The Origin of the Four Elements
In the beginning of All There Is there was some sort of “Big Bang” or event that got the whole evolutionary ball rolling. This 'genesis factor' was only a fraction of a second, a single inconceivable flash, but out of that event two fundamental forces suddenly appeared - gravity and electromagnetism. These forces would, from that point forward, govern all of existence.
Fast forward vast numbers of years and we find that gravity and electromagnetism have caused gases to swirl, spin and condense themselves into stars, galaxies and eventually planets. At some point, things work out so that hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, etc. became present in just the right amounts for life to develop on a small planet (our earth) circling a medium type and size star (our sun).
Fast forward again to the time of our very earliest ancestors and think how in awe they must have been of certain natural forces they witnessed around them and were subject to on a daily basis; things like turbulent seas, stormy skies and a blazing sun. Eventually, through this direct observation, our ancestors came to believe that everything in existence was created from one or a combination of four particular and naturally occuring elements - Fire, Water, Air and Earth. They might also have wondered about another mysterious element that was the ‘spark’ or animating spirit present in all living things.
It was the ancient Greeks who were the first to develop a theoretical system based on this idea that Fire, Water, Air and Earth made up all created matter. They even used the four elements to describe different types of personalities, ailments and temperaments that people had. This concept was to become the cornerstone of philosophy, science and medicine for over two thousand years.
At its most basic level elemental theory refers to the physical properties and attributes of the elements, e.g. water is moist, fire is hot, etc. But the theory also has correspondences on the astral, emotional and mental levels. In other words, the power of the elements exists in our subtle realms as well as in our outer physical one. Fire, Water, Air and Earth may be the physical manifestations of immense universal powers but through their symbolism there is also a path inwards that can help us gain deeper understanding of how they operate at the other levels.
Think of Fire, Water, Air and Earth as the “forces behind the form” or universal templates. Each of these elements has a distinct energy and certain characteristics that set them apart from each other. Yet, at the same time they can combine or form relationships and manifest as something completely different ... like a tree or a human being. When we apply this concept to ourselves we see that Fire can refer to our passion, Water is present in our blood, Wind is our breath and Earth is our bones. Each of the Elements has a completely unique function and differs substantially in energy and vibration. They are also contantly inter-relating with one another meaning all are contained within each part. Therefore within each elemental sphere (and human) there exists a whole Circle of the Elements!
It seems our ancient ancestors were actually on to something because one way or another, we deal with Fire, Water, Air and Earth on a daily basis – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The Greek's elemental theory may seem somewhat quaint now but the ability of the elements to work together and complement each other in a harmonious manner can be an incredibly useful model for helping us find balance in our own modern lives.
Are you curious to learn more? Drop by my booth this weekend at A Weekend in the Woods outdoor wellness event where my new Elemental Series of paintings will be on display for the first time. And what better place than outside in the actual elements! The market place is free to come in and browse. For ticket holders I will be presenting an intro to my new workshop "Symbol Quest" on Sunday but if you can't make the show I am running an in-depth version of this workshop Saturday, October 18 in my studio at the Alton Mill.
To finish off the summer I will be making my own quest to Grail Springs Centre for Wellbeing in Bancroft the last week of August to facilitate a 5 day retreat. Check out the details here if you are tempted to join me. My fall workshop schedule is also now online or you can check the links in this newsletter to see what's coming up. New offerings include a fun seasonal workshop for the Autumn Equinox, "Symbol Quest" where you can discover how to work with the elements in your own life, and another new workshop Visioning the Chakras – a creative mini spa day for your soul!
Wishing you much bounty and many blessings as we round out the summer.
May you enjoy the dance!
Artist & Healing Arts Practitioner
Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...