The intended readership of this article is the informed astrological neophyte, although I hope practicing astrologers will find something of value as well.
In Astrology we use the four elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. The fifth or Quintessence is the source of them all.
We have become accustomed to thinking of such things in the abstract; but these are live and dynamic elements, each with unique and complex characteristics. The doctrine of As above, So below doesn’t just apply some of the time. It applies always. Consciousness and vital expression is everywhere.
My goal is to use the study of each element from many perspectives to be ultimately used in the interpretation of horoscopes: to experience the elements as not only living, but divine, both in the microcosm and the macrocosm. One of the most regrettable blind allies taken by students of Traditional Astrology is to divorce the Art not only from psychological concerns but spiritual ones as well. This can lead to a very dry materialism that puts little or no value on the spiritual.
Considering the Neo Platonic, Pythagorean and Hermetic philosophies that inform the art, this is a sad state of affairs. I read not so long ago that “Modern astrology has no brains and Traditional Astrology has no soul.” Technicalities can become an end in themselves.
The most concise definition of astrology is ‘the practical application of astronomy to human use.’ Titus Burckhardt writes: “our response to it must necessarily hinge on our understanding of what it means to be human ” (Ibn Arabi p.5). If our essential interconnectedness with all that is and all that will ever be is ignored, we become greatly diminished as human beings; but what might have been a sad fact at another time in history is inexorably linked to our own survival and the survival of thousands of other species in our own lifetime. The deliberate or unconscious pollution of the oceans, for example, is immediately connected with spiritual sickness. It is the act of someone who has no idea of who they really are.
When we consider this in light of a particular chart, we will of course want to know how a given element expresses itself in the horoscope. This perhaps sounds all too obvious, but you will never meet anyone with the same chart as you, no matter how long you live. ‘
Likewise, no two drops of water are identical. So while it is tempting to think of an element as one thing, we must also take into account that the same element exists in many different states. Most obviously we have water, ice and clouds in the Water Triplicity. but that’s just the beginning.
Cornelius Agrippa discusses this at great length in Bk I of Occult Philosophy, using the language of his own times. However, Jakob Boehme and William Blake were just as expressive of this reality – “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour” is on the mark. (Augeries of Innocence)”
In Hermetic Philosophy elements are not just things, categories or qualities. Everything is imbued with spirit and everything we can know see has consciousness: “Everything That Lives is Holy” (Blake MHH).
Water is incredibly dangerous. Traditionally this is one reason that Saturn was given governance over seafarers. This also carries the meaning of the extremities or ‘furthest reaches’ as Saturn is the furthermost visible planet. The ocean was regarded as both chaos and the source of life in cultural mythologies.
Water is essential to life. Either too much or too little can mean the difference between life and death. She gives and takes life.
The human body is approximately 2/3 water. About 83 percent of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten.
Great civilizations grew up around rivers, such as the Euphrates, the Nile, the Indus, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Danube and the Ganges. The Egyptians refer to the Milky Way as the “true Nile.” The Indians say the Milky Way is the Heavenly Ganges.
Rivers are often a place of worship and most specifically ritual purification. The Ganges is a goddess to Hindus. The bather in the Ganges is letting the waters of the goddess dissolve all physical and spiritual impurities. She is alive and responsive.
Because water retains memory, the person drinking water at the mouth of the Rhine is taking in more information than one drinking at the source of the Rhine (see video 1)
This is science in accordance with the spirit of Hermetic doctrine
Indian mythology equates the river Ganges with the Milky Way. According to Vedic lore Ganga (Ganges) resided in the sky (Milky Way) and was called Akash Ganga’ or Sky-River.
All Signs of the Water Triplicity are Feminine and Receptive. In other words, they are absorbent.
This is more true of Pisces than Cancer and Scorpio because the fishes have no armor. But the principle applies to all three nevertheless.
Water is highly receptive and demonstrably responsive to sound waves or in fact being in contact with anything, It is not malleable as is Earth; but it will conform to any container.
It is not my intent here to go into any detail regarding the signs. That is for another post. But we can take a quick look at a couple of examples to see the principle at play.
With the Moon in Cancer she is in her own domicile. The Moon is the most reflective of all luminaries and planets.
The Moon governs memory. Both luminary and sign are feminine and receptive.
To put it simply, the Moon functions best in her own home.
Venus is exalted in Pisces. Again we have feminine with feminine.
The selfless nature of Pisces produces what we can call an optimum Venus because she is spiritualized. But she is even better off in Libra or Taurus predominantly through art and sensuality respectively, balanced and stable. Libra and Taurus are her domiciles.
Elements perform best when placed with harmonious planets and luminaries: particularly in their domicile or exaltation. In the case of water signs, they are particularly impressionable and absorbent.
Massive wave near Australia’s Bondi beach
The element of water is highly intuitive and, unless otherwise afflicted, highly empathic.
Those with strong water signatures in the horoscope need to drink more water than most and do well near large bodies of water. Salt water can absorb *negative energy* even is used in a small receptacle at home.
Pisces, the most Feminine sign of all, needs to cleanse themselves from the excess of negative energy absorbed. Pisces is like a sponge and requires more time alone to recharge than any other sign.
Belugas playing in the Arctic
Most I think are aware of the relationship of water to positive or negative ions. A negative Ion is an atom or molecule that has absorbed one or more extra negatively charged electrons. Negative ions are highly beneficial. They are generated by evaporating water, ocean surf, or waterfalls.
It should be an easy task to connect the spiritual and the material by understanding the essential nature of any element. But all the true Arts take many years to master. The doctrine of As above, So below will become increasingly profound in the process
Alchemical Symbol for the Element of Water