In the astrological wheel of life, no element is less important than the other, but each element is so arranged as to be either equal, dominant, or submissive to the other, depending on its place on the wheel.
The four astrological elements are Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, signifying spirit, matter, mind, and soul, respectively. On the wheel, the zodiac sign or element ahead has the strategic or dominant influence, while the sign or element before is in subjective or submissive mode. Taurus(earth) for example, is ahead of Aries(fire) and will therefore dominate, while Pisces(water) is before Aries(fire) and will therefore be dominated. This can occur between two Sun signs, two Moon signs, or intermutually(between different planets). Opposing elements are equal to each other in power due to their complementary natures.
On a karmic level, the sign or element ahead understands the strengths or weaknesses of the sign or element before it and is therefore able to guide or control it -either positively or negatively. The sign or element being controlled will submit(and usually gain) or rebel(and usually lose) to the overtures of the sign or element ahead of it.
Every sign or element gets to dominate or be dominated. Fire wins over Water but is overpowered by Earth. Earth wins over Fire but is overpowered by Air. Air wins over Earth but is overpowered by Water, and Water wins over Air but is overpowered by Fire. It's a circle of submission and domination. Even powerful Leo must submit to the criticisms of Virgo, the practicality of Capricorn, or the astuteness of Taurus.
Fire and Earth are the two primal or original elements like White and Black or Life and Death or Masculine and Feminine -and all other dualities, while Air and Water are its derivatives. We are essentially spirits or fire beings operating through gross physical bodies. Spirit inmeshed in flesh or matter becomes soul and matter infused by spirit becomes mind.
Because we are essentially spirits and because matter dominates spirit, we find ourselves largely subject to or imprisoned by our physical bodies. The only way out is to develop our minds which have power over matter. Our minds are in turn dependant on the quality of our souls which can greatly help or hinder the functioning of out minds. Soul is memory and sensitivity and what good is a mind without these.
That is why education, awareness, and conciousness are so important to our freedom from the pull or stranglehold of this material world. Knowledge, truth, awareness, beauty, balance, and judgement are all gifts of the Air signs -Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius and are highly prized in today's culture. Without the cultivation or partnership of these air sign qualities, our fiery spirits will forever remain trapped or in bondage to matter. True knowledge is definitely the key to our liberation from matter.
Earth serves as both a teacher and punisher or rewarder to Fire as does Fire to Water, Water to Air, and Air to Earth. We are in effect grounded in matter to learn, shape, and define ourselves through our various physical experiences, for spirit alone is boundless and formless. All angels or spirits must incarnate to learn and grow untill they become their own masters of matter. This can take a few or many forms and lifetimes. The memories of these experiences are stored in the soul portion of ourselves which is sustained and protected by spirit.
The Sun or Leo, for example, is the central part of our spirit or individualized ego, and Virgo and its ruler represent the human body or organism. Spirit is priveleged to even be in such a body which offers it countless avenues of expression. It must however be properly educated or instructed to make full use of it, just like any product comes with a manual or set of instructions. Scripture, the birth chart, inner knowing(intuition), and family guidance or schooling, are four or five such sources of instruction.
Again, while Leo(spirit) is our will to live and express ourselves, Virgo(and the earth signs in general) is the means(body) by which to make this expression possible. Virgo is individualized or organic matter as compared to Taurus which is raw or primal matter(minerals, elements, cells, atoms, etc) and Capricorn which is universal or cosmic matter(mountains, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.). The first four signs of the zodiac are primal, the middle four signs are individual, and the last four signs are universal in nature.
Virgo is the human or animal form itself which has been perfected through eons of experimentation. All of your different organs and systems and upkeep is Virgo-ruled. Virgo is your lower conciousness and cell programming which keeps you functioning and in one piece, whereas Gemini is your higher conciousness or awareness which makes it possible for you to think and communicate. Taurus is gross or primal matter itself and Libra is the beautification or harmonizing agent(balanced mind) for this matter. Capricorn is the basic form or structure(skeletal) and its boundaries(skin) whereas Aquarius is oxygenization and the electrical aspect which keeps it pure and running.
Spirit also has its other counterparts, notably Aries(Mars) which energizes or activates the Sun's will and Sagittarius(Jupiter) which gives spirit(and the body) the ability to grow or expand. Spirit feeds off of matter like a burning flame but it can only do so with the help of air. Douse it with enough water or earth and it can be squelched. Even air can put out fire if strong enough to disconnect it from its source.
You may not like it, but we are focused on the physical plane where matter dominates, and where life is basically a struggle or hardship. The Earth signs -Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn represent the material plane and Earth types(those with many planets here) have the easiest time on this plane. Fire types(those with lots of planets in Fire) have the hardest time on the physical plane, followed by Water and Air types.
The Fire types are all like little children full of energy and enthusiasm and trust, only to be disciplined or dissapointed by a society which puts work, money, and reputation above all else. Taurus is money, wealth, and materialism. Virgo is work, duty, and drudgery, and Capricorn is purpose, career, and regulation or government. Together, the Earth signs, without the watchful eye of the Air signs, bipass or squelch the hope, vitality, and impact of the Fire signs, with the Water signs as their accomplices. The Water signs keep the Air signs in check while the Earth signs run roughshod over the Fire signs.
This is how it has always been here on planet Earth, astrologically speaking -with a few exceptions interspersed here and there, and how it probably will continue to be. There's no getting around the rule of matter over spirit here on this physical plane where duty(Virgo) is stronger than will(Leo), where things(Taurus) are valued more than life itself(Aries), and where practicality or facts(Capricorn) always win over faith or good will(Sagittarius). What gets most of us up in the morning? It certainly isn't our will(fire) as most of us would like to extend our rest or sleep time. It's our sense of duty or responsibility(earth) to go to work or take care of some issue. We FORCE ourselves to get up and this is how the earth element wins over the fire element.
Since knowledge or education is a great key to winning on the material plane, Air types or organizations find themselves in an enviable strategic position. It is up to them to effect real and positive change in society through books, schools, teachings, and the internet. Today's internet is a powerful tool for positive change and must remain free and uncensored or uncontrolled. Since the Earth types are submissive to the Air types, they can and often do use(when negatively inclined) their partners or accomplices -the Water types- to undermine the efforts of the Air types -via sex, drugs, addiction, and deception in general. Remember that Water(emotion) overpowers Air(mind). Mind can easily be deceived or seduced by the qualities of emotion. When you are bored(Gemini) you eat(Cancer). When you want to consume a relationship(Libra) you have sex(Scorpio), and when you want ultimate truth, freedom, or understanding(Aquarius) you become psychic or take drugs(Pisces).
Opposing elements make good partners. They balance and please and complete each other. Earth is softened and smoothened by water, and water is shaped, contained, or directed by earth. They make each other sociable and marriage is often the result. Same with Fire and Air. Fire sees Air as bright and beautiful and Air sees Fire as warming and inspiring. While Fire and Air are equal in power, Fire(primal) tends to lead, and while Earth and Water are also equal in power, Earth(primal) tends to lead.
In astrology, the masculine(fire and air) and feminine(water and earth) energies are generally incompatible or at odds with one another and yet they are necessary to each other in the game of life. Like the male and the female, or night and day, they are very different, and often conflicting, but serve as a mirror for growth and adjustment. This conflict or challenge is what makes life varied and interesting.
Water is the night or weak side of Fire just as Air is the strong or day side of Earth. While water and air don't mix whatsoever, water and fire(steam) have some tolerance for one another. This is especially so between signs linked by the same traditional ruler -such as Aries and Scorpio(both traditionally ruled by Mars). And while earth and fire don't mix at all, there is some sympathy between earth and air, once again, due to traditional rulership, such as Capricorn and Aquarius(both traditionally ruled by Saturn), or Taurus and Libra(both traditionally ruled by Venus). The squares are mor difficult to mitigate.
It seems the sharing of ruling planets has softened the conflict between some of the elements. This is important, in that it offers both camps(masculine and feminine) some way to communicate or deal with each other.