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The Four Elements in magical workings

Updated on August 23, 2013
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Air, Fire, Water and Earth

In magical workings, we note five elements. Here I shall speak of the four physical elements, for the fifth one, spirit, is ourselves and the energy we bring to the workings we perform.

Air. This represents our thoughts, and thus is the first element to consider. When casting a circle, the first element we call upon is air, for thought must take place before action. Air corresponds to the season of spring and morning time. It takes the direction of east, and is best represented by the colour yellow. When visualising air when calling the four quarters, you could think of the air that we breathe, the wind around us, but also, youth and new beginnings. Fertility is the function of the East and a goddess who corresponds to this element is Zemyna. She is a Lithuanian earth goddess who not only presided over human life, but the life of the Earth itself. Her name means flower-giver, and so she is said to watch and care for every flower, weed and tree. On the altar, you can represent the element of Air by lighting some incense or even a feather.

Fire. Fire stands for our enthusiasms and passions. Once we have thought, we put our passions behind our thoughts. This gives our thoughts intention and impetus to eventually turn into action. Fire corresponds to the season of summer and the afternoon. It's direction is the south, and it's colour is red. A great symbol for fire is the Sun for it warms and lights us. Just as Air stood for youth, Fire is for maturity. Love's magical centre is due South and thus, what better goddess to honour in this direction than Venus, where the energy of Fire can keep the warmth and passion alive. On the altar the easiest way to represent Fire is through lighting a candle.

Water. Water is the third element and stands for our emotions. Once we have thought and put our passion behind our thoughts, then we bring to it our emotions, thus strengthening our desire to make our thoughts come to realisation. The season for Water is autumn ad the time of day that corresponds to it is evening. The direction for Water is West, it's colour is blue and it can be visualised by thinking of rivers, streams, oceans as well as rain. It corresponds to the period of middle age. West is also the direction of pure creativity. Thus, appropriate deities to honour in this direction might be the Muses. They were the 9 daughters of Zeus. On the altar you can represent Water by placing a small bowl of purified water or you could place a seashell here.

Earth. This is the final physical element to consider. It stands for our physical self and our actions. The season that corresponds with Earth is winter and the time for it is night-time. The direction for Earth is the North. North is also the direction of power for witches and is one of the reasons why our altar is placed in the north. The colour that represents Earth is green. You can visualise this element by imaging rocks, stones and the earth that we walk on. It stands for wisdom gained through lessons learned. It corresponds to the period of old age. Because we return to the Earth upon our death, the direction for it is often seen as North. However, since many witches believe in reincarnation and the concept of the cycle or wheel of life, an appropriate direction to honour Rhiannon, the goddess of the underworld in Wales could be said to be either the North or the North East. To represent the element of Earth on your altar you could place a rock or stone here or perhaps some salt.

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      Sam 4 years ago

      Hi,this might be a silly question but i have an air,water,fire,earth incese kit and just want to know do you burn them all together or indervidially ..

      Thank you...

    • home witch profile image
      Author

      home witch 7 years ago from Manchester

      Yes, I totally agree, deblipp. It is all to do with consistency, but also, to a large extent your intention and understanding. If it works for you, then go for it is my motto. Each tradition is slightly different, and it is important to find one that agrees with your chi/spirit/energy for want of a better word

    • deblipp profile image

      deblipp 7 years ago

      The reason that fertility would tend to go into the North in many systems is because Earth corresponds to things that are solid and real. So, fertility is when you get the "fruits of your labor," the real results. You plant the seed -- the beginning -- in the East, but when the plant is ready to pick that's Earth.

      It makes sense either way. The most important thing in any occult system is consistency.

    • home witch profile image
      Author

      home witch 7 years ago from Manchester

      Dear Greenwick,

      I'm glad I was able to help.

      x

    • Greenwick profile image

      Greenwick 7 years ago

      I like what you mentioned about spirit. I always knew it was one of the elements, but hadn't found a useful way of thinking about it in terms of representing it at the altar.

    • home witch profile image
      Author

      home witch 7 years ago from Manchester

      I must confess that although I do own a book on Egyptian paganism, I've not really read it in depth or explored that aspect at all. The way you explain it makes it sound very beautiful and profound.

      I do a mix of Greco-Roman, Anglo-Saxon really, and Kate West is my favoured author to go to for information. I like her practicality. But I guess I'm more the hedge or kitchen witch type, I'm not in a coven, never found one close enough or one I could explore my leanings with, and I'm not really into the pageantry and high-ritual side of it.

    • ThriftyWitch profile image

      ThriftyWitch 7 years ago from Canada

      I am an eclectic witch but I lean a lot toward egyptian aspect more now then I did 10 years ago. The sun is born in the east and takes the boat to the west to die and be reborn. that's part of the rede when the wind blows from the west departed souls have no rest. the boat of the dead cant go that way till the wind changes direction..

    • home witch profile image
      Author

      home witch 7 years ago from Manchester

      Hello. I'm glad you found the hub useful. I guess deblipp that different traditions have differing correspondences. What I've learnt through study is go with what feels best for you. We know intuitively if something is appropriate to our state of mind, our place in the universe or not. Trust that intuitive feeling.

      ThriftyWitch [I like your name] your identification with the direction of the rising sun as a correspondence to fertility is spot on. I wish I had stated that in the hub for greater clarity.

    • ThriftyWitch profile image

      ThriftyWitch 7 years ago from Canada

      The fertility to the east makes since with me because the sun is born in that direction every day

    • deblipp profile image

      deblipp 7 years ago

      This is a very good hub. It is unusual to correspond fertility to the East; most people correspond it to the North and Earth, being as it is related to the body, to fruition, and to the results of things.

    • home witch profile image
      Author

      home witch 7 years ago from Manchester

      Thank you so much for taking time to leave a comment. I do appreciate it.

      Yes, totally, it is common sense. That's the foundation of magic really after all, the commonly held practices and observations of the village and rural folk.

    • 4elements profile image

      4elements 7 years ago

      I enjoyed this one as well. It is almost common sense, with the elements. I try and include them in my life everyday, blessings

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