Author: Ashely Howell Bunn
Using the elements and astrology in your Tarot practice adds a layer of interpretation and can aid in furthering your understanding of yourself, others, and the world.
Referring to the elements related to the different suits and the Zodiac signs corresponding to the Major Arcana cards can be a great tool for personal readings, readings for others, or for astrological events.
The elements of earth, water, fire, and air are essential in our understanding of most aspects of our existence. Just like astrology, the elements allow us to dive deep into our psyche and learn more about why we do the things we do.
The symbolism of the elements themselves play into the elements of Tarot and the zodiac, and can help you better understand what the cards are telling you when you read Tarot cards.
Learn about the symbolism of the elements, how these play into Tarot astrology, and how to pull a 3-card Zodiac spread.
Understanding the Elements for Tarot Astrology
To begin, we’ll start with a description of the elements to give you more context about how to use zodiac signs in your Tarot readings.
The element of earth is the most grounding element (too obvious?). It relates to your foundation.
Earth correlates with the first chakra, which deals with home, self, and security. Your roots need to be firmly in place in order for you to grow and find balance with the other elements.
This element is also solid, and relates to strength and a nature of unmoving or moving slowly. When the earth does move, it’s often violent and turbulent. When something shifts in this element it can be life-altering.
The element of water is fluid (okay, okay, enough with the puns). But in all seriousness, it’s important to connect with the nature of each element to visualize and intuit the meaning behind it.
Water is associated with the second chakra: dealing with the watery depth of your emotions. Just like your emotions, water can be soothing and calming, but also powerful and catastrophic.
It’s agile and quick to change. Water is an adaptable element, and is associated with cleansing, healing, relationships, and intuition.
The element of fire is the seat of passion. It’s related to the third chakra, which corresponds to ego, will, drive, desire, and determination.
While the word “ego” can often have negative connotations, it’s an important part of your consciousness. Fire drives us forward, creates change, and allows for regrowth.
This element is quick to move into destruction, but is a powerful tool for progress.
The element of air is the seat of creativity and change. Air is always present, but can go unnoticed.
The element of air is associated with the fourth chakra and relates to connection, community, and reaching beyond the self. Air often represents knowledge, analysis, power, and change.
This element is all-encompassing, and important for calming energy like breath and intensity like a storm — there’s a reason the phrase “the winds of change” is common.
Air is the catalyst for change in ideas, thinking, social justice, and progress.
How the Major Arcana and Zodiac Signs Connect
Now that you have the basics of the elements down, you can examine how the elements play into the Major Arcana zodiac and Tarot card astrology. Each suit relates to a different element, and embodies the aspects of that element.
Suit of Cups
- The suit of cups relates the element of water and the zodiac signs of Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio.
- This adaptable element lends itself to emotions and sensuality.
Suit of Pentacles or Coins
- The suit of pentacles corresponds to the element of earth.
- The zodiac signs associated with this element are Capricorn, Virgo, and Taurus.
- The strength and stability of earth are represented in the grounding practicality of this suit.
Suit of Swords
- The suit of swords tarot card embodies the element of air.
- The zodiac signs related to this element are Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra.
- Creativity and power run through this suit and element.
Suit of Wands
- The suit of wands holds the element of fire.
- The zodiac signs related to this element are Leo, Sagittarius, and Aries.
- Passion and will run through this suit and zodiac signs.
How to Pull a Zodiac 3-Card Spread
A great place to start when applying the elements and Zodiac to Tarot is to look at your Sun, Moon, and Rising signs.
Plenty of websites can help you with this — you just need the date, time, and place of birth. If you don’t have all of that information you can leave some of it blank, and the website will give you an estimate. The time mostly affects your Rising sign.
Once you have this information, you can find the Major Arcana card that connects to your Sun, Moon, or Rising sign. Start with a 3-card spread, and pull 2 Minor Arcana cards to place on either side of your card.
The example below shows the spread for my Sun in Pisces (The Moon) and a Minor Arcana card on either side. Wands (fire) and swords (air) came up in this draw, so I began to journal in my Writual Tarot Journal about how I could pull in more passion and power into my watery sun sign.
Pisces is a very emotive and intuitive sign, so I can find strength in those aspects of myself.
Major Arcana Tarot Cards as Zodiac Signs
While the elements are essential to understanding the Minor Arcana suits, each Major Arcana card is associated with a different Zodiac sign. If they appear in a Tarot reading, you can reference the below list to pull in the aspects of that sign for your reading:
ARIES = THE EMPEROR
- Passionate and fiery Aries is represented by the Emperor, a strong figure which calls for respect.
- This is a strong-willed and independent sign.
GEMINI = THE LOVERS
- The duality of Gemini corresponds with The Lovers.
- The sign of Gemini holds creativity and a multiplicity of ideas. This is an analytical sign which can create change.
TAURUS = THE HIEROPHANT
- Grounded and stable, Taurus is represented by The Hierophant.
- This is a practical sign with strong leadership capabilities.
CANCER = THE CHARIOT
- Emotional and sensitive Cancer is represented by The Chariot, a card which deals with advancement and power.
- Cancer is usually seen as a mothering figure, and there’s a powerful and strong aspect to this sign.
LEO = STRENGTH
- Strength is the perfect card for the sign of Leo.
- Personable, charismatic, and energetic — Leo’s fire shines through.
- This card encapsulates that perfectly.
LIBRA = JUSTICE
- The sign of Libra correlates with justice.
- Libra is often referred to as the sign of balance.
- While Libras may sometimes struggle to find balance, it’s at their heart and relates well with this card.
SAGITTARIUS = TEMPERANCE
- The sign of Sagittarius pairs well with Temperance, which focuses on moderation and stability.
- While the sign of Sagittarius is based in fire and passion, there’s the ultimate goal of discernment and open-mindedness which places it with Temperance.
AQUARIUS = THE STAR
- The sign of Aquarius is one of creativity and ingenuity.
- The Star perfectly embodies the majestic nature of this sign, and symbolizes hope for the future.
VIRGO = THE HERMIT
- The sign of Virgo relates to the practicalities of The Hermit.
- The introspective nature of The Hermit relates well to the sign of Virgo, and the grounded and strong nature of this sign.
SCORPIO = DEATH
- Death and Scorpio go perfectly together, and the dark nature of this sign pairs well with the depth of Death.
- The nature of Scorpio can hold and understand the darkness of Death, and is comfortable in the cycle of life and death.
CAPRICORN = THE DEVIL
- The sign of Capricorn pairs well with The Devil card. They’re both committed to hard work.
- Capricorns are a steady and strong sign, and The Devil card embodies this element.
PISCES = THE MOON
- Often thought of as the most intuitive sign, The Moon and the sign of Pisces go together well.
- Pisces are comfortable in the dark, and the dreaminess of The Moon represents Pisces well.
You can pull a specific Tarot card related to your sun, moon, rising (etc.), for a focused reading in relation to that aspect of your chart.
For example, if there is a full moon in Aquarius, you could do a pull surrounding The Star to reflect on what aspects of creativity, ingenuity, or hope you should focus on for that cycle.
As always, there is no wrong way to work with Tarot, so follow your heart and the stars!
Want to Learn More About the Astrological Correspondence of Tarot?
Learning tarot is certainly a practice. But with that practice comes tools and resources to help you along your tarot journey.
And the best thing about starting that journey is finding like-minded souls along the way. That’s why we created The Writual Society, so that you never feel alone in your practice.
About the Author
Ashley Howell Bunn is a yoga guide and intuitive healer in Denver, CO. She's pursuing her MFA in poetry through Regis University, where she's also a graduate writing consultant. Ashley is a poet whose work has appeared in various literary journals. Her healing practices combine yoga, Yoga Nidra, Reiki/ healing touch, Tarot, and written reflection. When she isn’t writing, she guides and practices yoga and runs a small personal business centered around healing. She lives in Denver, CO with her partner and child. You can find more information or contact Ashley at www.howellandheal.com.