The Four Mothers: Manifesting the Elements

The Four Mothers: Manifesting the Elements

Each of the Four Mothers represents a different element: Earth, Air, Water, Fire

These are the magical elements of western mysticism and neo-paganism, and together are used to define and bless sacred space. When I decided to create a series of Goddess paintings based on the elements, I let the idea simmer at the back of my mind for a while. I had a few questions that I wanted the paintings to address. First, how can I create a cohesive series while still allowing each painting to stand on its own merits artistically? Second, is there a way to convey the raw energy of each element while still maintaining the grace and beauty of the Goddess?

Manifesting the Four Elements as Nature Goddess Paintings

As the overall composition of the series started to take form in my mind, I had a nagging thought about how to title them. I already have an Earth Goddess painting, so I had to come up with something else. What came to mind was the Earth Mother chant that I learned years ago:

Earth Mother, we sing to your body,
Earth Mother, we sing to your bones,
Earth Mother, we honor your spirit,
Earth Mother, we honor your stones.
(Author Unknown)

Earth Mother, Water Mother, Air Mother, and Fire Mother. Once the titles revealed themselves, the Goddesses then followed, appearing first under my pencil as I sketched them. This is how the inspiration for the Four Mothers was born. Each would have an elemental daughter with them, to represent the magical element at play. Each would also contain some aspect of one or more of the other elements in them to tie them together.

The more time I spent with the Four Mothers, the more each Goddess came through in my meditations. As a visionary artist, I can only paint what I can see. My third eye delivers rich and vivid images in extraordinary detail. It always has, and my work as pagan and Reiki Master has taught me how to incorporate the energy presented into my artwork.

Water Mother flows from the heart

Water Mother watercolor paintingThe first Goddess that I painted was the Water Mother. Water as an element is associated with the flow of our emotions, and therefore, had to be a dynamic painting with a lot of movement.  She presented Herself catching a great wave, which she rides effortlessly. Completely at ease, Water Mother holds a great pearl in her right hand, while water drips from her left hand to form an elemental daughter playing in the wave with her. Even as she surfs the wave with her powerful tail, Water Mother turns and gazes softly over her left shoulder into misty air.


Air Mother is alive with ideas

Air Mother watercolor painting by Beth HansenWhich brings us to the Air Mother. Air as an element is associated with knowledge and ideas, and as such she chose to be depicted reaching up for inspiration, drawing it down to swirl around her. Also, she did not want to be mistaken as either an angel or a fairy, so I did not draw her with wings.  Instead she stands upon a pinnacle of stone, while her elemental daughter plays within the whirling ideas that her mother brings.

Earth Mother is full of fertility

Earth Mother watercolor painting by Beth HansenFrom that pinnacle of stone, we travel down to earth, to an oak savannah and the Earth Mother. The energy of earth is manifestation, creating real world results. Spanish moss, an air plant, drapes over the branches of the oak trees as the Earth Mother rests on a great bulging root. Everything is green and fertile, and she is full and pregnant, just waiting to give birth. Her bright red hair catches a hint of sun as it cascades down her back. She softly smiles as upon her knee her elemental earth daughter dances.

Fire Mother brings unstoppable passion

Fire Mother watercolor painting by Beth HansenFrom the touch of sunlight and fiery hair we find ourselves challenged by the Fire Mother herself. She is reclining on a bed of cooling lava, her hair cascades past her shoulder transforming into flowing lava. Behind her the volcano erupts. Fire as an element represents both the will and the power of transformation. No matter how much we think and feel, action is required to bring change into being. Fire flows from her fingertips to rise up and swirl around her fire daughter, the element alive and dancing with a passion!


Practical Magic and the Four Mothers


These are the Four Mothers and how they came into being as paintings. In my personal practice, I associate each element with a direction, a color, an altar element, and a magical energy.               


  • Earth: the direction is North, the color is green, the altar element is salt, and the magical energy is physical manifestation.
  • Air: the direction is East, the color is yellow, the altar element is smoke, and the magical energy is ideas and inspiration.
  • Fire: the direction is South, the color is red, the altar element is incense, and the magical energy is action in accordance with will.
  • Water: the direction is West, the color is blue, the altar element is water, and the magical energy is emotion and deep feelings.


Additional correspondences can be found in teachings of other traditions as well. Some may differ from the ones used here, all are valid in their own traditions, but these are the ones that I use. When I first started on the Pagan path, I began by working with each element individually. This gave me time to connect with the distinct vibration of each one. Over time and practice I learned to identify each one in circle, even among the other three and the energies of the people present.

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