Pondering the Fifth Element in Story

Have you ever wondered what makes certain stories more powerful than others? Could there be such a thing as a story’s fifth element. If so, what is it?

The Fifth Element in StoryAlthough in recent times, the basic elements have been recognized as four, in most ancient cultures and religions there are five. Hinduism acknowledges five great elements—earth, water, fire, air, and the ether, aka akasha. In ancient Tibetan philosophy, the fifth element is the space and in Japanese traditions, the void or spirit. In Ancient Greece, the ether was the most sacred element, for it was unchangeable as opposed to the other four.

Also, the primal geographical directions have been subject to confusion in this matter. Most Eastern and Mesoamerican natives viewed the center of the Earth as a fifth direction, the principal essence from which the other four primal directions derived. In the West, this center is called the Axis Mundi and is the connection between heaven and earth, the point where the four cardinal directions meet.

When I learned of the five elements and directions, I began wondering whether stories, being the reflection of life, could possess them as well? And if so, then what could such elements represent in regard to story?

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Golden Mean in Story/Visionary Approach to Story Structure

I’ve been fascinated with the archetypal patterns behind stories for a long time, but it was only after I delved deeper into the mysticism of Numerology and Sacred Geometry that I began to notice some fascinating correlations between those mystical teachings and the classical tools of story telling.

This brought about the idea of a visionary approach to story structure based on these sacred teachings. I’ve been doing elaborate research since; however, its essence could be summed up in the mystery of the Golden Mean.

Mystery of the Golden Mean

Golden Mean in StoryThe Golden Mean, also known as the Golden Ratio, has been well known to the ancient cultures in Egypt and Greece due to its frequent appearance in nature and its wide use in art, philosophy and science. The principle was later encapsulated in the famous 15th century text The Divine Proportion written by Luka Pacioli and illustrated by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The Golden Mean embodies the process of division and expansion of oneness or the initial center. The best way to introduce this enigma would be by sharing Plato’s legendary riddle. The Greek philosopher once asked his students to divide a line segment into two unequal parts and ponder about its meaning.

Had he asked them to divide the line into two identical parts, the ratios would be the same and would hold no possibility of further separation. By dividing the line into unequal parts where the larger one encompasses the two smaller ones, they found a basis for further division. This made them realize that if a ratio of two quantities is the same as the ratio of their sum, the quantities … Continue reading