Day 162: Learning about the Elements

Holy moly!  Are we done with the Sabbats?!  Omigosh, I guess we are!  The Sabbat studies started on day 56, which in Roderick’s year was a whopping 105 days ago and in my ‘year’ was on April 27, 2009.  That’s what…a little over two years ago?  Damn.  I feel…really proud.  I can’t believe I’ve made it this far, and I’m so excited to continue on with this course of study…especially now that I’m not studying the Sabbats out of season.  It’s really weird to be studying the harvest when the world is just starting to transition into spring.

Now we turn to focusing on the elements.  As much as my science-nerd self wishes this meant the chemical elements, this is–of course–the Greek classical elements:  earth, air, fire, and water.  The philosopher Plato had described these classifications as originally from the pre-Socratic Sicilian philosopher Empedocles (ca. 450 BC). Empedocles called these the four “roots” (ῥιζὤματα, rhizōmata), so Plato seems to have been the first to use the term “element (στοιχεῖον, stoicheion)” in reference to air, fire, earth, and water.  Aristotle later elaborated on these elements in his On Generation and Corruption, noting that air is primarily wet and secondarily hot, fire is primarily hot and secondarily dry, earth is primarily dry and secondarily cold, and water is primarily cold and secondarily wet.  He also added aether as the quintessence, reasoning that whereas fire, earth, air, and water were earthly and corruptible, since no changes had been perceived in the heavenly regions, the stars cannot be made out of any of the four elements but must be made of a different, unchangeable, heavenly substance.  (Thank you, Wikipedia!)

Witches have pretty much adopted this classification to describe how we respond to life.  These four elements work together to create and sustain life–we need to breath air, drink water, be warmed by fire, and feel the earth solid beneath our feet and giving us sustenance.  We also classify different energetic sensations based upon the elements.  Air represents communication, our thoughts, and knowing.  Fire represents our passions, drives, and will.  Water is aligned with dreams and emotions, which give us the power to dare.  Earth holds the abilities of pragmatism and allows us to be faithfully silent.

To begin becoming acquainted with the elemental associations, Roderick asks us to commit the following table to memory:

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