Overview of the Elements



Earth is the traditional antithesis of air, and indeed is a very different element. One of the heavy materials, earth is, as one would guess, bound to the physical world. It is, in fact, the element most deeply bound to the body.

Air is the detached mental element; in keeping with its position as traditional opposition, earth is physical, grounded, and involved. Earth believes in things it can touch, contact, and experience. It is very much bound up in the world that air generally only observes. It keeps in touch with things literally by contact. The substantial, the real, the solid these are the areas that Earth deals in.

Earth is also a very sensual element. This is in all ways of considering the word for earth is very attached to the senses. Touch is, of course, its particular realm, however it is hardly the sole thing that earth incorporates. All things seen, heard, tasted, smelled these are as much a part of earth's realm as things felt. It is, if such a thing is possible, the most hedonistic of elements, if only because its focus is sensation.

Traditionally, earth is the element of material things. (In a Tarot deck, earth is pentacles or coins, representing success or wealth.) In addition to hearty physicality, earth governs the area of ordinary objects. Air's kingdom is knowledge, earth's is items, wealth, and physical sensation. Earth is the element that will believe things it can see, feel, sense, touch, or otherwise experience.

Earth is a calm element, in general. It is not changeable or in any sort of flux, rather a stable resting point. The physical universe grounds in earth, and this is a fixed point around which many things can be built. It is patient in that it is fully capable of waiting who can outwait a stone? However, its persistent interest in sensation and the physical world may make it seem unwilling to wait.

This hedonistic tendency is occasionally a problem when taken too far. Too much earth can lead to a disregard of other things in the full-powered pursuit of more sensation. This is occasionally the root of self-destructive cycles or addictions.


Air is one of the light elements. This means that it is not necessarily involved with anything physically present, and, as it happens, air prefers it that way. This element is distant, thoughtful, reflective.

This is the element of the mind, of rationality, of pure logic. It keeps its distance from things so as to consider them better; this gives it a unique sense of perspective. On the other hand, air is often an outsider. It is generally not involved in what happens, it is merely an observer. Occasionally, it will get engaged in a purely intellectual sense, without the deep emotional or physical commitment that personalities of other types look for. After a time, air will sort of drift off, having completed its prime mental responsibilities.

Additionally, air cannot be confronted directly. This is like trying to attack the wind it does not work. Air will either have a range of perfectly logical defenses against a direct confrontation, or it will simply back off, using its perspective as a guide, and come in from a different, and often unexpected angle.

This is probably the most versatile of elements, because it sees the full expanse of options. Its limits, though, mean that most of what it sees it will set aside, because there are other, more reasonable, and more efficient ways for things to be done. An added difficulty comes when air must make decisions, for it will often choose the most logical or efficent answer, often without regard to the other consequences. It is frequently seen as cold and calculating, because often it will cut its losses and go for the easiest and most obviously effective solution.

The anger of an air is something that is very subtly dangerous. As opposed to other sorts of anger, air remains completely and utterly calm. That same dispassion and perspective serves an air well as a perfect general in whatever battle the person chooses to pursue; lines of attack and defense are something beyond obvious, they are instinctual.

Air is also patient, in a strange way. It will not wait out a project that needs time to finish. Instead, it will go on to any of another of other things that need to be done, returning to the original activity to check on it until it is finished. Rather than enduring dedication to a particular goal, air has any of a number of things that it could be doing at any moment.

The detachment that is the greatest strength of the air is, however, its greatest weakness. Without a certain amount of balance, people who have air as a major portion of their personalities can become completely detached and dispassionate, and alienate themselves from their friends. A solitary outlook can become reclusive, and a healthy sense of distance can become an uncrossable chasm, without mediation.


Fire is raw power. Fire is the great creator and the great destroyer. It can be the blacksmith's forge, the rampaging forest fire, the gentle warmth of the sun. Fire is very difficult to pin down.

This is the great flux element, the element of energy. It has even less physical form than air; it is pure an unadulterated in what it does. This is a force unmitigated by purpose; it needs channeling lest it become something completely chaotic and destructive. Despite its lack of form, it is far more involved in things than air fire cannot exist without some sort of substance to burn, to exert itself through air is a thing entirely to itself.

Fire requires activity, projects, something to do, at all times. A fire unfed will burn out and turn into a sullen, angry thing, that might well explode into a massive flame if given the opportunity again. It is unpredictable and changeable to the extreme.

This is the element of passions of all sorts it does not particularly matter to the element what it cares about, but it must have something to follow at all times. It is infinitely energetic and resourceful when it is set onto a purpose, and when that purpose is complete can often pick another one seemingly at random and conquer that with the same force of will.

Fire is also immensely mercurial. Its moments of passion and energy can flip from one subject to another without seeming purpose or method. Instead of always seeing a concept through to the end, fire will work in short bursts, as inspirations strike, and then abandon the concept, sometimes for incredible lengths of time, to pursue other flashes.

It is often seen as an angry element; this comes from those who have witnessed its explosions rather than its moments of creation. Fire is often destructive; when it is well-channeled, this is the necessary purging of the old things to make way for the new. However, it will occasionally get out of control, or follow a passion too far, and therefore do more damage than it meant. Even in these cases, however, the result may not be so much wanton destruction but rather a "trial by fire" that forges whatever was damaged into something stronger.

Its greatest flaw is this irrationality, however, and the destruction that occasionally follows. People with a great deal of fire are often known as temperamental, as well as occasionally dangerous. They are quick to anger, more often than not; however, unless truly provoked, they are just as frequently quick to forget whatever it was that hurt them and start off on a new project.


Water is the element of emotion and fluidity. Like fire, it is a flux element, one that is very easily changeable. It is frequently seen as moody or mercurial.

Water feels everything deeply. Nothing loves more strongly, hates more fiercely, exists with more essential feeling than water. While fire is given over to grand passions and activity, water is involved with the tangled and confused peaks and chasms of emotion. While as passionate as fire, its duration is greater, which gives it an attitude of greater seeming calm. Fire will be carried through adversity by pure energy; water avoids it, its sensitivity to pain making it flow around such situations.

This element is also quite changeable, though with less spark than fire. It is very hard to face and deal with it tends to pour out between one's fingers. Emotions are highly elusive things, and often, as soon as they are figured out, change into something else.

There are quite a few myths of heroes of various sorts confronting river-gods. These gods, when seized, will turn into any of a vast number of things serpents, trees, ferocious creatures, even breaths of wind in order to escape the clutches of whoever has grabbed them. Water is very like these old river-gods, in that it will rarely stick to anything in a predictable manner. Instead, when confronted with an obstacle, it will split into rivulets and go around it, rejoining itself quite unharmed on the other side.

Water's moods are mercurial, changing, and completely unpredictable. They might be light one moment and dark another, but whatever they are at this particular instant, they are to incredible depth.

Amazingly enough, water is also a reclusive element like air, it can exist happily on its own. Many situations simply get flowed around, where an earth would bull through or a fire blast down. It settles into the easiest niches, filling them perfectly, and avoiding obstruction.


Ether is the most difficult of elements to quantify. It is, in essence, a union of the four 'common' elements, and is very rare in its pure form. As the representative of that union, being spirit, it contains aspects of the other elements without being them, and is a rather difficult subject to get a grip upon.

Ether is old. This is one of the prime things to remember about it. It has evolved from the other four in equal parts, and therefore has the gathered wisdom of time behind it. At the same point, it outside the timestream. Ether is the aspect of the elemental wheel that has achieved the Buddhist Nirvana it is completely beyond the world, and therefore unbound by it. In this way ether achieves what air aspires to a perfect point of view from which to contemplate.

This distance and thoughtful perspective grants ether a particular form of creation. From its timeless place within the psyche, it can conceive of something in its entirety, and then can translate that into the actual. While other elements must build up from the beginnings, ether can often see the fullness of what it is trying to do all in one flash of insight. It has the full creative power of fire, without the destructive impulses that go with that element.

Even though it is in this elemental Nirvana, however, ether is still attached to the physical world. It has aspects of the heavy elements as well, that keep it from severing its connections completely and building itself a new universe. Its physicality has become something deeply spiritual, something that can transcend mere concrete reality while earth is attracted to the senses of living for their own sake, ether touches things because they, as it, are part of the whole, and must be experienced to be appreciated.

From water, ether has drawn a certain fluidity and clarity. Ether's strength is a clear, mobile perspective, granted by experience. It is fully capable of realizing emotions and living them to their fullest; however, it will do that with a certain sense of control and reason. It has made its youthful mistakes, and learned the merits of caution.

However, ether will rarely act. Its balance is a delicate thing, and one that must be carefully maintained. If ether moves in any way precipitously, the shock of the action is liable to jar it into its component elements. Because of this, ether is often more of an observer than air, as it chooses not to move at all rather than risk its own dissolution.


Elements: Combinations
Moon
Index