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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Elemental Symbols

DEFINITIONS

Elemental Symbols: Much of magic is done through the mediation of the four occult elements, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. They determine both the type of energy that accomplishes the work and the avenue through which it acts. For this reason a clear understanding and proper use of the elements is vital in ritual. Each element is represented by its own material symbol, which is placed atop the altar beside the lamp in the appropriate elemental quarter. If a ritual concerns only one element, its symbol is placed on the altar alone; if all four elements are involved, all four symbols are present.

Fire is embodied in a short rod about nine inches long. This has a very specific design in the Golden Dawn magical system, but the details are not really necessary. It is the essential shape of the rod that is most important. The nature of elemental Fire is in accord with this strongly phallic symbol.

Air is embodied in a short dagger. Again, it is the associations of the blade—its flashing quickness, its piercing quality, its brightness——that are important, not details of the hilt and so on. The difference in tone between the rod and the dagger says much about the essential difference between elemental Fire and Air.

Water is embodied in a cup or chalice. It should be rounded and womblike, enclosing and protective. It is also more harmonious if the cup is made of a watery, or at least a natural, material. Blue hand blown glass is good, or earth-tone ceramic.

Earth is embodied in the disk or pentacle. This is a flat disk painted with Earth colors. Ideally it should be made of clay or stone. Usually it is of wood. It must not be too large to conveniently hold in the hand—four inches in diameter is a good size, because four is a material, earthy number.

So far as I know, the use of elemental symbols originated with the Victorian Order of the Golden Dawn in the last century, and received its inspiration from the symbols of the lesser arcana—the number cards—of the Tarot. Specific, formal symbols of the four elements were not used in medieval times, and are not strictly necessary. However, the employment of these symbols has become almost universal in modern magic, and they can be very useful. It is important that they be made to harmonize with the sensibilities of the one who will actually use them, not merely according to some arbitrary standard.
source: Truth about Ritual Magic, Donald Tyson

Also See: Elemental Symbol

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Tarot of the Dream Enchantress Review
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Visuddha - The Throat Chakra
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What Is Rune Meditation?
Before the runes can be effective for works of magic or divination, they must be understood on the intuitive level and made to come alive in the unconscious. This will occur over time simply by using them, but the process can be encouraged through ...
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What Is A Horoscope?
Your astrological chart, or horoscope, is drawn from calculations based upon the date, time, and place of your birth. Every element of the horoscope (which, if it’s like most Western horoscopes, will be drawn on a circular wheel) is expressed ...
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Signs of the Zodiac
The signs of the zodiac are the most widely known part of the astrological system. As mentioned earlier, almost everyone knows your Sun sign. The daily horoscopes in the newspaper are based on the position of the Sun in the zodiac. The zodiac is ...
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Shamanic Healing
Shamanic healings have long been shrouded in mystery, misunderstanding, and superstition. Still, as we learn to better understand the shamanic philosophy of life, we can begin to have clarity about this special form of healing. Basically, the shaman ...
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Ostara
OSTARA is the Scandinavian goddess of spring who symbolized the rebirth of Nature. During her festival it was the Pagan custom to exchange colored eggs as symbols of renewal. Her sacred animal was the hare. Many modern Wiccans point to the festival ...
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Group vs. Solitary Ritual and the Source of Magickal Power
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Review of The Llewellyn Tarot
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