The elements in astrology – Earth, Air, Fire and Water – are the four cornerstones of astrological interpretation and they represent powerful states of being. When a client accesses these states in a pure way, then it becomes possible to map out the complex sequences of emotional and cognitive behavior and change outcomes. Each element represents a specific way of experiencing the world, and this will be reflected in thought, speech, feelings and action in the world.

Of all these states planets is water signs are the most complex to deal with, because they express themselves on an instinctive and very deep level not easily accessed through words. Furthermore, planets in water represent feelings which rest on a deep lake of poignancy and even sorrow. This evokes behavior which is private, secretive and mute. The challenge in the astrological consultation is to describe and evoke the feelings connected with water sign planets, when they represent a very vulnerable area for the client.

Disaster At Sea
The deadliest shipwreck disaster in peacetime in European waters was the sinking of the ferry Estonia on a nighttime journey to Sweden. This took place in 1994 with the loss of 852 lives. There was a storm that night on the Baltic Sea, the bow of the ship, through which vehicles drove in, was buckled by a large wave, and the passenger ferry disappeared under the surface just 50 minutes later.

Estonia sinking horoscope

Estonia disaster: 28 Sep 1994 1.50  59N23 21E42  AS 21.02 LE

What is notable about this horoscope is the dominance of planets in Water signs. Clearly, the major influence for this tragedy is the conjunction of Jupiter in Scorpio with the North Node of the moon. The nodes often indicate events of collective importance. Venus also conjoins Jupiter, so in this case the two benefics – Venus and Jupiter – are a clear indicator of this unmitigated disaster. It is of course the placement in Scorpio, when Venus is in exile, which indicates the deaths at sea. Of 989 people on board only 138 were rescued alive. By the time helicopters reached the scene, a third of those who had escaped had already died from hypothermia and drowning. The survivors were mostly young, strong and male. Mars in Cancer was trine Pluto in Scorpio – the survival of the fittest I guess.

Hours before the accident Mercury had just entered Scorpio and the Moon had entered Cancer, both making a trine to Saturn in Pisces. In this chart, we have six planets and the node in Pisces making harmonious trine aspects. The point is: planets in water signs tend to reflect sad events, even, and perhaps especially, when they are in trine. Often there is something to be mourned, and when the node is involved, on a collective scale. The tears flow. Some kind of acceptance of life’s impermanence is felt. People are united in grief, and in grief they give support and compassion. That is the power of Water.

Since Neptune entered Pisces in 2011 it is as if the borders of the world have become porous. When Jupiter entered Virgo in 2015 and opposed Neptune, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees swept into Europe and marched along motorways all the way to Germany and beyond. They were often met by extreme kindness by people who helped them on their way – Jupiter/Neptune compassion.

Here in 2018 Jupiter has entered Scorpio once more, for the second time since Estonia, and it makes a series of three trines to Neptune, channeling currents of powerful emotion. In Central America people are fleeing their strife-ridden homelands to find sanctuary in the USA, but these Trump-days their troubles only get worse at the US border as children are separated from parents and other forms of deterrence are implemented by US authorities. At the time of writing – June 2018 – Trump’s administration is trying to deal with a backlash in large parts of the American population, who simply cannot bear to witness scenes of sobbing children. Jupiter is now trine Neptune, and compassion will not be denied.

Choosing a Way Out
As personal planets move through water signs to activate the Jupiter-Neptune trine, unhappy events can be witnessed. On June 5th, 2018, Kate Spade (born 24th December 1962), the celebrated New York fashion icon, committed suicide. This took place as Venus in Cancer passed through the trine to first Jupiter in Scorpio and then Neptune in Pisces, finally opposing its nemesis – Pluto in Cancer. On June 5th Mercury conjoined the Sun in Gemini making a strong square to Neptune. The combination of water signs and a powerfully activated Neptune evokes a profound sense of meaninglessness. The individual feels swallowed by the universe – a speck of dust in vast space.

Just three days later, under the same astrological influences, the famous New York chef Anthony Bourdain, born June 28th 1956, hanged himself whilst doing a film production in France. Nobody could understand it – he had everything to live for. He had an 11-year old daughter and was at the height of his career. Nevertheless, a look at Bourdain’s chart shows the Sun in Cancer trine a Moon/Mars conjunction in Pisces. He was a very compassionate soul, and a very controversial character with strong opinions. In his earlier days, he was an avid drug user. Water signs trines evoke a need to escape from the dull realities of everyday life and experience magic. Here, unfortunately, Bourdain made his ultimate escape.

Consultation Dynamics
An effective approach to the astrological consultation is to understand how human beings represent reality. All perception takes place through the five senses – vision, touch, hearing, smell and taste. Our senses register what we experience and send signals to the brain to process. If we did not have any prejudgments, personalized views or emotional issues, our brains would give an adequate representation of reality.

But this is where things start going awry. Given the fact that everyone is so different, it is amazing that we can agree on a shared reality, but culture and education help us to arrive at a consensus about the world we live in. The horoscope shows the individual way we experience the world through our senses, modified by a body of experience – karma, if you like – which predisposes us to a particular way of interpreting perception, a particular behavior, and a particular destiny.

Merging and Transformation
Between the sensory experience of the world out there, and the interpretation of that world within, lies the sense of self. The more the self is separate from the sensory experience – the more mental constructions added – the less contact there is with reality. What works in the consultation is to enhance sensory experience and decode mental constructions that warp experience. Pure experience is empowering, and gives a more genuine experience of what is really going on.

Transformation occurs when the astrologer and client share a deep sensory experience in the interpersonal space between them. It is the same kind of transformation that takes place when matter becomes energy in a nuclear reaction, or when body and mind are experienced as one in deep body relaxation, or when subject and object are seen as one in meditation. When the astrologer and client are completely on the same wavelength, insight occurs and more empowering behavior embraced. To do this it helps to know how the client uses his or her sensory systems.


The Four Elements and the Senses
What if you could know how a client represents reality, and which senses he or she prefers to use? A huge advantage in having the astrological chart of the client is that we can see where resources lie and where difficulties arise via strong and weak planets and positive or negative aspects. But the horoscope shows much more than that. This is because each element has an affinity for one of the senses, which means that we can see which sense the client is filtering a particular experience through.

Basically Fire signs have a preference for vision, Air signs for hearing, Earth signs for touch, and Water signs for inner feelings, including taste and smell. This is just a rough representation, because in the end almost all sensations can be tracked to a particular body sensation. Different planets modify the element experience. The Sun, Mars and Jupiter tend to be rather fiery and predispose to a representation of experience connected with sight, pictures etc. Mercury and Uranus could incline to a more auditory experience. The Moon and Neptune to a more inner feeling state. Pluto often to smell and taste. Saturn often to touch.

So, many things can modify the basic affinity between the Elements and the Senses, but overall this is an effective tool for both evoking experience in a client, and for subsequently recoding unempowering behavior. For example, in connection with powerful resources, a Sun-Jupiter trine in Fire signs would relate to wonderful traveling experiences, views from mountaintops, a corresponding expansive view of the universe and tremendous confidence in oneself and in the future. But the Sun in a Fire sign afflicted by Saturn would have a store of visual images where the client is put down, and confidence is undermined. Similarly, Mercury in Air afflicted by Pluto might store traumatic auditory experiences, being shouted at, ignored etc. and might prolong the inner torture with an inner voice that continues to criticize without any external stimulus.

Water Sign Dominance
Planets in Water Signs hide. Because they are connected with deep feelings, and because people like to keep their emotions private, the behavior connected with Water signs is not on open display. Mercury in Water, for example, is thought of as “mute” and tends to be very secret. When people access the energy connected with Water, they tend to become quiet, they tend to look down (and mostly to their right), and they tend to slump more. Fire and Air tend to be upright and vivacious, Water and Earth tend to be more grounded. The secretive nature of Water sign placements makes it very difficult for the astrologer to find out what they are about. To do so, attunement is everything. Whereas words are a great way to get through to Air, they are only effective as a kind of channeling or guidance with Water.

The key to all work connected with the four elements is to identify the specific event connected with the planetary aspect being dealt with. This event, or series of events is shown by House position. In relating the event, the client begins to associate emotionally with it. The astrologer can proactively evoke the experience of the event with the knowledge of which element is predominant, using visual imagery for Fire, auditory imagery for Air, body feeling for Earth, and inner sensations or feelings for Water.

When behavior is rooted in a Water sign configuration, it gets tricky. Firstly, there will be poignant emotions connected with it. Secondly the client may want to keep the experience secret. Thirdly it may be unconscious. The event or behavior may also be taboo – for example Mars in Pisces trine Neptune in Scorpio may have strong sexual fantasies.

The example below shows a therapist who also worked with healing and meditation. This is beautifully indicated by the extraordinary trine from the Moon dignified in Cancer in the 12th House to Venus exalted in Pisces in the 9th House.

Water Sign

Water trine. 24th January 1948. 15.40 London AS 25 CN

This woman lived in a different country to her mother, and suddenly received news that her mother was dying. Rushing to the airport, she made it to her mother’s bedside on the day she died. The mother was still lucid and they talked and laughed together. Not having much control of her body, the mother in an effort to speak ended up accidentally spitting at her daughter, at which they both burst out laughing. The mother’s death came peacefully soon after, as the daughter stroked her mother’s feet. Water sign trines – Moon in Cancer trine Venus in Pisces.

This example encapsulates the joy and the sorrow inherent in Water sign placements. In Water lies an acceptance of circumstances beyond control. Feelings arise which flood the consciousness. In the sorrow or sadness there is another feeling. It is on the opposite side of the coin. Feelings are enriching. They irrigate the soul. There is a sense of a universal destiny affecting all humanity. There is a shared fate, and in that fate lies the healing experience of compassion.

Adrian Duncan
19th June 2018