Astrology For Dummies
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Every astrological chart includes the Moon, eight planets, twelve houses, and more. But the core of almost every horoscope is the Sun, which is why we are beginning with the signs of the Zodiac that begin in Spring.

astrological signs ©ollomy/

The signs of Spring: Aries, Taurus, and Gemini

The Sun begins its journey through the signs and the seasons on or about March 20, when it enters Aries. On that day, the Vernal Equinox, day and night are approximately equal. But soon the balance shifts. For three months, the night grows shorter and the day progressively longer as the Sun spins through the signs of spring – the most youthful signs of the zodiac. When the day reaches its maximum length, spring is over. The three signs of spring are:
  • Aries the Ram (March 20 to April 18), the sign of positive (or yang) cardinal fire. Aries is bold, energetic, youthful, and gifted at setting things into motion.
  • Taurus the Bull (April 19 to May 20), the sign of negative (or yin) fixed earth. Taurus is tenacious, pragmatic, resourceful, and — in case you thought that earth signs are only about practicality — talented, sensuous, and pleasure-loving.
  • Gemini the Twins (May 21 to June 20), the sign of positive (or yang) mutable air. Gemini is spontaneous, curious, quick-witted, restless, sociable, and capricious.
If your birthday falls into one of those signs, you are in the right place.

The Sun’s placement in the sky at the moment of your birth determines your sign. If you have any doubt about your Sun sign, perhaps because you were born at the beginning or end of a sign, get a free, accurate copy of your birth chart. Once you have that, you’ll know for sure. Here's how:

Astrolabe provides a no-frills birth chart with two or three pages of interpretation. Its resources and services are not as extensive as those of some other websites, and its charts are not as lovely. But if you go to this website, look for “Free Astro Chart” (or words to that effect), enter your birth data, and hit “submit,” your natal chart will instantly wing its way back to you. Astrolabe does not tempt you with too many bells and whistles. But if you want an easy-to-read birth chart with some basic interpretation, you can get it here — fast and free.

The following figure represents the Sun. In ancient cultures, the Sun always symbolized something big, like life and death. The Incas thought of the Sun as a divine ancestor. The Egyptians and other civilizations considered the Sun a god. The astrological symbol reflects that importance. The outer circle represents infinity, the universe, and your cosmic potential. The dot within it represents your human individuality.

The symbol of the Sun. The symbol of the Sun.

Each sign has a polarity (positive or negative, yang or yin), an element (fire, earth, air, or water), and a quality or modality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable).

The signs of Summer: Cancer, Leo, and Virgo

It always feels odd to me that the first day of summer, when the Sun rises to its maximum height, is the longest day of the year and simultaneously the start of the slow descent into winter. After that glorious Summer Solstice, the days dwindle down, becoming progressively shorter while the nights grow long. When day and night are roughly equal in length, summer’s over. But while it lasts, summer is surely the most exhilarating season of the year.

The three signs of summer are:

  • Cancer the Crab (June 21 to July 22), the sign of cardinal water. Cancer is known for its emotional acuity, sympathetic nature, and love of all things domestic.
  • Leo the Lion (July 23 to August 22), the sign of fixed fire. It’s vibrant, confident, determined, and brimming with personality.
  • Virgo the Virgin (August 23 to September 22), the sign of mutable earth. Virgo is famed for its intelligence, analytical mind, attention to detail, and tendency to be a perfectionist.

Each sign has a polarity (positive or negative), an element (fire, earth, air, or water), and a quality or modality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable).

The signs of Autumn: Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius

The first six signs of the zodiac, according to traditional astrology, are youthful and subjective, signs of self and individual development. The last six signs are other-oriented, more invested in relationship, community, and the world.

Well, that’s one way to look at the circle of the zodiac. Another way would be to think of it as a hero’s journey, a mythological tale that starts with an Aries adventure and ends with Piscean enchantment, though that too is an over-simplification. Still, that’s something reassuring about the notion that the signs tell a story by building on each other. Take the signs of Autumn, which shine a light first on relationships (that’s Libra’s responsibility); then on sex, death, and regeneration (that’s Scorpio’s weighty mission); and on the urge to explore the world in search of wisdom (the eternal quest of Sagittarius).

The three signs of autumn are:

  • Libra the Scales (September 23 to October 22), the sign of cardinal air. Libra is recognized for its intellect, sense of fairness, and aesthetic sensitivity, as well as for the importance it places on relationships.
  • Scorpio the Scorpion (October 23 to November 21), the sign of fixed water. Scorpio is known for its intensity, magnetism, instinct, and strategic intelligence.
  • Sagittarius the Archer (November 22 to December 21), the sign of mutable fire. The archer is independent, adventurous, expansive, and philosophically inclined.

The Sun sign dates in this book (and every other astrology book) are only approximate because, from year to year, there’s always a bit of variation. So, if your birthday falls at the beginning or end of a sign, you need a mathematically correct horoscope. To make sure that you’ve got one, collect your birth data and go online.

Each sign has an element (fire, earth, air, or water), a polarity (positive or negative) and a quality or modality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable).

The Signs of Winter: Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces

The zodiac is more than a magnificent ribbon of stars seemingly wrapped around our planet. Astrologers see it as a mirror of human experience. It commences with the birth of the individual, evolves into family and other relationships, and culminates, symbolically, with the establishment of civilization (that’s Capricorn); the quest for a nobler world (that’s Aquarius); and the ascent into realms of the spirit (that’s Pisces, at least in theory). After that, the Earth keeps spinning, so it’s back to the beginning. The cycle never ends.

What makes this design so enthralling is that we carry within us all twelve signs, each one equally commendable — and equally pitiful. Even if you have nothing — not a planet, not an asteroid, not even an angle — in any of the three signs of winter, they still live within you, part of your cosmic DNA.

Here are the signs of the winter, the last three on the cosmic wheel:

  • Capricorn the Goat (December 22 to January 19), the sign of cardinal earth. The Goat is resourceful, conscientious, steadfast, and ambitious.
  • Aquarius the Water Bearer (January 20 to February 18), the sign of fixed air. Aquarius is forward-looking, innovative, altruistic, and an avatar for change.
  • Pisces the Fish (February 19 to March 19), the sign of mutable water. Pisces is sensitive, compassionate, intuitive, imaginative, and spiritual.

Each sign has an element (fire, earth, air, or water), a polarity (positive or negative), and a quality or modality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable).

If you were born at the very beginning or end of a sign (that is, if you were born on the cusp), you need to obtain a mathematically accurate copy of your chart if you want to be sure of your sign.

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Rae Orion has written books on photography, astronomy, and mythology as well as the mysteries of astrology. She is the author of both previous editions of Astrology For Dummies.

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