The Four Elements of fire, earth, air, water and connections between them via heat, dryness, moisture and cold

Everything spins – from galaxies and stars to human lives – producing large and small cycles of events.

Spinning (or rotation) is the fundamental and archetypal movement within the creation. God must had said “let there be spin” at the day zero of initiation of the present cosmic cycle. Cosmic objects like galaxies, stars and planets as well as human lives — all seem to had been created as spinning cyclical entitites.

Personal life and its events are often better understood when looked from the cyclical perspective. But first it makes sense to ponder upon the cycles of celestial bodies and other related phenomena.

A cycle is made of powers

Some cycles are pretty much obvious and clearly delineated: day and night, seasons, phases of the Moon, birth and death, etc. — they all have some kind of beginning and end.

Then there a more fluid types of cycles, especially in the domain of personal development that don’t start or end in a clear cut manner.

How can one describe that flavour of personal journey at a given time?

One way is to remember the Four Elements (also called the Essences) and their powers (or Qualities):

Element Quality
Fire Hot
Earth Dry
Water Cold
Air Moist

Read more about the elements in the previous post “The four Elements and their powers”.

The elements/essences are locally corrupted by each other, but the powers/qualities are neither corrupted nor generated, they are incorporeal. Qualities are extremely useful to describe the state of a system — from astrological configuration to human psyche and bodily health at a particular point in time.

It’s worth noting that the Chinese system of Five Elements or Wu Xing is somewhat similar to the western elements and their powers yet it is vastly different at the same time. Always good to keep in mind that what the Chinese call, for example, “wood” isn’t a material of wood, but rather a movement representing qualities of time or season.

Seeing the qualities as movements allows to describe a dynamic cycle of powers:

Heat → Dryness → Cold → Moisture → …

The cycle of the elements and their qualities

Below are some well-known cycles that are worth to keep in mind.

The cycle of seasons

Spring starts with the vernal equinox and brings mostly moisture, as the cold of winter is being dissipated and waters arrive.

Summer is marked by the influence of the Sun as it approaches the highest position in the sky and bringing heat.

Autumn is the result of the heat that absorbed the moisture, therefore autumn has the power of dryness.

In winter the Sun reaches its lowest point in the sky. It’s the power of cold.

Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Moisture Heat Dryness Cold

The Moon cycle

The Moon cycle begins with the New Moon and until the First Quarter it mostly produces moisture. Period from the First Quarter to the fully illuminated Full Moon produces heat. The next two phases produce dryness and cold.

New Moon → First Quarter First Quarter → Full Moon Full Moon → Last Quarter Last Quarter → New Moon
Moisture Heat Dryness Cold

The cycle within astrological chart

The four angles of the chart (or cardinal points) — Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant and Imum Coeli — also follow the same dynamism of powers. The angles reflect the day/night cycle of sunrise, starting from the ascendant as the moment of sunrise.

Ascendant Midheaven Descendant Imum Coeli
Dryness Heat Moisture Cold

Notice that the sequence of the angles powers is of opposite direction to the seasons cycle — the direction of rotation of the Earth vs. the direction of the Earth travelling along the ecliptic. Meaning that the movement of the Sun counterbalances the progression of the Zodiac.

Sequence of qualities of elements

Back to ourselves

Human body and personal life are literally made out of numerous cycles. Just realising that allows for a much better navigation through one’s life circumstances. As much as certain events could be emotionally frustrating, they often mark the churning of phases of some cycle and seeing them like that allows for a smoother transition.

At least two types of cycles can be easily identified:

  1. body maintenance cycle
  2. personal development cycle

Body maintenance cycles examples are:

  • waking time and sleeping time
  • menstrual period for women
  • seasonal changes reflected in metabolism and overall energy of the body

Those “natural” cycles are run outside of our normal consciousness, they are subtle and require a certain level of training to meaningfully deal with.

Personal development cycles are:

  • solar return cycle
  • lunar return cycle
  • returns of major planets
  • progress throughout the year
  • love, romance and relationships
  • career and professional development
  • long term relationships with family and close friends
  • adjustments of values and beliefs throughout one’s life

Each personal development cycle presents an opportunity to “step up” in a personal process. A person goes through experiences and either learns the lessons and thus progresses or is bound for a rinse and repeat.

The notion of cycles presents an incredibly useful model of perceiving one’s life as a constant process based on development and enhancement — some lives run in circles, while others spiral upwards.

Saturn return is a classical example of a large cycle of about 27 years. Its symbolism rests on the notion of time that passed and lessons learned. It is both karmic and structuring.

One can analyse a number of personal cycles based of planetary returns:

Planet Return as days or years
Mercury 88 days  
Venus 225 days  
Mars 687 days 1.9 years
Jupiter 4,333 days 11.9 years
Saturn 10,759 days 29.5 years
Chiron 18,417 days 50.42 years

The trans-Saturnian planets are too slow and don’t make much sense for the span of human life.

The cosmic order

The astrological chart is circular for many reasons. There is a power and truth in its spinning motion. Just like galaxies, stars and planets, human destinies are bound to evolvement through spinning motion.