The Elements in Astrology
Astrology uses various ways to classify the zodiac signs. There are four elements in Western Astrology, and they are divided into groups of three signs each (four times three equals twelve signs): Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. The elements are also known as the Triplicities, and they represent personality tendencies. The Qualities represent modes of activity or expression.
The elements are building blocks of life or life-giving forces.
Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius share this element. Fire signs are spontaneous, reactive, and assertive.
With Fire, there is little in the way of reflection – fire is impulsive – and we have pride, passion, courage, creativity, and impulse. Fire is difficult to contain and is guided by spirit. Fire signs often take the lead and are idealists. These traits are associated with each of the Fire signs. Aries is an innovator, concerned more about the present and the future than the past, and is brave and enthusiastic. Aries initiates and spearheads. Leo, as a Fixed Fire sign, is passionate and loyal, making an excellent manager. Sagittarius is a Mutable Fire sign and is more adaptable and flexible than the other Fire signs, but also fiery and courageous. Sagittarius is often a spiritual leader.
Fire signs fall in the masculine or positively charged group of signs along with Air signs.
If you are a Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn, you are an Earth sign. The Earth signs are reliable, practical, and sensual.
Earth signs collect and build (most associated with Taurus), are practical and pragmatic (most associated with Virgo), and materialistic and cautious (most associated with Capricorn). Taurus builds, Virgo labors, and Capricorn manages. Earth signs are grounded in reality. They’re also sensual and very much attached to what they can physically see or touch. Earth signs are skilled at managing and using resources. Earth signs want to know what works and wants to see solid results for their efforts. Order helps Earth signs to feel in control and safe. They’re dependable.
Earth signs, along with Water signs, fall in the feminine, yin, or receptive/negatively-charged group of signs.
The Air Signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air signs are intellectual, detached, and fair-minded.
Air signs are humanitarian, intellectual, social, and communicative. While Air signs share the same element of Air, they each have a different modality: Gemini is Mutable Air, Libra is Cardinal Air, and Aquarius is Fixed Air. Gemini is considered the most adaptable of the Air signs, and takes on a or mental approach to life, expertly sorting, repatterning, and distributing ideas. Libra is the more action-oriented of the Air signs, and is excellent at comparing, weighing, and valuing ideas and principles. Aquarius is the steadiest and most stubborn of these three signs, and is expert at intuitively grasping the universality of ideas and principles.
Air signs, along with Fire signs, fall in the masculine, yang, or positively-charged sign group. A strong Mercury or Uranus will add extra weight to predominant Air in a chart. A person with predominant Air may need encouragement to express their emotions more freely.
The Water Signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water signs are fluid, emotional, and intuitive.
Water signs rely more on their senses than logic. They’re nurturing, perceptive, psychic, and understanding. Cancer is emotional, focused on home and family, and expert at nurturing. Scorpio is expert at understanding deep desires, motivations, and intimate connections. Pisces understands on a spiritual, universal level, and is especially compassionate and impressionable.
Water signs, along with Earth signs, belong to the feminine, yin, or receptive/negatively-charged group of signs. They are deep, often private, subjective, and led by their feelings or vibes on a situation more than anything else. They feel their way through a situation, filling in the blanks. Water signs seek the deeper meaning of things and can be more inclined to right-brain thinking. They’re healers.
The following table illustrates the triplicities and quadruplicities:
The Zodiac Signs by Element and Quality:
When analyzing a person’s chart, we don’t only consider the Sun sign’s element. More often than not, a natal chart includes a “count” of the elements of the major planets and points, typically the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. This can give us an idea of the possible dominant (often expressed as a preponderance) or weak elements in a given chart. For example, in our free chart section, you’ll find a table such as the following:
In the example above, the distribution of planets/points in the elements has a clearly dominant element: Earth. This is not always the case. It may also be more telling if we assign the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant, and perhaps Mercury, Venus, and Mars, a higher value than the outer planets since they are more personal points. In other words, if the Sun and Moon are of the Air element, for example, and nothing else is, the Air element would still be considered very strong since the Sun and Moon are so personal to the native.
Above is a legend of the signs showing their Elements (also known as Triplicities) and Qualities/Modes (also known as Quadruplicities). Keep in mind that each zodiac sign shares an element and quality (or mode) with other signs, but none share both an element and quality with another sign.
See also The Qualities/Modalities in Astrology.
See also Venus in the Elements.
Intermediate and advanced students of Astrology might enjoy our article, SoulMate Astrology.
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