Each of the twelve signs of the zodiac are grouped into one of four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Each element carries its own unique set of characteristics and temperaments. Think of the four elements as the scope through which each sign navigates through life. While each sign is certainly unique from the others, they do share common big-picture traits with those of the same element. The elements are essential to understanding astrology, as they exist as a form of balance across and within the zodiac.
Here's what you need to know to get you started on the journey of understanding the elements.
Fire: Aires, Leo, Sagittarius
Those under the Fire element are in fact fiery (no surprise there). They are filled with passion and contain an inextinguishable zest for life. They are enthusiastic about their endeavors and courageous in their pursuits. Able to keep their embers burning, they are self-sufficient and fiercely independent — so don't even think about trying to put out their smoldering flames.
Much like a wild fire spreading haphazardly across the land, their own fires can sometimes grow out of control. Prone to reactive bursts and impulsive behavior, fire signs are characterized by extremes. That being said, as quickly as they rise in anger, they may just as quickly return back to calm. They may also sometimes need to keep their egos in check, but that forceful confidence is what keeps their fire burning after all.
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Much like the earth itself, those of the Earth element are grounded and dependable. They're all about duty and responsibility, making them focused and levelheaded in most situations. Just because they're not big risk takers, don't assume that they are boring — they're just practical beings, which definitely is not a bad thing. In fact, despite their cautious nature they are the most sensual of all the elements, and are truly able to enjoy and appreciate some of life's simple—yet finer—things.
They are concerned with material objects, making them—well—a little materialistic at times. It's not that they want, want, want, it's just that those possessions make them feel comfortable and secure. Sometimes they are so caught up with these 'objects' (or goals) that they may overlook the feelings and needs of those around them. It's not that they're selfish, as they are actually a very caring element, it's just that they have a tendency to keep their eyes fixed on the prize.
Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Air signs are concerned with all things intellectual and of the mind. They love analyzing and abstract reasoning, and they're huge communicators. With a quick wit and curious mind, it's not surprising that they're very social as well — though they do have a tendency to get distracted easily, which I guess comes with the (airy) title.
Those of the Air element need balance in order to stay calm and grounded (or as grounded as they can be). They are fair and objective, which is a great thing, though that can sometimes make them come off as cold or detached. Don't take it personally though, there is just that little extra space between their thoughts and their actions.
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Water is all about feelings and emotion. Water signs are highly sensitive and intuitive, and make decisions based on feeling rather than thought. They are compassionate and understanding, and therefore derive a lot of joy from helping others. Water signs love all things of beauty, and often work in a creative and artistic fields. They're dreamy and romantic, and are drawn to things that are deeper than what appears on the surface.
Though their empathy is one of their most admirable traits, it doesn't always work in their favor. Whether by choice or not, they tend to take on the problems of others, which can complicate their own existing feelings and issues. Additionally, because of the intensity of their feelings, they can sometimes become self-indulgent during their darker times. They also have a tendency to be a bit moody, but you would be too if you felt everything just as deeply.