Elementary, my Dear Watson…


This is a post for the Astro Basics page…so for non Astro peeps, this comes with a long post and technical post warning!

Every Sunday night I cast an experienced eye over the height of my ironing basket and make a judgement regarding the approximate number of glasses of wine required to get to the bottom of it. A good week might be a 2 glass ironing load, a bad week could require the consumption of a half bottle.

Another ironing staple is a decent movie to do it in front of. Which is why I was standing there with tears running down my cheeks as I watch Maria (for about the hundredth time) run back across the lawn to the children as they have tried and failed to make themselves feel better with a rendition of “These Are a Few of My Favourite Things.”

It isn’t just movies that get me going. Certain songs do it every time as well.  Agnetha singing “The Winner Takes It All” has me in tears every time- and not just for the unblended blue eye-shadow, but the part in the video where her voice breaks in the last verse “and I understand, you’ve come to shake my hand”…. how the hell did she sing that??? And anyone sitting beside me on any Qantas flight coming back into Sydney will do well to turn their head as I sob silently to “I Still Call Australia Home”.

Emotions absolutely dominate me and it isn’t just because my Sun happens to fall in Pisces. Sure, that is pretty dominant, but it is also because of the number of other key planets that I have in water signs. It is at this point that we are going to get a little technical, so bear with me- this is important.

Each sign is comprised of is a combination of element and modality. This is what makes each of the signs individual. Check Out Astro Basics for more on this.

  • Fire is creative and stimulating- think sparks. Fire is motivated by movement, action and creation. Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
  • Earth is practical, stable, responsible and goal focused- think structure. Earth is motivated by physical and material security. Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
  • Air is perceptive, social and communicative- think headspace and messages. Air is motivated by communication. Air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
  • Water is emotional, intuitive, empathetic and creative- think feelings. Water is motivated by emotional security and connections. Water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

In most cases, the energy in your birth-chart will be spread across a number of signs. You may have your Ascendant in one sign, your Sun in another and your Moon and other planets in others. This generally means that you are a combination of all different elements and energy levels. The balance or otherwise of elements in your chart influences how you operate.

If you have one element dominating your chart, regardless of the sign that your sun is in, you will display the characteristics of that element and/or modality. Looking just at the elements, if your Sun is in Scorpio, but many of your other planets fall into Air signs, you will still essentially be Scorpio, but you will probably be substantially more communicative and (dare I say it) sociable than Scorpio usually is. Likewise a Fire Sun with the majority of other planets in water signs will be more sensitive and empathetic than fire signs tend to be.

So, how do you know whether you are predominantly one element over another? There are a number of different methods out there and every astrologer swears by their own. Whatever works for you is the right one.

I include the Ascendant sign as this is how you meet the world. I also use the sign that the Midheaven falls into. Most astrologers do not use this point, however this is the birds eye view of you that the world has, so I do consider it important- but not as important as the Ascendant. Anyway, this method works for me:

  • Score 2 points for sign of the Ascendant, Sun and Moon. These are the most dominant factors in your chart.
  • Score 1 point for each of the other 7 planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
  • Score 1 point for the sign that the Midheaven falls into.
  • This will give you a maximum of 15 possible points if you include the Ascendant and Midheaven, and 12 points if you don’t have an accurate birth time.

I have demonstrated this calculation below in relation to my chart.

Jo chart

  • In Fire signs I have: Venus (1), Saturn (1), Midheaven (1)
  • In Earth signs I have: Pluto (1), Uranus (1)
  • In Air signs I have: no planets
  • In water I have: Ascendant (2), Sun (2), Moon (2), Mercury (1), Jupiter (1), Mars (1) and Neptune (1)

Out of a possible maximum 15 points:

  • I have 3 points or 20% in Fire signs
  • I have 2 points or 13% in Earth signs
  • I have 0 points in Air signs
  • 10 points or 67% in Water signs.

Some astrologers recommend using just the traditional 7 planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) plus the Ascendant and Midheaven. This method also has a lot of validity. In my case, the mix would be altered only slightly, but definitely portrays a pretty good picture of my essential make-up:

  • Fire- 25%
  • Water- 75%

From an elemental viewpoint, I am very heavily weighted towards water and relatively unbalanced elsewhere. I am motivated heavily by emotions and feelings and am extremely sensitive to my environment, yet have problems with setting goals, and naturally have relatively low and unstable energy levels.

As for organising my thoughts? Well, the heart rules the head every time. Although I have 2 planets in Earth signs, I have enormous problems setting practical goals and often feel as if there is no ground beneath my feet.

Sometimes, despite having done the analysis above, you may feel that you identify with an element that doesn’t appear to be dominant in your chart. I have always felt more in tune with the element of Fire than the results above would indicate. More competitive than your average fish, I have always been quick to start something new and when physically fit, my creativity really flourishes.

So, to take this one step further, look also at the houses your planets fall into. If one dominates, you have your answer.

The following houses are associated with Fire signs: 1st, 5th, 9th

The following houses are associated with Earth signs: 2nd, 6th, 10th

The following houses are associated with Air signs: 3rd, 7th, 11th

The following houses are associated with Water signs: 4th, 8th, 12th

Using a similar system (although this time you don’t use the Ascendant and Midheaven as by default they always fall into a fire house and earth house respectively) and my chart:

Fire houses: Sun (2), Moon (2), Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune 7 points

Earth houses: Venus (1) 1 point

Air houses: Pluto (1), Uranus (1) 2 points

Water houses: Mars (1), Mercury (1) 2 points

And there we have it.

Try it out- what do your elements say about you?

In the next instalment we’ll look at what it means (and what you can do) if you chart is heavily dominated (or otherwise) by one or more elements.