Elemental Line Logo

The Four Elements


Below is a very brief description of each element along with its associated qualities.  On the next page starts a guided example that will help you experience these qualities directly for yourself.  The triangle images are symbolic representations of each element that can give you a visual identifier to refer to when thinking of an element. 

Earth -


The Earth element is the base, factual level of the phenomenon.  It is the ‘obvious’.  It is the data of the sensory experience of the phenomenon.  It is any aspect about which definitive statements can be made, such as “It is red”, or “it happened at 4:30”, or “It makes me feel queasy.”  These are all facts; they can be recorded as statements, A, B, C.  The Earth level of the phenomenon can therefore be “true” or “false”, “correct” or “incorrect”.  The Earth element seems unambiguous: it just is what it is, and every fact seems more or independent from every other fact.

Earth Symbol

Water -


The Water element brings the facts of the Earth into relationship.  No fact is stable, or exists in isolation.  Rather, every fact is a precipitate that falls out of the interweaving contexts of its immediate environment in time, space, and mind, just like a crystal of salt precipitates out of a solution when the water evaporates.  Water is what is changing, what is moving from B to C and has already moved from A to B.  It is the immediate past and immediate future of the phenomenon.  It is the tendency for the phenomenon to change the way it appears over time.  Water is the way the phenomenon relates to other aspects of itself and other phenomenon; facts connect to other facts to create a stream of evolving meaning.  In the Water realm, the truth of one fact leads naturally to the truth of another, related fact.

Water Symbol

Air -


In the Air element, the movements and changes of the phenomenon are found to exist between sets of polarities, whether opposites, complements, or reciprocals.  The movement from A to B to C is understood as existing somewhere along the polarity of the scale A to Z.  The facts are no longer static, nor are they simply related to other facts.  Now the facts of the Earth level of the phenomenon are experienced as if inverted or reversed.  In Air we have the experience “what if?”, and we see the phenomenon from one or more of the polar points of view.  We recognize that once we get to Z, we go back to A – and moving the other way, A moves into Z, and in the end A and Z aren’t quite so far away from each other as we may have thought.  Air is the space around the phenomenon, what arises when we make the apparent solidity of its Earth nature become as invisible and mobile as the air itself.  In Air, the phenomenon presents aspects of itself that are simultaneously one way and another way.  Facts might be both “true” and “false” at the same time, and the context of the Water level expands to include so many additional aspects that it is like there is no real context at all, or that everything is contextually relevant.  We may get very confused, and lose track of what seemed to be stable facts from the Earth level when we reach the Air level of the phenomenon.

Air Symbol

Fire -


The Fire element resolves the tendency towards dissipation of our understanding at the Air level into a coherent, meaningful, encompassing whole.  It burns away all the extraneous fluff and gives us a glimpse of some aspect of the phenomenon that makes us say “Ah-ha!” to ourselves.  We feel now that we have some real understanding of the phenomenon that was previously unavailable to us; we have an insight.  The facts from the Earth level, the movements of the Water level, the reversals of the Air level now all fit together simultaneously as an ordered whole in a way that makes ‘sense’ to us.  We recognize that in fact the Fire insight was present all along, embedded at each level like a secret waiting to be discovered.  We may feel like the insight came from outside of us, as if the world is speaking to us in a language that we are just beginning to learn.

Fire Symbol

Top | Next: Guided Example

© 2008 Seth Miller | Site: Spirit Alchemy Design | Alchemical.org
Site map | Search this site