The Elements, Qualities and Polarities in Horoscope
After the horoscope is calculated, we can apply the rules of astrology, plus our own knowledge and experience, to try and understand the person's potential, talents, strengths and weaknesses. We'll begin the study of the rules that will help us to extract a meaning from the horoscope.
Each person has in his or her horoscope all the ten planets and all the twelve signs of the Zodiac. What makes the difference between different horoscopes is that the planets occupy different positions in different signs, and also the Zodiac is positioned differently relative to the local horizon.
We are going to concentrate on the positions of the planets in the signs of the Zodiac, what information they can give us. First of all, we need to learn the two important classifications of the Signs of the Zodiac: the Elements and the Qualities.
Philosophical and esoteric traditions teach us that everything in the material world is made of the four Elements: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. Each Sign of the Zodiac belongs to one of the four Elements (it is very important to remember this classification):
- The Signs of Fire: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
- The Signs of Air: Libra, Aquarius, Gemini.
- The Signs of Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.
- The Signs of Earth: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo.
Each Element has certain important qualities, and the three signs that belong to that Element share its qualities in a certain way, although each of them provides a unique manifestation of the Element's qualities.
Very briefly, Fire's important attributes are energy, activity, enthusiasm, idealism.
Air is predominantly about communication, information and connectedness.
The main qualities of Water are emotionality, mysteriousness, synthesis and a strong interest towards the hidden side of life.
Earth is mainly practical, pragmatic and materialistic.
All this sounds a little bit too theoretical so far but as we've said, astrology is an applied philosophy. So the distance from theory to practice shouldn't be too long, and now we are going to prove that.
The Balance of the Elements in a Horoscope
To remind you yet again, each horoscope has in it all the ten planets and all the twelve signs, but the distribution of the planets across the signs is different. Some signs can have several planets in them while others might have no planets at all.
If we calculate the number of planets in the signs that belong to the same Element, we'll get an idea of how strongly the given Element is represented in the person's personality and life.
Some people have all the four Elements represented more or less equally. That's a universal type of personality that can be good in many things but without any exceptional talent in some specific area.
Most people though have one or two predominant Elements, and they feel themselves more comfortable in the activities and situations that are typical for those strong Elements. On the other hand, the remaining Elements might be under-represented in their horoscopes.
Predominant Fire gives a person a powerful source of energy. Someone who has a fiery horoscope is very eager to do something, to act, to find a use for his or her energy. This person is typically optimistic, and only serious obstacles or lengthy periods of bad luck can temporarily reduce his or her level of optimism. A fiery person is usually more than happy to share his or her energy, enthusiasm and ideas with the other people. They are the Movers and Shakers of the World.
A lack of Fire is typically manifested as a lack of own ideas and motivations. Such a person can be actually quite active, but since his or her own source of energy is weak, they might have to wait until someone else, with strong Fire, will give them an idea or elucidate the problem - then they'll begin to act.
Predominant Earth gives a person a materialistic, practical attitude. She or he has both feet on the ground and recognizes only those things that are tangible. An Earthy person is typically economical, thrifty, efficient, can do things well with his or her own hands, appreciates the material value of the objects of the surrounding world. Earth people are the Flesh of the World.
A lack of Earth can manifest itself as a lack of practicality, poor understanding of the realities of the world. Such people can have many beautiful plans and ideas but might be unable to implement them into anything real.
Strong Air makes a person communicative, curious, interested in all sorts of information. They connect different people and parts of the world, often acting as carriers for someone else's ideas, emotions or material things. Air people are the Blood and Nerves of the World.
A lack of Air reduces the person's ability to communicate. He or she can be very clever, but nobody might ever be able to guess that, just because of the lack of communication. Orientation in the surrounding world can be an issue, and being understood by the others is usually a problem for such people.
Dominating Water makes a person emotional, romantic, imaginative. Thanks to their ability to empathise and understand others without words, Water people play an important role in the human society. One could say that they are the Soul of the World as the Element of Water has an ability to bring together many disparate details and create from them something that is whole and live.
A lack of Water in a horoscope can manifest as a lack of imagination. The person lives in the world of dry logical schemes, without emotional support or intuitive understanding of the other people.
Of course, these interpretations are here only to help you to start thinking. You will gain more understanding by studying the horoscopes of the people you know and seeing how their individual balance of Elements manifests in their personalities and their lives.
At this point you would probably wish to have some more detailed instructions on how to calculate the balance of the Elements in a horoscope, and here they are coming.
Qualities: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable
Each Sign of the Zodiac has a specific kind of energy associated with it, and peculiar for that sign. You already know that there are four elements - Fire, Earth, Air and Water - and each sign belongs to one of the elements. This tells us from what kind of matter, so to say, the sign is made - whether it is a liquid of the Water, a gas of the Air, a plasma of the Fire or a solid substance of the Earth.
In addition to its element, each sign has a specific dynamic quality: it can be Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable.
Cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. They are impulsive, full of initiative, like to make the first step. For their dynamism, the initial strong impulse is very typical. Dealing with something, they push it strongly, make it moving, but since the movement has started they don't really care what happens next.
Dominating Cardinal signs in a horoscope show initiators, generators of ideas, people making the first step in a new direction. They start plenty of things in their lives, but if this is not balanced by a decent amount of Fixed quality, they abandon most of their projects before completing them.
A lack of Cardinal quality shows a lack of initiative, passivity, a fear of novations.
Fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. They are obstinate, stubborn, like to stand on their own, and if they are doing something they will just go on and on and never stop. However, in order to actually start doing something, Fixed signs need an impulse of a Cardinal sign.
Dominating Fixed signs make a person stable, steady, persistent, able for concentration and prolonged effort in one direction.
A lack of Fixed quality says that the person is unstable. He or she should better do things that do not require a lot of time for completion.
Mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. They are flexible and changeable, easily orient themselves in the surrounding world, notice every change in the environment and help all the other signs not to lose the sense of reality.
Dominating Mutable signs make a person versatile, easily adaptable, adble to follow all the subtle changes and nuances of the surrounding world.
A lack of Mutable quality shows that the person isn't well connected to the surrounding world and to the processes going on in it, isn't flexible and has problems with finding the path of the least resistance.
That was theory, now let's have some practice.
Calculating the Balance of the Elements
First of all, let's select some horoscope to work with. I will work with the horoscope of Angelina Jolie, one of my favourite actresses. She was born on the 4th of June, 1975, at 9:09 am in Los Angeles.
I've created Angelina's horoscope using Solar Fire, a popular professional astrological program. Here is the result:
By now, you should be able to find out which planet is located in which sign, so I will not list all the positions in the text. There are two factors in this horoscope that you might not be familiar with: Chiron and the North Node. Just ignore them for now. From time to time, you will meet in horoscopes some elements that you are not familiar with, so isolating Chiron and the North Node here might be a useful exercise.
There are two possible approaches to calculating the balance of the Elements in a horoscope. The simplest one is to calculate the number of planets in each of the Elements.
Let's see. Angelina Jolie has Mars, the Moon and Jupiter in Aries, and Neptune in Sagittarius. Alltogether four planets in Fire signs.
She has the Sun and Mercury in Gemini, Uranus and Pluto in Libra - alltogether four planets in Air signs.
Finally, there are two planets in Cancer, Venus and Saturn, which makes two planets in Water signs.
This gives us the following conclusion: a predominantly Fiery and Airy person. There is also some water that helps her to be charming but no Earth whatsoever - so we might guess she is not the most practical person in the world.
Another way to calculate the balance of the elements would be to take into consideration the relative importance of different planets in the natal chart.
The Sun and the Moon are very important, they are the Luminaries, so when calculating the balance of the Elements I would usually give them three points each. The personal planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars) are next in importants, so I would give them two points each. All the rest of the planets will have only one point. Of course, you are free to modify this system according to your own experience.
Let's see how the calculation will be different now.
Fire: Mars (+2), the Moon (+3), Jupiter (+1), Neptune (+1), alltogether 7 points.
Air: the Sun (+3), Mercury (+2), Uranus (+1), Pluto (+1), also 7 points.
Water: Saturn (+1), Venus (+2), alltogether 3 points.
In Angelina Jolie's case, the more detailed approach doesn't actually make any significant difference - although we do see that Fire and Air are really strong here, compared to Water - but in some other chart there can be a noticeable difference. Try to use both approaches when calculating the balance for your friends and family.
There is another interesting approach to estimate the overall balance of the horoscope: we could use the Qualities, and they could tell us something quite interesting about Angelina Jolie's personality.
Calculating the Balance of Qualities
In the same way as with Elements, we can use a simple approach, which means just calculate the number of planets in the signs of each Quality, or slightly more sophisticated approach, which means add more weight to the luminaries and personal planets.
Cardinal: the Moon, Mars and Jupiter in Aries, Saturn and Venus in Cancer, Pluto and Uranus in Libra. Seven planets in Cardinal signs!
Fixed: nothing at all.
Mutable: the Sun and Mercury in Gemini, Neptune in Sagittarius. Three planets in Mutable signs.
Cardinal: the Moon (+3), Mars (+2), Jupiter (+1), Saturn (+1), Venus (+2), Pluto (+1), Uranus (+1): 11 points.
Fixed: 0 points.
Mutable: the Sun (+3), Mercury (+2), Neptune (+1): 6 points.
Both approaches give us the same result (which won't be always the case with the other horoscopes): very strong Cardinal quality, modearate Mutable quality and no Fixed quality at all. This show us a very dynamic personality. Angelina is impulsive and keen to start something new. She definitely doesn't complete most of here projects but she gives a lot of impulses to the other people who can continue to do what she has started. She also has a good understanding of the surrounding reality and is able to adapt her actions to the changing circumstances.
See, it was very easy, we just added together a few numbers, and here we have a good idea of what kind of energy moves the person. Now we can combine this knowledge with what we have learned in the previous lesson: that Angelina is a predominantly fiery and airy person, that she lives in the world of ideas and information but doesn't have any Earth.
Sometimes after calculating the balance of Elements and Qualities we shall find that a certain Element/Quality pair is very, very strong, and then we have a clear idea of what this person is very good at. Angelina Jolie, for example, is very good at generating ideas and sharing them with the other people.
In other cases, we might find that something is very weak or completely missing, like Earth and Fixed quality in Angelina Jolie's chart. We can then be sure that she does not have a vegetable garden and does not work hard there to grow crops.
You will also find cases when both Elements and Qualities are represented more or less equally in a horoscope. In that case the calculation of balances won't give you a lot of information, except of the fact that that the person is very versatile and can do many different things in any area of life, that he or she doesn't have any specific strengths or weaknesses.
The "Synthetic" Sign
Now you can see that each of the Signs of the Zodiac belongs to one of the Elements and one of the Qualities. For example, Aries is a Cardinal Fire while Taurus is a Fixed Earth. Here is a table that shows the information for all the signs at a glance:
It is essential to memorise the information in the table above. As a reward for your patience and perseverance, I will offer you an approach that is very simple but can occasionally provide an unusual insight into a person's character.
The approach is called "the Synthetic Sign". To define the synthetic sign, we need to calculate the balance of Elements and Qualities in a horoscope and then find a sign in the table above which is combines the strongest Element and the strongest Quality. We can then say that the energy of that "synthetic sign" is very prominent in the character of the given person.
In the case of Angelina Jolie, the strongest Quality is Cardinal but there are two equally strong Elements: Fire and Air, so she has two synthetic signs: Aries and Libra. This is already interesting: she doesn't have any personal planets in Libra but the synthetic sign says that she is an Aries/Libra person, she can be direct and fast as Aries but also charming as Libra.
Sometimes, you will see even more interesting cases. Many years ago, when I was beginning to study astrology, I had a friend who was well known for bringing new interesting books and sharing them with his colleagues. Such an interest in books is a typical feature of Aquarius and I was puzzled because the friend didn't actually have anything of significance in Aquarius. The synthetic sign helped me to understand his personality. That friend of mine had a strong Element of Air and a strong Fixed Quality, so his synthetic sign was Aquarius, and his character resembled quite strongly a typical Aquarian.
Learning Elements and Qualities
Now that we've discussed how Elements and Qualities are calculated, you can look around and notice some people in your life who strongly represent some Element, or some Quality, or a lack of them. Have you already created their horoscope and calculated their balance of Elements and Qualities? If not, please do so - nothing can replace practice in studying astrology.
There are also a few other approaches that can help us to learn the Signs of the Zodiac and their Elements and Qualities.
For example, whenever you need to recall some Sign of the Zodiac for one or another purpose, don't dig into books and websites to find some lengthy descriptions compiled by the other people. Just recollect to which Element and to which Quality that sign belongs, combine what you know about that Element and Quality and see what it will produce. Say, Aquarius is a Fixed Air, so it lives in the world of information and is quite concentrated and persistent in what it is doing. It doesn't like to be distracted and has a strong opinion about whatever it knows. Arguing with Aquarians might not be easy because, on one hand, these people really know their stuff very deeply, and on the other hand, they are not prone to changing their opinion.
See, it's very easy: you take the basic ideas, combine them and then think how a person with this or that qualities would react to specific situations. You can now write your own popular astrology books!
Another approach is to make stories about the signs of the same Element and figure out what's the difference between them. Say, the signs of the Earth: Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo. They are all practical, pragmatic, prefer to deal with material things, so what's the difference between them? Imagine three people: one of them is a Cardinal Earth, a Capricorn. He comes up with an idea to produce a certain product. He does all the drawings, maybe even creates a prototype but he doesn't have patience and stamina required to produce ten thousand exemplars of the new product. So he pokes a Fixed Earth, a Taurus, gives him the idea and the prototype and asks to produce ten thousand things.
Taurus got the idea and begins to work. He doesn't really care whether he will produce ten thousand things or ten million, he just wants to keep going. Now, think about this: neither Cardinal signs nor Fixed signs actually know what's going on in the surrounding world. The Cardinal signs a moved by an impulse from inside, the Fixed ones need an impulse from the outside but rather strong, otherwise they will just ignore any disturbances. Who is then going to tell the Capricorn guy whether his idea is really good and there is a demand for his product in the world? Or who is going to tell the Taurus man that ten thousand things is enough and he should stop now because it will be difficult to sell more?
You guessed it, the Mutable Earth comes to the stage, the Virgo chap. He knows the prices, he knows the demand and how it was changing in the past, so he is the right person to ask all those questions about the surrounding world.
Now, try to write your own stories for the other Elements. How about this theme for the Fire signs: the spark that starts the boiler, the constant flame that heats the water and then the spreading warmth of radiators through the house?
There is one more way how we can classify the Signs of the Zodiac. If you start from Aries and follow the sequence of signs you might notice that every next sign is somewhat opposite to the previous sign. Say, Aries is active and extravert, goes into sports, but Taurus is more introvert, will better go gardening or cooking quietly. Then Gemini can't be bothered with gardeningand will go chat with friends, but Cancer will definitely prefer to stay home and take care of the kids...
You will notice that all Fire and Air signs are active, extravert, open to the outside world while all Earth and Water signs are somewhat inrovert and pay more attention to their private life. This is why every odd Sign of the Zodiac, namely Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius, is considered to be positive, or masculine, while every even sign - Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces - is said to be negative, or feminine.
Positive and negative doesn't mean good and bad, of course. Those are like two poles of a magnet - opposite but cannot exist without each other.
We can easily calculate which polarity is stronger in a horoscope. For example, since in Angelina Jolie's chart the strongest elements are Fire and Air, we can immediately say that positive, masculine energy strongly dominates in her chart.
Don't be tempted to think that a strong masculine energy in a chart that belongs to a woman, or a strong feminine energy in a chart of a man, is an evidence of hormonal anomaly of any kind. Astrology can actually be quite efficient in pinpointing potential for special cases related to gender, like homosexuals or transsexuals, but to be able to retrieve that information one needs to have a deeper knowledge of astrology.
At the level of polarities, a girl with strong positive signs will most probably be a tomboy while a boy with strong negative energy will be more quiet and contemplative than his peers.
There is however a confirmed evidence that the polarity of the Sign of the Zodiac in which the Moon was situated at the moment of conception defines the gender of the future child.