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Old 12-28-2012, 09:39 AM   #1
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Matching elements

Of the four elements, earth, air, water, and fire, which two pairs complement each other? Would you think any one is stronger than another, or are they like an infinity circle?
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:48 AM   #2
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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In what context?
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:10 PM   #4
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This might help get you started: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_element
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
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Asking which one is stronger is getting into the rock/paper/scissors argument. They all are both stronger and weaker than the others.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:46 PM   #6
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Thanks, Katrina, for the link. There's a lot of good info there.

I agree that they are all dependent on each other for strength. But I'm also looking for two and two that can be put together as a complementary match. Like the four temperaments, sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. You can put together sanguine and melancholic, and then choleric and phlegmatic people and they usually make a good match, almost like the opposite strengths attract each other.

So with air, fire, earth, water, which pairs would complement? Earth and air? Earth and water? Earth and fire? See what I mean? I'm researching these elements, in the manner of personality styles (and a slight supernatural bent), and I can't really find anything about pairing them.

You hear about fire and ice going together, so it makes me think fire and water, and then earth and air. I'm just wondering other people's take on this. Thanks!
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:05 PM   #7
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Besides following up some of the links in the Wikipedia article -- here's an extended discussion of the elements from an astrological perspective, and another that explicitly focuses on elements in combination. (Unfortunately, neither site provides references/links to go further. Woo-woo alert, but poss. useful for your purposes.)
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:43 PM   #8
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Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series deals with your differences between the elements. She uses the same opposites as in Katrina's link and states that Earth and Air, Fire and Water cannot work well together. The others can coexist and mesh well.

Elizabeth Haydon also dealt with the elements in her Rhapsody series, although, in her world, the elements can all work together. However, the beings of Fire are inherently creatures of chaos, wanting nothing but destruction.

So - you can handle it in lots of ways, depending on what you'd prefer.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:50 PM   #9
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Well, I would throw out air & fire and earth & water, but listening to me might be a mistake .
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:04 AM   #10
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Former astrologer here: Earth/Water and Fire/Air are compatible. Not sure what you mean by "stronger." And even the compatibilities or lack thereof are dependent on a whole bunch of factors, since all of us and all of everything contain at least a little of all four.

And by the way, if you move East a bit, you add Ether to that mix, which really unbalances the whole idea of compatibilites and lack thereof.

Blessings,

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Old 12-29-2012, 05:18 AM   #11
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Earth and fire make a nice grounded pair to my mind.

Of all the elements, I thought earth always got the raw deal. What actually is earth elemental power? Tectonic power? Power over organic matter? If you go the Chinese five element-angle, that power probably fits wood better. Power over ground-based chemical compounds then? You can get an instant idea of the other three, but earth's the odd one out.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:06 AM   #12
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Of all the elements, I thought earth always got the raw deal.
Hafnium doesn't fare too well, either. And don't even get me started on Erbium and Terbium.

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Old 12-29-2012, 09:24 AM   #13
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Make it up.
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:12 PM   #14
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Check out 'The Way of Four' by Deborah Lipp. I think this covers exactly the information you're looking for. Elements feature in both some Eastern (Chinese and Japanese specifically, I think, although they use five elements) and pagan belief systems so those would be good research avenues.

It would be helpful if you could be more specific still. Are you looking for elements as human qualities, as actual water, air, etc, or as representations of such?
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:46 PM   #15
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Hafnium doesn't fare too well, either. And don't even get me started on Erbium and Terbium.

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I'd think he'd be better off investigating and using Handwavium.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:28 PM   #16
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Hmm, let's try and answer the question asked? Yes, it's verging on the Fantasy arena, but as I posted already there are belief systems that do address Earth, Air, Fire, and Water (and Metal) in this way.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:21 PM   #17
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To answer the original question asked, arrange them in a square with two opposing pairs: earth and air, and fire and water.

Anything that isn't opposite is complimentary.

According to magical theory, fire and earth work nicely together, as do fire and air; earth goes well with water, too, and air and water work as well.

Fire and earth make for geothermal energy, hot springs, forest fires, earthquakes and volcanoes. Warmth and comfort, but when it goes wrong it goes cataclysmic.
Fire and air make for comforting flames and for firestorms. They go perhaps a little too well together, with both being volatile and feeding off each other - but at least it's not boring.
Earth and water make for rivers, fertility and landslides. Calm and peaceful until the moment where everything falls apart around you and nothing's the same again.
Water and air make little puffy clouds, rain, snow, and hurricanes. You can see the problems coming, but you can't do much about them by the time they appear.

Earth and air can touch but never really understand each other, while fire and water duke it out.

As with many things to do with magical theory, balance is key. If things get out of balance, that's when the problems start.

Hope that helps!
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:20 AM   #18
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fire and air because fire needs air to live
earth and water because earth needs water to live (think growing things)
earth generally doesn't like fire because fire burns it
fire doesn't like water for the obvious reason
earth also likes air because it also needs it to live (but that's not as obvious as with water)
air doesn't care much about the others, but fire does get it moving
water likes both earth and air

those are my observations
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:05 AM   #19
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Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the insights, and they have really helped the direction I'm going.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:57 AM   #20
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fire and air because fire needs air to live
earth and water because earth needs water to live (think growing things)
earth generally doesn't like fire because fire burns it
fire doesn't like water for the obvious reason
earth also likes air because it also needs it to live (but that's not as obvious as with water)
air doesn't care much about the others, but fire does get it moving
water likes both earth and air
In other words, it's a game of rock-paper-scissors. Which means you can make up whatever you want.

This forum, as I have always understood it, is designed for "research" into factual information. For a magical question like this, you'll probably get more, and better, responses over in the Fantasy/SF forum.

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Old 01-04-2013, 05:07 PM   #21
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The F/SF forum might have some answers, but there's more than just 'magic' to the question (or there might be, it's hard to tell). To some this is factual, historical information, while for others it's a matter of religion/faith.

The Fantasy writers will tend to know at least a little because we often look to magical beliefs for our own research and use, but to several different Pagan faiths the Elements are as real as it gets, while historians are often well aware of how the civilisations of the West viewed the world as recently as a couple of hundred years ago.

The four (or five) elements are one of the great theories according to which humanity operated for millenia, if not the most persistent of the lot. The Ancient Greeks knew the earth was round, but they believed in earth, air, fire and water. It's not quite as easy as 'magic, therefore fantasy'.
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