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Elementally Speaking: Using the Alchemical Elements to Decode Communication Styles

This article was originally published on the first version of this website in 2016. It has received some minor editing for mistakes or to update some of the language.

There is a lot of information that people have at their fingertips to “find themselves” and get a sense of who they are and what makes them “tick”: Zodiac signs (both Western and Chinese, plus others that are less commonly known), ruling planets, numerological traits determined by birthdates, and more. There are so many systems of thought on what shapes and molds a personality, and for me I think they all carry little grains of truth. Obviously, not everyone born into one year has exactly the same qualities, as suggested by the Chinese Zodiac. But combine the Chinese Zodiac with the Western signs, and you start to get more complexity. Add to that numerological correspondences from birthdates, and you get even more variation. All of these systems work together to help us understand each other and how we approach the world.

I also have a theory about people and how they interact with and interpret the world, and it has to do with the traditional elements of alchemy: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. I think that people have aspects of all of the elements in their personalities, but there is usually one that will help define how they process information and communication; understanding these elements and how they relate to people and their communication can really help build stronger, more supportive relationships! This elemental “orientation” you might call it is not the same as the ruling element for a person’s Western Zodiac sign – in fact, I think the way those two elements play and contrast is just another part of the recipe that makes us unique, interesting individuals.

I’m going to start with Water, because this is my dominant element (even though I’m a Capricorn, a dedicated Earth sign!). Water is the element related to the emotions, and let me tell you I am an emotional processor! Water people feel things very deeply, and we can certainly be a bit overly dramatic at times. We take more time to think through our emotions and how we feel about situations. If you hurt a Water person, we remember it – no one holds a grudge like a Water baby! Waters can be extreme like a flashflood and get caught up in passion, but will generally choose true connection over short term pleasure (they leave the instant gratification to the Fires!). Water people tend to be more careful with the emotions of those around them, but if angry they can be ruthless and are good at figuring out what will do the most damage. Water people want to give and receive love.

Fire people are similar to Water people in that they can be very emotional, but their flare ups tend to be more volatile and, thankfully, more short-lived. Fire is the element of creativity and ambition, and is all about the forward momentum! Water and Fire people are the reason why people say, “Opposites attract!” They can be a great combination: they both work well in the emotional sphere, with the Water person providing depth and nurturance while the Fire person brings creativity and exciting newness. They can also be a disaster, especially in the workplace. Think of that office gossip of who gets instantly mad about something, stirs up everyone’s emotions, and then 5 minutes later they’re over it – but I guarantee that the Water people they’ve stirred up aren’t! They’re stewing and brooding. Not a great combination. Fire people don’t usually mean to be destructive but they tend toward the chaotic as they search our new adventures and experiences. Fire people want to give and receive inspiration.

Fire and Water people are the most comfortable in the emotional realm; Air and Earth people have stronger ties to the intellectual realm.

Air is the element of the mind; an Air person without a plan is a lost soul indeed! Air people love to think about things, rationalize things; they are uncomfortable when it gets too far into touchy-feely territory. It’s not that they don’t have emotions – everyone does! They are just more comfortable thinking about their emotions and making meaning out of them in their rational mind. Emotions take more work for Air people. Air people can get a little “floaty” and sometimes need something to help tether them to the ground – Earth people make excellent partners in this regard. Left unchecked, Air people will sometimes get lost in their plans and schemes, the theories and the “what ifs.” When challenged emotionally, Air people will usually react with what they know best: making plans, setting rules and boundaries, and thinking through possible scenarios. They delight in intellectual pursuits and their minds love constant stimulation. Air people want to learn and be understood.

Earth people are a nice complement to any of the other types. Earth energy is very grounded and practical without going too high into the intellectual clouds of the Air folks. They are nurturing and supportive without the emotional extremes of the Water people, and when Fire people come up with crazy/brilliant plans Earth people are great at figuring out the practical methods to make that idea into a reality. Earths are not clods, but they tend to be less expressive than the other elements and people sometimes interpret that calm quietness as dullness. Like Air people, Earth people love lists and organization, but they tend toward the more utilitarian. They don’t have a lot of time for frivolities, and when they make time the distractions are small and give genuine pleasure. Earth people want to hold and be held.

The final element, Spirit or Ether, is the most elusive and these people are extremely rare. When people talk about ascended masters and spiritual leaders, they are often talking about Spirit people. The other 4 elements are all tied to the physical realm; Spirit people see beyond that to the stars and the afterlife in a way that is beautiful and mysterious and hard for most of the other elements to understand. Spirit people are visionaries, and unfortunately they often end up being outcasts because they lack a strong connection to the mundane world in which they live. They are very wise and if you do happen to meet a real Spirit person, and better yet manage to befriend them, be sure to heed their counsel. Their ideas may seem off the wall, but they are tuned in to a lot more than the average person can access; our challenge is to learn how to translate the important messages they are telling us.

This is just a brief introduction to my thoughts on elements and how they affect communication. Are you able to recognize yourself in one of the elements? Does this help you gain new perspective on arguments that you and your significant other tend to have over and over and over again? I would love to hear your thoughts on this as it is a start of something I imagine will be a much longer work. For now, hopefully this little taste will get you thinking about how to better communicate with those around you!

Chris M. Stoner, Miss Jaye's "civilian persona," has been reading and studying tarot for 30 years and reading for clients for about half that. They are available for readings by appointment at The Reading Room inside Willow Life Yoga in Grand Forks, ND.

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Sibre Collard
Sibre Collard
Mar 06, 2023

I think I'm a little bit of all of these. An Avatar, if you will.

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By their powers combined, you can become Captain Planet! You'll be our hero. You're gonna take pollution down to zero!

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