Witchcraft: Understanding and Working With the Elements

Updated on October 13, 2018
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Born in deepest Cornwall and now living in wild Wales, Bev has been practising her personal brand of witchcraft for years and years.

The element of air represented by a feather. Photo by Javardh on Unsplash
The element of air represented by a feather. Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

When we speak of the ‘elements’ in witchcraft, we are not talking about the chemical elements on the periodic table that you studied at school. The elements we refer to are those that the ancients perceived to make up our world. And in that sense, they were perfectly on track. The elements can be applied to all aspects of our lives and personalities.

We need fire (from the Sun) to grow our food and keep us warm. We need water to drink and to sustain life on our planet. We need air to breathe, and the Earth supports us and everything else.

While most people give little thought to these fundamental requirements for life, witches are in tune with them. They understand that the elements are essential, helpful, and also very destructive.

Witches respect and use the elements as a framework and basis for magickal work and correspondences. Correspondences are things that can be connected to, explained by, or enhanced by the elements.

Some witches connect the elements to certain deities; gods or goddesses.

What Are the Elements in Witchcraft?

There are four elements all incorporated and overseen by a neutral fifth: spirit, or as I like to think of it, energy. The four are Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Each has certain distinct qualities attached to it.

  • Fire: activity, inspiration, passion, courage, risk, impulsiveness, creativity, impatience. (Male).
  • Water: emotion, love, feeling, empathy, adaptability, secretive, artistic. (Female).
  • Air: intellect, thinking, communication, ungrounded, flighty, spirited, inventive, questioning. (Male).
  • Earth: grounded, practical, steady, responsibility, work, materialism. (Female).

Energy/Spirit: The fifth element. I like to think of this as the medium through which the elements express themselves. So in essence, energy is all-permeating throughout the Universe. Which it is. It’s what some of the early 20th Century New Thought writers called ‘the thinking substance’. Onto which we witches (and all life) impress our intentions using powerful emotions. Energy is the carrier, the facilitating medium. Energy is the basis for the Law of Attraction. The space inside the particle. Intangible, but always present. Not quite the usual scientific viewpoint, but it works for me. When we say, “I’m just putting it out there…” that’s sending a thought, or wished-for outcome, into the energy soup.

Elemental Correspondences

Each element corresponds with one of the four directions, four seasons and colors:

  • Fire - South - Summer - Red/yellow
  • Water - West - Autumn - Blue
  • Air - East - Spring - Green
  • Earth - North - Winter - Brown

In the Southern hemisphere usually North and South are reversed. So Fire will relate to the North, toward the Equator.

Sometimes, the elements and directions are assigned their own representatives, sometimes called ‘The Keepers’, The Quarters, or ‘The Guardians’. When casting a circle, you might call upon each of the Guardians in turn to protect you for the duration of the ritual. Afterward, you would thank and dismiss the Guardians, one by one.

Tarot Elements

Tarot readers rely on the elemental qualities assigned to each suit in order to interpret the cards. The tarot correspondences are:

  • Wands/Staves - Fire
  • Cups/Chalices - Water
  • Swords - Air
  • Pentacles/Coins - Earth

Let’s look at the differences the elements make to the interpretation of the cards. Take the Queens, for example:

The Queen of Wands is impulsive, passionate and fiery. She’s often a career woman. She is focused and motivated, but she can be infuriatingly disorganized and late.

The Queen of Cups is emotional and empathic. She’s your best friend. She always listens. However, she will often hide her own turmoil and anxieties.

The Queen of Swords is clever, truthful and straight-talking. She does not suffer fools gladly. She can also be cunning and manipulative. You have to look very hard to discover her softer side.

The Queen of Pentacles is down-to-earth and practical. She’s a hard worker, so if you want something done, she’s your woman. She can be a a gossip and will interfere in other people’s lives occasionally.

Whole chapters are written about each tarot court card (character) but you get the idea… each card offers unique qualities related to its suit.

Additionally each Minor Arcana card progresses through the element according to its number. So at the start you have the Aces, bursting forth with the pure power of the element. Then the meaning of the cards changes according to their number, so by the time you get to 10, the suit has reached completion, whether that be positive or negative. It’s interesting to note that the two ‘male’ suits, Wands and Swords, decay (turn negative) as they reach the higher numbers, while the two feminine suits, Cups and Pentacles, grow and expand after dealing with the challenges posed by the Tarot Fives.

Astrology

The twelve signs of the zodiac are ruled by the elements. The elemental qualities reflects in the basic descriptions of personalities in sun signs, moon signs and ascendants.

  • Fire: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
  • Water: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
  • Air: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius
  • Earth: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.

Elemental Personalities

The elements have their own personality traits as shown in the tarot and zodiac signs, but, of course they can overlap and intermingle. People never fall into one element, though usually the main one is apparent. See if you can think of friends or family who could be identified by their dominating element.

The element of fire. Photo by Javardh on Unsplash
The element of fire. Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Fire Personalities

People whose dominant element is fire are generally active people. They tend to attract attention with the sheer force of their personality. They are courageous and passionate. Overall, they are enthusiastic happy people who love adventure and new experiences. They are full of irrepressible energy and an indomitable nature.

On the downside they can be temperamental and rambunctious. And occasionally their energy can burn out, leaving them a little flat. However, it doesn’t take long before they are replenished and ready to go again, leaving everyone else trying to play catch-up.

Water Personalities

Water personalities are sensitive and emotional. They usually make decisions based on the way they feel… and they are often right. Water people are sympathetic and empathic—they will take on another’s pain and suffering as if it were their own. They are compassionate and loving. They are also flexible and willing to adapt to any situation. Water people are often psychic, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

Water personalities often suffer with self-esteem and confidence issues. Underneath their calm exterior there could be a maelstrom of emotions. When goaded, they may release the emotional storm from hell or withdraw into depression.

Air Personalities

Air people are detached and intelligent. They have the ability to stand back and assess situations with clarity. They love new ideas, but their need for constant change means they rarely stick to one place, job, or person for long. Their broad perspective allows them to see patterns and calculate outcomes. They are very good at being in the right place at the right time. Air people are good communicators and, if they have enough patience, are good at explaining complicated concepts.

On the negative spectrum, air personalities can be flighty and often cold-hearted. They seem to lack substance or have solid opinions. They tend to go whichever way the wind is blowing and so can get themselves a reputation of unreliability.

The element of earth. Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash
The element of earth. Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

Earth Personalities

The Earth personality is pragmatic and sensible. They tend to adhere to ‘common-sense’ and to believe in what they can see with their own eyes. They work hard and are self-disciplined. As children, their teachers describe them as ‘mature for their age’. As adults they will probably stay in the same job or business for many years. However, that doesn’t mean they are boring… some Earth personalities are very deep thinkers, but prefer to keep their private thoughts to themselves.

The Earth personality can become stubborn and inflexible. Sometimes they believe that their way is the only way. They’ll dig their heels in and refuse to see things from different angles. Earth people tend to distrust and fear change.

Working With the Elements in Witchcraft

The elements are essential to magickal work. Using the elements in spells adds a boost to your intention. Choose the right element for your spell. For example using Water to attract money is not a great idea. Think about the quality of water; pouring in (sounds good) but then gurgling away just as fast (not so good).

You will need a pen and paper to work these spells and I’ve included items ‘nice to have’, but they are not absolutely necessary to attain a successful outcome. So if you don’t have any crystals or aren’t allowed to burn candles, you can adapt the spell to work without them. There are no rules in spellcasting, only guidelines. If you can, have an object to represent the element you are working with; it would be helpful. So perhaps a twig for Fire (because it burns), cup of water for Water, a leaf for Air and a pebble for Earth. Again, if you can think of your own object, so much the better.

It is your choice whether to cast a circle and call upon the Guardians to assist. You can find how to do this by reading: How to Begin Witchcraft: Casting Spells.

Fire Spell for Love and Passion

If your life is lacking love then using dynamic fire to bring passion and excitement might be just the thing. Do keep in mind that focusing on a particular person is not recommended. Things can go horribly wrong. What you need to put your attention on is how new love and passion will make you feel. Remember, we only want certain things because of the feeling we will have when we get them. So the way you feel is the goal here.

Before you begin, take your paper and pen and write out how you want to feel when this spell materializes in your life. Consider how wonderful it would be to share your love with someone special. Someone who is not afraid to love you with passion. Describe how you feel AS IF IT HAD ALREADY COME TRUE. This stage is important because it helps you set your intention.

Items nice to have:

  • Two small red/orange candles
  • Garnet crystal or other crystal which represents passion.
  • A red or orange garment to wear.

Once you have cast your circle (if doing so), grab the notes you made beforehand and use them to write your wish, like so:

  • I feel passionate.
  • I feel energized.
  • I feel adventurous.
  • I feel loved.
  • I feel amazing.

Add as many other ‘I feel’s as you like. As always, your own words will be far more meaningful and powerful than mine.

Light your candles and pick up the crystal. If not using these items, just go straight to the next step.

Read your list of ‘I feel’s out loud, three times. Feel the rush of energy emanating from the crystal. Do your best to infuse the energy with passion. Feel it filling your entire being. If you are not using a crystal, simply imagine the energy coming directly from the Fire element via the candle flames.

Put down the crystal and push the two lit candles together, representing yourself and your new mate becoming close.

Say, “As I impress my intention for love and passion onto universal energy and the element of fire, so must it be. Let it harm none.”

Close the circle, thanking and dismissing the Guardians politely, but firmly. Place your candles somewhere safe to burn out, if possible. Eat something and relax. Forget all about the spell, the Universe will take care of it.

The element of water. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
The element of water. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Water Spell for a Loving Friendship

As with the love and passion spell above, it is best not to attempt to manipulate another person’s feelings and actions. It’ll only end in tears. What you need to do is to place your attention on how you want to feel. What a loving friendship will add to your life.

Before you start the spell, write down how you think you will feel when your new loving friendship comes to you. Pretend it has already happened.

Items nice to have:

  • Two blue or purple candles
  • Rose Quartz crystal
  • A cup of drinking water
  • Wear a light blue or pink garment.

Once you have cast your circle (if doing so), grab your notes and use them to write your wishlist:

  • I feel appreciated.
  • I feel loved.
  • I feel secure in this friendship.
  • I feel valued.
  • I feel happy.
  • I feel I can share.

Add as many other ‘I feel’s as you like. Your own words will be far more magickal and powerful than mine.

Light your candles and pick up your crystal. If not using these items, proceed to the next step.

Read your list of ‘I feel’s out loud, three times. Feel the rush of warm, gentle energy emanating from the crystal. Do your best to infuse the energy with love and contentment. Feel the energy of a warm friendship filling your entire being. If you are not using a crystal, imagine the energy coming directly from the water in the cup.

Put your crystal down and push the two friendship candles together. Hold the cup of water and visualize the energy of love infused into it. Drink the water.

Say, “As I impress my intention for loving friendship onto universal energy and the element of water, so must it be. Let it harm none.”

Close the circle, thanking and dismissing the Guardians politely, but firmly. Place the candles somewhere safe to burn out. Eat or drink something and relax. Forget about the spell, the Universe is already taking care of it.

The element of Air. Photo by Sandis Helvigs on Unsplash
The element of Air. Photo by Sandis Helvigs on Unsplash

Air Spell for Knowledge and Clarity

This spell works well for achieving good results in exams (it’s no substitute for actual study though). It clears your mind, aids memory recall, and allows you to express yourself with clarity.

As with the other spells, write down how you will feel when you have attained a new level of knowledge and clarity. How confident and assured you will be. Write it from the present perspective as if it is already part of who you are.

Items nice to have:

  • Yellow candle
  • Clear quartz crystal
  • A feather, leaf, or bunch of leaves
  • Yellow or white garment.

Once you have cast your circle (if doing so), grab your notes and use them to write your wishlist:

  • I feel wise.
  • I feel intelligent.
  • I feel capable.
  • I feel confident.
  • I feel I’ve reached another level
  • I feel knowledgeable.

Add as many other ‘I feel’s as you like. Your own words will be far more magickal and powerful than mine.

Light your candle and pick up your crystal. If not using these items, proceed to the next step.

Read your list of ‘I feel’s out loud, three times. Feel the rush of clarity emanating from the crystal. Do your best to infuse the energy with the feeling of wisdom. Feel the energy of confident knowledge filling your entire being. If you are not using a crystal, imagine the energy coming directly from the leaves before you.

Put your crystal down. Pick up the leaves and hold them against your forehead. Know for certain that your memory is improving, you can retain knowledge, and you can be clear and concise in your communications.

Say, “As I impress my intention for wisdom and clarity onto universal energy and the element of Air, so must it be. Let it harm none.

Close the circle, thanking and dismissing the Guardians politely, but firmly. Place the candle somewhere safe to burn out. Eat or drink something and relax. Forget about the spell, the Universe is on it.

Earth Spell for Money and Abundance

This spell will help boost your income and it will also help you get the job you want. Remember that abundance is not always expressed as actual money, but as wealth in other ways. For instance, you might be wanting more money to buy new clothes or books… but then someone offers you a collection of beautiful clothing or books that they don’t want any more.

Grab your pen and paper and write out how having these things you want will make you feel. Pretend that they are already in your possession. That your wallet is full of cash. That your bank balance is increasing.

Items nice to have:

  • Green candle
  • Any crystal
  • A pebble or container of soil.
  • Green or brown garment.

Once you have cast your circle (if doing so), grab your notes and use them to write your wishlist:

  • I feel wealthy.
  • I feel prosperous.
  • I feel secure.
  • I feel money is on its way to me.
  • I feel worthy.
  • I feel gratitude.
  • I feel generous.

Add as many other ‘I feel’s as you like. Your own words are always better than mine.

Light your candles and pick up your crystal. If not using these items, proceed to the next step.

Read your list of ‘I feel’s out loud, three times. Feel the flow of abundant energy emanating from the crystal. Do your best to infuse the energy with the feeling of having all that you need. Feel the energy of abundance filling your entire being. If you are not using a crystal, imagine the energy coming directly from the pebble.

Put your crystal down and pick up the pebble. Feel your connection with the earth and all it has to give.

Say, “As I impress my intention for abundance and prosperity onto universal energy and the element of Earth, so must it be. Let it harm none.”

Close the circle, thanking and dismissing the Guardians politely, but firmly. Place the candle somewhere safe to burn out. Eat or drink something and relax. Forget about the spell, the Universe is already working on it.

For all spells: You should not focus on the outcome of the spell as you could interfere with its working. Having said that, be alert to small signs and signals that it is beginning to manifest. Perhaps people smiling at you and starting conversations. You might notice your memory improving. And don’t forget to look out for dropped coins and unexpected gifts.

Using the Power of Elements in Everyday Life

As a witch, you should teach yourself to become aware of the four elements, plus their enabling energy or ‘spirit’. As you go about your day, notice how they manifest. Perhaps in people, situations, or as pure elemental power. Hold your hands under water, notice the heat form the sun, breathe deeply of air and feel the earth supporting you. Bless your water bottle, give thanks for your food, appreciate the ground beneath your feet, and be grateful for the air you breathe.

You might find yourself more aligned to one element than the others. This is fine, but be aware that you need to keep a balance. When you feel a little ‘earthbound’ or sluggish, you could have too much Earth/Water. Infuse your being with Air by taking some deep breaths. Or if you find yourself feeling somewhat over-emotional, get outside, breathe, walk, and bathe in sunlight.

Learn and understand how these fundamental elements are key to the practice of witchcraft.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • How would one go about casting a spell to help others, let’s say, do well on an exam or be filled with knowledge? Also, you mentioned, “Bless your water bottle.” Can a blessing be as simple as, “Bless this water”? or is there a more appropriate way to do so?

    You could adapt any spell to focus on another person. It's always good to create your own because the energy you put into it is personal and, therefore, stronger. All you need to do is think up some words that work in the circumstances, and follow the general pattern given above.

    Be careful, though about interfering in someone's life. Just imagine if failing an exam gives someone the impetus to change direction and do something amazing. Sometimes we're better off just letting things happen as they will.

    Blessing water (or anything) is easy. Just hold the glass of water with your two hands and feel appreciation and gratitude for it. Fresh, clean, life-giving water. Imagine this feeling of appreciation (love) flowing from you into the water. And that's it. With practice, you'll be able to do it in a few seconds. Magick is all about feelings.

© 2018 Bev G

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    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 days ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, Marie. I hope the extra information you've mentioned will prompt readers to research further.

      There are some faery tarot decks that are based on gnomes, sylphs, undines and salamanders.

      Good luck with the gardening :)

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      7 days ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I was attracted to this article because I would like to have a deeper connection with the elements when gardening so I know if a plant is getting too much or too little of something. Maybe I already do this to an extent intuitively. It would be nice to do better, maybe clairaudially.

      You touch upon the basics clearly. From my studies, the elements have names: earth, gnomes; air, sylphs; water, undines; and fire, salamanders. There are also Regents of the elements. Neptune and Luara, for example, are the Regents of the water kingdom.

      Your rituals are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      EMSS 

      5 months ago

      Hi Bev G

      Thank you for getting back to me and letting me know I am doing fine your advice is very helpful to me in learning how to be witch.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      5 months ago from Wales, UK

      EMSS, stop second guessing yourself. It's all good. You are doing fine. As I said, there is no right or wrong way.

      Just keep doing what you are doing and you have a great weekend too xxx

    • profile image

      EMSS 

      5 months ago

      Hi Bev G

      Thank you for explaining how writing things down will helps doing spells how it will help me access my emotions to make the spell work your articles are very helpful . When you say I am finding my own way does it mean I am in the right direction ? There are so much I need to learn , and still have a lot of questions . If there are other suggestion you have could help me I hope you have a nice weekend.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      5 months ago from Wales, UK

      I find writing things down fulfils several functions. It makes you focus. It seems to make it real. And it helps you to access your emotions.

      EMSS, you are finding your own way... and if it works, that's wonderful. That's how it should be. There's no right or wrong way. Only your way.

    • profile image

      EMSS 

      5 months ago

      Hi Bev G

      You have said in some of your article writing on paper what out come you want to happen with the type of spell you do will help. Does this help give more power to the spell ? Could you please explain why writing down helps with the spell.

      First i visualize in my mind the out come of the spell I would like to happen I try to think and see what I would like to happen.

      When I do a wish spell or other spells some time I write down on the paper what the out come of the spells I would like to happen. I put the four elements on the floor in the direction N, S, E, W it should be in. I put the paper in the middle of the four elements in a circle position. I visualize the energy coming from the elements with the paper in to me, and the energy going in up to the sky. I feel a very strong pulse of energy while I doing this. Is this a right way of doing this ? Could you please suggest information that would help. me ? Thank you

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      6 months ago from Wales, UK

      Explain more, Adriana? What kind of charm? What do you mean by 'something '?

    • profile image

      Adriana pittman 

      6 months ago

      I have a question can we use a charm as something in witchcraft?

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 months ago from Wales, UK

      Yes, place them so they are pointing toward the actual directions, EMSS.

    • profile image

      EMSS 

      7 months ago

      Hi Bev G

      Thank you for letting me know I am doing it the right way your advice and articles a very helpful to me who is new in this path being a witch I have a questions when I use the four elements when i put them down if front of on the floor I put them in the four direction of North south east west were each elements is to be in. do they have to be in that way directions?

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 months ago from Wales, UK

      Sounds as though you know exactly what you are doing, EMMS. Hope you get the outcome you want.

    • profile image

      EMSS 

      7 months ago

      Hi Bev G

      Thank you for telling me about this article of elements very helpful/ I learn a lot. I have a lot of each elements personalities It help explain how you could use object to represent the elements in casting spell or you do not have to use elements in spells to have the out come

      I would like to know if I did this right I cast spells with the four elements I sit down I had the elements in front of me I used a rock for earth, twig for fire,leaf for air, cup of water. I would thing about what I want to happen and as has happen. I would visualize the energy coming from the elements in to me. As i was doing this the tingle of energy was very strong and i felt warm. I feels this also when I was doing a spell with out the elements. It felt felt stronger with the elements. Is it all right to do spell both ways.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 months ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, as always, for your lovely comments, Mr H :)

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      7 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Air people are good communicators and, if they have enough patience" - Haha! Yes, I certainly lack patience. I've often said that my sister came out first and got all the patience and when I came around, there was no more patience for me. So, here I am. If anyone has any extra patience sitting around, I'll take it lol : )

      I love the Elements! I am grateful for your piece of writing here. Thank You. There is much more to Life than our three-dimensional perspective allows us to see.

      All the best!

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