|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from My Antonia by Willa Cather:
to Cutter in a disguised handwriting. Cutter would come home at noon,
find the mutilated journal in the paper-rack, and triumphantly
fit the clipping into the space from which it had been cut.
Those two could quarrel all morning about whether he ought to put
on his heavy or his light underwear, and all evening about whether
he had taken cold or not.
The Cutters had major as well as minor subjects for dispute.
The chief of these was the question of inheritance: Mrs. Cutter
told her husband it was plainly his fault they had no children.
He insisted that Mrs. Cutter had purposely remained childless,
with the determination to outlive him and to share his property
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Nana, Miller's Daughter, Captain Burle, Death of Olivier Becaille by Emile Zola:
greedily, "and you won't wake me before noon."
Then raising her voice:
"Now then, gee up! Shove the others downstairs!"
Zoe did not move. She would never have dreamed of giving her
mistress overt advice, only now she made shift to give Madame the
benefit of her experience when Madame seemed to be running her hot
head against a wall.
"Monsieur Steiner as well?" she queried curtly.
"Why, certainly!" replied Nana. "Before all the rest."
The maid still waited, in order to give her mistress time for
reflection. Would not Madame be proud to get such a rich gentleman
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Modeste Mignon by Honore de Balzac:
and in every stitch he shall read a verse of the poem of which he
has been the hero. Yes, I have resolved within my heart never to
follow my husband where he does not wish me to go. I will be the
divinity of his hearth. That is my religion of humanity. But why
should I not test and choose the man to whom I am to be like the
life to the body? Is a man ever impeded by life? What can that
woman be who thwarts the man she loves?--an illness, a disease,
not life. By life, I mean that joyous health which makes each hour
But to return to your letter, which will always be precious to me.
Yes, jesting apart, it contains that which I desired, an
|The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo:
(horse) becomes le gaye; la fertanche (straw) becomes la fertille;
le momignard (brat), le momacque; les fiques (duds), frusques;
la chique (the church), l'egrugeoir; le colabre (neck), le colas.
The devil is at first, gahisto, then le rabouin, then the baker;
the priest is a ratichon, then the boar (le sanglier); the dagger is
le vingt-deux (twenty-two), then le surin, then le lingre; the police
are railles, then roussins, then rousses, then marchands de lacets
(dealers in stay-laces), then coquers, then cognes; the executioner
is le taule, then Charlot, l'atigeur, then le becquillard.
In the seventeenth century, to fight was "to give each other snuff";
in the nineteenth it is "to chew each other's throats."