Water (classical element)

Water (classical element)

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Water is one of the elements
Classical element
Many philosophies and worldviews have a set of classical elements believed to reflect the simplest essential parts and principles of which anything consists or upon which the constitution and fundamental powers of anything are based. Most frequently, classical elements refer to ancient beliefs...

 in ancient Greek philosophy, in the Asian Indian
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 system Panchamahabhuta, and in the Chinese
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 cosmological and physiological
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

 system Wu Xing. In contemporary esoteric traditions
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

, it is commonly associated with the qualities of emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

 and intuition
Intuition (knowledge)
Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. "The word 'intuition' comes from the Latin word 'intueri', which is often roughly translated as meaning 'to look inside'’ or 'to contemplate'." Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify...


Greek and Roman tradition

Water was one of many archai proposed by the Pre-socratics, most of whom tried to reduce all things to a single substance. However, Empedocles
Empedocles was a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. Empedocles' philosophy is best known for being the originator of the cosmogenic theory of the four Classical elements...

 of Acragas (c. 495-c. 435 BC) selected four archai for his four roots: air
Air (classical element)
Air is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. Its supposed fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare.-Greek and Roman tradition:...

, fire
Fire (classical element)
Fire has been an important part of all cultures and religions from pre-history to modern day and was vital to the development of civilization. It has been regarded in many different contexts throughout history, but especially as a metaphysical constant of the world.-Greek and Roman tradition:Fire...

, water and earth
Earth (classical element)
Earth, home and origin of humanity, has often been worshipped in its own right with its own unique spiritual tradition.-European tradition:Earth is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science. It was commonly associated with qualities of heaviness, matter and the...

. Empedocles roots became the four classical elements of Greek philosophy. Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 (427-347 BC) took over the four elements of Empedocles. In the Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

, his major cosmological dialogue, the Platonic solid
Platonic solid
In geometry, a Platonic solid is a convex polyhedron that is regular, in the sense of a regular polygon. Specifically, the faces of a Platonic solid are congruent regular polygons, with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex; thus, all its edges are congruent, as are its vertices and...

 associated with water is the icosahedron
In geometry, an icosahedron is a regular polyhedron with 20 identical equilateral triangular faces, 30 edges and 12 vertices. It is one of the five Platonic solids....

 which is formed from twenty equilateral triangles. This makes water the element with the greatest number of sides, which Plato regarded as appropriate because water flows out of one's hand when picked up, as if it is made of tiny little balls.

Plato’s student Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 (384-322 BC) developed a different explanation for the elements based on pairs of qualities. The four elements were arranged concentrically around the center of the Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 to form the sublunary sphere
Sublunary sphere
The sublunary sphere is a concept derived from Greek astronomy. It is the region of the cosmos from the Earth to the Moon, consisting of the four classical elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Beginning with the Moon, up to the limits of the universe, everything is made of aether...

. According to Aristotle, water is both cold and wet and occupies a place between air and earth among the elemental spheres.

In ancient Greek medicine
Medicine in Ancient Greece
The first known Greek medical school opened in Cnidus in 700 BC. Alcmaeon, author of the first anatomical work, worked at this school, and it was here that the practice of observing patients was established. Ancient Greek medicine revolved around the theory of humours...

, each of the four humours
Four humours
Four Temperaments is a theory of proto-psychology that stems from the ancient medical concept of humorism and suggests that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors.- History and development :...

 became associated with an element. Phlegm
Phlegm is a liquid secreted by the mucous membranes of mammalians. Its definition is limited to the mucus produced by the respiratory system, excluding that from the nasal passages, and particularly that which is expelled by coughing . Phlegm is in essence a water-based gel consisting of...

 was the humor identified with water, since both were cold and wet. Other things associated with water and phlegm in ancient and medieval medicine
Medieval medicine
Medieval medicine in Western Europe was composed of a mixture of existing ideas from antiquity, spiritual influences and what Claude Lévi-Strauss identifies as the "shamanistic complex" and "social consensus." In this era, there was no tradition of scientific medicine, and observations went...

 included the season of Winter, since it increased the qualities of cold and moisture; the phlegmatic temperament, the feminine
Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Though socially constructed, femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors...

, the brain
Human brain
The human brain has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times larger than the brain of a typical mammal with an equivalent body size. Estimates for the number of neurons in the human brain range from 80 to 120 billion...

 and the west
West is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.West is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of east and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the left side of a map is west....

ern point of the compass.

In alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

, the chemical element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 of mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

 was often associated with water and its alchemical symbol
Alchemical symbol
Alchemical symbols, originally devised as part of alchemy, were used to denote some elements and some compounds until the 18th century. Note that while notation like this was mostly standardized, style and symbol varied between alchemists, so this page lists the most common.-Three primes:According...

 was an downward-pointing triangle.

Indian tradition

Ap () is the Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit is an old Indo-Aryan language. It is an archaic form of Sanskrit, an early descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian. It is closely related to Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language...

 term for water, in Classical Sanskrit occurring only in the plural is not an element.v, (sometimes re-analysed as a thematic singular, ), whence Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

 . The term is from PIE
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 hxap water.

In Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

, the term refers to
water as an element, one of the Panchamahabhuta, or "five great elements". In Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, it is also the name of the deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

, a personification of water, (one of the Vasu
In Hinduism, the Vasus are attendant deities of Indra, and later Vishnu. They are eight elemental gods representing aspects of nature, representing cosmic natural phenomenon. The name Vasu means 'Dweller' or 'Dwelling'...

s in most later Puranic lists). The element water is also associated with Chandra
In Hinduism, Chandra is a lunar deity and a Graha. Chandra is also identified with the Vedic Lunar deity Soma . The Soma name refers particularly to the juice of sap in the plants and thus makes the Moon the lord of plants and vegetation. He is described as young, beautiful, fair; two-armed and...

 or the moon and Shukra
Shukra , the Sanskrit for "clear, pure" or "brightness, clearness", is the name of the son of Bhrigu, and preceptor of the Daityas, and the guru of the Asuras, identified with the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas...

, who represent feelings, intuition and imagination.

Astrological personalities

People born under the astrological sign
Astrological sign
Astrological signs represent twelve equal segments or divisions of the zodiac. According to astrology, celestial phenomena reflect or govern human activity on the principle of "as above, so below", so that the twelve signs are held to represent twelve basic personality types or characteristic modes...

s of Cancer
Cancer (astrology)
Cancer is the fourth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It is considered a water sign and one of four cardinal signs. Cancer is ruled by the Moon. Individuals born when the Sun is in this sign are considered Cancerian individuals...

, Scorpio
Scorpio (astrology)
|Infobox align="right" style="border:3px solid white;"||style="text-align: center;"|Scorpio is the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac, which spans the zodiac between the 210th and 239th degree of celestial longitude. Generally, the Sun transits this area of the zodiac between 24 October and...

 and Pisces are thought to have dominant water personalities. Water personalities tend to be emotional, deep, nurturing, sympathetic, empathetic, imaginative and intuitive, however, they can also be sentimental, sensitive, escapistic and irrational.

Ceremonial magic

Water and the other Greek classical elements were incorporated into the Golden Dawn system. The elemental weapon of water is the cup. Each of the elements has several associated spiritual beings. The archangel of water is Gabriel, the angel is Taliahad, the ruler is Tharsis, the king is Nichsa and the water elemental
An elemental is a mythological being first appearing in the alchemical works of Paracelsus in the 16th century. Traditionally, there are four types:*gnomes, earth elementals*undines , water elementals*sylphs, air elementals...

s are called Ondines
Ondine (mythology)
Undines , also called ondines, are elementals, enumerated as the water elementals in works of alchemy by Paracelsus. They also appear in European folklore as fairy-like creatures; the name may be used interchangeably with those of other water spirits. Undines are said to be able to gain a soul by...

. It is referred to the upper right point of the pentagram in the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram. Many of these associations have since spread throughout the occult community.

Modern witchcraft

Water is one of the five elements that appear in most Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

n traditions. Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

 in particular was influenced by the Golden Dawn system of magic and Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...

's mysticism, which was in turn inspired by the Golden Dawn. Common Wiccan attributions include:
  • Cardinal direction: West
  • Season: Winter
    Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

  • Time of life: Youth
  • Time of day: Twilight
  • Regent Planet: Neptune
    Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

  • Elemental being: Ondine
    Ondine (mythology)
    Undines , also called ondines, are elementals, enumerated as the water elementals in works of alchemy by Paracelsus. They also appear in European folklore as fairy-like creatures; the name may be used interchangeably with those of other water spirits. Undines are said to be able to gain a soul by...

  • Colors: Ocean blue, sea green, dusky violet and gray
  • Magical tools: Cup
  • Tarot reading: Cups in the Minor Arcana
    Minor Arcana
    |thumb|[[King of Swords]] card from a Minor Arcana deckThe Minor Arcana of occult or divinatory tarot refers to the portion of a Tarot deck that consists of 56 cards. The Minor Arcana are roughly similar to the cards found in a common deck of playing cards...

  • Altar tool: Cup
  • Feminine energy
  • Other: Correspondences include emotions, love, compassion, healing, dreams, divination, intuition and psychic abilities.

The manifestations of the element of water are rivers, oceans, lakes, well
Water well
A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump...

s, rain
Rain is liquid precipitation, as opposed to non-liquid kinds of precipitation such as snow, hail and sleet. Rain requires the presence of a thick layer of the atmosphere to have temperatures above the melting point of water near and above the Earth's surface...

, fog
Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated...

, ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

, snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

, streams
In computer networking, STREAMS is the native framework in Unix System V for implementing character devices.STREAMS was designed as a modular architecture for implementing full-duplex I/O between kernel or user space processes and device drivers. Its most frequent uses have been in developing...

 and all drinks. Animals, especially the dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

, seal
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

, turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

, frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

 and all types of fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 are also thought to personify the element of water. Other mythic and legendary creatures of water include the Mermaid
A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

, Oread
In Greek mythology, an Oread or Orestiad was a type of nymph that lived in mountains, valleys, ravines. They differ from each other according to their dwelling: the Idae were from Mount Ida, Peliades from Mount Pelia, etc...

, Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

 and Sea Serpent
Sea serpent
A sea serpent or sea dragon is a type of sea monster either wholly or partly serpentine.Sightings of sea serpents have been reported for hundreds of years, and continue to be claimed today. Cryptozoologist Bruce Champagne identified more than 1,200 purported sea serpent sightings...

. Water Elemental Characters are commonly described as kind, timid, shy, and commonly weaker. But, some of the most dangerous natural disasters are water based. Examples are hurricanes, tsunamis, and tidal waves.

External links