Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?
The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless
The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community
What Makes Us What We Are
February 16th. 2014 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
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Alternative Medicine – What Is It?
February 9th. 2014 ...
Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
Building a Magick Mirror
The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)
13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed
Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression
January 5th. 2014 ...
Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey
2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!
Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
Beyond The Season of Greed
December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
It's Elemental, My Dear Wiccan: The Elements Turn 2600
Article ID: 13009
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,890
Times Read: 2,844
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Author: Marty Couch [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 4th. 2009
Times Viewed: 2,844
The Elements turn 2600.
As we head deeper in to the dark (and cold) half of the year, it seems each day I am feeling more my age. But even feeling on the older side myself, it can boggle the mind how old the stuff we are made of (or were thought to be made of) is. So, when we talk of the elements, it seems fair to ask how these ideas came about. And when. Well, fasten your seat belts as we hit the way back machine (Wow, I am old!)
Just as a note, the information in this article is specific to the elements typically used in current Wiccan practice, those of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. This article does not cover the traditional Eastern elements such as the Chinese Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water or the Buddhist Void, Water, Earth, Fire and Air. It is important to note that all these concepts came about at primarily the same time and for the same reason, the learned thinkers of the time were trying to answer, “What exists?” For the purposes of our discussion, we will talk about the emergence and acceptance of the European beliefs in the elements.
So, how far back does this go? Well, let’s go all the way back to Greece, say around 600 B.C. The city of Miletus was a prominent center of trade. Because of this, the scholars of that city were likely to have been exposed to some of the philosophies of the East as well as their goods. So it started them thinking. What makes all this? What are we formed of? One of the first to answer this question was Thales of Miletus. He concluded that every thing in the Universe was created from and resolved itself back to Water. Well, there might have been a couple holes in his theory. First, if this took hold we would be saying “River to River, Lake to Lake” instead of “Ashes to Ashes…” But there was an even more critical error in his thinking, according to others of the time. He was not attributing anything that was created to any of the Gods. Hmmm…It should also be noted he never committed any of his theories to paper. Probably a good idea.
So, along comes Anaximander, also of Miletus. He reasons that everything comes from indefinite substance which he termed The Boundless (sounds a bit like Spirit, huh?) and that this substance when acted on produced the other four elements. When it was hot and dry, it was Fire, when cold and wet it was Water, when hot and wet it was Air and when cold and dry it was Earth. Ultimately he reasoned that everything was of this source as opposed to the idea of independent elements. Many, such as Plato and Aristotle had their input, but the one who declared that everything was made of a combination of the four main Elements was Empedocles. Plato was the first to use the term Elements in connection with these four primary building blocks. And the idea really took off. Hippocrates used the Elements to develop his concept of the human body and medicine. He did this by discovering and treating the four humors.
So, mystery solved. Everything in the entire Universe was made of these four Elements. Case closed. We could now go on and no longer question it. Actually, that really is what happened. Through the Roman Empire, the teachings of Christ (when he was just a Rabbi) , the rise of Christianity, The Renaissance, The Hundred Year War, The Black Plague, Wars of the Roses, The Spanish Inquisition, Christopher Columbus, all the way up until 1669. That was the year that a merchant in Germany by the name of Hennig Brand was trying to make a Philosopher’s Stone. The idea was that this stone would turn metal in to gold. Well, accidentally discovered Phosphorus, the first recorded element of the current periodic table.
Now, let’s think about this. For over 2200 years, it was accepted fact that everything was made of some combination of the four elements. This was not a passing fancy. This is what the most advanced scholars of the time were learning and accepting as complete fact. The Alchemists of Europe relied on these principles. The Roman Catholic Church supported some of these concepts. As Wicca and Witchcraft grew in Europe, these concepts were utilized in ritual practice.
This is not small. Our very lexicon is based on this (he is an air head, she has a fiery temper, he is flooded with emotion, etc.) So, why is this so important to us today? Well, have you ever felt a ritual was lacking something? Maybe unbalanced? In need of more power, more energy? When we realize in our ritual that we are not just invoking the Elements because that is what we learned, but rather that we are invoking a philosophy, a belief, a truth over 2200 years old, we are gaining a power to our ritual that is beyond measure.
The reality is, we practice an ancient Religion in a modern time. What was thought of as fact only 340 years ago is thought of as “out there” thinking. But think about it. 340 years ago means our great grandparents parents may have lived when the four Elements were the accepted reality. Many people reading this may have met their great grandparents. This is only 1 generation removed from our current reality. To truly use these ideas and energies in our ritual today is not as big a “leap of faith” as some might believe.
Next time you invoke the Elements for your ritual, take a moment. See these great thinkers and experience the reality of the Elements as it hit them. Feel the connection with these Elements in what you are doing at that very moment. Don’t think of them as abstract concepts, but as real sources of power and energy that have outlasted the ages. Then see if there is a difference in the work you are doing.
In future articles we will be looking at the Elements individually as well as seeing how they still hold power today. Until next time…
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