Alchemical Cycle Logo Master's Thesis:
The Elements as an Archetype of Transformation:
An Exploration of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire

| Table of Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Appendix A | Appendix B | Appendix C | References | Bibliography

Chapter 4 - The Theory of the Elements, cont.

The Elements as Mandala

Using the Elemental Mandala in an Earthy Way

Bits of EarthThe elemental mandala is an extremely diverse tool.  Its strength lies in its ability to illuminate the ways that our consciousness situates itself within the world and within itself.  In other words, the mandala can be used as a way for us to identify our present mode of consciousness, flexibly shift into adjacent modes, expand beyond our perceived limits to entirely novel modes, and finally integrate all of these modes into a completely new way of being that includes all of the modes in a dynamic evolution of our whole consciousness.  Using the elemental mandala can thus be a powerful tool for self-transformation.  Because using the elemental cycle is simultaneously a training of the potential modes of our consciousness, we can naturally ask how the elemental mandala can be applied to the using of the elemental mandala itself.   What does it look like to use the whole elemental mandala in an Earth, Water, Air, or Fire way, and what type of consciousness does each type of usage engender?

When we take up the elemental cycle in an Earth way, we are able to move through complete cycles, from Earth through Fire, in such a way that our consciousness gains information about the world, or about itself, which was previously hidden or unrevealed.  It essentially allows us to make lists of facts about the Earth, Water, Air, and Fire levels of the given object of attention.  In this way, the elemental mandala acts as a tool for classification and organization. 

When used like this, the elemental mandala provides not only information about the world, but also serves to structure our consciousness itself in a similar way; it trains and orders our consciousness so that it begins to more naturally perceive the elemental structure of the patterns in which it is embedded.  We hone our ability to dissect a phenomenon into pieces, to identify each piece according to the inner laws of the elemental cycle, and place each piece in its proper place according to the pattern.  The whole world becomes data for our ordering.

If we only take up the elemental cycle at an Earth level, then this ordering can become rigid and inflexible: everything becomes divisible into four according to a more or less predetermined arrangement, and whenever our consciousness turns towards a new phenomenon it cannot help but rely upon the same taxonomy.  We have the sense that the results of our application of the cycle either fit the scheme or they don’t; at this level we can have the feeling that the elemental cycle was applied correctly or incorrectly.

Working the elemental mandala in an Earth mode has the benefit of helping us make sense of the world, and can give us a feeling that the universe is well-ordered, and that our thinking can find a lawful foundation for its contents.  It thus helps alleviate the fear associated with darkness of unknowing, but in the long run provides little of value for the soul.  Indeed, such fears can in fact be exacerbated, as using the cycle in an Earth way can increase the likelihood in our consciousness for grasping, solidifying, uncompromising behaviors in which we stubbornly refuse to move beyond what appears to be the obvious ‘truth’.  Our consciousness becomes robotic, where a given input produces a singular output.  This type of thinking is rightfully recognized by Hoffmann as the mechanical.  It is the cold, scientific appraisal of fact, devoid of emotion and concerned with the details of ‘the truth’, a domain where logical thinking is the highest arbiter.

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