Each element has a particular strength and it can be invoked to give the ritual the particular ‘flavor’ of that element, for example: water is the element of emotions, flowing and fluid and always changing so using water in love spells would make the spell more effective and powerful.
Generally a small amount of each element is collected and kept on a witch’s altar so it is ready for use, these are called correspondences.
What are the elements in magic?
The elements are Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Salt, preferably rock or sea salt is collected to represent Earth. A small bowl of rain water (or filtered tap water) is used to represent water. A candle, twig or wax is used to represent fire and finally either a naturally found feather or smoke incense can often used to symbolise Air.
These are small microcosms which represent the element in its macrocosm (it’s large entirety.) It is universally recognised within many cultures and magical practices to cast a circle.
A witch would “call in/draw the quarters” and bring in each element using the correspondences. The phrase ‘The quarters’ are used because each element has a direction: Earth to the North, Air to the East, Fire to the South and Water to the West.
The physical correspondences are placed in these directions within the circle. To read more about how to cast a circle, click here.
The element of Earth describes the literal ground and earth we live on but also a technique in witchcraft called grounding. This is a process where the witch allows any negative or excess energy to be absorbed by the ground by meditating. The witch focuses on their breathing and in their mind’s eye they visualise this energy leaving their body and dissipating into the ground. Earth magic can also be a technique called cleansing.
Crystals and other magical items (anything porous should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to make sure it is not damaged by damp earth) this can be buried in the earth for 24 hours.
Earth takes in and neutralises any energy replacing it with calming earth energy. It is a receptive energy and it’s season is winter, this is because during the winter many animals will dig under ground or recede into caves to hibernate. They come back to the earth for rest and protection.
Earth is feminine as the earth cares for, feeds and births every animal throughout their lifetime. Earth goddesses include the mother Goddess figure like Gaia. The element of earth within magic teaches us to be calm and centred.
The element of water describes our emotions. The tide is pushed and pulled on the shores by the moon (which is also feminine and water.) Rivers run and flow downstream and our emotions also ebb and flow.
Water magic can look like a self care ritual bath or collecting moon water (rain water which is left under a full moon to collect the moon’s rays) for potions and spells. Water cleanses and smoothes everything it touches over time, large rocks and river beds and worn smooth by the gentle but eternal current of the water. Water teaches us patience, acceptance and also how to control our emotions until they pass, as they always do.
The season for water is Autumn, this is because water magic teaches us acceptance and to let go just like the trees let go of their leaves when they no longer serve them.
Another important part of water magic within witchcraft is kitchen magic: water is used a lot in cooking and found abundantly in food so the effects of kitchen magic are well known. Who doesn’t feel better after a beautifully cooked home meal prepared with love? Water magic is all about providing comfort and relief for when stress and negative emotions present themselves and for heightening enjoyment and celebrations for the positive emotions. Soup when we are sick, cake for our birthdays.
The element of water is also feminine and deities include Tiamat, Venus, Aphrodite and Poseidon.
The element of fire describes our heart and our passions. What sparks creativity and excitement in us. The sun is also fire. The sun is the ego, thinking/doing and working hard and so is fire.
Fire magic is candle magic. Using the flame of a candle to safely and conveniently bring fire into our spells helps with manifesting our desires. The power of fire can also be used to burn and therefore banish.
A popular fire magic technique can be as simple as a witch writing what they wish to banish (negativity, a person, toxic behavior, a bad habit) One a whole bay leaf and burning it in a small cauldron. Interestingly the same spell can be used to bring in anything positive (money, love, new career, promotion) the witch uses their intention and hand position to either bring in (bay leaf held in right hand) or cast out (held in left.) Mostly fire is used to manifest change.
The season for fire is Summer because it is the hottest season. Fire is a masculine element because of the way it pushes with work and action in order to manifest. It’s deities are Re, Sekhmet, Apollo and Lugh. Fire magic teaches us to push, strive and be strong.
The element of Air describes the mind, communication and dreams. The air in our lungs is used to breathe and also to help us speak. We cannot see this element only it’s effects on the world just like we cannot see our thoughts only the actions they cause us to take.
Air magic is cleansing with smoke and also high magic. High magic means magic using the mind as the witch’s only tool. Spells are created without ingredients only the intention, meditation and visualisation of the with. The element of air is said to be masculine because it is linked to logic and reason. Air Deities include Shu, Thoth, Hermes and Mercury.
The element of air within witchcraft teaches us to think logically and clearly, to interpret our dreams and to quiet our mind. Meditation can be air related instead of earth related if the meditation uses high magic or visualisation work to bring change and not just to ground and center.
The fifth element
It is not always known in the mainstream but there is also a fifth element: the element of the Ether or spirit. This is often seen as the most important within witchcraft, and pardon the pun but it is generally where the magic happens.
Also within witchcraft the Ether element tends to have the most diverse representation because it is the decision of the individual witch and their beliefs to decide what they will use as the correspondence for this element.
Often the Ether element is used to represent God/Goddess/Deity and so it is often a small statue or carved crystal of their chosen deity. Whilst casting a circle the spirit element is called in after all the other elements and the incantation or spell asks the deity directly to be present and help the practitioner with the spell.
It can be argued that most magical workings happen using the spirit element in some way or another. Often the correspondence for the spirit element will be an offering to the Matron or Patron (the deity the witch works with closely and asks for protection.) sometimes this may be a small statue with a decorated plate and offerings of salt, bread and water are common, but some deities prefer gold, alcohol or lavish luxurious items.
The Ether element can also mean our own spirit, our highest self, our soul or sometimes the universe itself so a witch will likely use this if they do not believe in personified deity.
The symbols of the elements
Sometimes it can be difficult to remember which of the symbols mean which element so here is an informal way to help you memorize them:
- Fire looks like the triangle of a rising flame
- Water is a cup or goblet
- Air looks like a mountain with a line for a cloud
- And earth looks like a turnip mostly above the ground
- The spirit is a circle because it is all around us
Elements for protection
A large reason why witches call in the elements/draw the quarters during a circle casting before spell work is because many magical texts teach that the elements can protect us.
Again each element has a flavour of in this case protection: fire burns and purifies away negativity with its flame, water gently cleanses without disturbing the positive energy close by, air blows clean and carries sacred cleansing smoke, wafting away negativity (we should always open windows when using air to cleanse so the negativity can escape) and earth neutralises and grounds. The spirit is often the deity being called on and the witch asks the deity to protect them with all their divine power
To which element does this belong?
Use this cheat sheet to quickly see which element this correspondence or technique belongs to so you can better understand and enhance your spells knowing the elemental magic at work
All crystals are Earth energy because they come from the Earth and use energetic vibrations to shift us and items around them into their vibration. They can cleanse, restore, ground, enhance love and much more. But within crystals themselves there are some that contain energies of the other elements too. Here is a list below of the most popular crystals and which element they also belong in: I was trying to put these into 2 sets of 2 columns but when I tried the second column would not sit nice and straight. Anyway I thought this would look better than to have 4 individual long lists down the pages. Maybe you know how to do this. I hope this makes sense?
- Petrified wood
- Tigers eye
- Aqua aura
- Lapis lazuli
- Mother of Pearl
- Topaz (blue)
- Jasper (red)
- Smoky quartz
- Topaz (yellow)
- Blue lace agate
- Quartz (clear)
- Angel quartz
- Aura quartz
- Aura rose quartz
- Spirit quartz
Here is a list of each color sorted into its elemental category. Sometimes we may not have all the ingredients for a spell but if we know the color of the item we need we can often use one in the same elemental category and the spell even though it is altered can still work
Zodiacs by elements
Astrology and the rotating of the planets in our solar system are used within witchcraft to divine the future and also to traverse our internal landscape.
The zodiac signs fit perfectly into elemental categories and they help us to round out and define the feel of the elements and show us how these elements may present themselves in the actions of people around us:
Earth zodiac signs
The zodiac signs in the element of Earth are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn
They are patient, diligent, hard working and have a lot of self control. Negatively they can sometimes be very stubborn and come across as less fun than some of the other signs
Water zodiac signs
These zodiac signs are Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio
They are emotional, spiritual and very mysterious. They tend to be the most naturally gifted at psychism and involved in the occult. Their negative sides can be getting too swept up in their emotions and sometimes they can lose control over them
Fire zodiac signs
The signs for the element of fire are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
These signs are hot headed but they burnout quickly. Passionate and fiery. Negatively they can struggle with burn out and an all or nothing approach to life and this can get them in trouble with work and school
Air zodiac signs
The signs for the element of air are Aquarius, Gemini and Libra.
These are the great thinkers and debaters of the zodiac. They can communicate very complicated topics with ease and they are often the most intelligent and truthful of the all the signs. However their negative side is that they can struggle with understanding emotions, both their own and others’ so they can sometimes come across as blunt and they don’t realise they can hurt people’s feelings
Small magical acts
Here are some small magical acts you can perform. They are listed as per the element they belong to, you can pick them knowing you are giving yourself a little boost in this area
- Herbal magic
- Plant magic
- Tasseography (reading tea leaves)
- Bath magic
- Beach/natural water magic
- Kitchen magic
- Collecting moon water
- Candle magic
- Bay leaf burning
- Birthday candle wish
- Dream journal
- Shadow working
- Visualisation work
- Tarot reading or any form of divination
- Smoke cleansing
- Deity worship
- Communicating with ancestors
- Working with angel guides
- Singing/using the vibration of voice to enhance a spell
The elements are within us
Just like the world exists with the elements in perfect balance, we too, have every single element within us. This is important to remember if we ever want to cast a circle or perform elemental magic of any kind but we don’t have any correspondences with us, we still have them within us.
Earth is the physical body and more in depth it is our bones which are carbon. Water is our blood and also our emotions flowing within us. Fire is our heart and the electricity that sparks in our mind, it is also all the things which fill our hearts with joy. Air is our mind, our ideas and dreams. Spirit is our soul which we carry around with us and helps guide us daily.
We must care for each of these elements and every part of us for maximum wellbeing. We balance Earth (our body) by taking care of it, eating healthy, exercising, keeping it warm, dry and safe. We balance Water (our emotions) by allowing ourselves to feel and process our emotions in our own time without guilt or shame, we can journal, record our dreams and express our love to friends and family. We balance fire (our heart/passion) by making sure we take small actions each day that are inline with our goals and desires.
Maybe this is a new career or to move home, so we must write our CV or pack up our possessions and actively make changes and not be passive. We balance air (our mind) by practicing good mental health tactics like shadow working, meditating and calming the mind, we can also inspire our mind’s with art and beautiful poetry that in turn feed us and keep us going.
Finally we can balance spirit (our spirit and also the universe at large) by exploring our spiritual beliefs and creating a practice which expresses them maybe daily.
Mixing elements in spells
Quite often the Elements are used altogether to create a grounding and protecting circle and also a firm foundation for the spiritual element to enter. Sometimes however, it is interesting to experiment with elemental magic and see what effects can be found if just one or two elements are mixed.
Below is a brief summary of what can be expected if each of the elements are mixed, however it is important to remember that each technique may belong to one or more elemental catagories already so the results below are more like guidelines rather than fact:
Earth and Water. When Earth and water are mixed, perhaps with crystals (Earth) and a ritual bath or with kitchen magic (food is grown in earth and cooked in water) the effects calm the emotions of the witch and smooth. The emphasise is on gentle self care.
When Earth and Fire are mixed it is another matter completely. Crystals (Earth) can be used with candle magic (Fire) to create a strong foundation to manifest the wishes of the witch. The crystals offer the Earth’s strong but passive power as the fire burns and manifests.
When Earth and Air are mixed these are opposites but they bond instead and they do not clash. Using Earth to ground oneself and Air to visualise the witch can perform high magic with only their body (Earth) and mind (Air) it is a very simple but effective spell.
Water and Fire mix to create a blaze that can be used to change and stir up emotions quickly and powerfully. Whereas earth dampened and relaxed the emotions (water) fire magic instead causes the most passionate emotions that the witch has to rise to the surface. These can look like powerful love spells, for example.
Water and Air make a beautiful combination. When emotions (water) meets the mind (air) we have things like shadow work journaling. Where we bring our conscious (air) to the inner most parts of our mind, the subconscious which is water. With this magic blend we can heal trauma, change negative habits and heal emotions using this type of magic.
Finally Fire and Air are very powerful. Using the manifestation and passion of fire magic with the calm clear logic of air we create the most powerful spells to manifest our goals.
These types of spells work so well because we think for a very long time about what we want, we decide a very logical plan to make this come true and then we use that fiery passion within us to take the steps of the plan each day. This can look like mind maps, collages and action plans.
We hope you have enjoyed this article where we explore in depth the use of elemental magic within witchcraft. Seeing how each type of magic fits into an element can show us how a particular spell works and the type of emotion or mental state that we should bring to that spell to make it the most successful it can be.
This article is also useful to create your own spell. If you wish to ground yourself you can put together an earth based crystal and select an action from the small magical acts list and let the magic take hold.
Remember that each element can be found within us at all times and we naturally know what to do to balance and restore each element to equilibrium.