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What Are The Elements?

Written by Alauna Whelan


An element is defined as a part or aspect of something abstract, especially one that is essential or characteristic or each of more than one hundred substances that cannot be chemically interconverted or broken down into simpler substances and are primary constituents of matter.

In simpler terms, the elements make up everything that is essential to our world. Each one acts as a bucket or container that we can more easily define, understand, and therefore harness.

There are five elements, four main elements and a fifth element that both transcends and weaves the other four together.

alchemical symbol for air element

Air represents our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. It is a new inspiration. It is always moving, making it difficult to grasp. It is intangible.

The element of air is associated with the season of spring. It is the seed waiting to be planted.

In astrology, it is associated with the signs of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. The planets that rule those signs are mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Saturn.

In tarot, air is the suit of swords, representing mental energy and the ability to change directions swiftly.

Air can be cutting, just like the wind but it also provides clarity and discernment.

alchemical symbol for fire element

Fire represents our passions, ambition, and drive. It is primal energy. Fire is warm and energetic. It is expansive.

The element of fire is associated with the season of summer. It is the shoot breaking free of the seed pod.

In astrology, it is associated with the signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. The planets that rule those signs are Mars, the Sun, and Jupiter.

In tarot, fire is the suit of wands, representing magic, inspiration, and willpower. Fire can be explosive and burn, but it also provides determination, creativity, and transformation.

alchemical symbol for water element

Water represents our intuition, feelings, and emotions. It is fluid but fierce. Water is purifying, cleansing, and healing.

The element of water is associated with the season of autumn. It is the blossoming and harvest of our fruits.

In astrology, it is associated with the signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Aquarius. The planets that rule those signs are the Moon, Mars, Pluto, Uranus, and Saturn.

In tarot, water is the suit of cups, representing receptivity, adaptability, and mysticism. Water can be demanding and suppressive, but it also provides healing and the trust to embrace ebb and flow.

alchemical symbol for earth element

Earth represents our physical, tangible world and material possessions. It is solid and present. Earth is stable and grounded.

The element of earth is associated with the season of winter. Releasing that which is no longer needed makes rich compost for the ground. Just as the trees drop their leaves to nourish the soil, we can lighten our load and let go of our burdens in order to harvest wisdom.

In astrology, it is associated with the signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. The planets that rule those signs are Venus, Mercury, and Saturn.

In tarot, earth is the suit of pentacles, representing health, money, work, and possessions. Earth can be stubborn and greedy, but it also provides stability and the dedication it takes to manifest our dreams into reality.

alchemical symbol for ether element

Ether is the amalgamation of all the elements. It weaves them all together and transcends. The alchemical symbol depicted above shows the fire and air elements melded together above, and the water and earth elements melded below.

Ether represents our connection to ourselves and others as a way to convene with something greater than. It is the anchoring of heaven on earth. It is our ability and willingness to find commonality despite our differences. It is having trust and faith; putting aside our judgments, ego, and biases; having the courage to be vulnerable and share authentically.

Ether is the acknowledgment that our humanness is what makes this existence so beautiful, holy, and divine.

And while we are made up of all the elements, it can be helpful to harness them one at a time. I invite you to learn more about your unique nature by taking my discover your primary element quiz below.

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