The Four Elements
A brief explanation of the
classical four elements
The four elements as a doctrine that explains the structure and
the essence of matter and the world of phenomena were first
explained in the fifth century BC by the preSocratic philosopher
Empedocles. He called the four elements "roots". He claimed that
these elements are indestructible and unchangeable and that the
combinations between them create structural differences. According
to Empedocles, there are two forces that control all matter. These
two forces are love and strife.
Love attracts the different forms of matter, while strife
separates it. These two forces create variation and harmony in the
universe, as attractive and repulsive forces. Similar to the
Taoist Yin Yang concept, these two forces strengthen and weaken
their position but neither force ever wholly disappears from the
dominance of the other.
In the primeval order, these two forces and the elements
co-existed in a condition of rest and purity in the perfect form
of The Sphere. In this original state, the forces were dominated
by Love while strife guarded the edges of the perfect sphere.
Eventually, the force of strife rose into dominance and dissolved
the harmonious state of the primeval matter thus creating the
world of phenomena with it's light and dark forces and what we
perceive as a dualistic reality. These ideas were probably the
basis for the Jewish mysticism - The Kabbalah with the idea of the
endless eternal light dwelling in a state of rest and inertness
and the shattering of the sphere - Ha'klipa - Hebrew for "shell"
creating the world of phenomena, light, and darkness, good and
According to Empedocles, these forces dwell in every human, and as
our souls gain knowledge through reincarnation we reach the
eternal. The use of these ideas and recognizing our "own element
is a powerful way of finding your way and your true nature.
Hippocrates used the four elements to describe the four "humor"
found in the body. He said that the temperaments and humor needed
to be in balance with each other in order for a person to be well
both mentally and physically.
The four elements and the fifth hidden element
Our forefathers referred to five elements, four that can be
changed and experienced by the five senses and a fifth that
represents space, a vast emptiness or a spirit that cannot be
sensed by the four senses and cannot be changed. These perceptions
were prominent in Ancient Greece, in India, Japan, and China. The
Greek perception influenced the way European culture visualized
things and the art of Alchemy during the Middle Ages.
Modern science does not accept the four elements idea but does
agree that they correlate with the four states of matter solid
(earth), liquid (water), gas (air), and plasma (fire).
The four elements and the Platonic Solids
It is interesting to see that the five fundamentals are analogous
to the five platonic solids. The platonic solids are five shapes
whose apexes meet to form a perfect sphere. The five forms and
their combinations create all possible molecular structures and
through them the reality in its entirety.
The four elements in Hinduism
According to Hinduism, all the elements were created from the
"akasha" or vast emptiness. The human body is also formed from the
five elements with each of our senses being tied to a specific
element. Additionally, each of the elements represents one of the
- The first or basic chakra is represented by the earth.
- The second Chakra is represented by water.
- The third chakra is represented by fire.
- The fourth, the heart, is represented by the air.
- The fifth chakra represents the sound.
- The sixth chakra, the third eye represents light and
- The seventh chakra, the crown chakra, represents space and
The four elements in Buddhism
In Buddhism, the four elements are the key to all things and the
understanding of suffering and how to end it. Earth represents
solidity, water, a liquid, represents cohesion, air represents
movement and vibration and fire, temperature. Analyzing events
using the senses and understanding the way we feel and sense
things, holds the key to freeing ourselves from suffering.
Finding the dominant element in your life
Which element represents you or which element you most need? To
find out you can try the following test. The images you experience
with your senses will show you the right answer.
All you need is a quiet place, a sheet of paper and a pen. Write
down the names of the five senses (taste, smell, sight, sound, and
touch) and leave a few lines between each of the senses.
Now, concentrate on the thing you want to test or the question
that interests you. Close your eyes as if you were starting to
meditate and wait for a few moments. Now, concentrate on the first
sense that appears on your list - if the first sense is taste, try
and sense a specific taste. Wait until you feel it and
immediately write down what you thought of. Move on to the next
sense, wait until you really feel the sense and in this way,
complete the list sense after sense.
The most important thing during the entire process is to avoid and
attempt by our intellect to change our list. It is vital that you
write down exactly what you thought of, even if it seems to be
totally illogical. After completing the list, examine what you
have written and the answer will be revealed to you symbolically.
In order to demonstrate to you, I'll share with you my experience
the first time I tried the system:
My first experience was with a woman who, at that specific time,
was concerned by a question relating to her life and I had to
discover what the question was. I wrote down on a piece of paper
the five senses. The sense of taste gave me of the taste of rice
and reminded me of the dining room in a kibbutz. The sense of
smell brought water vapor and the smell of soap and I felt as if
someone was being washed close by. With the sense of sight I saw
children playing and with the sense of sound, I heard them
When I concentrated on the sense of touch, I felt a hand being
rested on the shoulders of someone seated - as if they were trying
to help. My conclusion regarding the woman's question was that she
was, in some way, connected with some sort of therapy, apparently
children, but the image of the hands on the shoulders pointed to
the treatment of an adult. When I told her what I had experienced
and what my conclusions were, she burst out crying and told me
that she was a kindergarten teacher on a kibbutz but that her
question was why had her husband had an accident that had left him
crippled and in need of constant help.
It's possible that the first few times you
try this test, the results will not be clear. Continue to try and
eventually the results will become clear to you.
I wish to end this article with a song by Spinal Tap
"When there was darkness and the void was king and ruled the
When there was silence and the hush was almost deafening
Out of the emptiness, Salvation!
Rhythm and light and sound
It was the Rock & Roll creation
It was a terrible big bang
It was the ultimate mutation
Ying was searching for his yang
And he looked and he saw that it was good
Rock & Roll Creation
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About the Author
The jewelry artist David Weitzman combines ancient and sacred knowledge into a unique line of jewelry designed to bring people both beauty and inspiration. David's artwork harnesses the power of spiritual symbols and sacred geometry from around the world to bring those wearing this sacred jewelry happiness, vitality, excitement, and love.