Every sign of the zodiac is associated with one the four elements—Fire, Earth, Air, or Water—with each sign embodying both the symbolic and literal traits of their element.
Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are rooted in the practical reality of our world, focused on making things tangible. Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) float through the breeze, spreading information and making connections with others. Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) swim in the emotional depths of life, soaking up the inner-most fears and desires of us all. And Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) provide the fuel for life, motivating us to fearlessly pursue whatever makes our spirit shine the brightest.
Eventually I plan to explain all of the signs through their elements, but for now let’s start with Fire…
My favorite way to better understand a sign is to look at how its element behaves in nature.
So, what are some traits of literal fire?
Fire commands attention. Unlike invisible air or clear water, it’s awfully hard to be in a room with fire and ignore it. Similarly, if you’re around someone with a ton of fire energy, it’s undeniable. You can recognize fire energy in a person if they are particularly upbeat, excitable, loud, or even—yes—obnoxious. Basically, Fire energy is A LOT.
Embodying the wild nature of a child, Fire isn’t concerned with the practicalities of life, like Earth; Fire isn’t analytical or overly-conscious of how it comes off to others, like Air; and Fire doesn’t go emotionally deep or dark, like Water. Fire is just burning brightly for all to see, expressing itself through simply being authentic.
Fire burns. When you’ve been burned by fire, you know it. Likewise, fiery types may occasionally rub people the wrong way. Fire’s unapologetic self-assuredness can be interpreted as arrogance or narcissism by other signs. Fire is also quick to display anger, and other elements can be turned off by their impractical and/or illogical outbursts.
One thing to remember is that while Fire signs can be combative, they are not inherently malicious. With Fire there is no hidden agenda, what you see is what you get. Fire is just expressing whatever it perceives at any given moment, however irrational. If a Fire person has flared up at you, try not to take it personally—they’ll burn out and cool down eventually.
Fire creates light. Fire can be the illumination in the darkness. At its highest expression, Fire signs are meant to shine and inspire. Unburdened by harsh realities or crippling emotions, Fire has the special ability to see the positive in everything. As such, there is no element better at motivating others to action.
Fire leads by example, like a torch illuminating the path. Fire confidently and unabashedly goes after its dreams, unfazed by the fear that plagues so many others. For Fire, fear can act as fuel—anger can act as fuel. These fight or flight responses remind them of how alive they are, and just how powerful their light can be.
Now, let’s examine how each fire sign burns and illuminates…
ARIES → The Match
Out of the darkness, a match is lit. A spark! Then the flame appears. You stare at it for a moment, intrigued. Yet you know you must act fast—the fire is racing toward your fingertips. And then—just as quickly as it began—the flame is gone. The match may have been extinguished, but now a candle flickers brightly in its wake.
Being the very first sign of the zodiac, Aries embodies the spark that begins things. Beginnings are exciting! Beginnings are full of enthusiasm and youthful hope, and it’s Aries energy you’ll find breathing life into every dawn, every fresh start, every birth. But that concentrated level of exhilaration—like the match—doesn’t last forever. It’s not meant to. It’s Aries’ job to light the candle in front of them, not to keep it burning. Just as we light birthday candles to celebrate the beginning of our identity, for Aries-types, every moment is an opportunity to celebrate that they are alive. Every moment carries the promise of excitement as the Ram charges head first into life, fearless.
But like the match, Aries can also burn you quickly. Ruled by Mars (the Warrior), Aries is naturally primed and ready for battle. Part of Aries living-in-the-moment means that Aries responds on impulse, often without much thought or consideration. As such, Aries types can often jump to conclusions and assume an attack, even where no ill will was intended. If you’re an Aries type who often finds themselves in conflict, try to let the moment pass and save your bright spark of energy for starting something positive. Remember: that matchbox is full of matches, and there’s a world full of candles Aries has yet to light.
LEO → The Campfire
A campfire, once securely built, burns with a mesmerizing intensity and warmth. Friends gather ’round, transfixed by the dancing flames. Stories are enthusiastically told, marshmallows roasted, and company is thoroughly enjoyed. Eventually the flames begin to die and embers spit onto the ground— the cue for someone to throw another log on the fire. With a little attention paid, the fire—and the fun—will continue all night long.
Leo is the second fire sign, with a more stable energy source than fleeting Aries. Like the campfire, Leo energy will warm you and captivate your attention. Embodying the purest expression of childlike creativity and playfulness, Leo reminds us all to bring joy to others through proudly expressing ourselves to the world. It’s Leo energy that emanates from the charismatic souls we’ve deemed celebrities. Leo puts that sparkle in the eyes of flirty lovers. And of course, it’s Leo energy being expressed through the innocent play of children. Whenever someone’s eyes light up as they’re speaking about their passion—and you find yourself also smiling—that’s Leo.
The burn comes when Leo feels it doesn’t have an audience to enliven. Leo’s stores of self-confidence are impressive, and can easily tip over into narcissism. But only applauding itself won’t fully satisfy Leo’s ego. Leo truly thrives when it elicits a positive response from others, like an actor or musician fueled by the roar of a crowd. If no one has been tending to their flame, Leo can lash out in a showy display of pride, like the spitting embers. But Leo doesn’t need to roar to be noticed. Sunny Leo energy already speaks for itself, in every moment, in everything they do. Remember: everyone is already gathered happily around the campfire—the audience is right there—all you have to do is be yourself.
SAGITTARIUS → The Wildfire
When a fire is no longer contained, it can spread over great distances, engulfing entire swaths of land in almost no time. Wildfire knows no bounds. It goes and goes until it has incinerated everything in its path, eventually burning itself out. But left among the smoldering ash is a changed land—wildfire always makes it’s mark.
With Sagittarius we’ve come to our final fire sign. Unlike Aries or Leo—whose positive effect on others is mostly an unintended result of their own expression—Sagittarius actively seeks to impact others by sharing its Truth with the world. Sagittarius seeks a meaningful life, delights in the weirdness of existence, and wants to experience all the world has to offer. It’s Sagittarian energy that drives missionaries to spread their faith to the other side of the world; Sag energy motivates teachers to share knowledge with their students; and it’s Sag that inspires wanderlust in free-spirited travelers. Sagittarius shines brightest through discovering a life philosophy—whether that philosophy comes in the form of religion, spirituality, or a simple belief in the goodness of all.
The burn comes because Sagittarian types can be prone to excess. Like the wildfire, Sagittarius doesn’t quite know when to stop. Sag excess can manifest through a reckless partying lifestyle, through overcommitting themselves, or by enforcing their beliefs too dogmatically—as Sagittarian energy can be found in religious extremists. Sure, Sagittarius is meant to run wild and free, but even wildfire can only run rampant for so long before exhausting itself. Sagittarius can only push itself so far before the limits of society—or their own bodies—force them to slow down. Remember: be present in the moment, take care of yourself on your journey, spread your positive energy far and wide—just don’t forget to save some for you.
To wrap up this celebration of fire, I thought I’d include a song that embodies the upbeat empowerment of all the fire signs. Listen, enjoy, and tap into the fire energy that lies somewhere within all of us, regardless of our signs.