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In the previous lesson, we had made a mention of the Elements and Characteristics of the Signs as also the sexes of the Signs and had stated that in predictive astrology, this constitutes the single most important factor. We, therefore, consider it absolutely essential to dwell a little more deeply in this matter.




The character (gunas) is in three groups, i.e:


Movable or Cardinal (Chara), consisting of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn Signs


Fixed (Sthira) comprising Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius Signs


Common or Mutable (Dwiswabhava) Signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces


The Cardinal Signs have the quality or guna of aggressiveness, mobility and energy and are called Rajas; the Fixed Signs have the guna of stability, rigidity and inertia and are referred to as Tamas; while the Common Signs have the guna of adaptability and harmony, called Satwa.


The quadruplicities indicate modes of human activity and behavior.


The. Cardinal quadruplicities inclines the native towards constant activity, with concern for the immediate present circumstances.


The Fixed quadruplicities inclines the native towards future goals with persistence and unwavering efforts to achieve them.


The Mutable quadruplicities deals with memory and utilization of past experiences. It is adaptable and inclines one to work around obstacles, rather than confronting them directly.


A predominance of five or more planets in one quadruplicities emphasizes the qualities of that quadruplicities in the native’s personality.


Dominant quadruplicities in Movable Signs indicate a very rapid, action-oriented nature and the native is concerned with the immediate situation than with the past or the future. Similarly, dominant angular houses (Kendra’s) also have the same effect. If Fixed Signs or Succecdent houses are predominant, the native’s, concern will be fixed, with future oriented goals and objectives. They develop stubborn and uncompromising attitudes and are apt to stick to their own ideas, which are often dogmatic, but with a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to goals and objectives.


If Common Signs or Cadent houses are so predominant, the native’s relationship will tend to be based on past experience, mental communication and adaptability. The native is often preconditioned and prejudiced in his attitudes and by subconscious, psychological conditionings. They often get trapped in their own memories. But they are equally flexible, intelligent and have mature understanding bourne out of experience. The Common Signs, by far, are the most difficult to analyze. But a general rule of thumb, which can be advantageously adopted by a student, is that the first five degrees or so for a common sign invariably absorb and display the fixed characteristics of the previous fixed sign, while the last five degrees or so of a common sign often tends the characteristics of the following movable sign.


The cardinal Signs are so called, because, when the Sun is in them, he is at one of the four comers of the Zodiac, at a turning point, where he is forced to take another direction. In Aries, he is as far East as he can go. Cancer is the tropical point of the North, where he gives the perpendicular rays at the Summer Solstice and consequently, the greatest heat. Libra is the extreme Western point of his path, while he is in Capricorn; he is at the farthest south. The effect of the angles is similar to those of Cardinal Signs. The true nature of Cardinal Signs is action and initiative and they give zest to life.


The fixed Signs exert a well nigh irresistible force, impelling the individual along a fixed course. He may be slow in plodding, but is sure to be persistent. Setbacks, which can easily dislodge the courage of a person with cardinal Signs do not daunt him, for he accepts no defeat and is sure to reach his goals. The fixed Signs rouse the “desire” nature, giving stamina and persistence in action with impenetrable concentration. On the other hand, he is conservative, but not a self-starter, like a cardinal sign native. But this is so, because he is calculating the chances of his success if he takes up an assignment on hand. They can be said to be the most reliable people in the world for good or for bad.


The power of the Common Signs is mental and spiritual and gives mobility to life. All the common Signs are intensely moral, intellectual and spiritual symbols. They are often found to be vacillating, indecisive and constantly seek change. Outside conditions easily dominate them as they lack stamina to assert their own individuality. They are averse to strenuous physical action.


The quadruplicities, in the Zodiac circle, represent the square aspect with each other. In the symbolism of astrology, “square” is a rather difficult and hard aspect which gives difficulties, stress and frustration, but at the same time, induces the native to put in the effort needed to overcome it and hence activity. The cardinal Signs indicate direct activity, kinetic energy, applied force and motion. The Fixed Signs are latent, concentrated, having potential energy inertia and rigidity. The Common Signs have a rhythematic motion, variable force, intermittent energy, vibration and oscillation.


The psychosocial connotations of the cardinal Signs represent initiating activity, engagement with the environment – whether material or social. The positive cardinal Signs inclines the individual to action and initiative whereas the negative cardinal Signs seek action and initiative. Those with cardinal Signs emphasized tend to be doers and initiators. The first one or two degrees of a cardinal sign, if on the Ascendant or MC or if planets are located there, are considered as the unstable points. The cardinal Signs may be aptly summarised as changing, disturbing and unsettling. The most unsettling is the cardinal fire sign – Aries.


The psychosocial connotations of the Fixed Signs indicate latent energy, which may appear as inertia or mass or the potential energy of a coiled spring. Taurus describes rotational energy as of the spinning Earth; Leo symbolises the energy of Fire or the energy of vortices, whereas Scorpio aptly describes the whirlpool of Water and the Aquarius indicates the whirlwind power of the Air. The Fixed Signs continue, develop, stabilize and control. Individuals with emphasized Fixed Signs tend to set up a relatively stable environment and embed themselves in it and hold on to it. They tend to be ‘getters’, ‘heavers’, and ‘preservers’. To sum up, the Fixed Signs are unchanging, undisturbed and settled. The most settled of all the Fixed Signs is Taurus – the fixed Earth and the most stable positions are the midpoints of the four fixed Signs.


The psychosocial connotations of the Common Signs are variable energy, the diffusion and dissemination of energy, intermittent or variable application of force, adaptability, and versatility. The mutable Signs elaborate and refine. Those with common Signs elaborate and tend to be changers or seek professions or services. To sum up, the Common or Mutable Signs are changeable, disturbed and unsettled. The most unsettled of all the Common Signs is the Mutable Water, i.e. the sign Pisces.


For a better and easier understanding of this rather complex and important matter, we can now arrange our Signs in the following table, incorporating the quadruplicities as well as the triplicities of the Signs:




Cardinal Extrovert

Fixed Neutral

Mutable Introvert



+ Aries





+ Libra














From the above, it is clear that the sign Aries is extrovert on both counts while Pisces is introvert on both counts. The rest of the Signs occupy positions in between. Fire and water correlate with primitive impulse and self-expression (Fire), sensitivity and contemplation (Water). Air and Earth correlate with reason and thinking process (Air), sensation and practicality (Earth). A predominance of planets in Fire-Water Signs, for instance, suggests an instinctive, impulsive, intuitive tendency. If instability is indicated, there may be a temperamental inclination to swing from one pole to the other, from impulsiveness to withdrawal from rashness to timidity and back again. A predominance of planets in Air-Earth Signs, on the other hand, shows a tendency to deliberative logical decisions and actions, the application of theory to practical material ends. Here the emotional swing is minimal, the attitude is rather flat, the manner cool and critical. If instability is indicated, the tendency here is to be nervous, dither and oscillate. If pushed to the extremes, such natives become schizophrenic.




To recapitulate, we had said that the Elements i.e. Tatwas are in four groups i.e. Fire (Agni) consisting of the Signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius; Earth (Prithvi) consisting of the Signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn: Air (Vayu) consisting of the Signs Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, while Water (Jala) consists of Signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. These represent the TRIPLICITIES of the Signs. Just as the planetary symbols are to be considered as vehicles for concepts, similarly, the elements are also to be taken as symbolising categories of meaning and within each category levels of meaning. Plato has expressly made the point that ‘elements’ are not being taken to represent things, but to symbolize “qualities”. Like the planets, the elements are also to be considered as “universals” and the qualities perhaps are best understood as ‘Fire-like’, ‘Earth­like’,’ Air-like’ and ‘Water-like’.


Thus, the Triplicities or Elements denote basic types of temperament:


Fire: Leadership potential, enthusiasm, aggressiveness, egoistic, creativity, energy etc.


Earth:  Practicality, concern with concrete results, occupation with Financial, business and professional affairs, defensive, caution, security, etc.


Air: Intellectuality, mental-agility, sanguine, communitiveness of ideas, human relations, rational, explanatory, open mind, friendly, etc.


Water: Emotions, feelings, sensitiveness, intuitive, awareness, reflective, Retiring, etc.


It is important to note the predominant distribution of planets in different elements. If four or more planets are found in one element, the characteristics of that element will predominate in the character of the native. If planets are more or less evenly distributed among the elements, the characters ascribed to these elements will be evenly balanced in the native, personality. If there are no planets in one or more elements, the characteristics of those elements will be lacking in the native. An excessive predominance of planets in one element or a total lack of planets in an element can cause a severe imbalance in the individual’s character. However, the presence of the Ascendant or M.C. (Tenth Cusp) in an element that has no planets can offset the imbalance to some extent.


If Fire triplicities are predominant, the native has a great deal of energy, ardor and enthusiasm, they easily initiate new activities and assume leadership roles and display a lot of passion. Fire is hot and dry in nature. It is a positive element, is active, fastest, and lightest and represents extrovert nature.


In Earthy triplicities, there is a great deal of practical, down-to-earth approach to problems. Financial and business affairs play an important role and matters of material status, comfort and security are of major concern to the native. These triplicities also indicate patience. This element is cold and dry. It is the slowest and heaviest of all ­the elements, indicating solidification and inertia.


In Air triplicities, the intellectual stimulation assumes greater significance. These natives have a great ability to communicate intelligently and freely and without any inhibition. Their power of grasping is also above average. The Air element is predominantly warm and moist. It is a positive element, faster and more active. It tends to rise upward and spread outward. It is light and has the quality of vaporisation.


If Water element is predominant, the emotional issues predominate. Such natives display a sympathetic understanding and extreme sensitivity naturally comes to the fore. This element is cool and wet. It is a negative element, is slower and passive. It tends to fall, run together and collect in the lowest levels. It has a passive and rather introvert nature.


The law of natural friendships, enmities and neutrality can also be applied to the elements. Thus, Fire and Air are mutual friends, as air increases and spreads the fire. Fire and water on the other hand are enemies, as water has the capability of extinguishing fire. Finally, Fire and earth are neutrals to one another. Similarly, Earth and Water are friendly to one another since when water is mixed with earth, it concretises and hence builds. On the other hand, Earth and Air are mutual enemies, as a gust of air (wind) drives away the earth (dust) and displaces it. As already noted above, Earth and Fire are neutrals. We have already seen that Air and Fire are friends while Air and Earth are enemies of each other. Air and Water are neutrals.


Finally as already observed, Water and Earth are friends, Water and Fire are enemies while Water and Air are neutrals.


This realisation is extremely useful while harmonising and synergising a chart as also in evaluating the human relationships between two or more persons.


The Signs in each triplicity are in trine aspect to each other. They are thus, in soft or harmonising aspect to one another. They, therefore, bring ease, facilitation and resolution of stress.


For easy understanding, we can tabulate the elements and arrange them as follows:


FIRE + Fastest, hottest, lightest, combustion

AIR   + Fast, warm, light, vaporisation

WATER – Slow, cool, heavy, liquefaction

EARTH- Slowest, coldest, heaviest, solidification







Or, we can even tabulate them as under:


FIRE- Positive/Active

AIR –Positive/Passive

WATER -Negative/Active

EARTH- Negative/Passive


The principles embodied in the characteristics have to be understood at different levels. For example, consider the following analogies:


Cardinal (Rajas): The physical body, direct activity, kinetic energy, applied force, etc.


Fixed (Tamas): The psychophysical temperament, the latent, concentrated, potential energy, inertia, etc.


Mutable (Sattwa):The mind, rhythmic motion, free moving, variable force, etc.


Thus, the chart must be necessarily studied, both with reference to the body and the mind or what is referred to in the scientific jargon as Mind-body Continuum.

With a view to facilitate the student in fully acquainting him with this rather important matter, it is felt that certain ‘key-words’ signifying the main qualities and nature of the elements be introduced at this stage, so that a fuller import and meaning of the elements is easily identified with different situations in day to day life. Thus, study the following table very carefully.



POSITIVE FIRE Expansion, Radiation,




Diffusion, Convection,



EARTH Contraction, Absorption, Retaining.


WATER Collection, Reflection, Collecting.


Extravagant, Egoistic, Pushing.

Equable, Communicative, Sociable.

Restrained, Stiff, Off-hand.

Quiet, Receptive, Retiring.


Forceful, Florid, Exaggerative Personal.

Fluent, Connected, Rational, Explanatory

Dry, Matter- of-fact, Laconic, Pedestrian.

Quiet, Subtle, Imaginative, Reflective.


Intuitive, Impulsive.

Rational, Logical.

Empirical, Factual.

Imaginative, Reflective.



Single- Breadth

Narrowness/ concentration.



Trust in self or in luck.

Open Mind


Belief/ Skepticism.


Tense, taut, Springy.

Loose, free.

Stiff, Firm.

Relaxed, Slack.





With- Hiding


Aggressive, Demanding, Spirited, Choleric, Rashness.

Expansive, Friendly, Thinking, Sanguine, Calculated risk.

Defensive, Off-putting Practical, Melancholic, Caution. Security.

Receptive, Retiring, feeling, Phlegmatic, Imaginary. Fears.


What we are doing here, is assigning particular qualities to the relevant universal laws and once the symbolism of astrology is understood, it presents very little difficulty in understanding, whether we are dealing with the physical, mental, social or whatever field. Astrology provides us with an ingenious subtle and logically interrelated system for an ordered employment of analogy and affinity in whatever field we want.




The entire Universe is based on the Law of Duality and perhaps the most glaring and unflinching, obvious duality is that of the Sexes – the masculine and the feminine or the positive and the negative polarities. This polarity concerns with the basics, i.e. Active versus Passive, Radiant versus Reflective, and Generative versus Receptive nature of human behavior. Here the twelve Signs of the Zodiac are divided in two blocks, the- odd Signs and the even Signs. In this each pair forms a positive – negative polarity and they are arranged alternately in succession around the Zodiac running in an anticlockwise direction, beginning with the positive sign Aries and ending with the negative sign Pisces.


The domination of masculine or positive Signs impels the individual to take initiatives, without waiting for an outside stimulus to motivate them into action. On the other hand, individuals with dominant feminine or negative Signs, take action only when stimulated to do so by an outside influence. Normally, they attract the things they need, rather than· actively seeking them. Because of these inherent tendencies, the masculine Signs manifest leadership ability and tend to be self-starters in the department of life ruled by the houses – where these planets are found. On the other hand, the feminine Signs merely wait to act until- they are confronted with circumstances they require.


But this is merely the first kind of POLARITY, which we will call as INTRINSIC. There is, however, a second type of POLARITY, which we will call as EXTRINSIC.


Here, we have a polarity of orientation and position. This is formed between the Signs, which lie opposite each other across the Zodiac. In this case, unlike· the former intrinsic polarity, the positive Signs face positive Signs across the circle, whereas the negative Signs face negative Signs i.e. Aries faces Libra (both positive), Taurus faces Scorpio (both negative), Gemini faces- Sagittarius (both positive), Cancer faces Capricorn (both negative) Leo faces Aquarius (both positive) and Virgo faces Pisces (both negative).


Thus, the extrinsic set of polarities carries a rather different implication from the intrinsic set, so that -our range of meaning is considerably extended by taking this structural division of the Zodiac into account.


In the extrinsic polarity, the opposites tend to relate matters of the same kind or of similar kind (i.e. positive opposes positive), whereas, in the intrinsic polarity, the opposing pairs tend to relate matters of a different kind (i.e. positive opposes negative).


To explain this, Jet us take just one example. We have said that the two types of polarity present us with two categories of meaning for the related planetary symbols. Thus: Jupiter’s intrinsic polar opposite is Saturn (i.e. Sagittarius adjoins Capricorn) and this invokes the makings of ‘expansion’ (Jupiter) opposing ‘contraction’ (Saturn), or such opposing pairs as ‘optimism-pessimism’, or ‘generosity – miserliness’, etc. But on the other hand, Jupiter’s extrinsic polar opposite is Mercury (Sagittarius opposes Gemini) and here we have the speculative, philosophical mind (of Jupiter) opposing the practical, logical mind (of Mercury).


In the circle of extrinsic polarity, we can see the idea of ‘unity in diversity’ or ‘harmony in contrariety’. Thus, there is a latent possibility of harmonious resolution. Thus, Aries opposes Libra. But since both are positive Signs, there is ground and hope for reconciliation. These two Signs may symbolize difference, rivalry, war, confrontation and competition. But they may equally indicate peace, co-operation and harmony. Thus, by taking the associated houses in the mundane circle – the first and the seventh – we have represented the ideas of complementation and fulfillment, subject – object, ego-alter ego, man-wife, and so on.


While dealing with triplicities, we said that Fire Signs represent Intuition, Earthy Signs represent Sensation, Airy Signs indicate Thinking, while, the Watery Signs relate to Feelings. Thus Aries-Libra, Leo-Aquarius and Sagittarius-Gemini (extrinsic polarities) represent intuition and thinking process respectively while the axis of Taurus – Scorpio, Virgo – Pisces and Capricorn – Cancer (extrinsic polarities) are connected with sensation and feelings respectively.


To sum up:


In the intrinsic polarity the presence of consciousness of one pole, denies the presence of the other, which is relegated to the subconscious. If the thinking function is dominant, then the feeling function is the submerged partner. If intuition is dominant then sensation is dormant. If sensation is strong, thinking is relegated to the background.


In the extrinsic polarity, the aim is a conscious integration of the two poles and a resolution of tension between them. Thus, intuition is generated out of deep thinking (and meditation), while the sensation is aroused as a result of feeling (and touch).


Thus, we have two distinct polarities in the horoscope. The intrinsic polarity involves positive-negative i.e. of magnetism, while the extrinsic polarity involves similar polarity (positive-positive or negative-negative) i.e. of gravitation. Frequently, when a lack in one element is indicated, it is made up when the native marries, for then; he tends to choose, either consciously or unconsciously, someone who could make good his deficiencies.