The Four Elements and the Elemental Quaternity of LifesteemCreated with Sketch.

in symbolism •  3 years ago  (edited)

The human reality and world we create is a result of the consequences to our actions and deeds that are generated by our thoughts and cares or desires.

Symbolism reflects ideas and truths about reality. Truth as a concept is a synonym for reality or existence of what is. By learning from nature and the science of reality itself, we can understand basic source symbolism that is derived as a reference and representation of nature.


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The main infographic starts at 6:45m. Total length is 20 minutes.



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Introduction on Symbolism and Reality

There is symbolism for understanding consciousness that has been projected onto aspects of reality, or even unreality. We can project aspects of ourselves onto things that are imagined and don't actually exist in an attempt to create meaning and provide an answer to fill a gap in comprehension.

The symbols that we create are first derived from reality itself, because first there is reality (primacy of existence), second there is knowledge of reality (within the power of consciousness), and eventually third there is a symbolic construct of that knowledge from reality (like pictographs, words, and language). We can also create and invent any fantasy in our inner-reality of consciousness and reference it through a symbol that doesn't actually represent a part of demonstrable reality.





This will be a presentation on the four elements (and partially the sun) to demonstrate how symbols, symbolism and pictographs originated as part of our development in knowledge and communication.


To create symbols, nature or reality must be observed so that the symbols reflect the natural science of observation in nature and its phenomena, processes or systems. Symbols are used to communicate about reality. Thousands of years ago symbols were created to reflect reality, either a factual aspect of reality, or imagined as a potential reality or unreality.

"Tse' Hone'" which translates to a rock that tells a story

Symbols were first engraved as pictographs, then abstract lines and curves that diverged from the directly reflected symbol in reality. Symbols are originally analogous references to reality through an image that represents reality. Later symbols diverge from a direct representation of something in reality.


The sun can be created into a symbolic image to elucidates various knowledge that corresponds to sun itself, or to use the symbol to convey other meanings. The word "sun" is more abstract, and more defined in meaning with a limited scope of imagery associated with it since it's not an image-pictograph anymore. The word sun may invoke imagery within us, but the word itself is "s-u-n" and lacks the direct reflection of the sun in reality represented by a circle.



Symbols are required to represent aspects of reality in order to communicate about those aspects of reality.

Different aspects of reality are represented through symbols. Anthropomorphism, personification, and projection all occur to represent concepts in relation to ourselves, hence "gods" and "goddesses" throughout many cultures and creation myths that share aspects we project onto them. There are masculine and feminine components that we define as such, and these components are found in the g ods as well as goddesses, personified in reference to ourselves and the dual nature of gender. Many ancient cultures had animal and nature deification symbolism through using the image of something else "out there" (outside of consciousness/self) that we could more easily understand and use as a reference to ourselves.




"Thus, there is growing evidence supporting the idea that early humans showed an early and sophisticated dependence on the sky for information. In fact, Krupp notes that it was inevitable that humans would look to the stars and constellations, for they provided, “practical services: timekeeping, season marking, calendrics, weather signs, concentrations of supernatural power, and symbolic containment of important cultural data”
– Sino-Platonic Paper, Foundation of Myth by Brian Pellar, pg. 3


The anthropomorphism, personification and projection of aspects of ourselves onto reality, is done in order to make sense of ourselves in relation to things in reality that we can more easily reference for understanding. This is where the symbolism comes from, by trying to relate ourselves to reality in order to understand ourselves and reality.


Think about it. Before abstract symbols were created, how would you try to communicate about the immaterial consciousness self of who you are that is apart from your physical body? If you're already using symbols derived from existence, then coming up with something completely new and not seen before might be difficult to do. It's easier to use something you can point to in reality, and use that as a symbolic frame to correspond to something else or other understandings such as self-knowledge. This is how basic communication started, through analogous correspondence in mythopoetic metaphors, allegories and narratives.

The angel of light in conflict with a dragon

I posit that much of the symbolism reveals deeper wisdom about how to live life correctly (i.e. morality) and other self-knowledge. It was developed, and encoded, through esoteric symbolism in metaphor, analogies, allegories, and parables, using references to ourselves and reality in order to provide a comparative framework for understanding.


The imagination to see images in our consciousness, is either based directly on reality, or on subjective concepts that aren’t directly reflected from a grounding in reality. Subjective imaginations can try to provide answers through speculations, concepts or ideas, but are simply belief for the moment which may eventually be demonstrated to be true or false.

The Four Elements and the Elemental Quaternity of Life

One very old symbolic model is that of the four elements: fire, air, water and earth.

It starts from fire, goes up to air, down to water, and then down into earth.

The fire goes upwards towards the air, and heat also rises from that source. There is also the light of the sun that produces heat when it makes contact with any object on earth. Stars also produce light.

Fire is the upright triangle going upwards as heat goes upwards towards the air. Air is a triangle that's bisected to form the top portion. Then back down is the opposite of fire is water with a downward triangle. And finally is earth with a bisected downward triangle.

You can think of water evaporating from heat, either from the fire source or from the sun, that goes into the air which then condenses into the clouds and then water falls down from the cloud-source.

The fire represents our desires which are what drives us. From the desires and cares of our inclinations, this goes up to the air which is our thoughts. Our thoughts, and what we care to actualize, produce the deeds of water that fall to create consequences on the earth. The deeds are many drops of water that flow through time like a stream.

In between each element there is also a quality from that relationship. Between fire and air there is heat. Between air and water there is moisture. Between water and earth it is cold. Between earth and fire it is dry.

Fire, sun or light heats the air, or the wind, breath or "spirit", that moves upon the surface of the waters and earth to cause changes.

Doesn't that sound like a description about a creation mythology? (hint: the bible)


The wind moves through high and low pressures with cold and heat which are two of the qualities. The heat comes from a source of light, the sun or fire, and the light is truth or justice that stirs things up in order to create change. The heat makes the air move which then moves upon the waters. The friction of the air and wind on the water creates waves and ripples to cause changes through time. These are our deeds and actions which cause changes through time.


This is how nature itself works in reality that we can observe. The four elements are what make up reality, but not literally. We know that these four elements are not what make up literal reality, but in a symbolic sense they represent how we* make reality through our actions.

These are the four elements that make up our reality processing capacity that can be described through other symbolism such as the Trinity of Consciousness or the Trivium Methodology.

Instead of the Trinity of Consciousness, this is a Quartering of Consciousness with the four elemental forces.

These are symbolic representations of us, as beings that create into reality. Therefore, these four elements are what create reality because they represent us as we create into reality.

This ancient symbolism has lost its original meaning that was described through symbolic representation and analogous correspondence. Instead of understanding the rich symbolic, metaphorical imagery that is being used to communicate an understanding about ourselves and reality, some people took (and still take) the symbolism in ancient narratives as a literal representation of reality, that then could easily be dismissed by some people.

The four elements were developed through a recognition of nature and the processes and phenomenon within existence. A basic method of trying to learn (and also trying to communicate) is through analogous correspondence whereby one thing is compared to another to draw similarities or differences. The four elements not only represent natural observable phenomenon in nature overall, but also within human nature and how we create into existence.

This represents how we as higher order consciousness beings create into reality. This is how the four elements represent reality, as how we create reality.

Truth is derived and verified from objective reality or existence (which are synonyms). Truth as a concept is a synonym for reality or existence of what is. By learning from nature and the science of reality itself, we can understand basic source symbolism that is derived as a reference and representation of nature.

Looking at nature is how symbols like the four elements were created, and then analogously corresponded to represent deeper meaning, such as self-knowledge.

First is reality, second is knowledge, and third are symbols to represent that knowledge of reality. The four elements are symbols to represent knowledge of reality. Of how things work in nature, with fire, air, water and earth going around in a cycle. And also how we do the same thing in a cycle with our thoughts, emotions and actions that is here represented as care or desire, thoughts, actions and results or consequences that manifest in reality.

Most people that talk about these symbols refer to the upward triangles as masculine, and the downward ones as feminine, which is true, but they all have masculine and feminine qualities within them. The upright triangle is also representative of the phallus and erect penis as a symbol for the masculine desire for the feminine. The fire is masculine and is desiring to reach towards to the air and feminine, which is symbolic of a higher consciousness than the opposite element of the earth which is also feminine and masculine in quality.

To bring validity to this gender symbolism, in Ancient Egypt there were god and goddess siblings called Nut and Geb. Nut being the sky, and Geb being the earth. In other mythologies, the sky is the father, while the earth is the mother. It depends on how you want to look at it, as symbolism is multilayered with different applicable meanings to convey.


Even within this symbolism of the four elements, there is the cyclical symbolism that has been described both in the dual aspect of nature and existence, as well as consciousness, but there is also another dual symbolic representation of higher and lower consciousness as expressed through the air and the earth. As we go from the fire of our desires to the water of our deeds and actions going across horizontally, we then need to choose between another symbolic representation on a vertical axis, between lower and higher consciousness.

Higher consciousness is symbolized through the air because of the "spirit", the breath of life, and also representative of the genetrix or feminine generative power to give birth. The air is unseen, as the "spirit" or consciousness is internal and is also unseen. The unseen, immaterial, nonphysical, "spiritual", breath of life, air and wind, is more of a feminine than masculine symbol despite the upward triangle that some want to convey as only having masculine symbolism within the 4 elements.

The two qualities of air represented as heat and moisture are also conveyed in the Egyptian mythologies through the gods of Shu (masculine, heat) and Tefnut (feminine, moist). Tefnut was also associated with Maat and being the spouse of Thoth which I have talked about before. Tefnut was also representative of life and truth, as Maat and the feather of Maat was the symbol for truth and morality.

In my work I talk about how truth, and moral truth in particular, is the path to higher, realer and truer life. The ancient symbolism conveys this meaning but has been lost because people are always taking these ancient narratives and creation mythologies as literal, instead of taking it as deeper symbolism that conveys real life knowledge we can use to improve the quality and condition of our lives.


The air symbolism is also related to the bird symbolism that has been used in many ancient cultures and mythologies. The bird, wings and feather is also representative of the sacred feminine, especially in ancient Egypt through many of the goddesses that had wings, such as Maat who also used a feather to represent the air which was the high element that was closest to the light of truth represented as the sun and main source of heat that enables life to exist on Earth.


Despite the air being represented through an upward triangle and often being mistaken as mostly being masculine, it can be seen that the air is highly representative of feminine symbolism as I have described. Air is more feminine than masculine. All of the four elements have dual symbolic representations depending on how one looks at the symbol.


The symbols are reflected in nature. We are building symbols from knowledge that is derived from existence.

Objective reality is the primacy of existence. Consciousness has power to affect and alter objective reality, but is not the primacy. Existence comes first.

In looking at our reality, the lowest element we have is earth. And then on top of the earth are other things such as water. This is how it is most easily observed as being the reality around us. Fire is also on top of the earth. This is exactly how the symbolism is demonstrated in the infographic. There is water and fire on top of the earth which naturally juxtaposes themselves on opposite sides with earth on the bottom, leaving the air to take up the natural position above. And this is exactly how the four elemental symbolic framework and model represents nature as well as ourselves as a consciousness.

There are other models that purport to have the correct placement and change the order of things. All you need to do to verify their positioning is to look at nature and existence itself as the source from which the symbols were originally derived in order to verify the accuracy of someone's model that is attempting to represent nature or existence. If there is a contradiction between the model and existence, then in all likelihood the model is flawed.

This infographic is just a circular representation to demonstrate the order of the process. The symbols are larger and more visually represented to make it a bit easier to visualize the core information compared to the previous image.


The beginning of symbolism starts with reality. There is the basic daily sun cycle, and the 4 elemental cycles that underlies much of other symbolism. They are symbols referencing processes in reality through observation of reality. Further understanding of reality and ourselves can also be based on symbolism and be described.

Understanding this, the four elements are likely the basis for other quaternity symbolism.

Regarding consciousness, the 4 points are used in the Quaternity instead of the 3 pointed Trinity of Consciousness symbolism to demonstrate an understanding of how we are processing, generating and creating into reality.

The top 3 parts of the quaternity of four elements is essentially the triangle of the trinity of consciousness of thought, emotions and actions, represented instead as desires/cares, thoughts and deeds/actions.

This was not part of the presentation, but the quaternity symbolism is also found in the quartering of the squaring the circle, the 4 corners, 4 winds, 4 angels, 4 cherubim, 4 seasons, 4 zodiac signs, 4 points of a cross, the cross, the crossed arms symbols of the dead, and the the crucified one (crossed one).

Just as the imagery and symbolism in the narrative of how the "divine crucified one" is "resurrected", we can also resurrect ourselves, to be reborn, renewed, recycled, and “reincarnated” into a new version of ourselves in this self-transformation process of the elemental quaternity.

We can change our desires, cares and thoughts, that result in different deeds and actions, which then result in different consequences or rewards that we create into reality. This is the symbolism that much of my main work talks about.

Thank you for your time and attention! I appreciate the knowledge reaching more people. Take care. Peace.

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So far @krnel, this is my favourite write up of yours, great job! Epic piece definitely worth reading.

"(...) through analogous correspondence in mythopoetic metaphors, allegories and narratives.", one finds ways to share the fruit of an experience. To my experiential-knowledge, this is the number one reason why poetry and myths are so important in the development of our communication as human beings. Though we are using fingers to point at the moon, the one with wisdom will try to see the moon where the other ones will look at your fingers.

Positing "that much of the symbolism reveals deeper wisdom about how to live life correctly (i.e. morality) and other self-knowledge. It was developed, and encoded, through esoteric symbolism in metaphor, analogies, allegories, and parables, using references to ourselves and reality in order to provide a comparative framework for understanding." is a very powerful statement to which I strongly relate. I can't help but wonder how does one relate an experience when the form of the droplet of one's soul evaporates to the ocean of oneness? In other words, what words would one use to relate to another human being, the experience of the self evaporating and beyond that point? So far, the answer remains the same and underline again and even more so the power of the presence of myths, poetry and semiotic, in general and especially in mathematics, in our communication attempts.

I love how you bring about the idea that our consciousness experiences first showing the logical idea that consciousness itself is found in a movement of logical growth coming second to the primacy of existence itself. When both the experience of existence and consciousness come as one there is enlightenment.

As you say, "We are building symbols from knowledge that is derived from existence." and, if we are to put the two thoughts together, this seems to me as underlining our comprehension of our experience of existence itself as a function of our consciousness span...

Therefore, "If there is a contradiction between the model and existence, then in all likelihood the model is flawed." or is not correlative to the experience of someone's else attempt at pointing to their own experience of either, self, comprehension of their consciousness or, usually even more importantly so, the experience of existence itself.

Since every example as its flaws, I have came to understand the different representations within the context of their understanding which is function of their consciousness degree of attainment, historicity and how the experience of realities have found a path to oneness in their awareness.

Again, I want to thank you for this brilliant piece, it makes my heart to happy to be following your work, and even more so to connect with you on such matters. All for one and one for all, namaste :)

Thank you so very much for your tokens of appreciation which are at least equally appreciated on this end. Namaste :)

Welcome ;) Thanks for the feedback.

Excellent article and presentation-- sharing and resteeming.

Both my wife (in her coaching and counseling) and I (in my creative outlets) use symbolic imaging extensively, so saving this as a resource both for our own purposes, as well as a to use as a reference for others.

I like exploring some of the underlying roots for why we reach for symbols... and always come back to "I saw/heard/experienced something that is new to me, and I am trying to explain it (or rationalize it) to myself and/or in terms of previously known experience." And so, a symbol(s) is used to represent something not yet named in order to give meaning and lend an understandable frame of reference to that.

A curious thing to me is symbols derived from symbolic reality... coincidences, synchronicities... for example, when I upvoted this, the $ ticker went to $11.11.... "Oooh, 1111... that 'means' something!" some might say. Sure, in reality 11:11 is a "real" moment in time, but the implied meaning exists only (in documentable terms) as an artificial construct.

Fascinating stuff, thanks!

Hehe, indeed, we project a lot and invent meaning and "answers" to things in order to give ourselves meaning and not feel uncomfortable, insecure, anxious or scared of the darkness, void, and abyss of the unknown that an unanswered question creates in our comprehension and worldview. We like to fill that up with our imagination. There is also the wonder and amazement with mystery and associating the unknown with mysterious wondrous answers from our imagination. Consciousness is powerful, and can be a double-edged sword where we fool ourselves into falsity because it "feels-good" to believe it.

Thanks for the feedback ;)

Excellent article. The way you make use of the info graphics really adds to your presentation and helps clarify some of the more abstract ideas. Looking forward to reading more of your work :)

Thank you :) Glad to provide some useful knowledge to people.

We are the 5th element

I couldn't help myself :P

I did not come across information on the elemental quaternity of life before. This was a really great read. This just reinforces my understanding of our reality.

"I think, therefore I am"

You are correct. Consciousness-self-psyche-"soul"-"spirit" is the central piece that makes the wheel turn, we are at the core of the process. It's also called the quintessence and other names. That was for the next presentation though, I didn't include it here. But in your jest and joke, you arrived at something unexpected on your part :) Congrats. Isn't learning awesome!?

Oops, didn't mean to spoil the next part. I had a feeling it might be leaning toward that understanding that we are the "key" or the central piece that makes the wheel turn. Co-existing with these elements and being interconnected starts with us, our thought.

Nice work.

Many seconds are spent thinking about cymbals for me as well. I wonder if instead of "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9", we use...

  • A "circle" or a "dot" as "1". The unity or singularity.
  • A "line" as "2". The path that connects two points. Time creates space. Space creates time.
  • A "triangle" as "3". For me, it seems like everything in the universe is split by twos and threes.
  • A "square" as "4".
  • I don't know, maybe an "x" as "5"? But you kind of get the point. It's all some kind of palindrome tension of "1" doubling while "10" is halving. I'm not sure how to symbolize that at the moment. It's cool tho, I can see it in on the fret board.

Anyways, I think that such a symbol change would help us clearly visualize geometry. Especially the sacred kind. We'd probably be way better at arithmetic too. Maybe we would even comprehend extra dimensions more easily.

image from

For everyone who viewed, read, and commented on this GOLDEN NUGGET, pat yourself on the back. Its amazing how somehow and someway WE ALL connect and find one another.

"no further comment"

Interesting article, @krnel
How does this contrast with Christian beliefs?

I have this to add as to how people are interpreting stories that are trying to teach certain things vs. thinking the stories are literal and need to be followed literally. It's symbolism, metaphor, analogy, parable, allegory. Storytelling and the science of imagery powerfully affects consciousness and behavior.

"Psa 78:2 - I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,"
"Pro 1:2 - To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;"
"Pro 1:6 - To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. "
"Gal 4:24 - Which things are an allegory:"
"2Co 3:6 - Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
Mar 4:11 - And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand

There is an exoteric layer of the story itself that can be taken as a "literal" thing, and there is the esoteric underlying symbolic meaning conveyed through the imagery and narrative of events and behavior taking place in the story. The false understanding, "dark", is when the vision is too shallow, not seeing or hearing what is really being said, where the deeper meaning is secondary to the desire to believe it is a literal story conveying literal meaning of how to do things in life.

Very good article, I've had had to study symbolism for my artwork and study of Buddhism and by no means am i an expert. You mention reality a lot, what is reality?💀

Thank you, I walk the middle way between subjective and objective reality, surfing the flux of phenomena and sensation...🏄🏻‍♀️ Wheeeeeeeeee

I'm with you there, @reddust. On the cusp of chaos and order.

I guessed you were middle way cool😉

Thank you for the great article @krnel.

My work is about creating a context where people become aware of patterns of thought or actions and allow themselves to live blocked or repressed emotions.

Wonder where being aware - (conscious), or being unaware (unconscious) about something is in this picture.

Where can we place emotions and sensations in this quaternity model?

I intuit that sensations is an earth atribute, but emotions??? Where do they belong in this model?

Thank you for your help.