The Cornerstones of Creation
It's easy to see the four elements as they physically exist on the planet. Witches, however, also concern themselves with the nonphysical aspect of the elements. Magicians consider the elements to be archetypal modes of expression and the foundation of occult science. Metaphysically, the elements correspond to astrological signs, lunar cycles, the seasons, the four directions, spiritual beings, human personalities, colors, shapes, the suits of the tarot, and a great deal more.
In his book Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements, Stephen Arroyo writes, “The four elements are not merely ‘symbols’ or abstract concepts, but rather they refer to the vital forces that make up the entire creation that can be perceived by the physical senses.”
Knowledge of these elements has influenced many branches of philosophy and religion as well as magick. They also played an important role in alchemy. Although Aristotle is often credited with forming the concepts commonly accepted today in Western magick, references to the elements can be found in various ancient cultures and schools of thought.
Witches and other occultists recognize a fifth element, too: spirit. The five points of the pentagram symbolically depict all five elements. Spirit might be described as the essence underlying something; as Bill Whitcomb puts it in his book The Magician's Companion, spirit is “the seed (quintessence) necessary for the manifestation of the elements.”
When you're doing magick, it helps to have a comprehensive understanding of the elements and how they operate in plants, minerals, animals, and other substances you may be using in a spell. Combining elemental energies correctly will enhance your workings and contribute to successful results.