Earth, Water, Air, and Fire

In numerous wisdom traditions we read about the four elements of creation: earth, water, air, and fire.  Astrologers assign each of these elements to signs.  For example,

Fire.....Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius

Earth.....Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn

Air.....Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius

Water....Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces

Recently, I have been introduced to the idea of cooking alchemically.  This entails blending universal forces with the traits of the person for whom one is cooking to bring about balance. Alchemical cooking seeks to “rebalance the chaotic forces of nature expressed in base matter and gradually transform them into perfectly balanced and incorruptible substances. That purification process consists of removing excess elements and adding missing elements, but what makes alchemy so powerful is that it works simultaneously on all three levels of reality: the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual. “[1]

Cooking alchemically is about recognizing the elements of the foods and using them to integrate elements into a person’s diet to work towards wholeness. Foods that are high in water elements can calm people down and fire element foods can energize those who are depressed.  Air elements can bring a spiritual element to those who are not connected to the spirit and earth based foods can ground those who are overly intellectual or spiritual.

Interestingly enough astrologically and spiritually I am associated with the element of air so it is best for me to incorporate foods that have strong earth elements into my cooking to keep me grounded and balanced.  Among those foods that have strong earth elements are alfalfa, almonds, amaranth, barley, beets, blackberries, blueberries, bread, buckwheat, cakes, cookies, clover, corn, Echinacea, flour, ginseng, golden seal, hazelnut, huckleberries, kiwi, licorice, millet, oats, pasta, pistachios, pomegranate, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, rye, rice, salt, sesame, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, truffles, turnips, waffles, and walnuts. So to maintain balance between the air and the earth I should be incorporating berries, root vegetables, nuts, and grains into my diet.  Ironically, these are the things I tend t be most drawn to in my own life naturally.  So a great breakfast might be waffles with a fresh berry salad to keep me grounded.

Occasionally, I find myself needing more spiritual energy and apples, apricots, cinnamon, coconut, crab, dates, fennel, grapes, mango, mint, olives, onion, peaches, wine and yogurt are known to be high in spiritual qualities. So a fruit salad of apricots, grapes, mango, and peaches with a yogurt dressing would be just the thing to revitalize me spiritually.  If I added some berries to my salad it would be the balance of earth elements and spiritually rich foods to help me maintain nutritional, psychological, and spiritual wholeness.

It is amazing the difference little dietary changes can make.  A friend of mine was having trouble sleeping. Looking at the alchemical element chart I noticed two foods that are known to help people sleep: lettuce and thyme.  He said he is sleeping so much better.   So perhaps rather then something sweet for a bedtime snack, try a simple salad and see if that helps you have a better nights sleep. 

Understanding that our foods are also elementally based can bring a change in the way we think about the mind, body, spirit connection.  When one part of the connection is out of alignment, our foods can be one of the things helps to bring us back into a state of wholeness.