Oct. 22nd, 2013

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Judging from what Wikipedia has to say, appears to be common thematic element in many classical "elemental" theories of Eastern hemisphere cultures.

If four out of five of the elements are water, fire, earth, and air...the fifth one (the most metaphysical of the bunch) almost always corresponds with the concept of the sky or of empty space.

The five elements of Babylonian myth are sea, sky, fire, and wind.
The Greek word "aether" means pure, fresh air" or "clear sky," and was postulated by Plato to be the substance that the heavens and planets were made of.
The five elements of Hinduism are are earth, water, fire, air, and akasha, a word that means "space" in Sanskrit and "sky" in many other Indian languages.
The five elemental processes in Tibetan culture are earth, water, fire, air and space.
The five elemental processes of Japanese Buddhism are earth, water, fire, wind, and sora, which usually gets translated in the west as "void" but can also be translated as "sky" or "heaven."

Not all the elemental systems (whether they be ones of substance or of process/behavior) follow this, but the ones that are based around earth/water/air/fire always seem to consider sky or space the "fifth element."

Sad that fantasy novels/kid's cartoons/RPGs/TCGs, when they choose to invoke the 4 elements and finds themselves in need or want of a fifth one, never go with the classics. The idea of elemental sky/heaven/space magic is SO cool.

(Thought: what if you have the four elements correspond to the four states of matter, and then make space/void into dark matter. Vaguely-based-on-science dark matter, not just "we thought it would be cool to name our evil shadow ectoplasm after a science word we heard on tv once" dark matter.)


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