Alchemical Study Group - The Elements


I like the way Place incorporates the elements into this deck. I especially like the way he views the High Priestess, Empress, Emperor and Hierophant as representing the four elements as so...

The High Priestess begins the alchemical process called dissolution, in which the prima materia, symbolized by the Magician, is dissolved and separated into its four elements, water (the High Priestess, feminine/soul), earth (the Empress, body), air (the Emperor, spirit/mind), and fire (the Hierophant, masculine soul).

It's easy to see correspondences between these cards and cards in the four suits.. eg. The Eagle on the Emperors shoulder is the King of Swords, the Empress is very similar to the Queen of Coins, the Queen of Vessels is like a personification of the High Priestess energy, not sure about the Hierophant though.

Sorry, this may not even be relevant in this thread, but I guess my point is that I love the way he uses the elements and includes subtle links between the cards.


I started this thread as to discuss the Elements, so don't worry, I don't think your thread it out of place (for what it is worth). :)

Personally I agree that the links between the cards are subtle and this places this deck above others in its originality.

My favourite link though is between The High Priestess and the King of Vessels--which I have mentioned in The High Priestess' page.

Hopefully all those who study this deck will come away with a deeper general understanding of tarot at the end!


Kenny said:
Basic primer to the Elements

There are five elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Quintessence

At the centre of each element is a heavenly Element which was created out of the First Matter by the Creator--it is this heavenly Element that that I believe the Aces signify, the pure essence of the suit.
Always Wondering said:
Is this what Quintessence is?

I thought I would come back and give a detailed explanation of my argument that the Holy Element is not the Quintessence.

Okay, to be honest I do not know much about the 5th element but to me it is a separate, if under talked about, element.

In this tarot deck the five elements are all listed: the four Elements in the four parts of the minor and the 5th Element in the Trumps (IMHO). As I noted before the 5th Element is like life-force and to me slightly superior than the others because in a sense it is a part of the other Elements or it houses them. (See The Chicken Qabalah for an explanation in Qabalistic terms, and a damn good read.)

Please ask if you don't understand my arguments.

Always Wondering

:| Well, if we are going to be honest, I don't have this deck, just trying to learn about the elements in conjunction with tarot. Hope you don't mind if I lurk around, as I am finding this helpful.



Always Wondering said:
:| Well, if we are going to be honest, I don't have this deck, just trying to learn about the elements in conjunction with tarot. Hope you don't mind if I lurk around, as I am finding this helpful.

No I don't mind and please pipe up if you find more information which you find on your travels!


St. Isidore c.560-636 said:
Chapter 11. The constituent parts of the world are four in number: fire, air, water, earth. Their characteristics are as follows: fire is thin, sharp, and mobile; air is mobile, sharp, and thick; water is thick, blunt, and mobile; earth is thick, blunt, and immobile. When they are mixed together, this is what happens. When thick, blunt, immobile earth is mixed with water, it is bound together with it because of its thickness and bluntness. Water is conjoined with air by its thickness and mobility. Again, air is bound to fire because they are both sharp and mobile. Earth and fire, however, refuse to combine, but water and air joined by those two characteristics.

Saint Ambrose distinguishes these elements though the qualities whereby each in turn is combined to the rest by a kind of natural kinship. Earth, he says, is dry and cold; water is moist and cold; air is warm and moist; and fire is hot and dry. Each individual element is combined with the others through these 'matrimonial' qualities*. For since earth is dry and cold, it is conjoined with water via their kinship expressed in the quality 'cold'. Again, water is joined to air via moistness because air is moist. Indeed, water seems to have embraced earth on the one hand and air on the other as though it had two arms, 'coldness' and 'moistness', with cold embracing the earth and moistness the air. Air itself occupies the middle ground between two things which are mutually antagonistic -- water and fire -- and reconciles each of those elements with itself; for it is conjoined to water by its moistness, and to fire by heat. Since fire is hot and dry, it too is interwoven with air by heat, while it is restored to communion and association with earth because of dryness ...
* Isidore frequently uses the verb commiscere which means both to mix together and to have sexual intercourse. Hence his introduction of ingales to describe qualities here. The perception of metals and minerals acting as though they were humans engaged in sexual activity is likewise crucial to understand the language employed in alchemical texts.

All of the above text is taken from The Occult in Mediaeval Europe edited and translated by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart


Seasons and Stages

I've been looking around for how the stages were related to elements and seasons without a lot of success.

If I had to relate seasons to stages it would be like this:


But for Elements not as sure:

Nigredo - Earth (Starting Point)
Albedo - Water (Washing)
Citrinatas - Air ??? (Heat added)
Rubedo - Fire ??? (Reddening)

Any Ideas or Sources?


The Weiser Guide to Alchemy

Picked up a copy of the Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy Yesterday.

It lists:

Winter - Water - Cold/Wet
Spring - Air - Wet/Hot
Summer - Fire - Hot/Dry
Autumn - Earth - Cold/Dry

This is of course very different than the 2 systems used by Magick/Golden Dawn.

I did find the Cosmology Chapter interesting. There is diagram of the Ptolemaic Universe from Johannes Hevelius' Selenographia which shows an 'architectural blueprint of the stars'

The planets aren't orbiting celestial bodies but shells.

The part that is relevant to elements is they are shown in the center radiating out in the order used by Robert Place and the order they are experienced in the physical world.

Earth (Center of Existence, Fixed & Compact)
Water (Surrounds Earth, Surrounded by Air, Allows things to be molded & Spread out)
Air (Rarefies, Makes Things Lighter, Stretches & Compacts, Rises and Falls)
Fire (Refines, Intermingles, Expands, Rises, Moves to New Limits)



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