Paul writes, “When we were children we were slaves to the elemental spirits (stoichea) of the universe: (Galatians 4:3). O’Donovan comments, “These elemental spirits are actually identified with the law given by the hand of angels on Mt. Sinai, and yet at the same time they are the beings which by nature are not gods, to which even the formerly Gentile pagans were in bondage (4:8-9)! How can Paul so daringly associate the revealed morality of the Old Testament faith with the superstitious idolatry of paganism? Because the order of creation, whether in a pure or impure form, can encounter us only as a threat” (RMO, 22).
We see from this that the stoichea can be at least two different things: reverting back to the ceremonial law code and living under the pagan world order, ordered by times and seasons. Per the latter, in Galatians Paul appears to link living under the old order, including the elemental spirits, with observing the boundary markers of the old order (days and seasons)
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Paul writes elsewhere in Col. 2
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,[d] puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations