In their daily lives, animals are closely aligned with the elements. Based on their elemental correspondences, animals will often act as caretakers of that element. For example, the sandgrouse has a net of filaments on his upper body. After he returns from soaking at the water hole, his chicks drink from the water stored in his net. One could think of the sandgrouse as a guardian of water. This desert bird could be called upon for water magic in arid areas. (Since the elements correspond to the directions, an animal could be asked to guard a particular direction, as well.)  

For the next series of posts, I will be offering suggestions for the pairing of various animals with the elements. This is to give people an idea of how to go about doing this for themselves. I will first list the mammals, since many people have an affinity with them. In other postings, I will continue with birds, reptiles, and insects.

When assigning correspondences between the animals and the elements, both the cultural aspects and natural aspects of each animal should be considered. For example, dragonflies are masters of their small ponds, which would indicate an affinity with water. However to the Chinese and Japanese, they are creatures of flight and the air. Therefore dragonflies can correspond to either air or water depending on the context of the magical working.

The individual species of each animal group can also be taken into consideration. Salamanders, in general, like the mudpuppy and tiger salamander need water because they are amphibians. However the fire salamander has poisons to deter people. This salamander could then be assigned to the element of fire instead of water. (And in European magic, the fire salamander is considered the essence of fire.)

In some cases, the same animal could be considered for more than one element based on the different cultural aspects of that animal. The raven is a case in point. As an animal of deep magic for Pagans, the raven could be assigned to the element of spirit. However, for the Northwest Indians, the Raven brought fire to them. For me, a combination the lore and natural habits of the animal will determine their corresponding element.