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The Four Elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water

As recently as a few hundred years ago, Western scientists considered the whole earth to be made of just four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Even though modern science has taken a different turn, the symbolism still works. We can still turn to the four elements to make sense of the world and appreciate the different ways that people experience life.

The astrological signs belonging to each element appear in triangular groupings in the Zodiac. This is the basis of the trine aspect. Planets in the same element “speak the same language” and are able to work easily with each other.

The Fire element

The fire signs are AriesLeo, Sagittarius

Fire symbolizes passion, energy, impulse, enthusiasm, inspiration, idealism, and faith. Fire signs are the leaders and the cheerleaders of the zodiac. They provide us with inspiration, motivation and creative energy.

  • A person with 2-4 planets in fire in her chart is enthusiastic, motivated, and idealistic. Fire signs can also be insecure, egocentric and impractical.
  • Someone with 5 or more planets in fire appears deceptively quiet and shy until she feels safe enough to open up.
  • 0-1 planets in fire describe a person with a lower energy level who seeks out others to inspire or motivate her. When a chart has a low fire count, the person tends to feel more than they express.

The Earth element

The earth signs are TaurusVirgoCapricorn.

The earth element represents practicality, stability, materialism, and realism. Practical and dependable, earth signs provide the resources necessary for the functions of life. There is usually a deep affinity with nature. Earth signs are the builders of long-lasting structures.

  • Someone with 2-4 planets in earth signs is resourceful and possesses talent in dealing with reality and material things– such as money, business, or crafts.
  • A person with 5 or more planets in earth signs can get so stuck in the material realm that they miss the deeper meanings.
  • A person with 0-1 planets in earth signs often does not have to worry over finances. Bill Gates, for example. Although they do tend to be impractical and out of touch with their bodies.

The Air element

The air signs are GeminiLibraAquarius

Air symbolizes mental processes. Language, intellect, reason, human communication, and social relationships all belong to the airy realm. Air signs come up with the ideas that make things happen.

  • A chart with 2-4 planets in air signs represents a very intelligent person with many ideas to share. He may lack grounding and try to do too many things at once.
  • If the chart has 5 or more planets in air signs, the native may be stuck in her thoughts and disconnected from what is happening around her.
  • People with 0-1 planets in air typically have no problem with the intellectual side of life and often hold advanced degrees.

The water element

Water signs are CancerScorpioPisces

The water element symbolizes emotion, psychism, mysticism, and intuition.
Water signs are the most sensitive of all. They are the “feelers,” nurturers, caretakers.

  • A person with 2-4 planets in water is a very sensitive and emotional person. He will have strong intuition and even psychic abilities.
  • A person with 5 or more planets in water signs is so sensitive that she holds back, and may appear detached or aloof.
  • A chart with 0-1 planets in water does not mean the person has no feelings! In fact, they are quite intuitive, even if sometimes they are out of touch with the feeling realm. When a chart is low in water, the person may express emotions more strongly than they feel them.

Each sign corresponds to one element (fire, earth, air, or water) and a quality, a.k.a. mode. The 3 modes are cardinal, fixed, and mutable.

Knowing the element and mode for each sign will make it much easier for you to find aspects between the planets.

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