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Four elements

What Do The Four Elements Represent In People?

By Richard J Oldale,
July 15, 2020

How To Identify Your Weaknesses and Transform Them Into Strengths

The four elements feature heavily in every ancient culture around the world. Our ancestors had a profound understanding of how the symbolic elements of air, earth, water and fire affect emotions and characteristics and enriched their mythologies with deep meaning. 

Four elements

The four elements have a significant influence on our conscious mind. Ultimately what you manifest in the physical world can be attributed to a characteristic of earth, air, fire and water. Symbolically the four elements represent patterns of energy that transform life and by understanding their influences can be used as a tool for self-development.

Once you learn how to work with the elements, you will have more power over your emotions, thoughts and actions – the magical triangle of manifestation. You will be able to determine how your mastery of each element is progressing by the way you react to specific events in your life.

The ancient Greeks believed the four elements created all matter. Even today, they form the cornerstone of modern philosophy, science and medicine. 

The four elements are therefore used in ritual magic which draws inspiration from ancient traditions. However, they can be put to better use as a self-development tool.

Our primordial ancestors knew the four elements exist in the temperament of mankind and have to be brought into balance in order to function mentally, physically and spiritually. 

By mastering the four elements to transform your strengths into weaknesses, your will manifest the things you want from life and will be at peace with yourself and everyone around you.

What do the Four Elements Influence?

Control of your emotions comes from within. When you learn to obey the laws of nature from the inside, the astral plane, they manifest on the outside, the physical plane. 

The four elements manifest on the physical plane and influence you in the following ways:

  • earth represents animal instincts/grounding/foundation
  • water represents emotion/intuition/going with the flow of life
  • air represents intellect/mental intention/connection to life force
  • fire represents willpower/inner strength/transformation through action

The nature of the four elements impact on your emotions in ways that correspond to their physical nature:

Fire = anger/passion

Water = sadness/joy

Air = fear/love 

Earth = depression/vitality

During the course of your life, you will face ordeals, all of which are tests that need to be overcome by the Self gaining control over ego. Each time you encounter an ordeal, repressed emotions sink deeper into the subconscious and manifest physically as thoughts and emotions which often compel actions. 

To overcome your ordeals successfully, you need to be aware of your ego and let go of any negative emotion. If you allow your emotions to get the better of you, ordeals in the future become harder to overcome.

How to Master the Four Elements 


We need air to breathe. Without it, we would not exist. It is the element that most influences your mind and has the quality of movement, something that is not fixed and solid, but flexible and constantly moving. Air is the balance between fire and water and enables the mind to liberate the bonds of earth.

Element of air

Ordeals of air are dealt with through intellect. Whatever intellectual obstacles you encounter, try to think of positive outcomes rather than fear the worst. Your thoughts create reality.

For example, if you do not want to go out one evening, but think your friend will be upset so you go out of guilt, you will probably not have a good time and wish you had not gone. But would your friend really be upset with you, or is that a perception you created from your own thoughts?

Air obstacles typically challenge your perception and by thinking negatively makes you feel insecure, anti-social and fickle. To overcome these concerns, you need to balance air with the element of fire to be self-respecting and courageous enough to say no and risk disappointing your friend.

Working with the Element of Air 

The best way to work with air is through breathing. This is achieved with maximum potential through meditation or some form of physical exercise. 

Should you need to invoke the power of air to develop a characteristic or emotion, use yogic breathing techniques. Take in deep breaths and breathe all the way out, squeezing the air out of your lungs. This is known as diaphragm breathing. 

Whilst meditating, it is to your advantage if you are able to visualise. Imagine you are a bird, a condor or eagle are most prominent in ancient cultures. Imagine flying over mountains, valleys and rivers or somewhere close to your home or a place you enjoy to go on holiday.

When you master the element of air you will be able to write articulately and speak eloquently in front of any audience regardless of size. You will be able to speak comfortably in public and hold the attention of the audience.


The element of fire most relates to your temperament and influences fiery emotions such as anger and passion. Fire is the fuel that powers your energy to give you drive, courage and ambition. For the purposes of self-development, fire is one of the key elements to understand.

Arguably the most dangerous of the elements, fire governs your impulses and if allowed to get out of control is devastatingly ruinous. But fire also gives you the willpower to achieve your goals so should not be stamped out too suddenly.

Element of fire

You can balance your fiery temper by using the prowess of your intellect found in the element of air and the characteristics associated with water. Calm yourself down by taking deep breaths. It helps you think more clearly. 

Learn to work with fire-based emotions and you can use it to develop inner-strength. Think of your internal fire as the flame of a hob cooker or campfire you can use to transform something raw and potentially dangerous into something wonderful and delicious. 

The ordeals of fire with which you have to overcome relate to being wronged, criticised or persecuted, events that provoke anger. But fire can also burn your ego and by accepting the reality of a situation with care means you have mastered fire.

Working With the Element of Fire

Fire has trance-like qualities and watching the dance of flames can help you calm body and mind. Learn how to build a fire and become one with the movement of the flames. You could even try creating a power dance in your mind.

At home burn incense and relax your mind. Stop the internal chatter. If you meditate and can self-induce a trance-like state all the better. Imagine the flame within burning away all negativity.

The Element of Water

Water is fluid and adaptable and dictates your ability to manage any given situation. This is often referred to as going with the flow. In ancient China, the element of water was said to be the Chi energy that flows through your body, and is helped through exercises such as Tai Chi and yoga. 

Whereas fire and air relate to thoughts and emotions, the element of water tests your ability to be fluid and adaptable in any given situation. We are confronted with circumstances on a daily basis, some of which are new experiences that present a challenge…

..and in many situations, you need to adopt the Bruce Lee philosophy of “Be water my friend!”

You must also remember that water is the giver of life, but does have destructive qualities as well. Furthermore, water reacts to energy. Given the body of the human male is 60% water (55% in females), there is a theory that positive and negative energy directed towards a person can have an effect on our physiological and mental health. 

Japanese writer and researcher, Masaru Emoto demonstrated how wonderful or harmful we can be for one another in his experiments with water crystals and the now-famous rice experiment

In his experiments, Dr Emoto concluded that when you direct positive energy towards water it forms geometrical patterns that are natural. Negative energy, on the other hand, disfigures the water.

When Dr Emoto submerged rice in jars of water and channelled positive or negative energies towards each one, the jars that received hate and the jar that was ignored rotted. The jar that received thanks and gratitude, on the other hand, remained fresh and healthy.

Whilst Dr. Emoto’s evocative rice experiment as been rubbished as untrue and unscientific, the message is none-the-less poignant: when you ignore someone, insult them or direct another form of negative action towards them, they will feel rotten inside.

Negative feelings are unhealthy and can lead to illness. Poor emotional states that cause disease is not pseudo-science that can be dismissed. 

You will probably know from experience that when someone is negative towards you, it makes you feel bad inside. They can also create tension and ill-feeling on the outside. 

The Gilead Institute of America, together with many other scientific researchers, are beginning to understand that you mind and actions by others towards you can cause illness.  

How to Work With Water

To work with water, learn to understand how water works as it takes on many different mutations. It can flow gently down a stream, or tumble in a rage along a river. 

The sea rolls gently against the shore or crashes against the rocks. Here we see the yin yang expression of duality in the nature of water – everything that exists has a polar opposite. Sometimes you have to be forceful, other times gentle.

Element of water

Because water is also adaptable, harnessing its influence is essential for the purpose of self-development. When you put it in a vessel such as a jug or a bottle, the water changes shape and fits perfectly to the form of the vessel. This is symbolic of day to day life whereby we have to adapt to any given situation – the flow of energy should be like the flow of water.

Water is also used for cleansing and, whilst bathing, ancient shamans ask the water to wash away their sins, worries and problems. The next time you take a bath or shower, take a moment to let the water wash over you, feel the touch of it against your skin and ask for it to cleanse you.

The Element of Earth 

Earth is commonly referred to in myth as Mother Earth – the bringer of life who nurtures the child. The child is symbolic of the creation you manifest through thoughts and actions.

In esoteric wisdom, Earth relates to the body. If you do not look after yourself and are unfit or unhealthy, it becomes more difficult to build other energies created from the three other elements. 

Ordeals of Earth relate to the physical world, worries that are holding you back, tasks and events that are weighing you down or obstructing your path. People that are preventing you from achieving your goal. 

But these types of ordeals are purely tests to determine whether you can move to the next level of consciousness. They test your perseverance and ability to overcome hurdles.

Working with Earth

Like most Mother’s, Earth takes a lot of shit from her children, but like manure helps flowers grow, dumping things you don’t need on Mother Earth can help you grow. 

Lay face down on the ground and unburden yourself of all your woes and worries, then be silent and listen to what Mother has to say. The noises you hear deliver a message.

Also when you eat, be aware of the taste and texture of the food you are eating. Do not be distracted by TV, music or conversation. Eat silently and slowly. Food is sacred to the body, without it we have no energy. So appreciate food and eat what is healthy for your body.

Ancient cultures typically used wild animals to symbolise earth. In Andean cultures, for example, the Puma represented the physical plane together with the strength that is physically and mentally required to handle inconveniences life throws at you.

You can learn to work with Earth through visualisation exercises whereby you shape-shift from one animal to another. Identify animals from different cultures around the world that represent Earth and the strength you need. 

For example, in Nordic traditions there is a wolf, the sphinx in Egypt, leopards in African myth, and the Puma in ancient Andean cultures. 


Also look towards myth for other land animals such as the snake, crocodile, bear, rabbit etc and learn how to shift-shape from one to the other. Develop a relationship with the spirit of the animal. 

In ancient traditions, the dragon represents all four elements; the claws dig into the earth, they fly through the air with wings, breathe fire and have scales like a fish, thus we have water. The dragon is still prominent in modern-day China.

Finally, learn about fertility magic, or sex magic. This is secret wisdom and reliable information is difficult to find so, like me, you will have to experiment and explore with tantric sex – so have fun learning how to use this tool!

But the principle behind fertility magic is the ability to plant seeds and nurture them to fully blossomed fruit. You create the things you want in life – just as Mother Earth does.

The Fifth Element 

The fifth element embodies all other four elements and in ancient scriptures symbolises the psychological and emotional qualities we have to adopt in order to develop our understanding of life.

By mastering the four elements in your emotions and actions, the fifth element emerges in your conscious mind and automatically takes control of any situation. 

For example, if you find yourself confronted with antagonism, you will not become angry or aggressive yourself. You will have learned to control your fire by dowsing it with water and going with the flow without negative attitudes affecting you.

Characteristics of the Four Elements 


Positive characteristics

Negative characteristics


High self-esteem, enthusiastic, courageous, passionate,  natural leader, productive, self-respecting, creative, original, resourceful

All-consuming, egotistical, irritable, quick to anger, macho, obsessive, jealous, snobbish, critical, gluttonous


Progressive, can see the big picture, flexible, curious, penetrating, independent, adventurous, intellectual

Anti-social, sloppy, uncaring, gossipy, undependable, fickle, dishonest, unpredictable, flaky, slow,


Self-aware, tranquil, adaptive, empathetic, modest, devoted, reflective, authentic, integrating, co-operative

Apathetic, low self-esteem, stagnant, cowardly, jaded, sexually addicted, naïve, lazy, self-doubting, needy


Respectable, hardworking, pay attention to detail, stable, reliable, cautious, punctual, practical

Superficial, restrictive, stubborn, hesitant, boring, serious, compulsive, objective, uncreative, mentally dull

Use this table of characteristics to bring the four elements into balance. For example, if you have too much fire and are quick to anger, egotistical and gluttonous, put out the fire by adding elements of water.

Become tranquil by becoming more self-aware and reflective. Once the flames are out and the water has dried, you will be better respected by others – the element of Earth, where all creation comes into fruition. 

Similarly, if you lack courage or self-esteem, heat these negative water elements with fire. Be passionate, courageous and creative. 

You can increase the power of each of the elements through visualisation exercises. I have described some useful exercises you can do to work with each element, but you can also imagine your body filling with whatever energy you want to provoke. 

Let the element move around your body, visualise it passing through each of your chakras and try to feel the energy moving through your body. If you are well-rehearsed at meditation this should not be a problem. 

Once you can sense the new quality in you, practice using it in your everyday life. If nothing occurs naturally, create a situation where you need to employ your newly emerged and positive character trait. 

Symbols can be used as a powerful tool to help guide you through life and make important decisions with confidence. Our self-development courses use esoteric symbolism to demonstrate how you can expand conscious awareness and improve the quality of your human experience just by observing your unconscious mind and understanding your true nature.

Richard Oldale
Master Mind Content is a leading authority in decoding ancient symbolism . Our research unveils the secrets to understanding and taking control of the the subconscious mind, channeling energy to self-heal and effectively using universal laws to fulfil your potential.

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