The Twelve Zodiac Signs
What are the Signs?
The wise people of ancient times learned a lot from star gazing. They identified group of stars that looked like certain shapes and named them. These shapes were later called constellations. There are 88 constellations, but only twelve are on the ecliptic line – the path on which the sun appears to travel throughout the year. Obviously, the sun does not really travel, but since earth orbits the sun, when we look at the sun from earth, it looks like the sun is moving from one constellation to another.
Each one of the twelve constellations on the ecliptic line represents a zodiac sign.
Each zodiac sign is ruled by one cosmic body – the sun, the moon, one of the planets or Pluto. The ruling cosmic body gives its qualities to the sign it rules. For example, Cancer is ruled by the Moon. The moon relates to the emotional and domestic realms. Therefore the sign of Cancer is considered emotional and family oriented.
There are cosmic bodies that rule more than one sign. For instance, Venus rules both Taurus and Libra. In this case, Taurus gets the more earthly qualities of Venus, since it is an earth sign, while Libra gets the airy qualities of Venus, since it is an air sign. Some zodiac signs are ruled by two cosmic bodies, one primary and one secondary or traditional. For example, the primary ruler of Aquarius is Uranus, and the traditional ruler is Saturn.
You can learn more about it on the cosmic body page.
Each sign relates to one of the four elements – fire, earth, air and water, and to one of the three modalities – cardinal, fixed, mutable. Each sign is a unique combination of an element and a modality. Elements explains the essential qualities of the signs. Modalities explain the purpose to which these qualities are harnessed.
For more information on elements and modalities please check the four elements page and the three modalities page.
Signs and Houses
Each sign is associated with a specific astrological house, according to its order on the zodiac wheel. Aries is the first sign and Pisces is the last sign. For example, Gemini is the third sign of the zodiac and is therefore associated with the third house.
Signs in Chart Reading
When reading a chart, we look at the position of the different cosmic bodies in the signs and houses. “Your sign” is the sign where the sun was at the moment of your birth. But there is a huge significance to the position of all other cosmic bodies, especially the moon and the personal planets -Mercury, Venus and Mars. The rising sign, which is the sign on the eastern horizon at your moment of birth, and the signs of other cardinal points, are also important (see more information on cardinal points on the birth chart page).
The cosmic bodies represent different aspects of your personality. The signs in which they are placed, represent the way in which these personality aspects are expressed. For example, Mercury represents the way you think. If your Mercury is in Taurus, your thinking is slow, steady, and practical, as these are the qualities of Taurus. If, however, your Mercury is in Pisces, your way of thinking will be Piscean – dreamy, creative and poetic.