As you work through this post, count up the number of planets in each of the element groupings (earth, air, fire, water signs) in your birth chart. Look up your totals below– because the earth air fire water signs all mean something different, depending on how many are present in your birth chart.
As recently as a few hundred years ago, Western scientists considered the whole earth to be made of just these four elements. Modern science has taken a different turn. Now we have the periodic table with 100+ elements. But the old symbolism still works. We can still use the four elements to make sense of the world. We can read the balance of earth, air, fire, and water signs to appreciate the ways that different people experience life and express themselves.
The fire element in astrology symbolizes those traits and concepts that spark, spread, and energize like fire. You know a fire sign by their passion, enthusiasm, and energy. Fire represents the animating spirit behind impulse, enthusiasm, inspiration, idealism, and faith. Fire signs are the leaders and the cheerleaders of the zodiac. They show up with a great deal of creative energy that motivates, inspires, and radiates. But they have to be aware of a destructive side to these traits. Fire can light up the room– but also burn down the house if it’s out of balance.
The earth element represents those traits that ground us and get us through the material world. You’ll know the earth signs by their practicality, stability, materialism, and realism. Dutiful and dependable, earth signs are the ones that show up with what you need. They are naturally tuned to finances, the five senses, and the resources necessary for survival and comfort. There is usually a deep affinity with nature, especially plants.
The air element symbolizes traits and concepts that get us by in the social world. Air signs “live in their minds.” You know them by their intellect and ideas. Air signs enjoy words and language, figuring out complex problems and puzzles. Air signs excel in the realm of communication: language, logic, reason, communication, and socializing.
The water element symbolizes those traits and mysteries that bind us together. Water signs are ruled by their emotions and are often extremely intuitive. They are the “feelers,” nurturers, and caretakers. They tend to be interested in mysticism and intuition. They are empathic by nature, attuned to the unspoken and often unconscious emotions around them. This ability to “read the room” can be a great asset in their personal life as well as their professional life.
Each sign belongs to one of the four elements (fire, earth, air, water signs).
Each sign also belongs to one of the three modes (cardinal, fixed, mutable signs).
Knowing the element and mode for each sign makes finding aspects between the planets much easier.
The Zodiac signs belonging to each element appear in triangular groupings on the wheel. These triangular groupings form the basis of the trine aspect. Trines show us where life is easy because planets in the same element “speak the same language.” They help and support one another, and they work easily together.
The easiest way is to go by your horoscope sign, based on your birthday. Your element is the one that your horoscope sign falls under. That makes you an earth, air, fire, or water sign.
In reality, most people have more than one element represented when you consider more factors from their birth chart. The elements of your Moon sign and Ascendant sign speak to other important facets of your personality.
The symbol for Aquarius is the water bearer. But Aquarius is an air sign. Why is that?
Water represents emotions, the unconscious. The water bearer contains the emotions outside of himself. Aquarius observes the water.
Aquarius lives in the human, intellectual, logical realm of the air signs. Unless strong water sign placements suggest otherwise, you won’t typically find Aquarius swimming in the unconscious water sign realm like a Pisces fish or a Cancer crab or reacting from animal survival mode like a Scorpion.