Looking to learn more about astrology? A great place to start is understanding the four elements: air, fire, water, and earth. While each of the 12 zodiac signs has their own M.O., signs that fall under the same element share similar perspectives and mirror one another in terms of what they value and how they move through the world. Knowing which element rules your sign can give you insight into your own personality and desires — and help you figure out which signs you’ll be most compatible with.
Let’s dive into the water signs. From your most artistic, empathic, even slightly psychic bestie to the nurturing therapist who was born to make patients feel cared for and seen, the water signs in your life can guide you toward making the most of your inner life and most intimate connections. People who have water sign placements tend to be among the most emotionally intelligent, intuitive, and spiritual in the zodiac.
Here, a primer on what it means to be a water sign and what you need to know about each.
What You Need to Know About the Elements
The 12 zodiac signs are broken down into four elements: air, fire, water, and earth. There are three signs per element. In the water bunch, those three are:
- Cancer, symbolized by the Crab.
- Scorpio, symbolized by the Scorpion.
- Pisces, symbolized by the Fish.
Another layer to consider: Within each element, there’s one of each quality, or quadruplicity: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. The quality that a sign falls under speaks to the sign’s basic energy. Cardinal signs are the initiators of the zodiac (but can struggle with follow-through), fixed signs tend to be the most resolute (but also stubborn), and mutable signs are the most adaptable (but also wishy-washy).
Water Sign Traits
While fire signs are generally action-oriented, air signs tend to be focused on interpersonal and intellectual pursuits, and earth signs are pragmatic planners, water signs lead with emotion. Family-oriented dreamers and artists, water signs are the emotional — and sure, sometimes moody — empaths of the zodiac. They allow their sensitive, giving hearts to run the show and have no problem diving into the deep end of spirituality, often pouring their experience into their favorite creative outlets.
Cancer (June 22-July 21)
Ruling House: Fourth House of Home Life
Ruling Planet: The moon, which oversees intuition, emotion, and security
The first water sign — and fourth sign overall — Cancer is known for being nurturing, sensitive, compassionate, self-protective, security-seeking and offering, loving, and displaying a goofy, ingratiating sense of humor. They tend to prioritize — and occasionally twist themselves into knots — to make most people in their life feel even slightly more comfortable and secure, so you can rely on the Cancers in your life to offer a shoulder to cry on and freshly baked cookies. They are the zodiac’s purveyors of care packages, sentimental emoji-peppered emails, and warm-hearted talks over a steaming mug of chamomile tea. They’re your obvious date for that food truck crawl, the friend who won’t question a random rant about that eighth-grade crush, or the thoughtful, emotionally present lover you can rely on for nonstop snuggle sessions and an unconditional stream of mushy words.
These characteristics reflect themes covered by the Fourth House of Home Life, which Cancer rules. The Fourth House covers our domestic lives, our nests, how we were parented and might parent (literally or figuratively) in our lives, and emotions and memories from childhood that might color your current reality.
Cancer is also the cardinal one of the water group, which gives them a go-getter, big picture-planning perspective. They’re able to think in an artistic, ambitious way, which means they’re naturals at initiating bold plans.
Compatibility: Cancer often hits it off with a similarly intuitive Scorpio, creative Pisces, or caregiving Virgo.
Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
Symbol: The Scorpion
Ruling House: Eighth House of Emotional Bonds & Sexual Intimacy
Ruling Planet: Mars, the planet of action, energy, and sex, and Pluto, the planet of transformation and power
The second water sign — and eighth sign overall — Scorpio is the fixed water sign, known for being extremely private, even secretive, about subjects they consider near and dear to their hearts and being intensely sexual (whether or not they’re willing to open up about that side of them). They are fiercely magnetic, often managing to effortlessly command the spotlight.
Scorpios are driven but locked into their belief systems. They have an eye toward world domination in a quiet, cunning way, and are fiercely magnetic, managing to command the spotlight in a powerful way. The Mars- and Pluto-ruled sign is comfortable with the darker side of life and death and capable of wading in big emotions and deep-rooted psychology. These characteristics reflect themes covered by the Eighth House of Emotional Bonds and Sex, which Scorpio rules. The Eighth House covers your deepest emotional connections — including the mental, physical, and emotional sides of that — as well as death (taken literally, as well as natural endings and losses in life), rebirth and transformation (think surgeries or psychotherapy), and joint resources (aka money involving others, like inheritances or investments).
Spiritual, wise, and enchanting, you can guarantee that the Scorpios in your life will inspire and empower you to pinpoint and live your truth. They appear fearless and even a bit prickly at times, which can be perceived as intimidating, but it’s a veneer, as they simply need to warm up and trust you to open their hearts. And once they do, they’ll be connected with you for life, as far as they’re concerned. (Remember that fixed nature.)
Compatibility: Scorpio often hits it off with a similarly deeply-feeling Cancer, emotionally intelligent Pisces, or driven Capricorn.
Pisces (February 19-March 20)
Symbol: The Fish
Ruling House: Twelfth House of Spirituality
Ruling Planet: Neptune, the planet of dreams
As the third water sign — and twelfth, final sign overall — Pisces are compassionate, romantic, artistic, intensely empathic, and sensitive. They’re the obvious creatives of the zodiac; when they channel their emotions into their favorite art form, they feel more centered and enlightened. This could mean they’re into, and perhaps even excel at, a wide variety of forms of creative self-expression — from dance to music to writing or reading poetry and acting on stage or screen. (In fact, astrology holds that the motion picture industry is a Neptunian realm.) And because they feel so very deeply and might struggle with blue moods, they might also be drawn to psychology and metaphysical or energetic practices (think Reiki, acupuncture, or aromatherapy). They also tend to have an innate psychic ability.
These characteristics reflect many themes covered by the Twelfth House of Spirituality, which Pisces rules and deals with your true, deep-rooted identity, your subconscious, and your spiritual side.
And as the mutable one of the water group, Pisces placements are flexible, open to going with the flow, and typically interested in hearing every side of an issue before making a decision, much like fellow mutables Virgo (earth), as well as Gemini (air) and Sagittarius (fire).
They’re the longtime friend whose shoulder you can sob on without any fear of judgment. And they’re the healer who you seem to have found at precisely the right time, who intuitively understands what you’re going through and whose warm, spiritual presence can feel like a soothing balm in and of itself.
Compatibility: Pisces often hits it off with a similarly spiritual Scorpio, nurturing Cancer, or beauty-loving Taurus.