Monday, March 13, 2023

The four elements

The successful, practices of Malay medicine must be based on the fundamental principle of preserving the balance of power among four elements. This is chiefly to be effected by constant attention to, and moderation in, diet.

The Malay culture believed that there were only four elements, ‘spirits,’ that shape nature: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. The four elements are paired up with the four qualities of cold, hot, moist, and dry.

To enforce these golden precepts, passages from Quran are plentifully quoted against excess in eating or drinking. Air, they say, is the cause of heat and moisture, and earth of cold and dryness. They assimilate the constitutions and passions of man to the twelve sings of the zodiac, and the seven planets.

Dry chills and dizzy spells arise when the “earth” element is too strong and from ailments such as cholera and dysentery, which are caused by excessive heat and moisture from the “air”.

Fire is the power of the Spirit. Since fire is too hot to touch and because fire can make living things disappear, the ancients considered a property of the gods. There is no fire in the creation story, until God creates light.

Water is the primary creative agent, probably because of its association with childbirth. Water was necessary to sustain life. It is through water that life comes and with water that life flourishes.

Earth is nearly as important as water to the creative process is earth. On the third day, God created earth from water.
The four elements

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