Astrological Signs

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Astrological Signs

Astrologers divide the heavens into 12 segments tracing the apparent movement of the Sun around the Earth. The measuring of the signs begins with the point where the Sun's apparent path crosses the celestial equator, designated 0° Aries. The 12 signs were named after the stellar constellations that appear in the different segments. The signs are classified according to quality and element. The three qualities are cardinal (outgoing), fixed (stable), and mutable (variable). The four traditional elements are fire, earth, air, and water, which stand for activity, matter, mind, and feeling, respectively. The three qualities and four elements offer twelve possible combinations, one for each sign. The signs may also be seen as positive or "masculine" (active), in the case of the fire and air signs; or negative or "feminine" (reactive), in the case of the earth and water signs. The signs are also divided into "northern" and "commanding" (the first six), and "southern" and "obeying" (last six).

There are four triplicities among the signs: the earth triplicity, including Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn; the air triplicity, which includes Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius; the fire triplicity, encompassing Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius; and the water triplicity, containing Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. The signs are further divided into diurnal and nocturnal, the diurnal signs being all masculine and the nocturnal feminine. Signs named after quadrupeds are, of course, quadrupedal; those named after human states of endeavor (e.g., water bearer, archer) are called humane. A person born under a fiery, masculine, diurnal sign is hot in temper and bold in character. If it is a quadrupedal sign, the native is somewhat like the animal after which the sign is called. Thus in Taurus, the native is bold and furious; in Leo, fierce and aggressive. Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are called fruitful or prolific; and Gemini, Leo, and Virgo, barren. Sagittarius, because usually represented as a centaur, is said to produce humane character if located in the first 15 degrees (first half) of the sign, but a savage, brutal, and intractable dis-position if found in the last 15 degrees.

Astrologers designate the 12 signs as follows:

Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal fire sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Mars. Its symbol is the ram, and its glyph (symbol) is said to represent a ram's horns. It takes its name from the Greek god of war. Aries is associated with the head, and people with an Aries sun sign (the Sun is in the sign Aries in their natal chart) are prone to headaches and injuries to the head and face. The association of the head with Aries is the source of the expression "head-strong," which characterizes people with a strong Aries nature. Aries is dry, vernal and equinoctial (it begins on the vernal equinox), diurnal, movable, commanding, eastern, choleric, and aggressive. The native, that is, the person born under its influence, is tall of stature, of a strong but spare make, long face and neck, thick shoulders, piercing eyes, sandy or red hair, and brown complexion. The native's disposition is warm, hasty, and passionate. The aspects of the planets however, may materially alter these traits. (Aspects are the angular relationships between various points in a boroscope; in a natal chart the planets represent the various facets of one's psyche, and aspects between them indicate how these facets conflict or work together.) This sign rules the head and face. As the first sign, the key phrase for Aries is "I am," representing the birth of awareness.

Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, is a fixed earth sign. It is a negative, feminine sign, ruled by the planet Venus. Its symbol is the bull, and its glyph is said to represent a bull's head and horns. It takes its name from the Greek word for "bull." A sign known for its stubbornness, it is the source of our expressions "bullheaded" and "stubborn as a bull." Taurus is associated with the throat and neck. People with a Taurus sun sign, although they often have beautiful voices, are also prone to sore throats, thyroid irregularities, and other neck problems. Taurus is cold and dry, melancholy, nocturnal, and southern. When influential in a nativity, it usually produces a person with a broad forehead, thick lips, dark curling hair, and melancholy, slow to anger, but when once enraged, violent, furious, and difficult to appease. Places ruled by Taurus are stables, cowhouses, cellars and low rooms, and all places used for or by cattle. The key phrase for Taurus is "I have."

Gemini, the third sign of the zodiac, is a mutable air sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Mercury. Its symbol is the twins, and its glyph is said to represent a set of twins. It takes its name from the Latin word for "twins." Gemini is associated with the shoulders, arms, hands, and lungs. The native is tall and straight with long arms and well-formed hands and feet, rather dark complexion, brown hair, and hazel eyes. The native is strong and active in person, sound and acute in judgment, lively, playful, and generally skillful in business. Places ruled by Gemini are hilly and high grounds, the tops of houses, wainscoted rooms, halls and theaters, barns, storehouses, and stairs. The key phrase for Gemini is "I think."

Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal water sign. It is a negative, feminine sign, ruled by the Moon. Its symbol is the crab, and its glyph is said to represent the two claws of a crab. It takes its name from the Latin word for "crab." A moody sign, it is the source of the expression "crabby." Cancer is associated with the breasts and the stomach. It is a cold, moist, nocturnal, and exceedingly fruitful sign, more so than any other. The native is fair and pale, short and small, with the upper part of the body larger in proportion to the lower, a round face, light hair, and blue or gray eyes. The native is phlegmatic and heavy in disposition; weak in constitution, and of a small voice. Places associated with Cancer are the sea and all rivers, swamps, ponds, lakes, wells, ditches, and watery places. The key phrase for Cancer is "I feel."

Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac, is a fixed fire sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the Sun. Its symbol is the lion, and its glyph is said to be a modified version of the initial letter of its Greek name. It takes its name from the Latin word for "lion." Leo is associated with the back and, especially, the heart. The association of Leo with the heart is the astrological basis for the common expression "lion hearted." Leo is hot, dry, commanding, and very barren. When this sign ascends in a nativity, the individual has a tall and powerful frame and is well shaped, with an austere countenance, light, yellowish hair, large piercing eyes, commanding aspect, and ruddy complexion. The character is fierce and aggressive, yet open, generous, and courteous. This sign is more modified by planetary influences than any other. Leo governs woods, forests, deserts and hunting grounds, and fireplaces and furnaces. The key phrase for Leo is "I will."

Virgo, the sixth sign of the zodiac, is a mutable earth sign. It is a negative, feminine sign, ruled by the planet Mercury. Its symbol is a young woman, and its glyph is said to represent a serpent. Virgo takes its name from the Latin word for "virgin." Virgo is associated with the nervous system and, especially, with the bowels. Virgo is cold, dry, barren, and melancholy. The native is handsome and well shaped, slender, of average stature, with a clear, ruddy or brown complexion, dark hair and eyes, a rather round face, and a voice sweet and clear but not strong. The character is amiable and benevolent, witty and studious, but not persevering; and if not opposed by planetary aspects, apt to oratory. Virgo is associated with cornfields and granaries, studies and libraries. The key phrase for Virgo is "I analyze."

Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal air sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Venus. Its symbol is the scales, which its glyph is said to represent. It takes its name from the Latin word for "pound weight," or "scales." Libra is associated with the lower back, buttocks, and kidneys. Libra is sanguine, hot, moist, and diurnal. The native is tall and well made, very handsome, of a fine, ruddy complexion in youth, which changes to a deep red with advancing years. The native has long, flaxen hair, gray eyes, a courteous disposition, and a just and upright character. The places Libra rules are mountains, sawpits, and newly felled woods. The key phrase for Libra is "I balance."

Scorpio, the eighth sign of the zodiac, is a fixed water sign. It is a negative, feminine sign, ruled by the planet Pluto (in traditional astrology it was ruled by Mars). Its symbology is complex, being the only sign with three symbolsthe scorpion, the snake, and the eagle. Its glyph is said to represent a serpent. It takes its name from the Latin word for "scorpion." Scorpio is associated with the sexual organs and the kidneys. Scorpio is a cold, nocturnal sign. The native has a strong, robust, corpulent body, is of average stature, and has a broad visage, dark but not clear complexion, dark gray or light brown eyes, black or very dark brown hair, short, thick legs, and a thick neck. Scorpio governs swampy grounds and stagnant waters, orchards and ruinous houses, especially near water. The key phrase for Scorpio is "I desire."

Sagittarius, the ninth sign of the zodiac, is a mutable fire sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Jupiter. Its symbol is the centaur (sometimes, alternately, the archer) and its glyph is an arrow, which refers to the arrow in the bow that the centaur is holding. It takes its name from the Latin word sagitta, "arrow." Sagittarius is associated with the hips, the thighs, and the liver. Sagittarius is hot, dry, and diurnal. The native is well formed and of slightly above-average stature, with fine chestnut hair, but inclined to baldness, a visage somewhat long but ruddy and handsome. The body is strong, stout, and hardy. The native is inclined to horsemanship and field sports, careless of danger, generous and intrepid, but hasty and careless. Sagittarius rules the hips and is the cause of gout, rheumatism, and disorders that affect the muscles. Accidents and disorders occasioned by intemperance come under the government of this sign. Sagittarius is associated with stables and parks. The key phrase for Sagittarius is "I see."

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal earth sign. It is a negative, feminine sign, ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is a goat with a fishtail, and its glyph is said to reflect this symbol. It takes its name from the Latin capricornus, "goat horn." Capricorn is associated with the bones and, especially, with the knees. It is a cold, dry, nocturnal, domestic sign. The native usually is tall, of slender stature and long, thin countenance, with a small beard, dark hair and eyes, long neck, and narrow chest and chin. The native is cheerful and collected, talented and upright. Ruling the knees and hips, Capricorn governs all diseases that afflict them, and also melancholy diseases such as hypochondriasis and hysteria. The places over which it has power are workshops and fallow grounds. The key phrase for Capricorn is "I use."

Aquarius, the eleventh sign of the zodiac, is a fixed air sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Uranus (before the outer planets were discovered, it was said to be ruled by Saturn). Its symbol is the water bearer, and its glyph is a pair of wavy lines representing water. Aquarius is associated with the shins, ankles, and the circulatory system. Aquarius is a hot, moist, rational, sanguine sign. The native is a well-made and robust person, of above-average stature, long face, but with a pleasing and delicate countenance, clear, bright complexion, and flaxen hair. The native is fair, open, and honest. Aquarius rules the legs and ankles and causes all diseases that affect them: lameness, swelling, cramping, and gout. It governs mines and quarries, flying machines, roofs of houses, wells, and conduits. The key phrase for Aquarius is "I know."

Pisces, the twelfth sign of the zodiac, is a mutable water sign. It is a negative, feminine sign, ruled by the planet Neptune (in traditional astrology it was ruled by Jupiter). Its symbol is two fish moving in opposite directions, tied together by a rope. Its glyph is said to be a stylized representation of this symbol. It takes its name from the plural of the Latin word for "fish." Pisces is associated with the feet. It is a cold, moist, nocturnal, and extremely fruitful sign, second only to Cancer. The native is short and ill shaped, fleshy, if not corpulent, with thick, round shoulders, light hair and eyes, pale complexion, and a large head and face. The native has a weak and vacillating disposition and is well-meaning but devoid of energy. Pisces rules the feet and causes lameness and every kind of disorder occasioned by watery humors. Pisces governs the same places as Cancer, except for the sea and rivers. The key phrase for Pisces is "I believe."

Interpreting a horoscope begins largely with the astrological signs. A person is usually initially designated by the sign within which the sun was located at the time of his or her birth. The influence of the signs however, is lessened or enhanced by the aspects of the planets within them and by the astrological houses, so these factors also have to be considered in interpreting the horoscope.

(See also Astrological Houses ; Astrological Planets )

Sources:

Cirlot, J. E. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Dorset Press, 1991.

Evans, Colin. The New Waite's Compendium of Natal Astrology. 1917. Revised by Brain E. F. Gardener. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1971.

Green, Landis Knight. The Astrologer's Manual: Modern Insights into an Ancient Art. Sebastopol, Calif.: CRCS Publications, 1975.

Hall, Manly P. Astrological Keywords. 1958. Reprint, Savage, MD: Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks, 1975.

Lewis, James R. The Astrology Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.