The world can be sorted into four categories: earth, air, fire and water. There is also a fifth aspect, known as the element spirit. These elements have served as a foundation in the Egyptian mythologies, Tarot, astrology, the Earth’s seasons, the balance within a circle (or five pointed star), and various religions.
The introduction of the four elements is credited to Sicilian philosopher Empedocles, in the 5th century, BCE. The concept of the four elements, and the introduction of the fifth element, spirit, was later taught by the philosopher Aristotle in ancient Greece. His theory, and use of the element of spirit is differentiated from the other four elements which occur naturally. Spirit can therefore be seen as the glue that holds it all together.
Did you know that burning a candle is the simplest of all balancing and grounding rituals, because it includes all of the four elements?
Take a candle—any candle will work for this exercise. Hold it in your hands, and begin to focus your intentions on the candle. Is there a prayer or simple request that you have? Take note that you have already introduced the element of spirit into your exercise.
Now, as you hold the candle in your hands, take note of its solid form. The hard wax candle is representative of Earth. Now, set your candle, and bring the element of fire to the wick and begin to watch it burn. By placing your hand a few inches above the flame, you will begin to feel the element air, as you identify the energy being released in the form of heat. Lastly, take note of the wax melting, and beginning to pool like a small pond, the element of water.
Now you have a basic background and understanding of the five elements—but why is this important to know? In each of us lies a balance of four elements. Our physical existence is the element earth. Our emotions and ability to show compassion are associated with water. Our intellect and creativity is the element air. Our passions and motivation are aspects of the element fire. Being able to see the world in terms of elements will aid you in discovering divine balance. When you have balance of the four energies, you will lead a more balanced life. If you are feeling a little lethargic and unmotivated, you will be able to take note that your “fire” is out of balance. Perhaps a day at the beach under the sun, or a day in front of the fireplace, will help warm your soul and restore balance. When you are having a very emotional day, filled with tears and sadness, it is likely that your water elemental energy is very high. An inspiring and creative project, such as painting or crafting, will introduce a little air energy into your life and help carry away some of the heavy water energy.
Just as we are all unique beings, our natural surroundings are unique as well. Each tree, person, animal, and even the meal you consume today are a reflection of the elements. When you can see the displacement of the elements in all creation, you will become more adept in relating to your surroundings.
Here’s a handy guide to some of the correspondences of the elements:
Color: Green or brown
Key Words: Grounding, solid, strengthening, money, finances
Natural Objects: Stones, mountains, trees, dirt, vegetables, ground, bear
Color: White or yellow
Key Words: Intellect, creativity, inspiration, art, legal matters, new projects
Natural Objects: Feathers, incense, wind, scents, birds
Key Words: Passion, love, vitality, erupting, energy, courage
Natural Objects: Volcanoes, bonfires, candles, sunsets, fireworks, sun, snakes, fireflies, dragons
Key Words: Emotions, healing, cleansing, calmness, intuition
Natural Objects: Ocean, waves, streams, moon, mermaids, nautical items, boats, fish, dolphins