If you want to really understand people, you have to understand temperament.  Understanding temperament means understanding the building blocks of personality we are all made up of.  And that would be the four elements and the three qualities.

Knowing a person’s strongest element (Fire, Earth, Air or Water) can have you really “get” them and once you know how the people in your life work, you can predict how they’ll respond to things around them and what they’ll prioritize according to their values.  Then you can trust them to be who they are and you can relax in your relationships.  Knowing a person’s strongest quality (Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable) can make it easy to synergize with them in a team effort.  Their quality tells you their style of action and how they can be more effective in projects whether at work or at home.

A person’s signature sign is the combination of their strengths—their strongest quality and strongest element—and it’s just as important and significant a part of who they are as their Sun, Moon and Rising signs are.  Sometimes more significant.  The only reason most people know their Sun sign is that it’s easy to figure out.  The only reason most people don’t know their signature sign is that it needs to be figured out by an astrologer.  But this is not really hard to learn how to do and it can improve your relationships with everyone in your life.  And this is something I teach in the first session of my Chart Analysis Techniques class coming up in February.

People come to me asking about their relationships a lot and in my 20+ years of practice as an astrologer, I’ve learned that these questions aren’t always about romance or marriage.  People care about how they relate with everybody in their life—spouse, parents, children, co-workers and friends.  And the elements and qualities have a lot of answers, including:
•    what kinds of people are easiest for you to get along with
•    how do you spot those people? how does it feel to be around them?
•    what kinds of people are you drawn to and why?
•    how do you, by “filling in your missing place,” unintentionally end up drawing the very people it’s hardest for you to get along with?
•    how can you (with a little positive attention) figure out how to get along with them anyway?
•    what’s your operational style and how can you use it to be more effective in all your projects (both at work and at home)?
•    how does your operational style impact your co-workers?
•    how can you work with people who are different from you—with a sense of respect for their styles?
•    how can you get the best work out of people you manage (by knowing their styles) and feel most appreciated by those who manage you?
•    and how can you, by living in the way that’s best for your signature sign, access a deep sense of purpose and meaning in your life?

All this is incredibly useful stuff that a client can recognize in themselves and put to use right away.  I consider the signature important enough to include it in almost every reading I do and it’s usually the first thing I interpret.

Describing the elements and qualities first thing in a client’s first session serves several purposes at once.  First, it gives them golden information and insights about how to optimize their personality traits for both effectiveness and happiness. Secondly, it gives the client ways to organize things they already know about human nature into comprehensible personality traits they recognize in the people around them—and thus affects all those relationships in a good way.  So it gives them a modular personality-type system they can see at work in their life—without ever having to consult an astrologer again if they don’t want to (because I believe in teaching the client to fish, rather than spoon-feeding them fish).

Thirdly, it establishes rapport between me and the client, as the client begins to feel “gotten” and “seen” and even validated in ways that really matter.  Fourthly, it lays the foundation for our continued conversation about the client’s chart as we venture forward into further details of their personality.  Having our shared understanding of the elements and qualities to refer back to allows us to have useful conversations about anything in the chart in a short amount of time, so we can cover more ground faster.

If you liked this teaching tidbit, you would enjoy the class it came from:
Chart Analysis Techniques, beginning Feb 11, 2014.
It makes human personality comprehensible and predictable.
Look here for more information and to sign up.

This year going with the flow brings success and fun:
Astrologers are very good at making dire predictions—but what use is that unless they can also tell you when is the BEST time to pursue new ventures?  I’m just the astrologer to let you know that this year, from June of 2013 to June of 2014 is a great time to start a new business or any project you want to go really smoothly.  And that’s because there is a very auspicious alignment of planets building up in the sky.  I’m telling you about it because it’s approaching its peak and I want you to be able to take full advantage of it before it ends.

The alignment is a set of harmonious aspects among five planets:  Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter and Pluto.  Each of these planets has at least two harmonious connections going on right now with others of the batch.  This piles goodness upon goodness so that the summer and fall of 2013 is a very lucky and auspicious time for new enterprises of all kinds, and that goodness flows right into the spring of next year.  Most of this harmonious activity is happening in Water signs, with Pluto in an Earth sign connecting nicely with those Water signs and adding some dynamic tension too.

What these planets are up to. . .
Neptune is in Pisces
, a sign it loves to be in, bringing a tremendous sense of flow to this dynamic.  Because Neptune is involved, we have access to oceanic feelings of communion and connection, and our imaginations are fueled.  Our powers of manifestation and “dreaming things real” is at a peak.

Pluto is in Capricorn and Saturn is in Scorpio.  This combination is called a “mutual reception,” as each planet is in the sign the other rules, making them “mutually receptive” to each other’s agendas.  This alignment is all about power, purging corruption, doing the hard work of vulnerable leadership, and living each moment as if it was your last.  I’ve written more about it here.

Chiron the Wounded Healer is in Pisces, bridging the gap between material and spiritual worlds, carrying information from the physical to the metaphysical planes and back again.  You can take advantage of this through prayer, manifestation and other practices that get you into alignment with your spiritual guidance.

And finally, Jupiter will move into Cancer on June 25, 2013, and will quickly get into trine with Neptune, Saturn, then Chiron, completing the Water circuit.  Jupiter will also oppose Pluto, and bring just enough tension into the dynamic to spur all that lazy Water to action.  Jupiter in Cancer is in its all-time favorite sign to occupy, bringing a warm, nurturing feel and encouraging growth gently, as a summer rain encourages flowers to bud and open.

How does this affect me?
If you have a lot of Water in your chart, this astrological activity should feel really good, as if the rest of the world is aligning with the flow that is natural to you.  You may find yourself experiencing luck and being noticed in ways that don’t make you feel overexposed.  If you have lazy Water habits (such as living in codependent relationships, overpowering others with your emotions or draining yourself dry to serve and nurture others), these habits may be indulged this year and you could end up with no progress.  But if you decide to live your Watery side in the best way possible (by being conscious of your feelings but not dramatic, and being intuitive without being invasive), you could find yourself at the top of the heap with very little effort.

And the really good news is that if you are starting a business this year, or having a baby, you can look forward to your “project” having oodles of good karma.  Some kinds of businesses are better suited to this than others; you can see me for a consultation if you’re ready to know more.

This time period is especially good for:

  • healers
  • artists
  • nurses and caretakers of all kinds
  • midwives, doulas, ob/gyns and those involved with birthing
  • hospice workers and those who to assist peaceful death
  • any job that requires compassion and human kindness
  • spiritual and psychic helpers
  • anyone who works with children
  • financial analysts and investors, anyone who works with debt but especially those who assist people in trouble with management of their debt, including bankruptcy lawyers
  • therapists, counselors and coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts
  • hypnotherapists
  • . . . and the list goes on.

If you want to know how this year’s Water lineup affects you,
contact Jamie for a reading.


All Air types (people with a strong Gemini, Libra or Aquarius influence in their chart) have some things in common.  They tend to live in their heads and they love abstract thoughts.  They prefer a beautiful theory to a hard reality and they are interested in communication, sharing ideas and networking.  But there are some interesting differences that show up when Air is strong in the chart of a woman as opposed to that of a man.

There’s a marked tendency for Air-type males to be strongly intellectual (leaning toward math and science) and to not develop their social skills, while Air-type females tend to be strongly social and not as math-and-science-oriented as their male equivalents.  Why should this be?  Are men and women really so different physically that the same astrological influences should bear out different results in the bodies of two different natives?  Why do Air-type men grow up to be techies and scientists, while Air-type women grow up to be social mavens?  Why do Air-type women sometimes talk so much and say so little, while Air-type men can be logical to the point of being cold, critical and boring?

It’s not because of biology—it’s that nasty little virus sexism at work again.  Just when we thought we were living in modern times and had evolved into a post-feminist utopia, how uncomfortable to discover that we’re actually still promulgating sexist ideas and limiting our children.

Even today, it’s still ok for men to be smart in ways it’s not ok for women to be.
Boys get rewarded for smarts, while girls get rewarded for social skills.  While both boys and girls are encouraged academically in their younger years, the further the education goes, the less women are encouraged to pursue their studies, especially when it comes to the hard sciences.  This is much, much less true for younger generations, but older generations have a longer view of how far women have come and how far there still is to go.  A potential employer still looks at a woman and thinks, “she’s going to take off and have a family at some point; she’s a flight risk for my company.”

Conversely, women still get taught social skills in a way that men are not.  While mothers explain to daughters the intricacies of social interaction, sons get tossed out into the world to fend for themselves socially, with nothing but their conscience to guide them, and no actual savvy.  This leaves males clueless in many social situations, feeling that women are running circles around them and that every social interaction has layers of meaning that are mysterious and inscrutable.  The result is that an Airy man, who has lots to say, can talk endlessly about his ideas and have no idea that he’s lost his audience.

I’ve done a lot of readings for Air-type women and believe me—they know how smart they really are and they know that all the gossiping, chattering and superficial bantering is survival behavior and they are tired of not being taken seriously as an intellectual force.  And readings I’ve done for Air-type men have clued me in that, while they easily identify with their intelligence, that intense focus on the life of the mind can result in a boorish cluelessness that is very off-putting to exactly the people they’d most like to impress.

If you are one of these Airy folks, you might want to ask yourself if you’re living the full potential of your Air nature.  It’s your God-given right to be both intellectual and social, but because of lingering gender roles you may have to fight for that right.  For both genders, the key to Air lies in good questions.  Ask intelligent questions as if you really want to know.  Be curious—both about people and ideas.  In conversation draw people out.  The wonder and curiosity we all had when we were small is the heart of Air intellectual and social skills.  Learn to ask good questions and you’re set.  If you have an Airy person in your life, encourage them to develop both sets of Air skills.  If you have an Air-type child, it’s your duty to counteract these social trends and make sure your boy learns to communicate warmly with others and your girl takes her smarts seriously.

Thank goodness these things are changing, and rapidly.  Today it’s more common to see a proud “geek girl” who worries more about her grades or her research than her hairstyle or the latest gossip.  And it’s more common to meet a boy who is socially adept without seeming too much of a “sensitive New Age guy.”  Perhaps a balance will be struck at last.

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Solutions for Water-Gone-Wrong

In my recent post Personality Flaws of the Four Elements I described ways the 4 Elements can go wrong, each according to its own nature.

How To Know If You’re Drowning In Water
Water is arguably the hardest element to get right, because in the modern world our capacity to feel is misunderstood, derided and ignored.  Many of us grow up with a poor understanding of our emotions.  Your Water has gone wrong when:

  • People around you call you a “drama queen.”
  • Your sensitivity has you attempting to control everyone around you so you can feel better.
  • You overreact to events around you and cannot separate what actually happened from how you felt about it.
  • You absorb other people’s feelings so easily that you lose yourself.  This may make you prefer to avoid people which is a shame because your powers of empathy are enormous.
  • You are filled with bitterness, resentment and other feelings that have long gone unexpressed.  You habitually repress them because you don’t know how to let go of them.

Solution One:  Balance Water With The Other 3 Elements
If your Water is distorted, the other elements can help restore balance.  Fire’s self-assertion is a wonderful foil for Water’s tendency toward self-sacrifice.  When you’re lost in Watery feelings and can’t get out, try cutting straight through the bullshit.  Fire says, “Things are really not as complicated as they seem.”

You can count on Air to bring in logic, rationality and a factual approach.  Air helps you get out of the feelings and become more dispassionate—which can be very helpful when you realize you’ve become over-involved with somebody who is taking advantage of you.

Earth’s practical concerns form a helpful check-and-balance to Water’s subjectivity.  Earth reminds Water that overwhelming feelings must be balanced by the need to feed, clothe and shelter oneself and one’s family.  Water says, “I care about myself and others,” while Earth adds “. . . and I prove it by making myself useful.”

Solution Two:  Emphasize Healthy Water
Expressing Water in a healthy way can allow negative expressions of Water to fall away naturally, with ease and grace.  You might call this “Water-Fu.”  Here are some ways to try it. . .

  • Notice your intuitions.  Validate them.  Use them.
  • Your feelings are there to connect you with other people.  Get good at noticing what others feel and what you feel.  Develop healthy emotional boundaries and enjoy deep relationships with those you feel sympathy or empathy towards.
  • Find or create places in your life where you can afford to feel fully, to express your feelings and to be as sensitive as you really are.  Hang around people you can be your true self with.
  • Practice healthy self-care, which is not the same as being emotionally armored nor emotionally over-exposed.  When you take care of yourself, others do not seem like a drain.
  • If you are preoccupied with negative feelings, learn to let go of them.  Focus on the positive, uplifting things in your life.  Nurse joy instead of anger.

The Four Elements are an incredibly rich vein of astrological knowledge of which this article series only scratches the surface.  Using the elements alone, even a novice can gain tremendous insight into herself and other people.  I hope it inspires you to learn more about the elements, about astrology and about yourself.

Find out more about getting a reading
Or see what kinds of readings are available. 

This has been part 5 of a 5-part series on the 4 elements.  The other parts can be found here:
Personality Flaws of the 4 Elements
Is Fire Burning You Up?
Has Earth Grounded You—Permanently?
Does Air Have You Lost In A Cloud?
Are You Drowning In Water?

Solutions for Air-Gone-Wrong

In my recent post Personality Flaws of the Four Elements I described ways the 4 Elements can go wrong, each according to its own nature.

How To Know If Air Has You Lost In A Cloud

Air is the intellectual element and we all know that a mind is a terrible thing to waste—yet it is also possible to use your mind too much, for example in times when your heart or body would serve better.  Your Air has gone wrong when:

  • You retreat to your head so much and get so abstracted that people around you wonder where you’ve gone and call you an “absent-minded professor.”
  • Physical reality annoys you.  You are frustrated at how hard it is to turn a theory into a reality—why can’t things just be the way you think they should?  And so you criticize things and people that don’t live up to your ideals.
  • Your need to appear smart has overreached your ability to actually converse with others, share ideas and be genuinely curious about perspectives that differ from your own.  This alienates you from people, which is a shame because stimulating conversation is exciting to you.
  • Your school success didn’t translate into the world beyond academics and you are still wondering why intelligence and problem-solving abilities aren’t enough to bring recognition and career advancement.
  • People call you cold or unapproachable (even though you have a sparkling wit) because you have little warmth.

Solution One:  Balance Air With The Other 3 Elements
If your Air is distorted, the other elements can help restore balance.  The natural antidote for the coolness and excessive objectivity of Air is the warmth and emotional approachability of Water.  When your Airy side causes you to distance yourself from events around you, draw on your Watery side and involve yourself emotionally in what you are experiencing (even though your Airy side may find this uncomfortable).

Earth helps Air move from the theoretical to the practical.  Earth demands that Air’s ideas be implemented in ways that are useful and pragmatic.  Earth physicalizes Air’s theories, tests them and proves their effectiveness.

Fire brings to Air a much-needed enthusiasm.  There comes a time when thought necessarily leads to action and while Air could sit around the planning table endlessly batting ideas about, Fire will leap in and begin a thing.  This may lead to failure the first or even the hundredth time, but Fire knows the importance of taking action.

Solution Two:  Emphasize Healthy Air
If you emphasize healthy Air and fill your life with ways your Air is positively expressed, there will be no room for unhealthy Air.  This elegant solution gently allows negative Air traits to fall away as a side-effect of your emphasis on positive Air.  You might call this solution “Air -Fu.”  Here are some examples:

  • Be endlessly curious.  Become a reservoir, a roundhouse for information.  Regard all data as potentially useful.
  • Air may not be very warm and fuzzy, but it is very social.  Make friends—lots of them—and bond with them around mutually interesting concepts and theories.
  • Share ideas with absolutely everyone, regardless of how “smart” they are or how well-researched their information is.  Treasure each new nugget you learn.
  • Use your capacity for distancing yourself to help you connect with others, not push them away.  Because intimacy includes appropriate space, you can find the right distance to make you comfortable with intimacy.
  • Meditate.  It gives the brain a much-needed break.

Find out more about getting a reading
Or see what kinds of readings are available. 

Coming up next:  Are You Drowning In Water?

Solutions for Earth-Gone-Wrong

EarthIn my recent post Personality Flaws of the Four Elements I described ways the 4 Elements can go wrong, each according to its own nature.

How To Know If Earth Is Grounding You
When your life is carefully measured from achievement to achievement (or failure), it’s easy to forget how to have fun.  Earth is the poster child for “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Your Earth has gone wrong when:

  • You’re such a critical perfectionist that your partner calls you a nag.
  • You’re a cynic, only interested in the bottom line and closed to any ideas that don’t have already proven value.
  • You’ve been called “cold” or “calculating.”
  • You’re prone to overindulging in physical pleasures to compensate for how hard you work or how boring your job is.
  • You’ve learned to defer gratification in favor of long-term goals—learned it so well that you can’t let yourself off the hook during a vacation and you despair of enjoying retirement.

Solution One:  Balance Earth With The Other 3 Elements
If your Earth is distorted, the other elements can help restore balance.  When your routines and systems are so effective that even you are bored, it’s time to break up the Earth with a little Fire.  Be spontaneous, take risks, look dopey.  Fling yourself into something, instead of calculating all its details first.

Earth gets dull and blockish without the lightness of Air.  Air encourages brainstorming sessions and crazy ideas—some may sound just like empty theories, but others will, with the time and testing Earth provides, prove useful in the end.  But you have to open your ears and listen first.

Water fertilizes Earth in a wonderful way, bringing warmth, emotion, compassion and sensitivity Earth does not naturally possess.  Too many late nights at the office?  Balance them with cozy family time.  Gotten too controlled or controlling?  Nothing like a nice emotional outburst to break down the walls.  Oh, and don’t forget to be vulnerable.

Solution Two:  Emphasize Healthy Earth
Healthy Earth practices can eliminate the need for compensatory, negative Earth behaviors.  Here are some examples of “Earth-Fu:”

  • Pay close attention to your bodily needs and engage in rigorous physical self-care.
  • Feed yourself delicious, homemade, organic, healthy food on a regular basis.  It tastes best when you cooked it yourself.
  • Organize your home, your office and your projects in ways that allow you to streamline, be effective and stop worrying.  Work smarter, not harder.
  • Fall in love with this physical world:  get out in nature more, breathe clean air and surround yourself with trees.

Set achievable goals and be consistent about rewarding yourself (even if it’s just a mental pat on the back) when you succeed.  When you become preoccupied with your failures, wrench your attention away from them and instead put it on what you’ve done right.

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Coming up next:  Does Air Have You Lost In A Cloud?

Solutions For Fire-Gone-Wrong

In my recent post Personality Flaws of the Four Elements I described ways the 4 Elements can go wrong, each according to its own nature.

How To Know If Fire Is Burning You Up
When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Fire is at best a blunt instrument and when abused it becomes destructive quickly.  Your Fire has gone wrong when:

  • You frequently feel angry, destructive, or aggressive.
  • You always need to have the last word.
  • Your friends say  you habitually squash other people’s self-confidence by dominating them.
  • Some say your ways of being make you feel big and others feel small.
  • You feel restless and can’t settle down into a job or relationship.

Solution One:  Balance Fire With The Other 3 Elements
If your Fire is distorted, the other elements can help restore balance. Some say that anger is a disguise for grief, and for a Fiery individual this can be very true.  Are you masking sadness with your Fiery display?  Take off the armor, sink into your Watery side and let yourself feel sad.  But leave the battle zone first.

Air can also lend a useful perspective.  Draw on your Airy side to access your inner Observer, that part of you that can get healthy distance from yourself.  Step outside your anger and use logic instead.  Debate with yourself before arguing with others.

Earth reminds Fire that dominating others is impractical, because it impedes the very leadership you’re trying to create.  Why would people want to follow someone who blows up easily and loses self-control?  Earth says, have self-discipline and show them that you take practical action on your promises.

Solution Two:  Emphasize Healthy Fire
If you emphasize healthy Fire and fill your life with positive expressions of Fire, there will be no room for unhealthy Fire.  This elegant solution gently allows negative Fire traits to fall away as a side-effect of your emphasis on positive Fire.  You might call this solution “Fire-Fu.”  Here are some examples:

  • Have a regular athletic routine that allows you to “blow off steam.”  Then you don’t explode unexpectedly.
  • Encourage mental self-talk that builds your confidence, instead of undermining it.  Then you don’t need to dominate others to get your way or express your needs.
  • Enjoy healthy competition with strong people you respect.  Then you’ll find the patience you need to get you through the times when you have to tread delicately with people you wouldn’t choose, but have to relate with.
  • Assert yourself early and often, so you don’t build up a head of steam and blow.
  • Examine the beliefs that make up your philosophy of life—create a world-view that expands (not contracts) you.

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See the next post in this thread:  Has Earth Grounded You–Permanently?

Human temperament is made from combinations of the four elements, Fire, Earth, Air and Water.  Everyone has all four, but in different proportions.  Everyone also differs in how well they express each element—whether that element is expressed mostly in a clean and clear way or in a distorted way.

It’s not that some parts of your chart are good and some are bad.  All are good and all are bad—it is in how you use them.  Some will be easier to have as good and you can express those parts well with little effort.  Others are more challenged and prone to distorted expression.  But it still comes down to what you do with it.  You’re in charge.

And so, as a cautionary study, what follows is a look at what happens when each of the 4 elements goes terribly, terribly wrong.

The Fire side of us is naturally upbeat, cheerful and energetic.  When Fire goes wrong, all that drive and energy still needs someplace to go, so the person tends toward irritation, frustration and anger.  They can also take cheerfulness to the point of being entirely false and being unwilling to admit to having a down day.  When Fire is distorted, a person becomes fierce, a bully, arrogant, entitled, self-centered and even violent.  When you meet a person who can’t take feedback without exploding, who has to have their own way and who must dominate every situation, blame Fire.  Fire is also at work when an individual is hardheadedly self-determined or naïve to the point of clueless because they simply won’t listen to others.  And Fire also brings us the megalomaniac, the self-absorbed, self-centered people for whom it’s “all about me.”  Fire can be very uncaring and insensitive to others.  Oh, and Fire’s known for being an attention-grabber and a drama queen, insistent on blowing things up bigger than they have to be—and always in public.

Earth’s nature makes it practical, pragmatic, grounded, serious and realistic.  When a person expresses Earth in a distorted way they become cold and calculating, holding others (and sometimes themselves) to harsh, overly demanding standards.  Earth can be judgmental and critical, nit-picky and a perfectionist, setting the bar too high and valuing achievement over a balanced lifestyle.  Earth has also gone wrong when a person is overly security-oriented and abusing food and pleasure for comfort in reaction to excessive restrictions in other times or areas.  Binging and purging are Earthy behaviors.  Earth can also embrace structure too much, becoming extremely regimented, engaging in ritualistic, obsessive routines and finding themselves unable to relax and let life flow.  Earth craves wealth and can become a miserly, money-grubbing, gold-digging Scrooge who is obsessed with the bottom line and cries “show me the money!”  And obviously, Earth’s ambition can go very wrong, resulting in a person who will ruthlessly step on anybody necessary to climb to the top of the heap—and then paradoxically, they will spend their time hyper-vigilantly watching the competition, unable to relax and enjoy the fruits of their achievement.

Air represents the mental side of human nature, so Air types tend to be idea people—intellectual and curious types.  When Air goes wrong, the person is nervous, twitchy, restless and agitated, too full of nervous energy and has too little tendency to work it off physically, as Fire or Earth might do.  Instead, Air will spend time reading or surfing the net or otherwise involved with ideas, theories and virtual things instead of physical reality.  Air tends to be attracted to caffeine and stimulants that make one’s mind sharper or help one focus.  Distorted Air leads to ADD symptoms, Asperger’s Syndrome, autism and other conditions that make it hard to bond emotionally with others, leaving a person cold, unattached and stiff (both emotionally and physically).  An Airy type can be the epitome of a talking head, full of theories and the logical reasons behind why they should work, but disinterested in their application.  That Airy intelligence can lead to a tendency to criticize whatever doesn’t fit the theory.  At its worst, Air is alienated, unfeeling, cut off from others and amoral, because it lacks compassion.

Water represents the emotional side of human life:  Water grants us feelings, intuition, instinct, empathy and compassion.  Water-gone-wrong heads in a number of seemingly unconnected directions.  One way is that distorted Water becomes whiny, clingy, weepy, hypersensitive, histrionic and emotionally self-indulgent.  This leads to codependence and being easily manipulated by others.  Other people take distorted Water in a different direction, toward being passive-aggressive, manipulative, controlling and a user, always covertly pushing for one’s way.  Water is moody; it can fall into pits of depression, resulting in spending time being lazy, unmotivated, greasy & unwashed.  You can just feel the creeping entropy.  Even when Water is expressed in a spiritual way, the person can take an attitude of spiritual superiority which is actually not spiritual at all.  Did I mention that Water has a sexual side?  Water can get sleazy, sluttish, creepy and sexually predatory.  And Water can be morbidly sensitive, leading to agoraphobia and misanthropy.

So there they are, the four Elements in all their very worst aspects.  And there but for the grace of God go we all.

In the next few posts, I’ll talk about solutions to these elemental problems:
Is Fire Burning You Up?
Has Earth Grounded You—Permanently?
Does Air Have You Lost In A Cloud?
Are You Drowning In Water?

The Four Elements are a fascinating part of human temperament.
Find out about yours in a reading with Jamie:
Contact Jamie
to learn how.

I just got an interesting question from a Twitter follower.  On Twitter, she writes:

foxyladye @pandoraastro why is water and earth always IN CHARGE! and fire(me-leo) & air except Libra! always gotta follow along

It’s an interesting question, @foxyladye, and since I couldn’t squeeze the answer into a tweet or two, I thought I’d move the question over here, where I can spread out a little.

My first thought is that I’m surprised, because Water and Earth often feel that Fire is overwhelming, overbearing and pushy.  And there’s some truth to that.  Yet, from Fire’s point of view (and yes, Leo is Fire), Fire is just being itself.  To Fire, Earth looks slow, dull, boring and painfully cynical, while Fire people are exciting and uplifting to be around.  It’s hard for Fire types to handle Earthy negativity.  From Earth’s point of view, Fire is all hot air and has no concept of the bottom line.  You see how these two are challenged to get along?

Water has problems with Fire too.  Water can be very sensitive and can feel that Fire comes blustering in with no clue about how they are affecting others.  Water often feels overrun and disrespected by Fire.  From Fire’s point of view, Water is too sensitive and should just get over it.  Fire doesn’t want to have to “hide their light under a bushel” just because water is being a “wet blanket.” (Those common phrases are no accident.)

My suggestion is to be the best Leo/Fire sign you can:  shine your light fully, be big, creative and expressive, but don’t be overbearing.  When your friends push back, it’s possible that you were being pushy first, but just didn’t realize it.  If you let your ego get in the way, you’re living your worst Leo side and it will push you away from your friends.  To be the royalty that you are, foxyladye, you’ve got to be gracious.  Because what use is it being queen if you have no citizens to follow your leadership?

Before I end this, I do want to add that a person’s “sign” is not all they are.  It’s quite possible, in fact it’s extremely likely, that those people you think of as Earth actually have some Fire, Air and Water in them.  Almost no one is all Fire.  And you yourself are a blend of the four elements.  Fire may be your strongest element, but maybe not.  It might be worth getting a reading to find out.  😉  If you want that, click on Astrology In Person, in the main page’s right sidebar.

Have a great day,


Of the 3 water signs, one is Cardinal, one is Fixed and one is Mutable.  When a zodiac sign is Cardinal, that means it sends its elemental energy in a directed way.  If it’s Fixed, then it consolidates and contains its elemental energy while the Mutable signs disperse and diffuse their elemental energy.  What does this mean for the 3 water signs, Cancer (Cardinal), Scorpio (Fixed) and Pisces (Mutable)?  Looking at physical symbols for the water signs is an excellent way to understand them and their relationship to each other.

Cancer, The Mountain Spring
Cancer, the Cardinal Water sign is the first to appear in the zodiacal order.  It represents directed water.  This means moving water, symbolized by a mountain spring, born out of the earth, the freshest of waters and the Water sign with the most drive.  Cancer’s Cardinality carries fresh water to ecosystems that need it, nurturing and growing life.

Cancer combines Water’s fluidity with Cardinal motivation, drive and leadership.  Cancer is the water sign with energy and direction.  Cancer has focus in a way the other two do not.  Think of a busy mother (this is, after all, the mother archetype) involved in her energetic nesting activity or think of a fierce mama bear, defending her cubs.  Think of a mother duck, lining up her chicks and leading them to water for the first time.  This sign has force, motivation and purpose to it.

Scorpio, The Lake
Scorpio is the second Water sign and it’s Fixed.  Imagine that Cancer’s mountain spring has flowed downhill and gathered momentum until it’s become a rushing river.  Now imagine all the force of that river dammed into a lake and you have Scorpio.  Another way to think of Scorpio is to look at a glass of water.  It looks placid and still but actually, the contained liquid is exerting a tremendous amount of force on all sides of the glass.  If there’s a crack in the glass anywhere, the water will find it and press through.  That’s Scorpio.

Scorpio combines the fluidity of Water with Fixed strength, solidity and continuity.  Scorpio has amazing staying power, sometimes obsessively so—in fact, Scorpio has the capacity to use obsession and compulsion to its own advantage.  And Scorpio’s tremendous sensitivity, though often experienced as a problem, is actually an advantage because it is the root of Scorpio’s ability to find weaknesses in the enemy or in the problem that can be used to overcome it.

Pisces, The Vast Ocean
All waters eventually lead to the sea. Pisces, the Mutable Water sign, combines fluid Water with flexible, ever-changing Mutability.  Mutable Water is best symbolized by the vast oceans, filled with eddies, currents and tides.  The ocean is ever-changing and always moving, but never moving in a given direction.  In the ocean, change is the constant.  And so it is with Pisces.

Pisces is the only water sign that doesn’t need a shell to protect itself.  Cancer hides in its Crab shell while Scorpio hides behind a cool exterior (occasionally coming out to sting with its Scorpion tail), but Pisces can defend itself while remaining soft.  This is because Pisces is adept at shapeshifting and mimicry.  How can you attack something when you don’t know what it is?  Pisces meets confrontation indirectly (as do all the water signs) and preserves itself by slipperiness and evasion.  Pisces is the ultimate moving target.

Which of these do you resonate with most?  Are you an energetic, bubbling spring, flowing downhill, gathering force as you go?  Or are you a still-waters-run-deep lake, sensitive to all that touches your surface?  Or are you the huge, ever-shifting ocean—permeable and connected to everything, remaining soft and open to experience?

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One simple and interesting way to understand the astrological four elements is to see their parallels in an orchestra. As the twelve zodiacal signs are divided into four elements, the orchestra is divided into four sections. Each of these sections is distinct in the kinds of sounds produced and the way they are produced, evoking distinct responses in the listener. In a similar way, the elements evoke distinct realms of experience: emotional, physical, intellectual, vital/spirited. The four elements act as a team and to live a full life, it’s important to be able to draw on all of them as needed: to think when that is called for, to feel when that is called for, and so on. The sections of an orchestra also act as a team: a truly rich and emotionally full symphony will draw on each of the sections in turn or in combination, weaving a rich tapestry of sound that is satisfying to hear. A truly rich life will draw on the four elements in turn, weaving a rich tapestry of experience that is satisfying to live.

The Elements: A Quick Tour
Fire is forceful, direct, energetic and enthusiastic. People with a lot of fire in their charts tend to radiate a certain optimism and charisma which helps them barrel through life at warp-speed. Aries in particular has a rocket-like quality. Leo is more relaxed and chilled out—but Leo is highly charismatic and has great force of personality. Sagittarius people’s energy is not as focused, but they are easygoing and brimming with geniality.

(Remember please, as I release these gross generalities into your ear, that a person is not just her sun sign. A person can have the sun in a Water sign, but also have so much Fire elsewhere in her chart that she comes off as strongly fiery and hardly watery at all. If someone you know fits one of these elemental profiles, they probably have that element strongly present in their chart. So don’t be concerned if their sun sign does not match that element.)

Earth is, as its name suggests, just as earthy as Fire is fiery. Earth is practical, serious, grounded, sometimes cynical. Taurus people love the comforts of life and are very physical people. Virgo is pragmatic, analytical and organized, sometimes to the point of being considered anal-retentive. Capricorn is ambitious, a lover of structure and a builder. All the Earth signs value tangible proofs of things and are not interested in pie-in-the-sky promises.

The Air signs love ideas as things in themselves. They enjoy abstract thought and are never so happy as when unraveling a complex problem or solving a puzzle. They are communicative and social. Gemini loves communicating with others and sharing ideas. Libra is focused on one-on-one relationship and social interaction in general, and values beauty and symmetry of thought. Aquarius loves the pure crystalline idea and is a mad networker. All the air signs would rather talk, intellectualize and discuss theories than take action.

So far it should be pretty clear that Fire represents human spirit, Earth represents our physical being, while Air represents the mind. Water then, is keeper of our emotions.

Water signs are all about feelings, intuition, instinct. Often a Water sign feels, knows or intuits something that cannot be proven or perhaps even expressed in language. Water does not walk through life—it swims, floats, wafts. To the realm of Water is left all the inexpressible, unexplainable, not-provable knowing. Water is the element of pure mystery. Cancer is connected with the mystery of gestation and birth—Cancer is nurturing, loving, retentive. Scorpio is the mystery of sex and transformation, teaching us by example how death, experienced repeatedly, can be transcended. And Pisces is the deep, wide ocean in us that is the mystery of the oneness of all, a mystery both religious and spiritual.

And Now, the Orchestra
This article is intended as an overview of the orchestra and the elements, so if your favorite instrument is not mentioned, that’s because this description is not exhaustive.

Air is the Winds
It seems pretty obvious that wind instruments would correlate to the element of Air. A wind instrument produces sound by using the human mouth to move air across a reed or an edge. Wind instruments are all about the sounds created when air moves along a tube, and is stopped and controlled. The simplest wind instruments used by indigenous peoples around the world have literally been made from river reeds. The distinct tone of each unique instrument arises from the fact that, even though it has been carefully shaped, standardized and manufactured, most of its parts were once living, not metal, being made from wood, cane, rubber, cork, etc. The mostly-metal flute is an exception, but even the flute has a unique voice and some previously-alive parts and is subject to changes in its environment. Musical instruments are delicate and require care.

The orchestra’s wind section includes clarinets, oboes, bassoons, saxophones flutes and piccolos. Winds are often called the “woodwinds” even though not all wind instruments are made of wood.

Water is the Strings
The string section includes the violins, violas, cellos, double basses and the harp. Stringed instruments have a tremendous range of emotional expression from sadness to joy, giving the listener the feeling that the sound is tugging on their heartstrings. Historically, strings were literally made of the guts of animals so, in a way, this is the guts talking. When a stringed instrument is played, the vibration of the string resonates through a sound box. The string is typically bowed or plucked, although some are also tapped or hammered (like the dulcimer). Stringed instruments have the double benefit of being (for many people) not only the most emotionally affecting instruments but also highly portable. In their portability, strings are like winds except that strings leave the mouth free and thus can be accompanied by a human voice, adding another dimension of pathos via lyrics. Guitars of course fit into this category and are a prime example.

With all this emphasis on evoking strong feelings in the listener, it should be obvious that the string section parallels the element of Water.

Earth is the Percussion
The percussion section of the orchestra includes drums of all kinds and other oddments which are struck, such as cymbals, chimes, tambourine, xylophone and the triangle. Striking the instrument causes vibrations, which are felt in the earth and in the body. The suddenness and distinctness of the sound of percussion creates definition, separating one area of sound from another. Percussion creates the sound-structure on which the entire symphony (or other musical piece) is built. Sometimes instruments not typically thought of as percussion instruments are used percussively to create this definition, as when a guitarist strikes the guitar like a drum while playing it. The percussion’s emphasis on structure puts it firmly in the realm of Earth.

Fire is the Brass
The brass section includes trumpets, trombones, tubas and French horns. These instruments are called brass even though some are made of wood, and the thing they all have in common is the use the human lips to send a vibration into an essentially tubular instrument, controlling the tone by use of the valves. Brass differs from woodwinds in that brass instruments have no reed, whereas (most) woodwinds do.

Brass is an appropriate word for a section that parallels Fire, because both the element and the sound are the very definition of brassy. Brass is used in symphonic music when a heroic sound is wanted; brass is the heart of a marching band. Horns have historically been used at the hunt to generate a sound that resonates loudly, enabling groups of hunters to find each other and to communicate. Horns have been used on the battlefield to sound a cry of victory to arouse courage in the hearts of the troops and to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy (imagine trying to intimidate the enemy using a violin!). Today brass is commonly used this way at school sporting events, to raise courage and team spirit.

The Piano Stands Alone
The piano, or pianoforte, is an odd fit into the organization of an orchestra, because it is essentially a harp turned on its side, so it is a stringed instrument, however it is played by percussion, as the strings are struck and not plucked or bowed. Though the piano is technically classified as a percussion instrument, conceptually it stands alone, having a sound quality unique to itself and a tremendous emotional range whether played alone or with other instruments or with a full orchestra. It has an equal capacity to command attention by itself or to fade gracefully into the background while accompanying other instruments or the human voice. It has come to be classified as a “keyboard” instrument, along with organ and harpsichord. Because it doesn’t have a clear categorical fit, I’m not classifying it with an element.

Some Differences Between Instruments and Elements
Brass instruments differ from winds in that sound comes out of a brass instrument in one direction, whereas sound comes out of a wind instrument in every direction. This is an apt parallel to the tendency of Fire to barrel forward with great force while Air meanders, sometimes without apparent aim. Air’s wind instruments have a light, cool and intellectual sound, differing from the pathos and intensity inherent in the watery strings. The strings, while they are capable of percussion, have much more emotional range than the percussion, linking them to Water instead of Earth.

Symphonic Synergy and Elemental Excellence
Notice how each section, like each element, contains great range of tonal expression. High notes and low are available, so that any section or any instrument on its own can play a rich, stirring piece that has depth and substance (although some instruments, like the tuba and piccolo, usually take supporting roles and don’t stand alone much). The elements are this way too, each providing tremendous breadth of experience inside its own realm. But the real beauty occurs when they are combined. The elements have “chemistry,” not unlike an orchestra’s chemistry. Much of the richness comes from the ineffable qualities that arise when two or more very different elements are combined.

All four elements are present in some form in every human birth chart, but some will be weaker and some stronger. Thus each person’s elemental “chemistry” is unique. Your chart does not need to feature all four elements in balance for you to learn to “play” all the instruments in your “orchestra.” With practice, even the most emotional (watery) person can balance himself with clear thinking (air) and even the most stolid and practical (earthy) person can learn to rouse enthusiasm (fire) when it’s needed. The person that goes to the effort to learn how to draw on all four elements—mind, body, spirit, emotions—and how to blend them in ways right for the moment, lives a very complex and worthwhile life, whether they know anything about astrology or not. The parts of such a person will make beautiful music together.

Astrology blogger since 2007

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