Often overlooked – the Elements, Qualities, and Polarities are an integral part of understanding the Zodiac. Collectively they make up the core definition of the Zodiac Signs themselves.
In ancient philosophy, the Four Elements (Earth, Fire, Wind, Water) compose everything that exists in creation, from food to your house to your very being.
Primarily, they work as a frame which is used to interpret the world around you – for example, a seed needs all elements to grow, it needs to be carried by the Wind, irrigated with Water, buried in good soil and constant contact with the sun (Fire).
Within Astrology the Elements don’t represent physical phenomena, but rather the driving force that you have within.
Earth: Signs belonging to the element of Earth are cautious, practical, realistic, they have their feet perfectly planted on the ground.
This can also translate into negative characteristics like stagnation, a lack of imagination or even a lack of vision.
The Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn each of them share this materialistic characteristics in different manifestations.
Fire: Those under signs of Fire are more prone to action before thought they will not stay around debating the validity of an idea, they’ll go ahead and open a business, start a project, go on a trip without considering potential ramifications.
It’s not hard to imagine how this impulsiveness of Fire signs can make them brash, impatient, and suffer from thematically appropriate burnout.
The signs of Fire are: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius which are extremely competitively signs.
Wind: The polar opposite to Earth, Wind is the element of thought, creative and logical alike, and its signs are thinkers, friendly, and always looking forward to learning.
On the other hand, air signs can be cold, unsympathetic, glib and facile, they might become too adaptable to the point of being inconsistent.
Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are signs of air, each of them being a different facet of this element.
Water: Symbolizes emotion, Water signs tend to respond to other energies much more potent, being boiled by Fire, swept by the Wind and limited by Earth.
Water signs are sensitive, sympathetic, compassionate, and imaginative; they are in constant contact with the emotions of others and their selves.
When not expressed constructively, this can translate into emotional insecurity, shyness and a general lack of grit and confidence.
The Qualities also called “modes” and “modalities” govern how different signs respond to external stimulation and how they act under pressure.
If the elements represent the primary force that drives the sign, the quality is how that element is expressed in each one.
The qualities are three: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable, each one houses four signs.
Cardinal signs are the bringers of change, their main features being openness to new ideas, a confident assertiveness. They will always be the precursors to grand events.
They tend to see a moment of crisis as an opportunity to better themselves and the world around them, which usually means taking the lead.
Aries seeks domination and leadership in all aspects. At the same time, Cancer controls emotions as a water sign, Libra wants to control Partnerships, and Capricorn controls the natural world, shaping it according to its designs. They are in the first month of each season.
The hallmark of a Fixed sign is its constancy, they are the rock that withstands the furious tide, unwavering, unflinching and undaunted.
They are polar opposite to Cardinals for they are the first to resist change, or even seeking to preserve the effects of the actions of Cardinals.
Taurus is the master of taking things very slowly; Scorpio strengthens emotions and feelings. Leo just likes to make himself noticed, and Aquarius likes to dictate the terms of change. They are in the middle month of each season.
If the Cardinals bring the new order of things and Fixed signs maintain the current order, the Mutable exist in between as the ones who are influenced by the other two groups.
Their main feature is flexibility, being able to let go of things with extreme ease, they find solace in the transition from the old to new.
They also play a part on loosening the structures, opening the way for the bringers of change to start a new cycle.
Gemini represents this open-mindedness extremely well; meanwhile, Virgo is easily dominated by its environment, Sagittarius is always willing to expand his horizons, and Pisces adapts only superficially while playing the part of a mirror to its surroundings.
The dual opposites that are codependent, light and dark, hard and soft, positive and negative, or how it is more commonly known: Yin and Yang.
Yang or “masculine energy” holds six of the signs, namely: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and the elements of Fire and Air, or drive and mind.
On the other side, Yin holds Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, along with the elements of Earth and water, or the physical and the emotional.
When Signs have the same polarity, they tend to understand each other better. In contrast, opposite polarities will put a sign in antagonizing roles to each other, even if they have the same element.
The relationship between elements plays into this as well, Air feeds Fire growing with it, Earth and Water together create life.
The Glue That Holds Us Together
Understanding these three characteristics really starts to make sense of it all.
It easy to spout planetary relationships or regurgitate facts from list verbatim; I feel that as my understanding of the Elements, Qualities, and Polarities is awakened, I’m suddenly starting to get it – Shame on me! I overlooked this.
This certainly qualifies for a deeper study I’ve been left in a shabby mess – the fog is starting to clear.