Work with the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

Carrie JordanShamanism


The elements are our oldest ancestors. Before there was anything else, there was earth, air, fire, and water. They bring us essence energies and gifts, we can cultivate a relationship with the elements.

They can help you create balance, they can help you see where there is an excess of energy, they have qualities that you may want to incorporate more into your life.  

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The four-element framework is poetic and mythical in origin (throughout many different cultures throughout the world).  The Chinese taoists, Native American, African, Celtic, and Aboriginal and other Indiginous cultures speak of the four directions or the four seasons. The Christian tradition has the trinity, which can be complete with the addition of Mary Magdeline, adding the feminine to the trinity.

The four elements are also a village inside of us that help us stay stable, grounded, and balanced. As we learn to invite all of the elements and their gifts into our lives, they will work together to our benefit. If we separate or ignore one of these intelligences, we dishonor and disable them.

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learn to work with the elements in a shamanic lifestyle: earth, air, water, fire

You can honor them in nature by showing your gratitude and offerings. You can also honor them in your being and ask for their help.

Earth Element

We associate the earth element with grounding, anything that is part of the physical world and the body. Invoke the earth element when you are craving stability, grounding, inspiration, creativity, or innovation.

Air Element

We associate Air with the breath, the mental and intellectual realm. Within your own being, air, or the mind, translates, categorizes, and stores information.

Working with the air element is easy when you come back to the simplicity of the breath. This can serve as a reminder that each moment you can let go of what doesn’t serve you and you’re never stuck.

Water Element

Water and emotion moves energy and information from one place to another.

The water element is associate with flowing, emotion, and the arts. Calling in the water element can help you get through hard times by flowing like a river. The gift is the ability to adapt and change without sacrificing your true essence.

In this world, we have some major problems with water including all kinds of pollution, drought, runoff from having too much concrete that doesn’t properly redirect the rains or nurture the soils.

It’s easy to take water for granted because it flows so easily through our faucets. We waste so much water in our society. Building a relationship with the four elements invites a lot of gratitude.

I often thank the water while I’m showering. When I fill my water bottle at the water cooler I wait until the water stops dripping to remove my bottle from the spout. When I forget to empty my bottle before going through TSA, I chug the water. It absolutely breaks my heart to see people dumping precious water in the trash at the airport.

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Fire Element

The fire element has helped us create everything in our modern contemporary, convenience-filled lives. We associate Grandfather Fire with the visionary or spiritual realm. The gifts of fire are transformation, warmth, connection to all  life, connection to the ancestors, a reminder to gather, and courage.

Fire’s medicine is helping us to see the big picture of the whole situation in relation to other situations.

Balancing the elements within your being

First, diagnose imbalances. For example, if you can’t get things done, or if you feel like you can’t make things happen for yourself, you are lacking earthly elements.

If you don’t see your life flowing , if you don’t feel connected, or don’t know how you feel, you may need to be more welcoming to your water element.

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If you can’t visualize your dream or outcomes, if you can’t believe in or trust your intuition or vision, your fire element may not be online.

Second, we need to incorporate activities that welcome the element’s gifts. It is a practice to incorporate all the elements into your life and it doesn’t end. When you balance all of these elements within your being, that is when a fifth element, your truest essence, called nature, wood, or ether, flourishes.

How to balance your Earth

  • Move into conscious physical activity, nutrition, and rest.
  • Allow your body to build, feel, explore, create, and take great care of yourself.
  • Dance, exercise, gardening.
  • Be in contact with your body and the world around you.
  • A good way to get in touch with the earth as a being, and at the same time access the gifts of your earth element is to practice grounding with crystals.
  • Grounding, or recognizing the relationship between you and the earth can be really effective when you need to solidify your boundaries, or when you are needing to stand your ground in a discussion.
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How to balance your Air

  • Move into conscious mental activity.
  • Study, read, learn a language, research things that interest you.
  • Do puzzles, play games, and give your mind a specific task to help it focus with clear intent rather than spin its wheels.
  • Use your mind to help you plan activities and trips, and plan out how you are going to make things happen.

How to balance your Water

  • Consciously express and release your feelings through your body or mind.
  • Dance, music and art, writing, nature are healing for your water aspect.
  • Your emotions need to flow freely and express their knowledge.

How to balance your Fire

  • Conscious spiritual or contemplative activity that makes room for dreams, intuitions, and visions in your every day life.
  • The visionary part of yourself needs space, time in nature, time with animals, children, and elders.
  • Meditation is great for the visionary aspect, daydreaming, recording your dreams.