Fire, in the archaic interpretation which, as we have seen, characterised
pre-industrial western culture was one of the four cardinal elements, one of the
foundations of the cosmos. Elements must be distinguished from substances. The substance
fire can be experimented like all other objects in space, in the same way that the
substances water, air and earth can be experimented. The element fire is a process
of vital interaction within matter.
The four elements are the "forming forces" of matter, ideal representations
perceptible not on a sensorial level, but on a symbolic level. The element fire fundamentally
symbolised heat, dryness, rapid movement, extreme lightness, rarefaction. It was
regarded as a manifestation of the qualities of HEAT (expansion, motion that tends
to project outwards) and DRYNESS (which dries, reduces).
With respect to the cardinal points, fire for westerners is connected with the SOUTH.
With respect to the seasons, this element is connected with SUMMER, hot and dry.
In terms of the day, fire stands for the period of time which goes from six o'clock
in the morning until noon, the peak of day until the sun peaks in the sky: noon.
In terms of a man's age, the element fire corresponds to YOUTH and to this period's
vital strength and exuberance.
The tastes tied to this element are: AROMATIC or SPICY HOT or BITTER or SALTY (in
decreasing order of heat); the substances in which the element fire is active are
volatile and aromatic such as oil and essences or substances which burn easily such
as resins or acrid and urticating such as the latex of several plants used to burn
warts, spicy hot and bitter substances, salt.
The plants which manifest the qualities of the element fire are characterised by
erect position, thorns or urticating bristles, strong aroma, flowers with colours
ranging from yellow to red, plants that tenaciously cling to the earth, plants "with
claws." In our planetary system, the forming forces of the element fire are
expressed to the utmost by the SUN and MARS, the fire-red planet, symbol of the warrior's
In the zodiacal cosmos, we find this element in the triangle
formed by the three fire signs with LEO, cardinal sign, at the apex and ARIES and
GEMINI at the base. In man, a prevalence of the forming forces tied to the element
fire produce sculpted, jutting features (the classic aquiline profile), a long face
rather than a rounded one, with tightly closed lips.
The muscles on the body of this individual are sculpted, the veins evident, skin
hue tending towards yellow, tendentially curly hair on head and body. For the archaic
tradition of humours, this person physiologically has a predominance of YELLOW BILE,
in Greek "cholé" = anger, which determines an independent, bold, proud,
irascible and violent character. Still today, we call a person who behaves in this
manner "choleric, fiery," using terms whose symbolic meaning has remained
unchanged for thousands of years.