Mastering The Elements In Astrology
The Elements in Astrology are a brilliant basic building block with which to construct your knowledge of astrology.
Fire, Earth, Air and Water – Which is your dominant astrological element? Which is your least assertive? The insights gleaned from this are invaluable. A small example from my chart: I am a triple Pisces – Water – but i have Mercury (my talk style) in Aries (Fire) so i often sound like an Aries and my self-expression is super Fire BUT at core level, I am Water and thus intuitive, solitude craving and not so pugnacious as my sometimes brash transmission might suggest.
Getting a grip on the elemental make-up of yourself and of others gives you a winning edge. You’ll understand that your super-Earth relative meditates everything via gut instinct and needs to sit with things (think “tree”) or put down roots before accepting something. Whereas Fire? You CAN talk them into something with dazzling repartee. Water needs to feel there is a simpatico emotional rapport for trusting you – Air would flip and fly the other way at such evidence of sogginess.
Many people have an even sprinkling of all – but many of us are heavily weighted toward one or two elements. The old-fashioned “compatibility” theories are based on the Elements in Astrology – fellow elemental types are all thought to get along together. Aries with Leo and Sagittarius as they are all Fire signs and so on.
The Astrological Elements are just like they sound: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.
The Elements are known as the triplicities as there are three signs in each. They divide the zodiac into four groups of three based on the 120 degree trine, one of each modality, all the same polarity. It that’s confusing, don’t Panic. Just read on.
The Four Elements In Astrology
Fire represents pure energy and inspiration. They are the fastest conductors. Fire tends to be the most naturally active, giving and receiving energy freely. A person with the Sun in pragmatic Taurus who has fiery Aries rising will have quicker and more immediate energy than if the Ascendant were in the earthy Capricorn. With a strong emphasis of Fire, physical activity is important. All that conducted energy needs to move and forms of expression that are playful and challenging suit best: Sports, competitions, adventure walks, biking, martial arts and creative pursuits like dance, music (especially drumming) and active theatre.
The next most conductive element is the mental and relationship oriented Air signs. These are intellectual signs, and although they conduct life force quickly, they can also dissipate it equally as fast through the release of nervous energy. The mind can wear the body out if time is not given to physical activities that burn up the adrenaline. Strong Air in the chart can fuel the vital force through disciplines that contain a component of intrigue, philosophy or historical tradition. They need physical activities that also stretch the intellect: field study and research of all kinds, martial arts, acting, horseback riding, hunting, ballet, games of strategy or Olympic sports fit the criteria.
Next in line of conductivity come the sensitive and feeling Water. Here energy conducts unpredictably. (Consider what happens when a live wire falls into a stream!) This element can diffuse though (osmosis), and energy levels may be up and down, like the ebb and flow of the tides. Water also takes on the energy of the immediate environment, always seeking the lowest common denominator, mirroring the joy or sorrow, health or dysfunction of those around them. Activities that support water’s conduction of the vital force include anything that awakens the feelings and capture the imagination: Music, poetry, dance, artistic pursuits, relationships, water sports of all kind, surfing, sailing, swimming, skiing, snow boarding, scuba diving, and activities done in emotionally clear and non-manipulative environments.
The pragmatic and solid Earth are the ‘resistors’. They ground energy as opposed to conduct it. Those born with strong Earth emphasis can be slower to develop in childhood, but strengthen as they mature (esp Virgo and Capricorn). Diet is important here, as it can be hard, at first, to assimilate nutrition. The vital force will increase naturally with time and may be supported and fuelled by encouraging earthy activities like gardening, pottery, sculpting and building (arts and crafts). The pursuit of a martial art or yoga can teach those with Earth rising how to animate and conduct chi energy. They may find they act as an essential grounding force for those around them, especially the versatile air and the exuberant fire signs.
Feed Your Elements
By nurturing the basic energy drives of the elements, you can help improve and sustain good health and connection to your core values. Astrologer/author Stephen Arroyo said, “Everyone has to feed themselves at the air, fire, earth and water levels.” A predominance of Fire needs activity and exhilaration. Earth wants to ground energy in practical ways. Air wants a diet of mental stimulation and Water needs a pool of feelings to immerse in. Feeding yourself at this level is vital to well being.
1) Explore your elemental emphasis, adding up what you have with the 10 planets, and seeing which one predominates. You may want to include the Ascendant too. If it’s a tie, let the sun and/or moon tip the scales.
2) Find your chart tone by adding up the Elements and Modalities. Take the highest of each and find the one sign your combo represents – ie abundance of AIR with abundance Fixed signs = fixed Air or Aquarius. If you have mostly Fire and Cardinal, your chart tone is Aries.
To find the chart tone, count up the modalities (cardinal, fixed and mutable). Doing this by hand, in your note book, will give you more practice writing the glyphs, which helps you connect with their symbolic meaning.
Create a graph and write in all ten planets, putting them in the correct column and row for the element and modality they fall into. You’ll have a list that looks something like this:
Add up your top scores (4 Fire and 5 Fixed in this case) and note which sign is that element and modality, ie Fixed Fire = Leo. We say Leo is her chart tone, even though she has no natal planets in that sign.
Sometimes the Chart Tone is a different element or modality to the Sun sign. It can actually explain a lot!
Generally speaking, if you are – say – super Earth or all Air element, you will be comfortable with your dominant element but the area you’re lacking in could be where you are insecure or just not interested. But when one of your personal planets progresses into that element, things tend to come into your life (synchronicity) that help you to master that element. You can also draw in people strong in that element who help you to awaken and balance your own elemental vibe!
Think also a la how the old healers and early medicinal people thought of people as having four “humours” or temperaments, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Jung’s classification of people into “cognitive” types – Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition. These all link into the four astrological elements of Fire, Air, Earth and Water. The Minor Arcana of the Tarot is all totally elemental – Wands are Fire, Pentacles Earth, Swords Air and Cups Water. I sometimes wonder if the reason Swords get such a bad rap in Tarot is because thinking/talking/writing (Air) was dangerous in medieval times.
FYI: there is a FIFTH element – Quintessence – and in Chinese Astrology/Feng Shui/Medicine, there are five elements: Earth, Wood, Fire, Water and Metal.
* Planetary placements in the chart aren’t always fully realized in the individual, but can often be seen in characters they play, write or cheer for, people they relate to or even events they attract.
Image: Peter Goodfellow