I don’t really use elements in your traditional ritual set up. I do sometimes use them but it’s often in a more alchemical way than an earth-air-fire-water way.
One of my favorite ways to use elements is to combine them.
A good example of elemental combinations is an air plant. An air plant largely lives on air (with the occasional misting of water) but it’s still a plant so it’s an earth element. That’s three associations (air-water-earth) to deal with for one tiny little plant!
But elemental combinations are actually a really smart way to help set up an altar or a spell on the go. You can just roll with it. Instead of packing a ton of ritual items, you can just pack one or two herbs and that can suffice. It helps if you travel a lot, do a lot of on-the-go rituals, or need to be low-key.
It can also lend a lot of strength to ritual magic. By adding extra fire in a ritual, you’re creation more power so speed things along and adding passion or anger.
Elemental combinations also have the benefit of being dual purpose so you can bring two different energies into a spell at the same time. Need both fire and water? A dried water plan may be the best way to go – just burn it with a candle.
One thing to consider when doing elemental combinations is how they affect one another. Fire and water obviously don’t mix unless you want to destroy the fire or evaporate the water. Similarly, air and earth don’t always get along either. They can change one another though. Air (and water and fire) can all move earth by force. Wind can blow soil, erosion can destroy shorelines, and fire burns through the ground when it can. However, earth can strength air by tunneling it through canyons and caves, water seeps into the ground so it can spread everywhere, and fire lives on wood and natural gases for decades. Similarly, air can strength fire to an uncontrollable level or it can blow a flame out.
In general, all the elements can strengthen and weaken one another, when used in the right balance. You just have to stop and think about how an element functions and what kind of action you want it to perform.
When you combine multiple elements, make sure you’re keeping them in the balance you want. If you only want a little earth, then pick something with a less strong earth element. In my air plant example above, earth is the weakest of the elements because while an air plant is a plant, it isn’t planted in the soil. Water actually is actually stronger with an air plant because you do need to water air plants as needed. Air, obviously, is the strongest of all for an air plant.
Of course, the thing with element associations is that they are NOT universal. Asian occult systems have a lovely elemental system that includes the very combination I’m expressing here in a different way – but they use five elements: earth, air, water, fire, metal. Every practitioner will need to rely on their cultural or traditional folklore in addition to their own personal associations.
Want a quick way to look up correspondences? Check out my online sourced correspondences list.
Does this post look familiar? That’s because some of it appeared in this post from 2017. I’ve expanded upon it here to get further into details on how elemental combinations work.