|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Travels of Sir John Mandeville by Sir John Mandeville:
there is a fair church of our Lady, where she dwelled; and there
she died. And there was wont to be an abbot of canons regulars.
And from thence was she borne of the apostles unto the vale of
Jehosaphat. And there is the stone that the angel brought to our
Lord from the mount of Sinai, and it is of that colour that the
rock is of Saint Catherine. And there beside is the gate where
through our Lady went, when she was with child, when she went to
Bethlehem. Also at the entry of the Mount Sion is a chapel. And
in that chapel is the stone, great and large, with the which the
sepulchre was covered with, when Joseph of Arimathea had put our
Lord therein; the which stone the three Marys saw turn upward when
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Scenes from a Courtesan's Life by Honore de Balzac:
crime. Though he did not recognize the wine-merchant's wife, both she
and her husband recognized him. The inquiry had proved, by the
evidence of several witnesses, that Theodore had been living at
Nanterre for about a month; he had worked at a mason's, his face
whitened with plaster, and his clothes very shabby. At Nanterre the
lad was supposed to be about eighteen years old, for the whole month
he must have been nursing that brat (nourri ce poupon, i.e. hatching
The lawyers thought he must have had accomplices. The chimney-pots
were measured and compared with the size of Manon la Blonde's body to
see if she could have got in that way; but a child of six could not
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Scenes from a Courtesan's Life by Honore de Balzac:
strike the imagination! And poetry has been sublime on it. Prose has
no resource but fact; still, the fact is appalling enough to hold its
own against verse. The existence of a condemned man who has not
confessed his crime, or betrayed his accomplices, is one of fearful
torment. This is no case of iron boots, of water poured into the
stomach, or of limbs racked by hideous machinery; it is hidden and, so
to speak, negative torture. The condemned wretch is given over to
himself with a companion whom he cannot but trust.
The amiability of modern philanthropy fancies it has understood the
dreadful torment of isolation, but this is a mistake. Since the
abolition of torture, the Bench, in a natural anxiety to reassure the
|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 Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain:
were right on them; but a black log is a pretty distinct object at night.
A white snag is an ugly customer when the daylight is gone.
Of course, on the great rise, down came a swarm of prodigious
timber-rafts from the head waters of the Mississippi,
coal barges from Pittsburgh, little trading scows from everywhere,
and broad-horns from 'Posey County,' Indiana, freighted with 'fruit
and furniture'--the usual term for describing it, though in plain
English the freight thus aggrandized was hoop-poles and pumpkins.
Pilots bore a mortal hatred to these craft; and it was returned
with usury. The law required all such helpless traders to keep
a light burning, but it was a law that was often broken.