There is a basic way of dividing the signs of the Zodiac into those signs that belong to the same element -- the fire, earth, air, and water signs -- and those signs that share a preference for certain tactics in engaging life's challenges -- the cardinal, fixed, and mutable signs.
Astrologers call these features the triplicities (of which there are three signs in four divisions) and the quadruplicities (which have four signs in three divisions.) I know ... it sounds like so much techno-speak ... but it's tradition and we're stuck with it. Yet as with all things, the names are less important than the meat of the knowledge.
The triplicities deal with character temperament ... and the quadruplicities deal with favorite ways of taking action. By understanding each division ... and then mixing and matching ... you can learn some interesting and fundamental things about each of the Zodiac signs.
The Triplicities are: Fire, Earth, Air and Water
The Fire Signs
Aries, Leo and Sagittarius comprise the Fire Triplicity. This is the quality associated with leadership issues, ambitions based on personal charisma, a fondness for seizing the initiative when choosing to act, and a reputation for showing enthusiasm and even zealotry in their personal character. Fire signs are the spark of heat and initiative from which all life ... and all things that are part of life ... begin.
The Earth Signs
Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are the citizens of the Earth Triplicity. This is the quality associated with common sense, groundedness, practicality, and a natural talent for dealing with the physical business of life. The ambitions of the Earth signs are different from the "personality based" aims of the Fire signs. Earth signs want possessions, material assets, physical resources, money, and status based on personal achievements and contributions -- not just "personality" alone.
The Air Signs
Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are the citizens of the Air Triplicity. This is the quality associated with intellect, reasoning, communication, the handling of information, education, and relationships. Air signs, like the Fire signs with which they are compatible (Fire needs Air to burn; Air is warmed by Fire's heat and presence.) are more abstract in their ambitions and the things they deem important. They thrive in the realm of ideas, concepts, principles, teaching and learning, reading and writing, conversation and brainstorming.
The Water Signs
Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are the citizens of the Water Triplicity This is the quality associated with feelings, emotions, intuition, wisdom, meaning, transition and transcendence! Water signs, like the Earth signs with which they are compatible (Earth needs Water to produce life, Water needs Earth for the stability and permanence that produces results from its nourishing properties.) work in the realm of potential material manifestation. They thrive in the realm of "indescribable connections."
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Elements and Gender in Astrology -- Different Ways of Engaging the World ---> The Triplicities -- To an astrologer, Fire, Earth, Air, and Water are called the Elements or Triplicities - as each contains three signs of the Zodiac. Traditionally, members of the same triplicity tend to get along well with one another.
The Elements in Astrology -- Fire, Earth, Air and Water ---> There are four elements in astrology ... and in the other mystical / metaphysical traditions. These are fire, earth, air and water. They are the elements of physical existence ... the primary elements of life itself. We all need these things to exist in the material world.
Masculine Signs / Feminine Signs -- It has nothing to do with sex ---> Two orientations on the world -- In Astrology and metaphysics, Masculine and Feminine refers not to gender or personal manner, but to one's basic orientation on the world and one's preferred strategies for dealing with problems. Essentially, "masculine" signs prefer to seize the moment, make things happen and change what doesn't suit them with their actions and choices. Feminine signs take a more subtle, passive approach when dealing with challenge or working for change.
Masculine Signs -- The Fire and Air Signs ---> Signs of Life and Intellect -- Essentially, "masculine" signs prefer to seize the moment, make things happen and change what doesn't suit them with their actions and choices. Masculine sign people are life's movers-and-shakers. Masculine signs are active, spontaneous, overtly ambitious and more interested in imposing their will on the world than adjusting to what exists. Masculine signs deal with force, identity and intellect.
Feminine Signs -- The Earth and Water Signs ---> Signs of Practicality and Emotion -- Where masculine signs are dynamic, self-motivating and proactive, feminine signs take a more subtle, passive approach when dealing with challenge or working for change. Masculine sign people are life's movers-and-shakers, while feminine signs prefer to be patient, bide their time and "wait and see what happens" before spending energy and resources to make life bend to their will.
Earth, Wind and Fire ... and Water -- Compatibility in the Zodiac ---> An Introduction -- Every astrologer hears the question: What signs am I compatible with? The person asking wants a list of three or four answers they can count on ... often to solve problems much larger than just a cluster of incompatible associates.
The Fire Signs -- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius ---> Fire Signs get things done -- The Fire Signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius represent energy that is directly involved with action, leadership, personal charisma, and self-expression. These signs are self-confident, dramatic, self-promoting, exuberant, vivacious, and captivating.
The Earth Signs -- Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn ---> Earth Signs take care of practicalities --
The Earth Signs: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn represent energy that is directly concerned with practical issues, physical substance, financial matters, and the "business" of living. This energy supports, nourishes, stabilizes, and promotes growth - especially growth on investments.
The Air Signs -- Gemini, Libra, Aquarius ---> Air Signs handle information -- The Air Signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius represent energy that is directly concerned with ideas, information, intellect, opinions, facts, perspectives and communications skills. They relate to others intellectually, share thoughts and experiences, listen to feedback, and combine information into new ideas and possibilities.
Water Signs -- Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces ---> Water Signs are emotional -- The Water Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces represent emotional, instinctive, and subconscious energy that is nurturing, healing, and transformative. They are feeling, sensitive, intuitive, responsive, protective, and passionate.