Dating back to the ancient Greeks, people have been aware of the four primary elements of nature. In some cases, a fifth element, Spirit, has also been added. The Celts linked the four primary elements of air, water, earth, and fire with the seasons as well.
Air is associated with the season of Spring as it brings new inspiration, and with the direction of the East. Fire is connected with the light and heat of Summer and the direction of the South. Water is the element associated with the season of Fall, and is linked with the West. Earth is the element of Winter and as the coldest wind blows from the North, it is also the direction associated with Earth. Perhaps this is why North is the direction of orientation for maps of the earth.
St. Francis’ The Canticle of the Creatures, was written c.1225. St. Francis recognized that humans are dependent on nature for their very existence. St. Francis also mentions the elements by name in his canticle.
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.