When looking over a natal astrology chart, it is easy to become overwhelmed and confused by the amount of information that it provides. One way of quickly gaining immediately useful information from your astrology chart is to look at the elements. The elements in western astrology are based upon Greek philosophy and divided into four basic energies. These four energies are represented by earth, water, fire and air. Astrologically, our birth chart signifies affinities with these energies and helps us to see the ways that we tend to become out of balance in our relationship with the world.
The planets are divided into the following elements: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are fire signs. Earth is associated with Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. The Air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Finally, the water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
Earth is an energy which contracts and solidifies. Earth people are practical and cautious, they have an energy which moves slowly, and is solid and reliable. They are steady and work on a project for the long term. When balanced, earth is even, reliable, tempered, and appropriately cautious. When earth is out of balance it is stubborn, dull, and has difficulty adapting. It does not see other people’s views and is resistant to change. Earth signs find balance by working on a positive and upbeat temperament and contemplating joy. In this way, they avoid getting bogged down by the weight they inherently carry.
Water is an energy that is fluid, intuitive, and emotional. Those with a lot of water in the chart are intuitive by nature; they have a deep connection to subconscious movements of life. Water people are at their best when relying upon their intuition and hunches. They are capable of intuiting the subtle nuances of life on a very deep level of which most people are unaware. Emotionally, they are empathetic and understanding. Out of balance, they are emotional to the point of being incapacitated or overly sensitive so that offense is taken when none is meant. To maintain balance water needs structure and routine as a way of staying on course while they are awash in the subtleties of the emotional plane. Contemplating the equanimity of all emotions can help a water sign keep perspective.
Fire as an energy is expanding, hot, quick and initiative. Fire signs are full of energy and must express and use that energy. In a positive light fire embodies high spirits, great faith in self, enthusiasm, and direct honesty. They need to go and do, and will engage in activity until they completely exhaust themselves and everyone around them. And that is where they get into trouble. Out of balance, fire signs destroy themselves and everyone around them with their overwhelming energy. Learning how to be calm and steady in their activity, how to pace their efforts so that they do not burn out, brings balance and longevity to those with an abundance of fire. Contemplating loving kindness will help the fire energy not burn others out.
Air is a dispersing energy, mental in nature, very rapid in its process and quickly changing course. An air sign has a flighty theoretical nature. Air signs are great at thinking; they are detached, cool, and really able to logically examine ideas all the way through. They may not be action people who are the nuts and bolts of doing, but they sure can tell you how to do it. Air signs are very good at planning and developing ideas, but out of balance become overly anxious and suffer from nervousness. Commitment and consistency of action provide the ground that balances out an air sign. Compassion is a key ingredient for air signs to mix into their life so that they stay connected on a heart level in their relations.
How does looking at this help us with understanding how to live a more balanced life? In general, people will have a mix of these basic elements in their birth charts. To begin with consider the element of your sun sign, as the sun represents our vital expression as a soul embodied in this realm. The sun will fall into a sign that is associated with one of these four elements. If it falls into an earth sign, then practicing cheerfulness and generosity of spirit helps balance one’s energy. In a water sign, then having structure and firmness, to guide one’s fluid emotions and intuitions helps provide balance. Fire signs need to cultivate kindness, calmness, tranquility, so that their energy can be doled out in a conscious manner, to keep the fire from burning out too quickly. The air element is benefited through practicing consistency and thoroughness, bringing stability and steadiness to spirit.
Naturally we are composed of the four elements in our very bodies. Fire is the heat of the body, water is the blood and fluids that animate our body, earth are the bones and muscles that are the body’s basic solidity and air is the element which animates the body. Take away any of these elements and the body ceases. A good astrologer can very clearly speak to how our birth chart indicates both our neurosis and our wisdom based just on the ways that the four elements are distributed within the chart. We can also see the potential diseases of the body and mind inherent in our birth chart. If you wish to learn more about this within your own chart, reading Stephen Arroyo’s excellent book, “Astrology and the Four Elements,” is one good place to start.
Copyright, Dorje L. Kirsten, 2008