Earth can be just as unsettled as the other three elements (water, air, and fire), but it actually represents quite the opposite: stability. It is solid, foundational – sometimes to the point of rigidity – and it aligns with what is practical, traditional, and secure. Earth is structural. And, while we can use our senses to touch water, smell air, and see fire, earth is unique in that it truly requires the sensual part of our nature. It may be one of the easiest elements to understand because we can see it, feel it, touch it, mold it, walk on it everyday.
Simply put, earth is tangible. It corresponds to the material and the sensual planes of existence. Sensing this earthly quality is key to understanding the three earth signs in Astrology: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. If you recall in the Air: The element & its signs article, there are three modes for every element: mutable, cardinal, and fixed. Taurus is the fixed earth sign; Virgo is the mutable earth sign; Capricorn is the cardinal earth sign. To imagine a tree from root to tip is to really understand the growth of these three earth signs, Taurus to Capricorn.
Taurus comes at the beginning of the Astrological archetype (the second sign in the zodiac), and it corresponds to the very base of our Being – think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid (food, shelter, clothing, monetary stability, our security). It is the root of the metaphorical tree. However, it does not simply master subsistence – its ruling planet Venus brings beauty to our sustenance so that we can truly taste, appreciate, and enjoy our foods; design, mend, and create fashionable clothing; win the lottery yet still keep our old savings account.
Next is the lovely Virgo. Now that the metaphorical tree is rooted, logically, analytical and practical Virgo ought to step in and help. Literally. Virgo is the service and health-oriented sign, which rests on analysis and practicality. In order to keep Taurus’ Venus energy under control (earth is about keeping things grounded, remember), humble Virgo makes sure we keep the foundation strong and secure by staying healthy and making rational, practical choices. Virgo is the trunk to that metaphorical tree. When all is fundamentally secure, and since Taurus is more about self-security, it only makes sense (at least to a Virgo) that Virgo would have the reserve resources to extend help and service to others.
Finally, Capricorn ends the earth cycle – no surprise it’s the cardinal earth sign of stability rounding out the earth signs. It’s fitting for the earth element start with fixed Taurus, leave room for growth and movement in the middle with mutable Virgo, and end with constant, cardinal Capricorn. Capricorn is the mirror to the root of the metaphorical tree, branching out and up instead of down and deep; no longer hidden, the roots are flourishing. Capricorn is akin to one’s career and long-term goals – it is our ambition, our struggle to rise to our peak. The animal symbol for Capricorn is the mountain goat – here we are at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, the top of the mountain.
Now that you understand the earth element, go outside and enjoy it! Build a sand castle, volunteer to teach rock-climbing, hike up a mountain or just get some grub. Exemplify the earthly element any way you can!