All about the 5 Elements

Over the next few days we will explore the topics of the elements. Most assume that there are only four elements but in fact there are actually five, how many did you know of? Read on to find out more about the individual elements and how they affect our daily lives,
Today we look at the five elements in general and also look at the origins of the Elements.

The Greeks proposed the existence of five basic elements. Of these, four were the physical elements—fire, air, water, and earth—of which the entire world is composed. Alchemists eventually associated four triangular symbols to represent these elements.
The fifth element, which goes by a variety of names, is more rarefied than the four physical elements. Some call it Spirit. Others call it Aether or Quintessence, which literally translates to”the fifth element” in Latin.
In traditional Western occult theory, the elements are hierarchical: Spirit, fire, air, water, and earth—with the first elements being more spiritual and perfect and the last elements being more material and basic. Some modern systems, such as Wicca, view the elements as equal.
Each of the elements has a specific quality that can help us in life. It is important for one to search for their own personal element. Obviously, in astrology we already given an element to work with. This provides insight into our personality and where we originate from in terms of our goal. Only a few of us choose to live as a hermit in isolation for example. These are the choices we make. Therefore, many spend time with family and friends so that we can get to know them in a better light. We also live in the tremendous world of stress, we put many goals on ourselves and also ambitions and targets. Understanding your element better help you make sense of the world. This can also aid in helping one to understand what makes them happy in life.
Most literature that is magical in nature refers to the elements as quite a mystical process. Normally in articles the elements are not presented in a simple manner. There are many different spells and rituals that can be carried out using the four elements: earth, fire, water and air. This magic is also a natural process. Just as we walk through a field of flowers, we can associate magic with the elements that are natural as the earth.
If we look at energy in regards to magic this is created from one universal point. There is much more magical energy that exists in the four elements that help energy come through in rituals. Talking of this energy this is where the Earth energy is created. If you look at a beautiful river, field filled with flowers you can feel the energy within the settings.
Those that practice the occult give off the same type of energy as those natural objects.
This is where we understand the Earth’s energy gives us a point where we can join our own personal magic with our universe. This is conducted through a range of rituals that is designed to absorb the earth element as a power. Earth “energy” itself is divided into the four main elements, as mentioned above. No magic in life is conducted without a goal in mind. This could be from losing those extra pounds to finding the dream house. There are all types of goals connected to magic but most of them are not impossible.

Before we examine the elements themselves, it is important to understand the qualities, orientations, and correspondences that are associated with the elements. Each element is connected with aspects in each of these, and it helps correlate their relationship to one another.

Elemental Qualities

In classical elemental systems, each element has two qualities, and it shares each quality with one other element.


Each element is either warm or cold, and this corresponds with a male or female gender. This is a strongly categorised system, where male qualities are things like light, warmth, and activity, and female qualities are dark, cold, passive, and receptive.
The orientation of the triangle is determined by warmth or coldness, male or female. Male, warm elements point upward, ascending toward the spiritual realm. Female, cold elements point downward, descending into the earth.


The second pair of qualities is moistness or dryness. Unlike the warm and cold qualities, moist and dry qualities do not immediately correspond to other concepts.

Opposing Elements

Because each element shares one of its qualities with one other element, that leaves one element completely unrelated.
For example, air is moist like water and warm like fire, but it has nothing in common with earth. These opposing elements are on opposite sides of the diagram and are distinguished by the presence or absence of the crossbar within the triangle:
Air and earth are opposites and have the crossbar
Water and fire are also opposites and lack the crossbar.

The Hierarchy of Elements

There is traditionally a hierarchy of elements, although some modern schools of thought have abandoned this system. The lower elements in the hierarchy are more material and physical, with the higher elements becoming more spiritual, more rarefied, and less physical.
That hierarchy can be traced through this diagram. Earth is the lowest, most material element. Circling clockwise from earth you get water, and then air and then fire, which is the least material of the elements.

The Elemental Pentagram

The pentagram has represented many diverse meanings over the centuries. Since at least the Renaissance, one of its associations is with the five elements. The pentagram is a five pointed star which is thought to originate from Metatron’s Cube, a sacred geometry symbol that is universally used in spiritual healing and practises for protection and expansion. In fact, our own Unique Soul Healing Program uses Metatron’s Cube in its process.


Traditionally, there is a hierarchy among the elements ranging from the most spiritual and rarefied to the least spiritual and most material. This hierarchy determines the placement of elements around the pentagram.
Starting with spirit, the highest element, we descend to fire, then follow the lines of the pentagram over to air, across to water, and down to earth, the lowest and most material of the elements. The final line between earth and spirit completes the geometric shape.


The issue of a pentagram being point-up or point-down only gained relevance in the 19th-century and has everything to do with the arrangement of elements. A point-up pentagram came to symbolise spirit ruling over the four physical elements, while a point-down pentagram symbolised spirit being subsumed by matter or descending into matter.
Since then, some have simplified those associations to represent good and evil. This is generally not the position of those who commonly work with point-down pentagrams, and is often not the position of those associating themselves with point-up pentagrams either.


The colours used above are those associated with each element.

Elemental Correspondences

Ceremonial occult systems traditionally depend on systems of correspondences: collections of items that are all associated in some way with the desired goal. While the types of correspondences are nearly endless, associations between elements, seasons, time of day, elements, moon phases, and directions have become fairly standardised in the West. These are frequently the basis for additional correspondences.
The Hermetic Order categorised some of these correspondences in the 19th-century. Most notable here are the cardinal directions.
To the south are the warmer climates, and thus is associated with fire. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the west. The north is cold and formidable, a land of the earth but sometimes not a lot else.

Daily, Monthly, and Yearly Cycles

Cycles are important facets of many occult systems. Looking at daily, monthly, and yearly natural cycles, we find periods of growth and dying, of fullness and barrenness.
Fire is the element of fullness and life, and it is closely associated with the Sun. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that noon and summer would be associated with fire. By that same logic, the full moon should also be in the same category.
Earth is in the opposite direction as fire and therefore corresponds with midnight, winter, and the new moon. While these things might represent barrenness, more often they are representative of potential and transformation; the point where the old gives way to the new; the empty fertility readies to feed new creations.
Air is the element of new beginnings, youth, increase, and creativity. As such, it is associated with spring, the waxing moon, and sunrise. Things are growing warmer and brighter, while plants and animals give birth to a new generation.
Water is the element of emotion and wisdom, particularly the wisdom of age. It represents a time past the peak of livelihood, moving toward the end of the cycle.


Fire is associated with strength, activity, blood, and life-force. It is also seen as highly purifying and protective, consuming impurities and driving back the darkness.
Fire is traditionally seen as the most rarefied and spiritual of the physical elements because of its masculine properties which were superior to female properties It also lacks physical existence, produces light, and has a transformative power when it comes in contact with more physical material.
Qualities: Warm, Dry
Gender: Masculine (active)
Elemental: Salamander (Here referring to a mythological lizard creature which could burst into flames)
Direction: South
Colour: Red
Magical Tool: Sword, athame, dagger, sometimes wand
Planets: Sol (Sun), Mars
Zodiac signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Season: Summer
Time of Day: Noon


Air is the element of intelligence, creativity, and beginnings. Largely intangible and without permanent form, air is an active, masculine element, superior to the more material elements of water and earth.
Qualities: Warm, Moist
Gender: Masculine (active)
Elemental: Sylphs (Invisible beings)
Direction: East
Colour: Yellow
Magical Tool: Wand, sometimes sword, dagger or athame
Planets: Jupiter
Zodiac Signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Season: Spring
Time of Day: Morning, Sunrise


Water is the element of emotion and the unconscious, as opposed to the conscious intellectualism of air.
Water is one of two elements that have a physical existence that can interact with all of the physical senses. Water is still considered less material (and thus superior) to earth because it possesses more motion and activity than earth.
Qualities: Cold, Moist
Gender: Feminine (passive)
Elemental: Undines (water-based nymphs)
Direction: West
Colour: Blue
Magical Tool: Cup
Planets: Moon, Venus
Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Season: Fall
Time of Day: Sunset


Earth is the element of stability, groundedness, fertility, materiality, potential, and stillness. Earth can also be an element of beginnings and endings, or death and rebirth, as life comes from the ground and then decomposes back into the earth after death.
Qualities: Cold, Dry
Gender: Feminine (passive)
Elemental: Gnomes
Direction: North
Colour: Green
Magical Tool: Pentacle
Planets: Saturn
Zodiac Signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Season: Winter
Time of Day: Midnight


The element of spirit does not have the same arrangements of correspondences as the physical elements since spirit is not physical. Various systems may associate planets, tools, and so forth to it, but such correspondences are far less standardised than those of the other four elements.
The element of spirit goes by several names. The most common are spirit, ether or aether, and quintessence, which is Latin for “fifth element.”
There is also no standard symbol for spirit, although circles are common. Eight-spoked wheels and spirals are also sometimes used to represent spirit.
Spirit is a bridge between the physical and the spiritual. In cosmological models, the spirit is the transitory material between the physical and celestial realms. Within the microcosm, the spirit is the bridge between body and soul.
Direction: Above, Below, Within
Colour: Violet, Orange, White

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