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Elements

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Most mythologies order the structure of the world according to a set of elements. While the number of elements varies, most mythologies identify four or five.

Element Sets

  • Babylonian mythology
    • Earth, Sea, Sky, Wind
  • Buddhist mythology: Catudhatu, "four elements"
    • Air, Earth, Fire, Water
  • Greek mythology
    • Aether, Air, Earth, Fire, Water
  • Hindu mythology: Pancha Mahabhuta, “five great elements”
    • Aether/Void, Air/Wind, Earth, Fire, Water
  • Japanese mythology: 五大 (go dai, "five great")
    • Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Atmos
  • Tibetan mythology
    • Air, Earth, Fire, Space, Water


The Elements

Aether/Akasha/Space

  • In the West, sometimes perceived as the mysterious "fifth element" that relates to the soul.
  • The substance that fills the heavens (Greek).
  • The source of everything in the universe, including the other elements; related to sound (Hindu).

Air/Sky

  • Associated with spring and the northern compass direction (Greek) or the northwestern compass direction (Hindu).
  • Representative of things that move.
  • According to Aristotle, primarily hot and secondarily wet.

Earth

  • Associated with communication, business, practical matters, fall, and the southern compass direction (Greek) or the southwestern compass direction (Hindu).
  • Representative of things that are solid or things that grow.
  • According to Aristotle, primarily dry and secondarily cold.

Fire

  • Associated with energy, passion, summer, the eastern compass point (Greek), or the southeastern compass direction (Hindu).
  • Representative of things that are hot or things that destroy.
  • According to Aristotle, primarily hot and secondarily dry.

Metal

  • Associated with inward motion, persistence, determination, ambition, the west, autumn, and Venus.

Void

  • Representative of things that are not normally encountered in everyday life.

Water/Sea

  • Associated with emotion, intuition, imagination, wisdom, winter, the planet Mercury, the western compass direction (Greek) or the northeastern compass direction (Hindu).
  • Representative of liquid things or cold things.
  • According to Aristotle, primarily cold and secondarily wet.

Wood

  • Associated with anger, patience, spring, the east, Jupiter, green, and wind.

Other "Elements"

The Four Humours

  • Four "elements" of the body; excess or absence of a humour was considered the cause of disease.
  • Yellow bile (fire)
  • Black bile (earth)
  • Blood (air)
  • Phlegm (water)

The Seven Chakras

  • Seven "energy centers" or "wheels" located on the spiritual body.
  • Sahasrara (Crown): Thought/Space
  • Ajña (Third Eye): Light/Dark
  • Vishuddhi (Throat): Ether/Sound
  • Anahata (Heart): Air
  • Manipura (Navel): Fire
  • Svadhisthana (Sacral): Water
  • Muladhara (Root): Earth

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