It seems like Paracelsus, the influential Swiss-German alchemist, was onto something. He was the first to use the term ‘elemental’ to describe mythological beings associated with the elements of earth, water, air and fire. His works were written in the 16th century, around 500 years ago. As you read on, and as shown by the Google images of ‘Elementals’, the idea has caught on!
What would you say if asked “what does ‘the fifth element’ bring to mind”? For many in the west, quintessence would be the answer. Or alternatively the 1997 movie “The Fifth Element”. This story is set in the twenty-third century, when the universe is (still) threatened by evil. The only hope for mankind is the Fifth Element, who comes to Earth every five thousand years to protect the humans with four stones of the four elements: fire, water, earth and air.
Like Captain Planet and the App Tengami (check out the post ‘Planetary pop-ups‘), Rudolf Steiner and the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) have more in common than many may appreciate. They were/are both interested in education, farming without chemicals, geometry, architecture, beauty, the interconnectedness of nature, spirituality, addressing the crises facing humanity and creating harmony. In this vein, both have books with Harmony in the title which are related to the elements fire, water, earth, air and aether/spirit.
What does the 1992 book on Captain Planet and the Planeteers and the atmospheric adventure App Tengami have in common? More than you might expect at first glance. Both include references to the intuitive elements of fire, water, air, earth and spirit, with differing degrees of subtlety. Both use pop-ups as a means of engaging their audience, even though they were created over 20 years apart using very different technologies. And both of them were drawn to my attention by people who knew of my interest in our relationship with the elements. This journey of discovery, and making connections with people through it, is one of the pleasures of exploring these themes.