Signs are ways to divide the circle into 12 equal parts. A circle is 360 degrees in circumference. 12 signs divided into 360° means that each sign is 30° along the circumference of the circle. Zodiac signs are not the same as Sun signs. When a person says, “I’m an Aries,” what they’re really saying is they were born at a time of the year when the Sun was in the sign of Aries. The Western calendar mimics the movement of the Sun around the zodiac, so the Sun is in each zodiac sign at nearly the same time every year.
The movement of the planets through each of the zodiac signs is irregular compared to the Sun’s 12-month rotation. The fast moving Moon, for example, spends about 2-1/2 days in each sign. The very slow moving Pluto spends from 12 to 24 years in each sign.
Signs follow a sequence, starting with Aries, which is taken as the first sign of the zodiac (because that is the point where the Sun crosses the equator at the March Equinox) and ending with Pisces.
The table in the left shows the glyphs used for each of the signs, which you will need to learn in order to progress with your studies.
Remember the signs describe the way the planet expresses its energy.
What that energy is and how the sign changes it will be part of your ongoing studies.
Because each sign has a different quality about it, each will modify the planet differently.
It is a good idea to remember the sequence of the signs beginning with Aries and ending with Pisces. Notice that the signs run in sequence in an ANTICLOCKWISE direction. The planets, as we saw in the first two charts, also move in an anticlockwise direction. This is the sequence of the signs.
Because each sign is part of a circle you could start a sequence with Leo, continue to Pisces, then continue on to Aries ending with Cancer. Or you could begin with Aquarius and continue through the sequence to Capricorn. It is important that you learn to think of signs in a circular way, because they don’t always begin with Aries, even though that sign does represent the start of the zodiac and does have special significance as the ‘first sign’. But the sequence never changes.
The 12 signs of the Zodiac can be divided a number of ways.
Zodiac Signs Divided By Element
- The Fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. This energy is active, intuitive, and often picky with a need for possibilities.
- The Air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. This energy is logical, reasonable, and cool with a need to understand.
- The Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. This energy is grounded, practical, and controlled with a need for security.
- The Water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. This energy is imaginative, sensitive, and opinionated with a need for connection with people.
Zodiac Signs Divided By Modality
- The Cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. These are the signs of dynamic change, movement, and making things happen.
- The Fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. These signs indicate stability, focus, and maintaining the status quo.
- The Mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. They express adaptability and adjustment.