The four elements—air, earth, water, and fire—nourish, support and sustain life on Planet Earth. We cannot exist without them. Across the world and throughout the ages, these four elements have been worshiped by many cultures, religions and spiritual groups. As we look deeper into the meaning of these four elements, we can appreciate their unique strengths, and consider how to enhance our personal relationship with them for a more balanced life. In the first of this series about the four elements, we will look more closely at air.
Air for Survival
Air is breath and breath is life. Our first breath out of the womb heralds the beginning of our life on earth. Likewise, our last breath signals death. When compared to the other three elements, air defines life the most. Humans can survive without food (earth) for weeks, without drink (water) for days, without warmth (fire) for hours, but without oxygen (air) we would die within a couple of minutes. When we stop to ponder the deeper meaning of air, we realize that we can’t live very long without it.
Air as the Animator of Life
The air that we breathe triggers animation in our bodies, just as the wind causes movement in nature. Yet air is invisible, and often taken for granted. Most of us breathe without thinking about it, and don’t consciously acknowledge air until we feel a light breeze on our skin, see a cloud move in the sky, or notice a tree sway in the wind. The cells in our bodies need energy to fuel our vitality. When we consciously slow down to take in a series of deep breaths, it enhances our bodily functions, and brightens our exchange with the greater life force.
Spiritual Symbolism of Air
Ancient Egyptians respected air as their way back to the afterlife. In the late 5th century B.C.E., philosophers associated air with intelligence and the soul (psyche). In Hindu, prana means breath and life. Similarly, while there is no air equivalent in Chinese systems, it corresponds with qi or chi, a vital life force.
Air is everywhere. It’s inside of us and all around us, at all times. Hence, air symbolizes universal connection, and the oneness of life on Planet Earth. When are alive, we are constantly breathing and exchanging various components of air with every living being around us – including plants, trees, humans, and animals.
Air Signs in Astrology
In astrology, there are three air signs: Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. People born under these astrological signs are intellectual, logical, innovative, social and communicative. These visionary free spirits are curious thinkers with new ideas and a drive for action and motion. Air signs tend to be more intellectual than emotional, and therefore their shadow side can come across as insensitive or cold.
Numerology and Air
In numerology, air is associated with the number 7. Seven is associated with intuition, intelligence, introspection, and spiritual wisdom. Next time you are struggling with unknowns and are seeking authentic guidance, you might want to meditate on the number seven and the element of air to help guide your way.
Of all the elements, air is likely the one most taken for granted. Yet by taking time to focus on deep breaths, it helps us to increase our vitality. Deep breathing also allows us to clear and cleanse stagnant energy. This in turn creates space within us to receive inner guidance, fresh perspectives, and mental clarity.