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

Practical Communication through the Elements

Earth Characteristics and Techniques

You can recognize when you are in a situation of Earth communication when almost no questions are being asked and the most common utterances take the form of statements, often with a downward tonal inflection at the end indicating finality and rigidity.  If questions are asked, they are generally rhetorical in nature and are used as statements.  Eye contact will tend to be either non-existent or lifeless, and a sense of apathy, unconcern, or complete emotionlessness may be present. Responses to statements usually take the form of one-syllable answers, or are absent altogether, as there is little need for any kind of actual back-and-forth when communicating in Earth – just enough to indicate ‘message received’.  This creates a feeling of a lack of flow, and you may also feel like the actual presence of the other person is irrelevant to the information given, and that it could just as easily have been sent via an impersonal medium such as email, a text message, or a memo.  It may in fact feel like no interaction is occurring at all, or that you have no recourse or ability to respond as information seems to move in one way only.  The language of Earth communications can often take an impersonal form even when everyone knows it is coming from a real person, for example, “A decision has been reached” rather than “We have all come to a decision”, or “Company policy states…” instead of “I would love to help you but I have to adhere to company policy” and so forth.

Earth communication in daily life happens in very short, isolated moments, as if contained in little capsules that stand somewhat independently from the interactions of the higher elements which take up the bulk of communication (particularly Water).  Once we start noticing the Earth aspects of communication these little capsules will suddenly seem to proliferate, and we may even start to see that every single interaction is full of Earth aspects.  This is a consequence of the fact that what manifests in accordance with a higher element includes each lower element.  In other words, although the Earth aspects of communication are present at all higher levels as the foundation upon which these higher levels operate, the Earth aspects are also transformed and integrated into these higher aspects, so that we can speak of “Water communication” and so on with relative distinction and clarity while still recognizing that each lower element is still present, although in a transformed way.

Phrases and keywords that typify Earth communication:

“That is…”, “This is…”, “The fact of the matter is…”, “Clarify for me…”, “Yes”, “No”, “Mmm-hmm”, “Right”, “Okay”, “Whatever”

Because of our generally persistent attachments to personal aspects of communication, it can actually be somewhat difficult to maximize and/or move into Earth communication, as most natural exchanges will tend already to move into the Watery realm.  To keep working with Earth, try to restrict your verbalizations to statements of fact.  Most importantly, try to keep the tone and style of your communication neutral, clear, and as non-reactive as possible.  Point out details.  Make a list.  Take notes.  Ask questions only to clarify or gather specific information.  Be succinct.  Tackle one thing at a time.  Don’t stray from the topic.  If things start to heat up, move for a short break and wait for things to cool a bit.  Being prepared and oriented is important for streamlined Earth communication – get the facts beforehand.

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