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A Deeper Look Into the Four Elements

Approx. Reading time: About 5 Minutes


Empedocles, a Greek philosopher, scientist, and healer who lived in Sicily in the fifth century B.C., believed that all matter comprises the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Fire and air are outwardly reaching elements, reaching up and out, whereas earth and water turn inward and downward.

The Four Elements also describe the four unique personality types associated with the zodiac signs. The elements exhibit profound influence on essential character traits, behavior, emotions, thinking, and intuition. They are reflected in our relationships, our ambitions or lack thereof, and the unexpected turns and twists that add spice to our lives.

Astrology aims to help us to better focus our energies, gain a better understanding of our positive traits, and deal with the negative ones. We can use this knowledge to realize our full potential and live our best life. We all need air to breathe, water to cleanse us and sustain our growth, fire to shelter us from the cold and nourish us, earth to live on together with all the living things, and to grow our food. All the elements are equally important and below is a more in-depth description of each.


Astrology: Taurus, Capricorn, Virgo

Tarot: Pentacles

Jung: Sensation

Feel the Earth under our feet, the soil that sustains all forms of life. Look at the power and beauty of the mountains, a symbol of stability and solidity of the earth. Every day we experience the physical world, we walk on this earth, enjoy the beauty and bounty of Mother Earth and feel the comfort of being on solid ground.

Associated with the signs Taurus, Capricorn, and Virgo, Earth represents the practical, realistic material side of our nature, it seeks to assert a stable, secure, and structured environment in which we can function. Feel the earth under your feet, solid and steady as you walk slowly. Earth is patient and reliable. It is solid and strong. To be on solid ground encourages one to seek the practical and most logical answer to a problem.

Earth can be a stabilizing force in a relationship contributing structure and organization to achieve balance and harmony. Earth sustains growth- watch plant life grows, from an acorn grows an oak tree; so do humans grow from youth to maturity, and realize the immense growth in every facet of life. The overexpression of this element can be seen in a stubborn and rigid personality, one that strives to remain in the comfort zone in life, afraid to take risks. It can also be seen by a love of the material side of life, the comforts of material well-being. Material worth can be overemphasized and this can lead to a stressful worrisome situation.

Weakness: attachment, stinginess, materialism, resistant to change, too much attention to detail, and missing the big picture.


Astrology: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Tarot: Swords

Jung: Thinking

The element Air is associated with the signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. It seeks to establish itself in the realm of the intellect. It is through the process of thinking that we develop ideas. It is through the influence of this element that we learn to communicate. Through air, we gain and share knowledge.

Air contributes inventiveness, originality, and versatility to the personality. It gives that feeling of freedom, and unattachment, it reaches out to the mental self. Enjoy that refreshing gentle breeze, allow thoughts to flow freely, and nourish the creative moment. Air expresses the love of people, the ability to intellectualize, to appreciate the differences in people, and accept different perspectives without which, there would be a lack of vision and human interaction.

Thoughts are a continual force in our lives. It is associated with meditation where deep breathing is essential to reach that level of stillness, energy, and relaxation. Air is used for transport, flying, and sailing. Let your thoughts soar to reach your intellectual pursuits. An over-expression of air’s influence can be seen as living in a dream world with unrealistic goals and flights of fancy. Air should seek to maintain practicality and develop consistency in dealing with the real world.

Weakness: lack of emotion, depression, lack of connection with the higher self, and an overactive mind that blocks inner peace and harmony.


Astrology: Leo, Sagittarius, Aries

Tarot: Wands

Jung: Intuition

The signs Leo, Sagittarius, and Aries are associated with the element Fire. It represents the life force glowing within us. This element projects self-expression, creativity, courage, and enthusiasm. Feel the comforting warmth of a fire, or heat when you come in from the cold.

We need fire to meet the basic need of cooking our food. Fire provides a sense of security, warmth, and inspiration that is shared with those around. Fire strengthens self-confidence to tackle problems without hesitation. Without fire, there is no radiance, no conviction, no expression. A spark can light up new ideas, and serve as a beacon to light the way to achieve goals with conviction and enthusiasm.

An over-expression of fire can turn assertiveness into aggression, daring into reckless behavior, and so forth. When fire’s influence is out of control, it seeks to consume all in its path.

Weakness: lack of interest, egotistic, excessive self-centeredness, self-importance.


Astrology: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Tarot: Cups

Jung: Feelings/Emotion

The element Water is associated with the signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces and influences the conscience and the subconscious forces that act on our lives.

The essence of water pours forth to others. It allows one to feel their pain and suffering and offer sincere compassion. Psychic awareness is also present in the water signs and shows itself from time to time with uncanny accuracy. Water seeks to heal and nurture those around it.

Uncontrolled, this element can send emotions on a turbulent path resulting in moodiness and unpredictable highs and lows, like the crest and trough of a wave.

Water signs need serenity and calmness, like a gently flowing river nurturing all in its wake and at the same time leading to the discovery of new paths. When overexpressed, one may tend to be overly emotional, deeply sensitive, and subjective. With too much emotion, depression may result.

Weakness: being too protective and possessive of their loved ones; a cold attitude and lack of drive may arise.

Completing the Circle

We all benefit from knowledge. Most of us share the ambition to learn, understand, and grow. Understanding our impact on the elements, and the elements’ effects on us are important. We breathe the air, are cooled by the breeze, and have crafted machines to generate energy from the winds. Water makes up about 71% of the Earth and about 60% of the human body. We use fire to protect ourselves, to warm us, and to guide us. Earth is beneath our feet, grounds us, and gives us land, which let us survive and grow.

All these elements are important and powerful and work together with us, so we may live.


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