The Ancient Greeks created a system composed of five elements, four of which are the components of our planet. The fifth, spirit, is also referred to as ether or quintessence, which is at the top of the Greek hierarchy; followed by fire, air, water and earth. The first three elements are considered to be spiritual, while the others are more physical in nature.
During the Renaissance, the pentagon was adopted to represent the five elements. An upward pointing pentagon signifies spirit ruling over the other four, while one facing down shows spirit descending into matter. There is no standard symbol to represent the element, even though a circle, eight spoked wheels or spirals are used. Spirit is the bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds, representing the bridge between body and soul.
Golden Dawn Colour: Violet, Orange & White
Fire is a warm, dry element associated with strength, activity, blood and life-force. It is also used in purification and protection, driving back forces of darkness and consuming impurities. As a masculine element, fire is also the most spiritual of the earthly elements. This is because it lacks a solid physical existence, produces light and has the ability to transform objects.
Magical Tools: Sword, Athame, Dagger or sometimes the Wand.
Zodiac Signs: Aries, Leo & Sagittarius
Golden Dawn Colour: Red
Time of Day: Noon
This element is associated with spring during which things are becoming warmer and brighter, and both animals and plants give birth to a new generation. Air is also the intangible, masculine element of intelligence and creativity. It follows fire in the hierarchy, displaying active, moist and warm tendencies.
Magical Tool: Wand, or sometimes Sword, Dagger or Athame
Zodiac Signs: Gemini, Libra & Aquarius
Golden Dawn Colour: Yellow
Time of Day: Morning, Sunrise.
Symbol: Triangle with a line going through it.
Water is a natural flowing element that is cold and moist. In direct contrast to the intellectual properties of air, it represents emotions and the unconscious. Water’s physical existence can interact with all five of our human senses. It is also the element of wisdom, representing mainly the wisdom of old age. It shows a time that is past its peak, and moving towards the end of its cycle.
Planets: Moon, Venus
Magical Tool: Cup
Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio & Pisces
Golden Dawn Colour: Blue
Time of Day: Sunset
Symbol: Downward Facing Triangle
This feminine element is cold and dry and represents fertility, stability, materiality and potential. It is also considered a symbol of death and rebirth, as life comes forth from the ground and returns to it. Earth is the opposite of fire and represents the point of transformation, where the old gives way to the new.
Magical Tool: Pentacle
Zodiac Signs: Taurus, Virgo & Capricorn
Golden Dawn Colour: Green
Time of Day: Midnight
Symbol: Downward facing triangle with a line going through.