Monday, 14 May 2012

Research: Elements

When most people talk about elements today, they are usually referring to the chemical elements that make up the periodic table. In this context an Element is the  simplest essential part which makes up anything, so anything and everything can be broken down into it elemental parts (although with some things this is more difficult than with others).

As it stands today there are one hundred and eighteen known elements.

There was a time when there were only four.

Many people know these as Earth, Air Fire and Water. Although in many religions including Hinduism and Buddhism as well as Japanese philosophy there were five. The fifth being known sometimes as ‘the void’ or the ‘aether’ and other times as the ‘spirit’. Although in Chinese medicine the fifth element is ‘metal’.

The four elements themselves are sometime referred to as the ‘classical elements’ and it was the Greek, Plato who is said to be the first to use the word element and his fellow Greek Aristotle who went further and described the property of each element and its uses.

The philosophy surrounding these four elements prompted physics and chemistry, becoming the bedrock of natural sciences. However there was also a spiritual side to this philosophy, an understanding of the power, the magic held within these elements.

It was the idea that if you could understand and control these elements you could control nature. This led to the beginnings of Alchemyand the search for the Philosopher’s Stone.

This stone, which so many people dedicated their lives to discovering, could bestow on its owner the elixir of life. The ability to live forever.

Sadly of course many people lived their lives searching for this unobtainable item, and forgot to live in the few short years they had on this earth.

But what has really fascinated me is this combination of spirituality and science, they were inseparable in this ancient world and a part of me is intrigued by the question ‘What if…?’

What if these ancient alchemists had been right?
What if there was an Elixir of life?
What if you could control the elements and then control nature itself?

There are so many stories to tell, the more I keep digging, the more fascinated I become.

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