Water is one of the elements of Ancient philosophy in Greece of Panchamahabhuta in India and of Wu Xing in China. In contemporary esoteric traditions, it is commonly associated with the qualities of emotion and intuition
Greek and Roman traditionWater was one of many archai proposed by the Pre-socratics, most of whom tried to reduce all things to a single substance. However, Empedocles of Acragas (c. 495-c. 435 BC) selected four archai for his four roots: air, fire, water and earth. Empedocles roots became the four classical elements of Greek philosophy. Plato (427-347 BC) took over the four elements of Empedocles. In the Timaeus, his major cosmological dialogue, the Platonic solid associated with water is the icosahedron which is formed from twenty equilateral triangles. This makes water the element with the greatest number of sides, which Plato regarded as appropriate because water flows out of one's hand when picked up, as if it is made of tiny little balls.
Plato’s student Aristotle (384-322 BC) developed a different explanation for the elements based on pairs of qualities. The four elements were arranged concentrically around the center of the Universe to form the sublunary sphere. According to Aristotle, water is both cold and wet and occupies a place between air and earth among the elemental spheres.
In ancient Greek medicine, each of the four humours became associated with an element. Phlegm was the humor identified with water, since both were cold and wet. Other things associated with water and phlegm in ancient and medieval medicine included the season of Winter, since it increased the qualities of cold and moisture; the phlegmatic temperament, the feminine, the brain and the western point of the compass.
alchemy, the chemical element of mercury was often associated with water and its alchemical symbol was an downward-pointing triangle.
Modern witchcraftWater is one of the five elements that appear in most Wiccan traditions. Wicca in particular was influenced by the Golden Dawn system of magic and Aleister Crowley's mysticism, which was in turn inspired by the Golden Dawn. Common Wiccan attributions include:
- Cardinal direction: West
- Season: Winter
- Time of life: Adulthood
- Time of day: Twilight
- Elemental being: Ondine
- Colors: Ocean blue, sea green, dusky violet and gray
- Magical tools: Cup
- Tarot: Cups in the Minor Arcana
- Altar tool: Cup
- Feminine energy
- Other: Correspondences include emotions, love, compassion, healing, dreams, divination, intuition and psychic abilities.