Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Alchemy and the Elements

photo by Patricia Herlevi
So often when we think of astrology, we focus mainly on the planets.  However, the elements of air, fire, water and earth play key roles in transforming our lives. Like any alchemist or magician, which we all are to an extent, we look at the attributes and qualities of each of the four elements.  We also get a deeper understanding of our natal chart configurations and planetary placements when we dive deeper into the elements.  This gives us further understanding of relating to the other signs, or elements missing from our natal charts.  For instance, I have no planets in the element of fire, but plenty in water, and limited access to the earth and air elements.

I believe that Oprah Winfrey has no planets in water (I would need to double check), but plenty of planets in air and fire.  Yet, with her delving into spiritual topics and showing empathy to her guests who she interviews, somewhere she developed water qualities.  Her wealth and lasting success has proven her mastering of the earth element as well.  Then we have someone like Mick Jagger, who seems like a man on fire.  He's Leo and he's mastered the creative fire element, but less so the emotional water element seems he hardly seems like an empathetic person willing to put someone else' needs first, which is a weakness of the fire element.

photo by Patricia Herlevi
So moving on, let's look at the each of the elements literally and metaphorically.  First up, the water element which runs the gamut from placid and still lake water to raging rivers and drenching waterfalls.  The water element represents emotions and as we know, just like water has a variety of attributes given the circumstances, emotions wear many colors from the red glow of anger to the Mr. Poison green of toxic envy, to the rosy tones of love and romance.  Water reflects those colors back to us as water mirrors our emotions.  Water has consciousness too as proven by the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto with water crystals exposed to words, emotions and music then frozen with pictures taken with high-speed photographic equipment.  Water tells the truth.

photo by Patricia Herlevi
Just like air, we need water to survive on this planet or any planet.  Life cannot exists without the four elements period. Think about that.  Yet, if we don't have enough water element we enter a desert period and if we have too much, our emotions act like a flood eventually bringing decay and mold to our lives.  A person with a lot of water in their chart must learn to master emotions, just like the air element needs to master thoughts and the power of words with intent.

The upside of water is that it cleanses us, replenishes us, heals our thirst, brings us comfort through peace or excitement through turbulence, which once in a while is necessary or life grows dull.  Water can fill up a lake or turn into steam when combined with fire, or storms when combined with air.  Water can flood the earth and destroy crops, just as a watery person can drown the enthusiasm of a fire person or bring on a pity party for the earth element.  Water clings, but water also flows.  Try drying your hair on a cold day, though the air element helps as does the fire element.

When I think of water, I think of frogs, fish, whales, riding a ferry or sailboats floating on the bay.  I think of that cool glass of water after a yoga workout or a long walk, sliding down my throat replenishing my muscles and organs.  In religious context, the Holy Spirit is equal to Holy Water.  People are baptized with water, not earth, fire or air.  We say that a salt water bath (earth and water) cleanses our auras and releases other people's energy that attached itself to us.

photo by Patricia Herlevi
Next let's look at the air element.  When I think of this element the phrase "Lightness of being" comes into my thoughts.  This is a playful element where insects and birds reside. It is the element for angels, clouds, fairies, and some of the elementals found in nature.  Think butterflies and dragonflies or ladybugs.  Think kites floating in the sky or hawks sailing on a breeze high above and detached from the world.

Air represents thought, words, and communication.  If you trap air it grows stale and useless. Air must flow which is why people with dominant air signs tend to flit from here to over there.  They detach from their emotions so that they can experience clear thought.  They innovate through curiosity asking themselves many questions that begin with "I wonder what would happen if..." These folks invent, innovate, and then communicate their ideas. 

But air brings on storms too when combined with water or fire.  Air doesn't combine with earth usually, yet, we need a certain amount of air in soil for plants to grow otherwise the soil is too heavy and compact.  The downside of air are tornadoes, windstorms, hurricanes, gossip, rumors, and lies in the news. There is wordplay that cuts like knives, cynicism from over thinking and over analyzing and not enough action, unless the fire element comes into play.  We also find dualism more dominant in the air element with Libra and Gemini going in two directions at once.  We get a lot of black and white thinking and over generalizations because those sound witty and air enjoys wits and a good puzzle to solve. 

Next let's look at the fire element which we know from forest fires and expanding deserts on the earth of the destructive side of this element.  But fire also represents the sun, heat in the winter months, light, warmth, comfort and enthusiasm. Fire rages, it burns, destroys, and turns to cinder.  On the other hand, fire in the form of the sun helps plant life grow and gives us a life force.  Fire inspired us, gives us enthusiasm and confidence.

Since I don't have any planets in fire, I'm actually having a difficult time coming up with scenarios.  The image of the hearth comes up, the bonfire in midwinter blazing away or the volcano losing its top. I think of lava lamps and real lava flowing in Hawaii.  I see lights and solar panels heating homes.  I see fireflies dancing on a summer night, but alternatively, I think of annoying fireworks, and over exuberant people who just seem loud and boisterous to me.

Finally, let's look at the earth element.  This element anchors us, keeps us grounded, centered and practical or dull, dreary and depressing.  Earth is dense, stubborn, and those with more water and air in their charts, find earth boring.  However, the Earth element keeps our heads in the reality of the day, helps us set up practical step-by-step plans so we can achieve our goals, puts food on the table, since this element also represents the hardworking farmer as well as, builders, and bankers, at least on the mundane level.

On the nature level, earth represents soil, sand, rock, gemstones, mountains, meadows, forests, as well as, flora.  The animals and humans make use of the earth to build shelter, grow food, and communities.  Earth brings us bounty in the form of food, but must be in balance with the other elements to grow this food and provide us with natural materials to build shelter.  We get our medicines originally from the earth and we get our practical wisdom from the air and earth elements plus the intuition from the water element.

The downside of this element are earthquakes, shifting poles, volcanic eruption along with the fire element, landslides, mudslides, desertification, and the human destruction of mining the earth for minerals and fossil fuels.  We say that we must live in balance with the earth which means we need to live in balance with all four elements.  Our natural resources and our survival are tied up in these elements.  So show gratitude, conserve, and live in balance no matter what elements dominate your natal charts.

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