This article will discuss the spiritual energy, correspondences, and spell ideas of the five magic elements, including fire, water, air, earth, and spirit.
Magic element symbols have played a part in all manner of studies, including alchemy, medicine, magic, and astrology for many years. They are some of the most basic but essential fundamentals of nature spirituality. Representing Nature, the cycle of seasons, and spiritual energy. Elements provide harmony and balance through the vibration and energy of the universe and Nature.
History and Philosophy of Magic Elements
The origins of the element symbols lie with the Greek philosopher and physician Empedocles (495 – 430 BCE). He believed the elements were the root of all creation, which he called rizomata, meaning “roots.” Empedocles was more interested in the physical scientific characteristics of elements instead of the energy most spiritual practitioners use today. In his poem On Nature, Empedocles theorized the entirety of the universe occurred due to a unique fusion of the elements.
As I stated in the blog post – Why Do Botanicals Have Spiritual Element Associations, Greek physician Hippocrates later expanded on the theory of elements built upon Empedocles’s work and created the idea of the Four Humors. This theory stated that the body held four different humors – blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black bile). In addition, each humor was ruled by various elements, seasons, organs, planets, etc.
Ailments and afflictions were believed to be due to your elements and four humors being out of balance. Humor balance could be properly restored by consuming or using the appropriate herb, which correlated with the corresponding element.
These ideas were presumably sourced from Eastern beliefs since these recorded concepts date back to 2000 BCE. You’ll find balancing the energy of the elements deeply rooted in Indian Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Magic Elements and Alchemy Through The Years
Greek philosophers and physicians used triangles and lines to symbolize elements and are theorized to have inspired the Seal of Solomon. Spiritual practitioners utilize these symbols to this day.
You can’t find these four magic elements on the periodic table! Since ancient Greeks believed that the entirety of the universe formed due to a unique fusion of the elements, alchemists theorized these elements must have come from one source.
During the early Middle Ages, the symbol to represent the four elements consisted of a square with a triangle in each corner.
Another symbol that was often used to represent the four elements was a quartered square.
(Both examples shown below)
Alchemists’ primary goal was to utilize the elements to create or locate the Philosopher’s Stone, which was believed to be a common material that would heal diseases, provide everlasting life, and could transmute metal into gold or silver using the four elements.
Alchemists during the Middle Ages believe that by combining elements (The Quintessence), they could create the Philosopher’s Stone. So naturally, alchemists were very secretive about their work and would use deception and lies to keep their experiments safe. They would often use secret symbols and codes so prying eyes would not decipher their work.
Very few have claimed to have successfully created the Philosopher’s Stone, Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle Flamel being one.
As the story goes, Nicholas was a scribe who came across an old manuscript with unique alchemy symbols that he could not translate. So he set off to find an alchemist who could! He studied with a Jewish alchemist named Canches who passed away after three years of teaching Flamel what he knew.
Nicholas returned to his wife and according to them, in 1382, was able to turn base metal into silver. A few months later, they turned base metal into gold. Interestingly, the Flamels did become quite wealthy in their later years…
The symbol for the Philosopher’s Stone was made up of images representing each element – small circle for water, square for earth, triangle for fire, and the largest circle for air.
Interesting Historical Fact
Some of the most important of these [alchemy laboratory] devices were invented some time in the first century BCE by a Jewish alchemist in Alexandria, a woman named Miriam.
Little is known about the life of Mary the Jewess, as she generally is called in later alchemical writings. The fact that she was a brilliant inventor, though, is clear from the devices she created. One of them, the kerotakis, allowed metals to be exposed to corrosive vapors without letting those vapors get into the alchemist’s lungs. Another, a still with three spouts at different heights, was the first equipment for fractional distillation.
Her most famous creation, though, was the balneum Mariae, “Miriam’s bath,” the double broiler. She invented it to provide steady, even heat to alchemical processes; chefs use it today to cook delicate sauces without burning them – and the french still call this device a bain-marie.The Occult Book – A Chronological Journey from Alchemy to Wicca
In 1921, Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, published Psychological Types which included four personality types that were obviously sourced from the four humors of Hippocrates. Jung’s personality types included the Fire Element Archetype (intuitive), Water Element Archetype (feeling), Air Element Archetype (thinking), and Earth Element Archetype (sensing).
Carl Jung’s personality types from Psychological Types were also the source of inspiration for The Meyers Briggs Personality Test.
Jung believed that the element symbols were illustrated as triangles to be connected and linked as a circle which would symbolize the Self, harmony, balance, and wholeness.
This is why spiritual practitioners, most often Wiccans, work with the cardinal directions in a quartered circle. The circle is a sacred space where the seven directions (east, west, north, south, above, below, and within) come together.
Magic Elements Meanings and Correspondences
Using magic elements, embeds that corresponding energy into your ritual, altar, grimoire, charm, talisman, spell, or anywhere in your spiritual practice.
Remember that magic elements, meanings, and correspondences can resonate differently with each practitioner. Feel free to adapt this list as you begin working with the elements in your spiritual practice. Let your intuition guide you!
Note – the cardinal direction correspondences in this article are sourced from The Golden Dawn’s classifications in European areas. Different regions and cultures may have different orientations. Please feel free to use directions that resonate with you and your area.
Fire Element Magic Symbol
Fire Element Correspondences and Magical Properties
- Season: Summer
- Spiritual Intentions: power, sex, lust, determination, vigorous, strength, passion, action, transformation, purification, freedom, courage, destruction
- Crystals, Stones, and Metals: obsidian, orange calcite, carnelian, lava rock, red jasper, pyrite, sunstone, pumice, rhodochrosite, amber, ruby, bloodstone, garnet, tigers eye, gold, copper, iron, brass
- Herbs and Botanicals: chili peppers, bell peppers, cloves, fire cider, cayenne, rosemary, marigold, stinging nettles, garlic, onion, cinnamon, basil, juniper, citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, limes, lemons)
- Time of day: Noon
- Cardinal Direction: South
- Day of the week: Sunday and Tuesday
- Tools and representation ideas: Dagger, wand, sunlight, red candle, ashes, dragon, bonfire or fireplace, phoenix, light source (light bulb, battery-operated tea-light or candle, etc), scorpions, snakes, blood, lion, fire element symbol
- Colors: Red, orange, gold, or crimson
- Moon phase: waxing moon
Fire Element Spell, Ritual, and Inscription Ideas
- Spells for courage or motivation
- Create solar water to use on an altar, to consume (sun tea – maybe with corresponding citrus fruits), or in your spiritual practice
- Candle magic
- Positive mental health and self-image
- Burning sigils or intentions
- Sex magic
- Create Fire Cider
- Fire scrying
- Attraction spells
- Strength or protection spells
- Storm and lightning magic
Earth Element Magic Symbol
Earth is the element of manifestation and abundance but can also help to keep the ego balanced. The Earth element helps to guide us in self-reflection and personal development. Earth represents the natural cycles of life.
Earth Element Correspondences and Magical Properties
- Season: Winter
- Spiritual Intentions: fertility, self-reflection, wisdom, health, grounded, physical abundance, security, death and rebirth, connection with the seasons and earth’s cycles, sowing and reaping
- Crystals, Stones, and Metals: quartz, malachite, chrysocolla, emerald, smoky quartz, peridot, jade, petrified wood, jasper, slate, granite, rock salt, onyx, tourmaline, lead, silver (Note some practitioners believe ALL crystals can be used since crystals are derived from Earth)
- Herbs and Botanicals: patchouli, sage, moss, honeysuckle, ivy, comfrey, oats, lichen, roots, seeds, wood or trees (oak, cedar, etc) (Again, some folks believe ALL herbs can be used since herbs are derived from Earth)
- Time of day: Midnight
- Cardinal Direction: North
- Day of the week: Thursday and Saturday
- Tools and representation ideas: Soil, salt, clay, stones, chalk, plants, gnomes, tree branch, deer, antlers, worms, leaves, green candles, nuts (acorns, walnuts, almonds, etc), pentagram, flowers, garden fae, bones, earth element symbol
- Colors: Green (light or dark), brown, black, or colors found in Nature
- Moon phase: New Moon
Earth Element Spell, Ritual, and Inscription Ideas
- Overcoming anxiety or stress
- Business, jobs, or employment opportunities
- Fertility or parenthood
- Financial gain, abundance, or prosperity
- Garden or Plant Rituals
- Destroying hexes or curses
- Herbal infusions
- Burying sigils or intentions
- Crystal Magic
Water Element Magic Symbol
Water is the element of intuition, emotions, and wisdom. A powerful element for spiritual awakenings, growth, and healing.
Water Element Correspondences and Magical Properties
- Season: Autumn
- Spiritual Intentions: healing, trust, psychic abilities, harmony, emotional, unconscious, kindness, dreams, cleansing, nurturing, empathy, lunar energy
- Crystals, Stones, and Metals: aquamarine, pearl, moonstone, ocean jasper, selenite, fluorite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, blue topaz, silver, mercury
- Herbs and Botanicals: water lily, seaweed, algae, lemon balm, gardenia, willow tree, chamomile, fern, mugwort, roses, myrrh, night-blooming flowers (jasmine, evening primrose, Casa Blanca lily)
- Time of day: Dusk or Twilight
- Cardinal Direction: West
- Day of the week: Monday and Friday
- Tools and representation ideas: container of water, seashells, frogs, aquatic creatures (dolphins, crawfish, octopus, beaver, squid, fish, eel, turtles, sea horses, etc), pearls, water fountain, mermaid, chalice or cauldron, nymph, blue candles, sea glass, sirens, coral, sea salt, Moon Water, water element symbol
- Colors: Blue (light and dark), white, turquoise, teal, seafoam green, light grey, silver
- Moon phase: Full Moon
Water Element Spell, Ritual, and Inscription Ideas
- For friendship
- Create magical water (rainwater, moon water, solar water, rose water, lavender water, etc.) for your altar, to consume, or to use in your spiritual practice
- Hydromancy (Water Scrying)
- Ritual baths
- For divination, clairvoyance, or psychic abilities
- Releasing sigils or intentions down a river or stream
- Freezer spells
- Spell bottles containing magical water
- Reversing spells
- Dream Magic
- To aide in sleep
- Moon Magic
Air Element Magic Symbol
Air is the element of creativity, intellect, and clear articulation. A powerful element for new beginnings, self-expression, and happiness.
Air Element Correspondences and Magical Properties
- Season: Spring
- Spiritual Intentions: Having to do with the Mind – learning, new beginnings, deep thoughts, knowledge, travel, creativity, writing, perception, self-expression, communication, truth, movement, memory, imagination, music, joy
- Crystals, Stones, and Metals: celestite, sapphire, moldavite, opal, topaz, citrine, fluorite, amethyst, copper, tin, mercury
- Herbs and Botanicals: primrose, dandelion, yarrow, lavender, violet, mint, frankincense, myrrh, clover, quaking aspen, dill, or lemongrass
- Time of day: Dawn
- Cardinal Direction: East
- Day of the week: Wednesday
- Tools and representation ideas: Feathers, leaves, bell, spiders, athame or wand, singing bowls, bubbles, butterflies, wind chimes, a yellow candle, smoke (incense, candles, etc), dragonflies, pinwheels, pollination flowers, birds, sylphs, bats, ribbons, balloons, besoms, air element symbol
- Colors: Yellow, pale blue, light purple, cream, white
- Moon phase: Waning moon
Air Element Spell, Ritual, and Inscription Ideas
- Smoke cleanse your home of negative energy
- Memory enhancement
- Spiritual journaling
- Tearing paper with sigils or intentions and releasing them into the wind
- Storm or Wind Magic
- Make a wish upon a dandelion or birthday candle
- Communication spells
- Art Magic
Spirit Element Magic Symbol
Also known as Aether (sometimes spelled ether), Soul, or Universe. The origins of the element Spirit trace back to Aristotle, who believed that the Moon separated Earth from the spirit world. Therefore, the four elements were earthbound, but the Aether was the spiritual place where the divine resides.
It was believed that all the elements were created from the Spirit element and are where the elements will return as part of the natural cycle. The Spirit represents the link and connection of body and soul.
However, since Spirit is not earthbound, it does not have similar correspondences as the other elements do. Feel free to utilize whatever correspondences resonate with you. Below are some commonly used symbols or intentions, but there are no definitive guidelines so just use what comes naturally to you.
Spirit Element Correspondences and Magical Properties
- Spiritual Intentions: wholeness, connectedness, the universe, infinite time, the veil, ancestors, secrets, the unknown, innocence, spirit guides, deities
- Crystals, Stones, and Metals: amethyst, tourmaline, meteorite
- Tools and representation ideas: spirals, cats, circles, wheels, stars, galaxies, Yggdrasil
- Colors: White (a combination of all the colors combined)
Spell, Ritual, and Inscription Ideas
- When connecting with ancestors, spirit guides, or the dead
- Shadow work
- Automatic writing
- Deep Intuition work
- Watching for signs and symbols from the universe, ancestors, or spirit guides
Can I Only Work With My Corresponding Zodiac Sign Element?
Just because your zodiac sign corresponds with a specific element does not mean that you must only work with that particular element in your spiritual practice. Remember, Empedocles said the entirety of the universe occurred because of a unique fusion of the elements. Therefore, the universe is a mix of all the elements, making them all meaningful and powerful!
I hope you enjoyed this article on magic elements, their meanings, and how to incorporate them into your spiritual practice! Lots of love to you, and remember as always…