Before the Renaissance; the Age of Enlightenment, and the founding of Alchemy that gave birth to Chemistry, Science and Medicine – there was the “Craft”, and the wielding of the Elements to manifest things physically into the World of Form, our carbon-based world.
In Witchcraft, all things are seen and unseen are created, manipulated and conjured through the mastering and control of the power of the Elements.
What are the Elements?
The Elements in the Craft and Magickal Arts are Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit.
These Elements are represented in the 5 points of the Pentagram. The circle around this star represents everything in the Universe, our 3-dimensional carbon-based universe that we can see, (the world of form) to the spirit world and the invisible energies (the world of the formless).
In many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, the elements are held sacred. Are, Fire, Water, and Spirit are the “Forces of Nature” and are indeed the building blocks of everything thought the Universe and together fuel the eternal cycle of creation, destruction, and new creation; which is the way of all things in existence. These Elements are incorporated into all magick and every ritual.
Spirit, the fifth element is found in all of the other four elements, and together they weave the fabric of everything in existence.
The Classical Elements in History around the World
The ancient Greek philosophers proclaimed that the forces of nature; Air, Fire, Earth, and Water made up all states of matter, nothing could physically exist that was not made from at least one or more of these fundamental elements. This paradigm shift of thinking is what ultimately influenced the discovery of the other physical elements of today’s modern chemistry during the Renaissance age.
China, Japan, and Ancient Egypt also recognized the fundamental properties of the forces of nature. Although Metal and Wood were added as elements, the classical four of air, fire, earth, and water remained the same.
Ancient India’s philosophy was very similar to the ancient Greek’s but adds Akasha, “the void” or “Space” as a fifth Element. Some Wiccan traditions and western occultists later adopted the term “Akasha” as a reference to “Spirit”, while others used the Greek term “Aether” from the Greek Philosopher Aristotle. They all have the same meaning.
Ritual Magick and the Elements
The four cardinal directions are associated with the classical Elements. Each element has a ritual tool that represents it, and things from nature as well.
North, the element of Earth, symbolized by the pentacle or a speck of dirt or crystal on the altar.
East, the element of Air, symbolized by the wand or a feather.
South, the element of Fire, symbolized by the candle or smoldering incense on the altar.
West, the element of Water, symbolized by the chalice or a seashell on the altar.
At the beginning and again at the end of any ritual ceremony, the Elements are invoked by the Priest or Priestess presiding over the gathering. This is called “Calling the Quarters” in many pagan and Wiccan traditions, some others merely refer to it as “Invocation of the Elements”.
Calling of the Quarters and Summoning of the Elements
All face the East, as many traditions enter the circle from this side and begin the invocations from there as well. They will rotate deosil, or clockwise to begin the ritual, then unwind at the end of the ceremony by rotating widdershins, counter or anti-clockwise.
Raising their athames to the East and drawing an invoking pentagram in the air, recite:
“Hail ye, guardians of the watchtowers of East, Element of Air, I do summon, stir and call you now to join us in our circle. We welcome you in perfect love and perfect trust. So mote it be!”
All turn clockwise to face South and again draw a pentagram and say:
“Hail ye, guardians of the watchtowers of South, Element of Fire, I do summon, stir and call you now to join us in our circle. We welcome you in perfect love and perfect trust. So mote it be!”
Then to the West:
“Hail ye, guardians of the watchtowers of West, Element of Water, I do summon, stir and call you now to join us in our circle. We welcome you in perfect love and perfect trust. So mote it be!”
And then ending it in the North:
“Hail ye, guardians of the watchtowers of North, Element of Water, I do summon, stir and call you now to join us in our circle. We welcome you in perfect love and perfect trust. So mote it be!”
In addition to this that is practiced by few, is to also invoke spirit while calling quarters.
Looking up to the heavens and raising athame high above head call out to the Aether
“Hail ye guardians of the Aether, Element of Spirit. I invoke ye, join us in our circle. We welcome you in perfect love and perfect trust. So mote it be!”
Note: Spirit, angels, ancients passed on are never summoned, they are invoked, or asked with reverence. We humans command the elements to do our bidding. But never spirit. If not held with reverence, the spirit will see to it that your desires and manifestations never happen.
So is the Law of Three. What ye sends out, comes back to ye.
Ending a Ritual Ceremony
At the end of the ritual, this will be done in reverse with a banishing pentagram (reverse drawn) starting in the North and ending in the East. Giving thanks and blessings to the Elements for joining the circle, and to go in peace, back to whence they came by adding:
“Stay if you will, but go if you must. In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.~ Blessed Be.”
Invocation and use of the Elements in Magick and Ceremony are one of the most revered and sacred practices of any witch.