Symbolically Speaking

Exploring the symbols, metaphors and archetypal patterns found in myth, pop culture, literature, astrology, religion, psychology, Tarot, art and history--and why they matter.

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Fun with the Elements

Four Elements SymbolThe four elements are found throughout philosophy, myth and literature, in addition to being foundational for both magical work and Tarot.

But what do they mean? What does the energy of each feel like? How are the four elements expressed in the real world (apart from literal manifestations in movies like The Last Airbender)?

I thought I’d create a fun post on how the four elements might look through various lenses, including Star Trek races, candy, Retro TV, music and Hogwarts houses. Although these are light-hearted associations, they can still be utilized in magic making with the elements.

First, let’s go over the four elements and associations:

Earth SymbolEARTH Element (PENTACLES Suit in Tarot) – Feminine/Receptive Energy

Associated with: Material World; Physicality; Health; Money; Five Senses; Food; Environment; Possessions; Resources; Simplicity; Solid; Slow; Responsible; Loyal; Cautious; Hands-On; Grounding; Foundation

Symbolized by: Seedling; Leaf; Soil; Grain; Rocks

Chakras 1 (Root) and 2 (Sacral): Survival; Power over others

Astrological Signs: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn

Magical Creature: Gnome

Fire SymbolFIRE Element (WANDS Suit in Tarot) – Masculine/Active Energy

Associated with: Ambitions; Passions; Vocational Pursuits; Innovation; Energy; Personal Identity; Matters of Self (Self-Esteem, Self-Direction, Self-Starter, Self-Reliant, Self-Exploration, Self-Help, etc.); Aggressiveness; Daring; Expansive; Fast; Catalyst; Blazing; Enthusiasm; Originality; Sexuality

Symbolized by: Flame; Fire

Chakra 3 (Solar Plexus) – Personal power; Self-esteem

Astrological Signs: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius

Magical Creature: Salamander

Water SymbolWATER Element (CUPS Suit in Tarot) – Feminine/Receptive Energy

Associated with: Feelings; Relationships; Spiritual Life; Connection with the Divine; Values; Mood; Aesthetics; Dreaminess; Quirky; Flowing; Healing; Joining

Symbolized by – Wave; Droplet; Rain

Chakra 4 (Heart) – Love; Compassion; Forgiveness

Astrological Signs: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces

Magical Creature: Undine

Air SymbolAIR Element (SWORDS Suit in Tarot) – Masculine/Active Energy

Associated with: Intellect; Mental Realm; Judgments; Analysis; Beliefs; Anxieties; Decisions; Strategy; Communication; Separation; Complexity; Restriction; Narrow; Bracing; Severance

Symbolized by: Stylized curves as “wind”; Cloud; Feather

Chakras 5 and 6 (Throat and Third Eye) – Communication; Vision

Astrological Signs: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius

Magical Creature: Sylph

So now let’s have fun and see how each of the four elements might find expression in the real world:

Star Trek Races:

Earth – Ferengi
Fire – Klingon
Water – Betazoid
Air – Vulcan

Candy:

Earth – Licorice
Fire – Fireballs
Water – Liquid Filled Wax Bottles
Air – Hard Tack Whistles

Colors:

Earth – Brown and Green
Fire – Red and Orange
Water – Blue and Aqua
Air – Gray and White

Hogwarts Houses:

Earth – Hufflepuff
Fire – Slytherin
Water – Gryffindor
Air – Ravenclaw

Birds:

Earth – Penguins
Fire – Phoenix
Water – Pelican
Air – Eagle

Retro TV:

Earth – Gilligan’s Island
Fire – A-Team
Water – Love Boat
Air – 6 Million Dollar Man

Instruments:

Earth – Percussion
Fire – Brass
Water – Woodwinds
Air – Strings

Football:

Earth – Water Boys
Fire – Players
Water – Cheerleaders
Air – Coaches

Painters:

Earth – Andrew Wyeth
Fire – Salvador Dali
Water – Claude Monet
Air – Van Gogh

Food:

Earth – Rice, Pasta, Tubers
Fire – Hot and Spicy Fare
Water – Cold Beverages
Air – Mint, Puff Pastry and Cotton Candy

Music Genres:

Earth – Gregorian Chant, Tribal Drumming, Folk Music
Fire – Salsa, Mambo and Dance
Water – Catchy Pop, Ballads, Lullabies
Air – Electronica, Trance, Classical

Fiction Genres:

Earth – Westerns and Sagas
Fire – Thrillers
Water – Romance and Fantasy
Air – Mystery and Science Fiction

Seasons:

Earth – Fall (harvest time; a slowing down)
Fire – Spring (new life sprouting; new energy)
Water – Summer (pool! sunshine!)
Air – Winter (cold weather; clarity; sharpness)

Lastly, here are some songs that I feel correlate with the four elements:

EarthThe Downeaster “Alexa” by Billy Joel

FireFirework by Katy Perry

WaterCaribbean Blue by Enya

Air Natural Science by Rush

What would you add to these lists? Agree or disagree with my choices? Have any questions about them? What other contemporary categories can you think of for the four elements? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Last modified on
Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot and Tarot in Reverse, as well as the co-creator (with her husband, artist Ron Boyer) of the Snowland Deck and Coffee Tarot . She is currently working on her third and fourth traditionally-published Tarot books--Naked Tarot (Dodona Books, 2014) and 365 Tarot: Daily Meditations (Dodona Books, 2015). As a respected, trusted Amazon Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer, she's penned over 1,200 published reviews that have also been featured in print magazines and other online outlets. In addition to being a Tarot teacher, author, deck creator and professional reader, she is also a frequent radio guest (and former host), essayist, short story writer and homeschooling Mom. Her hobbies include cultivating flowers, tending biota, watching retro TV on DVDs (60s + 70s), trying new recipes (she's an award-winning cook), serving as a Patron of the Arts, photography and reading (especially mysteries/suspense). Visit Janet online at JanetBoyer.com.

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