The Fire, Earth, Air, and Water of Zodiac Signs

An elemental education on how to better understand astrology.

 minute read

Siri Romero

Even before written history, there’s always been an understanding of the need for elemental balance to sustain life. In astrology – and everything, really – fire, earth, air, and water represent a primal energy and consciousness that operate within each and every one of us. Whether we’re dominated by one or a combination of elements (as most of us are), we each operate under an elemental rhythm. You may already be able to think of people you know who stereotypically have their head in the clouds (air), or feel restless and need stimulating (fire).


Of the four elements, each carry a modality:  cardinal, fixed, and mutable. The modality of each Zodiac sign is its modus operandi, each with its own unique way of engaging with the world – cardinal, fixed, and mutable representing forward movement, rooting in one place, and constant change, respectively. Together, these modalities and elements create the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Although tricky to understand at first, the astrological elements make it easier to understand all the Zodiac signs, whether you religiously check your Co – star app or not.

Cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn

Power traits: The cardinal signs are action-oriented, directing their energy towards new aspirations, and carrying a creative quality to them.

Pitfalls: They experience restlessness when they stay with one idea, plan or project for too long.

Fixed signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius

Power traits: The fixed signs are about stabilizing and creating a structure to finish or bring something into completion. It's the modality of making a commitment and staying the course. 

Pitfalls: They find change challenging, since they get stuck in a rut or a fixed way of thinking, which tends to lead to stubbornness.

Mutable signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces

Power traits: The mutable signs are about change and adaptability, and as such, are the agents of change. This modality allows one to make the changes that are needed as life presents it.

Pitfalls: They have a hard time creating structure and bringing projects to completion.


Air signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Air signs think their way through life.  As the realm of thought, air breeds intellect, curiosity, and ideas. Communication, perception, balance and fairness are air characteristics. It is quick, changeable, and future oriented.

Compatible with: air signs

Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Water signs feel their way forward; water is fluid, Intuitive, instinctual, spiritual. It constantly changes and has depth. Water represents emotions, deep feelings, and compassion.

Compatible with: earth signs  

Fire signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Fire signs’ focus is on action. Fire provides confidence, optimism, creativity, passion, impulse, humor, and fun. Fire is undeniably the energy of spirit and it believes in its right to shine. Fire and air signs are more active, self-expressive, and outgoing.

Compatible with: air signs

Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Earth signs’ approach life practically, and like organizing physical resources. As earth is the realm of the material and physical world, its signs are solid, stable, grounded, and reliable.

Compatible with: water signs

A basic understanding of the dominant elements in your chart can provide you with deeper insight into your own personality. When we learn that we operate under one or more signs and elements, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of our personality, and bring healing as well as permission to be ourselves.

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