The four elements in relation to Astrology are explained here in the two part article.
The Earth Element:
The Realistic Person
The world of the earth individual is the world of facts, experiences, order, and structure. She values and relies on everything that she can grasp and examine with her senses. The earth individual does not warm up to fiery speculations, elevated theories are too unfounded for her, and watery fantasies don’t really appeal to her sense of reality. She will always prefer a bird in the hand to two in the bush! What counts for her is the bottom line, what she has in her pocket, and what she can take home with her. Earth-oriented people may be slow and deliberate in their actions, but they are persistent and have staying power as a result. Once they get involved in a plan, they will follow it directly and consistently until they reach their goal. Their strong trust in pragmatic values makes them the keepers of tradition and simultaneously suspicious of bold utopias. They value tried-and-true methods far more than modern solutions, in the same way that the past and present are more important than a fictitious future that is still unstructured and will ultimately always be unpredictable.
The rooted earth individual usually lacks the willingness — and sometimes just simply the necessary imagination — to warm up to the world of ideals, longings, or ideas. She lavishes care and attention on the familiar since this is what she knows and can depend on. This is why she loves routine and repetition, and has a difficult time with changes and innovations. Others are sure to have had a hard time with her stubbornness, lack of flexibility, and resistance to anything unaccustomed. However, when her need for security lets her hold on too tight to things proven and achieved, when she desperately clings to money, property, possessions, and reality, there is the danger of losing sight of life’s meaning and that all of life’s joys will be smothered because of her lack of inspiration and visionary strength.
Earth with the other signs
The lively, restless air signs sometimes make too much fuss for the earth individual. Without further ado, they too easily stir up her clear structures, constantly come up with some sort of lofty and much too modern ideas that don’t interest her at all. She cannot comprehend why she should get mixed up in such high-flown “mental acrobatics”, especially since theory and practice seem to constantly contradict each other here. She only values perceptions when she can truly do something with them. Having a perception for perception’s sake appears to be quite superfluous to her. At the same time, more receptiveness for the air world could actually be good for her, since the inventive spirit of air could actually bring easy solutions and make some things go more smoothly.
Earth has a very special problem with fire because fire has a carefree way of “burning up” all the reserves that earth has so carefully developed and leaves nothing behind it but scorched earth. The earth individual not only finds the impetuous forward-surging fire to be uneconomical, but also much too thoughtless in the face of uncalculated risks. However, the warming fire is good for the earth, since it can bring healthy excitement and intensity into her life through the momentum, joy, and constantly flaming optimism of the fire individual.
The Air Element:
The air individual moves easily in the world of theories, thoughts, and abstractions. He possesses a quick grasp and nimble verbal ability to express himself. His need for contact and exchange drives him from one place to the next, but the desire for freedom and independence prevents him from spending much time anywhere. So the air individual approaches other people in an open and friendly way but usually makes an impression that is somewhat distanced and cool in the process. His train of thought frequently moves in leaps and bounds, primarily on the surface of things. These people are brilliant, informative, create ideas, impart knowledge, make connections, think in relative terms and question things, but usually manage to avoid commitment and depth, as well as emotional involvement. This light, lively, curious mood frequently leads to impatience, nervousness, and fragmentation.
Their inexhaustible interest (Latin = being in between) in everyone and everything prevents them from taking a clear position and makes them lightweights without a homeland. The future is the favorite playing field for their thoughts since this is where they can be devised and invented. Things that are new keep all the possibilities open and leave leeway for experiments and utopias.
Although the air individual constantly strives for clarity and objectivity, he may sometimes get lost in the elevated labyrinths of his own mental world. There he is like the comical professor who experiments in his ivory-tower laboratory with high-flown theories that no one would know how to use, even if they ever did prove to be more than a flop.
Air and the other signs
Air often has a difficult time with earth in the truest sense of the word. Earth’s unwavering sense of reality lets some of those lovely castles in the air smash to pieces on hard ground. On the other hand, however, this combination is valuable because airy ideas only become useful in the practical sense when they interact with earth.
The water signs are usually a closed book for the air individual as well. The world of feelings is too vague for him, he cannot comprehend it; it’s not logical, at best psychological — and he can only smile about that. Yet, the water signs in particular are capable of breathing life into his abstract ideas and making them more human.
The Water Element:
The Emotional Person
The water individual intuitively attunes herself to her surrounding world. Her antennae are permanently set on reception, which gives her an excellent sense of empathy, on the one hand, but also makes it considerably more difficult for her to draw the line against outside influences. Water people take in a great deal and in this process let themselves be influenced by energies and forces that aren’t even meant for them. Their sensitivity lets them always know what the other person expects from them. As a result of their great willingness to react to other people’s wishes, these are the people with a thousand faces who are capable of appearing in whatever way the person with whom they are dealing at the moment wishes them to be.
In accordance with this, water people have difficulties in developing a feeling for their own identity and their own boundaries. Despite all this, it would still be wrong to underestimate their instinctive urge toward goals because nothing can ultimately stop water from following its true destiny, even if it has to make detours that appear very curious in the eyes of the other elements. A willingness to help, sympathy, sureness of instinct, empathy, and often a good deal of intuitive ability are the strengths of water, which is why these people frequently dedicate themselves to therapeutic tasks.
Although the water individual can tell beautiful stories, she has difficulties in expressing herself in formal terms and explaining something factually, since the world of sober rationality is not hers. She is much more at home in the rich world of images, of the imagination, and the soul. She is the born soul-doctor who can listen to others, be truly sympathetic, and show deep understanding. And she is naturally also the teller of fairy tales, the poet, the artist, or the magician.
Her sensitivity lets her be less daring than the other elements and sometimes even less able to cope with life. When the demands of the outer world become too hard, so that she no longer feels capable of coping, she often retreats into her own inner life or into a fantasy world, and hopes to somehow wrangle through on the outside. In extreme cases, this leads to escapism, stubborn denial of reality, a leap into the irrational, or flight into intoxication. Then the past, with its images, has a firm hold on her and her glance tends to wander more backward than forward.
Her soul gets caught up in memories time and again, revealing old, familiar things in intensive dreams even years after everything has long been over. Like no other element, water draws into the depths and only becomes calm when it has landed at the bottom. Water does not move on its own power. To do this, water needs impulses from the outside or, even better, a slant that gives it a direction, as well as a setting that provides it with support.
Water and the other signs
The water person values the proximity of earth individuals, who give her structure and security. However, this applies only as long as they don’t start to dry out her water by, for example, trying to suppress the inner correlation that she senses with their unimaginative factual thinking.
From the deep water perspective, air tends to be a superficial element. When air approaches are too cold and hostile, water shuts itself off by forming a sheet of ice and thereby preventing the coldly analytical intellect from looking into the depths of her soul. But where these two elements connect well, we can find artists who know how to express the images of the soul in words or through music, as well as the true spiritual helpers and guides.
Water flees from the hot fire signs. The combination steams. Water quickly feels herself to be overpowered or easily has her feelings hurt by the heated directness. On the other hand, the momentum of a fire person — his optimism and joy in life — can sometimes rouse the water type out of her apathy.
Authors Details: Hajo Banzhaf & Brigitte Theler. Excerpt from “Secrets of Love & Partnership” Web Site