The Four Elements and the Elemental Quaternity of Life
Symbolism reflects ideas and truths about reality. Truth as a concept is a synonym for reality or existence of what is. By learning from nature and the science of reality itself, we can understand basic source symbolism that is derived as a reference and representation of nature.
The main infographic starts at 6:45m. Total length is 20 minutes.
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Introduction on Symbolism and Reality
There is symbolism for understanding consciousness that has been projected onto aspects of reality, or even unreality. We can project aspects of ourselves onto things that are imagined and don’t actually exist in an attempt to create meaning and provide an answer to fill a gap in comprehension.
The symbols that we create are first derived from reality itself, because first there is reality (primacy of existence), second there is knowledge of reality (within the power of consciousness), and eventually third there is a symbolic construct of that knowledge from reality (like pictographs, words, and language). We can also create and invent any fantasy in our inner-reality of consciousness and reference it through a symbol that doesn’t actually represent a part of demonstrable reality.
This will be a presentation on the four elements (and partially the sun) to demonstrate how symbols, symbolism and pictographs originated as part of our development in knowledge and communication.
To create symbols, nature or reality must be observed so that the symbols reflect the natural science of observation in nature and its phenomena, processes or systems. Symbols are used to communicate about reality. Thousands of years ago symbols were created to reflect reality, either a factual aspect of reality, or imagined as a potential reality or unreality.
Symbols were first engraved as pictographs, then abstract lines and curves that diverged from the directly reflected symbol in reality. Symbols are originally analogous references to reality through an image that represents reality. Later symbols diverge from a direct representation of something in reality.
The sun can be created into a symbolic image to elucidates various knowledge that corresponds to sun itself, or to use the symbol to convey other meanings. The word “sun” is more abstract, and more defined in meaning with a limited scope of imagery associated with it since it’s not an image-pictograph anymore. The word sun may invoke imagery within us, but the word itself is “s-u-n” and lacks the direct reflection of the sun in reality represented by a circle.
Symbols are required to represent aspects of reality in order to communicate about those aspects of reality.
Different aspects of reality are represented through symbols. Anthropomorphism, personification, and projection all occur to represent concepts in relation to ourselves, hence “gods” and “goddesses” throughout many cultures and creation myths that share aspects we project onto them. There are masculine and feminine components that we define as such, and these components are found in the g ods as well as goddesses, personified in reference to ourselves and the dual nature of gender. Many ancient cultures had animal and nature deification symbolism through using the image of something else “out there” (outside of consciousness/self) that we could more easily understand and use as a reference to ourselves.
“Thus, there is growing evidence supporting the idea that early humans showed an early and sophisticated dependence on the sky for information. In fact, Krupp notes that it was inevitable that humans would look to the stars and constellations, for they provided, “practical services: timekeeping, season marking, calendrics, weather signs, concentrations of supernatural power, and symbolic containment of important cultural data”
– Sino-Platonic Paper, Foundation of Myth by Brian Pellar, pg. 3
The anthropomorphism, personification and projection of aspects of ourselves onto reality, is done in order to make sense of ourselves in relation to things in reality that we can more easily reference for understanding. This is where the symbolism comes from, by trying to relate ourselves to reality in order to understand ourselves and reality.
Think about it. Before abstract symbols were created, how would you try to communicate about the immaterial consciousness self of who you are that is apart from your physical body? If you’re already using symbols derived from existence, then coming up with something completely new and not seen before might be difficult to do. It’s easier to use something you can point to in reality, and use that as a symbolic frame to correspond to something else or other understandings such as self-knowledge. This is how basic communication started, through analogous correspondence in mythopoetic metaphors, allegories and narratives.
I posit that much of the symbolism reveals deeper wisdom about how to live life correctly (i.e. morality) and other self-knowledge. It was developed, and encoded, through esoteric symbolism in metaphor, analogies, allegories, and parables, using references to ourselves and reality in order to provide a comparative framework for understanding.
The imagination to see images in our consciousness, is either based directly on reality, or on subjective concepts that aren’t directly reflected from a grounding in reality. Subjective imaginations can try to provide answers through speculations, concepts or ideas, but are simply belief for the moment which may eventually be demonstrated to be true or false.
The Four Elements and the Elemental Quaternity of Life
One very old symbolic model is that of the four elements: fire, air, water and earth.
It starts from fire, goes up to air, down to water, and then down into earth.
The fire goes upwards towards the air, and heat also rises from that source. There is also the light of the sun that produces heat when it makes contact with any object on earth. Stars also produce light.
Fire is the upright triangle going upwards as heat goes upwards towards the air. Air is a triangle that’s bisected to form the top portion. Then back down is the opposite of fire is water with a downward triangle. And finally is earth with a bisected downward triangle.
You can think of water evaporating from heat, either from the fire source or from the sun, that goes into the air which then condenses into the clouds and then water falls down from the cloud-source.
The fire represents our desires which are what drives us. From the desires and cares of our inclinations, this goes up to the air which is our thoughts. Our thoughts, and what we care to actualize, produce the deeds of water that fall to create consequences on the earth. The deeds are many drops of water that flow through time like a stream.
In between each element there is also a quality from that relationship. Between fire and air there is heat. Between air and water there is moisture. Between water and earth it is cold. Between earth and fire it is dry.
Fire, sun or light heats the air, or the wind, breath or “spirit”, that moves upon the surface of the waters and earth to cause changes.
Doesn’t that sound like a description about a creation mythology? (hint: the bible)
The wind moves through high and low pressures with cold and heat which are two of the qualities. The heat comes from a source of light, the sun or fire, and the light is truth or justice that stirs things up in order to create change. The heat makes the air move which then moves upon the waters. The friction of the air and wind on the water creates waves and ripples to cause changes through time. These are our deeds and actions which cause changes through time.
This is how nature itself works in reality that we can observe. The four elements are what make up reality, but not literally. We know that these four elements are not what make up literal reality, but in a symbolic sense they represent how we* make reality through our actions.
These are the four elements that make up our reality processing capacity that can be described through other symbolism such as the Trinity of Consciousness or the Trivium Methodology.
Instead of the Trinity of Consciousness, this is a Quartering of Consciousness with the four elemental forces.
These are symbolic representations of us, as beings that create into reality. Therefore, these four elements are what create reality because they represent us as we create into reality.
This ancient symbolism has lost its original meaning that was described through symbolic representation and analogous correspondence. Instead of understanding the rich symbolic, metaphorical imagery that is being used to communicate an understanding about ourselves and reality, some people took (and still take) the symbolism in ancient narratives as a literal representation of reality, that then could easily be dismissed by some people.
The four elements were developed through a recognition of nature and the processes and phenomenon within existence. A basic method of trying to learn (and also trying to communicate) is through analogous correspondence whereby one thing is compared to another to draw similarities or differences. The four elements not only represent natural observable phenomenon in nature overall, but also within human nature and how we create into existence.
This represents how we as higher order consciousness beings create into reality. This is how the four elements represent reality, as how we create reality.
Truth is derived and verified from objective reality or existence (which are synonyms). Truth as a concept is a synonym for reality or existence of what is. By learning from nature and the science of reality itself, we can understand basic source symbolism that is derived as a reference and representation of nature.
Looking at nature is how symbols like the four elements were created, and then analogously corresponded to represent deeper meaning, such as self-knowledge.
First is reality, second is knowledge, and third are symbols to represent that knowledge of reality. The four elements are symbols to represent knowledge of reality. Of how things work in nature, with fire, air, water and earth going around in a cycle. And also how we do the same thing in a cycle with our thoughts, emotions and actions that is here represented as care or desire, thoughts, actions and results or consequences that manifest in reality.
Most people that talk about these symbols refer to the upward triangles as masculine, and the downward ones as feminine, which is true, but they all have masculine and feminine qualities within them. The upright triangle is also representative of the phallus and erect penis as a symbol for the masculine desire for the feminine. The fire is masculine and is desiring to reach towards to the air and feminine, which is symbolic of a higher consciousness than the opposite element of the earth which is also feminine and masculine in quality.
To bring validity to this gender symbolism, in Ancient Egypt there were god and goddess siblings called Nut and Geb. Nut being the sky, and Geb being the earth. In other mythologies, the sky is the father, while the earth is the mother. It depends on how you want to look at it, as symbolism is multilayered with different applicable meanings to convey.
Even within this symbolism of the four elements, there is the cyclical symbolism that has been described both in the dual aspect of nature and existence, as well as consciousness, but there is also another dual symbolic representation of higher and lower consciousness as expressed through the air and the earth. As we go from the fire of our desires to the water of our deeds and actions going across horizontally, we then need to choose between another symbolic representation on a vertical axis, between lower and higher consciousness.
Higher consciousness is symbolized through the air because of the “spirit”, the breath of life, and also representative of the genetrix or feminine generative power to give birth. The air is unseen, as the “spirit” or consciousness is internal and is also unseen. The unseen, immaterial, nonphysical, “spiritual”, breath of life, air and wind, is more of a feminine than masculine symbol despite the upward triangle that some want to convey as only having masculine symbolism within the 4 elements.
The two qualities of air represented as heat and moisture are also conveyed in the Egyptian mythologies through the gods of Shu (masculine, heat) and Tefnut (feminine, moist). Tefnut was also associated with Maat and being the spouse of Thoth which I have talked about before. Tefnut was also representative of life and truth, as Maat and the feather of Maat was the symbol for truth and morality.
In my work I talk about how truth, and moral truth in particular, is the path to higher, realer and truer life. The ancient symbolism conveys this meaning but has been lost because people are always taking these ancient narratives and creation mythologies as literal, instead of taking it as deeper symbolism that conveys real life knowledge we can use to improve the quality and condition of our lives.
The air symbolism is also related to the bird symbolism that has been used in many ancient cultures and mythologies. The bird, wings and feather is also representative of the sacred feminine, especially in ancient Egypt through many of the goddesses that had wings, such as Maat who also used a feather to represent the air which was the high element that was closest to the light of truth represented as the sun and main source of heat that enables life to exist on Earth.
Despite the air being represented through an upward triangle and often being mistaken as mostly being masculine, it can be seen that the air is highly representative of feminine symbolism as I have described. Air is more feminine than masculine. All of the four elements have dual symbolic representations depending on how one looks at the symbol.
The symbols are reflected in nature. We are building symbols from knowledge that is derived from existence.
Objective reality is the primacy of existence. Consciousness has power to affect and alter objective reality, but is not the primacy. Existence comes first.
In looking at our reality, the lowest element we have is earth. And then on top of the earth are other things such as water. This is how it is most easily observed as being the reality around us. Fire is also on top of the earth. This is exactly how the symbolism is demonstrated in the infographic. There is water and fire on top of the earth which naturally juxtaposes themselves on opposite sides with earth on the bottom, leaving the air to take up the natural position above. And this is exactly how the four elemental symbolic framework and model represents nature as well as ourselves as a consciousness.
There are other models that purport to have the correct placement and change the order of things. All you need to do to verify their positioning is to look at nature and existence itself as the source from which the symbols were originally derived in order to verify the accuracy of someone’s model that is attempting to represent nature or existence. If there is a contradiction between the model and existence, then in all likelihood the model is flawed.
This infographic is just a circular representation to demonstrate the order of the process. The symbols are larger and more visually represented to make it a bit easier to visualize the core information compared to the previous image.
The beginning of symbolism starts with reality. There is the basic daily sun cycle, and the 4 elemental cycles that underlies much of other symbolism. They are symbols referencing processes in reality through observation of reality. Further understanding of reality and ourselves can also be based on symbolism and be described.
Understanding this, the four elements are likely the basis for other quaternity symbolism.
Regarding consciousness, the 4 points are used in the Quaternity instead of the 3 pointed Trinity of Consciousness symbolism to demonstrate an understanding of how we are processing, generating and creating into reality.
The top 3 parts of the quaternity of four elements is essentially the triangle of the trinity of consciousness of thought, emotions and actions, represented instead as desires/cares, thoughts and deeds/actions.
This was not part of the presentation, but the quaternity symbolism is also found in the quartering of the squaring the circle, the 4 corners, 4 winds, 4 angels, 4 cherubim, 4 seasons, 4 zodiac signs, 4 points of a cross, the cross, the crossed arms symbols of the dead, and the the crucified one (crossed one).
Just as the imagery and symbolism in the narrative of how the “divine crucified one” is “resurrected”, we can also resurrect ourselves, to be reborn, renewed, recycled, and “reincarnated” into a new version of ourselves in this self-transformation process of the elemental quaternity.
We can change our desires, cares and thoughts, that result in different deeds and actions, which then result in different consequences or rewards that we create into reality. This is the symbolism that much of my main work talks about.
Thank you for your time and attention! I appreciate the knowledge reaching more people. Take care. Peace.