The Planetary Elements (Fire, Earth, Air, Water) and Their Modifiers (Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable)

We have four Planetary Elements that we work with throughout our lives — Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Some of us respond to one Element more than another, and some of us can work with all of them in an almost equal manner. How do the Elements impact our lives — look to your chart to see what Element might reign, how it might modify or intensify your Sun sign, and begin to work with your strongest Element to harness your greatest potential. The Fire Signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius — the Earth Signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn — the Air Signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius — the Water Signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

Also — each Elemental Sign is also defined by being either a Cardinal Sign, A Mutable Sign, or a Fixed Sign which further modifies each Sign. The Cardinal Signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, Cardinal Signs have great power, start projects, keep their goals in mind, enjoy being in charge, work towards their goals, are often underestimated, have a need to follow directions, have charisma, love order, are the movers and shakers of the Zodiac. The Mutable Signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. The Mutable Signs are usually more able to adapt to new situations, are flexible in changing plans, enjoy spontaneity, are quick-witted, accepting, are musical, artistic, quixotic, are hard to pin down, need others, have élan, and enjoy living life to the fullest. The Fixed Signs are Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, and Taurus. These folks are hard-wired in their beliefs (especially those learned in childhood), opinionated, stubborn, have deep feelings about everything, are solid and reliable, cannot abide any falsehood, hard-working and steadfast, have long memories, need understanding, can be loving, make and follow their own rules, if they make a promise they will keep it.

First we will explore the way you can find out which Element is uppermost in your own chart — simply count the number of Planets in either of the Elements — i.e., Sun in Taurus would be one for the Earth column, Moon in Capricorn is also Earthy! Venus in Pisces is Watery — Go through the Planets in their signs, and add them up according to the Element they are in, and when you find one whose numbers supersedes the others, you have your answer. However, if you have 3 Planets in more than one Element — you will vibrate to both! Allowing you to integrate your persona in a more intricate and unique style. Also, add up the modifying traits — Cardinal, Mutable, or Fixed — the two numbers together will give you the Element that reigns, and the Modifying mode that rules — for instance — if Fire Signs have the highest number and Mutable also has the highest number then your profile would be “Mutable Fire” and that means your profile would be Sagittarius, and your demeanor and feelings would respond to a Sagittarian persona. Of course, all of this is combined with your Sun, Moon and other planetary positions. Just another tool in your possession to help understand your personal and unique personality. We all vibrate to different influences, and sometimes we think we are presenting ourselves as one thing when in reality others find us quite an anomaly, and see us quite differently. As the poet Robert Burns wrote “Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us — to see oursels as ithers see us!” In other words — if only we could see ourselves as others see us! What would we encounter — how surprised might we be? You may be amazed at how differently we appear to others, when in our own minds we feel we are something else altogether.

Here’s a “for instance” — Sun and Venus in Pisces, Moon in Scorpio, Pluto in Cancer, Mercury and Jupiter in Aquarius, Saturn and Mars in Aries, Uranus in Taurus and Neptune in Virgo! Counting up those in the same “Element” we have Sun, Venus, Moon, and Pluto all in Water for a count of (4) — Mercury and Jupiter are Air (2) –Saturn and Mars are Fire (2) — and Uranus and Neptune are Earth (2). The reigning Element would be Water! With the other Planets spaced equally amongst the other Elements — they can be utilized in a harmonious manner — but always under that Watery umbrella. Adding up the Modifiers we have 3 Mutable, 4 Fixed, and 3 Cardinal. The Profile for this chart would be the ‘Fixed Water’ sign — Scorpio! So whatever sign the Sun or other Planets are in — they are all being channeled through the aura of that Scorpio Persona! If you were expecting a mild mannered, wishy-washy Pisces, what a surprise you’d have!

Some charts will be overwhelmingly in one Element or Modifier — then we would look for balance in what other Element/Modifier is present in the chart to see where some equilibrium is to be found, and a bit more flexibility. Each Element has its own profile although each Element will share similar traits with the others in the same Element depending on the Modifier. Are we confused yet? The Chart wheel of any individual has a plethora of minutiae that can be harvested for information. Still — for most folks it remains a mystery. Just another reason why we humans are such a complex, diverse and inscrutable paradigm.

Fire Element — with a strong Fire representation, we find the bold, quick thinking, courageous, and busy individual. Aries is fast to act (perhaps without thinking), brave, stalwart, quick to anger and quick to forget, passionate and fearless, they feel deeply and can be too intense for some. Leo is more profound, loyal, egotistical, strong, social, truly the King/Queen of all they survey, wily, caring, ambitious and literally has “heart”, they also have a sensitive ego and find it difficult to forgive any criticism. Sagittarius is fiery, fast, forward-looking, playful, always young-at-heart, overthinks, adventurous, sporting, funny, possibly a worrywart, and loves to laugh, also a loving companion.

Earth Element — our Earthy folks are the salt of the Earth, grounded, homebodies, gardeners, steady in their rise to the top. Especially our Taurus folks are slow and steady, strong, practical, determined (stubborn), on track, a homebody, (his/her home is their castle), studious, has common sense, and will reach their goals, need a plan to follow. Virgo is accurate, precise, may nag a bit, likes everything in its place, tidy, concerned with health, many health-professionals are Virgos, likes routine – dislikes change, the least spontaneous of the Mutable Signs, hard-working, insistent, concerned, environmentally aware, overly concerned with what others think, reliable, and enjoys being right, as they often are. Capricorn is stable, grounded, balanced, can be a work-a-holic, patient, enduring, employee of the month, ambitious, genuine, solid, and usually sure of themselves, they need time and space to contemplate.

Air Element — The Air Element gives us our intelligence, our humor, our ability to laugh at ourselves, our inner child, our imagination, our light-bulb moments, our giddiness, and our playfulness. Gemini is all of these things, and more — silly, open, naïve, ever young, trouble deciding, and trouble finishing up projects — still our fun companions who will dash off with us for any new adventure. Libra folks also share the sparks of brilliance, can’t make a decision, needs balance, is in love with love, has a beautiful smile, needs to be married, wants to understand everything. Aquarius brings our unique and brilliant folks, often have their heads in the clouds, but are thinking deep thoughts, artistic, musical, clever, a bit wary, chooses friends carefully, embraces life fully, enjoys thinking outside the box, might enjoy shocking people, can join fringe groups, wants to experience everything!

Water Element — The Water Element rules our emotions, how we “feel” about things, it is artistry in motion, music to dance to, and passion aplenty. Also needs approval, has to have love in their lives, wants to be bold and dramatic, often shy and uncomfortable in a crowd. Creative, melancholy, amusing, generous, caring and maybe a bit flaky — but good-hearted and wise. Cancer is motherly, sensitive, supportive, strong, faithful, family oriented, and needs to be needed. Scorpio has unchartered depths, can overthink any situation, can rise to the heights or drop to the depths of society, hard to read, sexy, deeply passionate, perhaps psychic, strong will, and will be your forever friend. Pisces is an enigma, blurred by her ruling Planet Neptune, our Pisces folks can be CEO’s, among the homeless, spiritual, intuitive, kind, often late, sometimes fuzzy, always a shoulder to cry on, and they have hidden talents that can surprise and amaze.

I realize this is a lot of information to absorb — especially since the interplay between all of the Elements, the Modifiers, our own Planetary set-up, the aspects between signs, the present transits, and the massive immensity of the interconnections does seem limitless. Still, as you begin to acknowledge each tiny connection, and realize their meanings — you can begin to work with your strongest and wisest placements. Using your chart as a guideline to your future will ensure that you are on the proper pathway in this lifetime, and that you can clearly “see” what and where your goal will finally be. Stay in the moment, the hour, the day and the years will take care of themselves. Work with the harmony of the Universal essences, and use all of the information at your fingertips. Hone in on your true potential, your true self, and your true karmic path. It is worth the effort — but remember — the journey is ALL. Blessings!

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2 comments on “The Planetary Elements (Fire, Earth, Air, Water) and Their Modifiers (Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable)

  1. Ryene says:

    This is fascinating. What would you suggest for someone who is tied in two elements and strong in both? I’m a Cancer with a 4-4 fire/water split.

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