How Do the Four Elements—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water—Define You?

Written by: Raina Mendonça


Published on: September 22, 2022

canyon with red stone
  1. Jennifer Freed, PhD A Map to Your Soul
    Jennifer Freed, PhD A Map to
    Your Soul
    goop, $26

What does it mean to live a fully expressed life? According to psychological astrologer Jennifer Freed, PhD, the key is using the four elements of astrology—fire, earth, air, and water—as a guide.

In her new book A Map to Your Soul, Freed shows us how to cultivate deep self-awareness and understand how our elements reflect us—the way we communicate with our partners, maybe, or the way we come across when meeting a stranger. From there, we can learn to balance and nourish our unique mix of elements to live boldly and authentically.

The Elements: An Introduction

The wisdom gleaned from the natural elements—fire, earth, air, and water—is a foundation of healing practices in Chinese, Native American, Vedic, and Tibetan cultures. This book will focus on the use of the elements in astrology.

You might be familiar with the elements as they correspond to your Sun sign—for example, Aries is fire, Taurus is earth, Gemini is air, and Cancer is water. But as you probably know, there is much more to your birth chart than your Sun sign, and similarly there is much more to your elemental makeup than the element that corresponds to your Sun sign.

Each of us has a unique constellation of the four elements inside of us that manifests in distinct ways in different areas of our lives. You may be fiery when challenged at work but grounded in earthy routine when it comes to your health. Or you might be an airy intellectual when it comes to love and a sensitive, watery empath when it comes to sex.

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived in close contact with the earth and the hearth and relied on their ability to make fire. Their lives depended on fresh air and clean sources of water. We have just as much reliance on these four elements today, and they offer up indispensable wisdom for both survival and thriving.

We are made of fire, earth, air, and water. Electrical impulses zap throughout our bodies to stimulate our muscle cells and fire our neurons. Our carbon-based bodies are built from the very same building blocks as stones and soil. We can only go three minutes without air, and our body weight is 60 percent water. It’s no exaggeration to say that we are the wisdom of the elements as we walk around, talking, hugging, making love, building skyscrapers, starting nonprofits, giving birth, lying on our deathbeds. We are the wisdom of the elements thinking, feeling, loving, experiencing, learning, questioning, and exploring.

As we tend to the four elements, we start to balance ourselves with nature. And when we become more aware of the elements in our daily lives, we build the resources and energies to contribute to our friends, family, and community.

Think of a time when you felt the most grounded and centered (earth), the most mentally clear (air), the most openhearted (water), and the most creative (fire). That was most likely a time in your life where you were most generous, open, and willing to contribute to the well-being of other people. See if you can revisit that space in your mind for long enough to feel it in your body.

In our culture, we’ve forgotten to recognize our elemental connection to everything around us. Some might argue that this is a main reason why we now face intense and escalating climate change, which brings drought, floods, forest fires, and deadly storms, as well as widespread contamination of earth, air, and water. We deny our deep connection to the natural world at our own peril. It is time to bring elemental wisdom back into everyday awareness, in a way that honors how much things have changed since humankind first made fire.

When you start your mindful practice of noticing each element, and take the time to truly appreciate its simplicity and power, you begin to shape your brain in ways that return it to its most natural, most resilient state. Remember, when you take just one gulp of clean, fresh mountain air, in that moment, that’s enough. When you stand in a gorgeous field looking at magnificent redwood trees, seeing that bounty of earth is enough.

When you are near a beautiful fire, whether it’s outdoors camping or indoors keeping you cozy, staring at the magic of that fire is enough. And when you are enjoying an exquisite bath or shower or dipping in the ocean or a pool and feeling cleansed and renewed and open, that is enough.

Jennifer Freed, PhD, is a consultant, a workshop leader, and an author with more than 30 years of experience in the fields of psychological astrology and social-emotional learning. Freed serves as a consultant for the app Co-Star and is the author of Use Your Planets Wisely: Master Your Ultimate Cosmic Potential with Psychological Astrology and A Map to Your Soul: Using the Astrology of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water to Live Deeply and Fully.

Excerpted from A Map to Your Soul: Using the Astrology of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water to Live Deeply and Fully by Jennifer Freed, PhD, published October 2022 by Rodale Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright 2022 by Jennifer Freed. All rights reserved.

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