It is my impression that a notion of first three “elements” and later ‘1+3’, as opposed to four equitable elements plus a fifth element, ‘4+1’, as defined by Aristotle, may have been subliminally prominent throughout the ages long before recorded history and Greek philosophers.

In a nutshell, ‘1’ would have become what makes things move, energy, fire, and ‘3’ would have evolved to air-water-earth, the states of matter gas-liquid-solid. Colors would have been implicitly the light green of catkins and explicitly white–red–black in the order of a ripening mulberry, with roots in prehistoric cults around fire, and likely the moon, both as single creatress and in triplicity, world-wide.


First named colors in virtually all languages were white-red-black as the colors of fire (light): black as dark, white as bright, and red as the colors of fire from flame to embers, yellow to red. Fire, humanity’s first major discovery, would have initially been preserved in a raised mound of ashes (white) around a core of glowing coal (red around black). There would also have been cults around this, most likely a universal “white” moon/fire creatress/goddess. In ancient Greece sacrifices were given into fire and the first sacrifice always given to Hestia, the goddess of the hearth.


One of the earliest Indian Upanishads, the Chandogya Upanishad, which dates back to at least around 700 BCE, relates these three colors to “elements”: red-fire, white-water and black-earth, probably also since water is more transparent (and hence “brighter”) and ashes more “fluid” than earth resp. coal. It appears that at some point red became associated with air instead and the goddess came to represent fire and moon as the ruler of a triplicity of air-water-earth or sky, sea and underworld. Colors assigned to elements by Antiochus of Athens around the second century CE were accordingly yellow-fire, white-water, red-air and black-earth, and at least today’s symbols are triangles.


Contrary to Aristotle’s model, which is a priori based on touchable properties in the outer world, the present model involves also things inside the mind. In the outer world, emo and ero could be mapped via fire/earth to “energy/matter” with matter split up into its 3 main states solid-liquid-gas.

Maybe inside, since ‘states’ suggests resting, emi could be ‘1’ and eri could be split into 3 ‘states of mind’: memory (‘earth’), logical constructs including language (‘air’) and free imagination (‘fire’), with increasing degrees of freedom similar to solid-liquid-gas (‘earth-water-air’) outside, yielding 8 ‘elements’, similar to the trigrams of the I Ching ?

See the section psyche for a tentative explanation of why in culture first just three “proto-elements”, black earth (ero), white water (emi) and red fire (eri+emo).


  • Could three main states of matter outside be derived from the model or would that have to be added via experimental facts, like the observation that freedom inside seems larger than outside, which lead to passive/active, soft/hard, etc. ? And similarly for three states of mind inside ?

    Maybe mirror elements in↔out, plus somehow naturally group what has been mirrored to ‘states’ with ero/eri ?

    Outside fire practically never rests, like emo, but air and water can, plus remind of inner softness; inside feelings practically always flow, like emi, but memories and ideals (ideas, dreams, wishes) can persist, plus remind of outer hardness.
  • In the I Ching, poles of ‘1+3’ are father-mother resp. heaven-earth plus their 3 daughters and 3 sons. Similarly, Cronos and Rhea had 3 daughters and 3 sons, and their parents Ouranos and Gaia were also heaven (or mountain) and earth.
  • Mother Mary could be seen as water, plus a male trinity of air (father-fire, son-earth, spirit-air ?). And any cultural creation thus maybe as trifold air inspired by a water muse, like in the Odyssey, in essence the (male) “human condition” ?
  • If you toss four coins, there is a 50% chance to get ‘3+1’, a 37.5% chance to get ‘2+2’ and only 12.5% to get ‘4+0’. Even if coins are skew, ‘3+1’ is always more probable than ‘2+2’, and ‘4+0’ only becomes the most probable result once they are about 1:4 skew. Thus, whenever there are 4 things in nature, chances are a priori high that they come as ‘3+1’.


  • Time and space come as ‘1+3’. Their homogeneity implies preservation of energy and momentum. The isotropy of space implies preservation of angular momentum, while time is not invariant to reversal, as entropy never decreases.

    The 4 forces of nature known to date (at everyday energies), electromagnetic, strong, weak and gravitational forces, come as ‘3+1’, since gravitation is the only one closely intertwined with spacetime and without quantum theory.
  • Does space rest as it ‘is there’ and time move as it ‘flows’ ? Might 3 main states of matter outside (ero) and 3 dimensions of space (rest outside, ero) thus both be fundamentally tied to the experience of conscious life ? And similarly inside ?

    Definitely surreal, maybe even going in circles, and yet …

    I had this idea 12 July 2023 around 09:10 in Wollishofen while driving to work in the morning, coming from Leimbach and turning left into the main street with the tramline.
  • In The Animate and the Inanimate (1925), William James Sidis observes that inanimate processes can appear alive if time is reversed, using the example of drops of mercury that flow together on a metal surface and then amalgamate with the surface. Reversed in time, drops of mercury would appear to grow out of the metal surface and divide like living cells.
  • A trinity is both 3 parts and 1 unit, so 3 turns almost automatically to 3+1, and 4 to 4+1, or a couple+baby, 2+1.

    See also the pythagorean tetractys further below. The image for the universe may have developed from a hill via tetrahedron/pyramid to the dodecahedron in Plato’s Timaeus, with increasing focus on the number 5 related to Venus, due to the 5 stations of Venus on a 5-pointed star, which is again related to the golden ratio, to harmony, beauty, roundness.
  • Before writing, myths were only preserved if people kept remembering and retelling them to younger generations. Thus only stories people really cared about survived. This does, however, not imply that they necessarily consciously understood myths analytically. In a way, myths are sort of informal laws of nature, condense all kinds of experiences into a story. Exploring such unconscious or even intentionally veiled legacy spans ages, is still unfolding, even after Freud and Jung.

    People living in ancient cultures were not wise just from that connotation of ‘old’; they were rather young and fresh compared to us who can look back so far into history. But they were also still closer to the ‘source’ and knew things that got lost or were maybe never explicitly written down. Some things were also truly archaic then, simpler and more brutal; see Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, for example.

    In life, situations shortly after birth and close to death are often similar, so early answers might be closer to late ones than expected, even without cyclic ‘rebirth’ or ‘immortal souls’.
  • The complex of ‘1+3’ and basic colors is very rich and beautiful, but also a ‘can of worms’ and only partially fits here, so just some gist below, and see my article “White-red-black and the “green” goddess” under artemis for more.
  • One of the oldest ancient Indian Upanishads, the Chandogya Upanishad (around 700 BCE), speaks of three colors of fire: fire-red, water-white and earth-black.

    “The red colour of [gross] fire is the colour of [the original] fire; the white colour of [gross] fire is the colour of [the original] water; the black colour of [gross] fire is the colour of [the original] earth. Thus vanishes from fire what is commonly called fire, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the three colours (forms) alone are true.” (6.4.1, translated by Swami Nikhilananda)

    These three colors, which appear as first colors in apparently all earliest cultures able to write them down, represent most likely a more archaic concept of color as light/fire, as follows.

    Without light no colors; fire produces light; so color would be heavily related to light; thus the basic opposites white (bright) and black (dark), plus the color(s) of fire, red-orange-yellow. Water is transparent, earth is often intransparent, ashes are more “fluid” than coal, hence water-white and earth-black.

    In ancient Greek, the words for black/white, mélas/leukós, still had, maybe even primarily, the connotation of dark/bright; the word for red, pyrrós, literally says color of fire.

    In other words, no fire would have been black, lighting it red, and fire/light would have saturated at white.
  • The first 3 of the 4 riders of the apocalypse have the colors white-red-black. The color of the fourth is chlōrós in ancient Greek, thus related to chlorophyll, the substance that makes leaves green. Colorwise, it was most likely a pale green/yellow color, like new shoots of plants or also the color of a corpse.

    In the fairy tale around Baba Yaga, three riders appear, white-day at dawn, red-sun when the sun rises, black-night when it gets dark. They are all explicitly servants of Baba Yaga, who also has three pairs of helping hands, which identify her as the triple moon goddess Hecate-Artemis, who is both a goddess of death and of birth, acting also as midwife in mythology.

    The idea behind this would be that the moon would be the ruling light in the sky because it alone can appear both at day and night, and can even shadow the sun during a total solar eclipse. In folklore, Baba Yaga’s house is mobile, stands on chicken legs, the rooster being again a symbol of fire.
  • The Red Sparrow in Bukowski’s Pulp reminds of that, of fire in the outside world that would be the spark of life and the physical end of it, in its three states of matter (versus inside as already suggested a triune airy poet plus water muse) ?
  • Near the end of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass (around 150 CE), Apuleius encounters the goddess Isis at full moon at the sea shortly after moonrise:

    “Her many-coloured robe was of finest linen; part was glistening white, part crocus-yellow, part glowing red and along the entire hem a woven bordure of flowers and fruit clung swaying in the breeze. But what caught and held my eye more than anything else was the deep black lustre of her mantle. […] It was embroidered with glittering stars on the hem and everywhere else, and in the middle beamed a full and fiery moon.” (Chapter 17, translated by Robert Graves)

    Shortly afterwards she describes herself:

    “[…] mother of nature, encompassing mistress of elements, first progeny of times, highest power/deity/queen, queen of the dead, first/best (sky) deity, uniform face of gods and goddesses, whose heavenly shining summits, salty sea breezes [and] the dead down below in earth, silently weeped, are still ruled by me. A single/unique goddess in multiple guises, with changing rites, many names, worshipped all over the world.” (translated by me)

    Note that she may be saying that she rules over heaven, sea and earth, as in Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, hence a trinity of air-water-earth, which would make her potentially fire.

    Astrologer Antiochus of Athens and physician Galenus of Pergamon attributed colors resp. body fluids (humors) to elements around the time Apuleius lived, based on older roots going back at least partially to Hippocrates: white to water (phlegm, phlegmatic), black to earth (black bile, melancholic), yellow to fire (yellow bile, choleric) and red to air (blood, sanguine), the colors of Isis’ dress above, plus stars and moon for the round fifth element in the sky.

    This suggests overall that maybe at some point in time air took the place of fire in the fire trinity as in the Chandogya Upanishad, maybe via breath as a mixture of air and fire, as in pneuma, or maybe Indian Aum (Om), plus maybe water.

    “green” moon (rules)
    white day water
    red sun fire
    black night earth

    “energy” fire yellow
    liquid water white
    gas air red
    solid earth black

  • In alchemy, also since about at least the time Apuleius lived, the transition of materials toward the philosopher’s stone was believed to be black-white-yellow-red, i.e. earth-water-fire-air, which is roughly in order of lightness of the elements and their relatively layered appearance on earth. It is apparently also the order of elements in the four tasks that Venus gives Psyche in The Golden Ass. All of this has ancient Egyptian roots, with Osiris, Isis, Horus, Seth, Nephthys, etc., as well as with ancient crafts of creating fake noble metals and gems.
  • Fire must have made a great impression on humanity, as it allowed to keep warm and have light at night, to grill, cook and bake food, eventually to bake pottery and to forge metals. It has even been speculated that easier to digest grilled meat allowed humans to grow larger brains. At first presumably people did not know how to make fire themselves, so trees that were known or believed to attract lightning might have been sacred. As lightning comes from the sky, the “fires” in the sky, i.e. sun, moon, planets and stars, would have been identified with deities in the sky that give fire. Hence the main deity would have been in the sky, most likely the moon. The moon can be round like fruits and berries, but also slim and pointy like leaves, and it can grow from the shape of a “catkin” to the round one of a ripe fruit. Attributes of such a deity may thus have been the fruits ripening on such sacred trees in the colors of fire, like mulberries, or similar.

    Anything in nature that was not white-red-black would have been unnamed first: green, blue, brown, pale colors like the moon, gleaming colors; often colors that signal something that is not crucial for survival, neither food nor danger. This could explain why green only entered languages late, despite being so predominant in nature. Shapes and colors of fruits may have adapted to preferences of its consumers and they, in turn, their sexually attractive body parts to fruits.

    I imagine a child in prehistory in the arms of its mother on a tree at night, trying to “pluck” the moon in the sky, just as it used to pluck fruit and already earlier used to get food from the similarly round breasts of its mother, signaled also by her “red” nipples; thus the gentle, soft roundness of the mother so intimately linked to the moon and the colors of life/fire.
  • Robert Graves in the introduction of The Greek Myths:

    “Ancient Europe had no gods. The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent; and the concept of fatherhood had not been introduced into religious thought. She took lovers, but for pleasure, not to provide her children with a father. Men feared, adored, and obeyed the matriarch; the hearth which she tended in a cave or hut being their earliest social centre, and motherhood their prime mystery. Thus the first victim of a Greek public sacrifice was always offered to Hestia of the Hearth. The goddess’s white aniconic image, perhaps her most widespread emblem, which appears at Delphi as the omphalos, or navel-boss, may originally have represented the raised white mound of tightly-packed ash, enclosing live charcoal, which is the easiest means of preserving fire without smoke.”

    Again a sequence white-red-black, ash-glow-coal, with almost certainly roots far back into prehistory. The triangle as the mountain on which deities lived, where lightning was more likely to strike, not to speak of volcanoes, or as a pyramid or the symbols for the elements, and so much more.

    See also 20.2 and 90.3 in The Greek Myths about omphalos, tripods, white-red-black, Crete, the moon-cow Io, and more.
  • The fifth element is round like the moon and cyclic motion in the sky; if the first element is fire, then so is the fifth in a circle of elements, thus the moon goddess also a “higher octave” of fire. Of the three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, Paris hands the apple to Aphrodite (Venus) because if you cut an apple in half, you get a five-pointed star, like the five stations of Venus over 8 years, where also sun and moon return quite closely to the same positions.
  • In the article “Red, White, and Black in Symbolic Thought: The Tricolour Folk Motif, Colour Naming, and Trichromatic Vision” (Folklore, 123:3, 310-329, 2012), Jessica Hemming mentions that red was typically a color that is darker than fresh blood, more towards brown. Now, Menstrual blood can often be darker (already oxidized) than blood from a fresh wound, which would again link to the moon.

    See also her article “Pale horses and green dawns. Elusive colour terms in early Welsh heroic poetry” (North American journal of Celtic studies, Vol 1, No. 2, 189-223, 2017).
  • Robert Graves in The White Goddess (1948):

    “I write of her as the White Goddess because white is her principal colour, the colour of the first member of her moon- trinity, but when Suidas the Byzantine [ca. 10th century CE] records that Io was a cow that changed her colour from white to rose and then to black he means that the New Moon is the white goddess of birth and growth; the Full Moon, the red goddess of love and battle; the Old Moon, the black goddess of death and divination. Suidas’s myth is supported by Hyginus’s fable [ca. 0 CE] of a heifer-calf born to Minos and Pasiphae which changed its colours thrice daily in the same way. In response to a challenge from an oracle one Polyidus son of Coeranus correctly compared it to a mulberry—a fruit sacred to the Triple Goddess.” (Chapter 4)

    To me, the colors of the goddess would not directly reflect the change of visible colors of the moon during its phases, as one might think at first, but rather represent the hidden powers that make it change, which would confirm Graves above:

    The white goddess would be the power that makes the new moon brighter (more “white”) again, towards full moon, from little baby girl to maiden, growth. The red goddess would be the fertile adult woman, who menstruates (red blood); she would make the moon pregnant, the round “belly” of the full moon. The black goddess would make the moon darker (more “black”) again, towards new moon, withering towards crone. The “red phase” would be somewhat abstract as the blood would only come to light at menstruation if the bearer did not get pregnant. I guess the idea would have been that the child’s blood and body would have grown from that.

    So the seed for a new child would be expected to grow each month from sometime after new moon until ovulation around full moon and, if the bearer did not get pregnant, would result in menstrual bleeding around new moon. Note, however, that most contemporary women do not have their individual cycles correlated with moon phases. The average cycle is 28 days (but varies quite a bit individually), which is closer to the time it takes the moon to return to the same spot relative to the fixed stars (27.3 days) than to new moon (29.5 days).
  • Note that white is the principal color of the goddess simply because it is the principal color of the moon in the sky.
  • First Greek philosophers lived in Ionia (↔Io), on the western coast of Asia Minor, and the ones who first brought philosophy to other parts of Greece were also from there.
  • Minoan-style golden seal ring found in mainland Greece at the Acropolis in Mycenae (ca. 1450 BCE). Seems to show a mulberry tree, sun, moon and milky way, three women with labrys and flowers, and more. Might the two smaller women with bulged, striped skirts maybe even symbolize bees ?


    Minoan seals do not generally mirror the supposed goddess galore so precisely and completely, some feature, for example, two or four women, but maybe this one is more canonical ? The labrys, so prominently at the center of the seal, seems to have been only used for religious purposes in Minoan culture, besides maybe just for decoration, but not as a weapon or a tool; the material was too weak and no traces of usage.
  • Empedocles would have been the first to speak of four elements, according to Aristotle in Metaphysics (Book I 3) and in On Generation and Corruption (Book I 1).

    Since at least then, Empedocles is usually credited for having first mentioned the four elements, in the following fragment (DK31B6) of a poem usually called On Nature:


    It speaks of “fourtold roots” at the origin of all, and then lists four deities with some attributes, in this order: Zeus (flashing/shining), Hera (live-giving/-bearing), Aidoneus (no attributes), Nestis (moisture, tears/dew).

    Interpreting the deities as roots of the elements, Zeus with his thunderbolt would be fire, pregnant Hera earth, Hades, who’s name means “unseen”, air, and Nestis obviously water.

    The quote is from a work by Aetius (1st or 2nd century CE), which has only indirectly survived in several later works attributed to different authors. Mostly elements are attributed the same way as me above, else earth and air are flipped.

    It is obviously tempting to interpret Zeus as white, pregnant Hera as red and Hades as black, in the ancient order of a ripening mulberry, plus Nestis as great goddess, especially since Nestis might be the the same goddess as the Egyptian Nephthys, who Robert Graves calls “the Egyptian Hecate” in The White Goddess (in the chapter Gwion’s Heresy).

    Or, since Nepthys was at the spinning house in Sais, maybe in essence basically the ancient creator goddess Neith of Sais in the Nile Delta, with the Nile for water (as later Isis), the delta for the female sex and a trinity, sort of reversely spinning the Nile from the strands in the delta, hence also a creatrix ?

    (The ancient Greeks identified Neith with Athena, which may also explain some influences in Plato’s works, for example.)
  • In ancient Egypt, Osiris stood for black, the fertile earth of the Nile valley; his brother Seth for red, the desert East and West of the valley. The mythological killing and dismembering of Osiris by Seth presumably reflects that in ancient times sometime after the annual flood the soil would dry up and become fractured into a mosaic of slabs, or even into sand and dust. Fortunately, every year the Nile, white Isis (also like milk), would restore Osiris to life with water and the fresh fertile black sediments carried along.

    This is certainly an oversimplification of Egyptian mythologies that evolved over millennia, but likely still captures a core.
  • See this absolutely stunning article by the Ethiopian “Shakespeare”, Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin: The Origin of the Trinity in Art & Religion: Ethiopian Roots in the Egypto-Greek & Hebrew, on page 99-120 of African Origins of the Major World Religions, ed. Amon Saba Saakana, Karnak House, 1988.

    KaBaRa to Kabbalah and Kaaba, Egypt as Kamit (black land), sacred tree, Osiris to Moses and others, and so much more. I guess Fela’s song Shakara might fit in, too.
  • First Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The Greek words are pístis, elpís and agápē, which are also goddesses, and they occur prominently in Plato’s philosophy.

    Faith could be interpreted as sun, bright/white, Hera; hope as moon, dark/black, Athena; love as Venus, fire/red, Aphrodite, the one that got the apple from Paris. These planets are also the order of dresses in the 19th century fairy tale Three nuts for Cinderella by Božena Němcová: sun, moon, stars, which reminds also of Isis’ dress. Actually, these three occur already in Mesopotamia in the 12th century BCE on a stele: Venus for Ishtar, moon and sun for the gods Sin and Shamash.


  • A closer look at the passage from the Chandogya Upanishad mentioned further above shows that the word used for red, rohitam, is also the word for a female red deer, as well as as Rohini the name of the red star Aldebaran, one of the eyes of the bull in the constellation Taurus. In ancient Greece deer were sacred to the moon goddess Artemis, originally probably because antlers resemble a fire. In ancient Egypt in the first dynasties the Pharaoh used to run with the white-red-black Apis bull at the beginning of spring when the constellation of Taurus was rising. The moon goddess resides at birth and death, as both midwife and goddess of death, when the new or old moon look like a flame or a shoot, or later in history a bow or a sickle, hence she is also celebrated at the beginning of spring when nature starts to sprout again.

    The first version of The White Goddess, which Robert Graves wrote after new moon in the third degree of Taurus in spring 1944, was titled The Roebuck in the Thicket. Isis as the only woman in Isis-Seth-Osiris would be white, hence The White Goddess a fitting settled title ? Hail Artemis !

    Note that in astrology the moon is exalted (a good guest) in the 3rd degree of Taurus, or maybe around 3° (see Vettius Valens, Anthology, book 3, chapter 4, 2nd century CE).
  • Note that way more could be said around these themes; for example, water-white is also closely related to milk and the “mound” it comes from, or cows and the milky way and Isis as the Nile; the three Graeae (grey women) and their single eye, the three Fates and their fabric; purple Io like mulberry juice and the famous die, as well as drinking wine from amethyst goblets in Greek antiquity; the three Indian gunas (strands, chords) in the colors white, red and black, as well as the four varnas (colors) of social classes, with additionally yellow, all maybe related to ancient Egyptian Ma’at; Ra as a yellow cat with donkey ears defeating the white-red-black Apophis snake wrapped around a green tree with red fruits in a painting in Theban Tomb 359 of the 20th dynasty (12th century BCE); as just a few of millions of examples…


    Note that it were possibly similar depictions of Ra that led to medieval depictions of “killer rabbits” after the crusades.
  • A link from elements to fire is immediately easier to trace than one to the moon, which may be because this would have been a secret, the unspeakable real name of the goddess ?
  • Plato talks about colors in the Timaeus, Aristotle in On Sense and the Sensible. Both start with black and white as basic colors, which is scientifically correct in the sense that by selectively taking frequencies out of the full spectrum of white, you get all colors, including black and white.

    Democritus, one of the first atomists, explains colors from microscopic structure, e.g. white as smooth, using primary colors white-black-red-green (leukós-mélas-pyrrós-chlōrós), in that order, of which all other colors would be composed—at least as handed down by Priscian of Lydia in the 6th century CE about how Theophrastus, a pupil and successor of Aristotle, would have described it in On Sense Perception.

    There are three kinds of color sensors in the human eye, for red, green and blue, sorted from low to high frequency. None triggered (no light) is black, plus red gives red, plus also green gives yellow, plus also blue gives white, hence a sequence black-red-yellow-white or earth-air-fire-water.

    In Plato’s Critias the stones of Atlantis’ architecture are won locally and have the colors white, black and red.
  • The Yangshao culture “Xishuipo M45 Tomb” in China, which dates back to the 4th millennium BCE, features the mosaic of a tiger opposite the mosaic of a dragon, as constellations in the sky, exactly the animals that are traditionally assigned to West and East in China. Ra’s nightly fight with the Apep/Apophis snake reminds of the phoenix and snake (plus turtle) standing for South and North in China.
  • Could such attributions already have existed at the time people walked to North America across the Bering Sea maybe over 10’000 years ago ? Medicine wheel symbols with colors black-red-yellow-white seem to be a 1972 invention by a plastic shaman. In a 2010 video, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of Lakota Sioux Nation and keeper of the sacred pipe and bundle in the 19th generation tells the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman who first appeared as a cloud, then as a woman and changed into a buffalo calf that changed colors black-red-yellow-white. She was found by two scouts who remind of Seth and Osiris, and she is related to water and fertility of the land, which reminds via Isis even more of ancient Egypt.
  • In Egypt, the four sons of Horus stood also for the four points of the compass, guarding specific organs as canopic jars: liver/man/south, stomach/jackal/east, lungs/baboon/north and intestines/falcon/west. Might they have been direct predecessors of the ancient Greek elements, also via medicine ?
  • Aristotle considers four “causes” in Physics and Metaphysics, which remind of the four elements. Matter reminds of earth, form of air, primary source of fire and final goal of water.
  • Some fragments of Heraclitus might suggest the same circle as Aristotle. DK22B76 seems to mention all four elements in the same circle, earth-fire-air-water-earth, but the original text cannot be restored for sure, according to Diels/Kranz (DK) in Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. See also fragments B31 and B36; and B90 might suggest that Heraclitus would have considered fire the primary substance.
  • See the pythagorean tetractys and oath. Pythagoras lived in the 6th century BCE, before Empedocles and Hippocrates. The tetractys is a triangle with four dots on each side:

    1 point monad (unity)
    2 line dyad (power)
    3 triangle/plane triad (harmony)
    4 tetrahedron/space tetrad (cosmos)

    It relates also to music via the ratios between each line, octave (2:1), perfect fifth (3:2) and perfect fourth (4:3).

    The list reminds of fire-air-water-earth (light to heavy).

    But the above is apparently even more than usually for early Greek philosophers based on speculation, since Pythagoras reportedly never wrote anything down himself, so that there are even less credible sources about his views in his time, often surrounded by legends bordering on religion/sect.

    DK note that practically the same word that Empedocles used for “roots” in DK31B6 also appears in the pythagorean oath in DK58B15, with both fragments dating back to Aetius in early CE, so once more circular paths.
  • To ancient Greeks, the ancient Egyptians were apparently sort of like the ancient Greeks in modern perception, an admired ancient culture. It appears that the ancient Egyptians might have kept things more secret than the Greeks in their time, maybe only passing it on from master to pupil ?
  • As a playful teaser, note that the pyramids have five corners, an earthly base of four, plus one on top…


    With maybe even opposites attached as below (or maybe with dry/hot and wet/cold flipped, or attached to faces instead), reflecting the heating and drying effect of the sun during the course of a day, similarly to the original image for yin-yang in China as the shady and sunny sides of a hill ?


    But how pyramids evolved from single “floor” mastabas via step pyramids to their final form seems to be well researched. Especially how Sneferu had the first three pyramids without steps built and the first two attempts failed, does not suggest that all that much elemental symbolism would have been in the conscious minds of ancient Egyptians at that time.
  • Antiochus of Athens attributed elements to seasons the same way I did with faces of the pyramids, if winter is north, etc.: spring-air, summer-fire, autumn-earth and winter-water. The symbols for the four elements are triangles, reminding of the four faces of a pyramid, so whoever created those symbols might maybe have related elements to pyramids.

    The symbols also stand for female and male sexes, overlaid to a hexagram “as above so below” for intercourse between Gaia (earth) and Ouranos (sky). 🜂 🜁 🜄 🜃 → ✡
  • In the Timaeus Plato does not stop at the platonic solids for the elements, but explicitly constructs all of them except the dodecahedron (‘fifth element’) from right-angled triangles, actually even as ‘1+3’ with ‘1’ being the cube (earth).
  • Zeus, Poseidon and Hades ruled in heaven (air), sea (water) and underworld (earth). Life can exist in all three of these elements, but not in fire, except in legend fire salamanders.
  • In “A few new discoveries in physics” of 2002, on page 20, see Discoveries revisited under artemis, I related numbers (and elements) to increasing realms:

    1 (fire) individual imagination
    2 (air) logical consequences
    3 (water) collective wishes
    4 (earth) reality

    In astrology and similar fields, 1+3 have more weight than 2+4: Collective, more or less mainstream views plus individual pet theories outweigh logic and reality, which have mainly assisting roles like to provide accurate calculations of planetary positions. Conversely, in exact science, 2+4 have more weight than 1+3: Theory plus experiments have precedence over individual imagination and collective wishes.

    See also Robert Pirsig’s static qualities nature-biology-social-intellect-mystic in Lila, with maybe the main difference that the ‘air’ layer would be ‘social’ instead of ‘logic’, which likely reveals bias in me (and him) regarding how to interpret the element air, more as communication and social relations or more as abstract airy logic with premises and conclusions.

    A five that transcends reality could also be added above, plus 6 to 9 for transformations of air-fire-earth-water, 10 for transformation of transformation, etc. See e.g. the chapter about Capricorn in my book Elementary Star Signs (2018), which might have been easier to promote if titled Transformations between the Classical Elements Fire, Air, Water and Earth in the Twelve Signs of the (Western Tropical) Zodiac, if only maybe I had planets in Air signs in my birth chart and thus better developed promotional/marketing skills ? ;)
  • Xuan near the end of the first section of the Tao Te Ching is literally a very dark red. Maybe black/white for earth/heaven and xuan for the secret of life, symbolized by the female sex, the ninth gate to the female body, even Tao itself ?

    The Han dynasty Tai Xuan Jing, a fusion of Tao Te Ching and I Ching, an oracle with 81 tegragrams made of unbroken, once and twice broken lines, standing for heaven, earth and ‘human being’, might also be worth a closer look.
  • In August 2015, I assigned Greek goddesses to pairs of elements and moon phases: Artemis/Hecate to (re-) birth/death at new moon as fire around water, Hera (and Clotho) to growth as a young woman or girl at the first quarter as air around earth, Aphrodite (and Lachesis) to bloom as a mature woman at full moon as water around fire, and Athena (and Atropos) to withering as an old woman at the last quarter as earth around air. Artemis/Hecate would thus contain both first and fifth element, with 2-3-4 in between, and elements would touch as on the Möbius Strip.


    In the introduction of The Greeks Myths, Robert Graves flips Athena and Hera in terms of assignment to maiden/crone, as I also did intermittently, so maybe both, yin-yang-style ?
  • Zhuangzi’s famous butterfly dream:

    “Once Chuang Tzu dreamt that he was a butterfly, a fluttering butterfly who felt at ease and happy and knew nothing of Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he woke up: Then he was again really and truly Chuang Tzu. Now I do not know whether Chuang Tzu dreamt that he was a butterfly or whether the butterfly dreamt that it was Chuang Tzu, even though there is certainly a difference between Chuang Tzu and the butterfly. This is how the change of things is.” (translated by me from the Wilhelm translation to German)

    The same day I had first quoted the dream here, on the streets of Zürich, two butterflies on a truck, 21 Sep 2016 at 13:34. White, red, black, a little yellow, even a little circle and her.

    (In Apuleius’ encounter with Isis, it is left open whether he was “just dreaming” or “it really happened”.)


    The image is by Elena Vizerskaya (Getty Images 108350631); I bought the rights to use it, too, just to be safe.
  • (The walking cat of the metamorphosis section came to me at Delphi in Greece on Tuesday, 4 September 2018 at about 13:09, ate some of my food, a dry pretzel and salmon jerky, then, after a few burps (still a kid) and playing a little, took a nap of about 20 minutes on my lap, then left roughly in the direction of the Athena Pronoia temple, where I had been a bit earlier. During these few minutes there were no doubts what to do and felt so good, like having a child to care for. Was the AC maybe even an oracle for the AC of π, with the moon maybe late at glowing quincunxes, or early spring with almost shared progressed moons ? Or a triangle with wings or maybe two lovers strolling through a secluded walk ?)