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The Traditional Understanding of the Elements

In the modern Magical world view, it is common (from what I have observed) to view the Elements as a force operating below or separate from the Higher; we speak of Elementals existing on their own plane and as part of our own, but rarely consider that the Elemental Virtues penetrate the Heavenly Planes as well, being part of God itself on All levels.  There is a tendency to view the Planetary and Astrological forces as "higher", and the Elements as the visceral, manifesting force. I think this sort of thinking is rooted in over-simplification, not just of the Traditional world view but also the Qabalistic view that is more studied in the Western Tradition these days. The inter-penetration of existence by the Elements, whose virtue is expressed differently depending upon the Soul in which it manifests, is made clear in the Traditional texts. Henry Cornelius Agrippa teaches:

"It is the unanimous consent of all Platonists, that as in the original, and the exemplary world, all things are in all; so also the elements are not only in these inferior bodies, but also in the heavens, in stars, in devils, in angels, and lastly in God, the maker, and original example of all things." Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Netensheim, 1531, as translated by James Freake and edited by Donald Tyson, 1993 Chapter VIII pp26.




So, it is clear in the traditional world view that, as all things are in all, so the Elements are in all things. The manifestation of the Elements appear to differ depending upon the Soul and nature of the thing in which it manifests; as Agrippa says:

"Now in these inferior bodies, the elements are accompanied with much gross matter; but in the heavens the elements are with their natures, and virtues, viz, after a celestial, and more excellent manner, than in sublunary things. For the firmness of the celestial Earth is there without the grossness of Water; and the agility of the Air without running over it's bounds; the heat of Fire without burning, only shining, and giving life to all things by it's hear." Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Netensheim, 1531, as translated by James Freake and edited by Donald Tyson, 1993 Chapter VIII pp26.

The Elements in their Celestial natures are of a purity that is natural to celestial things, and in the sublunar planes manifest in more gross--but appropriate--fashion. Understanding the Elements the way they were understood traditionally by our forebears is essential if we are to understand how the various Virtues are manifest throughout the World, both Inner and Outer. The various forces aren't entirely separate and inter-penetrate each other; the Planets have their Elemental aspects as do the Signs, and being aware of this inter-penetration translates to Magic on a number of levels. If the forces all inter-penetrate on the various planes, it makes sense that things on our plane have been inter-penetrated by Celestial forces. Because of this inter-penetration we have access to natural things that have affinity to the differing Celestial forces, and these things can be used to attract those forces though the method of Astrological Magic, which combines Celestial Forces through knowledge of Astrology with physical things that have a natural Affinity for the Celestial Forces, using Sacred Ceremony as was written by Agrippa. 


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