The Elements in Wicca
The idea that all creation is made up of Elements isn't new.
Generally, the Elements are believed to be the basic components of creation that come together to build all things. In some systems, such as the Tao, understanding of the balance of the Elements is used to diagnose and treat medical conditions as seen within Chinese Medicine.
In Wicca, the Elements are broken down into five components: Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Spirit. The fifth Element, Spirit (sometimes referred to as Akasha), is said to represent the combination of Elements or entities such as particular deities in our lives like Goddesses and Gods.
Other understandings would identify Spirit as the elemental essence of electricity. A newer interpretation--at least outside of initiation-based traditions--is that Spirit is the Self, particularly the Higher Self or when one is empowered and in balance with the natural world.
Each Element has a particular symbol and color. Within Wicca, the color associations are most commonly:
White = Spirit
Yellow = Air
Green = Earth
Red = Fire
Blue = Water
Life is a balance of all the Elements, and having an equal balance of the Elements within yourself is one method of attaining "spiritual perfection." At the very least, the balance of the Elements within you is associated with optimal mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
However, it's common for humans to find themselves out of balance, often from the daily stresses of our lifestyles and experiences. As such, we go through life striving to reattain the balance of the Elements within ourselves.
Common general associations for each of the Elements:
Matter, foundation, manifestation, money, incorporating, employment, touch, empathy, understanding, fertility, security, safety, home, prosperity, and business. Represents stability and physical endurance.
Thought, creativity, knowledge, mental activity, study, speech, intellect, ideas, communication, hearing, travel, messages, eloquence, freedom, discovery, revealing hidden things, and secrets. Represents intelligence and the arts.
Energy, spirituality, passions, light, vitality, health, goals, desires, destiny, sexuality, purification, and sight. Represents courage and daring.
Feelings, happiness, pleasure, love, children, friendship, marriage, family, ancestors, veils, home, taste, dreams, sleep, divination, purification, cleansings, healing, psychic and intuition, and the sub-conscious. Represents emotions and intuition.
Spiritual energy, magick, empowerment, community, purpose, divine connections, interconnections, power. Represents the All, Deity, and the blending of the Elements.
Many people feel attracted to a particular Element, one that they relate to the most, often corresponding to the most prominent element found in their astrological birth chart.
For example, someone may relate closely to Fire, but they'll also enjoy aspects of Water, Earth, and Air.
Some people will automatically know their Element simply from their interests or what they feel most drawn to. Meanwhile, others will have to carefully think about it, even taking time to meditate, journey, and deeply reflect on each individual Element to find the one they most closely relate to.
How can you find your Element?
Usually, your zodiac symbol (most typically your Sun sign, though your whole chart may involve additional influence) and Element will match. However, this may not always be the case.
If you think yours is different, simply ask yourself which you feel most in-tune with. If that doesn't help, think of four things you enjoy doing and see how they relate to the Elements.
Alternatively, think of four things, one pertaining to each Element. Perhaps, swimming for water or building and watching a campfire for fire. Which do you most enjoy? Getting out into nature to meditate on the Elements can be particularly useful for finding your Element.
The Zodiac divided by Element
Fire = Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
Earth = Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air = Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water = Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Once you have found the Element or Elements you are most attuned to, take the time to connect with the Element and learn more about it. In doing so, you will build a better understanding of what the different Elements are and how to work with them.
Over the course of your practice, take the time to reflect on the other Elements and build relationships with each of them. In time, you'll come closer to the goal of balancing the Elemental aspects within you.
Directional Correspondence in Ritual
In magickal practice and formal ritual space, Wiccans assign the Elements to the directional quarters (north, east, south, west, and center). Although Spirit is generally always assigned to the center of a circle, the directions corresponding with the other four elements is often different depending upon factors such as geography and tradition.
In many Wicca beginner books, the Elements are assigned as follows: Earth=North, Air=East, Fire=South, and Water=West.
According to some sources, the traditional set-up reverses Earth and Air, placing Air in the north and Earth in east. Still other traditions place Fire in the east and Air in the south. Personally, I find geography works best, but any combination can work.
The important aspect of inviting the Elements into circle is simply to invite them in. They are not limited to a specific quarter.
Here are some examples from my personal practice over the years:
When I first experimented, I lived on the east coast of the US in Maryland and found that Air=North (where cold air and snow often originated), East=West (the ocean), Fire=South (where the warm air and weather moved up from), and Earth=West (the large stretch of land).
When residing in Colorado Springs, I found this set up remained relevant to me as the weather (Air) moved from the north, temperatures rose (Fire) the further south I went, the mountains (Earth) were to the west, and the place I originated (home town), spirits of deceased loved ones, and the ocean I connect with the most (Water) were to the east.
Currently my home in Virginia, I still identify the strong winds and winter weather from the north with Air and the heat from the south with Fire.
However, now there is a small mountain within close proximity to east from which I feel Earth strongly. The setting sun to the west where my bedroom looks out feels very much linked so the spirits of the ancestors here is undeniably filled with Water energy.
When considering how to set up the Elements in ritual, starting out with suggestions from books and magickal resources is wise. This allows you the opportunity to learn traditional ways of inviting in the Elements and building the habit of working with them.
As you continue your practice, however, never be afraid to do some experimenting of your own and find what works best for your magickal practice.
For a deeper discussion on the placement of the Elements in ritual circles, see the article Re-thinking the Watchtowers: 13 Reasons Air Should Be In The North.
© 2010-2020 by Evylyn Rose