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Author Topic: Alternatives to the Usual Elemental Representations  (Read 7809 times)
celestine
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« Topic Start: August 15, 2008, 07:54:45 am »

in many if not most of the books or info that i have read it gives the usual ideas for symbols for the elements (air,incense  fire,candle etc)  i have used these representations for years now but have started to think of other things that could be used,

i came up with a few myself like instead of incense there could be a feather and for water it could be a shell but i wondered if anyone here has any unusual items they use and wouldnt mind sharing

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« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 08:02:22 am by RandallS, Reason: Subject Clarified » Logged

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« Reply #1: August 15, 2008, 09:42:19 am »

in many if not most of the books or info that i have read it gives the usual ideas for symbols for the elements (air,incense  fire,candle etc)  i have used these representations for years now but have started to think of other things that could be used,

i came up with a few myself like instead of incense there could be a feather and for water it could be a shell but i wondered if anyone here has any unusual items they use and wouldnt mind sharing

I used a feather to represent air for the longest time, as I'm pretty scent-sensitive.  Now thankfully, I've found small incense sticks I like and don't leave me sneezing.  I thought about using a shell with some water in it for water, and for a while I had a little potted cactus to be my symbol for Earth.  Fire for me is the toughest to think about, I suppose if you really couldn't use candles, maybe a lightbulb in a small lamp?  Those things do give off a lot of heat.  And do present a fire hazard if not careful!

I have heard of people using stones that correspond to the different elements as a way to represent the elements, using pumice for air, and aquamarine or pearls for water.  I suppose, as another example of air, you could always focus on your own breath, as we kind of do need air and the oxygen it provides to keep us living!

Definately something interesting to think about.
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« Reply #2: August 15, 2008, 12:01:51 pm »

in many if not most of the books or info that i have read it gives the usual ideas for symbols for the elements (air,incense  fire,candle etc)  i have used these representations for years now but have started to think of other things that could be used,

i came up with a few myself like instead of incense there could be a feather and for water it could be a shell but i wondered if anyone here has any unusual items they use and wouldnt mind sharing

best wishes

Well, whatever works.
A feather or a shell is not that unusual in my opinion.
Fire is a bit tricky.

A time ago I thought about making a rope in which the elements would be included. Kind of.
Pieces of wood for earth, feathers for air, shells for water - but the fire part got me stopped.

I thought of fire colored pieces of fabric or 'fiery' stones. Garnet, carneol, flintstone....
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« Reply #3: August 15, 2008, 01:59:08 pm »

i came up with a few myself like instead of incense there could be a feather and for water it could be a shell but i wondered if anyone here has any unusual items they use and wouldnt mind sharing

Well, in part, it depends on what you're using them for.

Representationally, the thing itself is obviously your first choice, because there's no better representation of fire than fire, or of water than water, or whatever else.

Functionally depends - but if you're blessing your circle with the elements, again, salt and water has an immediacy and direct connection to the element, plus it's got practical uses (in a way that just carrying a shell around the circle might not.)

That said, there are always times other options are good - you're in a dorm room or a hotel room or visiting family. You need stuff you can get through airport security. You want a tiny little travel altar in your car. Or, perhaps, you're setting up quarter altars, and while you'll have your bowl of water, you might also want other water-related things.

Some options:

Air: Feathers. A ribbon or small cloth with scented oil on it. An oil warmer. A chime or small flute. (I sometimes use my conductor's baton). Images of birds.

Fire: Volcanic rocks (especially obsidian or other rocks with a glass-like surface). Glass (especially in relevant shapes for the working like small glass hearts for a working relating to emotions or relationships). Polished minerals in fire colors (I'm particularly fond of carnelian). Forged metal in some decorative or practical form. Images of candles, fire, the sun, etc. but also dragons, a phoenix, desert creatures, etc.

Water: Bowls of water. Cups. Shells. Water-grown flowers (lilies, lotus, cattails, etc.) Also images of water birds and animals (frogs are very popular with many people I know.) And, of course, ocean/lake/river views. Though usually impractical for an 'alternative', a small fountain is really lovely.

Earth: Anything living - a houseplant, for example. Evergreen boughs. Rocks/minerals/stones. A small bowl of earth or salt (though salt has some far more complicated connotations when it comes to fertility.) Images of land animals, also landscape.

One other general option that can be a really nice addition is the use of ribbons - get the thin (1/4 inch) cheap 3 for a dollar rolls from a craft store, in a range of colors (3-4 colors for each element: pastels and yellows for air, red/orange/bright yellow for fire, blues into purples for water, greens and maybe a little white and brown for earth). Tie together lengths of ribbon in a knot at one end (like a tassel, so you have the knot, and then loose ends). A length of 2-3 feet works pretty well: long enough to have some weight and movement, short enough to be practical.

Pooled or laid out on a quarter altar, they look really lovely. They can also be hung outside on a long pole, or from a hook or nail inside, behind the altar. The ribbons have a 'living' quality I find really pleasing.
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« Reply #4: August 15, 2008, 02:43:22 pm »

thanks to all this have given me lots of ideas i would lke to stick to my tradditional ideas but just think my altar looks tired and needs a lift

as for the plant ideas i have been blessed with a very big back garden and have always wanted to create an outdoor altar but being very over looked and being in the uk where this sort of stuff in frowned greatly upon, this ahs been difficult,  but thanks to you guys you have given me ideas for that too which when overlooked will just look like part of the garden

many thanks 
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« Reply #5: August 15, 2008, 03:49:55 pm »

Well, whatever works.
A feather or a shell is not that unusual in my opinion.
Fire is a bit tricky.

A time ago I thought about making a rope in which the elements would be included. Kind of.
Pieces of wood for earth, feathers for air, shells for water - but the fire part got me stopped.

I thought of fire colored pieces of fabric or 'fiery' stones. Garnet, carneol, flintstone....
another "fiery" stone  could be opal...
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« Reply #6: August 15, 2008, 05:12:32 pm »

another "fiery" stone  could be opal...

Oh yes, it is indeed but it's a bit out of reach for my budget Wink
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« Reply #7: August 17, 2008, 05:16:18 am »

Well, whatever works.
A feather or a shell is not that unusual in my opinion.
Fire is a bit tricky.

A time ago I thought about making a rope in which the elements would be included. Kind of.
Pieces of wood for earth, feathers for air, shells for water - but the fire part got me stopped.

I thought of fire colored pieces of fabric or 'fiery' stones. Garnet, carneol, flintstone....

How about red chillies for fire?
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« Reply #8: August 17, 2008, 05:29:47 am »

How about red chillies for fire?

Mmmh, that is really an orignal idea - why not  Cheesy
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« Reply #9: August 17, 2008, 05:12:36 pm »

Mmmh, that is really an orignal idea - why not  Cheesy

Actually, I have heard of it before.  I think someone gave it as a method of using things that aren't likely to make people look twice at you having them around the house.

I think that someone even mentioned other food items for other elements, or symbolic representations.
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« Reply #10: August 17, 2008, 06:16:14 pm »

I think that someone even mentioned other food items for other elements, or symbolic representations.

So I'm guessing that seafood for water and poultry for air?  Maybe some kind of fruit, vegetable or land animal for earth?
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« Reply #11: August 17, 2008, 11:26:39 pm »

So I'm guessing that seafood for water and poultry for air?  Maybe some kind of fruit, vegetable or land animal for earth?

Honestly, I can't really remember right now, but I think it was something to do with edible plants.  It was quite a while ago, and I can't even remember anyone involved in the discussion.
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« Reply #12: August 18, 2008, 10:37:28 am »

Water: Bowls of water. Cups. Shells. Water-grown flowers (lilies, lotus, cattails, etc.) Also images of water birds and animals (frogs are very popular with many people I know.) And, of course, ocean/lake/river views. Though usually impractical for an 'alternative', a small fountain is really lovely.
 

In my bedroom, I place a mirror on the west-facing wall to represent water.
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« Reply #13: August 18, 2008, 01:54:28 pm »

In my bedroom, I place a mirror on the west-facing wall to represent water.

this might make me sound really stupid but apart from the reflection link i cant think of how else a mirror would represent water, although without realising the i also have a mirror on my west wall

thanks
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« Reply #14: August 18, 2008, 07:33:58 pm »

this might make me sound really stupid but apart from the reflection link i cant think of how else a mirror would represent water, although without realising the i also have a mirror on my west wall

You don't sound stupid, and the reflection aspect is precisely why I use a mirror to represent water. They make fountains now that hang flat against the wall, but they can be expensive and, I would think, potentially messy/damaging.

Neither air, fire, nor earth have that same reflecting character. A mirror just felt right, I guess.
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