Most people who have read anything about wicca are aware to some extent of the elements. These being Earth, Air, Fire, Water and sometimes Spirit. Forget Spirit for a bit, and lets just speak about the Four "classical" elements.
First... each element has it's correspondences... here they are in brief, however... individual ideas may vary:
Earth: (North/Feminine/Green) Fertility, Healing, Grounding, Stability, Growth
Air: (East/Masculine/Yellow) Creativity, Thoughts, Emotion, Joy
Fire: (South/Masculine/Red) Sexuality, Power, Strength, Love
Water: (West/Feminine/Blue) Wisdom, Judgement, Healing, Emotion, Truth, Cleansing, Purity
Now that you have the BASIS on the elements, lets talk MORE about them. What were the traits of these same elements in Alchemy?
Earth: Cool, Dry
Air: Hot, Wet
Fire: Hot, Dry
Water: Cool, Wet
Now... keep all these traits in mind. The elements are given these traits to help you connect with thier constructive energy. Think about them as forces of nature. Each element can be positively charged and negatively charged. Every element has a destructive side too (destruction is not inherently BAD- it is just the opposite of construction)... lets look at those...
Earth: Binding, Constricting, Boredom, Stubbornness
Air: Confusion, Fear, Gossip, Trickery
Fire: Anger, Tyranny, Lust, Conflict
Water: Sadness, Loss, Erosion, Indecision
Keep in mind, that invoking the elements doesn't mean you will bring detruction into your life... but it is good to understand the dark and the light in nature. Also... remember that the elements are changing... lets talk about when the elements "jump the gender barrier"- especially concerning when PEOPLE feel connected to an opposite element. Many people can automatically see what a manly fire sign would be like... but what about a feminine one? Let's look.
A masculine earth element... is the perfect "father figure"- stable, fertile, strong. A man possessing these traits can be both firm and gentle.
A feminine air element... is creative, social, fun. A women who is an air element is a "social butterfly". She would have many friends, and possibly many suitors.
A feminine fire element... is demanding, powerful and strong. These women are "hot" in the most literal sense of the word... the have control and can harness their sexuality.
A masculine water element... is contemplative, thoughtful, he is more in touch with his emotions than most of the other elements. He is also fluid... preferring change and new things often.
If you feel connected to an element, try "switching" for a time to connect to a different part of yourself. embody the traits of that element to discover more about who you are.
What about elements and tools? They tools change from tradition to tradition... person to person... but i will tell you mine anyways...
Earth: Salt or Soil
Air: Incense or Sound (bell, chimes etc)
Water: Chalice or Bowl with Water
Now these are fairly common... I wont get into the REST of the tools... but what about in nature, where it matters. I strongly feel that you need NOTHING to connect with the elements in nature...
Earth: Ground, Rocks, Mountains
Air: Wind, Clouds
Fire: Sun, Fire or Charcoal
Water: Rivers, Streams, Rain, Ocean
If you never have... please try doing a ritual outdoors in nature with nothing but yourself. Find a good camping spot or park near a river or beach and do a ritual by a campfire. Try to feel each element and draw it in... feel the cool water of a stream, the gentle breeze on your skin, the warmth of a fire or the sun, and the cool hardness of the ground beneath your feet. If you feel disconnected or awkward with these energies... really experiencing them in their raw form can make a WORLD of difference.
Know that ANY element can aid in almost any working... fire can heal, water can aid with fertility, earth can inspire, and air can strengthen. these are not their PRIMARY correspondences... but using a "non traditional" element for a new task can open up doors. Although using fire for love might give you passionate love quickly, earth might be better suited to create stable, grounded, lasting love... always consider the best element for YOUR spell or ritual, perhaps the "classics" are not always ideal... perhaps they are.
Also consider the elements in activities beyond "regular" ritual. What are the elements in cooking? These are what I personally associate:
Earth: Baking, Canning, Root Vegetables
Air: Drying, Smoking, Nuts, Poultry
Fire: Grilling, Frying, Meats, Spices
Water: Boiling, Steaming, Milk, Fish
This is obviously not all inclusive... but one could consider "infusing" elemental energies into foods for their attributes... A spicy hot cocoa could have added fire energy for passion or love, a loaf of bread could have earth energy for fertility or a stable home... that fish could have water "wisdom" added... or Thanksgiving turkey could help spread "airy" joy and creativity.
I would love to hear how you all integrate these versatile, dynamic, and useful energies into your lives, magical and mundane! What element are You?