The air:
a countenance of the Universe

by Marta Marini

Continuing our archaic exploration of the world and the four elements which compose it, let us try to see what the element of air represented for western man up to the end of the eighteenth century.

The air symbolised moist warmth, moderate movement, the tendency to balanced expansion, vital heat and the generating forces of nature.
A manifestation of the qualities of HEAT (expansion, a centrifugal opening towards the outside) and of MOISTURE (blurring).In the season of SPRING, when the warm air and the moist earth allow the life of the planet to renew itself through new growth.

During that part of the day, between midnight and six in the morning, when the light is conceived and born.
Within the ages of man, in INFANCY, the period in which man opens the door of life to begin his progress through it, his body is rounded and energetic, his growth well-balanced.

In the taste of SWEETNESS, nourishing, soothing, in rich and swget substances which recall mother's milk at the outset of life.
In the delicate smells of plants, of ripe sweet fruits, or oily fruits and seeds, of a bearing which is strong, balanced, tending to be upright.

In an inanimate mineral which takes its life and movement from the air, MERCURY, also known as quicksilver. In the planet MERCURY, whose swift orbit is closest to the Sun, and which is the first to receive its heat.
And in the cosmos of the zodiac, in the triangle of the three air signs which has AQUARIUS the cardinal sign, at its apex, and Libra and Gemini at its base.

In human beings qualities connected with the shaping energies of the air were considered to be revealed in fleshy features, a delicate profile, a rounded face, full lips, rosy complexion, wavy hair, a strong muscular body, though not sculpted, full veins, though not marked.

According to the ancients, in such a human being the prevalent humour, at a physiological level, was BLOOD, determining a cheerful and affectionate disposition, a loyal person , but one who tended to be superficial and sensual. One of the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm begins thus: "There was a time when every sound had sense and significance...", I hope that this can be so now for the word air too!

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