You, as a human being, are a microcosm of the Universe. The totality of your being is a reflection of the totality of the Universe. You are unique in this respect upon planet earth. No animal, plant, or mineral shares this attribute with humanity.
There is a magnetic relationship between every aspect of your psyche and a corresponding aspect of the Universe at large— a flow and return between the most distant blazing star and its counterpart within your body, heart, or mind.
There are numerous other articulations of this fundamental truth— some verbal and some symbolic. The Alchemists summarized this principle as: “As Above So Below”. Christianity has articulated it in the principle that man is made in the image of God. In the modern new age movements, the Law of Attraction posits that as you are within, so is it around you. The ancient Egyptians built massive temples in the shape of the human body, with the measurements of the walls and rooms in perfect proportion to the measurements of the corresponding body parts. These temples consecrate the conception of man as a magic mirror— a minute capsule that contains All That Is. There is nothing that exists out in the Universe which does not also exist within the flesh and blood of a human being.
A simple summary of “All That Is” is found in the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. This set of fundamental categories comprises everything and anything that can be found in the physical universe. Everything is composed of some combination of these modalities of energy, and there is nothing other than these four modalities of energy upon the physical plane. Among the elements, two are active (Water and Fire), one is subtle (Air), and one is dense (Earth).
But esotericists conceive of these elements upon planes of being beyond merely the physical world. These elements indicate not only every state of physical matter but also every state of subtle energy. The four elements comprise everything that exists in the external world— and also everything that exists within the internal worlds.
Within each individual are the elemental factors correlating to the four levels of the energy field. The physical body (Earth) is dense; the emotional body (Water) is active, the mind (Air) is subtle, and the Spirit (Fire) is also active.
The spiritual aspect is identified with the divine spark. The plane of Fire in the energy body corresponds to your most fundamental essence— the very will-to-life itself. Just as fire is in a constant state of upward-striving, so too is the human spirit ever on a quest for expansion and exploration.
It is upon the plane of spirit that we find the answer to questions about our purpose or mission in life. What fulfills you? What pursuit gives you a sense of living a meaningful life? Ultimately the answer to the question, “Who Am I?” is answer to the questions: What brings me Joy? What kind of activity do I find profoundly meaningful? What responsibility, voluntarily assumed, do I find deeply rewarding?
These are the questions that clue us into the nature of the Spirit, or the essential Self. In Astrology, this spiritual essence of the individual is associated with the placement of the Sun, the fire of all fires.
The fire of the spirit must be fed and tended to carefully, for if the light of the spirit is suffocated there will be diminishment in the mental, emotional and physical bodies.
Upon the subtle plane of Air we find the kingdom of the Mind. Air, being transparent, is associated with lucidity and clarity— qualities also associated with a healthy mind.
Many of our sayings express this, as for instance, when we claim that the revelation of a new perspective was like “a breath of fresh air”, or that we intend to take a walk in the open air to “clear our minds”. When someone is being reasonable and making sense, we say she is “seeing clearly”.
Monks, gurus, and visionaries have often set up their meditation spaces upon the highest mountain peaks, believing that breathing in cleaner, purer air produced an elevation in consciousness and higher kinds of thought; we allude to the same principle when we speak of “rising above” our emotions in the principled act of compromise or negotiation.
We cannot think straight when the fires of our most cherished desires burn the mind from above, nor when the waters of emotions flood up from below. The element of Air is subtle, weightless; it is as detached from the bounds of physical matter as it is possible to be while still existing.
It is this quality of removal or disentanglement that we aspire to when we seek objectivity. We try to be “above it all” when we use the mind for problem-solving, critical thinking or analysis. In objectivity, we do not allow our thinking to become imbalanced or “weighed down” with bias or emotional investment.
The emotional body corresponds to the element of water. Water is boundary-less and without form. Water fills in any space, moves around any obstacle, and consumes anything in its vicinity. Water is active; like fire, it exists in a state of perpetual motion, constantly shapeshifting, never the same way twice.
In the same way, our emotions are dynamic and mutable, operating by their own kind of law. We cannot determine the shape of our feelings the way that we can determine the shape of objects belonging to the realm of earth; nor is there any such thing as an objectively “right” or “wrong” emotion, in the way that there are objectively right or wrong ideas. We are saturated with our emotions, whatever they may be; they flow into us without regard for our intentions, goals, aspirations or circumstances, and we are consumed by the mood that has seeped in, even if it doesn’t seem to “fit” the situation or make rational sense.
Yet water is the single substance required by every life form for subsistence. Whether or not our feelings take the shape that we expect or believe that they should, nevertheless we must submit to their authority, for a life without joy is not sustainable. Lacking health in the emotional body quickly brings deterioration to health in the physical and mental bodies as well.
The aspect corresponding to the element of earth in the human energy field is the physical body. The body is the consecration of the other three planes. The body manifests the contents of the spirit, mind, and heart.
This idea is reflected in ancient yogic philosophy, which considered the blood to be the very essence of an individual. Yogis observed that the operations of the mind, heart, body and spiritual faculties stimulated various glands of the endocrine systems to release hormones into the blood. These endocrines are each associated with a chakra, and the chakras are vehicles of mind which assimilate consciousness.
In this way, the blood is a receptacle of consciousness; your blood is a stream of the ideas you have thought, the feelings you have felt, the actions you have taken and the ideals that you have lived out.
Take care, then, of each of your bodies, for as you are within, so shall you be without!