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The Star Article

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Introduction to the elements of Nature (Part 1)

A COMMENTARY ON HENRY CORNELIUS AGRIPPA’S FIRST BOOK ON OCCULT PHILOSOPHY

The elements of nature are not only the foundation of astrology but all occult science viz. alchemy and magic.

The four elements operating on Earth are plain and easy for all to see: FIRE, EARTH, AIR & WATER. The first element that forms the ground that we walk upon and supports our every step is Earth of course, the planet we live on and call it according to its name “Earth”. It is becoming exponentially more and more apparent every day that planet Earth we live on is a vibrant living being. Click on the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis and read about the scientific theory of the Gaia Hypothesis.

Well if Earth is an element of nature which is living, it logically follows that all the other elements must in fact be “living beings”, or living energies if you so wish.

The extract below is from:

http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/04/26/Earths-core-hotter-than-thought-hot-as-suns-surface/UPI-23241367007255/#ixzz2df6tb8cu

“Science News - Earth's core hotter than thought, hot as sun's surface”

The Earth

This cross section of the Earth’s core below gives us a limited but clear indication of all the elements at work on our earthly plane. We have yet to begin the exploration of the living elements in the celestial realm.

A Fire burning almost as hot as our life-giving Sun is FIXED at our core, the core of Earth, burning forever bright! This fire is encapsulated and fixed or rather cupped in the Earth’s cold mantle and crust, cooling the fire to the frozen ice of the North Pole. This Fire and Earth combine with Air and Water and in particular geometric combination form what we know as living life in all its variety and glory.

The four elements of Fire, Earth, Water and Air are living energies that are the makeup, the nuts and bolts, the shape and form of our living, conscious, physical, mental and emotional life on Earth. Now what a peculiar sequence or combination it is. There are rules that exist which bind these elements into this particular sequence. The fact is, is that each element embodies 2 primitive qualities of a total number of 4.

These four primitive qualities are “Hot”, “Cold”, “Moist/Wet”and Dry. Hot and cold are primary primitive qualities and the secondary primitive qualities being “Moist/Wet” and “Dry”. Naturally Hot is the direct opposite of Cold and Moist (Wet) is the direct opposite of Dry. These are the building blocks of nature, emphasis on the word “building” for now. Everyone is familiar with the term “building block”. Building blocks are an essential education toy and tool to teach our children the basics of building. Is it not interesting that these blocks are essentially cubes, six flat geometrical planes opposing each other in form.

Elements building blocks

The illustration above clearly demonstrates the inherent geometric proportion embodied in these “living elements”. We have a larger square housing a smaller square off-set at a 45° angle. All of these primitive qualities of the 4 different elements are geometrical fixed into position and therefore need to abide by certain geometrical rules to remain fixed. The humours relating to the four elements (black bile – Earth; blood – Fire; yellow bile – Air; phlegm – Earth) will be addressed later.

The illustration above demonstrates that each element has two special qualities and each element shares a special quality with another which binds them geometrically. To wit, Earth embodies the primitive qualities“dryness” and “coldness”, Fire has a primitive quality of “dryness” and Water the primitive quality of “coldness”, both sharing mutual qualities with the element of Earth, and so the same with the elements of Water and Air.

According to Henry Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, he puts forth some very interesting concepts that assist with understanding the elements on an intellectual (Air) level.

A brief extract of his work on the elements follows:

OF THE FOUR ELEMENTS, THEIR QUALITIES, AND MUTUAL MIXTIONS

The four elements are the original grounds for all corporeal things, being Fire, Earth, Air and Water, of which all elementated inferior bodies are compounded; not by heaping them up but by transmutation and union; when they are destroyed they are resolved back into elements. For there is none of the sensible elements that is pure, but they are more or less mixed, and apt to be changed into one another: even as Earth becomes dirty and being dissolved, becomes Water, and the same being made thick and hard, becomes Earth again; but being evaporated through heat, into Air, and that being kindled, passeth into Fire, and this being extinguished returns back to again into Air.

Now every one of the elements hath two special qualities, the former whereof it retains as proper to itself, in the other, as a mean, it agrees with that which comes next after it. For Fire is hot and dry, Earth is dry and cold, the Water cold and moist, the Air moist and hot. And so after this manner the elements, according to two contrary qualities, are contrary one to the other, as Fire to Water and Earth to Air. Moreover, the elements are upon another account opposite one to the other: for some are heavy, as Earth and Water, and others are light as Air and Fire. Wherefore the Stoics called the former passives, but the latter actives.

Plato distinguishes them after another manner and assigns to every one of them three qualities, viz. to the Fire brightness, thinness, and motion; but to the Earth darkness, thickness, and quietness. And according to these qualities, the elements of Fire and Earth are contrary. But the other elements borrow their qualities from these, so that the Air receives two qualities of the Fire, thinness and motion;and one of Earth viz.darkness. In a like manner, Water receives two qualities of the Earth, viz. darkness and thickness and one of Fire viz. motion. But Fire is Twice more thin than Air, thrice more moveable, and four times more bright: and the Air is twice more bright, thrice more thin, and four times more moveable than Water. Wherefore Water is twice more bright than Earth, thrice more thin and four times more moveable. As therefore the Fire is to Air, so Air is to Water, and Water to the Earth: and again as the Earth is to the Water, so the Water to the Air, and the Air to the Fire.

And this is the root and foundation of all bodies, natures, virtues and wonderful works; and he which shall know these qualities of the elements, and their mixtions, shall easily bring to pass such things that are wonderful, and astonishing, and shall be perfect in magic.

OF A THREEFOLD CONSIDERATION OF THE ELEMENTS

Now each element is threefold (Cardinal;Fixed;Mutable signs of the Zodiac), so that the number of four may make up the number of twelve; and by passing the number of seven (the seven Planets) into the number of ten (ten Sephiroth of the Kabbalah), there may be a progress to the supreme Unity, upon which all virtue and wonderful operations depends.

Of the first order are the pure elements (perhaps the prime single digit numbers are implied i.e. 2,3,5 and 7), which are neither compounded nor changed, nor admit of admixtion, but are incorruptible, and not of which, but through which the virtues of all natural things are brought forth into act. No man is able to declare their virtues, because they can do all things upon all things.

Of the second order (perhaps the compounded single-digit numbers i.e. 4,6,8 and 9) are the elements that are compounded, changeable and impure, yet such by way of art be reduced to their pure simplicity.

Of the third order are those elements, which originally and of themselves are not elements, but are twice compounded, various, and changeable into one another (perhaps numbers of more than one digit, which can be reduced to a single- digit by magical, or Kabbalistic addition. For example 12=1+2=3. They are in this way reducible into one or the other of the first two sets, or into unity. It is upon the manipulation of the Hebrew letters through their numerical values that much of magic is based). They are the infallible medium, called the middle nature, or soul of the middle nature. In them is, by means of certain numbers, degrees, and orders, the perfection of every effect in what thing soever, whether natural, celestial, or supercelestial; they are full of wonders and mysteries, and are operative, as in magic natural, so divine: for from these, through them, proceed bindings and loosenings, and transmutation of all things, the knowing and foretelling of things to come, also the driving forth of evil, and the gaining of good spirits.

Let no man therefore, without these threefold sorts of element viz. cardinal, fixed and mutable Fire, Earth, Water & Air, and the knowledge of them be confident that he is able to work anything in the occult sciences of magic, and nature. But whosoever shall know how to reduce those of one order, into those of another, impure into pure, compounded into simple, and shall know how to understand distinctly the nature, virtue and power of them in number, degrees and order, without dividing the substance, he shall easily attain to the knowledge and perfect operation all natural things and celestial secrets.”

Now how does all of this relate to the horoscope on a practical level? All astrologers are aware of the Cardinal Cross of Matter, to wit, the cardinal points of the compass, North, South, East and West. In the North is the cardinal water sign or constellation of stars, Cancer. Its polar opposite compass point is the South where the Earth sign or constellation of stars Capricorn resides, To the East rises the Cardinal sign or constellation of Fire, Aries and opposing Aries in the East is the Air sign or constellation of Libra. It follows that Cardinal Fire by geometric rule always opposes Cardinal Air and Cardinal Earth always opposes Cardinal Water. This holds true for all the elemental modes. What of the make up or consistency of these elements lead them to naturally oppose one another. Well this brings us to their primitive qualities as aforementioned. The element Fire is made up of the primitive qualities “hotness” and “dryness”. The element Air embodies the primitive qualities of “hotness” and “moisture (wetness)”. It becomes immediately apparent that the primitive quality that they share “heat” binds them together but the contrary primitive qualities that each of them embody “dryness” and “moisture/wetness” sets them apart and places them in opposition with one another.

The same applies to the polar opposites of the elements Earth and Water. Earth embodies the primitive qualities “coldness” and “dryness”, as does the element Water embody the primitive qualities “coldness” and “moisture”. Once again they are bound by the primitive quality that they share “coldness” and set in opposition by their other incompatible primitive qualities “dryness” and “moisture”.

The elements Fire and Air are bound together by the primitive quality of “heat” and the elements Earth and Water are bound together by the primitive quality of “coldness”. The elements Fire and Water are set apart by the difference in their primitive qualities “dryness” and “moisture”. It therefore follows that the primitive qualities of “heat and “coldness” essential bind the four elements together and the primitive qualities of “dryness” “moisture/wetness” set them apart creating a fixed matrix in space, the four cardinal points of a compass bound together and set apart creating the form of the cardinal cross of matter fixed in space, which form the 4 cornerstones of the natal horoscope and in turn the 12 signs of the zodiac.

The ratio and proportions in which these elements combine when you add the nature of the planets into the mix and their local determination and the aspects they make with each other is what brings the horoscope to life and the same essentially brings the “accidents” of our lives to the fore.

All the Fire signs, whether they be cardinal, fixed or mutable make a 120° (trine aspect) in space viz. a harmonious aspect as they share the same primitive qualities “heat” and “dryness”. The same goes for the remaining three elements which in turn also all trine each other due to the congruency of the common primitive qualities.

Another harmonious angle is the 60° (sextiles aspect). If you cast your eye around the zodiac wheel with the alternating elements, you will notice that all Fire and Earth signs are sextiles to one another viz, they make a 60° degree angle to one another and these two elements are distributed around the zodiac wheel by intervals of 60° degrees. Cardinal Fire is 60° apart from mutable Air. Mutable Air is 60° apart from fixed Fire. Fixed fire is 60° apart from Cardinal Air. Cardinal Air is 60° apart from mutable Fire and mutable Fire is 60° apart from fixed Air such as fixed Air return to cardinal Fire over a 60° interval to complete the 360°. Fire and Air appear to form these harmonious aspects due to the commonness of their mutual primitive quality “heat or hotness”. Earth and Water are in the same relationship to each other viz. 60° (or sextiles aspect) due to their common and mutual primitive quality of “coldness”.

The nature of two of the primitive qualities in particular this “heat/ hotness” and “coldness” appears to be a strong operating dynamic within the distinction between the elements and their relationship to one another as dispersed over the 360° circle / cycle of zodiac. This becomes quite apparent when you observe the square 90° hostile aspect. Of one considers the cardinal cross of matter, the 4 major compass directional points (Fire – East; Earth – South; Water – North; Air – West). Fire squares Water due to the contrariety of the primitive qualities “heat/hotness” and “coldness”. Water squares Air due to the contrariety of the primitive qualities “coldness” and“heat/hotness” and the same applies to the square of Air to Earth and back again from Earth to Fire. 4 squares (90° angles) make up 360° and thus we have gone full circle of the squares that create tension and form through exact mathematical combination of the elements and their primitive qualities.

The elements create magic every day be it through mixing the right elements in nature to encourage the growth of a seed into a magnificent flower or preparing a delicious meal, or a healing remedy/potion. Couched withinthe deep black and mysterious star bangled sky with all her hidden secrets, mysteries and wonders yet to still be discovered, our planet Earth and her kindred living elements create the dance of life, weaving magical tails all around us as the sacred elements surround us all the time.