It’s finally happened—you’ve gotten your birth chart calculated on astro.com, you’ve learned which signs are what element, you’ve gone through and read where each of your planets are, and you’re finally getting a handle on this whole astrology thing.
Then it hits you.
You don’t have any planets in water signs.
You start frantically Googling: “missing element in birth chart!” “No planets in water!” “Am I emotionally handicapped!?” You start to spiral. You start to second guess your career in helping professions. You bring it up to your therapist!
Step one: hit the brakes.
This is exactly what happened to me when I first got into astrology. Besides Pluto and my North Node, I have zero visible planets in water signs in my birth chart.
It happens to the best of us, you know. Because of the way the clockwork of our solar system works, many people are missing an element in their birth chart.
Many modern approaches to astrology look at elemental deficiencies, as they’re called, as areas where we have more work to do in our lives. That’s a valid interpretation, but I want to offer another way to look at it.
This is something I learned from the inimitable Dr. Jenn Zahrt in a late night conversation at this past fall’s SOTA Astrology conference in Buffalo.
Amid all the campy dance parties and late night soul conversations, I learned a little bit of astrology, and this is one of the things I have seen flip a switch in my clients whenever I bring it up to them.
You can see their eyes light up when they get this insight!
What Dr. JZ explained to me was something she got from another astrologer a few years earlier at another conference (and I bring that up because lineage and citing your sources is important in doing good astrology).
This is the idea of elemental mastery.
It’s an absurdly simple idea in essence: if you’re missing an element in your birth chart, the stuff signified by that element is not something that you need to work on in this lifetime.
Easy, right? Almost a little too easy.
Missing water in your birth chart? Great. Water stuff is easy for you in this lifetime.
But I’ve played around with this idea both with my own chart and with the charts of my loved ones and clients, and it bears out in practice.
See, every zodiac sign has an element, right? Elements in the birth chart are like four different teams, or Hogwarts houses. A planet has to deal with the stuff related to the team that a given zodiac sign is in.
Just to remind you:
The fire team includes Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. This team deals with the self in matters of ego security and identity: obtaining it (Aries), expressing it (Leo), adapting and expanding it (Sagittarius).
The earth team includes Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. This team deals with the physical world through matters of material security: obtaining and storing it (Capricorn), maintaining it (Taurus), and applying it to concrete situations to improve circumstances (Virgo).
The air team includes Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini. This team deals with intellectual security, social connections, and ideas: creating them through social structures (Libra), maintaining them through social responsibility (Aquarius), and adapting them through gathering incoming information (Gemini).
Lastly, the water team includes Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. This team deals with emotional security and bonding with others, and again, the pattern is obtaining emotional security and nurture (Cancer), sustaining and defending those bonds (Scorpio), and expanding and releasing our bonds with others as we grow (Pisces).
Step two: what element is your birth chart missing?
If you’ve already figured this out, you’re a step ahead.
But if not, here’s a great exercise in getting familiar with your birth chart. Maybe it’s not something you’ve given any thought to! By the way, this approach works best when you’re working only with visible planets, and maybe the North Node.
Go get your chart wheel from astro.com and look at each of the visible planets in your birth chart: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon. Note which signs each planet is in. See if there are any missing elements. Got it figured out? Perfect!
Step three: what does that missing element mean?
Now that we know what that missing element in your birth chart is, we know what to do with this information. It’s simple: whichever team, or element, is missing, is an area of life that you don’t need to spend time working on during this lifetime, because it comes easily to you. Remember, all of these are just starting places—different factors can make these statements more or less true for you!
If you’re missing fire in your birth chart, you’ve got a strong sense of who you are and don’t need to spend a gap year in the Maldives finding yourself.
If you’re missing earth in your birth chart, you’ve got financial and material security down pat, and don’t need to overthink how you’ll get money or take care of your bills. You just do it.
If you’re missing air in your birth chart, your mental and social powers are something that don’t require thought; you know what you know, what you don’t know, and where to get the connections and data you need.
If you’re missing water in your birth chart, your emotional powers are dialed up, and you are skilled at riding the waves of human emotions. Showing up for people with empathy and vulnerability comes easily to you.
Here’s an example: the chart of the famous opera singer, Kathleen Battle.
As we look around the zodiac wheel in her birth chart, we see that there are exactly zero visible planets in Earth signs here.
We can spend a lot of time talking about how the huge amount of fire planets in her chart made her live up to her last name—she was a legendary diva in every sense of the word. But Miss Battle does not want for anything, at least as far as money or financial security was concerned.
Step four: now what?
Relax! Just because you’re missing an element in your chart doesn’t mean your life is going to fall apart at that particular seam.
It does mean that your temperament is skewed away from whatever element is missing. But temperament is a more complicated beast; it impacts your personality and your physical health, too.
What you can focus on now is where most of your planets are stacked. If there is more of an element than others in your chart, that’s where your attention should be! It’s what will require more work, since more of your planets have to express through the parts of life governed by that team.
Looking back at Miss Battle’s birth chart, her chart is stacked heavily towards fire: five visible planets in fire signs! So she will need to spend time working on knowing who she is and balancing how she goes about expressing it in healthy ways.
The good news is that you’re not alone in this. As an astrologer, I can help you identify where the elements in your birth chart lie and help you develop strategies to deal with them, as well as the other important factors in astrology, in a birth chart consultation. I’d absolutely love to work with you on this, and I’m excited to jailbreak your stars with you!