The four elements of astrological tradition refer to the vital forces (or energies) that make up the entire creation that is commonly perceived by human beings. The four elements in a birth chart reveal the ability to participate in certain realms of being and to tune in to specific fields of life experience. These elements have nothing to do with the elements of chemistry and in fact transcend them completely.
The four elements—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water—each represent a basic kind of energy and consciousness that operates within everyone. Each person is consciously more attuned to some types of energy than others.
The element of any sign that is emphasized in a chart (by significant planetary placement in that sign) shows a specific type of consciousness and method of perception to which the individual is strongly attuned.
Water is represented by the signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. It is the element of emotion, and individuals with these placements are defined by their depth of feeling. Always in touch with their sensitive sides, their keenly perceptive natures occupy a unique psychic and spiritual place in the zodiac. The only element symbolized exclusively by animals, water signs remind us that emotion and instinct run deeper than intellect. Like the holy grail, these signs contain the water of divine love, and when they are full, they runneth over with joy. And yet, like any other element, there can be too much of a good thing. While surfing the emotional waves, empathetic water signs can lose themselves in others’ — or their own — feelings. When blocked or vulnerable, water energy can turn stagnant and poisonous, lashing out bitter or toxic behavior, all the while crying victim. Water can also dampen enthusiasm or inspiration, which may sometimes turn these signs into proverbial wet blankets. But this, too, serves its purpose. When we overheat in anger, water soothes and cools, and when we grow cold in despair, water cradles us and keeps us warm. Whether using their rushing currents to manifest (Cancer), maintain (Scorpio) or explore (Pisces), these signs remind us that water is mother to us all, and without her, there would be no life on earth.