Elements and Forces

By Phil Hansford | July 25, 2001

The Ancients divided the world into four basic principles or *elements* — earth, water, fire, and air. That viewpoint has mostly changed with advances of science, but the four elements are still accepted in magick, for they are more closely linked with emotions, the human psyche, and with nature than are modern explanations of the world. These *magical elements* are also of some importance in astrology. Many occultists think of the magical elements as forces, or as *qualities* of energy; especially within the astral world. Each element has a symbol and colour. (Common symbols are — fire: a triangle pointing up; air: a triangle pointing up and with a horizontal line through the middle of it; water: a triangle pointing down; earth: a triangle pointing down and with a horizontal line through the middle of it.) Colours of the elements are — earth: brown and green; water: blue; fire: red; air: yellow…The Eastern tattvic system uses different symbols and colours. (The tattvic symbols are briefly described later on in this course.) The elements are often used in magick ritual.

Magick sees relationships between things. These relationships are called ‘correspondences’. Although magical correspondences are not literally equal to one another, you can think of them that way (such as gold equals sun). Tables of these relationships, called ‘Correspondence Tables’, are available (an important one is Crowley’s ’777′). Thus one thing or symbol can be used to suggest another. This is important in magick, for the magician may surround himself with as many appropriate correspondences as he can to vividly affect the senses; thus making his magical contact with the inner planes more lucid.

The magical elements have correspondences with the tarrot cards as the four suits. The four quarters (directions of the universe as used in magick ritual) and the Archangels also correspond with these same elements –

Element         Suit            Quarter         Archangel
=======         ====            =======         =========
earth           pentacles       north           Uriel
water           cups            west            Gabriel
fire            wands           south           Michael
air             swords          east            Raphael

Astrological signs also correspond with the elements. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are earth signs. Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are water signs. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are fire signs. Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are air signs.

Elementals

The magical elements are said to be peopled by spirits and mythological entities called elementals or nature spirits. These are grouped into four main categories –

Gnome (earth)   Undine (water)  Salamander (fire)  Sylph (air)
=============   ==============  =================  ===========
dwarfs          nymphs          djjin (genies)     fairies
elves           tritons                            storm angels
brownies        mermaids
hobgoblins      mermen
leprechauns     sirens
harpies

Elementals are usually only visible to those with clairvoyant sight and are more likely to be seen at night in the mountains or country away from cities — especially if you are tired or sleepy. Although elementals exist naturally, it is also possible to create one which will exist for a limited time — no elemental has immortality. A created elemental is called an ‘artificial elemental’.

To the Ancients, elementals were the physical explanation of the universe. However, some contemporary occultists see them only as symbols for forces and otherwise not ‘real’ at all. Another word sometimes used for elemental is ‘familiar’ (usually in medieval witchcraft); the term is ambiguous, as it might merely be an ordinary household pet such as a dog or cat.

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Yin Yang

Chinese philosophy and acupuncture talk of yin yang. This is the idea of polarity, or opposite pairs, as shown –

YIN                     YANG
===                     ====
water                   fire
contraction             expansion
cold                    hot
feminine                masculine
moon                    sun
negative                positive
passive                 active
ebb                     flow
wane                    wax

The list could go on. In Chinese literature it is quite long. Some occultists suggest everything can be similarly arranged into related opposite pairs.

Simple Magick

Here is a simple magical technique you may wish to try. It is a variation of affirmation, which was discussed in an earlier lesson…To help you to achieve your goal (magical or otherwise), find a word or short phase which sums up what it is that you want to accomplish. Write the word (or phrase) down 10 times each day until you achieve success.

Review Questions

  1. List the four elements.
  2. What is an elemental?
  3. What are correspondences?

Book List

  • William Britten, Art Magic (long out of print, but in some libraries).
  • Pete Carrol, Liber Null.
  • Wing-Tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy.
  • Manly Hall, Unseen Forces.

========
Phil Hansford, 4/88 Mysteria (818) 353-8891 (modem)
P.O. Box 83 Tujunga, CA 91042

Copyright (c) 1988 by Phil Hansford. This article is licenced for free non-commercial distribution only.

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