Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements
Astrology divides up the 12 signs into four elements – Fire, Earth, Air and Water. Each of the elements contains three signs and they are also referred to as the triplicities. According to the Kabbalah, the universe is divided, each into four ideal worlds, or planes of existence corresponding to the four elements. The four elements are known in psychological astrology as the ‘four functions’ which govern the human psyche. Each element has a specific way of manifesting energy. All of this means that there are four ways of understanding the world, and four ways of perceiving life and they embody the concept of wholeness. In fact, it is believed that we have two selves one self wants to merge with others and things (Water and Earth) and one that seeks creative independence and freedom (Air and Fire). The elements as described by Dane Rudyhar in Person Centered Astrology as a need to fill our inner-most potentials along the fourfold path of sensation, feeling, thought and intuition,
The ancient Greeks divided people into the four temperaments of sanguine (air), choleric (fire), phlegmatic (water), and melancholy (earth). Beyond psychology’s knack for typing people into groups, it was actually astrology that first put into play the idea of temperaments and that we each resonate strongly to one particular element. Consequently, anything which implies that we can be grouped, like Jung’s typology or any other piece of empiric psychological observation, is maligned as being a rigid structure which does not allow for any individual differences. This is not at all the case; the very fact that we share common ground with another segment of humanity, based on certain similarities in psychological constitution, allows us that much more scope for the creative expression of our own unique potential as individuals. Moreover, no map is the country. Jung’s typology, like any other, is merely a pointer which affords us a glimpse of those basic patterns of perception, evaluation and response which we draw from the same collective source. Relating: An Astrological Guide to Living With Others on a Small Planet
The elements in astrology correspond to the basic temperament or the “psychological makeup” of an individual. When a planet is in one of the elements (Fire, Earth, Air, and Water) the planet will express itself through that element. We form ourselves through EARTH, and we find our vitality, optimism, and aliveness through FIRE. The element of AIR represents how we socialize and ‘circulate’ and communicate. The emotional and spiritual connection to life is symbolized by WATER, and is symbolic of how we can nourish and heal our souls from within. No person is ‘wholly’ one element we are all a mixture of the different elements. We will view the world from our own unique elemental makeup contained within the natal chart. The element of FIRE is ‘intuitive’; it symbolizes the initial spark of inspiration, creativity, and future vision. While EARTH rules the ‘senses’, and concerns itself with maintaining and organizing the material aspects of life. AIR is the ‘thinking’ element, it can logically analyse information and develop a theoretical understanding. The WATER element dominates ‘feeling’ and is the nurturing and caring component in life; it also refers to the spiritual aspect of living.
The fire signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius respond to life in active, outgoing, confident, spontaneous, energetic, and enthusiastic ways. A joy for life! Fire signs inspire others with optimism, they are also artists, and it can be the actor or the creative person. Thales believes fire to be eternal and as such could be identified with ideas and a deity, creator of the world. Fire is direct, honest, warm, and self-interested. The element is volatile and unpredictable, embodying the strength of purpose or meaning in life and often repetitive actions and routine brings boredom. Planets placed in fire signs symbolize energy that is incautious and impels the individual to constant movement and action.
Aries is about identity and the focus is on the self, to go and do what has never been tried before. The flower that belongs to this fiery sign is the red poppy the symbolism of war and people wear them to honour the people who died on the front-line.
Leo is the growth of the self as the process of individuation and ultimately letting one’s life pattern and self-development take place. The inner child of the universe is the one carrying the light of the Sun inside its heart, radiating life-giving rays and there is a call for the individual to embrace its sense of purpose, to be creative and self-expressive. Like an actor, there is a flair for the dramatic and entertaining, also living for love, romance and passion. Leo, ruled by the Sun is the individual centre “I” and in Jungian terms the self would relate to the mandala.
Sagittarius in on a journey, everything takes on greater significance and is more meaningful. The realm of the archer is where we ask the big questions, often so giant that it is difficult to answer, and the study of knowledge branches out in many directions. To Sagittarius discovery is beautiful, and the great Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “Philosophy begins in wonder.” It is the quest for enlightenment when human beings first began to try and understand their world. The eagle is associated with Saggy and was thought by the Ancient people to be associated with the gods, it was called King and was able to take flight to heaven and back
The Earth signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn: The Earth signs respond to life in a practical, physical, and enduring ways; they are concerned with the material aspects of living. Earth signs provide the foundation needed to establish something tangible. These individuals are patient, responsible, working hard and planning carefully. Planets placed in this element will express themselves in a grounded way. Earth gives form to the spirit, and planets in this element take no risks and resist change. Earth also takes comfort in what is known and dependable they are the doers who go out and make money, the ones that achieve something practical in society.
Earth signs are systematic, repeating things, predictable, shunning the irrational and demanding physical proof, things have to make sense. On the birth chart, the earth signs are psychologically opposite fire. These individuals can be so consumed by their daily affairs, attending to their career and the reality of life that one day there will be a powerful need to turn the inner-life of the spirit. Earth is the densest matter of all it is heaviest, most solid and thickest, one can actually feel its weight.
The sign of Taurus represents mother nature the source of all life, and one of the most fertile signs associated with fruitfulness and there are profound gifts in art and creativity, with a deep affinity for music and anything which pleases the senses. Usually, critical issues involve self-value, and the individual is building security, sustaining what has been earned. The sign is a rock of strength, and these individuals possess tenacity, are loyal, patient, faithful, down to earth, committed, creating beautiful surroundings, and using their immense creative power.
Virgo is associated with earth, steadiness, and solid ground, but through its mutable nature is more versatile and flexible and is the goddess of the harvest. The sign hones skills and analyses as a way of life, and the daily concerns may preoccupy the mind. Virgo often seeks healing through plants, natural, herbal remedies and it is often through land, animals and the forest that is the source for knowledge. Virgo may opt for limited and specialized information, but it is immediately useable and fits neatly with everyday reality. The sign systematically studies and categorizes virtually everything, also turning the mind inwards and are self-analytical and self-critical and modest.
Capricorn is the full power of the state and the monarchy; the world, society, economic structures and ambitious enterprises enter the picture in a sign that rules the government. Typically the sign also doubts everything, but this only because they need something to be sure of. Capricorn people define themselves by how much they can accomplish, often plagued by a feeling of incompetency when failing to get something done.
The Air signs – Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius: The air signs respond to life by accumulating information, and appear detached because they are analytical rather than emotional in situations. Alongside this, the airy nature is graceful, light, and effervescent, and have a lot to do with choice, to choose the ideal. The problem is that the air signs, unlike animal nature, can conceive of states of perfection, and ones that may be impossible to achieve, through art, beauty, symmetry and abstraction. Anaximenes argued that it is air that can be conceived as extending infinity. The airy group can spend a lot of time chasing rainbows, but they are an intellectually orientated bunch, brilliant, articulate and social. The Air signs direct by interaction, circulation, socialization.
Planets in air relate intellectually, even the Moon (a water planet) in air will talk, read and verbalize the emotions. The element of Air represents the universal mind, facts, and observations, rationalizing, and making judgements and representing ideas. Idealism belongs here in the mind of us homo-sapiens, consciousness, our thoughts and perceptions.
Gemini represents the snapshots of facts, and can be a real gossip nymph, noisy, filled with self-interrupting conversation. The mind is clever, playful, and language is the bridge connecting us to one another, in a way that nothing else can. Gemini’s curiosity is to know to flit in a butterfly motion from one question to another, acquiring a little knowledge without ever allowing it to mature. The sign stores up snippets of information, but is also the most neutral and unbiased. Gemini is very reporter-like leaving out questions of morality and helping others to focus on the situation.
The sign of Libra can find similarities between seemingly unrelated things. We find the goddess of justice in our modern courtroom, representing the scales, and the feather is closely associated with Libra and can be used in a decorative fashion. The symbolism of the feather is truth. The dove is related to this zodiacal sign being a symbol of peace, and the colour is white representing the purity and goodness of the sign.
Aquarius understands advanced mathematical formulas, advanced aerodynamics and the mapping of the universe. The sign values reason, science, progress, and truth, pulling off the veil and revealing enlightened thought. In this area, humans take quantum leaps forward into new uncharted possibilities. The air and fire signs both encompassing all the possibilities and potentials of life. A great revolution begins in this forward thinking sign, a place where wondrous inventions dazzle the human race with the use of cutting-edge research, and there is something of the fresh revolutionary spirit that Aquarius pours from his water jug on to mankind. Aquarius’ symbol is the wavy lines representing the universal wave function that extends everywhere.
The mind is like a chemistry lab, full of commotion with non-stop neural conversations happening. Aquarius is a great rationalist, filled with universal ideas, ones that could only be grasped by the power of the mind. The reasoning and conceptualizing ability, but can be difficult for the layman to comprehend such far off theories. Aquarius’ abstract language is often cloaked in mathematics, revealing deeper truths about the universe, and they also need a main-framework of reference and everything has a logical structure. The sign is science and the organization of knowledge; it is technological, astronomical, and mathematical.
In the book Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 the author says that without scientists there is no future. Air signs rely much on platonic ideals, building airy models, often divorced from reality. The sign is focused on human affairs and futuristic potential. Dane Rudhyar wrote, “Man’s advancement in technology…we may be light years ahead in our modern universe, but that doesn’t mean we are more harmonious and that life is happier than the one lived in the ancient past.
The Water signs – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces. The water signs respond to life in an emotional, sensitive, and instinctive way. Water ‘feels’ and they are oversensitive, overprotective, and intimate, sharing secrets, longings and mysteries with one another. A planet in water is subdued, plunged into subjectivity, and the planet becomes more inwardly directed and is emotional in expression, but it can also become manipulative. Water can form into ice, steam and liquid and take an infinity of other forms, crashing into rocks, forming puddles of water that disappear expressive of the elusive nature and then falling like rain from above giving us an understanding of the cycle of water.
The water people are the enchantresses, with psychic ability; they understand and forgive you when you can’t forgive yourself. Water seeks the lowest level, it seeps in. Pisces is the stream of unconsciousness, the unfiltered mind, and the final mystery to be solved in the great zodiac round. Cancer is the first sign of feeling, easily bruised by life, and seeking security. The sign’s emotions are extremely vulnerable, but through all the waters signs sensitivity to living and vulnerability to life the psychic instincts come to the fore.
Cancer has powerful intuition, and is ruled by The Moon, which is indirect and perceives all things, but not in clarity, it senses in the dark shadows of the mysterious celestial light, and through dreams and premonitions, existing in a twilight state in the night time of the unconscious, feeling its ways through life and receptive to everything. Pisces understands that we all share a spiritual thread a mutual nature and common understanding and urges us to use our empathy. Pisces wades in the knowledge and the magnitude of everything we don’t know.
The water signs have often been cast into the role of disorder and chaos, and unreason. All of this never sits comfortable with the element of Air their psychological opposites as they need law and order, and the civic life. Emotions are primordial chaos sitting in the unconscious and threatening the harmony that the air signs work to create. The emotions are savage and wear away at civilisation tearing down ideals and the law. We all know Scorpio is a law unto himself, he is kind of like the dark angel of justice, lurking in the shadows righting the wrongs.
But, besides this, we may with perfect correctness divided the four elements by placing air and earth together, and, on the other side, fire and water. The actuality of this division may be seen by reference to the rulers. Mercury, Venus and Saturn rule one earthy and airy sign apiece, and similarly the Sun-Moon, Mars, and Jupiter rule one fiery and one watery sign each. The practical value of this division lies in the connection of fire-water with the emotions, and air-earth with the mind.The Zodiac and the Soul