Elements in Religion - Class Outline



By Steve Stone

Part I) What are elements?


Two element religious concepts 

Modern Paganism - God & Goddess

Budhism -Yin and Yang

Zaroastism - Good and evil (Uhura-Mazda, Azmond)

Judeo Christian and Muslim beliefs - Human and Deity

Catholicism – Virgin Mother and Child

Kabballah – Reality and Spirit worlds

Three element religious concepts

Modern Paganism – Virgin, Matron, Crone

Christianity – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Four element religious concepts

Celtic Paganism – Earth Air Fire Water

Native American Paganism – ground, sky, animals, spirit

Christianity – God, angels, demon, Satan

Five element religious concepts

Modern Paganism – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit,

Hinduism – The hand of Fatima

Six element religious concepts

Kabballah – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Unity, Separation

Earth Religions or Pagan Religions often use one of the other definitions of the word element to help define their religion. 


With this definition, we take the concept of the four building blocks of the physical world, add a fifth, and come up with the Elements of Earth centered beliefs.

PART II) Wiccan  and Neopagan Elemental Standards

The pentacle with all elements in place

Element: Earth

Age and Time: Advanced age, Midnight

Animals: bears, bulls, ground snakes, dogs, horses, earthworms, gophers, ants, cows, burrowing animals, mountain cats, moose, buffalo, wolves, dragons, stag deer, herons, mythical beasts

Astrology:  Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Color: Brown, green, black, snow white, violet, deep blue

Direction: North

Emotion: material matters, common sense, physicality, practicality

Gender: Feminine

Goddesses: Ceres, Nyphtys, Persephone, Prithini, Cerridwen, Rhiannon, Gaia, Demeter, Rhea

Gods: Adonis, Athos, Arwn, Cernnunos, Marduk, Tammuz, Odin, Herne, Pan (Faunus)

Herbs, Plants and Incenses: Cypress, narcissus, patchouli, Storax, Myrrh, Sagebrush, magnolia, mugwort, roots, comfrey,ivy, grains, ceder, slippery elm tree, balm of Gillead, honeysuckle, horehound, jasmine, sage, high St. John the conquerer, vetivert, moss, lichen, nuts, oak tree, redwood tree, banyan tree, evergreens

Metals and Stones: Iron, lead, diamonds, hematite, geometrically shaped stones, ores, coal, salt, soil, emerald, peridot, crystal clusters, dark crystals, onyx, jasper, aventurine, green and black jade, deep violet fluorite, royal azule, marble, amethyst

Musical Instrument: Drums and percussion instruments

Ritual meaning: The solid element.  Useful for magic aimed at steady progress, financial security, fertility and overall abundance.  This element is indeed good for all things worked in the physical form. 

Season: Winter

Sense: touch

Spirits: Gnomes

Symbols: a stoneware cup of salt, dirt, herbs or seed, acorns

Tool: Cauldron or pentacle, or broom

Alternative beliefs:  Those from the southern hemisphere often treat the North as Fire rather than Earth. North is also called “old man winter” by others, changing the gender entirely.  Other beliefs give North and Earth both a more cold and dispassionate meaning. Others may use other directions that correspond to mountains and other topography for Earth.  Some say that the only thing that matters is the magnetic North. 

Earth is the element that tries to contain, shape, and control all the others

Element: Air

Age and Time: Infancy, Sunrise (Dawn)

Animals: Dove, Hawk, Eagle, Wolf, Deer, Raccoon, Cardinal, Phoenix Rising, Spiders, winged insects, Dragon

Astrology:  Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Color: Bright yellow, white, crimson, turquoise blue, gold, scarlet, 

Direction:  East

Emotion: Intellect, imagination, consciousness, communication

Gender: Masculine

Goddesses: Aradia, Arianhod, Cardia, Nuit, Urania, Danue, Athena (Minerva), Kwan Yin

Gods: Enil, Khephera, Mercury (Hermes), Shu, Thoth, Himdahl, Balder, Buddha

Herbs, Plants and Incenses: eucalyptus, pansy, primrose, lemon verbena, violet, yarrow, vervain, frankincense, Myrrh, benzoin, comfrey, mistletoe, nutmeg, mint, ash tree, birch tree, aspen tree, beech tree, palm tree, lavender, sandalwood, galbanum

Metals and Stones: gold, tin, copper, white/clear fluorite, moonstone, turquise, single point crystals, rhodochrisite, royal azure, silber, topaz

Musical Instrument: Flute, wind instruments

Ritual meaning: The elusive element.  Enables you to send messages (communication) and write poetry.  Air also gives you clarity of thought and aids in studying, magical dreaming and working with spirits

Season: Spring

Sense: Smell

Spirits: Sylphs

Symbols: Incense, feather, bubbles, fragrant flowers

Tool: Athame, sword, staff or wand

Alternative beliefs:  Air is often associated with different directions based on worshippers location on the planet.  Many East coast worshippers, use East as Water and West as Air as it is more appropriate to their location.  Some feel that sky blue is a more appropriate color for air, including various color of weather in the Air as well.  Northern residents may use North as their direction for Air, including the Aurora Borealis as a part of the element.

Air is the element that is hardest to control.  While a simple bowl will hold fire, earth or water, air must be totally surrounded.  Air is the young curious element that wants to go everywhere.

Element: Fire

Age and Time:  Youth, Noon

Animals: Fire breathing dragons, lions, horses, unicorn, phoenix, cricket, lizard, preying mantes, lady bug, scorpion, shark, bear, deer, tiger, porcupine, badger, hedgehog, fox, coyote, squirrel, mouse, rabbit, possum, snake, hawk

Astrology:  Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Color: Red, gold, crimson, orange, white, scarlet, yellow, flame blue

Direction: South

Emotion: sense of purpose, will power, inspiration, initiative, vigor

Gender: Masculine

Goddesses: Brunhilde, Freya, Bridget, Hestia, Pele, Vesta

Gods: Agni, Hepheastus (Vulcan), Horus, Lugh, Mars (Ares), Loki

Herbs, Plants and Incenses: Hibiscus, mustard, onion, red peppers, red poppies, bougainvillea, coffee beans, nuts, seeds, pods, cacti, thorn bushes, spiny plants, garlic, coral tree, bottle brush, red maple, bay leaf, carnation, holly, oak, tobacco, vanilla, eyebright, olibanum, juniper, sweetgrass, cedar, frankincense, dragon’s blood, myrrh, sage, thyme, clove, cinnamon, musk, sandalwood

Metals and Stones: Gold, brass, copper, steel, Jasper, ruby, fire agate, blood stone, garnet, pink and red carnelian, red amber, amber calcite, blue amber, yellow and gold fluorite, citrine, fire opal, lava

Musical Instrument: Guitar, all stringed instruments

Ritual meaning: The Element of clarity.  Fire represents passion and emotion along with the gathering of people.  It is helpful in destroying bad habits and burning away those things we don't need in our lives.  It brings purity, enlightenment, power and vision

Season: Summer

Sense: Sight

Spirits: Salamanders

Symbols: candle, brazier, oil lamp

Tool: Athame, wand or sword

Alternative beliefs:  The element of fire is also linked with strong emotion, whether good or bad.  Anger, love, and other and passions are sometimes given more importance than any other part of the Fire belief.  Fire is often considered the opposite of Earth as it defies gravity and tends to try to flow away from Earth.

Fire is the only element that combats the others.  While each of the other elements can combine with each other, fire will only alter the states of the other elements, not join with them.

Element: Water

Age and Time: Maturity, Dusk

Animals: White snakes, cats, frogs, shellfish, sea mammals, sea birds, elk, ravens, herons, jaguars, panthers, night creatures, water creatures, amphibious dragons

Astrology:  Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Color: Blue, blue-green, aqua, indigo, purple, black, sea foam white

Direction: West

Emotion: Emotionality, intuition, love, empathy, human bonds

Gender: Feminine

Goddesses: Marrimni, Mari, Tiamat, Isis, Diana (Artimus), Selena, Hecate, Arianhod

Gods: Dylan, Ea, Llyr, Manannan, Osirus, Thor, Dionysis, Posiedon (Neptune)

Herbs, Plants and Incenses: ferns, lotuses, mosses, rushes, seaweeds, waterlilies, apple, chamomile, lettuce, violet, orris root, heather, rose, willow, pine trees, magnolia, gardenia, lavender, jasmine, catnip, hibiscus, ambergris, civet, sandalwood, mugwort, camphor, vanilla, myrrh

Metals and Stones: Mercury, silver, copper, platinum

Musical Instrument: Cymbal, bell, all resonant metals

Represented by: 

Ritual meaning: The element of movement.   Water cleanses and purifies, it represents the subconscious and spiritual energy, along with nurturing, abundance, movement and transformations

Season: Autumn

Sense: Taste

Spirits: Undines

Symbols: bowl or chalice of water

Tool: Cauldron or chalice

Alternative beliefs:  In some beliefs, Water is the crone, or the elder of the elements.  If it is in the West, it is associated with sunsets and nightfall.  Water’s direction is often changed based on the location of the worshipper. Colors may also vary by location as well.

Water is also the most moldable and controllable of all the elements. It can be made into a solid liquid or gas, and still be handled.

Element: Spirit

Age and Time: Ageless and timeless

Animals: None

Astrology:  The universe

Color: Clear

Direction: center

Emotion: Transformation and transcendence

Gender: None or both

Goddesses: Spirit

Gods: Spirit

Herbs, Plants and Incenses: None

Metals and Stones: magnet

Musical Instrument: energy vibration of self (toning)

Ritual meaning: Spirit is the binding link over all four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  It is accessible by calling all the elements together in circle.  The Element of Spirit is used when you want to call upon a specific deity or connect the elements and participants of the circle.  

Season: Wheel of the year, the hub of the wheel, connecting to all seasons at once

Sense: The mind (or hearing)

Spirits: Angels

Symbols: Pentacle, or holy symbol

Tool: none (or cauldron)

Alternative beliefs:  Spirit can be looked at in so many different ways that there is little room here to even begin.  Most of the differences in Earth religions are simply the different beliefs in the aspects of Spirit.  Spirit is the one element that cannot be perceived by any of the primary senses, it must be perceived by thought and belief.

Spirit is the only element that cannot be physically shown to others.

© Virtual Reflections 2016