Dear Vicki: Although we don’t see that much of each other, my cousin Esther and I live in the same city. She owns a high-rise condo downtown and I live in the suburbs. She has lots of plants in her condo, is an elementary teacher, and is also a great cook. That makes her an Earth, right? I think living downtown must be hard for Esther, so last Christmas I spontaneously offered for us to garden together this year if she wanted to come out to the burbs on weekends. I’m an Earth, too, and have a large garden so thought it would be great. We’d plan the garden together over tea, have time in the garden together, chat while weeding, and just have tons of fun. But it isn’t turning out that way at all. Esther shows up when it works for her and does an admittedly wonderful job of keeping things much tidier in the garden than I ever have. However, she plants what she thinks will be the most successful without consulting me, and doesn’t really want to hang out for very long when done in the garden. What’s going on? Is she really an Earth? Why isn’t she more like me? Was this a big mistake? Signed: Baffled in Baltimore
Dear Baffled: It’s very possible that Esther is an Earth. Certainly, people who love to cook and garden have a lot of Earth energy. The fact that she’s a teacher also suggests Earth. But remember, no one is a pure representation of any single element. We have all five of the elements in our energetic wiring and the way the elements stack up in our energy field really affects how they express themselves in our personalities. Our primary element does impact us the most and is the filter through which we interact in the world. But the element that follows, what we call our secondary element, will have a significant impact on how we express ourselves, too.
For example, you are definitely an Earth, but the fact that you rather spontaneously invited Esther to garden with you and hoped that the two of you would have fun together while gardening suggest that you have a secondary Fire. This means that connecting with Esther will be very important to you. Your Fire will seek out spontaneous connections with her and your Earth will want to take these connections to a deeper level. The fact that she is a relative also ties into your Earth because family is very important to Earths.
While your Earth/Fire make-up will have this set of priorities, how Esther manifests her Earth will be colored by her secondary. And given that she acts on her own more than you do, keeps things in the garden much tidier than your Earth/Fire normally would, and is focused on what will thrive in your garden conditions, I suspect that she has a secondary Metal. This would also explain why Esther has chosen to live downtown. Metals are often the most urban of the elements.
So how will your Earth/Fire get on with Esther’s Earth/Metal as you spend more time together? It depends on how you approach her. Naturally, your primary Earths will be the basis of the connection. Your common interests in the garden and family will provide a ready foundation for you to build on. However, your secondary elements relate to each on the Controlling Cycle, with your Fire controlling Esther’s Metal. This means you will need to be mindful that Esther’s Metal will want more structure in how she gardens and relates to people than your Fire will. It also means that too much Fire around Esther will feel threatening to her, which may be one reason she leaves right away once done in the garden. On the positive side, if you two can develop a good, deep Earth connection, Esther will certainly come to value the fun and relaxation your Fire brings (as long as it’s balanced) when you’re around. Just go a bit light on the Fire energy until you get a sense of how well her secondary Metal responds to it.
Your connection with Esther highlights why it can be so important to understand someone’s secondary element. Our secondaries really do impact how our primaries act, and interact, with everything. To that point, this seems like an excellent opportunity to share how Earth is affected by each of the other four elements when they step in as a secondary. A fun Earth stereotype to consider for this comparison is a talented interior designer easily able to create beautiful and comfortable homes. Let’s look at how different secondaries will refine this Earth stereotype. In each case, these Earths will still be caring, compassionate, loving individuals who are always ready to offer a hand, lend an ear, and make a difference, but:
- Earths with Water secondaries will be less interested in being with people all the time and more interested in some quiet time alone. Earths with Water secondaries will also be more desirous of pondering why things are happening and how to make a difference. The stereotype for an Earth with a Water secondary could be: The talented interior designer easily able to create beautiful and comfortable homes because she spent time considering the needs of the families involved.
- Earths with Wood secondaries will be less inclined to collaborate and more interested in running things alone. Earths with Wood secondaries will also focus on furthering their own success as well as helping others. The stereotype for an Earth with a Wood secondary could be: The talented interior designer easily able to create beautiful and comfortable homes because he’s taken design classes to advance himself.
- Earths with Fire secondaries will offer their help at the parties or large gatherings they’re attending rather than one-on-one meetings. Earths with Fire secondaries will likely develop a standout style that gets them noticed. The stereotype for an Earth with a Fire secondary could be: The talented interior designer easily able to create beautiful and comfortable homes because she’s developed a flamboyant style all her own.
- Earths with Metal secondaries will be less inclined to make the needs of others more important than their own all the time. Earths with Metal secondaries will also be a bit more organized, neat, and tidy. The stereotype for an Earth with a Metal secondary could be: The talented interior designer easily able to create beautiful and comfortable homes because he’s so organized.
I hope this helps you better understand Esther. And honestly, I believe if you let yourself, you will come to value her secondary Metal. It will bring structure, something your Earth and Fire lack, and also a sense of energy movement between the two of you that is missing in the pure Earth-to-Earth connection. In truth, same element connections can become boring more easily than other elemental relationships, so it’s really best that Esther isn’t more like you. Enjoy the differences, they keep life interesting and fresh. And Happy Gardening!