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Finding Your Element Part 1: Understanding the Symbolism of Earth, Air, Water and Fire

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

For thousands of years, various cultures have assigned spiritual meanings to the elements, and today they still hold significant power for many people. In many cultures, the four elements are thought to have healing qualities. Each of the four elements is said to have their own unique energy and corresponds with a particular aspect of our lives. When we understand their symbolism, we can use them to promote healing in our lives.

There is an old saying that goes "as above, so below" which speaks to the idea that the macrocosm of the universe is reflected in the microcosm of our own lives. This axiom is also expressed in the Hermetic Principle of Correspondence, which states that there is a correspondence between the physical and spiritual worlds. This principle can be seen in the four elements of nature—earth, air, fire, water—and their corresponding qualities.

From this idea, we can understand that there is a close relationship between our mental health and the elements of nature. When we are in tune with the natural elements, our mental health flourishes. There's no doubt that spending time in nature has a positive effect on our mental health. One study found that spending just 20 minutes in nature resulted in decreased anxiety and improved moods. When we are in tune with the natural world, our minds and spirits are in balance. Conversely, when we are disconnected from the earth, our mental health suffers.

Each element is said to represent a different aspect of our spiritual nature, and each has its own unique symbolism.

For example, earth is associated with stability, materiality and grounding. When we connect with the earth, we are able to connect with our physical selves and ground our energy. This can be helpful in times of stress or anxiety, when we feel scattered or ungrounded. The earth is also associated with manifesting physical things into our lives, and can help us to create a sense of stability. From a spiritual perspective, earth represents the body, the material world and the foundation on which we build our lives.

The Water element can help us to feel emotionally secure and create a sense of inner calm. Water is associated with cleansing and release. It is the element of flow and change, and can help us to release negative emotions and patterns. The water element is associated with emotions, intuition, and change. It is said to promote emotional healing and balance, as well as intuition.

The fire element is associated with the qualities of passion, creativity, energy, drive and enthusiasm. When we are in balance with the fire element, we feel creative and passionate about life. We also have a great deal of enthusiasm for our pursuits. It can be both stimulating and motivating, but it can also be destructive and dangerous. When used correctly, fire can be a powerful force for good, but when it's out of control it can cause a great deal of harm.

The air element is associated with the qualities of intelligence, communication, and inspiration. When we are in balance with the air element, we are able to think clearly and communicate effectively. We are also inspired to take action and achieve our goals with freedom and flexibility.

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