Zodiac signs get their start from the term zodiac, which is derived from the the Greek word that means circle of animals. However, it is believed that astrology got its start as far back as the Babylonians. During this time period, the stars explained the recurrence of seasons and events. It provided order and explanations to the chaos. As cultures intertwined, more definition and adoption of the study of astrology took place. When the Romans conquered the Greeks, they adopted the astrological explanations. Weather, agricultural timelines, natural disasters, wars, and even human affairs could all be explained by understanding the stars and zodiac signs.
Though the application of zodiac signs have certainly changed over the course of centuries, there are some things that have essentially remained the same. Early astrologers identified that it took twelve lunar cycles (months) for the sun to return to its original position. These astrologers associated these cycles to constellations, where they used names of animals and people to title each one. These became the zodiac signs. Once titled, each of the zodiac signs were put into one of four groups known as elements. In tandem with the changing months and seasons, there are also three qualities or modalities. These modalities represent the three parts of each season: beginning, middle, and end. Since each element has three signs, one quality is associated to each. This means that not one zodiac sign has the same element and quality. Each of these elements are also associated with its own quadrant or house. Each house represents the daily rotation of earth. Each house is affect by planets as they pass through.
The qualities and nature of the elements, how they affect each other, the impact houses have on planets, and the individual attitudes of each zodiac sign combine to create every unique personality.
What are the Zodiac Signs?
Signs are calculated using the Tropical calendar. This is based on seasons and the path of the sun against the sky (called the ecliptic). As the sun travels, it does so through the imaginary 360 degree circle known as the zodiac. Though the names would seem to imply it, zodiac signs are not affected by constellation changes or even Earth’s axis changes. The tropical calendar starts with the Spring Equinox or Aries.
There are twelve primary zodiac signs, each assigned a portion of the night sky. To determine your exact zodiac sign you need to know the exact time of your birth.
These twelve signs include:
- Aquarius “The Water Bearer”. Dates: January 20th– February 18th. Element: Air.
- Pisces “The Fish”. Dates: February 19th – March 20th. Element: Water.
- Aries “The Ram”. Dates: March 21st – April 19th. Element: Fire.
- Taurus “The Bull”. Dates: April 20th – May 20th. Element: Earth.
- Gemini “The Twins”. Dates: May 21st – June 20th. Element: Air.
- Cancer “The Crab”. Dates: June 21st – July 22nd. Element: Water.
- Leo “The Lion”. Dates: July 23rd – August 22nd. Element: Fire.
- Virgo “The Virgin”. Dates: August 23rd – September 22nd. Element: Earth.
- Libra “The Scales”. Dates: September 23rd – October 22nd. Element: Air.
- Scorpio “The Scorpion”. Dates: October 23rd – November 21st. Element: Water.
- Sagittarius “The Archer”. Dates: November 22nd – December 21st. Element: Fire.
- Capricorn “The Sea Goat”. Dates: December 22nd – January 19th. Element: Earth.
- *Ophiuchus “The Serpent Bearer”. Dates: November 29th – December 17th. Element: Ether. *Note: The inclusion of Ophiuchus is a debated topic among Astrologers world wide.
There are no incompatible signs. Rather there is compatible and less compatible. Those signs that are compatible will find it easy to get along. Signs of the same element will be naturally compatible because they can so easily understand one another. The signs that are less compatible will find it more challenging to build relationships with one another. This means it will require more patience and effort to build a relationship. The strongest attraction is expected in the opposite signs, as well as the greatest potential.
What are the Elements?
There are four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. Each of these is paired with three of the zodiac signs and covers the different personality types.
The fire element is typically described as impulsive, unpredictable, passionate, and temperamental. On the positive side, this element also has an adventurous, imaginative nature and can inspire others. They can get angry quick but will also forgive easily. They are physically strong and self aware. Sagittarius, Aries, and Leo are all considered fire signs.
The air element is typically described as free, unpredictable, and elusive. Those influenced by this element are usually intelligent, advanced thinkers who also lack emotional depth. They are rational, analytical, and enjoy giving advice. They love communication and relationships, but also good books and philosophical discussions. The air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
The earth element is typically described as solid, stable, and dependable. Earth signs do not like change and are usually materialistic or possessive. They are typically described as practical, loyal, and conservative. They can also be very emotional. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are all earth signs.
The water element is typically described as refreshing, mysterious, and complex. They are the most emotional of the four and can be considered overly sensitive. They are intuitive and love profound conversations. They enjoy supporting love ones and intimacy. The water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
As mentioned above, the thirteenth (and debated) Zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, is considered a mixture of Fire and Water signs leading to the addition of a fifth element, Ether. Ether is considered both omni-gendered and gender-less at the same time, and typically considered more of an element of spirit rather than a tangible element such as earth, air, fire, or water.
What are the Modalities?
The next part of each zodiac sign are the qualities. The modalities are often referred to as crosses because they make a cross when drawn across the zodiac. The three modalities are cardinal, fixed, and mutable. Each comes with its own set of characteristic actions and each is associated with four signs.
The cardinal modality is the beginning. It is associated with the start of each season. As such, each of the four signs associated with it are connected to the beginning of a season. Aries is the beginning of Spring, or the Spring Equinox. Cancer is the beginning of the Summer or Summer Solstice. Libra the beginning of Fall, or Fall Equinox. Capricorn is the beginning of Winter or Winter Solstice. Cardinal qualities include creativity, decisiveness, assertiveness, and a creative character.
The fixed modality is the middle. Taurus is the middle of Spring, Leo is the middle of Summer, Scorpio the middle of Fall, and Aquarius the middle of Winter. Fixed qualities include determination, sustainability, stability, and stubbornness. These zodiac signs take themselves seriously and want others too as well.
The mutable modality is the end of a season. Gemini is the end of Spring, Virgo the end of Summer, Sagittarius the end of Fall, and Pisces the end of Winter. Mutable qualities include flexibility, adaptability, rebelliousness, and calmness in crisis. These signs drive the change that is critical to survive amidst earth’s constant changes.
How do elements and modalities combine?
The combination of elements and modalities results in a better, deeper understanding for each zodiac sign.
- Aries: Cardinal Fire. Root power: initiate action. The fire element inspires Aries to liberate themselves from oppression. This allows the cardinal modality to inspire the leadership of self and others. Aries will always keep pushing and furthering their goals.
- Taurus: Fixed Earth. Root power: stability. The fixed modality allows Taurus to sustain and maintain patience through long lasting efforts. This is possible through Earth’s influence over an awareness and connection to the five senses and ground.
- Gemini: Mutable Air. Root power: ability to adjust. The air element enhances Gemini’s ability to communicate. Complimented by the mutable modality, Gemini is able to flex their communication styles to any circumstance. This results in the ability to improvise and wield intelligence to achieve their aspirations.
- Cancer: Cardinal Water. Root power: initiating emotional processes. The cardinal modality motivates the giving nature of Cancer. This combines with the water element to allow Cancer the ability to tap into people’s needs and create situations where they can care for others.
- Leo: Fixed Fire. Root power: perseverance in action. The fire element helps inspire Leo’s creative side. The fixed modality helps maintain a steady and focused mindset so that goals can be met. This allows Leo the ability to become famous and respected in circles.
- Virgo: Mutable Earth. Root power: ability to edit. The earth influence allows Virgo to become effective. In combination with the mutable quality, this means Virgo can edit and adjust any situation to make it more efficient. These abilities are best used towards the service of humankind.
- Libra: Cardinal Air. Root power: initiating communication. The cardinal quality provides Libra the ability to initiate conversations. Air then helps create diplomacy resulting in mastery over relationships and justice.
- Scorpio: Fixed Water. Root power: remain emotional. The water element connects emotions for Scorpio. The fixed modality inspires Scorpio to dive deep into the fundamentals of emotions so that relationships can be successful.
- Sagittarius: Mutable Fire. Root power: capacity to spread beliefs. The mutable quality provides Sagittarius the ability to adjust and teach others. Specifically, and thanks to the fire element, an innate sense of optimism that can impact others’ actions and beliefs.
- Capricorn: Cardinal Earth. Root power: initiating practical applications. The grounded quality of earth provides Capricorn patience and discipline. The cardinal modality inspires Capricorn’s goals and direction. A definitive goal results in guaranteed success for Capricorn.
- Aquarius: Fixed Air. Root power: stability and consistency. The air element creates Aquarius’ ability to create a community and friendships. The fixed quality makes Aquarius the pillar of these groups. With these relationships, Aquarius can cultivate innovative ideas.
- Pisces: Mutable Water. Root power: generate change. The water element creates compassion and sensitivity in Pisces. By combining with the mutable quality, this means that Pisces can generate change by cultivating success through an understanding of others. Ultimately giving Pisces the ability to improve life.
What are the Houses?
As mentioned, houses are based on Earth’s twenty four hour rotation on its own axis. This results in twelve houses that are all located on a wheel (that is not the same as the zodiac wheel). Where the house wheel and zodiac signs wheel meet is determined by calculations that involve each person’s exact birth time and astronomical birth coordinates. It is extremely important to note that houses do not influence like planets or signs. Instead, houses are described as fields of experience. The twelve houses follow human life’s developmental path. They are: self, value, communication, home, creativity, work, relationships, joint possessions or relationships, deep understanding, status, community, and subconscious. You can learn more about the developmental path on our homepage.
What are the Planets?
The location and movement of the planets have an immense impact on the personalities and traits of the zodiac signs. Planets specifically rule certain signs and then influence others. As your own alignment unfolds, you can see how a planet may be impacting your zodiac sign. Each planet has four possible rulerships: dignity, detriment, exaltation, and fall. When each of the planets appears in the sign they are paired with, they are said to be ruling in dignity. This means they are “home,” and at their strongest. Planets can also be in exaltation which is the second strongest positive impact. When they are opposite their sign they are said to be in detriment. This means that they do not fit easily and are more conflicted. The last rulership is fall, which significantly diminishes the power of the planet.
When planets are in their ruling zodiac signs expression is completely uninhibited and raw. In other words, the most fluid and authentic placement is found when planets are in their ruling signs.
- Mars in Aries: resulting in assertiveness, drive and determination, and competitiveness
- Venus in Taurus: practical but indulgent, likes the finer things, and loves a life of luxury
- Mercury in Gemini: the most talkative, quick wit, good communicator, and always curious
- Moon in Cancer: tough on the outside, soft on the inside, deeply sensitive and ruled by emotions, puts others needs before their own
- Sun in Leo: enjoy being the center of attention, vibrant, brings warmth to others, prone to temper flares
- Mercury in Virgo: keen observation, analytical, epitome of perfection
- Venus in Libra: develops strong relationships, does not want to be alone, knows what to do to make things work
- Pluto in Scorpio: can easily rebuild best version of self every day, pushes to always evolve, intense, and passionate about the truth
- Jupiter in Sagittarius: this is the luckiest sign, optimistic, thinks big
- Saturn in Capricorn: takes their limitations and lessons seriously, hardworking, do whatever can to achieve high goals, rewarded for efforts
- Uranus in Aquarius : eccentric, creative, and wise
- Neptune in Pisces: imaginative daydreamer, in their own world, intuitive, compassionate, and will not accept their limitations
When planets are in exaltation, they are welcomed in signs. It is still an easy fit, which creates an atmosphere that fosters the most authentic expressions of the planets.
- Sun in Leo: brilliant force and ego
- Moon in Cancer: at home expressing emotion and nurturing
- Mercury in Gemini: seamless thought process and communication
- Venus in Taurus or Libra: easily express sensuality and beauty
- Mars in Aries or Scorpio: direct and unfiltered quest for power
- Saturn in Capricorn or Aquarius: comfortable accommodating structure
- Jupiter in Sagittarius or Pisces: relish in going beyond limits and boundaries
When planets are in detriment they are in zodiac signs opposite of their ruling. This results in restricted expression because the energy of the planet is working in opposition to the planet.
- Sun in Aquarius: makes it necessary to consider the group before self, which is opposite the sun’s desire to shine, causes struggle to be an individual
- Moon in Capricorn: creates need to be strong, hardworking, and serious instead of creating ability to experience emotion, can actually help provide some control
- Mercury in Sagittarius or Pisces: promotes more analytic thought which then causes a focus on small details and a loss of big picture understanding
- Venus in Aries or Scorpio: complete contrast of exhibiting power and control over sensuality and beauty, results in missing larger visions
- Mars in Taurus or Libra: conflict over quick action versus calculated, with a worry about achieving balance, often frustrated
- Jupiter in Gemini or Virgo: struggles to combine universal thinking with desire for details, ultimately causes a question of faith
- Saturn in Cancer or Leo: the habit to follow rules and do things right, prevents a natural ability to authentically express the self
If planets are in fall with signs, its just awkward. It creates a situation exactly opposite of exaltation. When planets are in these signs, people feel uncomfortable and inappropriate.
- Sun in Libra: unnatural to satisfy sun’s ego through Libra’s politeness
- Moon in Scorpio: challenging to combine desire for control but also express nurturing
- Mercury in Pisces: awkward to try to communicate details by way of a universal thinker
- Venus in Virgo: difficult to balance practicality with sensuality
- Mars in Cancer: battle between want to nurture and desire for power
- Saturn in Aries: almost impossible to balance desire for independence with want for structures and rules
Planets are also affected by the angular relationships they have with one another. These angles are measured within the ecliptic circle and are known as aspects. There are five major aspects and their intrinsic qualities are considered either harmonic, dynamic, or neutral.
The planets in conjunction are harmonious, though it depends greatly on the planets involved. Planets in opposition are typically dynamic, or disharmonious. This can actually be motivating for the planets and produce positive results. Planets with a square aspect are also disharmonious. This aspect however has constant, reoccurring problems that can never seem to be resolved. The trine aspect is harmonious and complementary; often helping to identify natural talents. The last aspect is the sextile. It is like the conjunction; harmonious but dependent on planets involved.
All of these parts combine to create individual astrological stories. Without any one part, your description is incomplete. Each piece covers a different part of personalities and you must be aware of each of them in order to fully understand their impact on you.