As the Element of Fire burns down, the tallest flames give way to hot red coals, which then cool down to black and silver ashes. The heat is gone and the cold takes over, the embers calming down to something more solid, less changeable. And so one Element in the cycle has given away to the next: Fire has turned into Earth.
What does earth feel like? It is soft dirt underfoot, sharp gravel, hot sand, wet clay, and pebbles worn soft by the riverbed. The mountains which tower over the world, who stand magnificently alone against the sky, the ultimate image of strength and endurance and slow growth, are of the earth. As is the fertile valleys below, where vineyards and farmlands have grown since civilization began. Earth is gentle, beautiful, and steady in its cycles. But do not let your pastoral view of nature blind you to the forces underneath. Earthquakes can strike after years of building tension and suddenly destroy huge tracts of land in a matter of minutes, totally changing the landscape once they hit. The earth may be slow to change over time, but once that change hits, it is all at once, and it will never change back.
To best understand what earth is, immerse yourself in nature. Get out of the city and drive into the mountains. Notice how quiet it is once you are alone on the road. Feel the difference in temperature when you get under the trees further up in elevation. Breathe in fresh air and smell the soil, the pine, the freshwater lakes, the dry riverbeds. Hear your shoes grinding on dirt paths. Run your fingers over soft moss and rough tree bark. Taste sun-ripened berries or a freshly-caught trout roasted over a fire. Sit high up on a rock, uncomfortable, and wonder at the view. This is how you connect with the Earth Element - through your senses, and out in the wilderness.
If we are made out the four Elements, Earth is our Body. Here is how we experience the physical reality of the material world around us. Through our senses we see, hear, feel, touch, taste, and smell. Our body gets mad when it is uncomfortable, like when you get hungry (or hangry, as we call it), tired, sore, too hot or too cold. And it gets happy when we immerse ourselves in sensual pleasures. Plush pillows, soft blankets, worn out jeans, thick sweaters on a cold day. Beautiful works of art and high-quality furnishings in the home. Cuddling, warm sex, hot showers and long baths. Lyrical music, the sounds of nature, crackling in the fireplace. The smell of old books. And of course, all of your family's favourite recipes!
Different religions have told us we are made of Earth, of clay and dirt, and just as we were born out of it, soon do we return. Our body is a mortal container. It grows, changes, ages, and eventually dies. So it is instinctual for us to work to keep our body healthy and alive, to keep from becoming ugly, sick, or in pain. This is where Earth's preoccupation with being stable, secure, and protected comes from. Admittedly, this is an Element of fear - especially the fear of unexpected change. You dig in your heels and get stubborn about it. You stick with what is safe and comfortable and familiar, not risking anything or moving very fast. That is how you keep your body alive and well-taken care of: with dedication, care, and plenty of caution.
Living in the material world, Earth is best suited for dealing with things of this nature. This is the area of life where you need to be responsible, think practically, and work very hard. Save for the future, hoard money away, spend it frugally and only on things that are really worth it. Pay all your bills on time and don't wrack up debt. Build wealth. Keep everything clean and organized. Take things seriously. Set out to achieve and to become successful. Really, Earth is all about dedicating a huge amount of time and energy on a single, important project or goal that you want to achieve. And in doing so, making sure the rewards will last a lifetime.
THE EARTH SIGNS
The Earth Signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. All of these signs are solid, stable, salt-of-the-earth types who take their responsibilities very seriously. They tend to be more classically introverted; deep thinkers who only speak and act deliberately and with purpose. Materialism and status are weak points for these Signs just like laziness and rich foods. They have a certain affinity for cozy homes and beautiful things. As their lives are run by their senses, it comes as no surprise.
Look at your Natal Chart right now and count how many planets you have in each of these Signs. If you have 3 or 4, you have an even amount of Earthiness to your personality, which suites you very well. If you have between 0 and 2, however, you have very little Earth. And if you have 5 or more, you have an over-abundance of Earth.
LOW IN EARTH
Having little to no Earth in your chart is like living in a desert where nothing can grow, or treading in an ocean with no land in sight. You lack a solid foundation on which to build your life, and your feet seldom touch the ground. You can't take root anywhere, settle down, build a life or run a business, because you are inherently unstable and unreliable. You find it difficult to think practically, to be responsible, to set goals and achieve them. Even if you are full of energy and network very well, you need to work extra hard to manifest the constancy needed for success. And without anything grounding you, you are also a victim of your own moods and careless whims.
When you have very little Earth in your chart, you need to nourish it. You need to feed it and water it every day, and you need to mindfully grow it intentionally with every choice you make. You need to get out of your self, out of your mind and your emotions. Turn off your inner world and and reconnect with your senses and the physical world around you. You can do this in a spiritual way through meditation, earth worship, or earth magic. Or you can do it in a personal way by growing a garden, mindfully harvesting your food, making a meal from scratch, and sitting down to eat it without any distractions. Growing more Earth into your personality involves deep sensuality and doing things in a slower, more mindful way. And your first step is in reconnecting with your physical body.
When was the last time you ate, and what did you eat? How much did you sleep last night? Have you been drinking enough water? When your chart lacks a strong Earth influence it is easy to treat your body like a vehicle and not like the temple it actually is. Be mindful of what your body needs, what signals it is sending you; pamper it and treat it right. Eat three to five meals a day and nourish your body with vitamins, nutrients, fresh fruits and vegetables, higher-quality dairy and meat, and lots of water. Let your body rest with deep sleep and a few lazy days. Cuddle someone you love. Go outside and breathe in some fresh air; move around and get some outdoor exercise. You will notice a difference right away!
The next steps involves you slowing down, setting goals, and working towards them. Force yourself into adopting a routine. Create constancy. Organize the paperwork, keep track of where your money is going, and clean your house. Commit to something - anything! - and follow through to the end. Put your roots into the ground and grow slowly. The purpose of growing this Element is in giving yourself the solid foundation you need in order to build a fruitful, successful life for yourself. And it all begins with good habits.
HIGH IN EARTH
In traditional forms of Greek Medicine, the Earth Element was associated with Black Bile and a Melancholic temperament. To have an excess of Black Bile in the body was supposed to denote "morose" emotions: loneliness, nervousness, anxiety, cynicism, depression, and excessive caution. This was said to be made worse by overworking and stressing out. Having a large amount of Earth in your chart does very much the same thing to your personality. In fact, these may be things you have been dealing with your whole life.
Imagine a garden so overgrown you can scarcely move. Knotted branches with leaves so thick you can't see the sun; you sit in the darkness below, trapped and still. This is what it is like to have a chart so full of the Earth Element. You have a personality that is very grounded, very practical, and very sensual; you can manifest and grow almost anything. But your life is overgrown with fear - fear of unexpected, sudden changes, and a fear of losing what you've grown attached to. In particular, you are afraid of big financial changes (being broke, going into debt, a drop in income, losing your job), losing the people you love, and your home life being shaken up. While these are certainly reasonable fears, and you take many precautions to keep them from happening, problems arise nonetheless.
You may suffer in a job, relationship, or home that you are unhappy in just because you are incapable of changing your situation. You would rather endure months, even years, of misery than make the decision to cut ties and uproot your life. Besides, you tell yourself, things aren't that bad right now. I can put up with this. And so you sit in your overgrown garden, stuck, lazy, and miserable, telling yourself that the world outside the garden gate is uncertain, and so very scary, and not worth the trouble it would be to cut down all that you've built up around you.
The truth is, you can't put up with it. Personally, I have noticed that a lot of people with large Earth stelliums (groups of 3 or more planets) struggle with anxiety and depression issues. And they get worse the more rooted they are in a situation they are unhappy in. As one of these people I feel confident in saying that we don't value our own happiness enough; we put responsibility, duty, and commitment before everything else in our life. We stay in relationships with the wrong people, in jobs we hate, and in a home with people who piss us off on the daily, but we won't ever leave. We get attached, we get comfortable, we take root, and then we just stay there. You might think it is honourable to uphold your promises like that. And it is - just not when your stubbornness is killing you on the inside.
If I know anything about you, I would be willing to bet money that there is a big change you know you need to make in your life right now. It involves you making a big decision that you are too scared to make because it will uproot your whole life and send you out on an uncertain path, and you don't know where you will end up because there are no guarantees. You can stay here and be tolerably unhappy, or you can get up and go, and maybe be happier somewhere else. But you aren't sure, and you don't want to risk it. Maybe you know it's time to propose to or divorce the one you're with. Maybe you want to quit your job or drop out of school and pursue your passion, or move away to a new city. Big changes never come without months, if not years, of careful deliberation, and more than few nights crying about it (because every change has to be such a big deal). But those changes are important, and they get easier every time. I'm telling you to go with your gut and take that leap of faith, even if you don't know where it will take you. Besides, you know you need to do it!
THE EARTH TRANSFORMATION
Over time, as it matures, Earth becomes Air. Taurus turns into Gemini, Virgo into Libra, and Capricorn into Aquarius. The dense, solid nature of this Element fades and it becomes lighter, like dust being kicked up and blown into a million particle pieces. It loses its form as it expands and travels, discovering new possibilities, new points of view, and new friends as is drifts away from what it used to be. Stubbornness, certainty, and commitment all fall apart as the Element is scattered around. Change becomes easier. And so Earth has grown and transformed into Air, having been blown far beyond the boarders it once thought impossible to cross.
Earth Signs turn into Air Signs when they let go of the fear which holds them to one way of being. This comes naturally as they grow older, gain more material success and security, and begin to relax. They spend money easily without worrying about saving it all for emergencies. The once shy, quiet, lonely introvert breaks out of their shell and becomes a talkative extrovert. They make more friends, and make them easier. A once narrow mind is opened to a world of possibilities. They stop studying one or two things, and begin learning a little bit about everything. In turn, they become more flexible, less affected by change, more adaptable. And as a result stress leaves them, and their quality of life improves.