These are the four elements of nature earth, air, water and fire which form the essential ingredients of all natural magic. The are considered the bed-rock and basis of all nature. In Western occultism they are believed to be the basis of all life, not just on planet earth but throughout the universe. The elements were thought to link humankind to the heavens and divine as well as governing its well-being.
The elements were recognized in the ancient Mysteries. The rays from celestial bodies became elements when the struck their crystallized influences in the lower world. They played a predominant role in magic among the Egyptians and Greeks who ascribed various attributes and characteristics to each element. Plato grouped all things into four categories based on the elements, such as air/birds, water/fish, earth/pedestrians, and fire/stars, because they all are interrelated.
During the Middle Ages alchemists and magicians ascribed the elements to the internal and external parts of the human anatomy; various gems; minerals and materials; planets and constellations; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; various species of the animal and plant kingdoms; human personality traits; and geometrical shapes.
Roger Fludd (1574-1637), an alchemist and astrologer, related the elements to harmonics while Sisismund Bactrom, also a Renaissance alchemist, believed that if all the elements could be united and harmonized , the Philosopher’s Stone would be the result.
In the Mithraic Mysteries it is believed that man must rule the elements before he is able to attain spiritual wisdom. It is taught man must successfully undergo the initiations of earth, air, water, and fire because each tests a different aspect of his nature and being.
Below are listed some of the correspondences of the elements:
Earth: The north; the pentacle; female principle; fertility; darkness; quiet; practicality; thrift; acquisition; patience; responsibility; boredom; stagnation; the materialization of the cosmic powers; the color green; the metal gold.
Air: The east; the wand; male principle; intellect, energy, endeavor; sociability; squandering, frivolity; the expression of the magician’s will; the color yellow; the metal silver.
Water: The west; the cup; chalice and cauldron; female principle; fecundity; body fluids; magical brews; the rhythms of nature; emotions, sensitivity, receptivity; instability, indifference; the color blue; the metal silver.
Fire: The south; the sword; male principle; action, courage, defense against hostile forces; struggle, animosity, jealousy, anger; the color orange; the metal gold.
When working magic, neo-Pagan witches and magicians summon the subtle forces of the elements and their guardian spirits. Familiars are believed to be sources of vital elemental energy. Most magical work in performed within a magic circle that has been casted, which means that it has been consecrated and purified by the elements. Each element or its symbol is taken to its corresponding quarter of the circle where its guardian spirit is invoked.
The elements are associated with the cardinal points of the magic circle, and are within the hierarchy of spirits the lower ones are known as the elementals who are governed by higher beings called the devas, also known as the Lords of the Watchtowers, the Mighty Ones, and the Guardians. A.G.H.