Understanding Astrology Terms: the Elements
If you’re new to astrology, an understanding of the elements can help you begin to apply the zodiac toward understanding the people in your life. Rather than trying to learn all 12 zodiac signs at once, it is much easier for most beginning students of astrology to divide the zodiac into four fire signs (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius); four earth signs (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn); four air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and four water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). All four elements have both positive and negative qualities; it is possible to have either too much or too little of any of the four.
People with a strong fire emphasis on their natal charts usually have abundant natural energy and confidence. They find it easy to assert themselves and tend to bring optimism and enthusiasm to any project they undertake. They love to socialize. People with too heavy an emphasis on fire on their charts may seem egotistical and overbearing, or impatient with those who are more introverted. On the other hand, people who have no planets in fire may lack motivation, having a hard time setting and completing goals.
You will know you’re dealing with someone whose natal sun is in fire if the person’s birthday takes place March 21-April 19 (Aries); July 23-August 22 (Leo); or November 22-December 21 (Sagittarius).
Someone whose natal chart has many planets—particularly the sun and/or moon—in earth tend to be very pragmatic. They approach new projects methodically. They tend to prefer stability and schedules to risk. This can make them very reliable both as employees and as friends. However, too heavy an emphasis on earth in an individual’s chart may result in someone with a tendency to be overly conservative and a social stick-in-the-mud. Too little earth can mean an individual who is completely impractical in their approach to life and who lacks stability.
The placement of the sun in earth is a strong indicator of earth energy, although there may be other mitigating factors. People born April 20-May 20 (Taurus); August 23-September 22 (Virgo); and December 22-January 19 (Capricorn) will have a tendency to be fairly earthy.
Air signs love to think and communicate. Their universe is composed of words and ideas as opposed to the drama of fire, the materiality of earth or the emotions of water. They prefer to look at life in a detached and objective manner. With too much air in someone’s chart, the individual may become lost in analyzing a situation and fail to take action. They can also have a tendency to put everything, even other people’s emotions under a microscope. People who lack air in their charts may have a difficult time communicating with others.
The sun is in air during these times: May 21-June 21 (Gemini); September 23-October 22 (Libra); and January 20-February 18 (Aquarius). Any of your friends with birthdays during these periods will probably exhibit air traits, although if the Ascendant and the other personal planets (astrologers refer to not only the sun but also the moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars as personal planets) in their charts are in another element, they may have air mixed with another element.
Water signs tend to be strongly influenced by their emotions. However, it is important to remember that water is the most changeable of the elements, capable of freezing or evaporating as well as boiling. The emotionality of some water signs is more readily apparent, while it may take a while to notice that someone is ruled by their frozen feelings. You can usually recognize a water sign by the fact that they have a strong emotional need to trust anyone whom they consider important in their lives. Like water, people with an emphasis on this element in their charts, may take on the shape and color of their environments. On the positive side, this can make them very empathic. However, some of them may also be easily led. A lack of water in someone’s chart usually means a person for who cannot understand the world of emotions, including their own as well as other people’s feelings.
Anyone you know with a birthday falling from June 22-July 22 (Cancer) October 23-November 21 (Scorpio) or February 19-March 20 (Pisces) has their natal sun in a water sign.