The Zodiac signs are very familiar and most people are aware of what sun sign they fall under. Some may even know their moon and rising signs. However, this is astrology, and nothing in astrology is that simple. In this article, we’re going to pull apart the zodiac signs and explain how they work in a little more detail.
Zodiac Sign Polarities
Every sign is assigned a polarity, sometimes called ‘duality’. An either/or. Astrologers will use varying terms for dualities – passive/assertive, positive/negative, male/female, yin/yang or extrovert/introvert. Whichever term you prefer, there are six of each.
|Assertive Signs||Passive Signs|
Each polarity exhibits certain qualities. The assertive signs are outgoing, direct, proactive and positive. The passive signs are inward-looking, indirect, reactive and negative. This doesn’t mean that people born under Virgo are lazy and bad-tempered – far from it. Remember that these are general qualities allocated to the sign and not to the native (the subject of the natal chart). There are so many other influences that determine a person’s personality that simply focusing on the polarities is erroneous and simplistic.
Zodiac Signs – Modalities
Modalities or modes are another set of qualities given to each sign. There are three kinds: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable.
Cardinal signs are the ones at the beginning of each season. They are the signs that are most likely to instigate change and innovation. They are the movers and shakers of the zodiac. They prefer to be one step ahead, whether it be leadership decisions (Aries), trends in fashion and decor (Cancer), the direction of relationships (Libra) or control of their environment (Capricorn).
The Fixed signs are in the middle of the seasons. These are the most stable and reliable signs. They will often resist change, preferring the status quo to any form of risk-taking. Taurus is slow to assimilate anything unfamiliar, Scorpio is enmeshed in power struggles (both external and internal), Leo holds back, preferring to join the party a little later, and Aquarius wants to dictate the terms before acceding to change.
The Mutable signs are the most interesting ones when it comes to modalities. They are the ones at the end of each season. They are fluid and ready to let go of the old to make way for the new. They can be seen as destructive, in that they are willing to allow established patterns to disintegrate. Pisces adapts quickly to circumstances, Gemini can release habits of thought, Virgo likes to agitate their surroundings and Sagittarius is open to anything.
Zodiac Signs and Elements
The Zodiac signs have yet another layer of qualities, and that consists of the four ‘elements’: fire, air, water and earth. An important aspect of your natal chart is how the elements are distributed. Remember that each planetary body is also ruled by an element. They can support, oppose or neutralize each other.
Fire signs, which include three assertive zodiac signs, are inspirational, active and have excellent leadership qualities. They act quickly, respond to a crisis fast and are extremely confident in their abilities to get things done. Aries charges in, perhaps over-enthusiastically before weighing up the best approach. Leo enjoys making a grand gesture, expecting others to follow his lead. Sagittarius is a risk-taking adventurer, not caring whether people follow or not.
Air signs are the thinkers, the mental problem solvers, the idea generators. They are the social signs. They love to mingle and communicate. Gemini is inquisitive and likes to stretch their thoughts to go places that others can’t even dream of. Mood swings hamper them. Libra is the friendly sign, though holds back emotionally. Aquarius gets on well with people and is good at motivating them to join a cause.
Water signs are ruled by feelings. They are the emotional crew. They are sympathetic, empathetic, imaginative and creative. They are adaptable, even though they may have to experience pain to reach a stable place. They are deeply affected by personal and global tragedy. Pisces is the most readily adaptable and will fit in anywhere; they can present themselves in the most advantageous manner befitting the situation. Cancer is home-loving and enjoys nurturing others. They are the carers of society. Scorpio likes to explore the depths of their existence, fascinated by the dark crevices that others shy away from. They are drawn to the dark side.
Earth signs are down-to-earth and practical in their outlook. Earth signs are dependable, predictable and reliable. They may not be first on the spot in an emergency, but they will know exactly what to do. Taurus tends to say ‘no’ before they say ‘yes’ – the facts, please, ma’am. Virgo likes to know all the possible outcomes before making a rational decision. Capricorn thrives on structure and predictability – ambitious, but steady as she goes.
When you examine each sign and take into account its qualities, you will see that no two signs have the same attributes. You can also see how the various qualities interact to form a complete profile of that sign.
The astrologer’s job is to plot out all the points in a person’s chart and then interpret how one quality affects another, how the planetary aspects exert influence and how all these things combine in a single personality, their life so far and the likely events and outcomes up ahead.
In our final Astrology 101 article, we’ll round up some excellent resources, and guide you forward should you want to take your interest in astrology to the next level.