The Missing Elements
Incomplete. That is how our protagonist felt a couple of months ago. But he knew what to do to change this state of mind. Engulfed in his affinity for alchemy, it did not take long for him to sketch the outline of his first tattoo.
Vlad Muntean is a fourth-year student from Moldova, majoring in Business Administration, whom you might associate with a myriad of extracurricular activities. His sense of geometrical perfection lured him into designing two equilateral triangles, facing two opposite directions. The one gazing upwards represents the Air, one of the four archetypal forces. According to Empedocles, Fire and Air are “outwardly reaching” elements, reaching up and out. By the same token, Vlad engraved Air’s symbol, “this is my connection with the outer space; it means I wouldn’t limit myself to mere terrestrial space,” he explained. The downward looking triangle, entirely filled with ink, is the Earth symbol. It cements the connection between the human body and the core of our planet. Alchemysts suggest the symbol for Air is upward-pointing since, being hot and humid, air struggles to ascend, but its moist particles do not allow it, thus air remains enchained in time and space. And vice versa, Earth is dry, cold, aimed at staying on the ground and maintain its function of being the least volatile element.
I could not help but ask why did he neglect the other two elements, Fire and Water, and I got a well-grounded response. “As my astrological sign is Cancer, I already am in a special relationship with water.” Thus he adores water in all forms. “As for Fire, this is how I call my interior energy which controls how I perceive the surrounding,” Vlad elaborated. He emphasized that the human body “is another part of the whole system, it contributes to nature,” seeking synchronization. So, the bigger picture is the following: by having all four elements close to you, you possess the authority of controlling fully both your body and soul. The mere fact that you are keen on enhancing the outward appearance of your body, even by a small inky stain, manifests that you are a sovereign of yourself, working on creating your best version.
The familiar symbol Taijitu, popularly known as the Yin Yang symbol from Taoism, is one of the explanations why Vlad’s tattoo looks so perfectly symmetrical, although it is not. It represents the two halves of a whole and the nature of change. As identical the two triangles might seem, the “Earth” immaculately fits into the transparent triangle, the Air. I couldn’t resist being a peeping Tom, so I asked Vlad why did he leave out a single line that seems like it’s piercing the triangles. He patiently clarified that it is the line of life, “the thread that makes sure one can always get back on track after lapses and/or upsurges”.
As far as the “geography” of the tattoo is concerned, the tarsus is, according to Vlad, the only spot in the human body that doesn’t alter with age and weight loss/gain. It goes contrary to Muntean’s susceptibility to change, though…
*FYI, Business Administration Majors: Carl Jung’s theory of personality types derives from the four aforementioned elements. Jung developed eight types, combining introversion with extroversion. In psychology, those are the variables used for the Meyers-Briggs test we have seen in Organizational Theory and Behavior.