Though I am a Druid and don’t recognize the four elements–Air, Earth, Water, and Fire–in my practice, I do recognize them as forces that shape the Cosmos in various ways. Each force has positive (pleasurable) and negative (painful) sides. These forces are more like emotions, for the Earth Mother. They reflect Her various moods and allow Her to express Herself to us.
Air’s pleasurable side is a warm hug or a caress of the skin. I’m sure many of you have been to the beach on a warm day for vacation, or perhaps you live nearby. In any case, you relish each time a cool breeze floats by. That is what I’m referring to here. This caress is much like a hug. Air’s painful side is a slap to the body. On a windy day in the cold of a Midwestern winter, the wind beats you up so much that you can barely walk through it, if the wind is strong enough. Think also of a tornado that shreds houses to pieces. Not only is this figuratively painful to the houses, it is literally quite painful to the humans who called those houses home.
Earth’s pleasurable side is a mother’s touch. Earth is the womb in which we plant seeds and that nurtures those seeds so they may grow. The resulting plants provide food and shelter for both humans and animals, keeping them safe and healthy, as a mother does for her children. Yet even mothers get angry. Earth’s painful side shows itself when buildings–the same ones that keep us safe–collapse during an earthquake, which may put lives in danger. Earth can also be smothering, as a pool of quicksand is.
Fire’s pleasurable side is warmth that allows us cook food or keeps our body temperature from dropping too low. Think of a cozy fire in a fireplace on a cold winter night or the heat from a grill for cooking a backyard barbecue. The rippling movement of the flames can be likened to that of smooth silk. However, Fire consumes fuel fairly quickly, revealing its hunger. Fire’s only desire is to consume so that it may grow larger. All things are consumed–food, shelter, people–causing pain to others.
Water’s pleasurable side is an even and balanced temper. Water does not have a need to consume, as Fire does. It simply flows wherever there is room. If you fill a watering can with water, it won’t overflow until there is no longer room in the can. It won’t actively consume the can. When you take the watering can out to the garden, you must tip the can so the water will flow out onto the plants. The water in the can decreases while the water in the garden increases–balance. Water’s balance can be tipped too far, though, and result in weather like tsunamis and hurricanes. So much water is being deprived from another area that floods occur in the area where these disasters happen.
This understanding of the four elements came from a discussion with my fiance over Skype about how we personally see each of them. I found our discussion enlightening and enjoyable.
Now I must ask: how do you view the elements?