The zodiac is divided into 12 signs that develop in a progressive sequence of qualities, all fulfilling its unique place and function within the greater whole. The aim of this post is to explain this unfolding pattern and where the signs get their descriptions from. We all have a unique mix of these qualities within us or in some sphere of our lives and you may well recognise a few of the qualities from different signs (especially our rising sign and Moon sign) as we are multifaceted beings. But mostly we identify with the qualities of our Sun (horoscope) sign.
Signs are divided into the 4 elements and 3 different modes of expression. Here are a few keywords to describe them. Elements being Fire (spirited, warmth, expressive, creative, impatient, bored), Air (communication, rationale, scattered, intellect, social), Earth (gives form to things and is sensual, matter, practicality, material security) and Water (emotional security, sensitive, feelings, intuitive, imaginative). The modes represent the type of energy flow of the element. Cardinal being (action, quick out of the sprinting blocks and therefore can be impulsive, independent, enterprise, innovative), fixed (endurance, persistence, resistance to change, steadfast and therefore can be stubborn) and mutable (flexible, changeable, fluid, adaptable and can be unpredictable)
The first sign Aries Fire element and cardinal) is the self or ‘I’ in the world. It is the point of birth and new life in the zodiac. Aries says “here I am” and is the uninhibited expression of that emergence. Its glyph is the ram which symbolizes its assertive nature that meets life head-on. Therefore, Arians are known to be leaders, impulsive, spontaneous, independent, frank or direct, naive, can change direction as they get bored and are entrepreneurial. The energy or impetus of Aries is the spark that ignites the rest of the zodiac.
Taurus (Earth and fixed) is the second sign building on from Aries. The drive here is to establish a solid foundation of personal security. First, the ‘me’ and now builds on to ‘me and my stuff’. To Earth signs, material security is paramount, mostly so to Taurus (money and food being two examples). Taurians (the bull) are natural lovers of nature and enjoy the pleasures of life. Typical key words are productive, endurance, tenacity, stubbornness, patience, practicality and sensuality. The slow to move can result in some laziness. or procrastination.
Gemini (Air and mutable) is the 3rd sign and symbolized by the twins which represent the duality of the sign.Here we learn how to incorporate communication through language which enables us to get what we want and harmonise and respond to social and environmental contacts, like responding to your neighbor. It is the period of being mobile or getting around and self-functioning in our world. This third sign is communicative and loves to socialize and flirt, is quick witted and curious, versatile, restless and stimulated by the latest happenings or news.
Having learned how to communicate the energy now progresses to incorporate the next important part of life: family, roots or past, home and community in the fourth sign of Cancer the crab (Water and cardinal). It represents the sense of relative completion (a quarter of the way sub-cycle). The 4th sign is halfway between Aries and Libra. The self now incorporates home and family where you are loved but also that there is the outside world. Cancerians are emotive and can be insecure, moody, ambitious, protective, family, home and community oriented and are caring, intuitive and sensitive. They also have a creative flair – often with cooking.
Having progressed from birth, baby, toddler and child we enter the 5th sign of Leo which is where the teenager emerges from its protective home and discovers its individual talents and fame. Leo is Fire element and fixed in nature. It is the stage of ripening into puberty and courtship but still with a young and inexperienced energy. Displaying my talents is the essence of Leo. Like its glyph the lion with its mane, Leos are regal and proud, enjoy center stage thus are sometimes in show business, are warm-hearted, creative, and opinionated, are passionate and loves to play. They are natural leaders and dislike criticism.
Virgo the 6th sign is Earth and mutable thus grounded and pragmatic but changeable or adaptable. The teenager learns humility through submissive service, apprenticeship and has an analytical approach (knowledge based) to most things. A maiden holding an ear of wheat symbolizes the productive qualities of Virgos. Being generally grounded they strive for purity and health, have an eye for detail, are valued for their efficiency, are helpful and of service, multifaceted, are pragmatic and reliable, dislike chaos and can thus be seen to be orderly or perfectionistic.
We have now progressed to the midpoint of the zodiac. The 7th sign Libra (Air and cardinal) is the furthest point from the beginning. The opposite or mirror point of the starting point in Aries and is therefore known for its total ‘otherness’. The sign’s symbol is the scale which is the balance and self and other depicted by the sign. The second half of the zodiac is the emergence of the more socially conscious signs. In Libra we encounter the young adult meeting a partner or significant other. Librans are concerned with diplomacy in communication, fairness, balance and harmony, aesthetics, are prone to indecisiveness and dislike arguments.
Scorpio (Water and fixed) follows as a consequence of the Libra mating. The 8th sign is characterized by intense emotional energy because sexual energy takes you to deep primal places of taboos, and mysteries and there is a loss of separateness and naivety. At this point of development the self, merges with the emotional and financial resources of the partner. The sting in Scorpio’s tail is symbolized through its glyph, the scorpion and the arrow the transcendent nature of this sign. Characteristics include intensity, obsession, magnetism, power and control, sexuality, mysteriousness or secretiveness and personal transformation.
After the journey of forbidden things comes the ‘seeker’ in the form of the 9th sign Sagittarius (Fire and mutable). Sagittarians are in quest of ultimate truths as depicted by the archer and arrow. It transcends purely emotional concerns and aspirations for truths and philosophies about the universe. On the physical level, it manifests in traveling and learning. The desire for knowledge and understanding is on a more holistic and integrated level than the knowledge we discussed in terms of Gemini and Virgo. Sagittarians are known to be adventurous, careless or tactless, freedom loving, optimistic, spontaneous and idealistic.
Capricorn (Earth and cardinal) is the place of highest externalized achievement in the world and usually through a career. The spontaneous Sagittarian energy now integrates with responsibility and social order and structure. The goat symbolizes conformity and stability. It’s the highest level of social contribution (also the highest point in the zodiac and a third sub-cycle), therefore it has the qualities of ambition (cardinal earth). What you achieve in the world becomes the focus here and therefore further keywords include authority, status, responsibility, structure, discipline, duty, consistency, conventional and conservation.
The success of Capricorn expands in energy towards a set of social or group values that have been established as a result of the hard work accomplished. Aquarius (air and fixed) is concerned with larger communication structures in groups to form units. This is the 2nd last sign and there is a loss of self and other to incorporate larger structures. The impetus is to connect socially with friends or in groups which could be through means of media such as radio, television and internet. The symbols of rippled water or the water bearer donates intuition and reason in humanitarianism. Aquarians are generally sociable, communicative, reformers, concerned with acquiring and storing information, have an air of detachment about them, can be eccentric, unconventional and don’t like to change their own opinions easily.
The final sign of the zodiac Pisces (Water and mutable), rounds up and completes the cycle individual evolutionary cycle by returning to source and surrendering to something bigger. It transcends the self, the other, knowledge, achievement and groups to return to oneness, the ultimate reconciler of all polarities and paradoxes. The glyph is the two fish tied to each other but swimming in opposite directions. It denotes the duality and fluid nature of the sign. Pisces people experience great compassion because of their complete identification with everything and they are therefore known to be romantic, sensitive, intuitive, deeply emotional, mystical, dreamers and impressionable.
The zodiac is a helix rather than a one-dimensional circle. Each time we complete a cycle we grow and advance to a new self, new beginning and life in the 1st sign of Aries.