Since the warring Elemental Tribes were brought from the darkness and given the power to bend once more, there have been benders. Always. This fact is not disputable. Bending and the elements that we bend have been part of our lives in the Four, now Seven, Nations of this World.
They have caused wars, division, prejudices, but also--especially in recent years--peace, cooperation, and new understandings.
In my fourty-three years on this Earth, and my nearly two decades as Fire Lord, I have learned much about the many elements of the World, and the people who bend them. It seems, to me, that people who bend certain elements seem to take on certain aspects of that element, doubly so for dual-element wielders.
On The Seven Elements
Perhaps, first of all, it is prudent to start with an examination of the elements in question, and how they effect one another.
Initially, it was thought that there were only Four Elements. Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Now, modern scholars agree that there are at least Nine.
However, I believe there are in fact, Seven Elements. Mind, Spirit and Nature Bending, I believe, are all branched from the same element: Being. Each sub-section of bending is not it's own element, but a sub-element of the whole. Each deals with a different aspect of the self; of a person or being.
The other elements remain the same: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Light and Dark. We know that Being Bending, or at least it's sub-branch, Spirit, was around before all other bending forms.
Eventually, Spirit Branched into Light and Dark, which later branched into Air and Water, and Fire and Earth respectively.
Each element, from Being, to Light and Dark, to the Four basic Elements, form the building blocks of all life, and none can exist without the other. They are in harmony, in balance, and a lack of balance can be devastating to the world.
- The Elemental Tree:
To bend elements, in most cases Benders utilize their Chi, a physical manifestation of innate, life energy. Spiritual Energy, when manifested into a living being, becomes Chi, regardless of what element you bend. The Chi influences the element one wishes to bend, asserting dominance over the natural chi and spiritual energy of the element.
A wise monk, Chiriku, once stated that the elements are innately weak, and easily molded, which is how they are so easily bent by creatures as feeble as humans. This is demonstrated further by the corruption of the ancient being, Magmaros and his Elemental Dragon companions.
- The Three Sub-Elements of Being:
Primarily, we have the three way dead-lock. Nature, Spirit and Mind Bending working together in harmony. They are like a three part yin and yang, overlapping but never mixing truly. They are bound but separate.
If one delves deeper, you find Light and Dark. The eternal forces that are always constant, that exist in everything in this Earth. In people, in creatures, in night and day. Light and Darkness are not necessarily Good or Evil, they just are. They are opposite, but much like the sub-elements of Being, they are bound but separate.
- The Dichotomy of Light and Darkness:
Much more like the traditional yin and yang dichotomy. You cannot have Dark without Light nor Light within Dark. My father once said: "From Light comes Darkness, and from Darkness comes Light."
Delve deeper still, and you get into the true elements, the building blocks of all life and the original bending elements. Fire, Water, Earth and Air. These elements interact in a harmonious circle of balance and equality. As shown below, every element has a Strong-Weak relationship with two other elements.
- The Strong-Weak Relationships:
On Elemental Duality and Human Nature
Perhaps, if you have ever met many benders of another element, you tend to notice certain traits that seem to be innate and shared among all benders of that particular element.
One would not be wrong to assume that this is true. Through scholarly research, and much delving into the Royal Archives of both the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom, I have come to understand that each element, has a duality about it. A positive trait, and a negative trait.
As with life itself, the elements are balanced. Both with good and bad about them. The same is said about the people that bend the elements.
The elemental traits are as follows:FirePositive Trait:
Fire Benders are a proud people. They carry a unique burden of being both creators and destroyers. Fire can give warmth, and life, but it can also destroy, and kill. Similarly, Fire Benders are strong and passionate, as lovers, friends, and anything else. Industrious and outgoing, Fire Benders do not like to be outdone, and as such are incredibly competitive. Unfortunately, that passion can often go to far, and become fury, and rage. Uncontrolled and angry, Fire Benders are a danger to all and should not be taken lightly. A Fire Bender must seek balance between Passion and Fury.WaterPositive Trait:
Water Benders can be as tranquil and relaxed as the water and waves they bend. Water Benders are known to be adaptable, yet hardy, and are famous for their "Go with the flow" attitude. This tranquil, adaptable nature often means Water Benders can be indecisiveness at best. Their nature is to adapt to what comes, and prepare for anything, but it does not apply to making decisions, especially tough ones. It is not easy for a Water Bender to balance Tranquility and responsible decision making without feeling like they are giving up a part of themselves.EarthPositive Trait:
Earth is a hardy element by nature. It is rarely easy to move a large rock, let alone a mountain. Earth Benders are oft the same. Immovable like a mountain, Earth Benders stand against all adversity and nay-Sayers to prove themselves and stand their ground. Much like Fire Benders, an Earth Bender's stability makes them both a shoulder to learn on and a highly competitive force to be reckoned with. It is not easy to make an Earth Bender submit or give up once they've put their mind to something. Yet sometimes this natural hardiness can become stubbornness. Like the rocks they bend, Earth Benders can be incredibly thick headed, traditional, rigid, and above all, stubborn and impossible. Earth Benders should strive for balance, and learning to remain resolute and sturdy, but flexible enough that they may be occasionally "bent" like the rocks they throw.AirPositive Trait:
Air Benders have a natural aversion to open conflict and violence. This has made them incredibly cunning individuals in and out of a fight. Air Benders are famous for their cut-and-run maneouvers, and their ability to settle a fight without harming or touching their opponent. Quick-witted, Air Benders make great jesters, and are naturally funny and fun to be around. Being one with the wind, and able to fly, either by Bison or Glider, Air Benders have a natural unity with Freedom that is unmatched by any other element. Unfortunately, whether the highly monastic lifestyle, ridicule from other benders, isolationism, too much freedom, high altitudes, or a little of everything, Air Benders are perhaps more susceptible than most to madness. A mad Air Bender is incredibly dangerous, as they retain their cunning, but gain a ridiculous unpredictability while losing their natural respect for non-violence, white makes fighting them a series of unpleasant and often very painful surprises.LightPositive Trait:
Light Benders are perhaps the only other element that can heal other than Water Bender. A balanced element, Light Benders can not only heal, but create solar-based lasers and defensive solar flares to harm or blind their opponent respectively. Most Light Benders are, by nature, innately kind and caring individuals, with incredibly high levels of compassion and emotional intelligence. The problem with being as kind and innocent as they are, is that they can be, and usually are, very gullible. An unfortunate side-effect because of how kind they are, it is something most Light Benders aren't aware of, and don't always learn from. As a Light Bender, it is best to be a tad skeptical of things and people, and be wary of your innate nature.DarkPositive Trait:
Dark Benders are known for being able to utilize the shadows and darkness and shape them into different solid forms. Usually weapons or shields. Because of this, Dark Bending takes an unusual amount of effort, concentration, and Chi. Because of this, Dark Benders innately crave a natural efficiency in not only bending, but all things. A Dark Bender's drive for efficiency can make them appear cold and calculating, and while they can be, they are not without humanity. Above all, Dark Bender's despite wasted effort, or too much effort. They are reserved, and rarely play all of their cards unless it is a matter of life or death. If this means living to fight another day, then so be it. This cunning efficiency, unfortunately, can make Dark Benders ruthless. Everything and everyone becomes a means to an end, and the world, and life, become one big game of shogi or chess, where everyone is a player or a pawn. A Dark Bender must make sure to maintain his humanity and compassion. Dark Benders are encouraged to not be so solitary, as is their nature, and make friends, or fall in love. Caring for others will prevent a Dark Bender from seeing everyone as a stepping stone.SpiritPositive Trait:
Spirit Benders, while rare, and incredibly brave people. Exceptionally so. Their mind is usually on balance, and everyone involved in a situation. They will always fight for justice and what is right, for Spirits and for Humans. One only has to look at the Dawn Crusade and its Paladins to see this is true. Nature Benders and Mind Benders usually fall under this classification as well. Despite their unmatched bravery, or perhaps because of it, most Spirit Benders do not know fear, and thus have poor judgement when it comes to leaping into dangerous situations. Without a natural sense of fear or danger, Spirit Benders will leap into a fight without any care for themselves or self preservation. While they make great shields, and will defend those they love to the death--in fact almost always to the death--Spirit Bender should strive to understand that if they die, they will not be able to achieve their sole desire--balance, peace and the love of fighting to defend both.