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

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Chapter 6 – Into the World: Dialogue and the Elemental Cycle

Basic Theory of Elemental Dialogue

Earth Communication: Informational

Dennis Klocek has linked the elements to the following modes of communication:



The Earth mode of communication is dominantly content-based, comprised of statements of fact which strongly indicate ‘how things are’.  The primary goal of Earth communication is to clarify the facts of a situation, to provide information, and to create a shared foundation upon which the further stages of communication develop.  The content of such communication generally takes a form that carries a sense of being undebateable, matter-of-fact, or unchangeable.  An Earth communication can seem to fall from above like a heavy weight, tearing through any subtler aspects of an exchange until it comes solidly to rest in consciousness like a foreign object, unmoving and careless of context.  Often when in the course of higher levels of communication an Earth moment occurs, the solidity of the Earth aspect at work in the speech halts the developing flow of meaning, even to the point of creating complete silence as the energy of the participants struggles to free itself from the sense of inevitability and lack of motion that infiltrate the conversational mood.

In other situations, as exchange of data, Earth communication can be extremely efficient, direct, and clear, as well as the least emotionally charged way of communicating.  Earth communication works best when it follows established channels, moving from the source to the destination without interruption or modification, and when the participants – specifically the receivers – are properly prepared.  Without preparation, Earth communications have a great potential to damage an exchange between participants by damming the contextual flow of meaning that normally constitutes the bulk of the interaction.  Earth moments (and luckily they do generally take the form of isolated moments) lack contextual relationship and sensitivity to the potential movements of a conversation, and ‘fall out’ of the movement like a precipitate out of a solution: visible crystallizations of aspects of consciousness which can no longer be held in solution. 

The primary response to Earth communications when in an unready state generally takes the form of reactions, which can follow any number of personally-determined avenues (which we could discuss from the perspective of the elemental cycle: a cold, factual Earth response, a more sensitive Water deflection or reorientation, an Airy confusion and complete recontextualizeation, or a Fiery retort, to name only one set of possibilities).  Preparation for receiving an Earth communication without reaction is a natural part of the process of communication, and happens when we are allowed to form a question.

In fact, the elemental cycle helps illuminate this process of what occurs in the asking of a question and why it works to mitigate the potentially negative aspects of an Earth communication.  When asking a question we begin with some set of facts, some underlying strata of information (Earth).  We process this information and connect it (Water) to other facts via a local contextualization, where some lack of perfect symmetry or communion between the facts acts like a negative space that draws our attention, calling out for resolution.  Into this space (Air) we formulate a question, which is like a vocalization of what the shape of this space looks like from the inside.  By getting to the Air state in this way, we set up an inner tension within ourselves that opens us up to potential new perspectives (Fire) and information, even when difficult to take.  In a very specific sense, any response to a question is ‘an Earth’, and the process of forming a question can thus create a buffer zone of attention around the topic through which ‘answers’ are eased into and integrated more easily with the whole of consciousness.

The strength of Earth communication lies in its ability to transmit factual details with the least amount of interpretation, spin, and emotion.  Scientific training is one framework through which an Earth communication style is developed, and the scientific method itself – inherited from the materialistic tradition of the West – holds the qualities of the Earth element as its highest goal: predictability, repeatability, precision, quantification (yes, that is a quality), and objectivity, to name only the most obvious.  Such qualities both typify Earth communications and offer a stylistic language, we could say a ‘mood’, that can be utilized consciously by a speaker.  Using the Earth element to communicate in this way is very difficult, however, particularly where it is most needed – in difficult, emotionally-charged situations – because as humans we are whole beings, and cannot usually isolate one element from the rest without much effort.  Commonly, Earth communication can go awry because of this inability to keep the ‘bare information’ separate from its emotional connotation, historical relations, or future potentials.  In such a case, some of these aspects from other elements are grandfathered into the Earth communication, whose ‘facts’ then become the unwitting carrier of higher layers of meaning which, because they are folded into the overt facts, become very difficult for the receiver to process effectively.  In this way, Earth-techniques can be appropriated – either consciously or unconsciously – as a psychological masquerade, a pretension to objectivity and clarity that lends a postured strength to an otherwise watery or airy state hiding insecurities, additional contextual information, alternate/simultaneous agendas, and/or fear.

Quite often the impurity of an Earth communication remains just below the level of overt recognition, because its Earthy shell – which on the outside seems like a mere statement of fact – is so hard to penetrate.  Our lack of ability as hearers to mine through the surface of an Earth communication that isn’t pure may leave us with a sour feeling on the inside, while on the outside we find we have to capitulate to the explicit aspect of the communication for lack of anything better to hold on to in our consciousness, even though we feel something funny going on;  we simply “take someone’s word for it.”  On the other hand, if we do find ourselves able to penetrate through the Earth-shell of a communication to find only the bare facts present before us, we gain a sense of confidence that is built out of a strengthened feeling of evidence that is otherwise hard to come by.  This is the kind of experience that can easily be had in geometry, logic, or mathematics.

In order to have healthy Earth communication, the task of the speaker is to be straightforward, impartial, complete, and precise.  The task of the hearer in Earth communication is to simply recognize the presented facts without reaction or judgment, but with distinction, and to request clarifying information if needed.

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