Along with the elements of Air, Earth, and Fire, the Water Element constitutes the 4 elements of Astrology. The development of Astrology as a scientific study evolved through mankind’s observations of the celestial skies and the earth’s natural elements.
The natural elemental aspect of water is comprised of 2-parts hydrogen and 1-part oxygen (H2O). H2O is the life-sustaining force that renders the planet Earth habitable. Over 71% of the surface of the planet is under water. Over 96% of water is found within the oceans. Water is also found in the air as vapor, humidity, steam, and snow, as well as on the ground as glaciers and ice and underground within natural aquifers. Over half the human body consists of water. The Water Element symbols are integral to the overall function of the Four Elements of Astrology.
Associated with the element of water and most of the traits traditionally connected to that element can be found in Tarot (the suit of cups) too.
Water Element Meaning and the Zodiac
The Zodiac contains 12 stars that are grouped into exact patterns of three that run along an imaginary astrological line called an ecliptic. The groups of three are known as trigon and each trigon is assigned a Zodiac sign, an element, a ruling planet and specific personality traits. Given the astrological penchant for patterns, what are the water signs of the Zodiac?
The Water signs of the Zodiac are: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. The element meaning of water is found within the descriptions of the very nature of water itself; fluid, free-flowing, frozen, icy, deep, shallow, etc. Each of the Water signs of the Zodiac are directly related to water through their Zodiac symbol. Cancer is represented by the Crab, Scorpio, a Scorpion that transits water and land and Pisces, the Fish.
Explanations of the Element of Water personality traits often use words and phrases such as, “ocean of emotion”, “pools of possible actions”,” ebb and flow” and “directionless drift”. Of all the Four Elements of Astrology, Water is most in need of influence from the other elements due to its basic lack of form and direction, as it can also add positive action for the others.
Fire element signs help to shine light on the Water element signs to aid in giving them direction. Conversely, Water element signs can add more depth and empathy to the self-motivated Fire Zodiac signs. The Earth element sign benefits from the fluidity of the Water element signs to lessen the Earth sign’s rigidity and the Earth element signs offer the Water element signs boundaries and stability. The Air element signs benefit from the Water element signs in establishing deep emotional connections within the human experience.
The Element of Water and the Rulerships
It is within astrological jargon for Zodiac signs and their elements to be “ruled” by the planets to which they are assigned. These rulerships are referred to as the Zodiac’s Planetary Houses. The Zodiac consists of twelve houses, each of which has unique personality traits, elements, sun signs and qualities. The Qualities reference a preference for orientation to the outer world. The Qualities are Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable.
The rulerships of the Water Zodiac signs are the Fourth, Eighth and Twelfth house. The Fourth which is Cancer is in the Personal, more self-directed section of the Zodiac and The Eighth, Scorpio and the Twelfth, Pisces are in the Interpersonal, directed toward others, a section of the Zodiac being directed more toward others, rather than the self.
Water Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
WATER Element Symbol: The Crab
Planetary House: Fourth
Cancer is ruled by the Fourth House of the Zodiac known as the House of Moods and Emotions, which is enhanced by its planet, the Moon. It’s Water Element Symbol, the Crab, represents a hard shell shown to the outside world and a soft inside that indicates sensitivity. Cancerians are very sensitive and protect themselves which makes them harder to get to know.
However, once a connection is made, the Water Zodiac sign of Cancer cares and loves deeply. Home and Family take priority. They make excellent domestic partners and caretakers for others. They tend to be more instinctual than intuitive in dealings with others. However, given the depth of their emotions, they can fall prey to passive-aggressive behaviors, jealousy and manipulation. Cancer is a Cardinal Quality which indicates they orient themselves to the outer world as self-motivated leaders who are willing to take on initiatives.
WATER Element Symbol: The Regenerative Scorpion
Planetary House: Eighth
The Water Zodiac sign of Scorpio is ruled by the Eighth House of the Zodiac. As with the intimidating Scorpion, Scorpios are the most intense and focused members of the Zodiac. They literally take deadly aim at what they want by amassing their powers to transform a situation for their purposes and often for the benefit of others. Scorpio’s ruling planet is Pluto, named for the Roman God of the Underworld, also known in the Greek as Hades.
The concentration of transformation or regeneration is also reflected in its Water Element symbol, the regenerative scorpion. Taken from Roman mythology, the venomous scorpion morphs into a snake, an eagle and ultimately into a rising phoenix. A strong Water Element personality trait of Scorpios is their fearlessness when it comes to diving into the unknown. Where there is such an aggregation of focused intensity, there are certainly dangers, not the least of which are obsession and possessiveness. Scorpio is a Fixed Quality which indicates a preference for deeper, more stable interconnections with others.
Water Zodiac Symbol: The Fish
Planetary House: Twelfth
Pisces is ruled by the 12th House of the Zodiac, an Interpersonal House. The 12th House addresses the final stage of a situation, be it a project, aging, the completion of a phase. It also rules over creative pursuits in order to bring them to fruition. The Water Zodiac sign of the fish reflects the Pisces tendency toward the depth of thought and feelings, along with a certain mystery as they are usually more inner-oriented than outer oriented. Pisces care and love deeply and have great difficulty with those they love being ill or unhappy. Although often quiet and shy they can be vociferously romantic and effusive about their feelings toward loved ones.
This contributes to their overall sensitivity to and compassion for others. However, the very traits that make them so passionate about helping others, also makes them vulnerable to being taken advantage of by those they are trying to help. Pisces are slow to recognize the faults or dangers in others. Chronic concern for the welfare of others, to the exclusion of caring for themselves, can lead a Pisces to a diminishment of their own well-being. Pisces is a Mutable Quality which indicates a willingness to embrace change, to “go with the flow” in the context of not being constant.
Water Element Balance Within the Astrology Elements
The fluidity of Water Element personality traits presents issues with generating balance within the elements of Astrology. Although each Water Element Zodiac sign is singular, there is a similarity in their depth of feelings, emotions and dedicated commitment. All Water Zodiac signs tend to be sensitive, both within themselves and to the needs of others. The counter to this are the dangers of an imbalance of intensity resulting in being too keyed into others to their own detriment or driven to the point of driving the individuality out of others, transforming them into someone not of their own making.
Due to the dichotomy of intense feelings and free flow nature, the Water Element signs of the Zodiac struggle with setting boundaries. Boundaries are generally formed by their relationships which can prove to be positive or negative depending on the balance within the relationship. As the Water Zodiac sign Cancer finds its personality traits within the Fourth House, the ruling planet of the Moon influences the area of emotions. There is a feminine nature as the Moon has always been depicted by a Goddess. In nature, the Moon is cyclical, as it controls the rise and fall of the ocean tides. In astrology, it represents the emotional life cycle by controlling the ebb and flow of moods and emotions.
The Water Zodiac sign of Scorpio is appropriately ruled by Pluto, named for the Roman God of the Underworld also known as Hades in Greek. Pluto yielded great power in transitioning from the Upper World to the Underworld. He is known for one of the most powerful transformations and regenerations in all Mythology. In a show of ultimate power over life and death, Pluto kidnapped Persephone and brought her to the underworld with the promise of regeneration, thereby creating the “dead” season of Winter and the life regenerating season of Spring. It is not by chance that the intensely motivated Water Zodiac sign of Scorpio is so focused on these pursuits. A key element in the transformation of others is their desire to be transformed rather made into the image and likeness of a Scorpio’s perception.
Who else would be more in tune to rule the Fish of the Water Element Zodiac sign of Pisces than the planet Neptune, named for the iconic Roman God of the Sea. However, other than Pisces being situated between the transformation between Winter and Spring, emotionally the two entities could not be farther apart. Neptune was known for his violent temper and the Water Element Zodiac sign of Pisces is known for being the dreamer of the zodiac and a leader in attending to the needs of others. As with other Water element Zodiac signs, Pisces are very romantic and deeply care about their loved ones. However, when the intensity of caring is out of balance, the recipients of their love can feel overwhelmed, almost “drowning” in the attention.
The Water Element and Existence
“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans, in one aspect of YOU, are found all the aspects of existence” – “The Prophet” – Kahlil Gibran. Our very existence is dependent upon water. Who we are as human beings is shaped by water. The ebb and flow of the tides are reminiscent of the “ups and downs” that impact our existence. Water is sensory, as we see, it, taste it, touch it or hear it.
Whether gazing upon the undulating rhythm of water’s flow, hearing the sound of waves lapping upon the shore or sensing its cool liquidity wash over us, water elicits a visceral human response of calm. It is not only integral to our existence, water is essential to our well-being.
The Water Element is the most profound element as it pertains to the Four Elements in Astrology. Profound in the sense that water element of the Zodiac imparts a depth of emotions and moods to human existence. When in balance, the Water Element allows us to engage in deep personal connections within ourselves and the other elemental signs of the Zodiac.