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Astrology basics: elements of reality


For over 2000 years humans have held that reality is made of four elements or states. This four-fold categorisation has taken various forms throughout history, influencing medicine, philosophy, and psychology. Starting out as fire, earth, air, and water, this became the four temperaments in the Middle Ages - choleric, melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic. Even today science tells us that there are four primary states of matter - solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, corresponding precisely to the four elements of astrology.

Understanding just these four elements can help you in many ways in your life. People tend to be 'made up of' one element more than the others, and so styles of behaviour - thinking, feeling, and acting - can be understood simply by using this typology. In fact, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator used by psychologists and Human Resources professionals for around 3.5 million people every year uses the four elements under the guise of Carl Jung's typology.

Here is an introduction to the four elements of reality:

Fire is the element of spirit that translates into life-force and vitality. It brings light and warmth, and fire types are often bright, colourful, warm-hearted personalities. Fire pertains to the realm of possibility and imagination, and has a bias towards action and play. Fire is dynamic and spontaneous, lively and energetic. At their best,Light storm fire types naturally translate their vision into doing, in touch with the creative spirit that can't help but express itself. Inspired and inspiring, the light and heat that fire types emit can motivate the people around them, being a stimulating presence just like fire itself. The sheer force of their outflowing energy can uplift and illuminate. Their enthusiasm can be contageous, as can their optimism and exuberance. Their strengths are their capacity to create meaning and to tap into future potentials, to project forwards and know which direction to go in next. The flip side is that fire can be inconstant, burning itself out as quickly as it starts. These types can be impatient, reckless, impulsive, and their aggression can turn into a destructive force, rather than serving as a fuel for activity.

Earth is the element of matter. It translates into form, structure, organisation and arrangement. It brings stability and sustenance, and earth types are often good organisers, reliable and grounded, capable and self-sufficient. Earth
pertains to the realm of physical form and the body, and has a Sand bias towards what can be sensed and worked with on a pragmatic level. At their best, earth types naturally produce and build, creating order from chaos and delighting in the pleasures of the natural and material world.  The stability and self-containment that earth types demonstrate can ground the people around them, helping them to plan, prioritise, and execute what needs to be done. Their strength is their pragmatism, their attunement to the natural world that can patiently nurture and contain. They can be a force of nature. The flip side is that earth can be too predictable, lacking spontaneity and vision. These types can lack perspective and imagination, be inflexible and unable to see what is not immediately obvious. They can be slaves to routine and procedure, and can run the risk of over-indulging in the sensual world.

Air is the element of mind and connectedness that translates into thought, communication, and relationship. It brings mobility and breathing space, objectivity and change, and air types often are drawn to variety, learning, and being in contact with other people, particularly those of like minds and similar interests. Air pertains to the realm of th
Air bubbles e mind, and has a bias towards relating one thing to another, whether on the mental level of information and data or the interpersonal level of human relationship. At their best, air types naturally relate to other people, compare and contrast anything and everything, adapt to their environment, and explore a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences with their natural curiosity and inquisitiveness. Their personable and interesting personalities can be like a breath of fresh air to the people around them, stimulating people to remain open to new ideas and adaptable to change. Their strengths are their flexibility and their capacity to connect things - people, facts, ideas - and to step back from situations to think about them afresh. Their objectivity and rationality can be a civilising influence all around. The flip side is that air can be fickle and cold, lacking compassion and heart. These types can live in their heads, seem aloof and idealistic, and can be afraid of commitment.

Water is the element of emotion, memory and soul. It translates into feelings, impressions, depth, and memories, and water types are often compassionate, empathetic and have a strong sense of the past. Water pertains to the reality of the emotional self, and has a bias towards emotional stimulation and expression, primarily needing simply to feel. At their best, w
Water droplets ater types naturally flow through life in sync with unseen currents of reality, feeling their way forwards and taking indirect routes from A to B just as a river will meander and loop back and sideways on its way to the sea. They instinctively understand moods, and can often be naturally attuned to what a person needs in order to feel better, safer, happier. They long to belong, and they bind people to them through shared feelings and experiences so that they can nurture their need to find safe harbour, as well as to nurture others in turn. Their strengths are their emotional resilience and their inner knowing that tells them when the time is right to act or speak. The flip side is that water can be demanding and unbounded, lacking a strong sense of individual identity, difficult to be clear about things and finding it easy to become engulfed in sentiment and habit. These types can be victims of their moods and memories, and can make others victims of them in turn.

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