Category Archives: Elements

Elemental Correspondences

Air

Direction: East
Archangel: Raphael
Qualities: hot and moist, light and active
Colors: Crimson, yellow
Incense: Galbanum
Magical phrase: noscere, to know
Zodiacal signs:  Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Tattvic symbol: blue circle (Vayu)
Tattvic tide: June 21 – September 23
Season: Spring
Hour of day: dawn
Celtic name: airt
Magical tool: Dagger
Types of magic: To find object that have been lost or
stolen, magic of the four winds,
visualizations, divination.
Major Arcana card: Fool (0)
Minor Arcana suit: swords
Symbolic creatures: eagle, human
Alchemical symbol: Right side up triangle
Elemental spirits: Sylphs
Elemental king: Paralda
Egyptian elemental king: Ameshet (a young man)
Symbols: sky, wind, clouds, incense
Plants: aspen tree, mistletoe
Reflections in humanity: the super conscious, knowledge,
instruction, freedom, travel
psychic abilities
Parts of the body: chest, lungs, throat
Humour: Blood
Positive characteristics: kind, joyful, communicative,
intelligent, intuitive, diligent
Negative characteristics: gossipy, boastful, spendthrift,
untruthful, selfish, fickle,
inattentive
Overbalance: chatterbox, or one who tends to intellectualize
to much
Underbalance: muddy thinking; one who has difficulty
transmitting thoughts and ideas

Copyright (C) Brigid Ashwood
Image used with permission

Air is the element of thought, the harsh reality of logic. It is the medium of communication and business, the place where we dream and plan, plot and scheme. It is as hard to pin down as the wind.

Air is pure and clear, and constantly moving. It is the element of visualization and the catalyst for change.

Air rules the East – where the great light rises each day. Air is the light of wisdom and of consciousness.

Fire

Direction: south
Archangel: Michael
Qualities: hot and dry, light and active
Colors: white, red, orange, scarlet
Incense: Olibanum
Magical phrase: velle, to will
Zodiacal signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Tattvic symbol: red triangle (Tejas)
Tattvic tide: March 21 – June 21
Season: summer
Hour of day: Noon
Celtic name: deas
Magical tools: fire wand, lamp
Type of magic: tantra, healing, candle magic
Major Arcana Card: judgement (XX)
Minor Arcana suit: wands
Symbolic creature: lion
Alchemical symbol: right side up triangle with a line
through the middle.
Elemental spirits: salamanders
Elemental king: Djinn
Egyptian elemental king: Toumathph (a jackal)
Symbols: fire, sun, stars, volcanoes
Plant: nettle
Part of body: head
Humour: choler, yellow bile
Reflections in humanity: the life force, sexual energy,
will, Passion
Positive characteristics: energetic, enthusiastic, daring,
stubborn, faithful
Negative characteristics: stubborn, greedy, jealous,
vengeful, angry, resentful,
aggressive, possessive, egotistical
Overbalance: one who is dominating, egotistic, violent
Underbalance: one who feels inferior or apathetic; lack of
energy

Copyright (C) Brigid Ashwood
Image used with permission

Fire is the element of Energy, of Action It is the most primal of elements, holding our passion and will, drive and ambition. It is the cry of war and the essence of divinity.


Fire acts upon all the other elements. It creates change, brings destruction. Without Fire’s changing influences, there would be no progress, no development, no desire.

Fire rules the south, where (from the Northern Hemisphere) the Sun always shines upon the world bringing warmth and growth.

Water

Direction: west
Archangel: Gabriel
Qualities: cold and moist, heavy and passive
Colors: brownish gray, blue
Incense: Onycha, Myrrh
Magical phrase: audere, to dare
Zodiacal signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Tattvic symbol: silver crescent (Apas)
Tattvic tide: September 23 – December 23
Season: Fall
Hour of day: twilight
Celtic name: iar
Magical tool: cup
Type of magic: fertility, mirror magic, purification,
healing, divination, dream magic
Major Arcana card: Hanged Man (XII)
Minor Arcana suit: cups
Symbolic creatures: scorpion, snake
Alchemical symbol: upside down triangle
Elemental spirits: undines
Elemental King: Niksa
Egyptian elemental king: Kabexnaf (a hawk)
Symbols: waterfalls, all bodies of water, waves, fog, rain
Plants: all water plants
Parts of body: stomach, (liquids elimination)
Humour: phlegm
Reflection in humanity: emotions, fertility, the unconscious
mind
Positive characteristics: Forgiving, easygoing, gracious,
sensitive, modest, flowing,
compassionate
Negative characteristics: overly emotional, weepy, lazy,
insecure, sly, fridgid,
indifferent, dependent
Overbalance: hypersensitivity
Underbalance: a cold, emotionless nature

Copyright (C) Brigid Ashwood
Image used with permission

Water is Life. Without it we cannot survive. Water holds our emotional self – our love and hope, our fear and despair. It is the element of our sub-conscious self – our intuition and creativity.


Water is ever-flowing and, over time, will erode the greatest obstacles.

Water rules the West where, to the ancient peoples of Europe, the great mysteries of the Atlantic held tales of other worlds and mythic creatures.

Earth

Direction: north
Archangel: Auriel (Uriel)
Qualities: cold and dry, heavy and passive
Colors: brown, black, green
Incense: Storax
Magical phrase: tacere, to keep silent
Zodiacal signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Tattivic symbol: yellow square (prithivi)
Tattivic tide: December 23 – March 21
Season: winter
Hour of day: midnight
Celtic name: tuath
Magical tools: pentacle, cyrstals
Types of magic: fertility magic, tree magic, herbal lore,
prosperity, runecasting, knot magic
Major Arcana card: Universe (XXI)
Minor Arcana suit: pentacles
Symbolic creatures: bull, sphinx
Alchemical symbol: upside down triangle with a line through
the middle
Elemental spirits: gnomes
Elemental king: Ghob
Egyptian elemental king: Apephi (an ape)
Symbols: mountains, caves, gems, fields, rocks
Plants: red poppy, thrift plant
Parts of body: bones, sex organs
Humour: black bile, melancholy
Reflection in humanity: the physical body
Positive characteristics: reliable, punctual, stable,
perservering
Negative characterists: greedy, sensualist, materialistic, stodgy, unprogressive
Overbalance: materialistic; one whose circle of ideas is
small
Underbalace: Unreliable, careless, tasteless

Copyright (C) Brigid Ashwood
Image used with permission

Earth is the unchanging law of the Universe. It is the fertility of Mother Nature, the great source of all Life. It is the Rock on which all things are built.


Earth is solid and unmoving. It represents the greatest, immutable truths, our loyalty and our stubborness. It represents stability, but also resistance to change.

Earth rules the North, where the great mountains of the highlands lay, always constant, never changing.

Spirit

Direction: the Center
Archangel: Metatron
Color: brilliant white light
Qualities: timelessness, spacelessness
Magical Tool: The Cord
Tattvic symbol: black oval (Akasha)
Major Arcana card: Fool (0) and Judgement (XX)
Tarot suit: Major Arcana
Symbols: spiral, the cosmos
Part of the body: the spinal column
Reflections in humanity: one’s immortal soul or
superconsciousness
Plants: Mistletoe, Flowering almond

Copyright (C) Brigid Ashwood
Image used with permission

 

Above all the other elements, and yet part of them, lies the fifth element – Spirit.

It is the ethereal, without direction, yet encompassing all directions.

It is beyond the physical world – the pure essence of the Universe and of us all.

Understanding the Four Elements

In most Wiccan traditions, the four elements are called at some point and in some form during a ritual or other working. Whether one calls to guardians of the watchtowers, archangels or the elements themselves, the purpose is the same. You are establishing an environment in which to perform your workings. The elements are part of the fundamental processes of the Universe.

In recent times, it was considered by the mainstream that the ancient belief that everything was constructed from four basic elements (Air, Fire, Earth and Water) was ‘quaint’ and yet totally incorrect. There are dozens of elements on the period table. The mere idea of there being only four is outmoded and ridiculous right? Wrong. Apart from their spiritual significance, which we will come to in a moment, they represent the three states of matter and the energy needed to move them between those states.

Copyright (C) Brigid Ashwood
Images used with permission

 

    • Solid – Element of Earth. Imagine this as a block of ice. It is hard. Solid. You can kick it.
    • Liquid – Element of Water. As the ice melts, it becomes water. Liquid and able to take on the shape of whatever vessel holds it.
    • Gas – Element of Air. If you heat the water, you get steam. Fast moving molecules whizzing about full of energy.
    • Energy – Element of Fire. The heat that causes the ice to become water, water to become air. Removing the heat source reverses the process. The more heat, the more energy. Less heat, less energy.

      So even in the physical, material world we live in today, these basic elemental principles still exist and still hold sway over the air we breath, the clothes we wear and the lives we lead. The spiritual nature of these four elements and their position has been an integral part of pagan and wicca traditions since their inception. We see them in the tools we use:

    • The Athame, Knife or Sword – Represents the male element of Air.
    • The Wand – Represents the male element of Fire.

Note the shape of both of these. No prizes for guessing which male organ they represent.

      •  The Cup or Chalice – Represents the female element of Water.
      • The Pentagram or Disk – Represents the female element of Earth.

They are expressed in the Tarot in very much the same form. In the Qabalah, they appear as the 2nd and 3rd Sepiroth (Air and Water) representing the King and Queen (Or Aleister Crowley’s Whore of Babylon and the Beast) and the 4th (or 6th) and 10th Sephiroth as the Prince and Princess. The Qabalah also represents them as the four worlds – Emanation or Archetype (Air), Creation (Fire), Formation (Water) and Manifestation (Earth).

They represent our physical body also:

    • Air – Our thoughts, our brain. The ability to have a sense of self. Our connection to the Godhead.
    • Fire – Our passion and ideas. The ability to make decisions.
    • Water – Our emotions. The blood supply. The ability to be moved by something.
    • Earth – Our senses. The Muscle and Bone. The ability to manifest our desires.

Their order is important also. Many assume that they were placed in their positions (East for Air, South for Fire, Water for West and North for Earth) because geographically that was where they were found in Northern Europe. The strongest winds blew from the East. The sun was always in the southern segment of the sky (because of the latitude), to the West lay the Atlantic, which extended to the edge of the World, and to the North lay the mountains, hard and unyielding.

But there is more to it than that. Air represents the environment of thought. Fire, the spark of an idea. Water the formation of that idea into something that can manifest, and finally Earth – the ultimate creation of the idea itself.

So the elements are welcomed into ritual for many reasons. Not the least of which is that without them, no working can be successful. Even if they are not called by name or by correspondence, an idea must have an environment in which to form. It must have a means of coming to fruition, and of producing a desired result. In any working, be it a business meeting or a protection spell these elements are always with us, and it is for that reason we welcome them into ritual.

So remember, as you go through your ritual, not just to welcome the elements at the beginning of the ritual and thank them at the end, but to recognize and acknowledge their presence as the working takes place.

  • Air – As you begin your working
  • Fire – As you state the purpose of the ritual
  • Water – As you chant and begin the process of manifestation
  • Earth – As you end the ritual and anticipate it’s successful outcome.

 

The Fifth Element – Spirit

Previously we discussed the four elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These are the elements we call into our circle first when preparing our ritual. But there is a fifth element, Spirit, which is handled differently. In this article, we’re going to look at what Spirit really is, and how it is represented in ritual.

Spirit has many different meanings. The word itself comes from the latin word spirare, meaning to breathe, and in that root lies the true meaning of spirit. It is the breath of the Godhead. To be more precise, it is the outward breath, which causes our Universe to be manifest as it is now.

In Qabbalistic terms, one could say that it is the Ain Soph Aur – the Limitless Light; the first true self-realization of deity, that leads to the creation, formation and manifestation of our universe, our world and ourselves.

It is Kether – the first Sephiroth from which all others flow, and of which all Sephira are merely aspects. It is the Supernals – the first separation of deity into God and Goddess, the first and second person that allows the Godhead to experience itself, but which is still little more than an instinctual state.

Out of this creation springs the formation, and the individual deity archetypes – the Maiden, Mother, Crone, Hero, Father and Mage aspects that form the basis for the greater deities of most pantheons.

This formative world also contains the lesser deities, and the guardian angels, and the souls of mankind, consciously aware of individual identity, and yet also aware of their oneness with the Universal Spirit.

Finally, it represents the Human Spirit on the material plane. That characteristic which separates us and elevates us above the other animals. It is our never-say-die, damn-the-torpedoes-full-steam-ahead indomitable nature.

Since spirit is clearly such an important aspect of any ritual or working, why is it not represented individually like any other element? Well in fact, in some traditions, it is. I have seen spirit called in the north east position during closing and opening of a circle by more traditional Wicca traditions. It is however, strongly represented within circle in several forms, primarily with candles.

Many traditions use either a single candle (often purple) to represent the Source (Kether or Ain Soph Aur in the Qabbalah). Others incorporate candles representing Form and Force (The material and formative worlds mentioned above) and these are usually black and white. You may also see God and Goddess candles (usually Gold and Silver, or colors appropriate to the respective deities) that represent spirit in its dual aspect.

The charges of the God and Goddess are also individual calls to the Spirit, as is the wine blessing, and the sharing of cakes and ale.

So even though Spirit may not be mentioned directly by name in your particular ritual, you will most likely find that it is there – in one or more of its many forms. Since our very selves and everything around us is ultimately part of the Godhead – how could it be otherwise?