Some Astrological Background on the Twelve Zodiac Signs
In the 5,000 years that have passed since the study of astrology was ﬁrst recorded, the twelve signs of the zodiac have acquired special associations, characterizations, and meanings. Hundreds of years before the time of Christ, Greek philosophers formulated the theory of Man in Microcosm—that is, the human being is a miniature version of the cosmos. According to this concept, everything in nature has a parallel in human beings, and thus humankind and the universe are linked together in a system of correlations. Out of this idea, known as the Hermetic Theory, sprang such divinatory arts as palmistry, which holds that the solar system corresponds to various parts of the human hand. In keeping with the Hermetic Theory, a vast body of correspondences grew up surrounding the twelve signs of the zodiac. Many of these afﬁnities date back thousands of years. Most were known when Claudius Ptolemy recorded them in his deﬁnitive astrological treatise, the Tetrabiblos, during the second century A.D. Some knowledge is more recent: the three modern planets, for example, were only discovered within the last 250 years,* and with their discovery have come new associations and deﬁnitions. One could say that each astrological sign is a miniature Book of Knowledge, and all twelve put together give a picture of human beings, our bodies, minds, and emotions, and of the surrounding world in which we live. Like an intricate Chinese box, the zodiac is a whole entity that can be taken apart and examined in different ways.
To begin with, the twelve signs of the zodiac are divided into several sets of groups, or numbers. They are divided into twos, threes, fours, and sixes.
The twelve signs are divided into two groups, masculine and feminine. Six signs are masculine, and six signs are feminine. This is known as the sign’s duality. In astrological terms, a masculine sign is direct and energetic; a feminine sign is receptive and magnetic. These masculine and feminine attributes were given to the signs about 2,000 years ago. Today modern astrologers try to avoid the sexism implicit in these distinctions. A masculine sign does not mean “positive and forceful” any more than a feminine sign means “negative and weak.” In modern terminology, the masculine signs are deﬁned as outerdirected and strong through action. The feminine signs are self-contained and strong through inner reserves.
ARIES Masculine GEMINI Masculine LEO Masculine LIBRA Masculine SAGITTARIUS Masculine AQUARIUS Masculine
TAURUS Feminine CANCER Feminine VIRGO Feminine SCORPIO Feminine CAPRICORN Feminine PISCES Feminine
*The three modern planets are Uranus (1781), Neptune (1846), and Pluto (1930).
The twelve signs are also divided into four groups containing three signs each. Each three-sign group is called a triplicity, and each of these triplicities denotes an element. The four elements are Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. In astrology, an element symbolizes a fundamental characterization of the sign. Three signs are ﬁre signs. They are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Fire signs are active and enthusiastic. Three signs are earth signs. They are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Earth signs are practical and stable. Three signs are air signs. They are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air signs are intellectual and communicative. Three signs are water signs. They are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water signs are emotional and intuitive.
Next, the twelve signs are divided into three groups containing four signs each. Each four-sign group is called a quadruplicity, and each of these quadruplicities denotes a quality. The three qualities are Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. In astrology, the quality signiﬁes the sign’s interaction with the outside world. Four signs are cardinal* signs. They are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Cardinal signs are enterprising and outgoing. They are the initiators. Four signs are ﬁxed signs. They are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. Fixed signs are resistant to change. They are perfectors and ﬁnishers, rather than originators. Four signs are mutable signs. They are Gemini, Virgo,
Sagittarius, and Pisces. Mutable signs are ﬂexible, versatile, and adaptable. They are able to adjust to differing circumstances. 3 You will notice that each of the twelve signs falls into a different combination. No one sign in the zodiac has exactly the same duality, element, and quality as another sign. For example, Aries is a Masculine, Fire, Cardinal sign; there is no other Masculine, Fire, Cardinal sign in the zodiac. Because each sign is a unique combination, each sign expresses the characteristics of its quality, element, and duality differently. Example: Aries is Masculine, meaning it is active rather than receptive; Fire, meaning it is excitable and energetic; Cardinal, meaning it is outgoing and open to new experiences. The sign of Leo is also Masculine and Fire, but unlike Aries (which is Cardinal) Leo is Fixed. Therefore Leo is extroverted and passionate like Aries, but also ﬁrm in its opinions, convinced of being on the side of truth in its passions, and not as willing as Aries to abandon an unworkable plan and go on to something new.
Finally, the twelve signs are divided into six groups containing two signs each. Each two-sign group is called a polarity (meaning “opposite”). Each sign in the zodiac has a polarity, which is its opposite sign in the other half of the zodiac. The two signs express opposite characteristics. Aries and Libra are a polarity. Aries is the sign of self. The opposite sign, Libra, is the sign of partnership.
6 • Sun Sign Astrology
*When the Sun crosses the four cardinal points in the zodiac, we mark the beginning of each of our four seasons: Aries begins spring; Cancer begins summer; Libra begins fall; Capricorn begins winter.
Sun Signs • 7
Taurus and Scorpio are a polarity. Taurus is the sign of personal possessions. The opposite sign, Scorpio, is the sign of legacies and shared possessions. Gemini and Sagittarius are a polarity. Gemini is the sign of self-expression. The opposite sign, Sagittarius, is the sign of philosophy and higher thinking, of expression on a wider level. Cancer and Capricorn are a polarity. Cancer is the sign of home life. The opposite sign, Capricorn, is the sign of public life. Leo and Aquarius are a polarity. Leo is the sign of personal pleasure and creativity. The opposite sign, Aquarius, is the sign of hopes and ideals on a large scale. Virgo and Pisces are a polarity. Virgo is the sign of work and self-improvement. The opposite sign, Pisces, is the sign of dreams and self-delusion. 3 Each of the twelve signs is attached to special associations in the outer world. There are lucky numbers, lucky days of the week, special colors, plants, metals, jewels, cities, etc. Each sign also has particular pitfalls and areas of danger attached to it. In this modern day, however, some of these associations are quoted more for amusement than for guidance and instruction. Astrologers do not seriously suggest that if you are Aries you will like only the color red and wear diamonds, or if you are Virgo you will be happy living
only in Boston and raising morning glories in your window box. The afﬁnities to various colors, jewels, places, ﬂowers are simply part of the long, long history of symbols and connections that has grown up around the signs of the zodiac. Sometimes, however, it is fun to experiment with your zodiacal afﬁnities. I have a client, for example, who gives “astrological” dinner parties and chooses ﬂowers, table settings, and food that have certain connections to the zodiacal signs of her guests. Another client, who is a Gemini, recently took a trip to Melbourne, Australia, simply because of the afﬁnity of his sign for that distant city. He wrote me ecstatically: “The minute I stepped off the plane I just knew that I was truly at home!” Part of the fascination of astrology is in its complexity; the various associations and symbolism surrounding the twelve signs are part of that rich tapestry. No two astrological signs are alike. Each one is different and unique. Each holds clues to who we are and the things and places to which we are drawn.
What Is Your Sun Sign?
The dates listed for each Sun sign may vary by a day or two in certain years.
We will be discuss more in next article…
Some Astrological Background on the Twelve Zodiac Signs