Elements and qualities of the twelve astrological signs


An accurate horoscope interpretation is not possible without taking into account the elements and qualities present in the astrological birth chart of a person. It cannot be denied that both of these classifications define the core human characteristics. The twelve astrological zodiac signs are distributed into four elements (Fire, Earth, Air and Water) and three qualities (Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable). Thus, the elements are referred to as Triplicities and the qualities as Quadruplicities. Each zodiac sign element represents four seasons i.e. summer, winter, autumn and spring.

Element à The basic nature and disposition of a zodiac sign.

Quality à The method of expression of a zodiac sign.

In an astrological chart a particular zodiac sign is classified as per its corresponding elements and qualities. It should be remembered that each birth chart consists all the elements and qualities in different proportions and a practical knowledge on this can only be achieved when one would have a look at a real chart.

All three qualities and four elements are distributed amongst the twelve zodiac signs in the following manner –

No. Zodiac Signs Elements   Qualities
Aries Fire Cardinal
Taurus Earth Fixed
Gemini Air Mutable
Cancer Water Cardinal
Leo Fire Fixed
Virgo Earth Mutable
Libra Air Cardinal
Scorpio Water Fixed
Sagittarius Fire Mutable
Capricorn Earth Cardinal
Aquarius Air Fixed
Pisces Water Mutable

The Elements

The elements represent the basic nature and temperament of a zodiac sign. Personality based on elements are described as below –

 Fire energetic, confident, impatient, passionate impulsive, enthusiastic
 Earth reliable, conservative, realistic, practical, earthy, grounded, cautious
 Air flighty, aloof, detached, unemotional, curious, social, distant
 Water  psychic, spiritual, feeling, compassionate, emotional, private, moody


The four elements and their association with the twelve zodiac signs are described in a very logical manner in our ancient Indian scriptures. As per Indian astrological philosophy, the earth represents life’s solid blocks; water stands for resource; air as an element of breathing, and finally fire as an element of creation.

The Greek philosophy on elements and energy is also based on similar grounds while explaining the individual temperament and personality traits. It defines earthy body, fluid feelings, airy thoughts and energetic/animated activities.

Actually, an individual’s astrological chart is a combination of all the four elements in an unequal proportion. It is always said that in a well rounded individual’s birth chart all the four elements are present equally. Each element corresponds with the Suits – in playing cards and Tarot – in the following manner.

Element Keyword Suit Tarot


Fire Physical Clubs Wands


Earth Practical Diamonds Coins


Air Intellectual Spades Swords




Emotional Hearts Cups



  1. Fire Element

Associated with – Aries, Leo and Sagittarius

Ruling Houses – First, Fifth and Ninth Houses

Positive Qualities – Creative and enthusiastic; at times, larger than life; full of spirit; wonderfully courageous; graced by fire and fiery; manifest itself in unique ways; self-sufficient and tremendous zest for life; spontaneous, ardent in the game of love; inspiration for others; rock-hard moral and religious ideals; enthusiastic, open and optimistic; confident and confronting; loyal and tactful; trusting and intuitive; honest and high spirited; warm yet impersonal; ingenious and independent; extrovert and physically active

Negative Traits – Overly strident in getting their way, bossy, selfish, overdeveloped ego, both selfish and self centred; overbearing, insensitive and egotistical; impatient and has to feel free and important

  1. Earth Element

Associated with – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Ruling Houses – Second, Sixth and Tenth Houses

Positive Qualities – Practical, grounded and dependable; believes in tangibility; good in accumulating wealth; sense of duty, responsible, and reliable; cautious in desire and approach; conservative, sensual and logical, possess recuperative powers, suspicious and sceptical, safe/secure, practical and purposeful; efficient and organised; realistic and feel control over physical/material matters; introvert and strong survival instinct; appreciation of food, touch, etc.

Negative Traits – Too much self-defensive at times; too much certain about things; greedy, far too materialistic and sensual; too much dependable and controlling at times

  1. Air Element

Associated with – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Ruling Houses – Third, Seventh and Eleventh Houses

Positive Qualities – Smart thinker; ability to handle abstract reasoning; analysing, synthesizing and probing abilities; good communicative skills; alert, curious, and perceptive skills; ability to empathize; good explanation power; clever, inventive, and result oriented, objective, cooperative and non-biased; rational and intellectual; curious and conceptual; needs to communicate; objective, distant and impersonal; distant and uninvolved; theoretical and needs to socialise and share ideas

Negative Traits – In a way too intellectual; might adopt the habit of looking down upon those who fail to meet their wavelength; sometimes also become short tempered and lose their cool; idealistic, animated and devoid of feeling; highly opinionated and abstract at times; besides air element has the least negative traits amongst all others

  1. Water Element

Associated with – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Ruling Houses – Fourth, Eighth and Twelfth Houses

Positive Qualities – Intuitive and sensitive; intense feeling and emotions; compassionate and understandable; artistic and appreciate aesthetic beauty; philanthropists, agony aunt and associated with healing; psychic, empathic and receptive; soulful and subconscious; irrational and introverted; soothing and psychic; cautious and sensitive; intimate yet suspicious initially; self-contained and picks up impressions

Negative Traits – Chooses less logical and more feeling based judgement, suffers medium to extensive mood swings; self-indulgent, controlling, and hostile; fragile and impressionable; moody and private; vulnerable to get hurt; self defensive and sometimes sadistic

The Qualities

The twelve zodiac signs are divided into three qualities, thus grouped into quadruplicities. Each group of four signs portrays certain traits and common modes. The signs of the same quality either form 90 degree or 180 degree angle to one another. The signs falling under the same quality generally never complement each other. But, the signs which are polarities complement one another. An astrological chart is a combination of fixed, cardinal and mutable energies. (Diazepam)


 Cardinal  The Zodiacs active, initiators, impatient, leaders, self starters
 Fixed  The Zodiacs most stable, determined signs, powerful, stubborn
 Mutable  The Zodiacs changeable, communicators, adaptable signs


  1. The Cardinal

Associated Zodiacs – Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn

Ruling Houses – First, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Houses

Positive Qualities – Good initiator, action and drive oriented, excellent initiative and motivational skills, brimming with fresh ideas

Negative Traits – Somehow do not succeed every time in completing the project or task taken on

Cardinal Qualities in the Zodiacs

Aries – Cardinal fire sign; first and initiator in everything; subtle and difficult to grasp

Cancer – Cardinal water sign; represents motherhood; warm and affectionate

Libra – Cardinal air sign; represents person-to-person relationship; source of communication and recounting

Capricorn – Cardinal earth sign; ambitious and go-getter

  1. The Fixed

Associated Zodiacs – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius

Ruling Houses – Second, Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh Houses

Positive Qualities – Good at completion of various tasks and projects; good amount of determination and persistence; stable and self-reliant

Negative Traits – Stubborn and inflexible; too much persistent on its point of views

Cardinal Qualities in the Zodiacs

Taurus – Fixed earth sign; inflexible, stubborn but reliable

Leo – Fixed fire sign; dedicated, loyal and idealistic

Scorpio – Fixed water sign; jealous, determined, powerful, controlling; stubborn while achieving what is wanted

Aquarius – Fixed air sign; objective and logical; hard headed

  1. The Mutable

Associated Zodiacs – Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces

Positive Qualities – Flexible and happy performing the assigned role; easily adapt to changing conditions; flexible and versatile

Negative Traits – Can be inconsistent at times owing to its mutable trait

Cardinal Qualities in the Zodiacs

Gemini – Mutable air sign; tremendous mental flexibility; adaptability, intelligence, brimming with new ideas and ability to gather a lot of information

Virgo – Mutable earth sign; capacity to recognise reality of the situation; ability to serve purposefully

Sagittarius – Mutable fire sign; can take stock of a situation, philosophical and good at inspiring others

Pisces – Mutable water sign; extremely sensitive and tremendous capacity to understand the feelings of others