landscape element

Let’s talk about the elements!

I’ve written a lot about the seven classical planets and celestial/cosmic witchcraft. I think it’s time to bring things a bit more down to earth, though!

This is a new two-part series! It will focus on the natural elements as understood by the Western Magical Tradition.

In today’s article, I’ll be explaining a bit about the history of these concepts and how I see them. I hope you find this interesting and informative!

Thinking About the Elements

Elements are one of the first concepts I learned when beginning a journey into witchcraft. 

But! How do we view the elements as concepts? Lets consider how they relate to us and the whole universe. Here’s my views!

Some believe the elements are simply words for natural phenomena.
In other words, Fire is fire - the burning of a campfire or candle, or another flame. Water would always be something like a stream, the ocean or other liquid. I don’t see it this way. They’re far more complex than that!

The four elements stem the observations of ancient philosophers. These thinkers guessed that these substances were the building blocks of physical reality. Of course, they were wrong! In reality, atoms comprise matter. Matter and energy, then, make up the physical universe. 

We could associate four classical elements with the four states of matter. These are solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. They’d correspond to earth, water, air, and fire in turn. This is a very simplified view, though!

These concepts were fundamental to the ancients. A wealth of lore has developed around them. They have grown into complex metaphors for aspects of the human condition. The physical manifestations of the elements have become potent symbols. 

They represent various mental and emotional phenomena. Symbols are important in witchcraft. The way I see it, all tools of the Craft are symbols used to connect with larger forces that work within the universe.

The elements themselves, and their attributions, are in fact, somewhat arbitrary. This means that each of us will have a different idea of what each element represents!

There’s nothing wrong with this, though. The point is to use them as symbols. What they symbolize to you is your own business!

Qualifying the Elements

In the Western Magical Tradition, there are four core (classical) elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.  

Some traditions do posit a fifth element called the quintessence, also known as Spirit or Aether. This fifth element stands apart from the other four, as it doesn’t behave in the same way.  

I’ll be focusing on these four, not on the quintessence. Spirit as an element is a very large topic best suited for its own series of articles.

Alchemical thinkers have placed these four into categories. . They’re quite useful for understanding the system. 

Each element is either “hot” or “cold,” as well as either “dry,” or “wet.”

This doesn’t describe the physical qualities of the phenomena in question. Rather, these terms are metaphors. They refer to the roles taken by the concepts each element embodies.

Hot and Cold Elements

Hot elements are active in human existence. 

They stand for concepts that penetrate and alter the world around them.
An outdated way of putting this would be to describe them as “masculine.” This comes from historical stereotypes about gender. I tend to use the term “active” to describe hot elements. That’s Fire and Air.

Cold elements are passive and receptive. 

They represent concepts from which we draw nourishment. They are the structure or substance that forms our mental landscape. The hot elements tend to be the essence or organizing principle. 

Cold elements are often stereotyped as “feminine.“  They are Water and Earth, both of which play a nourishing role in human existence.

Wet and Dry Elements

Dryness as a concept within the Western Magical Tradition refers to a fixed state. In other words, the dry elements are things that don’t often change. These elements are full of stability. 

The key feature of a dry element is lack of intense motion. We can depend on the stable parts of our existence, represented by these elements.

The dry elements are Fire and Earth. It may seem strange to call fire stable, but it is a reliable source of warmth to us. It represents a constant feature of human life.

When we speak of wet elements, we mean the two elements that aren’t fixed. In other words, elements that flow ,change and transform. It is the concepts associated with these elements that drive the changes. They are reliable, but only insofar as change, itself, is something to rely on! 

The wet elements are Air and Water. Both are natural features that shift and flow through our lives. The inclusion of Air as a wet element shows that these are metaphorical, not literal terms.

Much more could be said about how people have described the elements throughout time. The above image shows the alchemical view of how the elements can combine to create secondary principles. 

As you might guess, “fixed” and “volatile” here stand for what we’ve been calling “passive” and “active.” If you want to know more about these further topics, I recommend Robert Bartlett’s book, True Alchemy. 

The entire concept of the elements is a metaphor, though. It’s a metaphor that can work for you. It can help with your Craft, and help you connect with the universe. I’ll be posting the next article tomorrow! In that, I’ll be discussing each element in detail.

“Elements of landscape language are like parts of speech, each with separate functions and associations. Flowing, like a verb, is a pattern of events expressed in both water and path. Water and path, like nouns, are action’s agents and objects; like adjectives or adverbs, their qualities of wetness or breadth extend meaning. Elements do not exist in isolation, but rather combine in significant ways, like words in a phrase, clause, or sentence, to make a tree, fountain, street, or a larger, more complex landscape story–garden, town, or forest. Every landscape feature, such as a mountain, embodies at least one complete expression–its own formation. Describing the elements is like looking at landscape–scanning the scene, then successively zooming in and out on significant details, letting the context blur but keeping it always in view.”

Anne Whiston Spirn, from “Is a Leaf lIke a Noun, Flowing Like a Verb? Elements of Landscape and Language,” The Language of Landscape (Yale University Press, 1998)

Anime Recommendation #1

Got a lot of time? Here’s five of the most quality anime you’ve probably never watched.


1. Seirei No Moribito

Originally posted by allen-walkers

Based on the Moribito light novel series, Seirei No Moribito (Guardian of the Spirit) follows the journey of the female bodyguard Balsa Yonsa, who vowed to atone for eight deaths by saving eight lives. The eight life she must protect is Prince Chagum’s, a boy who possesses the spirit of a demon that is said to bring drought to the kingdom. With vivid imperial Japan landscape, folk elements and music, gripping, complex characters, ridiculously beautiful fighting animation, and truthful writing, Seirei No Moribito brings a story still as refreshing as it was 8 years ago (19 if we’re going by the novel.) 


2. Kingdom

Originally posted by hishinunit

Based on the award-winning manga by Yasuhisa Hara is a fictional take of the epic conquest of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, to unite the warring kingdoms of the land, starting from his journey as the boy-king Ei Sei (Chinese: Ying Zheng.) Shin (Xin), a slave boy dreaming to become the greatest general under the heavens, becomes intertwined with Sei’s destiny after his closest friend and only family is tragically killed for having the same face as Sei. Action-packed, humorous, tragic, historical, intriguing, political, and touching, Kingdom is popular in Japan and has earned a world record through the support of other artists, including famous mangaka and voice actors.

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After Parc del Laberint, we took the metro to Diagonal (Passeig de Graçia) to tour La Pedrera. Like all of Gaudi’s bizarre and creative spaces, La Pedrera feels like an organic architectural landscape with elements that remind the viewer of the sea. One of the things I love most about Gaudi is his avoidance of straight lines. I can’t imagine what people must have thought of Gaudi’s works at the time that they were built. These buildings feel modern and peculiar to even our modern standards. In 1911, a building like this must have been the talk of the town. 

All photos mine.

Barcelona, September 14, 2017

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final fantasy type-0 abilities:

Jack ➟ Transience.

anonymous asked:

Hellooo👋🏾 , so I was thinking about building up newcrest and I want the world to be cohesive and not just random architectural styles placed everywhere , so my question is how do you keep your building style and your worlds so consistent and cohesive ? Do you just know what the features are for your style of architecture , or do you always look at references or something else ? And also would you have like a recommendation for which architectural style would fit for newcrest ?

Hi Anon! I feel like the only consistent world I’ve done has been Newlyn Hills/Newcrest - everything else is a bit of a mess! XD There are so many styles of architecture I like and things I want to attempt to build, that it can be tough to keep things cohesive. But I think if I tried to do an entire world in one style, I’d get bored pretty quickly. Jumping around a bit keeps things interesting. :)

Newlyn Hills was kind of a compromise in that regard - instead of deciding on a style for the whole world, I picked a style for each neighborhood. I tried to choose styles that I am familiar with and that I enjoy building (Craftsman, Victorian, and whatever you would call downtown - Small City Main Street?). Those styles allow for some variation - if you look at the Victorians in Newlyn Hills, they’re all fairly different from one another. Each one was inspired by a different picture that I found on the web. And yet they’re all Victorians that would have been built around the same time.

I think that’s part of the key to consistency - imagine how the neighborhood was developed. Pick a time period and look for houses from that era. They don’t have to be the same exact style (unless you want to emulate tract housing! :), but should be a similar size and shape. For example, you don’t want a three-story Victorian next to a one-story bungalow (well, you might, but if you’re going for cohesiveness, they may look a little odd together!).

More under the cut!

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