The Four Classical Elements - Elemental Philosophy

Wicca Natural Magic Kit: The Sun, The Moon, and The Elements, Elemental Magic, Moon Magic, and Wheel of the Year Magic - Lisa Chamberlain 2018

The Four Classical Elements
Elemental Philosophy

The Elements

There are many different ways to view the Elements and their significance to Wicca and Witchcraft.

First, let’s look briefly at the origins of this concept and its influence on contemporary practices, and then explore the Elements individually as physical and spiritual phenomena.

Understanding as much as you can about how each Element influences the human psyche, as well as the wider world, can help you deepen your magical relationships with these essential forces.

The Four Classical Elements

The ancient Greeks believed that all matter was made up of one or more of four elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. These were the basic building blocks of life, and nothing physical existed outside of them.

This idea persisted in scientific thought until a few centuries ago, and historians credit it with evolving into the discovery of the chemical elements modern scientists work with today. But the basic idea behind the Classical Elements, as the Greek concept is now called, was not just philosophy or physical science—the Elements also informed the Greeks’ medical practices and spiritual traditions.

Of course, the Greeks were not alone—the notion of all things arising from a handful of natural phenomena is also found in ancient Egypt and Babylonia, and forms of the concept exist in Hinduism, Buddhism, and religions within China and Japan.

Eastern systems differ in the number and identification of Elements. Chinese astrology, for example, recognizes Fire, Water, and Earth, leaving out Air, but includes the two key substances of Wood and Metal, which fall under Earth in Western traditions. The Chinese did not view these Elements as different fixed substances, but more as different forms of energy which is always in flux—an idea, as we have seen previously, echoed in much of the new scientific thinking about the basic nature of matter. Ancient Tibetan philosophy mirrors the original Greek system but adds Space as a fifth Element.