|The E-Mail Astrologer, copyright Sherrie Nist, 2011
|As Above, So Below
The Structure of a Chart: Elements
by Sherrie Nist
Fire, earth, air, and water: before you even get to the individual signs, there
are elements to consider. Every sign is one of these 4 elements. Fire signs are
Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Air signs
are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
What does this mean?
Signs of the same element have commonalities in their basic natures. That is
why, when you read something about relationship compatibility, water signs will be
deemed compatible with other water signs, and so on (see last month’s column for
a discussion of the common element theory of compatibility). The element groups
are also known as the triplicities
Keep in mind that your predominate element is not only determined by your
Sun sign, although very often it IS the same. It is derived from the synthesis of all
the planets’ sign placements. Every planet is assigned a point value, with the Sun
and Moon being the strongest.
Fire is the most action-oriented element. This sounds primarily physical, but
although fire people ARE energetic and action oriented, there is fire in the soul as
well. Fire is idealistic, courageous, impulsive, self-assertive, inspiring to others,
visionary and creative.
As always, there are 2 sides to every coin. The possible downsides to fire are
being self-absorbed, egotistical, pushy, and fanatical. Fire’s impulsiveness can get
it into trouble. Fire people can easily burn themselves out if they aren’t careful. A
lack of fire in the birth chart can correspond to having little energy and low self-
Each of the fire signs manifests the fire principle slightly differently. Aries is
the most impulsive. Because Aries is the “baby” of the zodiac, it is instinctively
attracted to new experiences, often abandoning them when the next thing comes
along. Aries is great at beginning projects, but they are sometimes lousy at
Leo has the strongest leadership ability of the fire signs. Leo energy inspires
people with it’s visionary ideas and creativity. Leo people take that lion as king of
the jungle archetype seriously. They are the most egotistical of the fire signs.
Sagittarius is the most idealistic. It’s fiery nature often manifests as a passion for
religious and philosophical ideas, and will ardently espouse their belief system to
anyone who will listen. Sagittarius is the most likely candidate to be a religious
Earth signs are the most practical and grounded. They are cautious and
financially capable. Anything that contributes to their sense of security is
important. Earth accumulates material possessions; it is “value oriented”. This
refers to ALL kinds of values, not just physical objects of value. Earth is also very
in touch with the senses.
Negative manifestations of the earth element are possessiveness, not being
able to let go (an extreme example is stalkers) and greed. Earth can be so practical
that they neglect the other areas of life.
The individual earth signs each act out these qualities in their own way.
Taurus is the most possessive, and the most likely to hoard material goods. They
are collectors; they like to SEE their wealth all around them.
Virgo’s practical nature is service oriented. They frequently have jobs in the
health care field. Virgo is also obsessed with detail; the term obsessive-
compulsive is often used to describe someone with a Virgo overload in their birth
chart. ‘Anal retentive’ is another popular description for too much Virgo.
Capricorn is the overachiever of the zodiac. It is career and business
oriented, and often occupies positions of authority and prestige. Capricorn plays
by the rules, climbs to the top, wins the prize.
Air energy is mental energy. The most important aspects of life for air people
are ideas and communication. Air is intelligent, quick witted, alert, highly verbal,
versatile, and detached. Too much air in a chart can be overly intellectual, unable
to manifest ideas in any kind of practical terms. NO air in the chart, and they
probably don’t HAVE any ideas. An abundance of air, coupled with very little water
can correlate to an inability to relate to others on an emotional level.
Gemini is the “airiest” of the air signs. Sometimes they flit from one
idea/activity to the next so fast it’s difficult to keep up with them, especially for
people with a lot of earth. They have a highly developed ability to understand a
wide range of things and communicate their ideas. Gemini’s are natural teachers,
and extremely versatile.
Libra is the most social of the air signs. They apply their mental processes to
learning through relationships. They have great potential for co-dependency.
Aquarius is the humanitarian of the air triplicity, and the one most likely to see the
“big picture.” They apply their ideas to the larger social sphere, society in general,
as opposed to Libra, which does the one on one thing. Aquarius is also the most
original thinker of the air signs.
Water signs are emotional. They are DEEP, sensitive, intuitive, nurturing,
compassionate, and changeable. Too much water produces hypersensitivity,
moodiness, and depression. Lack of water in a birth chart can correlate to a
person who is insensitive, unemotional, and unresponsive.
The watery nature takes different forms in the 3 water signs. Cancer is the
most nurturing. Home and family leads the priority list. Cancer takes care of
everything. The other side to this is smothering.
Scorpios exhibit the most control over their emotions (and over other people).
Nothing puts a Scorpio in a bad mood faster than losing control of a situation.
Fortunately, they rarely do. Every struggle with Scorpio is a power struggle.
Pisces is definitly the “wateriest”. The phrase “go with the flow” describes
Pisces energy to a T. Pisces water flows all over the place; it is water that is NOT
contained. Pisces is the most extreme, the most psychic, the most spiritual, and/or
the most mentally ill. And you don’t have to pick one; all of these attributes can be
These elements apply to more than your sun sign. Every planet is somewhere
in your chart, associated with one of the 4 elements. Ideally, a nice balance of all 4
elements in the birth chart is the easiest set up for an individual to work with. It is
possible to be perfectly balanced, but more often a clear front runner will