In our family practice, we call the elements by “their S names”–Sea, Sky, Stone, and Spark. Sea because of its role in the water cycle and because it is a a significant part of our bioregion. Stone because it is another name for “rock” (the rock cycle!) and because it is the origin of sand and soil. Sky because its is mostly air, and the interaction between the different states of air here and there drive our weather and climate. And Spark because, IMO what has traditionally been called “fire” is really energy (and by energy, I mean solar energy, heat energy, chemical reaction energy, gravitational energy, electrical energy, etc). While Sea, Stone, and Sky can act and be acted upon, Spark is truly the only active element–Spark drives the waves and tides, the winds and currents, erosion and plate tectonics.
But, when we think about the qualities of the elements and how we can incorporate them into ourselves, many of the tradition (and not so traditional) associations and correspondences still hold true. Many of the not-at-all-traditional sources of these associations and correspondences can be quite enjoyable and instructive as well…
…which is why Avatar: The Last Air Bender (the cartoon, not the movie) is part of our “video grimoire” as Chickadee calls it.
(because who wouldn’t want to be a bender?)
Uncle Iroh: Fire is the element of power the people of the fire nation have desire and will and the energy to achieve what they want.
Earth is the element of substance the people of the earth kingdom are diverse and strong, they are persistent and enduring.
Air is the element of freedom. The air nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom. Also, they apparently had pretty good senses of humor.
Water is the element of change. The people of the water tribe are capable of adapting to many things. They have a deep sense of community and love that holds them together through anything.
Prince Zucho: Why are you telling me these things?
Uncle Iroh: It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. Understanding others, the other elements and the other nations will help you become whole.
from Avatar: The Last Airbender; Season 2, episode 9, around the 13 minute mark