Eclectic Elementals: The Magic & Spirituality of the Elements

This is not a specifically named, established path like Asatru, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Kemeticism, Wicca or Santeria. Yet the Elemental Path can be adapted to any practice, traditional or modern, and the Elements are indeed present and utilized in all practices and systems. It can also be, as it is for me, its own completely original, self-contained and self-defined path. It is the path of peeking behind all the named and well-presented curtains; of getting to the heart of All and of connecting to and honoring the mystical, essential building blocks of everything in existence, from the planet to our souls. No matter where your belief ultimately leads you or how you define it, the Elements are a part of it and, if nothing else, a great place to start.

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Ethereal Ways: The Fifth (and First) Element

In various books and internet resources dealing with elemental magic, paths and witchcraft, there are often chapters devoted to “The Water Witch”, “The Fire Witch”, and so on. There are also usually sections intended to help you “discover your element” or “what kind of elemental witch are you?”

In the explorations of “Eclectic Elementals”, I will be expounding on similar concepts but in the terms of the elemental “Path”, not just “Witch”. While magical practice is frequently a key aspect of many Pagan spiritualities, particularly as regards the Elements - the cornerstone of almost all magical workings - I have found that not all who practice magic always identify as “witches”.

Additionally, one can have an element-based spirituality that is not heavily focused on magic or witchcraft (the latter being a particular approach to the use of the former), as the Elements are also key to the natural, physical realm of the Below, as well as the Astral realm, the Above, etc. They are, therefore, an important part of connecting to nature, to our higher selves and to experiencing and understanding the magic that is intrinsically woven throughout all existence, whether we are harnessing it to bring about a specific will or not.

That being said, back to the distinctions between certain Elemental Witches or Paths. Something that I noticed when reading reviews about certain books (or comments on websites) dealing with elemental witchcraft and personal identification as such was that many people found that they were either “all of the elements”, according to their results of the author’s “What kind of elemental witch are you?” quiz, or at least three of them.

There are indeed reasons for this! Some reviewers rightly pointed out that these books should cover more than just the Four, or share “what it means” or “what to do” if you seem to have an affinity for all or most of the elements.

What it means or could mean (apart from you simply being a human made up of all of them) is that
A. You are probably already a pretty balanced, in-tune and elementally-influenced soul.
B. That working with at least a trio of your most prominent elements is not only “ok” but probably preferable; you needn’t limit yourself to one, and why would you anyway if you really want to understand nature and magic?
And/or C. Perhaps the Ether is your element, or at least somewhere you need to start…

So that brings us to the mysterious, ineffable “Fifth Element”. But is it really just the fifth?

Cassandra Eason states in her Complete Book of Natural Magic that the four elements combine to create the fifth, Ether. This is only half of the story. The synthesis of elements is cyclical, and it would be just as accurate to say that Ether is the source of the elements, as well as the pure concentration and resulting Quintessence of the four.

This idea is hinted at in The Emerald Tablet; Alchemy for Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck, “…five operations…lead in both directions to the remaining operations, which are the Separation and Fermentation of Quintessence.”

Quintessence and Ether are often considered the same thing, but I believe they are slightly different versions of the same medium, being at either end of the operation described by Hauck, or sort of a “before and after” state.

We know that matter cannot be destroyed but only changes its form. We know that we, both our physical bodies and our intangible, ethereal souls, come from somewhere and also return somewhere, in some form or another, after we die. This is the cycle of nature and one path/version of transformation that is reflected in the often highly symbolic processes of alchemy.

In his Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall tells us that “This fifth element, or ether, was called by the Hindus akasa. It was closely correlated with the hypothetical ether of modern science, and was the interpenetrative substance permeating all of the other elements and acting as a common solvent and common denominator of them.”

While we can equate the Ether and Akasa or Akasha, it is not accurate to use the terms Astral Light and Akasha interchangeably, as is commonly done. Madame Blavatsky presents and clarifies the differences between the two in her fundamental propositions of the Secret Doctrine.

While this goes very in-depth and employs all manner of noetic and metaphysical terms and theosophical analyses that magnificently straddle science and magic, suffice it to say, quoting Blavatsky, “[The Astral Light proper]…is the generic term for the universal and divine mind reflected in the waters of Space or Chaos…the realm of Akasa is the undifferentiated noumenal and abstract Space which will be occupied by Chidakasam, the field of primordial consciousness.”

She more succinctly sums it up thusly, “There is one great difference between the Astral Light and the Akasa which must be remembered. The latter is eternal, the former periodic.”

Our whole existence as spiritual beings in human bodies is at once both eternal and periodic.

Astral Light is described as Illusion, Akasha as Reality. Astral Light is the acorn, Akasha the germ within the acorn. Astral Light is the Psychic Plane, Akasha the Spiritual Plane.

This analysis and explanation of the differences of these two forces is the just the tip of a numinous and often esoteric iceberg, but one that is essential to explore if the four elements are to be understood and worked with individually and on the whole as Ether – both the source of and the fusion of all four.

And this is the disservice given to the elements by many somewhat simplistic books and resources referring to “elemental witches” as though you really can be only one kind or as though there is a separateness from other paths, fields and applications of magic & spirituality when it comes to connecting to the elements.

Think of it as being sure to not miss the forest for the trees. Especially if you find yourself having an affinity for all of the elements, or for most of them, step back and look at both their source and the combination of three or all four. Stretch your mind and give yourself, your spirit and what it resonates with more credit for its complexity and more chances to speak to you.

We are indeed a combination of all the elements, and to pick ourselves apart too much and try to identify our Selves, beliefs or practices based on one or two aspects or elements is limiting, to say the least, if not downright self-defeating in the pursuit of true spiritual understanding.


© 2018 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved

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Meredith is an amateur writer, Tarot/oracle reader, and a semi-agnostic, pan/metatheistic, Pagan mage & mystic. Her elemental affinity has led her to become a devoted water priestess and the creator of the website/blog The Oracle of Water where she shares and writes about all things aqueous in the worlds of metaphysics, spirituality, mythology and occultism. Currently pursuing her certification in Michelle Hanson’s seashell-based “Ocean Oracle”, she is also working to develop an original elemental-themed divination system. She currently lives in North Carolina with her spritely feline familiar, Naia.  

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