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By: Tracy Porter

Copyright 1999

In the western world we identify with four basic elements in the universe, which help us relate to concepts, people, places and things. Elements were used as the principle building blocks when Tarot, astrology and other esoteric sciences were designed. The four elements in the western world that we currently identify with are fire, earth, air and water, with each element corresponding to a suit in the Minor Arcana. The element of spirit, which is not included in the traditional grouping, corresponds with the Major Arcana. Below is a description of the four elements with an additional fifth element called spirit.

Fire is considered to be a life force, which gives zest to our lives. Fire is active, adventurous and aggressive, as well as playful, creative and loving. Fire wants to be first, and it should come as no surprise to discover that many people with a preponderance of fire in their birth horoscopes can be quite me-centred. In matters of love, fire is conquesting, exciting and romantic. Fire is associated with the astrological signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, and the suit of Wands.

Earth is the stabilising force in our lives, which reminds us of our duties, responsibilities and obligations, and thus helps us to achieve our worldly ambitions. Earth helps us to work, earn money and advance in our careers. Because of this emphasis on materialism, earth can at times appear boring or greedy, but it can also be very sensual and enjoys good food, drink and pleasurable entertainment. In matters of love, earth tends to be more analytical, practical and sensual, and will choose a partner based upon what he or she can bring into the family unit rather than allow infatuation to get in the way of making a logical decision. Earth is associated with the astrological signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, and the suit of Pentacles.

Air is intellectual and wants to think, communicate and socialise. Air is responsible for the development of acquaintanceships, close relationships and marriages. Air likes to be surrounded by friends and needs a wide variety of intellectual stimulation. In matters of love, air tends to prefer commitments to be cemented with a legal contract because it knows all too well that verbal arrangements can easily be misunderstood. Air is associated with the astrological signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, and the suit of Swords.

Water gives us feeling which, can range from pure, to intense, to spiritual in nature. Water is an elusive element and is often responsible for delusion in our lives. In matters of love, water seeks soul-mate relationships, which are intense and spiritual. Water is associated with the astrological signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, and the suit of Cups.

The element of spirit is associated with the higher, more karmic realms of our daily lives. Spirit cannot adequately be portrayed within the confines of the four elements of fire, earth, air or water because it transcends day-to-day activities. The element of spirit indicates that we are going into deeper, more meaningful levels of reality. This element most closely identifies with the Major Arcana.


The Elemental Tarot spread is a short reading, which can be used stand-alone or as a more extended session. The spread consists of five cards, which are detailed below:-

Fire indicates what business areas we are likely to be concerned with. This position can also depict psychic or creative endeavours we are actively involved in. This position can depict our romantic associations, relationships with children, or holiday plans.

Earth indicates our financial or material situation. This position denotes values or self-esteem. The earth position shows how we handle our duties, responsibilities or career path.

Air indicates how we communicate with others. This communication can be light and social, intimate, or informational. Air gives an indication of how we relate to partners, friends or acquaintances. This position may depict what we can expect from correspondence or legal proceedings.

Water indicates our emotional state of being and shows what areas are most likely to evoke an emotional response. Water depicts our home life and those areas that need refinement.

Spirit represents issues that tend to be karmic in nature. Spirit shows areas that go beyond our day-to-day activities. This position indicates areas we have chosen to encounter in order to help us progress along our spiritual path.