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The Four Elements in magical workings
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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.