The four elements of earth, air, fire, and water are commonly used in witchcraft, from spellcrafting to setting up an altar, and can be found in astrology, tarot, and nature in general. The pentacle introduces an additional element, ether. But what do they mean and how can we connect with them?
The characteristics of the earth element are groundedness, stability, structure, and growth. We can see this when we observe nature, feeling the stable ground and observing the structured cycles of plant growth.
The astrological signs that are represented by earth are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. In tarot, the suit of pentacles corresponds with earth and represents material things, like possessions and wealth, physical things we can see and feel.
We know we are connected to the element of earth when we feel safe and connected to life, at peace with whatever happens.
If you don’t feel so connected right now, here are some simple rituals you can try to connect with the element of earth:
- Grounding: Essentially, this is putting your bare feet on the earth. Much like the energy of electronics, your own energy can be sent down into the earth so it doesn’t overwhelm you.
- Take a walk: being in nature is more than grounding, you can also observe the earth around you. Touch some plants and reflect on the phase of their current cycle and what it means.
- Meditate: this is a good option if you are unable to physically be out in nature. Imagine roots coming out from the base of your spine and rooting into the earth. Feel the stability of the ground beneath you. If you can do this outdoors, even better!
- Garden: indoor or outdoor works equally well. If you can’t observe plant life outside, bring it inside! Putting our hands in the soil has a similar effect to putting our feet in the dirt. In my book, dirty hands and feet equal a successful day!
- Learn about plant spirits: Research the spiritual meaning of plants and their magickal properties. If you take a nature walk, use your intuition to tell you what magickal properties each plant you see might have, or meditate in nature on the meaning of the plants around you. Maybe you will feel compelled to communicate with them. Open yourself up to the world around you and anything is possible!
Air is the element related to springtime and the morning dawn hours before daylight appears.
The astrological signs that are represented by air are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. In tarot, the suit of swords corresponds with air and represents logic, ideas, intellect, and communication.
Since it is felt but not seen, air is a bit more difficult to represent with a physical object. Wands, athames, and feathers are the most commonly accepted representations of the element of air, and should be positioned in the east on your altar or when casting a circle.
Some ways you can connect with the element of air:
- Practice breathwork. This could be your traditional yogic 3-parts breath or it could be box breathing, or as Mat Auryn calls it in his book, Psychic Witch, elemental breath. Even if, for you, this simply means breathing deeply and mindfully, this is a way you can connect with the element of air.
- Learn something! Since the air element represents ideas and intellect, learning something new can help you connect with this element. Try some things related to thought and spirituality, like journaling, reading, and tarot.
- Burn some herbs or incense. This may not be the first thing you think of for air, but the smoke these things make is very much connected to air, as is the sense of smell. Since air is mostly invisible, seeing the tendrils of smoke and breathing in the aroma is a wonderful way to connect with the element of air.
- Play some music! This element is not only related to the sense of smell but also sound. Like air, sound waves cannot be seen but travel invisibly. You can simply listen to already composed music or make your own if you’re musically talented. If you have something like bells or a singing bowl, these are also a great option!
As you can imagine from the heat it gives, fire corresponds with summertime and direction of the south, and to me, it conjures memories of long, sunny days and bonfires after dark. The astrological signs that are represented by fire are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. In tarot, the suit of wands corresponds with fire.
Fire is fascinating to think about, it’s one of those parts of nature that both sustain life and take life. Especially for the ancient people, fire was essential to keep warm and safely eat food. It keeps you from freezing and starving, but can also fatally burn you if not controlled.
It is also associated with the sun, which in the same way we can’t live without but too much of it can be harmful. In this way, the element of fire teaches us about balance and how to respect and live alongside nature. It represents life force energy itself, but also death rituals, so it’s the ultimate element of transformation and rebirth.
Some ways you can connect with the element of fire:
- Create something! Fire rules passion, vitality, and creativity. Creating something, especially something you’re passionate about instantly connects you to the element of fire.
- Light a few candles. The nights are still long this time of year and lighting candles represents the warmth and light to come. You can gaze into the candle flame to try your hand at a bit of pyromancy.
- Do a burning spell. Write on a paper what it is you wish to release and burn it. Fire represents transformation, so as you watch it consume what you’ve released, let the flames bring to mind what letting go of the old is making room for in your life now.
- Dance! This may seem strange as a way to connect to fire, but this element is all about constant motion. Cardiovascular activity is a great way to get the element of fire moving throughout your body.
Water is associated with the emotions so you can connect by honoring your intuition, following your heart, and practicing compassion. Having a crying session can be a therapeutic way to connect with this element because sometimes we just need a good cry!
The astrological signs that are represented by water are Scorpio, Cancer, and Pisces. In tarot, the suit of cups corresponds with water.
On your altar or when casting a circle, your representation of water should be positioned in the West. The liminal times of day just before dark, sunset and dusk, is the ideal time to connect with this element.
Some ways you can connect with the element of water:
- Take a ritual bath. As you sink into the bath, let the water cleanse, nourish, and refresh you. If you want to make it extra special, add a splash of moon water, especially if it was collected when the moon was in a water sign. If you don’t have a bath, no worries! You can always use your shower to visualize the water cleansing the negativity and washing it off your body and down the drain, refreshing your energy.
- Use color magick with blue crystals or using seashells. You can even use these as an addition to your ritual bath. As always, make sure to research that your crystals are safe for water. My favorite crystal to connect with the element of water is Larimar because it is like looking into the ocean! The name Larimar is derived from the Celtic word for the element of water, Lar.
- Practice intuitive moon magick. The moon is associated with water as its native sign is Cancer, so intuitive moon magick is a great way to connect. The phase of the moon that corresponds with water is the waning moon and of the triple goddess, the wise crone.
- Use magick in the everyday. One of my favorite things about witchcraft is that even mundane tasks can be magick. Set your intention to connect with the element of water when doing chores like washing dishes, mopping the floor, or other chores that involve water. Let yourself go into a meditative state and think about how the physical water connects to the spiritual element. Taking a walk in nature while it is raining or visiting a body of water near you is a way you can both ground and connect to the water element.
Finally, for our last element, we have ether, or spirit, if you subscribe to the pentagram element model. Ether is the most mystical element, both inside and outside us. It represents the Divine and the divinity inside each of us. Spirit is the bridge that connects the physical realm to the spiritual.
The way we think of the spirit element today is rooted in the Greek thinking of Aether as the fifth element instead of the four alchemical elements. Traditionally, the elements were thought to have a hierarchy, with Spirit at the top, but more modern neopagan religions believe them all to be equal. In ancient Greece, it was literally the air the gods breathed.
Spirit can be represented on the altar by displaying a statue of the god and/or goddess of your choosing, but mostly it is something we have within us, seeing our body as the temple with Spirit inside. Some other symbols often connected with Spirit are spirals and rainbows.
Here are a few ways to connect with Ether, also known as Spirit:
- Invoke your god and/or goddess. This can be done by researching their correspondences and leaving offerings or burning appropriate incense, for example. If you find a chant you like, you can use this, too, or meditate on this deity, inviting the message they want to deliver to you.
- Practice divination! This is one of the best ways to connect to the spiritual realm. It helps you bypass your conscious mind that sometimes blocks us from hearing subconscious messages. Whether your medium is tarot, pendulum, or runes, calling on spirit or a specific deity can help you connect with this element while practicing divination.
- Keep a dream journal. We often receive messages in our sleep that we soon forget if we don’t write them down. When we sleep, our conscious mind is not activated, making us more open to receive messages from Spirit. To interpret the dreams, familiarize yourself with common symbolism and interpret them intuitively.
- Draw, paint, or color a mandala. This is a type of meditation that comes from the Buddhist and Hindu practice of Tantra. Mandalas gained popularity in the New Age movement after being introduced by Carl Jung as a way to explore the subconscious and these days, you can find them just about anywhere, including adult coloring books.
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