What Tattvas Are & Uses for the Aspirant

There is a theory that Solar Prana vibrates through the universe from the sun by way of the etheric current. Think of this current as an electrical wire that can carry all kinds of messages from pure power for appliances to sophisticated voice and computer signals. Faith is not something that is required; all you need to do is to begin to use the etheric current and test it in a scientific manner. With experience you can verify its existence and learn about its capacities.

The Tattwas represent a westernization of the Hindu theory of the elements. They represent a synthesis of western and eastern ideas about the mystic elements in the Western Mystery Schools. Your Tattwa cards will prove useful in showing you some of the facets of Solar Prana as it is carried through the etheric current. As well, these cards will prepare you for the more advanced visualization exercises that the student will become involved with when learning the Tarot later on.

But first, let’s examine a working theory in order to better describe exactly what Solar Prana is, and its relationship to the Tattwas. For starters, lets travel to the beginnings of what is to become our galaxy. Now imagine the existence of a formless cloud. If you are already familiar with the Qabalah, this can be equivocated with Kether on the Tree of Life. This is a cloud that contains the potential for all that will exist and is called AKASA.

As this scattered cloud begins to contract, it will begin to whirl. The ‘matter’ will start to move in a fashion as if blown by some etheric or solar wind. The spirit that is AKASA is stirring in its wholly inorganic state and pushing itself to maneuver from an unmanifested state; eventually towards a state of manifestation. This whirling is an airlike quality that is referred to as VAYU.

Now, these particles, in their whirling have formed a Nebula. And as they co‑exist, they each react to the magnetic pulse of the surrounding particles. This increases, not only the intensity of the whirling; pushing it into a feverish and frenzied state, but the increase in friction between each magnetic particle creates a potent heat. This heat rises in temperature to a point of incandescent luminosity and a raging fire breaks out. This condition is known as TEJAS.

When this Nebula reaches its climax of motion, it will then begin to slow down; thereby producing a cooling off in temperature. Along with this, the Nebula will coagulate into a fluid like substance; still hot and molten, like the lava of a volcano or moreover, the lava that once covered this planet that still remains hot at the center of this planet. This watery phase is known as APAS.

The final stage is reached when it cools completely. It will then solidify and form a large mass such as our own planet earth. Here the original primordial substance is manifested and moving at its slowest rate of vibration. As well, it is in its most dense form. The particles are dense and close together; tightly wound into complex molecular structures. This is the manifestation that was originally sought; and in the Qabalah it is known as the tenth sephirah called the Kingdom. In the Tattwa system, it is referred to as PRITHIVI.

From what has been delineated above, the Tattwas could be said to be modalities of matter as it transitions from the primordial and unmanifested state into the finite and manifested state. These are the elemental conditions of being (and non being) that serve not only as points of reference for the development of material substances, but are the base substances which the Prana acts through. However, this paradigm but can be empirically applied to the immaterial, as well such as conditions of the soul or functions of the personality.

A study of these same ancient Greek elements would be advisable. The student will note that there are only four elements in the Greek system as compared to the five of the Tattwas. But in actuality, fire in the Greek system does the double duty of taking on the Spiritual qualities as AKASA does in the Tattwa system. The Tattwas being eastern and Hindu in origin do not necessarily represent a divergence from the western model, however. If the student examines the five points of the Pentagram, note that the four bottom points represent the four Greek elements and the top point represents those four elements being ruled by Spirit. Therefore, it is only a matter of perspective as to whether or not Spirit is to actually be considered an element.

Up to this point we have discussed the five Tattwas in their course of existence. To summarize more succinctly the Tattwas, they are listed as follows; showing their geometric representation:

Akasa Spirit Black Egg
Tejas Fire Red Triangle
Apas Water Silver Crescent
Vayu Air Blue Circle
Prithivi Earth Yellow Square

The five principal tattwa cards denote these symbols. The prana is evendenced by the human breath which is referred to as Swara. This prana either comes directly from the sun (IDA) or indirectly fromt he moon (PINGALA). And the neutral point of rest betwen the two is referred to as Susumna which relates directly to the human spinal column. Therefore, the IDA is in the left side of the body and the PINGALA is in the right side.

Now the Tattwas break down into sub elements which correspond to the remaining cards in the Tattwa deck. This is listed as follows:

Akasa Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi
Tejas of Akasa of Akasa of Akasa of Akasa of
Akasa Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi
Apas of Apas of Tejas of Tejas of Tejas of
Akasa Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi
Vayu of Vayu of Vayu of Apas of Apas of
Akasa Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi
Prithivi of Prithivi of Prithivi of Prithivi of Vayu of
Akasa Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi

Note that sub elements such as Apas of Vayu and Vayu of Apas are not identical. The former represents the watery qualities of air and the latter represents the airy qualities of water. In that way, the former is a silver crescent within a blue circle and the latter is a blue circle within a silver crescent. So you can see that even from a visual point of view, there is a dramatic difference.

What these Tattwas delineate is the idea that for the Hindus, reality is composed of five sets of five categories of phenomena. They are as follows:

The Preternatural Pentad:

Purusa (the transcendent self)
Prakrti (natural characteristics; animal nature)
Buddhi (intellect)
Ahamkara (ego)
Manas (mind)

These are the main five with the next four parallel pentads interacting with and interpenetrating each other. These are:

The Five Buddhindriyas: Sense capacities; hearing, seeing smelling, feeling, tasting
The Five Karmendriyas: Action capacities: speaking, grasping, walking, excreting, generating
The Five Tanmatras: Subtle elements; sound, touch, form, taste, smell
The five Mahabhutas: Gross elements; ether, air, fire, water, earth


The beginning student should endeavor to memorize the cards as efficiently as possible. The first use for your Tattwa deck can be as flash cards. The student should endeavor to open the deck to any card and be able to instantly call out the name of the card, denoting both the Hindu title and the corresponding element or sub element. After this is mastered, then the student can proceed with the next exercize. But note that a new vocabulary has been established in both word and visual image.

Next, note that there is a twenty sixth card in the deck of Tattwas and it is a blank white card. This is to be used for the following exercize: Start with one of the major elemental shapes; it is recommended that you start with the shape and color that most appeals to you initially. Sit under a comfortable lamp perhaps in a favorite chair. In one hand, hold the Tattwa card of choice, and in the other the blank, white card.

Stare at the Tattwa card. Allow the eyes to dry up and begin to play tricks on you. When you have reached this subtle state of visual exhaustion, quickly transfer your eyes to the blank white card in your other hand. You may want to actually maneuver that card to cover up the Tattwa card; thus aiding in your concentration. What are you now seeing? What you should be seeing is the astral complement of the color of the Tattwa card. The astral complements are listed, for your convenience, as follows:

Material Astral
Element Tattwa Color Complement
Spirit Akasa Black White
Fire Tejas Red Green
Water Apas Silver Black
Air Vayu Blue Orange
Earth Prithivi Yellow Purple

To further your work in this exercize, you should then practice on taking the Material Colors of the Tattwas and focusing on seeing them with your inner eye. Again, sit in a comfortable chair, or in an asana with your eyes closed. Focus on your memory of the particular Tattwa that you are working with and try to see it in front of you. You may also want to practice on making it larger or smaller.

The next step in visualization is to place the Tattwas in the body. For this, it is necessary to learn about the centers of energy in the body. These centers exist along the path of the Susumna and are called Chakkras.

Spend time visualizing these Chakkras. There is a simple exercize to assist in this effort. It will prepare you for the more Middle Pillar Exercise and will sensitize you to the presence and nature of the Chakkras.


The Swara are the ten principle nerves throughout the body. These nerves are the ten principle manifestations of the Swara within which the Vayus move. The ten Vayus are as follows:

1. Prana in the breast.
2. Apana about the excretory organs.
3. Samana in the navel.
4. Udana middle of the throat.
5. Vyana pervading the whole body.
6. Kurmana the eyes, helping them open.
7. Kirkala in the stomach, producing hunger.
8. Nag whence comes vomiting.
9. Devadatta causes yawning.
10. Dhananjaya that which does not leav the body after death.

These Vayus are the regulators of the body and are active in all ten principle nerves. Their proper functioning preserves the health of the body. The key to the ten nerves is found in working the Prana Vayu.

Solar Prana

The Solar Prana is under the influence of Swara and hence the breath. It is said that the Swara is the breath of the universe or its soul and spirit. It appears in positive, negative and centered modes corresponding to the nerves and the right, left and center (spine) of the body. The positive breath which corresponds to the nerves on the right side of the body is called Pingala. The negative breath which corresponds to the nerves on the left side of the body is called Ida. And the centered point of rest between breaths is called Susumna.

The Prana breaths are organized into units or intervals of time called Gharis. During any particular Ghari, the breath may be in Pingala, Ida, or Susumna. The way to determine this is to first be in good health. Then draw the breath with a quick inspiration. If it is felt in the right nostril, then the prana is in Pingala. Please note that your health is vital in making such a determination. Should you have a head cold, this will certainly intefere with the free flow of your breath.

The course of each Ghari is determined by the moon. On the first sunrise after the new moon, the cycle is begun. Here, the prana is in Ida or the left nostril for two hours. This alternates with the Pingala and the breath in the right nostril for the next two hours. Now, the last ten minutes of the Ida Ghari up through the first ten minutes of the Pingala Ghari is where the Susumna breath (both nostrils) occurs. This entire cycle continues for three days.

At sunrise on the fourth day, the first Ghari is in Pingala and alternates from there for three more days. Then, at the sunrise of the seventh day, it starts again, with Ida. Notice that the end of each three day period, the prana is in the same Ghari as it will be at the start of the next three day period. This all proceeds until the sunrise following the full moon. Here, the first Ghari is Pingala and continues as outlined until the sunrise after the new moon.

During each Ghari, the five tattwas are active in succeeding order; starting with Akasa for a period of twenty minutes each. The forder is as follws:


Each subtattwa comes into course for four minutes of the twenty minute cycle. Thus for Akasa it is as follows:

Akasa of Akasa
Vayu of Akasa
Tejas of Akasa
Apas of Akasa
Prithivi of Akasa
Timing the Gharis

Don’t despair that calculating which Ghari and Tattwa in course may be too complicated. Of course, you could create a chart using an ephemeris and calendar. However, a more interesting method does exist.

To determine which Tattwa is in course at the moment, place five small marbles, each painted with one of the five colors of the Tattwas, into a small pouch. Draw out the marbles blindly. This should be the same color as the Tattwa that is presently in course.

If that does not satisfy you, there is another method. Instead, close your eyes and wait to see a color in the darkness. The first color that you see should be the Tattwa in course. With practice, your sensitivity will increase. Then you can percieve the phsical effects of the Tattwa in operation. They are as follows:

Vayu A feeling of restlessness;
Tejas Warmth and energy;
Apas A cold phlegmatic sensation;
Prithivi Steadiness and solid strength;
Akasa is spirit and has no physical effects.

You can use your breath to determine your actions in any given situation. For example, for all activities demanding energy, these should be performed during the sun breath (Pingala) and the corresponding Tattwa. All activities of imagination or a receptive nature will prosper under the moon breath (Ida) and again, the appropriate Tattwa.

Mastering the Tattwas

Eventually, the serious student can forecast the future with the Tattwas. You can also learn to command nature with the visible world before your eyes. During the day, sit on an easy chair and fix your eyes on the sky with your mind withdrawn from all external things. At first, you will see the watery vapour in the atmosphere. Eventually, with practice over time, you will see different sorts of buildings in the air. This is the first success you are looking for.

After this, you will see different Tattwic colors in the sky. To test this, close your eyes and compare what you see in the sky to what you see when you close your eyes. (Refer to the Tattwa visualization exercise given above). When these both correspond, this is the second success that you are looking for.

During the night, wait till all is calm, rising about 2:00am. There is a special holiness in the stars at this hour and the sleeping world is in silent rapture. Wash your hands, feet, the crown of your head, and hte nape of your neck with cold water.

Assume your asana from your Yoga practice and meditate on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. Discover the Tattwa in course at this time. When that is discovered, vibrate the appropriate corresponding mantra. These are as follows:

Akasa HAM
Vayu VAM
Tejas PAM
Apas RAM
Prithivi LAM

When this third success is achieved, you will now have the tools to prevent and cure disease as you have achieved the proper regulation of the Swara of the body. This is an excellent command to hold over nature!

Divination with the Tattwas

To use the Tattwas for divination, you must first ask a question and determine which Tattwa is in course. If the Tattwa in course is Prithivi then the question should pertain to mundane affairs. If in Apas, then the question should be an emotional issue. If in Tejas, then gain or loss should be involved in the issue. And if it is Akasa, then the issue is not really that important. There is however, another more important issue in this event. And if it is in Vayu then the querent seeks knowledge that may require a journey to a distant place.

Next, determine which nostril the breath is flowing through and which fortnight of the moon is in course. Also determine whether the number of the day is odd or even and which direction it is that you are facing.

If the breath is in Ida, the following synchronicities must be met for the success of the question:

o Bright fortnight ‑ Waning moon
o The day is even numbered
o You must be facing East or North

If the breath is in Pingala, then the opposite synchronicites must be present:

o Dark fortnight Waxing moon
o The day is odd numbered
o You must be facing West or South

Any mixture of these shows mixed results in success of the matter and of course, the complete lack of any synchronicites assures failure. From here, trust your intuition to develop your perception of the matter at hand.