My Definition of Elementals

Posted on April 26, 2012
Filed Under Uncategorized | 18 Comments

My recent post on Elementals generated some critiques from people who pushed for a more traditional model of elemental magic. I could appreciate where they were coming from, especially when they cited Quabalistic perspectives on the elements, but my definition of elementals is different and I thought it worthwhile to include that here.

When I define an elemental I define it as a representative of a primal force that effects all of us. It’s something that defines us in some ways, even as we define it. There’s a symbiotic relationship of sorts. So the four traditional elements certainly fit that definition, but when I look at the emotion of love I don’t associate it with fire. That’s an arbitrary association. So instead I associate the experience of love with the Element of Love. I associate the experience of emptiness with the Element of Emptiness.

It’s just as arbitrary as associating emotions and behavioral characteristics with a traditional element. The difference, in my opinion, is that I’m treating those emotions as separate elements in their own right, so that I can develop a deeper relationship with them. This isn’t to say that using a more traditional approach to elements doesn’t work, because clearly it does, but rather to point out that there can be viable alternatives and that they work. It’s all arbitrary in the end, because its all defined by people for their own purposes of categorizing and explaining something they are working with.

Book Review: The Little Book of Odes and Invocation by Auntie Matter

This is an enjoyable book with invocations that have been developed by the author and shared with readers. But perhaps the greatest I got from this book was the value of developing your own personalized invocations. When I read Invocation to Raise Power, it made me really pay attention to the words and how the author put everything together to raise power through the words and the phrasing. I highly recommend this booklet as something that will inspire your own invocations as well for what is offered in the invocations the author has written.

Comments

18 comments
Faoladh
Faoladh like.author.displayName 1 Like

The variation, I think, is due to different metaphysical assumptions. The relegation of metaphysics to mean nothing more than "spooky woo stuff" has been the cause of more sloppy thinking… but don't get me started on that.

 

In the traditional "element" metaphysical structure, fire is associated with emotion not for arbitrary reasons, but because fire is seen as literally the same as the emotions. The decoupling of that, due to modern physics determining the observed structure of literal fire and disassociating it from emotions, created a new metaphysical assumption, which is what, I presume, you use. Some people chose instead to posit a metaphysical system in which there are levels of existence ("vibratory planes", the Kabbalistic "worlds", and so on) in which various items appear differently, but are metaphysically the same. So, in the material vibratory level, fire is what we observe, while in the mental vibratory level, fire is the substance of emotional states, and so on. If you assume a naive materialist metaphysic, such as the idea that consciousness is a byproduct of complex material/energetic interactions, then those associations are arbitrary, indeed. If your metaphysic instead operates on the assumption that things have layers of reality, then those associations become more observationally-based. There are, of course, other metaphysical assumptions that can apply, but it is important to understand what those assumptions are, whichever set you choose.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

 @Faoladh I think you've nailed it on the head. And I agree with your take on metaphysical assumptions.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana like.author.displayName 1 Like

I understand where you're coming from. However, is it really necessary to call those things "elementals"? Furthermore, the classifications are not arbitrary. They're categorized as such because they bare the same relationships to each other on the mental plane as they do on the physical plane and thus, emotions can be combined and transmuted in the same manner as the category of the literal usage of the elements.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

 @DarkArckana How do you figure they aren't arbitrary? When it boils down to it, they are classifications or categories developed by people to explain things they observed in the environment around them and/or used as metaphors to explain the experience of emotions. That's as arbitrary as it gets. I prefer not to limit myself to something I consider to be fairly outdated at this point, especially when its clear there's a lot more that can be worked with.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @Magicexperiment Also, they're not limiting. Think about it. What is the element of Earth? Many would automatically think "Rocks", but what about plants? Do they count too? What about "Air"? Many people think just "oxygen". But what about "Hydrogen", which is said to be the most abundant gas in the entire universe? What about "Fire"? Fire encompasses all of heat. Essentially, the classsical system is based on the understanding that everything in the universe is interconnected and interdependent. The classical elements are a relative simplification of all of existence. That's far from limiting. I agree that ultimately, a system is just a system, but it's such a useful system that one would be missing out on such good information by neglecting it. I'm not trying to push, just trying to educate from the perspective of someone devoted to the model.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

 @DarkArckana I agree with you that people need to ground themselves in a foundation. It's not like they can just make it up on the fly. When I first started practicing magic I did a lot with elemental hermeticism which dealt extensively with the traditional model of elements. I made modifications only after I'd worked with that system, but those modifications couldn't happen if I hadn't already grounded myself in what was already there.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @Magicexperiment Arbitrary by that definition, absolutely. As far as "choosing" your models and paradigms, I don't fully agree on that. It's just me, but since we're exchanging information, I think that Magik Users choose which models and paradigms to embrace and have the freedoms to make their own models, systems and paradigm. I don't think you choose your system, your system is based on how immersed in it you are. That's a wall which blocks choice and needs to be passed through before one can integrate that paradigm. The way that I practice is a little different than most modern Magik Users. I believe that you can always update and modify systems to suit you. No doubt. However, I also believe that you need to learn those systems first, that way you make your modifications with all of the proper considerations. Sadly, with the elemental model and many of the classical models, this is hard to do. There has been too much obfuscation of these models by the New Age Movement and good information is slim pickings.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

 @DarkArckana I looked up the definition of arbitrary as well:

subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.

 

That was just one of the definitions, but my point in mentioning it is that magic is arbitrary. A given magician decides what works or doesn't for him/her, at least in the way I approach it. Now many people find that the traditional elemental approach works and more power to them for doing so, but others, such as myself, don't. It's an arbitrary decision on my part to develop a different model for elemental magic. It's also an arbitrary decision for any given person to decide what model does or doesn't work, or to come up with an alternative of their own.

 

 

 

DarkArckana
DarkArckana like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @Magicexperiment Also, in terms of "arbitrary", I was referring to the dictionary definition of the word. Which does in fact mean "put together on a whim". It's not purely objective or to be equated with the reality that it organizes, no doubt. But not arbitrary either. Somewhere in the range of the middle ground between subjective and objective.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana

 @Magicexperiment I never expect anyone to agree with me. I just like to put the information out there and let people draw their own conclusion. This is Magik, not religion. =P

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

 @DarkArckana Great! I'm glad it works for you. But you know what? It doesn't work for me, and I do find it limiting. You don't have to agree with me, but I also don't need to agree with you. It's arbitrary.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @Magicexperiment  They're not "arbitrary" because they follow a certain logic that underlies that classification. To say that something is "arbitrary" is to say that they were classified on a personal whim rather than on any sort of organization.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

 @DarkArckana Someone developed that certain logic. It's still arbitrary. It doesn't mean there isn't an organization to it, but it does mean that the organization is still based off of someone's perception of how something should be classified. That doesn't mean we shouldn't question it or change it. Otherwise if we were go to by your arguments we'd still be relying on Aristotle's classifications for the world. Clearly that's not the case because people eventually recognized that Aristotle's classifications were no longer accurate to what people knew and/or could discover about the world. The same applies in this case.

thesilverspiral
thesilverspiral like.author.displayName 1 Like

The four (five) classical elements are an important thing onto themselves, as representative of the four (five) states of matter - solid, liquid, gas, energy, (ether).  I have always seen them as representing four (five) primal forces that create the existence of our universe. Of course, there is not necessarily a need to work specifically with such abstract, and high level forces - you don't need all of the power of fire in your spell - perhaps you just need, more specifically, the power of courage.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @thesilverspiral I can see that. Like you said though, perhaps you just need to draw on courage.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana

 @Magicexperiment  @thesilverspiral You can also transmute different elements or just accent them. For example, you can combine anger and love to get passion if you're feeling angry instead of trying to subside the anger and call forth passion. Because anger and passion are related, by trying to call up passion, you are also intensifying the anger you wish to subside. Furthermore, courage is considered the ability to push beyond fear. This is related to fire, not only because its burns through fear like fire burns through paper  but also it's a source of power but because of the way that it moves a person to action, in the same manner the heat can generate motion. The relevance of courage to fire can get very thorough. However, having your mental framework operate this way actually allows courage to interact with fear as fire interacts with paper. A mental framework that just considers them emotions usually has a "wall" (for lack of a better term) which separates the two, where the courage burns. The courage must now burn through the wall to get to the paper, which makes it that much more difficult, but also means that the flame of courage will be exposed to burning out without the confines of the walls that isolate it into a chamber.  This also means that one will probably most likely try to plow through the walls of fear to get to courage, which gets them distracted and may cause the fear that they're trapped in the same room to overwhelm them while they're digging. This may sound awkward, so I think it's important to mention at this point that these are all just metaphors which translate the psycho-physical experiences of working with emotions from my experiences.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana

 @Magicexperiment  @thesilverspiral I agree, she brought a good point. One can call upon one aspect of the element as desired. The elements encompasses many, many things, but you can pick and choose them as needed. It's like going to a grocery store. You don't get everything in the grocery store, just the stuff you need. The grocery store has the same overall variety, but different can take different things and even when they take the same specific things, the amount and the combinations are different. The factor of quantity and how quantity increases the number of possible combinations makes things very, very interesting.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana

 @thesilverspiral The four states of matter are: Solid, Liquid, Gas and *Plasma* (which fire is). "Energy" is a quality of matter, not a type of matter itself.