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This Week’s Astrology Lesson: Bringing the Elements and the Qualities Togethersigns image

In previous articles I discussed two way of categorizing the twelve signs of the Zodiac.  First of all, each of the signs is assigned to one of the four Elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. Then each is assigned to one of the three Qualities: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. When we combine these two systems we not only have the most basic descriptions of the signs, we also see the true beauty of astrology.

Each sign of the Zodiac represents a different combination of the Elements and the Qualities, as is shown in this chart.

chart elements qualities












When we combine the keywords for the Element and the Quality that applies to a specific sign of the Zodiac, we get a succinct but relatively complete description of that sign. For example, let’s look at Capricorn, the Cardinal Earth sign.

Cardinal Signs
Positive Traits – Pragmatic, focused, pro-active, goal oriented, decisive, self-motivated
Negative Traits – Hyper-active, aggressive, demanding, driven, unwilling to leave well enough alone

Earth Signs
Positive Traits – Practical, realistic, cautious, sensual, thorough and patient
Negative Traits – Materialist, possessive, unimaginative, skeptical, crude and insensitive

You’ll notice that some of the traits listed here contradict one another. Cardinal signs are hyper-active and aggressive while Earth signs are cautious, thorough and patient. It is these contradictions that the true character of the sign shows through. Capricorn moves at a patient, unhurried pace, but it is always moving, always striving toward a goal.

Of course, it is the traits that match that are most striking. For example, the pragmatic attitude of the Cardinal sign component of Capricorn meshes nicely with the practicality and realism of its Earthy side. A less appealing concordance is the demanding nature of Cardinal Capricorn and the skepticism and insensitivity of Earth sign Capricorn.

Then there are other traits that are not in agreement but don’t necessarily contradict one another. They just seem incompatible. For example, how does goal-oriented Cardinal Capricorn function alongside sensual Earth sign Capricorn? There is no definitive answer to this question. It is a problem that each person born with under the influence of Capricorn has to solve. Maybe they will do this by over-emphasizing the “driven” portion of their Cardinal personality or maybe we will see way too much of the “crude and insensitive” part of their Earth sign character. Or maybe, the person will find a balance that satisfies both Capricorn’s need to achieve and the sign’s physical appetite.

Other factors also influence the character of a Zodiac sign. There is the planet that rules the sign, the House or department of life associated with it and the symbolism of the sign itself. Still, most of what we say about a Sun sign or a Venus sign or a whatever sign is covered by the Element and the Quality that sign represents. Study the Elements, meditate on the Qualities and you will not only learn a lot about astrology, you will begin to understand its systematic beauty.

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