don't see why it should - a lot of it is down to your personal associations, so however you see the colours or differentiate between them, you'd still know which ones you link with which elements.

 

It's all dressing at the end of the day, the bells and whistles to help you visualise your intent.

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I agree that its your personal perception of them and it should make one bit of difference if you are colour blind :angry:

 

spirit - white, exactly what is says it is :lol:

Fire - south, red , soul

Air - east, yellow, mind

Water - west, blue, emotions

Earth - north, green, body

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  • 8 years later...

I use:-

 

East-Water ( to my East lies the North sea)

 

South- Fire (The sun attains its highest point in the South)

 

West- Earth ( from my location on the coast all to the West is land)

 

North- Air (Cold refreshing)

 

 

It sound okay to me anyway.....

I use similar associations , or rather similar reasons for the associations. on a geographical basis

 

North = Air when you think of the wind which of the four winds do you think of first? for me it's the Arctic cold north wind, which also leads to associations of Winter, and Midnight

East = Earth ( the large landmass of Europe being in that direction) seasonally East for me represents Spring new Growth from the earth etc, and obviously sunrise

South = Fire The hottest part of the planet is the equator ot the south, and the sun is at it's highest and hottest in the southern skies in summer, it is also associated with Noon.

West = Water (the largest mass of water the Atlantic is in that direction) I associate west with Autumn and Sunset as well,

there are two other directions that I feel are important those are Above and Below with myself as the witch standing in the centre of it all.

 

these associations also alternate masculinity and femininity North/south being masculine in associating and east/west feminine

Edited by herneoakshield
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i tend to call them when i need them mostly as a whole but occasionally separatley

earth north green represented by trees

air east yellow represented by three straight lines with curled edges (similar to old pictures of wind blowing from a cloud)

fire south red a flame

water west blue represented by a teardrop/ raindrop

spirit centre purple represented by a pentagram

 

i use water and earth for calming

fire for confidence

air for thoughts and dreams

spirit for a whole making the circle complete.

I tend to envision wind blowing in the trees, a warm fire protecting my home,waves and rivers running and tress deep rooted in the earth as i make my circle but it is always in my head, never physical.

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I don't know whether I should really post this as a new topic or not, at risk of slightly derailing the thread... but as it's an old one I hope nobody minds.

 

Does anybody here practice magic and never use the elements? I feel rather like a black sheep because I don't.

 

They seem to be a staple part of everyone's workings and I just don't get it I'm afraid. I suppose it's the name that puts me off - sure, they might have been the elements in ancient thought; but we now identify about 114 elements as the scientific building blocks of life. So why are the magical elements still so popular? And why do they have to be present in everything (both physical and metaphysical)? Where's the evidence for this? (I'm honestly interested, I'm not trying to get at anyone's beliefs here).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I love the differences here :) Last year I had a book published which included working with the directions to find what you associated with them.

 

My own are

East - air, new beginnings, eagle, condor

South - fire, growth, serpent

West - earth, going within, bear

North - water, death, wolf

 

This is highly over simplified but just gives an idea :)

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Does anybody here practice magic and never use the elements? I feel rather like a black sheep because I don't.

 

They seem to be a staple part of everyone's workings and I just don't get it I'm afraid.

 

What are elements? Can you remind me? If you mean compass directions and the air/earth whatever stuff, it's completley irrelevant to me. I regard it as a new-fangled Wiccan thing. ;) I confess I don't even know how to use it in magic. And didn't, even when I was Wiccan.

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Does anybody here practice magic and never use the elements? I feel rather like a black sheep because I don't.

 

They seem to be a staple part of everyone's workings and I just don't get it I'm afraid.

 

What are elements? Can you remind me? If you mean compass directions and the air/earth whatever stuff, it's completley irrelevant to me. I regard it as a new-fangled Wiccan thing. ;) I confess I don't even know how to use it in magic. And didn't, even when I was Wiccan.

 

Yes: earth, air, fire and water. Usually tied into the compass directions but not necessarily. But the idea seems to be that they're present in everything and bring balance. They purify the circle or something, and can be used to protect and to bring particular attributes to magic. Quoting from a wiccan web page: "The Elements are connected with each and every process in Nature. They are symbolic of physical, spiritual and emotional attributes."

 

In terms of the age of the concept we're talking ancient Greek. They thought that these elements were the root of all existing matter. But I just don't understand why this theory is still proclaimed after 2000 years of scientific discovery. Maybe I'm taking it too literally, but this really seems counter-intuitive to me. And (in terms of how they're understood and used now) I'm sure they'd be unrecognizable to the Greeks. Especially when people throw in spirit and call it "akasha," which is Sanskrit.

 

I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't follow this particular line of thought! The elements seem to be the first thing that every modern book spouts. Mainly to explain that the pentagram isn't evil, because each point represents an element. And everyone seems to use them, even those I wouldn't expect to.

 

It's funny how with some things I still feel like I'm breaking some fundamental Pagan code by not using them. It goes to show what an effect wicca has had on modern Pagan literature and thought. Some of the ideas are very pervasive even without conscious knowledge of it. For example, most books which claim to be very much different from wicca still include this idea.

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I'd say that those books who use and claim to be different from Wicca - well, the authors are more ignorant than their readers. ;)

 

I will use elements. I have used fire to consign a spell to a place where it cannot be broken. The spells I make that can be reversed I keep. I could bury them, I suppose (earth), but I don't see the point. I have consigned an old tool to a river, in the manner of the Bronze Age.

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I'd say that those books who use and claim to be different from Wicca - well, the authors are more ignorant than their readers. ;)

 

Hmm I agree and I don't. I'm sure there are people who have done a vast amount of research and who have not had a wiccan background who have (or could have) written books which could legitimately claim to be different from wicca. On the other hand, the ones that I've read that claim to be different seem to be more the result of blind arrogance.

 

I will use elements. I have used fire to consign a spell to a place where it cannot be broken. The spells I make that can be reversed I keep. I could bury them, I suppose (earth), but I don't see the point. I have consigned an old tool to a river, in the manner of the Bronze Age.

 

Ah yes, I understand this use of the elements and use them myself. But this seems fundamentally different to me than calling the elements to cleanse a circle or seeing them as being what makes up our life force... and usually it seems in a circle they use representatives of the elements rather than even working with the actual elements directly (e.g. "Hail, guardians of the East, I summon the powers of air to stand firm to guard and protect and lend your energy to the work being done here" *waves a bit of incense around*). There's usually a psychological association attached too (water represents emotion because it's changeable but can run deep) and that is what is often called upon. It seems variable as to whether you view them as actual spirits of the elements or as energies or whatever.

 

I'm not saying it's wrong, just that it isn't a concept that makes sense to me or resonates with me.

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