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The Four Elements in Astrology

Fire, Air, Earth, and Water; the Triplicities

Fire, Air, Earth, and Water, the four elements, sometimes called the Triplicities, play an important part in astrology. The term triplicities comes from the fact that there are three signs associated with each of the four elements.

Here are the signs divided by element

Fire.....Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
Earth.....Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air.....Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water....Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

What do the elements mean?

When these elements are translated as personality traits or temperament, they become important features of the delineation. Here are brief readings of each of the four elements and delineations of a situation when one's chart contains two of the elements having similar strength. For the few who have a balance in elements, the concepts of elements should be considered balanced.  That is they tend to reflect common sense (earth), action orientation (fire), thinking and communication skills (air), and the ability to feel and intuitively know (water) in reasonable proportion and don't rely overly on any of these traits at the expense of another.

Just as it is important to observe the element that is strongest in the chart, it is also important to note the element, if any, that is not significantly represented in the horoscope. A reading, that may be appropriate when such an absence is noted, is also provided below.

Many astrologers consider the element of each of the planets when determining which of the elements may be more significant in a horoscope. My method for evaluating the strength of an element in a birth chart is to assign a value of 4 to the element associated with the Sun; the Moon element is assigned a value of 3; Mercury, Venus, and Mars sign elements are assigned a value of 2 each, and Jupiter and Saturn each have a value of 1. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are disregarded because their element is more societal affecting large groups of individuals born during a period. Using this approach, if as many as 8 points are concentrated in one element, it is considered a preponderance in that element.

The Elements in Your Chart

 Fire  Fire/Earth  Fire/Air  Fire/Water  no Fire
 Earth  Earth/Air  Earth/Water  no Earth  Air
 Air/Water  no Air  Water  no Water  

A Preponderance of the FIRE element

A preponderance of Fire signs planets exemplify high spirits, great faith in self, enthusiasm, and direct honesty. Your fire sign nature projects a radiant, vitalizing energy that seems to glow with warmth and exuberance. You need a good deal of freedom to express yourself naturally, and you will usually display a fairly unrelenting insistence on your own point of view. You put all of yourself in whatever you do. You are intensely assertive, individualistic, active and self-expressive. Fire sign energies stimulate people who are more lethargic, but often your energies overpower or exhaust the more retiring or more sensitive type. Good natured and fun-loving, you have many friends and you are generous with your time, energy, and resources. You place a far greater value on having a good time than on material possessions. For all the natural generosity displayed by the fire signs, they are also famous for the big egos they frequently demonstrate. You may believe so strongly in your own powers and abilities that you overlook and frequently fail to take advantage of the talents and abilities of others. You try to do it all yourself and don't delegate well. Despite this damaging flaw in your managerial ability, you belong to a group that is the most daring and capable inspiring in a management sense; the natural leaders. In battle, sports or business, it is usually the fire signs out front leading the charge. You are the type of leader that is very independent and individualistic, rarely consulting with others for advice. You are constantly out front or "on stage" and you need to be recognized and admired for your attainment and accomplishments. Appreciation is more important than money in your estimation. Nothing hurts more than being ignored. The fire sign sense of honesty is straightforward and often child-like. Thus, you believe everyone is, like yourself, an open book. You may be somewhat gullible and naive.

Fire and Earth type

When the elements of Fire and Earth combine, the result is potentially powerful and creative. Fire provides action and Earth looks for tangible results. The Earth elements give sustaining power to the drive from self-expression symbolized by the Fire elements. The rapid-fire inspirations of Fire are grounded by the Earth so that energies can be conserved and focused. A problem with this combination is a degree of insensitivity that is usually present. When moving toward a goal there is little concern for anything or anyone that gets in your way. You may need to cultivate attention to ideals and your own inner life. In any event, the key words for the elements in your chart are steadiness, reliability, and productivity.

Fire and Air Type

With the planets in your chart concentrated in Fire and Air you are idealistic, aspiring, and positive-thinking. You have the best of intentions and motives, but your approach to life may not be completely realistic. You have the ability to put your ideas into action, but you may neglect your emotional and material or physical needs. You probably have a keen sense of humor and a very effective way with words. At its best this is a very creative combination. The problem is getting things done as you are a person that is not well grounded in the persistent traits normally required to see the job through to completion. As full of ideas and enthusiasm as you are, energies may be scattered, and you must realize that you can't just pour out your energies unreservedly without simultaneously tuning in on your deeper resources if you're to avoid a state of constant depletion.

Fire and Water Type

The heavy emphasis on Fire and Water elements in your chart would indicate a general tendency to express everything emotionally, excitedly, and rather impulsively. There is often a lack of logical, systematic thought and procedure, with a resulting restlessness and subjective bias. This combination has intensity, emotional extremes, and surprising sensitivity to what others think of them. You are a "whole-hogger," having a marked lack of self-restraint. You may experience big swings in moods. You function in a high-pressure state, and you do best when being challenged.

Fire Absence

The limited presence of the Fire element in your horoscope may suggest the need to experience life more actively. It may benefit you to become more vital, for you may lack the passion and spark that the fire signs afford. This doesn't mean that you don't enjoy life, but merely that you don't seem to know how to insert yourself into the action; pleasure, thrills and glory will be slow coming your way. Your pleasures are apt to be more subtle and sensitive, without the dramatics and flash. Although this void does not guarantee an introvert, you are not likely to be the extrovert. You lack the dare-devil courage of the fire signs, and this includes the utter self-confidence these signs bestow. Because of this, you may like to stand back and let the other person make the first move in an encounter. If anything, you underestimate your abilities and worth. You like to test the water before you jump in, and the fire of competition can hold you back sometimes. By underrating your abilities, you are apt to often end up assisting others whose talents are less than your own, but whose reflection drive and desire is greater. Actually, you don't like having the spotlight on you, and you may prefer such a subordinate role. Self-expression, both emotional and creative, may be difficult for you. In some cases, a person lacking fire in their chart may try to force self-expression and many of the more aggressive fire sign traits in order to compensate for the lack of these traits. Characteristic of this would be the less than talented, over-achiever in a sport who attains a modest level of skill and the ability to win through extreme hard work and long years of perseverance.

A Preponderance of the EARTH element

The heavy concentration of the Earth element in your horoscope suggests that you are cautious, premeditative, conventional, and dependable. You are the type of person who lives by a practical, common sense code; stable, and concerned with physical well-being rather than spiritual attainment. You are quite responsible, if a bit rigid, methodical and detail-conscious. The term "down to earth" may suit you quite well. It might be said that you are one of those people who is very well adjusted to life on this planet. A concern for the physical or material world makes you very much the realist. You are an organizer, a builder, and a hard-worker. The earth sign traits provide you with the skills and attitude necessary to succeed readily in the world of business. So pragmatic, you don't often gamble or take unnecessary chances. You understand the reality of a situation and you understand value, both in a material and in a human sense. Your approach to people is much the same as your approach to life. You are reliable and steadfast. You are predictable and you don't like surprises. Dependability, diligence and a pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to life are your greatest strengths. Lack of ideas or imagination, dullness, rigid conservatism, extreme materialism, and blind adherence to rules and regulations are your potential faults.

Earth and Air Type

The heavy concentration of the combination of Earth and Air in your horoscope can indicate an alternating pull between the abstract-conceptual and the more mundane practical-efficiency orientations. Properly focused, this blending allows combining intellectual and conceptual awareness with a practical sense of harmony and concrete objectives. In other words, you are a thinker and you possess some common sense; a good combination. There is a fairly dry, detached sort of logic that allows you to deal with a volume of facts or figures without getting overwhelmed with the detail. Stress never bothers you much. Emotionalism is never a problem either.

Earth and Water Type

A lot of earth and water often produces persons displaying much depth, seriousness, and a strong sense of self-protectiveness in all activities. You are apt to be a hard worker, for earth/water types don't seem to be happy unless they have some burden, either emotionally or in everyday work. These placements are very conscious of survival needs, and other issues of security, and others' reliance on their solidity and resources. Therefore, much of your energy is used in an effort to maintain or obtain resources, and there is great attachment to money, possessions, job, children, and other security factors. You have endurance and an ability to survive through any calamity. Your attachment to security and to rather traditional values is often manifested in a strong adherence to family, home, and community responsibility. The negative side of earth/water types is becoming too attached to the past and rather fearful of the present and the future. Positive thinking and forming ideals may be your challenge.

Earth Absence

The limited presence of the Earth element in your horoscope suggests that you may have some difficulties dealing with practical and mundane issues; in fact it may be said that you are not really at home on the planet Earth. You may seem to be somehow lost in space and unable to get your feet on the ground. Because of this you may reject responsibility and have trouble getting organized and following through on a task. There frequently is shown a childish inability to handle mundane tasks, and you may be one of those people who needs help to accomplish the simplest fix-up chore. Material matter and money may be secondary concerns, and you may not be particularly interested earthly possessions and material gain. Sometimes persons with an absence of Earth compensate by expressing a compulsive trait toward neatness and detail, and a forced concern for organization. More often, the absence of earth signs means good old fashioned common sense may not be your strong suit.

A Preponderance of the AIR element

The preponderance of Air signs suggest a strong emphasis on thought, ideas and intellectual pursuits of one sort or another. There is a detachment and a sense of objectivity associated with such a heavy influence in the element of Air. Air signs communicate and express ideas with mental agility. Your Air signs may not, however, always get the job done, and you need to be sure ideas are grounded in reality and put to practical use. You are probably more concerned with theory than with application. Often, individuals having a heavy amounts of Air signs become the impractical dreamers, constantly thinking, but not always following through as well as others. Rational and logical, you analyze situations fully, thinking them through and planning carefully before you act. While you may ponder and vacillate, you rarely make foolish mistakes. Detached and not overly emotional, you are almost always objective and fair-minded. You are people-oriented, but more inclined toward the group than the individual. Your interests are varied, and you're apt to be a life-long student.

Air and Water Type

Although you often feel pulled between intellectual and emotional orientations of life, heavy doses of Air and Water elements can make you very much attuned to both realms of experience. Neither the abstract nor the feeling-intuitive world is alien to you, and you are thus able to develop a mode of operation that encompasses both types of perception. This results in your being able to give depth to your ideas and in your ability to gain detachment and perspective on feelings and deeper yearnings. You are physically and psychologically sensitive; a dreamer, an escapist, perhaps a little fantasy-prone. You have an amazingly fertile imagination and specialized skills for dealing with people. You know how to tune in to people, and communicate concisely.

Air Absence

The limited amount of the Air element in your horoscope suggests a need to learn adaptability and the use of the mental functions in a creative manner. You don't emphasize mental activity in your daily life. This is not to say that you aren't intelligent, but just that you don't place a lot of value on the world of ideas and education's for education sake. Often, a shortage of Air signs signifies an inability to communicate effectively or clearly; you may be somewhat enigmatic and obscure. Sometimes there is a self-consciousness associated with such circumstances, and you may over-compensate by working hard to improve such inclinations. You probably don't enjoy learning unless what you're studying has an immediate and tangible end. A strength of the air-weak chart is generally the enhanced ability to communicate emotionally, physically or psychically. It may be hard for you to stand back, and clearly view an issue in an objective manner. Thus, there is a tendency to have some trouble in the task of planning ahead.  You may find yourself wasting a lot of energy on this account. You must make a special effort to communicate clearly and plan very carefully or your advancement will come only through costly trial and error.

A Preponderance of the WATER element

A heavy emphasis of Water element signs puts you closely in touch with your feelings, and in tune with the nuances and subtleties in your environment that others won't even notice. You approach life and understand it through your emotions, and you're really at your best when you "play your hunches." You don't intellectualize about things; you respond exactly how you feel. Water sign people are very attuned to their feelings. An intense sensitivity permits you to experience the heights of emotional bliss, but it can also take you to the depth of despair. Close emotional relationships are essential to your well-being and happiness. Superficial affairs are few, and less than satisfying. Romantic, sentimental, and affectionate, there must be a stable and secure bond between you and your partner. When you are happily situated in such a bond, you can be a very nurturing type. You can be "smothering" toward your children, and very possessive of your mate. You are not one who can subscribe to the code "live and let live." You communicate best in non-verbal ways; emotionally, psychically, or through forms as art, dance, music, poetry and photography. You have a natural feel and sense for the arts. You're apt to let the heart rule the head. Highly impractical and impressionable, you sometimes use bad judgment for you are unable to be objective and evaluate situations impersonally. You may change your mind as often as your moods change, but rarely do the facts sway your beliefs.

Water Absence

The absence or limitation of Water signs in your horoscope suggests that you may have difficulty understanding the deeper meanings of events and circumstances. Indeed, you may be a little lacking in emotional intensity. This is not to say that you have no feelings, but it does mean that your emotions are not easily engaged and they really don't run deep. You aren't so apt to form those extremely close friendships and relationships, and you may even feel smothered and threatened by strong emotional demands of others. You recover quickly from emotional bumps and scrapes, never letting your disappointments get you down. Depression is never apt to be a problem. Many of the aspects of not having water signs are positive, but on the negative side, you must guard against becoming rather callous and cold, detached and unfeeling. Intuitive skills are not readily available to those with few planets in Water signs. In your view this does not matter so much, because you don't trust intuitive knowledge anyway.
© Michael McClain 1996, 2012.  Permission is granted for unlimited noncommercial use.  All other rights reserved.

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