The Elemental Division In Synastry
How The Elements Describe Your Basic Compatibility

The elements (fire, earth, air and water) are part of the foundation of astrology as we already discussed in this article.

They are what this Universe is made of and they build the principles and functions of life and all that it contains (in the widest sense).

Moreover, we may assume the elements act like (or are?) electromagnetic forces that combine, attract and repel each other.

There are 'positive' (extravert, outward going or centrifugal, active) forces (air and fire) and 'negative' (introvert, inward going or centripetal, passive) forces (water and earth).

This (polarized) division is also what the tropical zodiac signs are about and these elements give the zodiac signs a meaning, characteristics, traits, temperaments.

They give the zodiac signs "a life."

According to the planets in the zodiac signs, the elements become emphasized, resulting in corresponding life experiences, events and more.

Because of the polarization and emphasis or non-emphasis of an element, it will play a role in attracting others.

Hence, the elemental division is a tool that cannot and should not be omitted in synastry.

How to proceed?

First of all, we need to take a look at the elemental division in each natal chart separately.

There are different ways to find out the emphasis of an element:

  • some astrologers count the planets in an element to find the emphasis
  • other astrologer give scores to a planet (slow-moving planets are often left out or given a low score while the faster moving, personal bodies, receive a higher score to give more weight)
  • yet other astrologers incorporate the asteroids and/or other bodies and points to find out the emphasis
  • and then there are astrologers that also assign a score to the ruler of the Ascendant and/or MC and/or dispositor of the Sun sign etc...

You might want to experiment yourself to find out what works best for you.

It's already clear that the weakness of this method is that giving scores and/or incorporating more and more bodies or points is going to give different results.

This may question the reliability of this method.

The jury is still out on finding what scores and how many planets/bodies work best but in our opinion and following our own experience and research it's best to take a conservative approach, especially if you are a beginner.

We recommend that you do not just count the number of planets in the same element, but rather give them a weighing according to the following rule:

  • the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and MC get 3 points;
  • Mercury, Venus and Mars get 2 points;
  • Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto get 1 point.

For example: when Mercury, Saturn and Pluto are in Water signs, the total Water score would be 2 (for Mercury) + 1 (for Saturn) + 1 (for Pluto) = 4.

This method is quite reliable as it is.

Now you can find out the emphasis on an element in a natal chart.

In synastry, we look for compatibility and balance.

Hence, it's always best when one partner fills the lacking or non-emphasized element of the other.

What one partner lacks, the other should have in abundance.

If both partners have the same elemental emphasis, there can be attraction too, but both partners will over-emphasize the predominant element and will not really find balance.

They will not develop the less emphasized element(s) with the help of each other.

So, for example, if you lack water, it's best to find a partner who has more water in his or her natal chart than you have.

When you have found your predominant element and the one of your partner, it does not stop here though.

It's important to follow and apply the same rules or steps with the qualities of the elements, called modes or quadruplicities (cardinal, fixed and mutable signs) and find out the predominant mode as well.

In short, we need the predominant element AND the predominant mode in the natal chart of each partner!

Once we have found the predominant element and the predominant mode in each natal chart, we can convert these to a single zodiac sign:

  • predominant fire + predominant cardinal = Aries
  • predominant earth + predominant fixed = Taurus
  • predominant air + predominant mutable = Gemini
  • predominant water + predominant cardinal = Cancer
  • predominant fire + predominant fixed = Leo
  • predominant earth + predominant mutable = Virgo
  • predominant air + predominant cardinal = Libra
  • predominant water + predominant fixed = Scorpio
  • predominant fire + predominant mutable = Sagittarius
  • predominant earth + predominant cardinal = Capricorn
  • predominant air + predominant fixed = Aquarius
  • predominant water + predominant mutable = Pisces

Now that we have found a predominant zodiac sign for each partner, we can compare these signs according to the natural order of the zodiac signs to find out how well they cope.

As a side note, the predominant zodiac sign we just found may or may not be the same as the Sun sign, but that does not matter.

It's the predominant zodiac sign that colors the native most, beyond the Sun sign.

Zodiac signs that are the same, that sextile or trine each other are compatible.

When your zodiac sign is compatible with the zodiac sign of your partner, you are likely to be compatible as a couple and may agree more often than not.

Your relationship is likely to be more harmonious and less upsetting.

If your zodiac signs square each other in the natural order of the zodiac, (temperamental) clashes and disagreements may occur.

Some examples

  • Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward: Paul Newman has predominant water + predominant cardinal = Cancer; Joanne Woodward has predominant water + predominant mutable = Pisces.

    Cancer and Pisces are compatible zodiac signs in the natural order of the zodiac because they trine each other.

    It does not wonder they were very compatible and made a happy union.
  • Sonny Bono and Cher: Sonny Bono has predominant air + predominant cardinal = Libra; Cher has predominant earth + predominant cardinal = Capricorn.

    Libra and Capricorn square each other in the natural order of the zodiac signs denoting (temperamental) clashes.

    The couple married and divorced.

Conclusion

Beware: this method is only one of many other methods to take into account when assessing a couple for compatibility!

It gives a very good indication of the overall compatibility of a couple and it's quite easy to "calculate."

The method has its weaknesses or downsides too though:

  • the results depend on the scores, the planets, bodies and points you take into account.

    You can make it as complicated as you wish by building formulas and weighing scores for every planet, body, point you want to incorporate.

    Beware of self-delusion here!

    It's likely, in the future some computerized models may be available that do the weighing in a reliable way after intensive research and comparison.

  • if a natal chart has two predominant elements (with the same scores), it becomes more complicated because the native may be "ruled" by two predominant zodiac signs that may or may not be compatible with the predominant zodiac sign of the other partner.

    In this case, the relationship most often becomes (more) complicated and upsetting as well.

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