Earth, Water, Air and Fire
Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Many ancient teachings used these four elements to explain the way nature functions. In time, other teachings used the same elements to explain biology, psychology, astrology and many systems of symbols relating to human behaviour.
In the Bible, the Genesis creation story tells us that God created the waters, the heavens (air) and the earth, separating them from each other. The story doesn’t mention the creation of fire except indirectly when He creates light, the sun. Today we know the power of its fire. Nowhere is God named as the creator of earthly fire, even though there were pre-existing teachings that included it in the four elements. We know that the creation story is not a scientific account but an allegory, the purpose of which is to put God in the centre as the Author and Lord of all Creation.
Water can move, devastating the earth from above as rain or from below in the form of rivers or seas.
The earth is generally still but can move creating earthquakes or other disasters.
The air can be a delicate breeze or a fearful and devastating force.
Earth and air together bring life to vegetation but without the sun nothing can grow. The earth that cradles the fire, together with water enables the growth of trees with which one can make a fire. Air is necessary to light fire and for combustion. With water and earth one can put out fire, air is necessary to re-ignite it. There are infinite ways in which the four elements interrelate.
Chance most likely brought about the discovery of fire; probably lightning struck a tree surrounded by dry grass, starting the first fire on earth. Before man appeared there were animals but they could not manage fire, neither did they possess self-awareness, something that only humans possess and which permits us to think about thought processes, permits us to examine, to distance ourselves, evaluate and learn from objects, other people and ourselves.
Fire is the only element that we can control. We can light it and extinguish it.
The ability to handle fire was an important step in the development of primitive human life. There are discoveries that place the use of fire by early human beings (homo erectus) 1.6 million years ago in Koobi-Fora, Kenya, East Africa, where burnt wood of different species of trees, without their roots, was found. There is evidence of the deliberate use of fire in Israel that has been dated around 790.000 years BCE
The use of fire for cooking food was most also probably an accidental discovery, maybe after a forest fire burnt some animals that were then eaten by primitive men. Before that man’s diet was based on raw meat that can bring on different diseases and is more difficult to digest. In a very basic life of survival such as that which early man led, I believe that one of the greatest pleasures must have been to eat something cooked and hot around the welcoming warmth of a good fire.
You have to keep an eye on fire, it must be watched over, controlled and one must be aware of the way it reacts.