In the beginning, and so in the end, are the Five Elements of Creation, and thus of Destruction. These Five Elements are Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. None of the Five should be confused with their more mundane manifestations upon the Planes of Men. The Five Elements are the ultimate archetypes from which all else is descended. We as mere mortals simply use the closest words in our vocabularies to describe these things which defy finite comprehension.
Thus when we speak of the Five Elements, we are truly speaking of a model, an interpretation of reality that allows us to comprehend things that are truly vast in proportion to ourselves. Therefore do not confuse Fire with that which cooks your food. While the fire which cooks your food is an Aspect of Fire, so is the lightning in the sky and the light of the sun as well as all forms of heat energy. All of these are Aspects of Fire. Fire is fast and direct and cuts directly to the point. Fire is the energy that drives creation, and conflagration that destroys.
Likewise when we speak of Water, we mean all things liquidic in nature, moving and mutable. Acid and water are both Aspects of Water, as is knowledge and truth. For when we speak of knowledge and truth, both are relative terms that are not absolute. Water is also calm and engulfing, Water surrounds all in a shifting embrace. Water provides balance to creation and destruction, it regulates and calms the energy of Fire.
Earth is steadfast; it is the ground beneath our feet and the minerals in our bodies. Earth is that from which living creatures spring. Earth is hard and immobile, slow to change yet eternally loyal. Earth is iron and Earth is rock. It is the foundation upon which creation stands.
Air is ephemeral, it cannot be touched, it is both the life giving gas that allows us to live, and it is the suffocating smoke that chokes us. All forms of gases are Aspects of Air, as is the absence of gas, vacuum. Air is transient and fleeting. It may perceived one moment and not the next. Like clouds that are its Aspect, Air can appear to be many things. Air sweeps through with reckless abandon, like the wind it can be an element of destruction.
Spirit is the Element of Life. Spirit is the essence of life, it is that which provides sentience and that which directs the creation and oversees the destruction of the universe. Do not confuse the spirits of the Planes of men with Spirit, nor any bodiless such beings. While Spirit is akin to the energy of life, the life force, it is not Alive in itself. Only through interactions with other things may true life come. This may seem like a contradiction, Spirit is Life, but it is not Alive, and perhaps it is. Spirit in itself is a contradiction and perhaps the least understood Element. For Spirit brings life, and while the other elements may destroy the physical form of living creatures, only Spirit may truly destroy Spirit.
The Five Elements of Creation are in eternal conflict and eternal balance. As on the Planes of Men, Fire and Water are in opposition, as are Earth and Air. Spirit is in opposition to itself. However, this is not the only conflict, Water and Earth are also in opposition, although to a lesser extent as are Fire and Air. Fire and Earth however, tend to be in conjunction most of the time, as are Air and Water. Spirit is not directly in opposition to any but itself, and in fact it is the conjunction of Spirit, Fire, Earth, Air and Water that creates material life.
The Elements while in eternal opposition also come together in balance. It is the balance of the Elements that forms the Planes of Men. Only on the Planes of Men do you see all the Elements working together (and occasionally warring together). From the union comes life. From the union comes Man.
The eternal conflict between the Elements produces frictional energy. This energy is called Mana. Mana is what is left when two or more Elements collide. Paradoxically, Mana is also that which holds the Elements together. It is like a sticky resin, produced by damage, yet which provides healing and joining together. This Mana may be used to manipulate the elements, to summon or banish them, to combine them in union and to force them to destruction.
As Mana is produced by the conflict of the Elements in Opposition, so Animus is produced by the Elements in Union. As Spirit combines the other Elements in life and union, Animus, the Energy of Life is formed. Animus feeds upon the Mana generated by the interaction of the Elements, Spirit directs its growth and the other Elements provide its form.
Normally Animus, the Life Force, or Life Energy, is housed with vessels of the Elements. This is because, as with most unions, Animus is fragile. However, under some circumstances, Animus may be housed with vessels of pure energy, or Mana. Mana can be used to protect and shield Animus, even as physical matter normally protects it. The primal manifestation of Animus are the gods. The gods are the archetypes of life, the patterns of Elemental design that shape creation. The process of Creation began with the gods and as the gods were created, some say by themselves, the creation of the Planes of Existence were dictated and driven by the gods. The gods oversaw creation, as they were the first of its children.
The gods first created servants: these were the angels and later came the demons who were Angels that rebelled against the gods. Gods, angels and demons are all beings of nearly pure Animus and Mana, able to don and shed Elemental (and material) forms at will. The shear levels of Animus and Mana in the gods, angels and demons are what give them their ability to link with matter. They achieve with sheer force that which lesser beings must do through finesse
The gods and their servants created the planes and populated them with beings. Early on these beings were crudely linked to matter, large amounts of Mana were required to sustain them. These beings were the Fey races, or the Sidhe. At this time the Fey races included not only sentient beings, but Fey animals and Fey plant life as well.
Later as creation evolved, and the gods became more experienced and wise in the ways of creation, the union of Animus and Matter was perfected. A finer intermingling requiring little mana for maintenance was achieved. The beings were known as the Mundane Races and the Mundane World was born. This is the world of humankind and the natural world of today.