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Lesson 5: The Elements and Qualities

The elements are the basis of astrology as they are indeed to our life on Earth. Each of the signs is ruled by one of the four elements.

  • Fire: active, passionate, hot, rash, expressive (positive). Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
  • Earth: steadfast, practical, cautious, receptive (negative). Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
  • Air: intellectual, communicative, expressive (positive). Air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
  • Water: emotional, intuitive, responsive, receptive (negative). Water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

In addition, the signs can be divided into groups of three qualities, each quality having on sign from each element.

  • Cardinal: each in its own way acts, begins, initiates, leads. Cardinal signs are Aries (fire), Capricorn (earth), Libra (air) and Cancer (water).
  • Fixed: each in its own way remains unchanged, stable, determined. Fixed signs are Leo (fire), Taurus (earth), Aquarius (air) and Scorpio (water).
  • Mutable: each in its own way is adaptable, obliging but unreliable, and likely to be open to differing perspectives. Mutable signs are Sagittarius (fire), Virgo (earth), Gemini (air) and Pisces (water).

Understanding the element and quality of each sign gives us a great deal of insight into how the signs relate to each other. Imagine for example how Sagittarius (the mutable fire sign) would relate to Cancer (the cardinal water sign). Sag would likely experience Cancer as a bossy wet blanket while Cancer would find Sag over enthusiastic and unreliable. On the other hand, Taurus (the fixed earth sign) would likely enjoy Cancers nurturing and leadership qualities.

The keywords used in this brief outline give a far from complete insight into the way in which each element will manifest itself in an individual chart. Astrology is similar to the Tarot in that too literal a reading that relies heavily on conventional symbolic interpretations and keywords will blind the mind to the deeper meanings revealed by the soul. A clear understanding of principles is important however, and these should be expanded upon in the reader’s mind by intuition and research.

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