top of page

Interpreting the Planets in a natal chart through the elemental quality of the sign they reside in


One way to begin to get a grasp for the whole of the chart is to start from the big picture. Some begin with Sun/Moon/Ascendent and work from there, while others look at the planetary pattern of the chart as a whole, or the positions of the Sun and Moon relative to the horizona and meridian axes. These are all very important. Here we are going to focus on the four elements (Fire, Air, Earth, Water) and see which ones are predominant in the natal chart as well as how each planet functions in a given element rather than focusing on each sign. This approach allows us to retain a simple yet profound view of the chart that can be used to guide us as we continue to look deeper. 


First we must begin with a brief overview of the elements and what they refer to. The four elements are the most simple building blocks of consciousness in the manifested world. The number four is a symbol of manifestation within the world of forms. The most simple fact of existence is duality, the bi-polar interplay of positive and negative forces. The four elements (two masculine - Fire and Air - and two feminine - Water and Earth) are the result of this duality manifesting on a more concrete level. Duality can be understood as a Day force and a Night force. While one waxes, the other wanes, and viceversa. As soon as one reaches its apex it immediately begins to become its opposite. Therefore these two forces are in fact one force or consciousness at two different apexes of cyclic movement, such a movement being the foundation of manifestation and of an existence which is truly dynamic, yet appears static in many instances. The four elements are also one force or consciousness and to this has been given the name of Ether, or the fifth element. The four elements can be made to correspond to the four seasons of the year and therefore also represent phases in a cycle, whether that cycle is an individualized unit of consciousness such as a human, the yearly cycle, the lunar cycle, etc. 




Season: Summer

Qualities: Hot and Dry

Function and Meaning:

Fire refers to the life force (prana), the force that animates our individual form and provides us with the dynamic energies necessary to actualize our existence. Fire is therefore a highly individualizing form of energy. Deity is often symbolized by fire as is mind or soul (the fires of Prometheus). Fire refers to the play of creation and destruction, the dynamic nature of existence.


Season: Spring

Qualities: Hot and Moist

Function and Meaning:

Air refers to the mental processes in life and in man. Whereas fire refers to the creative mind, it is air that refers to the lower mind, or the mind concerned with organizing sensory data and thus all of reality and experience. Air builds those ideological frameworks which allow a person to find reference points for experience. It also refers to all social processes and the social urge itself because it is through the air one breathes that one is concretely connected to all others. 


Season: Winter

Qualities: Cold and Moist

Function and Meaning:

Water symbolizes the emotional body and the adaptative principle of life. It is through the feelings that life adapts itself. Water represents as well our desires and attachements and it is from water that all life is born in form. The emotions allow us to feel connected on non rational levels with others and with our surroundings in general. It must be kept in mind that water dissolves boundaries and makes the consciousness of the individual porous.


Season: Fall

Qualities: Cold and Dry

Function and Meaning:

This is the densest, most rigid of the four elements. Earth refers to that which is concrete and enduring, providing a physical frame of reference for the flow of life events. It is concerned with the enduring, practical-survival based aspects of existence. It is the vehicle for the other three elements. 

The Planets and the Elements:


What follows is very basic and one should consult the individual pages of the planets for a more in depth treatment of each planet.



The Sun

Qualities: Hot and Dry

Element: Fire

The Sun refers to the basic psychological fuel an individual runs on. It is a symbol of his vitality (prana), his will and his purpose. It is the basic tone of his being and his connection with the source of Truth.


Fire: The individual feels vitalized and in touch with their purpose as they engage in those activities or experiences centered around individual freedom, expression and creativity. A strong sense of individual destiny and subjectivity is generally present.


Air: The basic tone of the person is one of mental-social existence. The native's basic sense of selfhood and purpose is connected with social interactions and ideological forms which can be used to quantify and create meaning in the life. The person vitalizes themselves through social/intellectual activities.


Water: Here the basic keynote of the individual is focused through the emotional sphere. The native most likely functions best through the non-rational sphere of feelings and intuitive senses. It is not uncommon for such an individual to be extremely sensitive to the unseen world. Such a person often lacks boundaries and is guided by their emotions. In order to feel vitalized and connected to a purpose they must be able to feel deeply.


Earth: This kind of person derives vitality and purpose from all that is practical and enduring with regard to physical and social existence. They often have a strong connection to the impersonal past, whether racial, ancestral, or cultural. Their will is most directly focused toward the practical and the mundane.

The Moon

Qualities: Cold and Moist

Element: Water

The Moon's function in the individual is that of feelings, habits, adaptability to change, and emotional security.


Fire: Such a person responds quickly and aggressively to changing situations and circumstances. Emotional security is related to individual freedom and self expression.


Air: These natives rely upon some kind of social function or intellectual framework to adapt to new situations and experiences. They derive emotional security from their relationships with others (their sense of social connectedness) and their ideological framework. They may feel at times disconnected to their emotional body or inner world. They tend to approach this realm dispassionately and objectively.


Water: The Moon is most characteristically at home in Water signs. The feeling nature is very deep and profound here. The individual, in adjusting to new situations, may do so non-rationally or they may have a difficult time moving beyond what makes them feel emotionally secure. Should a new experience threaten this connection with the personal past then such a person is likely to recoil. Emotional security tends to be created through highly personal attachments, yet it may also be through mystical channels.


Earth: Emotional security is here related directly to survival and all that is practical or directed at creating an enduring reality for the individual. The individual adapts to new experiences based upon this most physical and at times visceral level of consciousness. Such a person asks "will I survive?". They search always for that which is enduring.


Qualities: Adaptable

Element: Ether

Mercury refers to the mind and the organization of experience on mental levels. It refers as well to the faculty of communication and the objective capacities of an individual.


Fire: The individual organizes their experiences based on how they hinder or contribute to the sense of individual purpose. They may be drawn to those ideas which help to make sense of their personal destiny.


Air: The individual organizes their experiences based on a conceptual framework especially with regard to their social relevancy or to others. They may be drawn to systems of thught which are highly philosophical or intellectual specifically for the purpose of understanding the events of their life.


Water: The individual organizes their experiences based upon an emotional, non-rational, framework. They may sense subtle, irrational forces always at work; simultaneously they are less capable of objectivity. They may be drawn to ideas and philosophies dealing with the non-rational and emphasizing the mystical.


Earth: The individual organizes their experiences with regard to how practical and tangible they are, or how efficient. They may be drawn to ideas and philosophies which are very simple and immediately applicable to daily life; perhaps tehcniques and tools are stressed over abstract meaning.


Qualities: Hot and Dry

Element: Fire

Mars represents our ability to act, our initiative, aggression, violence, courage.


Fire: Initiative is related to individual expression, creativity and freedom. The native needs these in order for their Mars function to thrive. A high degree of creativity is usually present.


Air: Initiative is geared socially and mentally. The native needs the support of others or a set of ideals to guide their actions and to provide them with courage. Such individuals may be mentally and socially very aggressive.


Water: Initiative is tied to, and perhaps bogged down by, the emotional realm. The native may be emotionally aggressive. Above all when it comes to summoning courage and the ability to act, they need emotional stability.


Earth: Initiative is geared toward practical, earth bound, affairs. The native may be aggressive with regards to self preservation. Their actions require a practical purpose.


Qualities: Cold and Dry

Element: Earth

Saturn represents limitations, constriction, discipline, and social identity.


Fire: Such a person may find their greatest limitations with regard to personal-individual identity/purpose/creativity/freedom. They may be utterly afraid of themselves, yet through discipline they can reach the individual core they feel they lack. Paradoxically one may feel overly individualized, separate from others, alone and isolated.


Air: Limits are felt most strongly in social settings and via the intellect. The native may find great difficulty in reaching beyond the mental/social sphere of activity. The individual must dig deeply to move beyond the fear of interacting with others on anything more than superficial levels.


Water: The native may well find that there is some deep emotional knot present in their being. They feel constricted when trying to access their feelings and deal with their emotions, or bond emotionally with others. Rationality and logic may create emotional boundaries for such a person. They may derive a sense of identity and continuity through their emotional attachments, yet it is these very attachments which must be dealt with and transcended should the individual evolve emotionally.


Earth: The native feels greatly limited by the practical dimensions of existence as they relate to his/her physical survival. They may have a deep fear of physical dissolution and thus crave financial security. This fear may drive them to be very ambitious and even very successful within the earth realm. Yet this fear must be confronted if the individual is to move beyond themselves.


Qualities: Cold and Moist

Element: Water

Venus represents love, self worth, values, harmony and art.


Fire: Values are motivated by individual experssion and freedom. This may mean social instability. The native finds harmony and self worth in those things dealing with indiviudal meaning and existence.


Air: Values are tied to social and intellectual pursuits. Harmony is related to intellectually stimulating experiences and meaningful social interchange (conversation, relationship, friends and groups). The native derives self worth when feeling connected to others, and valued by them.


Water: Values are emotionally driven. The native finds harmony through deep emotional interchange, catharsis, or beauty (deep artistic experiences or a great ritual, etc.).


Earth: Values are related to practical or survival considerations. The native may highly value or derive harmony from ancestry/tradition, nature, the sensual physical world or through attaining physical security. 


Qualities: Hot and Moist

Element: Air

Jupiter represents social consciousness/participation, expansion, faith and religion.


Fire: These natives derive a sense of connectedness to the greater whole as they engage in those experiences which are fundamentally related to their sense of purpose, freedom and identity on an individual level. They expand their center of consciousness through whatever it is for them that invokes a sense of destiny and originality.


Air: Social consciousness and participation are emphasized by Jupiter's placement in the air signs. The person derives a sense of faith and connectedness to their socio-cultural whole through the interchange of knowledge and ideas and when working directly with others for some social purpose which takes them beyond themselves as an individual.


Water: Through experiences characterized by emotional depth and deep interchange, the native finds a sense of social relevancy. They expand themselves and find faith through emotional security, catharsis, emotional interchange, or in a select few, mystical experiences.


Earth: In order to feel a sense of faith and social relevancy, the individual must focus their efforts on very pragmatic pursuits which bring to them a sense of social-physical, even biological, security. They can find faith through ancestry and tradition, or through those experiences which emphasize the physical, sensual aspects of existence. 


Qualities: The Body, Character, Wit/Skill

Element: None

The ascendant (the point on the eastern horizon at birth) refers to the most basic manner in which a person experiences the world and comes to know themselves as an individual.


Fire: This shows a person who meets life head on, through personal initiative and through a sense of purpose. The native becomes who he/she is by forging their own path or through those activities that provide the native with a sense of individual meaning and fullfilment, and creative actualization.


Air: Such a person is likely to come to know themselves through social/intellectual activities. The native experiences life with a sense of social relevancy and moves toward experiences that are intellectual stimulating.


Water: The native internalizes and understands their basic experience of life through their feelings and emotional attachments. They approach things non-rationally and with great sensitivity.


Earth: The person filters everything through a very practical point of view. They may be concerned with their material survival or view everything with regard to its practical or physical conclusion. 

bottom of page