The Elements of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are the building blocks of our planet. We couldn't exist without them. For thousands of years people lived much closer to nature than we do. They believed that the elements were the key to the universe and all it's mysteries. There's still a sense of magic about them today. It seems the more we realize how much harm we've done to our planet, the more we appreciate the importance of getting back in touch with the vital elements of Nature. The Ancient Greek, Empedocles, invented the term "elements". He believed that people, as well as the Earth, were made up of them. In astrology, each sign of the Zodiac is said to be connected to one of the four elements.
The Earth is far older than humans, and is seen as the ultimate life-giver and mother of all living things. Our food grows in the soil, as trees and plants. Minerals and metals come from the Earth, and for thousands of years people have mined it for fuel, gems, and metals. Many living creatures also make their home in the Earth. Many of us bury our dead underground because according to tradition, the dead will one day spring to life again, in the same way that new plants grow from underground bulbs.
We need Air to breath, so it's vital to our existence. Some Native American people believe in a place high up in the air where the "star people" live. They say there are four great spirits of the north, south, east, and west winds and that because all living things breathe the same air we're all connected. Angels and creatures that fly through the air are considered powerful and mystical. The butterfly is said to be a sign of everlasting life.
Most of the planet is covered in water, and the body is 75 percent water, so it's easy to see how vital water is to life. Water is thought of as a female element, and often used in fertility and birth rituals. These days more and more babies are born in water, because of it's quiet, calming qualities. Water is said to be cleansing and purifying, and there are many rituals in which water is used. Like all elements, water can heal, but it has great power, and can also harm.
Fire gives us energy, as heat and light. We burn candles to give us light, and logs or coal to keep us warm. Fire is said to ward off evil, but it can be very dangerous if it gets out of control. Early people worshiped and feared their fire gods. The mythical dragon symbolizes the power and danger of the fire. The flame from a candle is said to symbolize our soul, which is one of the reason why candles and fires play such an important part in our rituals of life and death. Fire is often used to purify people and objects, and many people prefer their bodies to be cremated when they die.
Courtesy of The Element Pocket Encyclopaedia