what are the four elements

What are the four elements?

What are the four elements and what does it mean to come into a reciprocal relationship with them?

Connecting to the four Elements – Earth, Fire, Water and Air – can be a deeply moving and enriching experience.

The four elements are believed to be not just material substances but key archetypal primordial essences, so when we connect with curiosity, gratitude and reciprocity we bring harmony and healing to life. For us and for all our relations.

Each element has a distinct energy that can supports us in our journey of self-discovery if we choose so. And to enter into a reciprocal relationship with them is essential to the well-being of ourselves and the web of life.

“Each person, human or no, is bound to every other in a reciprocal relationship. Just as all beings have a duty to me, I have a duty to them. If an animal gives its life to feed me, I am in turn bound to support its life. If I receive a stream’s gift of pure water, then I am responsible for returning a gift in kind. An integral part of a human’s education is to know those duties and how to perform them.”

~ Robin Wall Kimmerer / Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

How can we connect in an Embodied way?

We open and make the body available for the energy of these elements to come through. We follow whatever physical movement arises and we surrender to the Dance that emerges. We do not think about moving, we are instead ‘moved by’.  How do the elements move through us? For each one of us it is a deeply personal exploration when we connect to the different Yin and Yang ever changing qualities for each element.

It could be very helpful to connect to these elements in a ‘sacred’ way (whatever sacred means to you). Create a small altar with one of each elements placed in the four directions. In the Movement Medicine Wheel we have Earth in the South, Fire in the East, Water in the West and Air in the North. There are many different Medicine Wheels so please feel free to connect to your own, or to another that resonates the most.

You can find beautiful natural elements in your daily walks, choose the ones that speak to you, and bring them home for your altar. Or print photos or quotes and place them in the four directions. Make also a beautiful drawing or express yourself through art to each element. Take this reciprocal relationship further and also be present to the answer of how you can give back to them. The answers may be surprising!

Where to start?

Create a safe space around you, be mindful of the space you are moving in so you do not hurt yourself, get some really good speakers or headphones and tune in to the music. Dance barefoot if you can and the pavement where you are dancing on allows it.

Connect to your breath, feel your feet on the floor, and start to move in whichever way you feel like, there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, no cool way to move… your movement is perfect and your Dancer is awaiting to be awakened to show you the way. Surrender and transform. Connect to each body part, and by bringing them into movement you can begin to awaken the dancer in you. Invite him/her into the body, offer them breath and permission, let it be moved by rhythm. “If you have a body, you can dance.” Guaranteed.


Earth – is the ground of our bodies. That which pulses constantly under our feet. The Great Archetypal Mama, Pachamama. Feeling the deep connection with the Earth of our bodies and the body of the Earth is usually the first step of the dancing journey. Here we feel the infinte and loving support of this element. Connect to the movements of a seedling planted in the earth, the soft leaves unfurling or a majestic solid mountain. How does Earth move through you? It is a very personal relationship.


Some questions you can bring into your movement exploration are:

Can I really trust that the Earth is holding me?  Can I let myself play with gravity and sense what emotions come up?  What is the ground I stand on? 

“There is a beautiful relationship between the earth of your body and the body of the Earth. It is a love affair that is called gravity.”

~ Ya’Acov e Susannah Darling Khan / Movement Medicine: How To Awaken, Dance And Live Your Dreams


Fire – is the power of transformation, it is our passion. When we move with our inner fire we create a connection with the Sun, the great Spirit of fire, a strong Great Father archetypal energy. It is the clarity in our direction and our power. We can choose how to move, where to go, making very clear movements. And also being aware that fire can also sometimes be just a warm glowing ember, warming our inner landscape without burning.

Connect to the movement of warm embers, or to the fierce Sun energy in a hot summer day, maybe for you today it is just a candle flame constant, moving, sacred. How does the Fire move through you?


Some questions you can bring into your movement exploration are:

Where in my body do I feel my power?  Can I mindfully dose my energy/passion?  What fuels me?

“Fire is a powerful energy of transformation. Each of us has “firepower” and we either learn to use it responsibly or it becomes a source of destruction in our lives. Too much and we are destroyed by our own activity. Too little and we die.”

~ Ya’Acov e Susannah Darling Khan / Movement Medicine: How To Awaken, Dance And Live Your Dreams


Water – is movement and it is ever-changing, from ice caps, to mist on a tropical forest morning, to a still lake reflection. A vast ocean before the storm or gentle waves washing up on the shore. Whichever form it takes it is always in it’s essence water. The shapeshifter element. It also purifies and quenches our thirst for more. It is movement, it is stillness. It is deep release.

Connect to the movement of endless change, from flowing rivers to stillness. From raging waterfalls to deep oceans. How does the Water move through you?


Some questions you can bring into your movement exploration are:

How do I adapt to changes?  Do I feel fluid in my body?  Can my identity change with ease?

“In all its different forms, water is still itself, When we dance with the water element, we invoke the capacity to be true to ourselves as we shape-shift. So we enter the work of transformation, where we can surrender to what is and discover more of who we can become.”

~ Ya’Acov e Susannah Darling Khan / Movement Medicine: How To Awaken, Dance And Live Your Dreams


Air – Breath of life weaving itself inside and out, connecting us in the space between. The more we move and let go, the more space we create. Fill it with new breath, with gratitude, with love. From the center of our hearts rippling out into every cell of our bodies, into the space around us, into the world. Dreaming it is possible.

Connect to the movement of the leaves playing with the wind on a crisp spring day, to the eagle spreading it’s wings high up in the skies, navigating the currents and seeing everything with a new and fresh perspective. Sometimes a breeze, sometimes a tornado. How does the Air move through you?


Some questions you can bring into your movement exploration are:

How is my breath today?  For what do I feel gratitude today?  What possibilities can I move into today?

“The air is powerful, We feel its presence as wind and as the breath of life in us . We cannot live without it and yet we cannot see it. So it is with the presence of spirit. The very word “spirit” comes from the Latin “spirare”, meaning to breathe.”

~ Ya’Acov e Susannah Darling Khan / Movement Medicine: How To Awaken, Dance And Live Your Dreams

The fifth element

At the end of the elemental journey there is a still moment, a realisation of our interconnection with Love and the Divine. Here we connect to the fifth element: Ether. It sits at the center and at the same time all around us if you take time to listen and receive.

Finish your dance and movement in your own time, feeling the echoes and vibrations of your moving body, heart and mind. Take some minutes to end the practice with a gentle meditation or simply laying down and resting.

It’s also a great practice to write whatever has come up, whatever wants to be expressed, without judgement or perfectionism, this is the very core of your being wanting to make itself be heard/seen. Give it space.

Feel free to connect to the elements and dance with this playlist in Spotify.

Xx Camille


image by buzz andersen @ unsplash.com