Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Four Pillars of Creation

[Originally published on July 19, 2008]

The four elements of classical Greek philosophy - Fire, Earth, Air, and Water - were described by Plato as the pillars of creation. They have been used throughout over two millenia as the basis for decribing how the cosmos works, first in early Western science, and later in the esoteric movements of the late 19th century and into the 20th. Naturally, now we have the Periodic Table of Elements (up to 118 currently), a more scientific description of the building blocks of creation. But the four Platonic elements are still a poetic evocation of how creation works, and still possess a great power to inspire.

As part of the IPC July challenge of shooting b&w still life scenes, I decided to do a series of still lifes illustrating the four elements. I went through a lot of trial and error before finally arriving at what I consider the best evocations of those elements. Here they are, along with a little meditation on each.


Fire is hot and bright.
Fire generates heat and light.
Fire warms and shines a light in the darkness.
Fire is the genesis of Creation.


Earth is solid and firm.
Earth is brown and gray but wears a rainbow cloak.
Earth owns, possesses.
Earth is the womb that bears Creation.


Air is light and swift.
Air perceives, sees.
Air hears and communicates.
Air informs Creation.


Water is deep and still.
Water lies under all and holds the secrets.
Water rises out of the deep and transcends.
Water nourishes Creation.

Extra Picture:
I won that challenge, by the way; but not for any of the four shots above. I won it for the following shot of a ceramic mortar and pestle on a bamboo chopping block. Still and all, it was a great challenge.


  1. I really like your representation of the Elements, especially the last two. I'm an air sign (some would say an air head). :-)

  2. roy just got my gather mail...this looks great. thank you so much for adding my link. i'll vise versa that! hugs~