The Elements & Modalities
Each sign and house is associated with one of these four elements: Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. An element of a sign can give you some fundamental basics to understanding that sign. An element of a house can give you a fundamental understanding of the basic nature of the activities that house represents. All signs that share an element have these things in common at their root, although they go about expressing that element in varying specific ways.
The element of fire represents the energy of life. The fire signs all have a need for passion in common. There is an enthusiasm and lust for life that exudes from these signs when they are expressing themselves healthily. There is also an unabashed quality of directness, such as fire itself which burns hot and consuming — not winding like a river, just a burst in all directions. People with a great deal of the fire element in their chart need to develop these qualities to express themselves fully and healthily. However, fire can burn itself up and consume everything in its path. The fire signs have to watch out for the temptation to burn everything up around them, and also burn themselves out. Aggressive bursts of energy with no direction can be problematic. The fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
The fire houses all represent different areas of life and activities in life with the theme of reaffirming one’s essence, their spark. They represent our need to engage in activities that help us feel alive, that renew our passion for life and inspire us and our personal creativity. The fire houses are all about expressing what’s inside of us that is unique to us. The fire houses are the 1st, 5th, and 9th.
The element of earth represents the energy of manifestation. While the fire element represents the existence of passion itself, the earth element wants to see it manifest, wants to see what two hands can do. It is grounded — concerned with the practical purpose of whatever is to be done. The phrase ‘down to earth’ is a good reference for the earth signs because they are concerned about the practical application of anything. Their tools are the five senses and a careful mind. The earth signs have a need to build, to feel useful and feel like they have a purpose through what they offer, what they manifest into corporeal being. However, the earth doesn’t move … much. When things need to shift quickly and impulsiveness and creative leaps are needed, earth may take a while to catch up. The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. The earth houses represent different areas of life and activities in life with the theme of manifestation. We are engaging in earth house activities when we are building, stabilizing, and establishing something in the corporeal world — whether it is the day to day practical to do lists we all have in life, or the larger picture and path of building our lives, the events and boundaries that shape our lives and the ‘niche’ we build for ourselves in our corner of the world. When we experience and pursue our need to achieve, to set our lives up, to live in the ‘real’ world (the physical, practical world), we are engaging in earth house activities. The earth houses are the 2nd, 6th, and 10th.
The element of air represents the energy of thought. Like the air we breathe, the air signs share in common a feeling of rapid movement — ideas and concepts always in motion, turning over themselves. The air signs feel that an active mind is a healthy one. There is also a feeling of connectedness with the air signs. Because thoughts are meant to be expressed, shared, debated, and expanded, and to do that, communication with others is their primary tool. They seek objective knowledge, which can best be gained by comparing as many perspectives as possible. However, the mind is a noisy and chaotic place, which sometimes babbles senselessly. There are some things you simply can’t think your way through, and too much analysis using the mind alone can detach one from oneself and others. Air signs must be careful to not lose themselves in the idea alone. The air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. The air houses all represent different areas of life and activities in life with the theme of social connectedness and concepts.
The air houses represent activities that expand our knowledge, whether it’s purely intellectual knowledge of the magic that happens when we learn about others and human nature simply by interacting with people and comparing notes. When we experience and pursue our need to engage with others, learn from others, interact with others on a small or large scale, we are engaging in air house activities. The air houses are the 3rd, 7th, and 11th houses.
The element of water represents the energy of emotion. We navigate much of the world by feeling our way, and the water signs know this best. Much of the important stuff of life happens without words, without analysis, without conscious awareness of it. The primary tool of a water sign is intuition. Water signs penetrate the secrets in the depths of the soul. Navigating the world with emotion has the potential to keep one the most connected to one’s own heartbeat, one’s true desires and needs. However, emotions are perhaps arguably the most unstable part of life, as our emotional state is always changing. Water signs must learn to navigate these depths without consistently drowning in feeling and never coming up for air to gain perspective. The water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
The water houses all represent different areas of life and activities in life with the theme of the subconscious self. Activities of a watery nature encourage us to look deeper, to stop assuming we know what motivates us, to stop looking for the easiest and most shallow answer. When we experience and pursue our need to seek inside of ourselves, underneath what we tell ourselves and what others can tell us about ourselves, and go digging for nuggets of personal truth, we are engaging in water house activities. The water houses are the 4th, 8th, and 12th houses.