This Is What Your Zodiac Element Says About You

Fire, earth, air, water—no, we're not talking about Captain Planet. We're discussing zodiac sign elements and what yours means for you.

You can think of the 12 zodiac signs of Western astrology (as opposed to Vedic or Chinese astrology, which also contains Wood as an element) as neighbors. Each astrological sign has its personality traits and characteristics, meanings based on myths that started in antiquity and have been honed in practice ever since. This is why each sign has a different horoscope – every Zodiac sign is different. Each falls into one of four zodiac sign’s elements: fire, earth, water, or air. These, too, are like a community, says astrologer Alice Sparkly Kat, author of Postcolonial Astrology. Consider how you get along better with some of your neighbors and how you might vibe less with others.

Wherever your sign sits on the signs of the Zodiac wheel, the fourth sign to its left and the fourth sign to its right will be in the same astrological element. They form a triangle, and as Sparkly Kat says, “the most stable aspect in astrology is the triangle.” This zodiac compatibility is why the best friend for your zodiac sign often shares the same element as you. While we are talking about astrology, here’s winter solstice astrology for the year 2023.

You actually have all the zodiac elements in your full natal chart, but knowing your sun sign element is a great starting point. (Your sun sign is determined by the month and day of your birth, and it’s what most people refer to when they ask what sign you are.) It can reveal your zodiac sign’s power color, the best dog breed for you, and even what you should be for Halloween this year. Read on to learn the zodiac signs elements and find out how they apply to you.

Fire Signs / Fire Element: Aries (Mars), Leo (Sun), and Sagittarius (Jupiter)

Bold. Spirited. Passionate. Fire signs are fiery. They’re bright, artistic, and intense. Fire signs are known for their confidence, especially when the going gets tough. Sparkly Kat advises that “fire signs want to think fast on their feet, and they don’t mind pressure.” You’ll find these signs are brave and independent. They’re filled with optimism and the kind of courage that fuels action.

In relationships

Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius in combination create sparks. Fire signs make excellent duos in friendships, romances, or any other kind of partnership. These zodiac signs have adventurous, energetic relationships filled with passion—and they’re not scared of conflict. In fact, they may find inspired debate, what some would think of as fighting, totally exciting. Fire signs cultivate community through group projects, where they take the lead and inspire others to act.

Top values

Fire signs take pride in spontaneity. They’re willing to take risks when it comes to finances, occupations, and projects. That’s because they deeply value what makes them feel passionate and enthused. They often value courage in themselves and others. Those are just some of the zodiac signs’ career strengths. If you’re a fire sign, you probably still love the things you bought on a whim. Fire signs are not afraid to splurge, especially if an object inspires its spirit. Make sure you’re not too impulsive!

Self-care strategies

Fire signs best engage in self-care through impromptu creativity. Pull out paints and create something vibrant and abstract. Sports with a competitive edge, even if it’s beating your own personal best, are also enjoyable. Fire signs thrive with instinctive action. A campfire or candle flames may prove to be a great way to relax. Follow your bliss.

Earth Signs / Eath Element: Taurus (Venus), Virgo (Mercury), and Capricorn (Saturn)

Grounded. Cultivated. Practical. Earth signs are definitely down-to-earth. They are the gardeners of the zodiac. And they probably think of everything as a garden, from their family to their friendships. Earth signs recognize that communities need care, tending, and feeding. “When you’re an earth sign, you want to build something slowly,” says Sparkly Kat. “You don’t have to see results tomorrow; you believe in the long haul.”

In relationships

When Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn get together, the chemistry is fueled with mutual respect for one another’s rationality. Every community needs level-headed earth signs to remember the details and to keep everyone’s feet on the ground. When it comes to romance, earth signs will recognize in each other a steady realism that they can depend upon. And you can bet every friend group or work cohort needs an earth sign to keep everyone on task and focused.

Top values

Earth signs value having their ducks in a row and operating from their center. They also care about details. If you’re an earth sign, you might remember everyone’s birthdays, their favorite kinds of cake, and the best gifts for their zodiac signs. You value possessions that will last and luxuries that are worth the money because they were created with care. Earth signs value sustainability, secret ingredients, and classics that endure. Be careful of being too materialistic. One thing about earth signs is they’re practical, but they also go big when it matters to them.

Self-care strategies

If you’re an earth sign, you’re mindful of tending to others, but it’s also important to take good care of yourself by choosing a hobby that fits your zodiac sign. Gardening, in various forms, is an ideal pastime. Plant seeds. Get your hands in the dirt. Walk barefoot on grass and earth. That’s the kind of self-care that makes you feel right at home.

Air Signs / Air Element: Gemini (Mercury), Libra (Venus), and Aquarius (Saturn)

Witty. Social. Intellectual. Free Spirited. Air signs (one of them being the rarest zodiac sign) can be a touch spacey. Their heads are in the clouds or thinking through solutions or pondering the future. Sparkly Kat explains that when you’re an air sign, “you’re influenced easily by other people, but you listen to others equally because you listen to everyone and have interesting ideas bouncing around.”

In relationships

Air signs often find challenges the most interesting aspects of relationships of any sort. They’ll be wooed by partners or friends who keep them curious. They’ll also appreciate someone who is really great at talking. When it comes to groups, air signs want to work for the greater good, and they love parties—even if they sometimes watch from a distance so they can think about what’s best for the group as a whole.

Top values

If you’re a Gemini, Aquarius, or Libra (one of the most polite zodiac signs), your two favorite things are likely people and ideas. Of all the zodiac signs elements, this one yields wonderful teachers and party planners. Both activities cultivate community and allow air signs to express their passions. They can imagine a better world, and they are most fulfilled when they can get busy creating it. They sometimes run the risk of too much detachment, so they value things that are truly meaningful or highly functional.

Self-care strategies

Air signs tend to be anxious because they’re always thinking. Great self-care practices include puzzles of any kind. Focus can soothe an air sign’s racing mind. They also appreciate calmness. Sitting outside in a cool breeze is an ideal way to relax. Remember to eat and hydrate and let yourself get swept away by music. These are other great ways to de-stress based on your zodiac sign.

Water Signs / Water Element: Cancer (Moon), Scorpio (Mars), and Pisces (Jupiter)

Imaginative. Emotional. Intuitive. Water signs flow just like the water element. They are naturals when it comes to fluid motion as they go through their days. If you’re a Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces, you’re likely very in touch with your emotions. “You want to be of service in some way toward your community,” says Sparkly Kat of water signs. “You’ll play an important role, but maybe you’re not the loudest voice.”

In relationships

Water signs are very nurturing in relationships of all kinds because they’re naturally empathetic. They tend to have a strong intuitive sense about everyone’s needs, like the best compliments for a given person’s emotional needs. It’s easy for water signs to form deep connections because of their sensitive nature. They’re likely to respond if someone reaches out, and it’s super important for them to connect and feel connected.

Top values

When it comes to zodiac signs elements’ sentimentality, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces take the cake. They have a reputation for being dreamy but don’t mistake that for ineffectual. Water signs are intense and deep. They’re detectives of the psyche and the soul. They make wonderful creatives, psychologists, marine biologists, or tarot card readers. Water signs love beauty, art, and anything that moves them—that’s where they find value in life.

Self-care strategies

If you’re a water sign, you may have a tendency to be overwhelmed by empathy. Boundaries are essential for self-care. Block off “you” time and stay committed to space so you can recharge and renew. Get yourself a luxury bath bomb, dim the lights, let the steam rise, and take a long soak. You’re sure to feel rejuvenated. Of course, swimming or hanging out by the beach or a lake will also prove naturally soothing.


  • Alice Sparkly Kat, astrologer and author of Postcolonial Astrology
  • Chart Interpretation Handbook: Guidelines for Understanding the Essentials of the Birth Chart by Stephen Arroyo and Jerilynn Marshall (CRCS Publications, 1989)
  • Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune by Chris Brennan (Amori Fati Publications, 2017)
  • Compendium of Astrology by Rose Lineman (Gazelle Book Service, 1997)
  • Cosmic Health: Unlock Your Healing Magic with Astrology, Positive Psychology, and Integrative Wellness by Jennifer Racioppi (Piatkus Books, 2021)

Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.