Water. Earth. Fire. Air. This isn’t just an opening phrase to a fantasy book or movie. It is also a very important foundation to modern astrology. Zodiac element meanings vary, and they influence each sign – and person – greatly.
You may know there are 12 signs of the zodiac, but do you know the element of each sign? There are four elements: fire, earth, air, and water, or three signs per each element – this is called a triplicity by modern astrologers.
The first of the four traditional elements is fire, and you don’t need to be an astrologer to guess what it means. Ancient astrologers linked fire with the vital force of creation – think of the original fireball: the Big Bang.
Fire generates heat in the form of excitement, activity, and desire. People born under these dynamic, extroverted signs are vigorous and volatile, enterprising and courageous. They’re also restless and impatient, with a ready supply of creativity and vision. However, they have trouble accepting limits, which makes them prone to burnout. In the cycle of the zodiac, every element has its function. Earth offers stability. Air communicates. Water imparts emotion. But only Fire can provide the initial burst of creative energy that sets the world in motion.
The fire signs, which are known for their energy and drive, include the following:
- Aries the Ram (March 20 to April 18), the sign of cardinal fire. It’s impulsive, daring and gifted at setting things in motion.
- Leo the Lion (July 23 to August 22), the sign of fixed fire. It’s vibrant, confident, and brimming with determination.
- Sagittarius the Archer (November 22 to December 21), the sign of mutable fire. It’s independent, adventurous, and spontaneous.
Even though these signs differ in many ways, they share the life-affirming vitality that fire brings.
Just as the Universe burst into existence with the fireball of the Big Bang, the cycle of the zodiac lifts off with a blast of fire. Fire creates heat, light, and movement. But what’s the point of all that combustion if it leads to nothing?
Without earth, fire would burn itself out like a spray of fireworks against the night sky. Earth signs ground the energy of fire by turning sizzle into something tangible. They are stable, sensible, productive, persistent, and materialistic – not necessarily in a bad way.
Unlike less realistic signs, earth signs understand and respect material things, including money. They’re also sensuous, responsive human beings who love the physical world. Fire sends off sparks, no question. Air talks up a storm. And no one understands the impact of emotion like water. But if you want to actually get something done, look to Earth. The earth signs, recognized for their productivity and pragmatic approach to life, include the following:
- Taurus the Bull (April 19 to May 20), the sign of fixed earth. Taurus is known for its persistence, its longing for security, and – in case you thought that earth signs are only about practicality – its love of pleasure.
- Virgo the Virgin (August 23 to September 22), the sign of mutable earth. Virgo is famed for its analytical mind, its attention to detail, and its tendency to be a perfectionist.
- Capricorn the Sea Goat (December 22 to January 19), the sign of cardinal fire. The Goat is resourceful, conscientious, and ambitious.
These signs share a desire to make a tangible contribution.
Air represents intelligence and reason. It’s the element of the intellect, and those born under its influence are known for their ability to connect the dots.
Air signs are bright, curious, versatile, and intellectually restless. Their minds are always active, always searching for understanding. Crazy as it may sound, natives of those signs actually think about signs, and they try to do it objectively and in depth.
They value ideas and revel in conversation. Despite their reputation for sometimes being a little too objective and detached, they’re also very social, linking friends, relatives, and random strangers into networks of relationships. By long astrological tradition, each of the four elements has been assigned to the three signs of the zodiac.
The air signs, which are legendary for their mental prowess, include the following:
- Gemini the Twins (May 21 to June 20), the sign of mutable air. Gemini is known for its curious, lively mind, sparkling personality and capricious ways.
- Libra the Scales (September 23 to October 22), the sign of cardinal air. Libra is recognized for its balanced intellect, sense of fairness, great sensitivity, as well as for the importance it places on partnership.
- Aquarius the Water Bearer (January 20 to February 18), the sign of fixed air. Aquarius is celebrated for its forward-looking ideas, unique and often eccentric interests, and free-spirited personality.
Air signs share a desire to make connections and to communicate.
Water represents emotion, and those born under its influence tend to be flooded with sentiments. Profoundly sensitive, they’re vulnerable and active, first responders on the most human front of all.
They’re also hugely intuitive and occasionally psychic. They include:
- Cancer the Crab (June 21 to July 22), the sign of cardinal water. Cancer is famed for its emotional acuity, sympathetic nature, and love of home.
- Scorpio the Scorpio (October 23 to November 21), the sign of fixed water. Scorpio is recognized for its intensity, magnetism, and ability to burrow deep, both psychologically and intellectually.
- Pisces the Fish (February 19 to March 19), the sign of mutable water. Ruled by elusive Neptune, Pisces is compassionate, impressionable, gentle, and imaginative.
The water signs share an emotional sensitivity and a well-developed sense of intuition.