Through studying various fields within what are known as “the Esoteric Sciences,” I’ve come to believe that we have not just one “self” — rather, I feel it’s more accurate to say that in this life, the thing that each of us thinks of as “myself” is actually a conglomeration of no less than four distinct “component-selves.”
On one level, sure, “I” am just me — I’m the sum total of all of the elements that are gathered within those me-shaped perimeters that mark off where I and the universe each begin/end with respect to one another.
On other levels, though, I think it’s very beneficial to consider ourselves in terms of these four component-selves I mentioned above that, taken together, add up to a total “I” for each of us.
So what are these component-selves? I hold — and I believe I would be backed up by core beliefs found in disciplines such as Tarot and Astrology, for instance — that each of us is comprised of a physical self, an emotional self, a mental self, and a spiritual self:
Occult thought generally goes on to also assign one of the classic Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) to each of these selves or realms of existence as well, like so:
The Physical Self = The Body = Earth
The Emotional Self = The Heart = Water
The Mental Self = The Mind = Air
The Spiritual Self = The Spirit/Soul = Fire
In Tarot, the Minor Arcana portion of a deck is subdivided into four suits just like decks of our regular playing cards are, with each suit being assigned to represent one of these four elements: the names of the suits can vary from one deck to another, but generally the suit of Disks/Pentacles/Coins represents Earth and the Physical, the suit of Cups signifies Water and the Emotional, the suit of Swords stands for Air and the Mental, and the suit of Wands symbolizes Fire and the Spiritual.
Western Astrology also makes use of this same system, dividing the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac into four sub-groups of three Signs apiece: the Earth Signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn), the Water Signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces), the Air Signs (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius), and the Fire Signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius).
I feel that this system is extremely helpful in sort of gently forcing us to take note of all four various areas of our selves that require nurturing and cultivation if we’re going to be healthy beings overall. I especially believe that in our modern society, which places such a high value on things like physical health and beauty, and on mental achievement, our emotional and spiritual selves can often go overlooked…and this is to our significant detriment. In fact, being overly emotional or overtly spiritual can even be a bit sneered at by society as a collective, so at times, I think we’re even encouraged to err on the side of squelching our emotional and spiritual selves maybe a bit more than is healthy for us, just so we don’t risk the sniggers and finger-pointing of others. This isn’t to say you can’t tough it out and be as emotional and/or as spiritual as you want anyway, scorn and derision of other humans notwithstanding, because you totally can, but taking stances can often be much more easily said than done.
So the advice here for the day (and for all days, really) is to foster awareness of all four of your core selves, and to feed them, so that they all thrive in equal measure. I believe that focusing on each of them in turn makes for a tremendously positive ongoing daily practice:
Taking good care of your four primary selves is what leads most surely and directly to an overall “you” that’s happy and healthy…be good to all four of your selves!