I was having a conversation the other day with a friend who is also taking the Death’s Emissary course. The conversation took the usual twists and turn until we hit the topic of Elements. It is in moments like this that I am reminded that what we personally tend to think as “common knowledge” probably isn’t.
Her experience came from the perspective of Wicca. I have never been Wiccan but its influence stretches way beyond itself because it was used as a base model more many other perspectives that rose after it. I assumed that since elements seemed to be such a central teaching within Wicca, that the deeper aspects of them would also be central teachings – but this was not her experience. Thus it has inspired me to write this.
Basics of Elements
I am sure by now, the majority of us understand the basics of Elements, starting with the main modes we work with – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Each one holding a different type of energy, mode of movement, use in magic, and interactions with each other. Instead of rehashing what other say, I am just going to share my perspectives on these.
The base of fire is about movement and life. It is a representation of the soul, the energy aspect of it that creates movement. It is fast and quick acting when it comes to magical workings. If you are looking for a powerhouse of energy that will work quickly – Fire is where I would turn to.
There are also elements of chaos and uncontrollable forces that reside in Fire. Think of it in terms of a wildfire. It starts as something small, something we feel can easily be controlled. Then an unexpected wind blows in, something we did not account for and did not foresee. All of a sudden the fire shifts, jumps out of the small controlled space, and turns into a raging inferno. This does not mean we shouldn’t use fire, but it does require some planning and deeper forethought to anticipate the unexpected.
Fire, like all the elements, holds both destructive and healing qualities. Often people focus on the destructive aspects, such as burning something down – Yet the fire also rejuvenates the earth beneath it, clearing the way for new growth. When I work with Elements, I look at both of these sides because this duality is always present in them. By recognizing this, you can use both sides to your advantage and lessen the unintended consequences of the chaos.
Within Fire is our creative mind and the perseverance to see those ideas turn from the mind and manifest into the physical world. It is the spark that animates life. The spark that has the ability to light the world ablaze. Fire holds our intense emotions, the ones in the moment, and that is what is fueling the work.
Water is the opposite of Fire when looking at the time aspect. Water still holds the destructive and healing aspects but it works slower. This slower movement allows us more time to adjust our direction and flow when unexpected aspects come into play. This also means it takes longer for the work to come to full fruition, but I find it is also a deeper and more lasting change.
Water holds memory. The emotion was created in the moment with fire, but water will hold and carry the emotion forward. Emotion is what solidifies memory. Every memory you hold has an emotion attached to it – the emotion and how strong the emotion is will determine the same qualities of the memory, especially over long periods of time. Those memories that do not hold strong emotion or repetitive emotion will eventually fade from our conscious mind.
Water holds a very reflective power. It is good for things that you need to deconstruct, shadow work, and knowledge you need o dive into. When we gain knowledge, that is just the surface of the water, our starting point. Water beckons us to dive beneath the surface, to explore the depths of that knowledge and see the truth of it as it applies to us.
Water tends to be more slow and steady. Gradually growing and carrying our magical work to fruition. It can also bring the strongest storms. The water that crashes in, and breaks apart, in order to cleanse. The storm that forces growth and change when we try to build walls against it.
Earth, from a time perspective, is both a mix of slow and fast just depending on the work and perspective. It tends to lean more to the slower form, and holds a more circular cycle – seasons of time. It brings in the aspects of nurturing and the need to tend to that which we are growing in our magic. It requires more of a Guardian type of a mindset.
Earth also shows the interconnections of different energies and how they come together in a harmonious pattern. Think in terms of an ecosystem. A variety of different plants, animals, and elements all coming together, cohabitating, and creating as a unit. Each playing their own role, yet that role is also serving the ecosystem as a whole.
It holds the lessons and energy of exchange, reconciliation, cooperation, and shows us how to blend different elements/ energies to provide the desired outcome. It represents growth through experience, not just knowledge. It is shaped by the memory of water, but it uses that memory to adjust and make changes for new outcomes.
Air, like Earth, is a mix of fast and slow time, but has a higher focus on change. It is the power of Voice and Intellect. The ability to shape through sound and vibration. Using the creativity of the Fire, The Memory of the Water, the Cycles of the Earth – taking that knowledge to understand the patterns and then seeing the changes to alter those patterns.
Air, like Fire, is connected to the mind. Unlike Fire though, it is more tied to deeper thought and critical thinking verses the fast acting and moving mind of Fire. It uses that to shift the energies in an intentional way to force the energies to flow in a specific way.
Not Just Elements
Elements are not separate from each other. They all interact and act upon each other. We start by learning and understanding them on an individual level. What their energy is like and what feeds it. How they represent both in the world and within our own bodies.
As each of us has own own path/ skills/ perspectives, we need to understand how they are shaped specifically for us. We are connected to all of them but not in the same measure. Some will be stronger for us naturally or more at the forefront. Others we may struggle with and will take more work for us to harmonize with. This is all individual work and our particular views may vary, but the core energy of the element never changes.
When we say that advanced magic is more about layering – this is one of those cases. The Elements are not separate from each other – they are constantly working together or against each other. Understanding how each one interacts with the others, alters the others, feeds the other, or counteracts the others is the first step to layering.
When you are devising a spell that has Fire at the forefront – you can minimize the chaos and unexpected negative aspects if you can see how the other elements can affect it, and what aspects of them you can bring in to strengthen it. They are intertwined and present either way, but in this layering you are directing what that looks like and what roles they are playing within it – creating a stronger, clearer intent and spell.
Science and Spirit
I find when understanding the core of each Element requires both science and spirit. How that element works in the physical world and the body, as well as, from an energy and soul perspective give us the full picture and understanding of the power it holds.
Science in this way can give us good examples of the energetic side. For example, in the physical world, Air – oxygen – is required to feed and grow Fire. The same is true in the magical and Spirit sense. Fire is the spark and drive energy, while the intellect, critical thinking of the mind feeds that spark so it flames into fruition.
Science is not always right – we make new discoveries all the time that alter a previous assumption. Spirit is something beyond science and can not be measured and proved like science. On their own, both have issues, but looking at both together can give us clues and deeper perspective that will lead us to Wisdom through our own experiences of them.
I don’t know other people are taught about Elements, or how my friend experienced it in Wicca that made her so resistant to them. My experience came from study, exploring, experimenting with them, and finding what gave tangible results.
To me, they are the building blocks, the energy behind the magic. Their energy within in myself and in the world around me – malleable and shifting. The trick is to understand them, see them, see the patterns they create and how the weave together those patterns. From there you can shift and alter those strings/ energies to move in a way to bring forth the intent / desire you – this is spell-crafting.