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Signs of the Zodiac
This article was written by Stephanie Clement on May 14, 2002
posted under Signs of the Zodiac
The signs of the zodiac are the most widely known part of the astrological system. As mentioned earlier, almost everyone knows your Sun sign. The daily horoscopes in the newspaper are based on the position of the Sun in the zodiac. The zodiac is made up of twelve signs, defined as equal segments of the circle. Each sign contains 30 degrees. The path of the plants around the Sun follows a circle described by the zodiac. From our point of view on the earth, it is the Sun that moves through the signs.
How to figure out your sign
The birth date determines the Sun sign. With some slight variations caused by Leap Year and by the fact that the year is not exactly 360 days, the Sun is in the same part of the zodiac at the same time each year. The exact time and date when the Sun moves from one sign to the next varies, and if you are born around the "cusp," you will need to get an exact chart cast to determine your sign.
What is a cusp?
The word cusp means point. It is the point of transition from one astrological sign to another, or from one historical period to the next. A cusp is a turning point. The transition from one sign to the next occurs at a specified moment. On the personal level this change is felt over an extended period of time, so that even though you may have been born at the end of one sign, you may feel the energy of the next sign very strongly. Therefore you may have the character traits of both signs to a certain extent.
Each astrological chart contains all twelve signs, and the planets are spread through the signs in a pattern based on your positions in the sky at a given time. You will not have a planet in every sign, and some people have numerous planets in one sign. The signs color or modify the energy of the planets. The Sun in each sign reflects the energy of that sign, and the same is true of the Moon and planets. The energy of Mars will be expressed differently in Aries than in Gemini. To understand how a planet works, you can first read the information about the planet, and think of that as the actor. Then read the section about the sign, and think of that as the stage setting. The energetic, argumentative Mars character will physically move more forcefully in Aries, will try to communicate more forcefully in Gemini, and will pay more attention to details when in Virgo.
What about empty signs?
Just because you have empty signs in your chart, that does not mean those signs are not part of your life. As the planets move through the sky and change signs, you bring those energies into your life. The constantly changing pattern is a reflection of the changes in your thoughts and feelings, and in the events in your life. During the year you experience the Sun in every sign. During your life you will experience the seven visible planets (out to Saturn) in every sign, and the invisible planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) in several signs. Pluto, for example, requires 247 years to revolve around the Sun, so you will only experience Pluto in a few signs during one lifetime.
How can I figure out where the planets are now?
There are three basic ways to do this:
1. Look at a star map. Astrologers use the same symbols as astronomers, so you can see the signs defined along the ecliptic (the path of the earth around the sun), and the planets are positioned around the circle. Star charts are published in many newspapers and magazines for each month.
2. Look at an ephemeris. An ephemeris is a listing of the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets, usually for each day. Astrology uses these lists to calculate birth charts. You also look at the ephemeris to see where the plants are on a particular day, and compare those positions tot he birth chart. The current positions of the planets are called transits.
3. Obtain an astrological chart that is set for today. This chart is a birth chart for the current time. You can also get a chart that has your birth planets in one circle and the transits in an outer circle, so that you can easily see where the transits are in relation to your own chart.
You will find that you relate more easily to some signs than others. This may be because you have planets in those signs in your birth chart. Another reason is that certain signs are more compatible with others. This compatibility is based on two main relationships:
1. Element. The elements are organized into four groups: fire, earth, air and water. Each sign is very compatible with other signs of the same element, somewhat compatible with the opposite element (fire and air, earth and water), and less compatible with the remaining two elements.
2. Mode. The odes are qualities of expression (cardinal or active, fixed or steady, and mutable or changeable). Generally signs of the same mode relate to each other most easily.
What signs am I most compatible with?
Generally you relate more easily to some signs than others. This may be because you have planets in those signs in your birth chart. Another reason is that certain signs are more compatible with others. This compatibility is based on two main relationships: elements and modes.
The elements are organized into four groups: fire, earth, air, and water. Each sign is very compatible with other signs of the same element, somewhat compatible with the opposite element (fire and air, earth and water), and less compatible with the remaining two elements.
The modes are qualities of expression (cardinal or active, fixed or steady, and mutable or changeable). Generally signs of the same mode relate to each other most easily.
Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius - Spiritual, active, creative, courageous
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn - Physical, reserved, industrious
Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius - mental, observant, expressive
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces - Emotional, imaginative, psychic
Cardinal: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn - Pioneering, expressive
Fixed: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius - Stable, persistent
Mutable: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces - Adaptable, changeable
Signs of the Zodiac
The best quality of Aries is leadership. The worst quality is officiousness. A key phrase is "I am." The Aries personality is energetic and ambitious. Aries wants to be in command and to be in the forefront of every activity. Courage is a strong personality trait.
The Aries mental process is active as well. Not liking to be confined, Aries will entertain any idea and will refuse to be limited by precedent or environment. Enterprising in all things, Aries is no less goal-oriented in the mental realm. There is usually a bright, optimistic attitude that carries over to a confident demeanor. Aries is a good conversationalist, but don’t expect to change his or her mind.
Your temperament is daring. The fiery will of Aries expresses through forceful engagement in life’s activities. Self-willed, Aries wants to be in charge and may not take instruction well. Independent and impulsive, Aries can be rash at times. The desire to be ahead of others often leads to a competitive demeanor.
As mentioned above, the thought processes and temperament often lead Aries to be combative, or at the very least assertive. You make good executives because you have the drive to get ahead. Still, your headlong rush into things can be less than inspired at times. The keen mental edge and incisive wit make Aries interesting to be with, but tiresome when wit turns to sarcasm and mental activity becomes obsessive.
So why is a potentially obsessive or sarcastic individual a good leader? Because beneath these possibilities lies the resourcefulness to try something different in order to make a difference. Like the ram, Aries sees a target, puts its head down, and charges. After the initial thrust, he or she looks around, resets its direction and charges again. Enthusiasm is contagious, and Aries can be the source of it. Self reliance and enterprise are traits we admire in leaders, as we know you will be able to manage in difficult circumstances. And just as you demand your own personal freedom, you recognize that others need personal space too. Aries’ color is red; its part of the body is the head.
The best quality of Taurus is stability. The worst quality is stubbornness. A key phrase is "I have." The Taurus personality is industrious, sometimes even plodding. It is easy to imagine the Taurus still going, like the Energizer Bunny, when everyone else has quite for the day. Once you get on a roll, you don’t want to stop. Taurus is seen as being reliable and generally consistent. You know the value of money and appreciate material possessions.
The Taurus mentality leans to things practical. Generally careful, you can discriminate quality and tend to be perfectionists. You have enormous energy reserves. You can pursue a single task for a long time, then switch tracks and take on another. You may not know when to rest. Taurus is immovable. Once you have made up your mind, changing it is like moving the whole earth. You may listen to the opinions of others, but you stick to your own. You are interested in the psychic realm as it is so close to the present moment.
Conservative in temperament, Taurus appreciates the traditional way of doing things. You are unlikely to abandon a system just because it has a flaw – you are more likely to capitalize on its strengths and find a way around the problem. Taurus is patient. You can wait for the right time to act, and you allow others the time you need to accomplish your tasks – that is only practical after all! Taurus enjoys a daily routine, a weekly routine, an annual routine. Generally you cannot be rushed into action. You are like a train – you only move as fast as you move. Yet Taurus is usually efficient, not wanting to waste effort, and therefore discovering the most direct path.
Taurus generally has a reserved disposition. You dislike change and are therefore less likely to force change on others. You are possessive and therefore do not demand that others give up your possessions. Taurus, like the bull, is placid, willing to take what comes, as long as it doesn’t irritate overmuch. Taurus’ color is pastels, especially pinks and blues. The part of the body is the throat and lower jaw.
Gemini’s best quality is versatility. The worst quality is changeableness. A key phrase is "I think." Being a mutable sign, Gemini is changeable, and this can be the best or worst of qualities. Your versatility allows you to learn a little about just about everything and to develop skills in many areas. This makes for a good executive or manger, as you are able to oversee multiple activities and keep track of many projects at once. Other people can almost see the wheels turning. Gemini appears to be open-minded. Yet a time comes when no more oddball ideas can be wedged into the system. Then Gemini draws upon skillful thought processes to decide what to keep and what to discard.
Gemini is a mental sign, often intellectually driven. The capacity for communication includes both listening and telling, and thus you make wonderful companions and writers. Where Taurus wants physical expression, Gemini seeks out mentally challenging activities. You like the learning process. Gemini is intuitive, able to see into the future and gauge the results of your actions – another worthy executive trait.
The Gemini temperament is volatile in the true meaning of this term. You can vaporize at a relatively low temperature and you seem to be able to fly. Some people see this as the fickleness of a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next. The strength is in the ability to rise above the pettiness of situations to see the larger picture. Your mantra might be, "It just doesn’t matter." Gemini is dexterous of hand, eye and wit, able to turn a situation or conversation in a new direction at will.
In spite of apparent adaptability, Gemini is sensitive at heart. You are aware of what others are thinking and feeling, and often take a diplomatic path to avoid hurting others. This could be at your own expense, although you don’t let us know it. Tolerance should not be mistaken for a lack of emotional depth. Gemini’s part of the body is the arms and lungs. Monochromatic or bright colors are best.
The best quality of Cancer is the ability to nurture the self and others. The worst quality is holding on to things too tightly, or smothering. A key phrase is "I feel." The Cancer personality is family and home oriented. The emotional well-being of the home environment is key to Cancer's emotional balance, which is even-tempered when it flows. When opposed, the Cancerian temperament can display other water characteristics, like freezing or flood stage emotions. Never let the emotional side of Cancer fool you into thinking you are not leaders – this sign provides leadership in the feeling arena and can be influential in all areas where subjective feelings are important.
The Cancerian mind will often ask "how does this feel?" before deciding what action to take. You are true to your belief system and may be difficult to steer into any activity you cannot support on the "gut" level. This attention to inner feelings puts you in a good position in industries that appeal to the mass market, as you don't lose sight of individual preferences in the pursuit of the big picture.
Cancer is a water sign. Water takes the shape of the vessel that contains it, and water runs downhill. The Cancer temperament will go with the flow when that is convenient, and can be quite happy if the vocational, relationship or recreational container suits the individual. Sometimes you surprise people, though, when you resist going a certain direction "on principle." Stick to those principles, as you set you apart from people who either don't seem to know what you really believe, or are not able to hold your ground in the face of opposition.
Generally you respond to others in a caring or nurturing context. You may consider what will help move a process along, or you decide what people should wear or eat, based on your needs, not yours. At the same time you can be a skillful manager, helping others to map out a clear, well-defined process for your activities. You are good at keeping projects on track – you know how to find the strongest current in the river, and then keep your craft headed into that current.
The best quality of Leo is kindness. The worst quality is domination. A key phrase is "I lead." The Leo personality is strong, even majestic. Leo wants to be dignified in every situation, and also may want to dominate. Stability is a pronounced trait. The Leo mental process tends toward large ideas. Leo is determined to rise to a position of authority and despises petty tasks. The desire for personal glory sometimes leads Leo’s reach to exceed the grasp in the pursuit of honors or high office. The individual will is generally focused, and cannot be easily swayed.
The passionate temperament of Leos makes you exciting to be around. You can be entertaining, as you seek the limelight, if not the love of the audience. You act from emotion or intuition, and may fail to consider the price of your actions. Impulsive and daring, you make good leaders, determined to win. You can also be willful, holding your own position in spite of the wisdom of the alternative.
The Leo disposition is sympathetic and warm-hearted for the most part. In leadership situations these qualities may manifest in the fact that you do not demand the impossible of others – that you reserve for yourself. Once committed Leos are faithful and trust in others. You are not very good at taking orders.
Leos are fair opponents. You recognize a good challenge and bring courage and nobility to the battle. You can be persistent in the pursuit of your goals, and thus provide leadership in difficult situations where others might quit. Like the lion, Leos wish to dominate your surroundings, but are willing to bask in the sun in a dignified manner. Once you have made a decision, you are outspoken in your expression of your position. You can be overbearing when you determine to get your own way. It is better to seek your agreement than to try to force you to accept someone else’s views.
The best quality of Virgo is analytical ability. The worst quality is petty criticism. A key phrase is "I analyze." The Virgo personality is nothing if not practical. You can be attentive to details to the point of obsession. Virgos have encyclopedic memories for detail, and can often recall casual references to minor subjects. You thrive on meticulous examination of the facts, and are able to manipulate statistics easily.
Virgos can take the thoughts and ideas of others and organize you into a working whole. Your orderly approach to most subjects insures that you will not overlook any significant information in your pursuit of an answer to a question. Once you have completed an analysis, you can seem to be arbitrary in your decisions. Never think, though, that you have not considered the question first. Virgos can be ingenious at dissecting a problem to get to the heart of a matter.
Virgos are worldly. You understand the nature of material reality. You are fastidious about your own appearance, and often have orderly homes, offices, and vehicles. Virgos make good followers, but as you progress through life you accumulate the knowledge and experience to make you good leaders. Your analytical style does not have the flamboyant energy of the Leo, unless you have planets in Leo, but your dependability and honesty are strong management traits. Virgos tend to judge by results.
The Virgo disposition is discerning and critical. You are able to discriminate among diverse offerings and identify the best and worst qualities in people or things. You inquire into the shy and how of things as much as into the concrete facts of what, where and when. Generally economical in decision-making, you tend to buy quality and then keep it.
The best quality of Libra lies in your natural social skills. The worst quality is your capacity to vacillate or approve without careful thought. A key phrase is "I balance." The Libra personality is peaceful in general, although you can be formidable champions of justice when aroused. You are changeable, willing to go along with the decisions of others in all cases where the outcome is not of deep personal importance to you. The tendency to be indecisive may change as you gather experience, but you may always go through a "what if" scenario or two before choosing a course of action.
Vacillation has its positive side in adaptability. Libras are willing to dabble in many different areas, and this is how you gather enough information to hold your own in any social situation. You can be perfectionists in matters of personal importance, and can surprise others with occasional definitive expressions of your ideas and ideals.
The Libra temperament is sensitive and refined. There is an artistic quality to your mental and emotional outlook – you seek harmony in all things. Libras go along with the group, but this does not mean you are submissive. You are fully able to hold your own ground intellectually. You often supply the argument that leads to synthesis and equilibrium.
The Libra disposition is sympathetic and kind. You are considerate and would never think of causing harm intentionally. You enjoy social interaction and can meet others with impartiality. You are generally approving of the actions of others, and in leadership positions you will find gentle ways to point out the proper path.
The desire to be around other people inspires a cooperative attitude. Your clarity of communication can make Librans an inspiration to others – when you express your beliefs, you reveal your ideals, your creative sense, and your ability to integrate data into a balanced assessment of the needs of the moment. You appreciate the efforts of others.
The best quality of Scorpio is resourcefulness. The worst quality is the ability to cause trouble. A key phrase is "I desire." Intensity is the principal personality trait of Scorpio. Whatever career or vocational interests you pursue, you do it with tremendous force. The strength of desire is seen in every serious effort a Scorpio makes. You are proud, and can become the nemesis of anyone who insults you.
The Scorpio mental process is meditative. You can take a set of data and ponder it, penetrating the surface evidence to find the deeper meaning. You can cope with difficult and disagreeable tasks because you understand that such tasks will eventually be completed and you will return to the center of your life’s current none the worse for the effort, and perhaps stronger for the experience of surviving under pressure.
Secretive and intense, Scorpio’s temperament is sometimes difficult to tolerate. These very qualities, however, are part of the magnetism that draws people to you. The intensity can be expressed through healing or destructive energy, and only the Scorpio can determine which way you will go. Probably no sign indicates a stronger will. Personal experience teaches the Scorpio how to direct that will.
Scorpios often are rather reserved. You are unyielding to the sorts of pressure that work well with other signs, and often do well in careers where independent action is encouraged. Your ability to focus on a single task and put all your energy into it is often seem as skillful. You are often respected for your determination, but perhaps not loved, as you are not manipulators of gentle energies.
No one can exert the pressure that Scorpio can. You make devoted friends who will tell the truth boldly. When you lie, the lies are equally bold, and it may not be possible to tell the difference. The trained Scorpio mind seldom has to resort to a lie, as the truth is seen as a much stronger weapon. Desire lies at the root of all Scorpio action.
The best quality of Sagittarius is loyalty. This is true for Sun sign Sagittarians, and also for people with other planets in this sign, although with other planets, the loyalty may extend only to matters concerning that planet. The worst quality is indiscriminate game-playing. A key phrase is "I aspire." The Sagittarius personality is generous, ambitious and loyal. Self-reliant, Sagittarians can go off on world travels alone without a qualm, and tend to throw youselves into life with the same energy you would pack for such a trip. You can make effective decisions, and therefore are often found in executive positions. You reveal your enthusiasm and positive attitude toward life.
You like to travel mentally as well. You can study subjects deeply, and enjoy philosophical conversations. You tend to be somewhat conservative, as you would expect for your time of year – it is the conservative harvesting of summer’s bounty that feeds us in December, after all. Once you understand the theory of a subject, you are able to take effective action in the practical realm.
The Sagittarius temperament is outspoken and frank. In fact, sometimes you may wish you could restrain your speech. Still, you are usually open-minded, able to listen to what others have to say. You tend to hold to your own opinions tenaciously, yet you are able to change your minds when a suitable argument is presented. Generally able to make quick decisions, you can be too hasty at times.
Sagittarius is usually proper in demeanor. You can give or take orders, and thus are solid companions, able to share leadership cheerfully. When you engage in sports, you learnt he rules and abide by you, just as you respect the rules in all areas of life. Your understanding can come across as magnanimous at times, and at other times you seem self-righteous. You aspire to lofty heights and may be disappointed if others do not attain the same level. You seek to comprehend, both on an interior basis and on a practical level, and once you understand the dynamics of a situation, you cheerfully accept your proper role.
The best quality of Capricorn is diplomacy. The worst quality is deceitfulness. A key phrase is "I utilize." To understand Capricorn, one must understand that there is not much difference between diplomacy and deceit. Capricorns tend to be honest and conscientious in your dealings with other people, but you may learn through experience to not say everything you know. You have the capacity to take the practical path to a material goal and leave the precise truth to someone else. That said, Capricorns are responsible, self-disciplined individuals who can be very patient in the pursuit of your goals, and you generally act on a well-defined sense of moral right and wrong. You recognize and accept duty as a part of life.
Thoughtful and methodical, Capricorns are the masters of synthesis. You are methodical and organized in your thinking. Persistence is a quality that you cultivate. You find power in self-control and mental concentration.
By temperament Capricorns are cautious. You are subtle about how you gather the information you need, and you are subtle about how you apply your efforts to any task. You make good managers because of your excellent sense of organization, but you can brood or be overly exacting in what you expect. You are able to adapt situations to your own needs. You tend to be somewhat conventional in dress and demeanor.
Capricorns are able to take advantage of circumstances. You are mentally prepared to take action when the time is right, and you are efficient in your actions. You can appear unsympathetic to the needs of others, yet you faithfully fulfill what you see as your duty. While you sometimes seem rigid or selfish in your behavior, you are capable of self-sacrifice and are not unjust in your actions. Going back to the key phrase, "I utilize," it is helpful to remember that Capricorns make skillful use of the people and situations around you, and you are generally not concerned about the popularity of your actions.
The best quality of Aquarius is your humanitarian attitude. The worst quality is argumentativeness. A key phrase is "I know." Aquarians are seen as progressive. When we speak of the Age of Aquarius, we are speaking of a period beginning now and extending into the future, with all the possibilities the future has to offer. Aquarians may be well informed or even visionary in your thinking. You may not be grounded in the practical application of your ideas. Focused on a universal goal, you may not attend to the needs of individuals in ordinary circumstances.
Aquarians have advanced ideas. You are original and scientific in your methods, and you are strongly interested in education, for yourself and for others. You often prefer to learn through conversation with others, rather than through straight book studies. There is an unconventional quality in your thinking – you can take apples and oranges and make something greater of you.
Aquarians are generally pleasant, but you are also assertive. Your determination can turn to argument when you don’t get your way, and you can be unsympathetic to the views of others. Your temperament is affected by the world outside yourself, and can become cranky at times, or even rebellious. Your usual cheerful manner and understanding of human nature make you skillful social beings, but you may be somewhat reclusive, needing a lot of private time to think things through. You are not terribly practical and have to learn to manage time and money.
Aquarians are generally kind and are influenced by the kindness of others. This may be because you have moments when you are unsympathetic, and you recognize the need for this quality. Aquarians value your freedom, and thus respect the freedom of others. You are interested in metaphysical subjects. Your lack of demonstrative behavior may be your way of keeping your feelings to yourself.
The best quality of Pisces is sympathy. The worst quality is hypersensitivity. A key phrase is "I believe." The Pisces personality is dreamy and idealistic. You like to float in an ocean of sensitivity, relating to your own feelings and the feelings of others in a direct way. You are the classic romantics, wanting to indulge the senses. You sometimes appear to be vague.
Mentally Pisceans are prudent people, balancing the emotional side with the capacity to worry about details. Because your strength lies in the feeling realm, you may feel inferior in the mental realm. It is important to remember that the capacity for sound judgment lies as much in feelings as in logic. Pisces uses psychic senses to make decisions, and may need to learn how to back up these impressions with facts.
Pisces mirrors the environment. You can appear very different in different situations, and you can be responsive to the needs of others. More than that, you can inspire other people through your own emotional strength. You may be able to see into the future, but this very ability takes you out of the present, and therefore may keep you from completing projects.
Pisces is a peaceful sign. You often are retiring, preferring to be on the edge of things watching than to be in the middle of the action. You tend to worry and may feel slighted by others. You believe what you feel.
The great strength of Pisces lies in the ability to respond in two worlds –the world of practical social dealings and the internal world of mystical experience. You may need to develop the strengths of planets in other signs to get you around in the day-to-day world, but you are well-equipped to understand the realm of spirit. Your adaptability usually gets you what you need on the material side, even while you have your minds on Utopian quests. Compassion can be one of your strongest qualities.
"She is indeed more splendid than the sun, she outshines all the constellations; compared with light, she takes first place, for light must yield to night…" —The Book of Wisdom 7:29-30
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