Earth is solid and fertile. Because of being solid, it represents reliability and practicality, as well as their downside: stubbornness and dullness. Because of being fertile, it represents beauty and health, and the ability to produce wealth. It is like a mother bearing children and always supporting them with the wealth of her breast.
Water is deep, reflective, and soft. As such, it symbolizes the emotions in our unseen depths, and our ability to be introspective and (self-)aware. It also symbolizes the ability to accommodate and be flexible. It is like an intelligent woman looking at her reflection and contemplating her place in the world.
Fire is bright and hot. Because it is bright, it symbolizes illumination’s ability to make clear decisions and moral judgements. The downside of this is to be rashly opinionated. Because fire is hot it symbolizes power, which can be dangerous, and can punish transgressions of its moral judgements. All things considered, fire symbolizes the qualities of leadership – like a man holding a torch for a group of people trying to find their way in the dark night.
Air has two facets: the breezes we feel and the air we breathe. Like a breeze, air symbolizes things that are pleasant, and enjoyable: especially sensory happiness. Such things, like a breeze, are fleeting. As such, air represents things that are not stable or reliable. The breeze also carries scents, so air represents communication – the ability to “carry” an essence from one place to another. Happiness may be fleeting, but it is the real goal and essence of life – so it is appropriate that air is also the oxygen we breathe. Air is like a very young man roaming carefree from place to place, meeting new people and sampling the pleasures of each.
This is my first attempt to explain the elements in such a succinct way. I would appreciate your comments, and if you think there are important attributes of the elements which I may have left out.
– Vic DiCara (VicDiCara.com)