Symbols and Four Elements Meaning

Symbols and Meaning of the Four Elements

Last Updated on March 27, 2023 by Avia

To date, I’ve written over 1,000 articles about symbols and meaning on my websites. Imagine how dumb-struck I was upon realizing, out of all these posts, I haven’t given decent exposure to to the meaning of the four elements and their symbolic aspects. What!?! I know! Insanity!

This is a grave oversight on my part, because the four elements are the fundamental building blocks for interpreting any sign or symbol.

Why? Because the four elements are the scaffolding upon which all life is built. Consider, not much life get crackin’ without one or more of the following elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water.

Overview of the Four Elements

We can thank the ancient brainiac Aristotle for coming up with the theory of elements around 450 BCE. Other philosophers like Empedocles, Plato and Pythagoras added their own ingredients to the recipe of the elements, but really Aristotle was the cool-dude who cooked up the whole four-layer cake that results in basic elements matter.

He proposed that all life and all matter is formed from one or more of four…yep, you guessed it: Fire, earth, air, water. He also identified a fifth element called ‘aether.’ This is an intangible element that implies balance, unity – it is the ‘all that is’ and it is the non-matter element of the material world. Think of aether as the energetic-super-glue that sticks all the other four elements together in a balanced, harmonic way. Want to know more about the fifth element? No prob! I’m currently mad-scientist’ing an article on aether, and I’ll let you know when I’ve got that published on the website.

Triangle Elements
Four Element Symbols Plus the Fifth Element

Four Elements Chart of Associations

I included correspondences between elements and Zodiac signs, and elemental personalities because it helps to flesh out and give personality to the meaning of the four elements in terms of daily life. Standing alone, elements seem like these inert, blobby things. But, if we learn the personalities connected to the four elements we can see these elements pop with life. Observe how an Aries sun sign behaves…as a fire sign, that’s a neat clue as to fire element personality.  Consider the Greek goddess Gaea, her mythological legends are very revealing in developing the personality of the earth element.

ElementGovernsEnhancesElemental PersonificationZodiac SignLocus of Focus
fire element meanings
SpiritInspiration, Passion, Desire, Motivation, Resurrection, ReinventionSalamanderAries, Leo, Sagittarius“What lights my fire?”
earth element meaning
BodyStability, Security, Health, Wealth, HomeGnomeTaurus, Virgo, Capricorn“What keeps me grounded?”
air element meaning
MindIntellect, Perception, Communication, StrategySylphGemini, Libra, Aquarius“What is the lesson here?”
water element meaning
SoulEmotion, Renewal, Flow, Clarity, Healing, IntuitionUndineCancer, Scorpio, Pisces“What stirs beneath the surface?”
Basic Correspondences for the Four Elements

What is An Elemental?

What about elementals? What’s an elemental? Well, these are also the brain-children of Aristotle. He understood that elements imbue life. So, he recognized and assigned personifications to each element. For example, the Sylph is the personification of the air element. Sylph’s are guardians and spirits of the air realm. Same idea for Gnomes, who are the protectors and power-rangers of the earth realm. Learn more about each elemental energy by clicking the link in the table above.

four elements meaning
Interpreting life-experiences using the Four Elements

So what’s the big deal about elements? Why are they crucial for interpreting signs and symbolic meanings? Because these are the ultimate Legos that builds our world, these deceptively simple energies reveal a ton of data when it comes to deeper meaning.

For example: Let’s say you’re sitting pretty in a park, pondering a perplexing pickle of a problem you’ve been struggling with. Suddenly, a blue heron swoops over a pond nearby, nabs a fish from the water and flies off as quickly as it snagged its lunch! What’s that all about?

How the Four Elements Help You Stay Organized

Let’s face it. Life can get tough sometimes. Stress, rushing about, challenges – they can all pile up into a chaotic mess. In my experience as a writer, I’ve found the elements help me a huge amount in terms of organizing. For instance, I often organize my priorities according to the elements (fire being top priority). You can assign elements to your to do list in a color-coded way. I find this helps reinforce the power of the elements and keeps me on point.

As a writer, I use elements to flesh out characters in some of my fictional writing. For example, a character that is imaginative, dreamy, and a great communicator, I like to think of that fictional person in terms of the air element. Alternatively, a reliable, sturdy character will be aligned with an earth element. Thinking of features and characters in my writing in terms of elements has really improved my organization and writing skills.

No matter where you find the strength to deal with daily tasks — what matters is that power sources for mental health go far beyond symbolism. If you need time to recharge, do what other students do — order papers from a professional essay writing company, such as Smart Writing Service. Let someone write a paper you need — experts do it much faster and with more quality than you. We all need help sometimes, be it help from four elements or writing specialists.

Using Elements for Interpretation

Well, we can start interpreting that experience in relationship to the prickly problem by relating elements to the heron sighting. 1) Heron flies, so they are aligned with the air element. 2) Heron, pond, fish…all water-based, so obviously a natural fit in the water element category.  In terms of human behavior, air is symbolic of intellect and communication, and water is symbolic of emotion, renewal and clarification.  Having identified the elements, and understanding their core meanings in human terms we can start to form a symbolic narrative from all these tidbits.  In this example, the narrative should address the perplexing issue. So, the narrative might go something like this: “Are my thoughts (air/heron) clear (water) about this situation? How can I brainstorm (air/mind) ways to cleanse or heal (water) myself and this situation? What kind of opportunities (fishy lunch caught by the heron) am I not seeing that will help my emotional (water) growth?

Last Word on the Four Element Meanings

You see how knowing about the four element meaning can augment and enhance our perception? And, in so doing, we can gain answers and insights in elegant, natural ways! Cool, eh?

This is just the tippity-top of the iceberg when it comes to the meaning of the four elements.  There is tons more to these seemingly innocuous energies. I mean, these are Lincoln Logs that create a structure to our entire existence! That makes them crucial when we need answers, formulate insight, gain inspiration and so much more.

If you want more information on this symbolic topic, you’re in luck! I’ve got a ton of elemental information on the website; just check out the related links found below. And, stay tuned, as I intend on writing more in the future!

As always, thanks so much for reading. If you liked this article, please feel free to share it with your peeps on your social networks! Thanks! Oh, and if you liked this article about the four element meanings, you might also like my article on the Four Elements and the Zodiac here.

Keep it elemental, keep it symbolic!

Mighty brightly,

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