From the three gunas in the sequence of cosmic evolution arise the five elements. From Sattva comes ether. From Rajas comes air and fire. From Tamas comes water and earth.
However, elements in harmony, balance or in their right place tend towards Sattva. Those in conflict move towards Rajas and those disconnected fall towards Tamas. In this regard a chart with a lot of earth may not be Tamasic. It may manifest the harmonious use of the earth element or Sattvic earth qualities like devotion, loyalty, friendship and sensitivity to the world of nature. The traditional association of elements and planets in Vedic astrology is as follows:
The Sun represents fire and indicates the fire element in general in the chart. Yet as a dry planet, it contains some air as its secondary element. The Moon represents water and indicates the water element in general in the chart. Yet when weak in luminosity (close to the Sun) it tends to become airy. When combust (within 15 degrees of the Sun), it can even represent fire, because as a mutable planet it takes upon the influence of the planets with which it is associated.
Mars represents fire and indicates more specifically the fire element in the chart. Yet as a heavy planet it contains earth as its secondary element. Mercury is said by many to represent the element of earth in the chart, as it indicates basic earthly qualities of objective perception, commerce and communication. As a fast moving planet it is sometimes said to represent air and by its subtle nature is said to represent ether. Yet as a changeable or mutable planet it tends to taken upon itself the influence of the planets with which it is associated.
Jupiter by its spiritual nature is said to represent ether. Yet as a heavy and liquid planet it can represent water. This is particularly true in those systems that relate the planets to a four element system (excluding ether). As an expansive planet, it is by some said to rule over air. This is not so much the element it possesses as the one it controls.
Venus represents water and indicates more specifically the water element in the chart, as Mars does fire. Yet as a light and somewhat mobile planet it contains a secondary nature as air.
Saturn by its dry and nervous nature is said to represent air. But according to its attributes as dark, heavy, gross and coarse it may be said to rule over earth. Generally, when strong it gives earthly qualities, when weak or afflicted it creates air.
Rahu (the north lunar node) is said to be like Saturn and is more specifically airy, though like Saturn can give the dark side of earth energy. Ketu (the south node) is said to be fiery like Mars but secondarily airy. As usual we must judge their condition by the planets which influence them as they are shadowy planets. Uranus has primarily an airy, changeable and disruptive nature. Neptune has primarily a watery but very subtle, almost etheric nature. Pluto like Mars has fire but with secondary earth.
We see, therefore, that several different but related systems of the elements can exist. This again is because the elemental nature of the planets is not entirely fixed. It depends upon which of their attributes are most pronounced in the chart according to different factors like location, aspects and rulerships. Personally, I like to modify the traditional Hindu system and make Saturn rule earth and Mercury rule air. We should always remember that no absolute system of correspondences exists because all aspects of nature are interdependent and mutually reflective. Hence we should use such systems them for what they are worth but not over weight them.
These elements refer to the nature in general; physical, mental and spiritual. None of them are necessarily good or bad. We can discriminate higher or lower types among each of the elements. A higher earth type, the sattvic type, would be a caretaker of the Earth like an environmentalist. A lower earth type, the tamasic type, would be a thief, for example. But generally too much of the lower elements, like earth, and too strong earthly planets, like Saturn, will bring out the lower qualities of the soul, whereas strong influence of the higher elements, like ether, air and Jupiter, will raise the soul upwards.
However, harmony and balance between the elements is generally better than too much of any. It is the synthesis of factors in astrology that is the key. These individual planetary meanings are building blocks but cannot be made the basis of judgement in themselves.
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