History: We’re going to begin as we did in the chakra section with the history of the standard (Hindu) associations of elements to chakras.
Just to review the “typical” associations you’ll see out on the various chakra websites:
The Crown, Third Eye and Throat Chakras = Ether or Spirit or Akasha
Heart Chakra = Air
Solar Plexus Chakra = Fire
Sacral Chakra = Water
Root Chakra = Earth
I always wondered how these connections were established (partly because they didn’t
all make sense to me) so I went out and researched it.
At the core of these associations are how many Eastern philosophies (such as Hindu
and Buddhism) view the elements and how they were formed. “First, there was pure consciousness and from the subtle vibrations of this energy the Ether element was formed. When the Ether element began to move it created Air. Friction between the moving elements of Air and Ether created heat forming the Fire element. When the
Fire element melted and liquefied, it created Water. Finally, some of the Fire
solidified and formed the Earth element.”
If we list these element in the order they were created, and then compare them to the
list of chakra to element associations above, you can see the same
Pure Consciousness (a.k.a. The Nothingness)
(Light – missing from the above description but often associated with the Crown Chakra)
I believe they assigned the elements to the chakras starting with Pure Consciousness
at the top and letting the others simply fall into line. This would make perfect sense because they believe the elements have a descending order from higher vibration to
lower just like the chakras.
In addition, their associations seemed to be heavily focused on the biological processes
of the body. A fact heavily influenced by Ayurveda I’m sure, the Hindu system of health which likens the processes of the body to processes in nature. Just look at the many comments and descriptions of the chakras and elements on the hundreds of
chakra-related websites. Comments like, “The Sacral Chakra contains a lot of fluids.
It contains the reproductive organs, the bladder and the lower digestive system.”
(And thus, the association to water.)
The Question: So I must interject at this point and ask: Why are we associating elements
to a particular chakra because of the organs or biological processes associated with
that chakra? Because the Eastern philosophies do? To me, this concept is missing the
point by only looking at the mundane connections.
When we talk about the chakras or the elements we’re talking about the vibration of
subtle energy. And while the various biological processes in the body may certainly be influenced or "ruled" by the nearest chakra, and healing is one of the purposes of working with chakra energy, it’s not the physical or biological processes that are at the core of
energy work, nor should they be.
Our energy template is primary, meaning, it came first. The physical organs and
processes of our bodies are secondary. They were formed from the energy template. Associating the elements with the physical body is getting the order reversed. It is, in essence, making the physical more powerful/primary than the energy field.
I guess I can see how some people would link passion and sexuality with water (kind of?), and since in Western philosophy water is usually associated with emotions, I get how that connection might be made. But it doesn’t fit in a nice, neat box for me. In this specific instance the Sacral Chakra is associated with emotions, but the raw, untamed emotions
of youth, not the more refined emotions of compassion, forgiveness and so forth that
we associate with the Heart Chakra (and water).
In the West, the untamed or raw version of anything is typically associated with Fire.
Passion, creativity (as in the spark of creation) and desire are all fire-driven qualities. Wouldn’t water put out the fire of passion and put a damper on drive and determination? Isn’t orange, the color of the Sacral Chakra, associated with fire? Who has seen orange associated with water anywhere? The whole thing just feels like someone is trying to force
a square peg into a round hole and then say “Ta-da!” aren’t these two a perfect fit?”
Over and over again I saw websites link the elements to physical organs or biological processes located in the area of the particular chakras. And while some didn’t rely as
heavily on the physical associations they still linked the element in ways that are not easily (or naturally) fathomed from a different (Western) cultural perspective.
And let me say as I always do, if these systems work for you that is awesome. I’m not
saying they’re wrong or worse than any other system. I’m just saying this model doesn’t work for ME. It belongs to century-old beliefs from an entirely different culture. As the Tantric Yogis pointed out in the conversation about chakras, we simply cannot understand the belief system that went into the development of the chakras and so somewhere in
the translation, we “got it wrong”. We’re not even practicing it as it was meant to be practiced. So why continue to practice according to someone else’s vision of the
universe if it doesn’t make sense to us?
To me, the energy of the chakras, the energy of the elements as they relate to the philosophical (i.e., the deeper meaning, not the physical properties) and the entire human energy field is about subtle energy (the vibration of energy) and in Western metaphysics
we associate this type of energy with conceptual ideas and metaphors and not really with physical objects (unless it’s a secondary association).
With that, let’s move on!
AWS Chakra and Element Associations: So let’s delve into the elemental associations I use. As with the chakra system, I do not employ Hindu or Eastern connections.
So that you may have an idea of where I acquired the associations I use, let me share a
little about my background. I have studied and practiced a wide variety of nature-oriented spiritual paths for decades including Shamanism and Native American traditions (I do
have ancestry), and so much of what I understand about the elements come from these channels. The beliefs and rituals I learned offer a rich and meaningful connection to the world around me and to all other beings and everything takes on deeper meaning and significance. Since many of these practices originated in European and Native American traditions, most of us in the West are familiar with them even if we don’t realize it.
They “fit” within the context of the various Western belief systems we were raised with
(as well as science) and so we can grasp them and relate to them in a more natural way.
In other words, they make sense to us.
Earth: As you can see from the picture, the element of Earth is associated with
the Root Chakra. Weirdly, this seems to be in agreement across many chakra systems.
Earth is grounded and stable. It is the foundation from which all life grows. It is typically associated with stability, patience, and abundance.
Fire: The element of Fire is associated with the Sacral Chakra. If you’ve ever heard the idiom, “A fire in the belly”, it means “The emotional stamina and vigor, passion, or inner drive to achieve something, to take action, etc.”.
Fire is typically associated with creativity, passion and action.
Air: The element of Air is associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra.
Symbolically, the air element relates to knowledge, personal power, and will.
Water: The element of Water is associated with the Heart Chakra.
The element of water is symbolic of fluidity, the more refined or mature feelings and
emotions such as love and compassion, as well as healing.
Spirit or Ether (also spelled Aether): The element of Ether is associated with the remaining “higher” chakras; the Throat Chakra, the Third Eye Chakra, and the Crown Chakra.
Ether has been described as the 5th element from which all the other elements derive.
Ether is said to exist throughout the entire universe as well as on other planes, not just in the physical one. It is that which connects all that is.
Platonic Solids Element Associations: In keeping with my statements about the roots of Western culture, I wanted to present information from ancient Greek philosophy and
science. This information forms much of the foundation of what we in the West know and believe about science and philosophy today. Plato and his contemporaries, as well as
many scientists since then had the following view or belief about the elements.
For those who may not be familiar, let’s start with a definition of what a Platonic solid is.
In three-dimensional space, a Platonic solid is a regular, convex polyhedron. It is
constructed of congruent (identical in shape and size), regular (all angles equal and all
sides equal), polygonal faces with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex.
Put another way, these five definite shapes constitute the only perfectly symmetrical arrangements of a set of (non-planar) points in space with every angle and side length
There are only five solids that meet these criteria:
The Cube – 6 faces
The Tetrahedron – 4 faces
The Octahedron – 8 faces
The Icosahedron – 20 faces
The Dodecahedron – 12 faces
The Platonic solids are prominent in the philosophy of Plato, their namesake, though he
did not discover them. Plato associated each of the four classical elements (earth, air,
water, and fire) with a regular solid.
Earth was associated with the Cube,
Air with the Octahedron,
Water with the Icosahedron, and
Fire with the Tetrahedron.
Ether (Aether or Quintessence) with the Dodecahedron*
*Of the fifth element, Ether, Plato commented, “God used this solid for the whole universe, embroidering figures on it" and associated it with the Dodecahedron (which is considered
the most mysterious and complicated of the solids).
In the world of crystals, Platonic solids can and often do play an important role, especially
in areas like healing or gridding. In fact, some crystals grow naturally in some of these
shapes (e.g., fluorite, pyrite, garnets, etc.) while others have an internal structure similar to these shapes, even if we don't observe it in the crystal's external shape.
We’ll talk a bit more about these shapes in the section on sacred geometry.
But I wanted to make the chakra/shape/element connection here where I felt it would
make a bit more sense.