Astrology and The Four Elements
by Charlie Higgins

     Empedocles, a fifth century BCE Greek philosopher, originated the terms Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. He explained the nature of the universe as an interaction of two opposing principles called love and strife manipulating the four elements. He stated that these four elements were all equal, of the same age, that each rules its own province, and each posseses its own individual character. Different mixtures of these elements produced the different natures of things.

     Most philosophers and alchemists also believed that the four elements exhibited itself in man as four varying natures and that one was more prevalent in each individual than the other three. An individual leaned more to one particular type rather than possessing equivalent amounts of all four. Empedocles said that those who have near equal proportions of the four elements are more intelligent and have the most exact perceptions.

     Astrology uses the elemental sign of an individual as one of it's delineation tools. I rememeber when I first started studying Astrology one of the first things I encountered was the Elemental Signs - and that was it...maybe every now and then some article would list a few keywords but no explanations. I got a general idea of the meaning of the Elements but never found any author who explained them in depth. Later, when I had a more solid grasp of Astrology I wondered why the Elemental signs were just mentioned and then set aside. I often wondered if the Astrologer felt they were too basic or they just didn't understand their relative importance. I soon found out that it wasn't that they were unimportant but that other delineations were more important than mere elemental signs. Elemental signs are basic. They are general or generic in their nature therefore only contirbuted to a basic generalization such as the Sun sign. You were either a Fire, Earth, Air or Water sign...and you had generic qualities associated with that element...too general were most attitudes. " Need to get to the planet' positions and aspects so we can see the person in depth"... Don't get me wrong, I am as guilty as the next since I have studied the subject. But, one of the first things I explain to those I read for is their Elemental Sign. This may be tempered by other factors but it is still a basic quality that can not be just mentioned and set aside. Once you know your elemental sign you will know your basic nature. Tempering of the person's nature begins at this point. The Sun, Moon, Rising Sign, Planet's Positions, Aspects, Transits, etc., temper this very basic natue.

     An elemental sign is determined from a person's Astrological natal chart. It is the elemental quality of the sign the Sun resides in at the moment of birth. If you are an Aries by birth then your elemental sign is Fire. If you are a Cancer then your elemental sign is Water.

FIRE EARTH AIR WATER
Cardinal Aries Capricorn Libra Cancer
Fixed Leo Taurus Aquarius Scorpio
Mutable Saggittarius Virgo Gemini Pisces

     Some of the qualities associated with the elemental signs are listed below.

FIRE EARTH AIR WATER
Righteousness Propriety Knowledge Benevolence
Warriors Merchants Priests Servants
Spiritual Physical Mental Emotional
Goal Oriented Sensory Self Apraisal Other People
Deceit Fraud Trickery Falsehood
Leader Provider Seer Server
Ego Senses Intellect Mind
Fortitude Prudence Justice Temperance

     The key to understanding the above qualities is to look at the specific differences between each elemental sign. The keywords are listed according to philosophical definitions. The first line, going across the page, lists each elemental sign's keyword for the Four Virtues.

Righteousness Propriety Knowledge Benevolence

     The Fire signs exhibit righteousness. These people conform to the standard of moral law. They do what is right and are known for their sense of fair play. They are truthful, straight-forward, just, upright and virtuous in their dealings with other men.

     The Earth signs show propriety. They are conventional, proper and fitting. They follow what is socially acceptable in conduct, behavior and speech. They have excellent manners and are very polite. They are prudent and have a deep regard for conventional rules of behavior.

     The Air signs possess the virtue of knowledge. This does not mean they are more intelligent than anyone else but are generally well rounded and informed. They are good communicators. Most have a good grasp of the language and generally know a little something about everything. They have good personalities and are easy to get to know.

     The Water signs exhibit benevolence. These type people are charitable, have a kindly disposition and promote goodwill. They are concerned with the welfare of others. Where other people are concerned they are kind, generous and philanthropic. They seldom harbor hostility. They derive pleasure from doing good deeds.

     The next set of keywords shows the four cores (Individualities) of man.

Warriors Merchants Seers Servers

     The Fire signs are the true warriors. They demonstrate courage, fortitude, zeal and pugnacity. They have the mental and moral strength that enables them to venture into unknown waters and to persevere and withstand danger. They seldom show fear and are confident in their actions. They have mettle, resolution, and tenacity. They can face danger or difficulty without flinching or retreating. They will fight for their principles and have a stubborn persistence that is unwilling to recognize defeat. They have grit, back bone, guts, and are willing to keep fighting under all odds. They are aggressive and thrive on challenge.

     The Earth signs by nature are merchants. They are the storekeepers, barterers and traders. They are at their best when buying or selling material or tangible commodities. Most are very business oriented.

     The Air signs are what the philosophers called seers or priests. These are mentally inclined people. They actively acquire knowledge through experience, education and association. In ancient times, the only educated people were either priests, royalty or those who took it upon themselves to acquire knowledge (seers). The Air signs are curious, have initiative, are original, generally are well-disciplined and are quick thinkers.

     The philosophers called the Water signs servers. People under this sign are cooperative, companionable, hospitable and socialable. They are true humanitarians and are concerned with the welfare of other people. They are called servants or servers because of their unselfishness and sincere devotion to the welfare of humanity. They unconditionally come to the aid of the sick and the unfortunate just as they would for one of their own family, and most often ask nothing in return.     

The next set of keywords shows the natures of man.

Spiritual Physical Mental Emotional

     The Fire signs are of a spiritual nature. They have a nature that gives them physical energy, strength and vital powers. Their essential characteristic qualities are liveliness, energy, ardor, enthusiasm, courage and action. They have a firm, courageous and assertive disposition which is their most characteristic qualitiy.

     The Earth signs have a physical nature. They have a characteristic love for the material, tangible things. They derive pleasure from sensory stimulation such as taste, smell and feel. They surround themselves with tangible items such as fine furniture, art, jewelry and most have a nice home that is expertly decorated. They have good taste in clothing and most are connoisseurs of food and drink.

     The Air signs have a mental nature and are keen witted. They rationalize by thinking things out rather than being influenced by emotional or physical factors. They enjoy any type of entertainment where they can use their intellectual capacity and their ability to think quickly and accurately often gives them the upper hand.

     The Water signs have an emotional nature. They have strong feelings and sensibilities. They tend to make decisions based on their emotions rather than by reason. Although they are emotional in nature, they do not outwardly express it. Their feelings are hurt easily but they tend to not let it show.

     Each person has a different emotional direction. The emotional nature of a person is determined in part by the Moon's location in the natal chart, but just as important the emotional nature of a person can readily be seen by the elemental sign.

     There are four basic types of emotions.

Goal Orientied Sensory Stimulation Self Appraisal Other People

     The emotional nature of the Fire sign is goal oriented. These people like to win or be the best in anything they pursue. Their aggressive nature makes them just one big ego. There is nothing more stimulating to them than to win, and there is nothing more depressing to their ego than to lose. They strive to be the center of attention and are at home when showing-off.

     The Earth signs' emotions are aroused by sensory stimulation. Each of the five senses can produce an emotional response. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste brings joy or depression. Nice surroundings, good music, the feel of quality materials, the smell and taste of good foods and financial security are the conditions required for an emotionally happy Earth sign.

     The emotional nature of the Air signs is directed toward self appraisal. These people have a tendency to judge themselves very harshly. They have certain standards they set for themselves such as hygiene, the way they dress, education, job performance and family. The Air signs are almost as ego-oriented as the Fire signs.

     The Water signs' emotions are directed toward other people. They are deeply concerned about the welfare of their friends and family. They also care about what other people think and say about them. An insensitive remark from someone can hurt their feelings deeply, although they may not show it. They give of themselves and their material possessions freely to help a less-advantaged person gain confidence and stature. They will go all out where close friends or family is concerned. It is not easy to make friends with a water sign because they are skeptical and naturally shy. They will be generous and kind to a certain point, but when you gain their confidence you will have an all-weather friend who will stand by you through your struggles.

     The next set of keywords shows the four evils of man. Man's treatment of other men is not without its faults. Each individual, when angered or mistreated in some fashion, exhibits one of these four evils more predominantly than the other three.

Deceit Fraud Trickery Falsehood

     Deceit is one of the faults of the Fire signs. They are determined, spiteful and revengeful. When angered, they will go to almost any extreme necessary to get revenge, and that revenge will more often be at the moment of the anger. When they're mad they want everyone around them to be mad. They are spiteful and will deliberately and openly do things which irritate someone to the point of anger. They are very short-tempered and anger easily. They are straight-forward and have no reservations about hurting the feelings of others, and they are prone to inflict physical pain as well as mental pain. Just as the main virtue of this sign is being just and right, its main fault is deceit.

     The Earth signs are normally not prone to physical violence, but as in any situation, there are exceptions. They are mildly revengeful. Their attitude is 'my time will come and they do hold a grudge. They will eventually get their revenge one way or another more often by hitting a person in his pocketbook. When angered, Earth signs, similar to the Fire and Air signs, are quick to express that anger verbally though most likely not physically unless as a last resort.

     Air signs resort to trickery. These people are crafty, under handed and ingenious when it comes to evil. They are also prone to physical violence. Whereas the Fire signs' anger is generally of the moment and soon after forgotten, the Air signs at their worst are mean. They carry a grudge, and like Fire signs, they are quick to express their opinion and are very opinionated. Aquarius and Libra are not as violent as Gemini. Gemini and mind altering drugs such as alcohol just do not mix. The Air signs will not hesitate one moment to express their anger verbally, but physical violence is not a first choice during that anger (the exception being Gemini who will act in an instant).

     The Water sign's fault is being untruthful. They will suppress the truth by words, writing and conduct to do damage to another. This is not spite. This is their non-violent way of getting their revenge. Milder cases include stretching the truth a little, not exactly untrue but not the real truth. Water signs are emotional people and tend to get carried away in the heat of a situation. These people are not prone to physical violence normally, but being of an emotional nature and having the tendency to let things build up inside them, they can become extremely abusive. The exception is the sign Scorpio. Scorpios are self-confident, intelligent, and strong-willed....they will tell it like it is - whether you like it or not makes no difference to them. They will resort to caustic verbal and often times physical violence in an instant. Scorpio, by ancient definition, was previously ruled by Mars as is Aries, and that Mars quality in present in both, both are prone to physical violence when angered.

     As you can see, just from the knowledge of the elemental sign of an individual you can get a good idea of his virtues, evils, nature, and emotions. Once you know the qualities of the elemental sign of a person, you can then fine tune these qualities by other means.


Copyright 1997-2014 Charlie Higgins

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