The theoretical underpinnings of this deck are based on numerous elements of esoteric inquiry. It is not required that a reader know them, much less understand them, in order to utilize the deck for divination. I will however go into it a bit for those so inclined.
The Five Elements and Beyond
Within many esoteric traditions there are symbolic systems that revolve around a set of elements and their energies. In the west this is usually made of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and a fifth element, commonly called Spirit.
These symbolic reference points contain many interrelated connections and ramifications. They tie themselves into the astrological planets and signs, they weave themselves through the Tarot cards, they secrete themselves in the background of the chakras and they form valuable reference points for many other sublime understandings in our western esoteric traditions.
What Are The Elements?
In one way, the elements are pure mental abstraction. They are conceptual containers for interrelated ideas that help us to communicate and reflect. For instance Earth can contain the aspects of body, Water can contain aspects of feeling, Fire can contain the aspects of will and Air can contain the aspects of mind.
In a more direct, even visceral way they are pointers to actual experiences within the natural world. Earth being the solidity of things, Water being the flowing of things, Fire being the transformation of things and Air being the interconnection of things. (These lists of correspondences can, and do, go on and on, and an Internet search will lead you to the endlessness of ideas about what is attributed to each element.)
It is this ability of the elements to point to and teach about both inner and outer reality that make them so useful. As an initiate (all of us) learns about a given aspect of the elements, they learn something of the world, they learn something of themselves and, perhaps most importantly, they learn of the relationship, the interconnection between the two.
This process of pondering and experimenting with elemental energies is referred to in some western traditions as the “equilibration of the elements.” The idea here is generally that by learning about, harmonizing with and integrating together the first four elements (earth, water, fire and air) one then opens access to the fifth element of Spirit.
A Note On Elemental Dogma
I have found it immeasurably helpful to keep in mind that each of the elements can become a way of seeing things, and while that is powerful it is equally important to remember that there are always other ways of seeing things. One of the most fascinating aspects of the elemental inquiry are the many realizations of not how the elements are different but rather how they are the same.
So while it is at times useful to see the body (Earth) and mind (Air) as distinct aspects of one’s being, it is as useful (arguably more so) to reflect on how they integrate, become each other and even how they always-already were one from the beginning.
This deck contains a set of 65 cards. 64 of the cards each represent a relationship between two elements and a way of playing with that relationship within your own consciousness. The elements chosen for this deck are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Spirit, Celestial, Dimensional and a pseudo element I call Shadow.
While Shadow is not an element per se, it is treated as such in deriving the relationships that Shadow has with the elements. The Shadow cards can be included in the deck as the other cards, however I find it is useful to separate them out and only draw upon them when indicated to do so. More on this later.
Equilibrating the Elements
This deck is not meant to be only linear, however it does inherently point to a very linear path of inquiry which can be useful to reflect upon as a reference point for one’s elemental journey. It is intentional that this deck be capable of use in both a linear and circular fashion. Ideally both at the same time.
As linear progressions go the deck maps out a version of what I call “Elemental Ascension.” This is a path through the elements that mirrors both the rising of the shakti through the chakras and the raising of one’s energy (clearing space) in a ceremonial magick circle. One need not know anything about either of these practices to use this deck, but the points of inquiry are there for those who wish to delve into them, and make this deck highly compatible with such practices.
Raising Elemental Energies
In brief the deck’s linear path is simple to see. One begins with the Earth element. Earth is looked at through seven different lenses (Earth of Earth, Water of Earth, Fire of Earth and so on). One then moves on to Water and does the same. Then again on through the other elements.
As each of the first four elements are explored and balanced they form the foundations of the Terrestrial plane, or as it is called in some indigenous western teachings the “Red Road of Earth.” As they combine they reveal the fifth element of Spirit, or the “Blue Road of Spirit.” This opening represents both the Spiritual plane within the Terrestrial plane and the portal to even finer, “Celestial” and “Dimensional” planes beyond the Terrestrial.
Traditionally these five elements are represented together as the pentagram. Once this pentagram is balanced (equilibration) it opens the Celestial portals into higher realms, traditionally represented by the hexagram.
In this deck the first five elements represent the ascent of one’s energy up into and through the realms of insight and understanding. The last two elements, the Celestial and Dimensional cards, represents the return journey; once we have raised our energies into the light of vision and sovereignty, we then draw that light back down into our Terrestrial elements. This journey of descent is one of the least understood, often villainized and subconsciously feared aspects of our spiritual journeys. It is what is called embodiment.