Answer four quick questions to identify which of the classical elements are healthy or weak within you.
I’ve recently become a devoted student of astrology. It began when I learned that the positions of the planets above our heads at the moment of our birth can reveal countless essential details about our personalities—including how we perceive the world, what we yearn for, and the particular ways we think, act, and love. Our natal charts can also illuminate our biggest challenges and core wounds, as well as our unique gifts and ultimate destiny here on earth. Harvesting this wisdom has helped me understand and accept myself, as well as the people in my life, more than ever before.
While astrology confounds the Western mind and is often deemed faulty by people who have only been exposed to sun sign horoscopes, it’s actually an incredibly complex ancient art that is mind-blowingly accurate when interpreted by a well-trained, seasoned professional.
Elemental Wisdom: Earth, Air, Fire, Water
Debra Silverman—renowned astrologer, psychotherapist, and author of The Missing Element: Inspiring Compassion for the Human Condition—asserts that even if you have no clue where your planets are positioned, you can still harvest much of astrology’s powerful wisdom by doing an internal inventory of how the characteristics of the four basic elements manifest themselves in your life.
“When we’re in pain,” Silverman explains, “it’s often because the elements are out of balance in our lives—we have too much or too little of a particular one or two. Working with the four elements—Water (the element associated with Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces); Air (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius); Earth (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn); and Fire (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius)—is a proven age-old system that facilitates self-discovery and healing in a very simple, clear, and specific way. Once we become familiar with the magic of these four ingredients, so much is understood.”
Elemental Gifts & Challenges
While all of us have some of every element within us, it is a rare person who naturally has them all in balance. Likewise, every element can express itself as a “high road” or “low road,” which is why our biggest gifts often bring with them our biggest challenges. For example:
- Water personality types are usually sensitive, intuitive, and nurturing, but they can also be moody, reclusive, or become emotionally detached in their efforts to deal with feelings that are overwhelming.
- Air personality types are analytical, communicative, and process information quickly. They enjoy socializing and embrace change and variety, but they can also live too much in their heads, get distracted easily, and have a hard time making decisions.
- Earth personality types are grounded, goal-oriented, dependable, and loyal. They move slowly and have great endurance, but they can also be stubborn, conservative, materialistic, and resistant to change.
- Fire personality types bring energy, enthusiasm, spontaneity, and honesty, but they can also be loud, impulsive, opinionated, and insensitive.
In Silverman’s more than forty-year career, she has never seen anyone who hasn’t needed to work at balancing the four elemental energies within. “Most people have two elements that are robust, maybe three, but they’ll definitely have at least one to work on.”
[Read: “Is Your Personality Healthy?”]
People who struggle with stillness and silence are usually low on Water. Those who struggle to verbalize are usually low on Air. People who have difficulty with organization and follow-through are likely low on Earth, while those who lack optimism and energy are likely low on Fire.
Which Elements Are Weak or Strong in You?
Answer the following yes or no questions to help identify which of your elements are strong:
- Can you sit quietly and relax?
- Can you find words easily and make friends quickly?
- Are you on time, goal-oriented and productive?
- Are you fun-loving, enthusiastic, and energetic?
If you answered yes to the first question, your Water element is strong; yes to the second means strong Air; yes to the third indicates strong Earth; and yes to the fourth question means you have a strong Fire element. Answering no to any of the questions indicates a weaker element.
“Like a car on the road, all four wheels must be balanced for smooth driving,” Silverman explains. “Imagine each wheel as an element. If one of the tires is low, or over-inflated, your ride won’t be smooth because your vehicle will rattle and shake.” With balance, we experience more peace, resilience, and joy.
Take me, for example. Water is my weak element. My thoughts whiz ceaselessly (Air), I have workaholic tendencies (Earth), and I’m always on the go (Fire). I need much more of what Water has to offer to balance all those other energies: that is, the ability to move at a gentle pace, embrace stillness, go with the flow, and make nurturing myself a top priority.
Up Next: Balancing Elemental Wisdom
Focusing on balancing your elements can prove a game-changer. Instead of feeling trapped by habitual patterns, you can discover the missing qualities you need to strengthen, and the more you cultivate them, the more ease and happiness you will experience in your life.
I look forward to sharing more of Debra Silverman’s insights in the upcoming four-part series, “Elemental Wisdom,” including strategies for achieving better balance and short meditations centered around each element. First up: Water.
Until then, check out: “Astrology Therapy: Can Birth Charts Help You Overcome Anxiety?”