The four basic elements are Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. They are the energetic building blocks of everything in nature, including humans. When it comes to spirit as the fifth element, you will find that different pagan groups have different opinions about it. To some, it represents an element on its own. To others, it represents an element that is made out of the four basic elements and that is created by merging four elemental forces together to create life itself.
The four elements are physical, spiritual, and emotional attributes of everything in nature, including ourselves.
When working with elements, there are many correspondences to use, from crystals to altar tools, from directions to herbs, and from male/female energies to the circle of manifestation. There are different meditations for connecting with a certain element and journeying into its realm. The important thing to realize is that there isn’t anything that consists purely 100% of only one element. Everything in nature is a combination of elements, with different kinds of them in different percentages. For example, water is mostly composed of the Water element, but it has the element of Earth inside it too in the form of minerals. The sky is mostly Air, but it has Water in the form of clouds. Forest is mostly Earth, but it has springs that are Water. The list of examples goes on and on.
Hierarchy of Elements
Although the elements are considered equal when it comes to their energies in many modern pagan traditions, there is a certain hierarchy when it comes to the evolution of one’s spiritual path. The lower elements are more physical, while the higher elements are more spiritual. Earth is the most material element, then we go to Water, Air, and finally Fire which is the least material element. Since elements correspond to different points on the pentagram, this hierarchy growth moves from the bottom left point upwards towards Water and follows the lines. The second hierarchy of elements is the materialization of spirit on the Elemental Pentagram.
The Elemental Pentagram consists of elements in each point. The materialization of spirit goes along the lines. Starting with the spirit, we descend to Fire, then go up and left to Air, continue to Water on the right, and finally move down to Earth, the most material element.
The third hierarchy are the Stages Of Manifestation. When trying to manifest something, whether in daily life or through different ritual and magical practices, we first start with the element of Air. This is why many pagan practices begin with Air in their rituals because everything starts with a thought. Stages of manifestation are AIR (thoughts, ideas, imagination, plans), FIRE (willpower, passion, courage, transformation), WATER (emotions, fertility), and EARTH (manifestation). We first use our imagination and think about what we want to manifest, create plans about it. The second step is giving that plan passion and having the willpower to go through with it. Then we start giving life to that plan by introducing emotions and becoming a fertile womb for it. Finally, we manifest.
Feminine and masculine elements
The four elements are often divided into two groups; feminine and masculine. The feminine elements are Earth and Water, with Earth being the primary female element and Water the secondary one. The masculine elements are Fire and Air, with Fire being the primary male element and Air the secondary one. That male/female distinction is also called warm/cold. Fire and Air as male elements are light, warm, and active. Earth and Water as female elements are dark, cold, and passive. The natural continuation to male/female elements are groups of opposing elements. Earth as the primary female element is opposite to the secondary male element of Air. Fire as the primary male element is opposite to the secondary female element of Water.
Air lifts the Earth up and Water calms the fury of Fire down. In relationships, it is very hard for women who mostly carry the energy of Earth and men of Fire to function harmoniously. Those are both alpha energies that will often conflict with each other with no balance. Same goes for the beta energies of Air and Water. “The opposites attract” is not that wrong of a saying after all. The true balance lies between the opposite elements of Earth/Air and Fire/Water. (Keep in mind that some traditions view Air as the primary male element and Fire as the secondary)
As mentioned a bit earlier, correspondences of elements are almost endless. They vary from tradition to tradition, even though most of them are generally the same. Some of them have been organized by The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 19th century, including the cardinal directions.
- Air: East, sunrise, spring
- Fire: South, noon, summer
- Water: West, autumn, sunset
- Earth: North, winter, midnight
To learn all the correspondences (moon phases, colors, herbs, crystals, ritual tools, astrology, lists of Gods and Goddess, musical instruments, senses, Tarot…) and read all about each element and how to work with them, click on the links provided below.
Air is the element of mind and intelligence, creativity, and new beginnings. It is a masculine element that represents knowledge, dreams, travel, wishes, communication, intuition, imagination, and ideas. Its symbols include the…
Fire is the element of passion, courage, will, protection, and life force. It is a masculine element that represents change, leadership, inspiration, love, and sexuality. Its symbols include…
Earth is the element of materialism, wealth, and abundance. It is a feminine element that represents stability, strength, wisdom, security, patience, responsibility, and our ancestors. Its symbols include…
Water is the element of emotions, self-healing, and dreams. It is a feminine element that represents absorption, unconscious mind, purification, fertility, love, friendship, healing, and psychic abilities. Its symbols include…
“Don’t dismiss the elements. Water soothes and heals. Air refreshes and revives. Earth grounds and holds. Fire is a burning reminder of our own will and creative power. Swallow their spells. There’s a certain sweet comfort in knowing that you belong to them all.” ― Victoria Erickson