Posted by: Donna Cunningham | February 28, 2011

Healing With Fire, Earth, Air and Water

©2010 by Guest Blogger,  Gretchen Lawlor

Donna says:  Now that we have tests for all four elements, I wanted to offer something that would help heal any imbalances.   Gretchen Lawlor is my long-time friend and colleague for both astrology and flower essences. Her recent Question and Answer session on the Progressed Moon was one of the top posts here on Skywriter last month.  She is also trained in naturopathy and medical astrology, so when I read this article on healing with the elements, I asked her to share it with you. 

 Here’s Gretchen:  

Just as the elements, fire, earth, air and water, are the building blocks of life to an astrologer, they provide the foundations and vital indicators for the health and well being of an individual. Each of us has a dominant element in our makeup; when we identify it we’ve got an excellent tool for improving our health.

How do you identify your dominant element? Start with your sun sign for an indicator of your essential vitality.

(Note from Donna:  To measure which elements are strongest and weakest in your charts, follow the links below to Skywriter’s tests on the elements. ) 

The fire signs, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, are the most radiant and vital of the signs, then the air signs, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. The water signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are more dense. They are a more difficult medium through which to manifest, and take longer to charge up again. Earth, Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, is the most dense, giving tenacity rather than vitality. 
Fire signs are conductors, they like to spread their energy around. Air signs are curious and ready to relate. Water is more self protective and indirect. Earth is cautious and conservative. Water is accentuated in childhood, fire is strongest in adolescence. The air element increases with age and earth strengthens with maturity.

healing for the fire signs To Balance Fire
With a deficiency of the fire element it may be hard to burn off or fight disease. The digestion and absorption of food are inadequate and need stimulation, but must be done gradually to prevent irritation. Eat foods that are light, hot, dry and aromatic, and avoid cold foods. Hot spices and sour food, such as lemons and yogurt are good, as are whole grains cooked in oil, spices and even salt. Keep dairy and meat to a minimum; frequent light meals are best.  Midday is a good time to eat your main meal, as the maximum amount of fire your body can marshall is available at this time.
Headaches are frequently caused by low fire, where the only partially digested food begins to ferment. Physical exercise help strengthen the fire element.
Herbals: low fire is strengthened by digestive stimulants such as cayenne, ginger, mustard and cloves. Use circulatory stimulants such as cinnamon, garlic, ginger, and hawthorn berries.
Excessive fire has a tendency to burn out as they find it difficult to conserve energy or pace themselves. They are prone to skin problems, acne, pimples and have a strong body odor.
Fire is hot, light and dry and is therefore balanced by foods that are cold, moist and heavy or slow burning foods that ground energy. A voracious appetite reflects excess fire, anything that stimulates this should be avoided, particularly if you are thin and wiry. If this is the case, eat bland foods, avoid stimulating spices, have little oil, meat, nuts, beans. Raw or steamed vegetables are good, as is fruit (avoid sour fruits, peaches and bananas). Milk is good but not yogurt as it is too sour.
Herbals: excess fire should avoid spicy herbs. Goldenseal, aloe and milk thistle help detox the liver. Blood purifiers such as yellow dock reduce inflammations.  

healing for the earth signsTo Balance Earth
Excess earth is prone to heaviness in the body and sluggishness in the system, with dullness and lethargy.  Digestion and metabolism are slow, increasing density of body tissue- i.e. thick skin, sclerosis, calcium deposits, tumors and  increased body hair. Excess earth eats too much, too frequently.
Light foods are indicated, such as fruit, salads, sprouts, steamed vegetables with spices added to increase fire . Meals that consist of liquids, juices, soups and teas are better than heavier diets. If possible the main meal should be taken at midday when digestive fire is strongest. Meals should be simple, keep combinations to a minimum, with no desserts and plenty of time to digest. Avoid dairy and fried foods. Fasting is helpful as earth signs tend to retain toxins.
Herbals: use bitter tonics such as gentian or Swedish bitters, and  hot spices such as ginger, black pepper and cayenne
Low earth needs grounding. They tend to ignore the body and are not instinctive about what they need. They need activities and routines that stabilize the life and give a sense of security. Foods need to be heavy and nutritious, such as potatoes, unrefined grains and dairy. Use vegetables steamed and served with cheese and butter. Reasonable amounts of sugar, butter and oil  are well tolerated. Keep fruits and raw foods to a minimum. To improve the digestion-, cook with plenty of spices, garlic and onions.
Herbals: low earth should use demulcents such as licorice and slippery elm, seaweed and minerals. Ginseng is grounding, as is astragalus and the auryvedic herb ashwaganda.

To Balance Air
Restlessness, excessively dry hair and skin, dry mucus membranes, nervous disorders, problems with balance, even Alzheimer’s are associated with too much air. Excessive air tends towards insomnia from an inability to turn it all off, as well as memory loss from systemic overload. Air benefits from a schedule with intervals of relaxation with minimal stimulation (not even television or radio), to allow the nervous system to recharge itself.
Dancing, any slow and rhythmic exercise, yoga or yoga breathing or any breath meditations are particularly helpful for air signs. The wearing of warm colors and the adoption of consistent daily routines will bring out the best of air’s vivacious and versatile nature.
Excess or deficient air causes weak digestion and benefits from digestive enzymes or swedish bitters, and small frequent meals. There is a tendency towards gas in the intestines and the bowels evacuate very quickly.     
Air is cold and very drying and needs to be balanced by  moisture and heat. In terms of diet use dairy (especially yogurt), cooked rice and oats, vegetables cooked in oil, nuts and seeds.
Air energy tends to collect high in the body and gains from any opportunity to connect with earth, to be drawn or enticed downwards. Grains and root crops are particularly helpful. Raw foods aggravate the naturally cold quality of air. Raw salads should be kept to a minimum, though are easier to tolerate in the warm summer months. Otherwise use plenty of dressing, and add or replace with lightly steamed vegetables, nuts or croutons to ground the energy. Avoid yeasty foods, mushrooms, refined sugars, beans, and too much cabbage and broccoli.
Herbs for excessive air signs include nervines, such as skullcap, passionflower or even valerian. These can be particularly soothing to the anxiety of the air type.     
For those lacking air there may be problems with the flow of body energy. Circulatory stimulants such as garlic and ginger, anything that is light, dry and stimulating will be helpful. Nervines can also be helpful, but specifically those that are tonic but not particularly sedating, such as skullcap or oats.

To Balance Water
Excess water manifests as excess weight, in the form of water and fat. Even without an excessive appetite, these people have sluggish digestion, poor assimilation and slow metabolism. Stagnant excess water may manifest as mucus, cysts, tumors and swellings, as well as systemic candida. It is seldom helpful to decrease dietary intake alone, better results come from increasing the metabolic rate, decreasing the liquid intake, changing the diet and increasing physical activity.
Excess water is balanced by foods that are hot, dry and light. Vegetables are well tolerated, steamed and spicy, with minimal salt. Sweets increase water and fat; if eaten, should be eaten separately. Excess water is cold, wet and heavy, balance this with foods that are hot, dry and light. Avoid heavy oily foods, dairy, sweets, yeasty foods, breads and salt. Beans and fruit are good, but avoid large quantities of melon.  

Herbals: excess water should use digestive stimulants and expectorants such as sage, basil and thyme. Diuretics such as parsley, uva ursi and juniper berries help drain excess water from boggy tissue.
Low water constitutions have trouble flushing toxins from system, and lack lubrication to their system. They tend to be stiff and dehydrated and have a difficulty sleeping. They suffer from conditions similar to excess air, such as skin and hair dryness and difficult absorption of nutrients.  They find it hard to receive emotional nourishment. Add baths, drink plenty of liquids, and live near water. Use wheat, rice, oats, seaweed, dairy products and natural sugars. Avoid beans and natural diuretics such as carrots, celery, cabbage and asparagus. Don’t fast, take care with extreme exposure to heat or sunlight and take extra salt with exertion or warm weather.

Herbals: low water should use herbs sparingly as they tend to be diuretics, except for licorice(sweetened with honey). Fruit juices add water to the system.

This is an excerpt from a much longer article which you can read here:  Healing With Fire, Earth, Air and Water .

NOTE: See Gretchen’s guest appearance on Skywriter here:  A Question and Answer Session on the Progressed Moon by Gretchen Lawlor.

Test the Strength of your Elements here:

More Healing for the elements here:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gretchen Lawlor has been a professional astrologer for nearly 40 years. Her predictive work has been published in We’Moon Almanac for the last 20 years, including the WeMoon 2011 Datebook, which you can order online.  She has taught at many gatherings and conferences in the U.S., U.K. and in her native New Zealand. Her training as a naturopath, herbalist, homeopath and registered counselor adds dimensions to her client sessions and teaching.

Experiential and applicable astrology holds a particular fascination for her, encouraging the development of plenty of innovative tools and techniques. She has a special passion for sharing astrology with high school students, which she has been doing for years.  She will be teaching at Women of Wisdom Conference in Seattle Feb 18-21.  For more information and a collection of articles, visit her website, Gretchen Lawlor, Astrologer.  Write to her at  for more information and to receive her free astrological ezine.


  1. Hi…Yes I think herbs and natural foods and informed eating habits are what everyone needs for optimum health.
    According to the element tests I was lowest on Fire even tho my Sun, Mercury and Pluto are in Leo, Fire signs. It was 25 , considered moderate and not low. Water was next at 41.9 followed by Earth at 54. The Earth test was a real surprise since I only have one planet in Earth which is Jupiter at 29 degrees 28mn…almost air. However my Ascendant is in the Zodiac sign of Libra ( thought forms matter) but the Constellation of Virgo. So I counted Virgo here…its confusing because I can see certain aspects of both in my nature but not others of Libras interpolations. Actually I am practical in my own way but not according to mass standards. The other earth/ stability perks sure brought the points up. Air was my highest element which was no surprise at 73.
    Garlic, Ginger root and cayenne pepper are in all my fruit blender drinks which I try for everyday.
    Have you considered using the ” Eat Right for your Blood Type” as a compliment to the herbs and foods? Stones and metals help as well and I have used all of these.
    Do you know where Marigold petals in Salads fits in? Our Elders say things you are specially attracted to are things you should eat. I love Marigolds….looking at them and dandelions as well.
    Another thing we have been told is that wild things that move into your area around the house are also herbs that your body may need. I have had a lot of Mullen move in the past few years and started making tea from their soft fuzzy leaves. I am a smoker and figure its for my lungs.
    According to the Edgar Cayce files Mullen has been used for thousands of years, works wonders for some but not for others. I wonder if this is for those with a special attraction….like it has when it plants itself in your garden.
    According to Cayce one could take Mullen tea not more than 3 times a week using only a pinch of dry leaves ( between forefinger and thumb) Pouring boiling water and let stand for half an hour. There is a reaction to the Liver, Lungs, heart and Kidneys , as to produce coordinating activity in the circulation. It makes a better condition to the alimentary canal…helping with lower leg circulation too.
    Your studies sound fascinating!

    • We’ll see what Gretchen has to say when she comes around, Barehand. But I beleive we all have instincts about foods (Moon) that modern diet teaches us to ignore. Every now and again, I will start craving something I don’t ordinarily eat (like very hot foods, or papaya) and when I read up on it, it turns out to be strong in what I need. Donna

      • Barehand, Sounds as though you have a natural rapport with the plant world, and I like your suggestion re. considering blood type diet with the elemental pattern. I’m going to play around with that. Gretchen

  2. Cannot remember if I clicked ” notify me” for follow up; so here it is.
    I am really curious about what you say about Marigold petals?

    • Barehand- Well Marigold and dandelion are yellow flowers, so would nourish your Leo fire- that’s the doctrine of signatures. Gretchen

      • About the blood types…its a relatively new science. According to the book by Dr J. D’Adamo, all North Am. Indians are blood type O. So to verify this I spoke with Ojibwe in No. Mn. and Canada and we were ALL blood type A; which is the Vegetarian blood type. One young man I spoke with in an isolated Canadian village said an Elder had predicted a while back, that all Ojibwe blood would mutate …he said their blood would change …and so it has. A blood type came from my Ojibwe father.
        My mother was blood type O. Any of the other 3 blood types will always dominate O in offspring. And all 3 blood types mutated from O.That’s why O blood transfusions can be used for all other blood types but O can only accept another O.
        My mothers people were Buffalo hunters and are still blood type O; whereas the Ojibwe being King of Waterways lived on a lot of fish besides other meats. Lots of wild vegetables and fruits. Anyway if you are an A but have another parent who is O; (the meat eating blood type) then you will have attraction to meat as well but its best to stick with the vegetarian A foods which allows for fish and chicken. Again, since its a new science I would pay strong attention to natural attractions.
        Meat for blood type O is considered good medicine for them but bad medicine for blood type A for example.
        Yippie the only blood type coffee is good medicine for is A!
        I feel a little sheepish sucking up space with this divergence into blood types but wanted you to get the authors name . So if you delete it I will understand.

  3. This is a great article. It was very helpful. I have a lot of air and little earth. The section on balancing earth really resonated with me. I find it hard to do raw foods or fruits like many of my vegetarian friends. I also need lots of quiet. This made sense.

    • Catherine, Thanks. Understanding your constitutional style can make a huge difference in your choices- and your health. I am often quite surprised to resolve complex health issues with simple elemental solutions. Gretchen

  4. Around the time my Sun progressed into Capricorn & started conjoining Pluto with dismaying frequency, I started to discover I simply could not eat certain foods with great discomfort. The diet I’m on now is very, very similar to what is best for those of us with low earth (only have Virgo MC).

    I eat lots of potatoes and cooked veggies, little to no red meat, practically no fruit or raw foods, homemade breads w/whole grain flours and use slippery elm as a supplement twice a day. However, I also had to stop eating raw onions & cut back on fresh garlic as well as hot spices. 😦 I do feel much more grounded than I used to. Also lost a lot of weight . . .

    The remaining elements (air, water & fire) are fairly equally distributed in my chart.

    • Very interesting, Diane. I suppose progressions could account for food sensitivities that develop. Although, I’d expect the progressed Moon to be a stronger influence, since the Moon is more connected with nurturance.

      Gretchen is coming at some point to say hello to us. Gretchen, any ideas on progressions as triggers of dietary changes? Donna

      • Diane, Sun to Pluto, and the Capricorn influence- I have noticed significant constitutional changes when a person’s progressed Sun changes sign. I wonder however if the extreme dietary restrictions will calm as the progressed Sun and transiting Pluto step away from each other. Good luck, Gretchen

  5. This is interesting–it seems here that fire and water are presented as opposite elements, and likewise air and earth are also opposites. It makes sense, of course, but I wonder if that’s why, despite having only one earth planet in my chart, I’m still a pretty stable, no-nonsense person–I have almost as many fire planets and as water planets. So, I have two elements that balance each other out. Maybe this contributes to people feeling liked their “scores” for certain elements don’t fit? Someone with an equal amount of earth and air might have plenty of drive and be comfortable with their emotions because they’re in balance, for example, while someone with all air and fire might be too, er, combustible? And someone will all water/earth would be too bogged down?

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this. It just seems, from all the comments on the posts you’ve made about this topic, that lacking one element or another is a much bigger problem for some people than for others, and I wonder if it’s the element *combination* that’s the real key.

    • Hi, T. Yes, I would suppose the juxtaposition of one element missing or very weak, thereby necessarily making others stronger could contribute to the difficulty the person experiences. For instance, if air is low and water very high, then there could be additional difficulty in achieving objectivity about strong emotions. Donna

    • T, Yes, it’s true that sympathetic elements do offer a supportive structure. Wonder what your earth planet is,, what house it is in, it’s aspects, whether there is support in other ways. The elemental theories are just that- theories. I would be curious about the placement of your Saturn, even how old you are. When you are short on an element you need to “import” it, and many people tend to do that eventually. Good ideas, appreciate. Gretchen

      • Hi, Gretchen, good of you to come and answer readers’ questions. Thanks so much for allowing me to reprint this very helpful article. Much love, Donna

  6. Hi. I read the longer article too, and found it very enlightening. My list of elements would look like this: water 10, fire 0, Air 6 and Earth 10. I realised at some point that my body function best on lots of low-fat protein, mostly fish, poultry, egg and yogurts, very little fruit and raw food, lots of veggies, no bread. I don’t always keep to this diet, I get cravings and overindulge on chocolate … and almost immediately notice a dip in energy. I see that the advice for high water/low fire is sort of the same, but air is different. How can I combine the advice if I wanted to get rid of water, and stimulate air, for example? Would I have to pick one element to stimulate, then go on to the next?

    • Natalie, I am finding these questions interesting to ponder, and realize I go to so many places in the chart to look for balancing factors. Also helpful to consider transits. We are heading into a high fire few months. Strengthening the fire gently, could you add spices, would be helpful to have small frequent protein snacks through the day to sustain your fire. I would be curious about your exercise patterns, as low fire benefits from moderate exercise to build up a charge- like a battery. Digestive enzymes. Don’t drink with meals.
      Ah, chocolate- mystical food. Eat with some nuts to modify the plummet. Maybe some chromium picolinate. Gretchen

    • Natalie, that seems like an impossibly low set of scores for a living human being. Have you done the whole test, with bonuses for planets in the houses corresponding to the elements and for the rulers of the signs? Donna

      • Donna, I used the system in Gretchens article and most likely got it wrong. I’m never good with numbers. On your tests here on Skrywriter I ended up with 64 water, 28 fire, 60 air and 28 earth, so perhaps not so unbalanced after all … Great advice, Gretchen. Thanks!

      • Ah, I get it. The one Gretchen presented is one that has been commonly used for many decades. The reason mine is different is that I think the houses tht correspond to the element (like the 2nd, 6th, and 10th for earth) also give us some of the qualities. And the rulers of the sign (like Saturn for Capricorn) can also color it. For instance, when someone says they have no water signs in their chart, but they have, say, Neptune conjunct the Moon and Pluto on the Ascendant, I find them very watery indeed. Donna

  7. Informative article. I would like to see a section for those who have conflicting balancing/dietary needs. I score high in air and water, but low in fire and earth. The foods that Gretchen suggest that I avoid to balance water and air are my favorites, so that’s not happening anytime soon. 🙂

  8. Hi Donna! I’m not sure which one of these 4 elements is nearest to me. I made this test, and it said that in my astrological chart/map (?) there was 4 signs of water and air and 3 signs of earth and fire. That makes sense, because I’ve always felt water close to me. I also have a very big number in your moon test… and, I am very sensitive and I easily can sense other people when their sad etc. My horoscope sign is cancer. So that would speak for the water. But then. There is this other side of me too. I am also talkative social person, who loves to meet people and have fun. I know that alone doesn’t mean I would be air person but still, I cannot tell my self which one am closest to. Would you have any advice, how could I find out my true element, so that I wouldn’t have to guess it by myself. By the way, love your pages, they have already helped me out (:

  9. Ahm, this is quite hard for me to explain, because I am only 14 years old, and I started to study English when I was 9. But I will try, and hope that you’ll understand me. So I’m actually translating this from my mother language to English, which may cause some problems. Well, to the point:

    There are certain aspects between the planets in my birth chart:

    moon- opposition sun
    sextile sun – ascendant
    trine moon- ascendant combination
    trine venus – uranus combination
    square mars – opposition jupiter
    trine mercurius – pluto combination
    sextile neptune – pluto combination
    trine jupiter – pluto combination

    so, I thought these would be the most important parts of my birth chart. I couldn’t help myself noticing that I had a lot of pluto in combinations? I did this, cause I wanted to ask, that based on these aspects, what would you think that would be my elemental?
    I would have done those tests you have on your pages, but I am not sure about it, cause I am still not that good in English and I don’t wanna end up calculating wrong. I completely understand if you don’t have time for this (: Just wanted to ask. + I hope I got the translation right it was quite challenging, anyway Happy Holidays – Enni

    • Hi, and welcome! Always happy to see a young person interested in astrology. It’s great that you’re studying aspects already, but the elements are more…well, elementary..than that. It has to do with the signs various planets and other chart features are placed in, the signs being divided into fire earth, air or water. So you give two points for the elements of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and Midheaven signs plus one point for the signs of the remaining planets. When you add up those points, the element with the most points is your dominant element. Donna Cunningham

      • okay, thank you 🙂 that was very helpful! But should I count only the “basic” planets, or also Chiron, lilith etc ?

      • Just the basics–there are tons of asteroids, and where do you stop? Donna

  10. Because if I don’t count other than “basics” I have 5 points in the earth and air. But if I do count all planets in my chart I have 7 points in Air and that would be my dominant ?

  11. Okay, thank you & sorry if I’m bothering you with all these questions. I found out that my earth and air have to most high points. Like i said 5 points in each one. In air the points are coming from venus, uranus, neptune and form midheaven. In earth they are coming from ascendant, moon and saturne. So which one would be my dominant?

    But really, thank you for your help. Enni

    • They would be equally dominant, and a nice balance for one another–air needs earth’s grounding, and earth needs air’s imagination and lightness.

  12. Thank you. I really appreciate your help. I’m glad of being both, air and earth person. I did your tests of the elements (but without counting percents, cause that would have been difficult for me, maybe when I’m better in English) and I got 28 p air, 15 p fire, 15 p water and 18 p earth. (:

  13. I wonder if I am only earth-driven-or the air elements count??
    I have low fire-mars in aries singleton (plus chiron in leo)
    Low water-only midheaven and pluto in scorpio
    But I wonder if air gets more points than the water for instance?I have airy sun and my chart ruler saturn is in an airy element.
    asc,moon,uranus,neptune,mercury,venus all in earth.

  14. I have low fire, low water and excess of earth element. I noticed I really need to start doing exercises every day and swimming sometimes. I have very dry skin and hair and also it is difficult to lose weight, even avoiding heavy food.

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