The Four Classical Elements

Original Appendices to the Yearly Festivals:

Originally published as an appendix to the Festival of Beltane.




“The Divine Maiden is the ‘inferior function’ of the Global Monoculture.
She emanates a loving spirit of service in the mode of profound levity
and sublime playfulness. Our culture is characterised by a fatal spirit:
‘beastly seriousness’ on the one hand and ‘trivial pursuits’ on the other.
Between these there seems to be no middel ground.
But the archetypal sphere of the Maiden
lies precisely in this ‘Terra Incognita’.”


The texts of Antiquity constituted a set of simple explanatory principles regarding the four primary qualities and elements, that was scarcely questioned before the sixteenth century. The physiology of the human body, and medical treatment of it, were fitted into the traditional way the world was represented. The Four Elements and the dual quality that each of them possessed, were correlated with the four humours taken from the School of Hippocrates. It was this system, developed in detail by Galen, which was to constitute the foundation of medieval science and occult knowledge in times to come.



The interaction of the Four Primary Qualities and their relations to Elements, Seasons, Humours and Temperaments.

The system established a correlation between macrocosm and microcosm and offered an explanation of the human body as well as a possibility of re-establishing an equilibrium between the humours, should this be lost. Feraferia assigns the four Elements to the four Quarters according to this ancient tradition. The ancients identified the four roots of things as Earth, Water, Air and Fire, and the reality behind all change as the Turning of the Wheel of the Four Qualities; Cold, Heat, Humidity and Dryness, the first differentiations of the One into Many. Cold and dry, warm and wet: those were the causes of changes in the ancient view. Earth was cold and dry, Water cold and wet, Fire warm and dry.

Even today the warm dry sun causes the cold wet Water to rise as warm wet Air. Anaximander thought Justice could explain the Turning of the Wheel. Anaximenes saw behind the multiplicity of visible changes the condensations and dilations of one and the same substance: Air.



THE HIPPOCRATIC SCHEME OF THE FOUR HUMOURS

SANGUINE:
Air; Spring; Morning; Jupiter; Continuous Fever.
Blood: red and sweet; Childhood; Serene & unruffled.

CHOLERIC: Fire; Summer; Noon; Mars; Tertian Fever.
Yellow bile: yellow and bitter; Youth; Bold & exuberant.

MELANCHOLIC: Earth, Autumn; Afternoon; Saturn; Quartan Fever.
Black bile: black and sharp (sour); Adulthood; Stubborn & insolent.

PHLEGMATIC: Water; Winter; Evening; Moon; Quotidian Fever.
Phlegm: white and salty; Old age; Idle & foolish.


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