I've been considering (and putting off), for a long while, writing a post about working with elemental spirits as a generalization - in fact, this post has sat here in my "Drafts" folder for several weeks. Its ebbed and flowed rather naturally, sometimes increasing in size, and sometimes shrinking to fit the mood of the day. That being the case, I think it is high time that I post this piece. Be aware, however, that this post encompasses my current views and level of experience, which are subject to change.
In essence, my goal here is to provide you with a means by and through which you'd be able to get a feel for the elements themselves, rather than the elemental kings.
Recently an acquaintance from EvocationMagic and I were talking and he mentioned that he was having some trouble understanding and digesting Agrippa's descriptions of the various elemental spirits. Admittedly, he is part of the motivation behind this post and I'll leave it to him to chime in if he feels so inclined.
Having said as much, this brings us to the following point: "What are elementals anyway?"
Well, elemental spirits, or daemons (not to be confused with the Judeo-Christian term "demons"), are entities who live in, are made up of, act like, and manifest through the primal elements that exist in the world around us. Each pantheon and associated worldview has its own way of categorizing these elements and the associated beings, so for the moment, I will stick to describing the categories noted within Agrippa's texts.
These are as follows:
These elements have several combinations, and amongst elementals you will oft find very strange combinations of different energies. I've encountered spirits closely associated with both fire and water, air and earth, air and water, water and fire and earth, and any other such combination you can think of.
In those circumstances, it is always rather odd to work with those entities, as you're never really sure who they answer to; this is where the hierarchy is no longer particularly useful, and instead you must rely on coordinating with the spirit directly. This is one of the many reasons why I do not espouse the use of hierarchy-driven threats against spirits; there will come a time when you don't know who a spirit answers to. That is, however, neither here nor there so I digress.
Having said as much, there four "pure" elemental energies that one can tap as necessary, and in time you will learn to mix them to fit your needs. It is tricky, to be sure, but it is incredibly useful.
As usual, herein I will provide the sigils and a brief synopsis of some of the skills associated with each elemental energy. It is up to you to use these sigils effectively, and, as always, proceed carefully.
This energy rules over any and all intellectual pursuit and is perfect to involve when one is studying for an exam or looking to absorb information on the job.
Second up is Elemental Earth, which is associated with binding, growth, grounding, stability, fecundity, and materialization. This realm is exceedingly good at assisting you in areas of fiscal responsibility.
Earth is slow to respond, quiet, hardy, and quite ambiguous with regard to gender. It is oft associated with the working man's labors, wherein patience and strength are often far more useful than simply raw wit or passion.
Thirdly, we have Elemental Fire, which is wild, untamed, energetic, expansive, illuminating, and quick. It is both healing and destructive in countenance and turns from one pole of activity to the other quickly. It is versatile, and can be used to help and harm simultaneously.
It is carnal, rough, impish, and sometimes playful in a destructive fashion. It is, by far, the most dangerous element to involve oneself with, but it also incredibly fascinating. This is the realm of male sexuality, make no mistake, and can be used to rouse the lustful passions of another.
Finally, we have Elemental Water, known for being cooling, life-sustaining, slow-moving til roused, and seductive. It is secretive, quiet, deceptive, and has drowned many a man.
This is the realm of female sexuality, and its power lies in the use of emotional ties to get things done. Still waters run deep, but when there's a quake, just watch for a tsunami.
There you have the elements and their signs, to use as you see fit. Remember, however, that spirits of this sort are neither good nor evil; they simply are. You define how they manifest, so any fault or praise belongs with you, the magician or witch who conjures them.