Associating Zodiac Signs With Elements

The four elements describe people's personality traits

Piazza (square) San Marco, Clock Tower detail
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The 12 zodiac signs were divided among the four elements as early as the Renaissance, with three signs associated with each element. However, early associations were by no means consistent. Different sources could provide wildly different groupings.

Signs

Your sign is determined by the date of your birth. According to the tropical zodiac, the system most commonly used in mainstream media such a newspaper horoscopes, the signs are:

  • Aquarius: Jan. 21-Feb. 19
  • Pisces: Feb. 20-March 20
  • Aries: March 21-April 20
  • Taurus: April 21-May 21
  • Gemini: May 22-June 21
  • Cancer: June 22-July 22
  • Leo: July 23-Aug. 21
  • Virgo: Aug. 22-Sept. 23
  • Libra: Sept. 24-Oct. 23
  • Scorpio: Oct. 24-Nov. 22
  • Sagittarius: Nov. 23-Dec. 22
  • Capricorn: Dec. 23-Jan. 20

Elements

In modern times, the grouping of signs with elements has been standardized:

  • Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
  • Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
  • Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
  • Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

This association is part of the complex web of correspondences used by occultists. People attempting to attract the influences of fire, for example, may wish to do so during the times of the year ruled by a fire sign. The correspondences can also be used to describe people born under a certain element's signs.

Fire

The element fire represents energy. Even though water has great earthly energy, it can’t compare with the sun's energy, though both might be equally important to humans. Fire has strong masculine energy but often neglects the feminine principles. Life without love, a feminine principle, isn’t worth living, so fiery people must respect their emotional side and acknowledge their emotional needs. The biggest challenge for one guided by fire is to remain calm and peaceful, remembering that passivity is needed as much as an activity.

Air

This element connects all other elements and is found in them all. Life isn’t possible without fire, but fire can’t exist without air. Signs belonging to this element have strong needs to feel liberated and problems with their surroundings. Their goal often is to stop pleasing others and follow their most liberating ideas. But their biggest challenge is to find grounding instead of remaining in higher spheres, where everything seems possible but isn’t. Airy individuals must stop talking and make concrete moves. They are balanced by earth, and they need a healthy daily routine and physical activity to remain aware of their physical existence.

Water

This is the element of constant movement, slow and steady, swirling inside us, of conception and death, illusions and fairytales. It’s also the element of emotion. Perhaps embracing emotion is the greatest task of all, accepting the negative with the positive, anger and sadness with love. Water people are said to be too emotional, but their sensitivity and fragility make them perfect therapists, helping those with deep emotional problems. Water is a pool of endless possibility, but it’s almost impossible to find direction if there’s no contact with fire, which offers energy, passion, and direction for talents. Water standing alone is magical and dreamy, but without direction, it could leave us spinning in circles without finding our way.

Earth

Earth is the basis for our existence and materialization of our desires. But it is stiff and unmovable, needing air for balance. Lacking earth makes finding grounding difficult. Earth signs value material things and hard work, making plans and putting them into action. People with this element might spend years following habits that don’t make them happy, neglecting their intelligence and creativity. Earth’s challenge is to recognize something as fast, unstable, and transparent as air. Unbalanced earthlings must change routines and stop questioning their decisions. They should take coffee breaks, walk aimlessly, and socialize. They need people who change places and ambitions. Their best exercise is a spontaneous dance with a relaxed partner.