# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





2 articles for "Sign"

Sign [DeVore]

One of the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac. The annual revolution of the Earth round the Sun is divided into the 360° of a circle, a division that mathematically and astronomically is universally accepted. The subdivisions of the circle into 12 equal arcs, distinguished by names, are known as the Signs of the Zodiac. They no longer bear any relationship to the constellations of the same name.

These arcs are measured from the point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator at the beginning of Spring on or about March 21st each year. As this is coincidental with the position of the Earth's axis at right angles to the radius of its orbit, the days and nights are of equal duration all over the Earth. The point is termed the Vernal Equinox. That the Zodiacal year seems at one period of history to have begun with Taurus indicates that these records date from between 2,000 and 4,000 B.C., during which period the equinoctial point fell in Taurus.

The further fact that the Equinox still continues to fall in 0° Aries indicates that at some time since the beginning of the Christian era the fixed Zodiac of constellations was abandoned and the names reapplied to a moving Zodiac based upon the equinoctial point, then recognized as the beginning of the astrological year. The year's arc of precession was thus ignored — an annual loss of a moment of time that shows up in no calculation at present in use, other than in a consideration of the Precession of the equinoctial point and the one degree revision of star positions every seventy years.

Can it be that our only record of one of these early readjustments of the calendar is that of Joshua having commanded the Sun to stand still?

Thus for at least 40 centuries astrologers have recognized the receding point of the Node of intersection of the Ecliptic and the Celestial Equator as the commencement of a scheme of magnetic conditioning. (v. Solar System.)

Of the twelve signs there are four basic groups:

The Inspirational Group — the Fire signs.

The Emotional Group — the Water signs.

The Mental Group — the Air signs.

The Practical Group — the Earth signs.

These are termed the Elements, or Triplicities — since three signs are embraced in each group, as follows:

Fire:      Aries      Leo    Sagittarius
Water:      Cancer      Scorpio    Pisces
Air:      Libra      Aquarius    Gemini
Earth:      Capricorn      Taurus    Virgo


As the English language abounds in words which had their origin in the symbology of the ancients, the use of terms such as fire, earth, air and water, do not indicate any present-day adherence to the ancient concept that matter is composed of these four primary elements. They are merely terms, but as such they appear aptly to symbolize, now as then, an outstanding characteristic of each of the four basic groups into which mankind is classified according to astrology. In fact, it becomes doubtful whether this grouping was ever intended to apply to the elements of matter, since fire could hardly have been looked upon even in that day as a physical element. More than likely it is a modern misconception of their symbolic interpretation of the psychological elements discerned in zodiacal influences.

Of each of these elemental groups or triplicities there are three types, or qualities, as shown in the previous arrangement: the Cardinal or Initiative signs, the Fixed or Executive signs, and the Mutable or Deductive signs. As there are four of each, these are known as the Quadruplicities.


Key words often associated with the twelve Signs are:

Aries:  Aspiration
Taurus:  Integration
Gemini:  Vivification
Cancer:  Expansion
Leo:  Assurance
Virgo:  Assimilation
Libra:  Equilibrium
Scorpio:  Creativity
Sagittarius:  Administration
Capricorn:  Discrimination
Aquarius:  Loyalty
Pisces:  Appreciation


Another classification into four groups representing the four seasons, is known as the Trinities:

1.  Aries4.  Cancer7.  Libra10.  Capricorn
2.  Taurus5.  Leo8.  Scorpio11.  Aquarius
3.  Gemini6.  Virgo9.  Sagittarius12.  Pisces


Cardinal Signs
So called because they are placed at the East, West, North and South points of the astrological figure, hence compare to the four Cardinal points of the compass-the points usually marked by a red arrow. They are variously termed, the Leading, Movable, Acute, Changeable or Initiating signs or types, and as they represent the active temperament are said to partake of the nature of the Ascendant.

Fixed Signs
So-called because they represent a balance of conflicting forces, are more uniformly referred to as the Fixed or Grave signs or Executive types; although occasionally referred to as the "foundation" signs — those which most distinctly typify each element, because of which they were said to have been dominant in the formulation of the Mosaic laws. They have also been called the Seismic or "earthquake" signs, on the assumption that earthquakes most frequently occur when the Sun or Moon is in a Fixed sign. They are the power-houses of the zodiac-reservoirs of energy; the Formators of the Chaldeans, the Cherubim of the Hebrews — the builders of the world. The fixed sign tenacity is depended upon to support or stabilize the leading signs.

Mutable Signs
So-called because they represent the arcs in which there is a perpetual condition of slowing down in readiness to turn a corner; a mobilization for action, and the indecision which results or accompanies it; were symbolized by concepts which would express this duality — the twins, the two deep-water sea-horses, or the half-man, half-horse of the Archer; hence also called the Dual or the Double-bodied Signs; and by some, the Common or Flexed Signs. They are the minds of their Triplicity, with their quickness and versatility acting as mediators between the Leading and Fixed Signs. They have been called the "reconcilers of the universe."

The Signs of the Zodiac should not be confounded with the Zodiac of Constellations with which they have only an historic relationship. Somewhat before the Christian era the Constellations (q.v.) and the Signs coincided. Since then the Precession (q.v.) of the Equinoctial point has produced a separation of approximately 1° in seventy-two years, or a total of about thirty degrees in 2000 years. It is not possible to establish with exactness the date upon which they coincided, for there is no sharp line or boundary between the general areas associated with the group of stars that make up a constellation, as compared to the Signs which are measured in 30° arcs along the Ecliptic beginning at the point of the Spring Equinox. Aries 0° is now in or about to enter the last degrees of the constellation of Aquarius, hence current references to the Aquarian Age; also to the two thousand years of the Piscean Age through which the Equinoctial Point has receded since the dawn of the Christian era — an epoch symbolized in the parable of the Loaves and the Fishes.

The four elements go farther than the mere locating of the Sun position. The qualities contained in the signs positing the Moon and the planets are gradually developed by every stimulation that reaches the native through these points of receptivity. Every planet and every angle, as it passes over each birth sensitivity, results in an accent. This means that each of a dozen points of receptivity are daily stimulated by an accent from each of a dozen points of electro-magnetic radiation, resulting in something like 144 daily accents — not counting the changes resulting from the orbital motion of each energy-radiating body. That is why planets well distributed among signs of the different elements, produce the well-rounded individual. The Greek philosophers built on this basis their thesis that the whole man consisted of the interweaving of the four categories, into one of which can be placed every human activity. These are:

CategoryFrom contemplation ofBecause of accents in
1.  PhysicalBody: functions and needsEarth
2.  Intellectual  Mind: concepts and thought processesAir
3.  AestheticSoul: yearnings; emotional processesWater
4.  MoralSpirit: aspirations, conduct, and character  Fire


The terminology of the trigons, or triplicities of Elements, is universal: fire, water, air and earth; although some moderns prefer to call them the Inspirational, Emotional, Mental and Practical Natures.

These four Elements, as represented by the fixed type of each group, are symbolized in the figures of the Cherubim, and in the Assyrian "winged lion." Also in the Egyptian Sphynx, in which the Bull's body (Taurus), the Lion's paws and tail (Leo), the Eagle's wings (Scorpio), and the Human head (Aquarius), repre- sent the four types which combine to form the body politic.

They are also embodied in the deck of cards: clubs for fire, diamonds for earth, hearts for water, and spades for air; the black suits representing the positive signs and the red suits the negative signs.

They are depicted symbolically in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and are builded into the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral, which is as completely an astrological edifice as is the great Pyramid. In Revelation V:7 one reads that "the first beast was ne a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." Later on are described horses with the faces of men, the teeth of lions, wings, and a sting in the tall like unto a scorpion. In Chaucer, Shakespeare and all the writers of the Elizabethan age, astrological allusions are frequent; in fact, the symbolism of the fixed signs as representing the four elementary types of the genus homo, are the subject of innumerable allusions in art and literature.

The "earthiness" of the materialistic or practical Earth sign group is quite generally represented by the thick-necked bull — the Taurus. In Hindu lore the chariot of Vishnu is symbolized by a Bull. The Legend of St. George and the Dragon depicts the opposition of Taurus to Scorpio. In Chinese astrology, Taurus was the White Tiger: Leo, the Red Bird; Scorpio, the Black Dragon; and Aquarius, the Black Warrior — again a "human" sign.

The inspirational Fire sign group are almost universally symbolized by the Lion.

The sympathetic, sensitive and often vindictive, emotional Water sign group are frequently represented by the Scorpion, not only because of its "sting" but also for the frequency with which it was anciently supposed to sting itself to death rather than face a ring of fire. It is also symbolized by the serpent — perhaps connotating the "wisdom of the serpent" of the Garden of Eden. In the Roman Sphynx it is represented by the asp on the man's forehead. Its "lone wolf" proclivities, and the frequency with which strength in Scorpio is reflected in a Roman nose — the eagle's beak — have been symbolized at some periods of antiquity by the Eagle, as evidenced by the eagle's wings on the Egyptian Sphynx.

The intellectual or mental Air sign group is almost universally represented by a man, usually pouring out water from a jug — symbolizing the giving of the water of knowledge to a thirsting world. The three air signs have been spoken of as the "triangle of harmony, peace and equilibrium."

Signs, and the Disciples.
It is commonly considered from the many New Testament pronouncements of astrological doctrine, that the Twelve Disciples were chosen, each to represent a different one of the twelve fundamental types and qualities with a ruling Trinity of the central Sun (the Father) whose spiritual and intellectual light (the Holy Spirit) reflected by the Moon (the Son) flowed out through these twelve apostles into all the world-representing humanity divided into its twelve basic types. The disciples considered this order so important that after Judas's betrayal Mathias took his place as one of the twelve.


Aries:Peter, the fiery, impulsive, changeable, pioneering leader, who eventually became the rock upon which was founded the New Church "of the Lamb." (Initiating: inspirational)

Taurus:Simon Zelotes, the dogmatic, determined zealot; who was concerned with property and finances, rebelled against the payment of taxes, and received from Jesus the admonition — "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." (Fixed: materialistic)

Gemini:James, "the lesser." Slow to accept the authenticity of the Messiah, but became the eloquent preacher of the church in Jerusalem, and an active evangelist and exhorter. (Mutable: intellectual)

Cancer:Andrew, the sympathetic homebody, a follower of John the Baptist, whose first thought when he discovered the Messiah was to run quickly and fetch his brother Simon. (Initiating: sympathetic)

Leo:John, the most beloved apostle. (Fixed: inspirational)

Virgo:Philip, always precise, calculating, enquiring, and practical. (Mutable: materialistic)

Libra:Bartholomew-Nathaniel, the innocently pure one "in whom there is no guile." The tactful, persuasive evangelist. (Initiating: intellectual)

Scorpio:Thomas, the doubting skeptic, yet bold and courageous. (Fixed: sympathetic)

Sagittarius:James, the great teacher, who with Peter and John became the spiritual leaders of the early church: the three fire sign types cooperating. (Mutable: inspirational)

Capricorn:Matthew, the tax gatherer, the politician, the one in authority in the governing seat in Rome. (Initiating: materialistic)

Aquarius:Thaddeus-Jude, who considered the lot of the peasant, and sought to better the living and working conditions of the masses; and who interrogated Jesus at the Last Supper as to how he would manifest himself. (Fixed: intellectual)

Pisces:Judas Iscariot, who when he succumbed to temptation suf- fered severe pangs of remorse. (Mutable: sympathetic)



Dr. Curtiss characterized the evangelistic authors of the four gospels, in terms of the fixed types of the four elemental groups, in this fashion:

Matthew-Aquarius.To Know.
Mark-Leo.To Dare.
Luke-Taurus.To Do.
John-Scorpio.To Keep Silent.

In the Book of Revelations we read that by the River of Life grew a Tree of Life and of its twelve manner of fruits whereby it yielded a different fruit for each month of the year.

Elsewhere in the Bible, which is a great repository of astrological truths, we find God referred to as the Logos, out of which went four rivers. In Abraham's effort to restore the Logos, we find the symbol of an earlier Trinity: Abraham, the spiritual father; Isaac, the thought concept; and Jacob, the physical externalization.

Jacob's twelve sons were the chiefs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. These are listed at birth in Genesis XXIX, and again shortly before his death (Gen. XLIX). Ezekiel lists the tribes in the distribution of land, substituting Manasseh and Ephraim, as perhaps the sons of deceased fathers, Joseph and Levi; yet in the last chapter in listing the Temple dates he employs the names of the twelve sons, as recounted in Genesis. The symbolic descriptions accompanying the names leave little doubt that they were representative of the twelve astrological types.

In the order of their birth the twelve sons were named Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issacher, Zebulon, Joseph and Benjamin. There is disagreement among authorities as to which Sign represents each one, but none as to the fact that they were astrological. In fact Dan is definitely established as representing Scorpio in Jacob's last blessing, when he said: "Dan is a snake, a serpent in the path, that biteth at the horse's heels so that the rider falleth backward," referring to Scorpio at the heels of the Centaur or Sagittarius.

It is generally considered that the modern prototype of the tribe of judah is the British nation; of Dan, Italy; of Naphtali, the United States; and of Reuben, the Jews.

The twelve layers of the foundation walls of the New Jerusalem (Rev. xxi: 19-20) were builded of:

  1. Jasper, an opalescent or greenish stone.
  2. Sapphire, a blue, transparent gem.
  3. Chalcedony, pale gray, translucent quartz.
  4. Emerald, green, transparent beryl.
  5. Sardonyx, onyx with layers of sard, a brownish, red chalcedony.
  6. Sardius, probably a ruby.
  7. Chrysolite, blue-green magnesium iron silicate.
  8. Beryl, probably bluish-green or aquamarine.
  9. Topaz, a yellow sapphire.
  10. Chrysoprase, a light green chalcedony.
  11. Jacinth, a stone the color of hyacinth.
  12. Amethyst, purple or blue-violet quartz.

From another period we find the Twelve Labors of Hercules, as emblematic of the tasks which Destiny metes out to each of the twelve basic types, whereby to attain to an heroic stature. Hercules, or Heracles, is a mythological hero celebrated for his strength in the performance of super-human tasks, imposed by Eurysthcus because of the hatred of Hera (Juno) for Alcmena, the mother of Hercules by Zeus (Jupiter). After the death of Hercules he was deified as the husband of Hebe.

The Twelve tasks are not listed in the same order by all his- torians, and there are differences of opinion as to the signs to which they pertain, but presumably the hero took the worst traits of each sign and transmuted them into the nobility of which each sign is capable. The "labors" arc:

  1. Wrestling with and killing by strangulation the invulnerable Nemean lion.
  2. Destruction of the Lernean hydra.
  3. Capture of the Arcadian or Cerynean hind — or stag.
  4. Capture of the boar of Erymanthus, when he fought the Centaurs, killing two friends, Chiron and Pholus. v. Demoter's mysteries.
  5. Cleansing the stables of Augeas.
  6. Killing of the man-eating Stymphalean birds.
  7. Capture of the Cretan bull — afterwards killed by Theseus.
  8. Capture of the man-eating mares of the Thracian Diomedes.
  9. Seizure of the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons.
  10. Bringing the oxen of Geryones from Erythria in the Far West. On this adventure he set up the Pillars of Hercules at the Straits of Gibraltar.
  11. Bringing the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides.
  12. Carrying Cerberus from Hades to the upper world.



The Ram. The first sign of the zodiac. Its symbol represents the head and horns of the ram. It is a symbol of offensive power — a weapon of the gods, hence an implement of the will. The Babylonians sacrificed rams during the period when the Sun occupied this sign, which occurs annually from March 21 to April 20. Astrologically and astronomically it is the first thirty-degree arc beginning at the point of the Spring Equinox. It is the Leading quality of the Fire element: positive, diurnal, movable, dry, hot, fiery, choleric and violent.


Ruler: Mars.     Exaltation: Sun.     Detriment: Venus.     Fall: Saturn.


Temperamental Aries
        Who works from morn to set of Sun
        And never likes to be outdone?
        Whose walk is almost like a run?
        Who? Aries.


Symbolic interpretation:
Sprouting seed; fire in eruption; a fountain of water; a ram's horns. Aries is the embodiment of Self, the will to manifest, the adventurous spirit; desire, initiative and courage.
        First from the east, the Ram conducts the year;
        Whom Ptolemy with twice nine stars adorns.


First Decan:
Activity, adventure, zeal, notoriety, dishonor, misfortune.


Second Decan:
Noble affections as the source of power to sway others — the head joined to the impulses of the heart. It is the decan of Exaltation, in that the Sun is exalted in the nineteenth degree of the Sign.


Third Decan:
Propaganda, the spiritual possibilities of the valiant heart at grips with sordid conditions.



The Bull. The second sign of the zodiac. Its symbol represents the head and horns of a bull. The sacred Apis was presumed to be the incarnation of the god Osiris-hence a symbol of a sepulchre or tomb. The Sun's entry into Taurus was celebrated as a Feast of Maya (Maia) — our May Day — the Sun represented by a white bull with a golden disc between his horns, followed by a procession of virgins, exemplifying the fecundity of Nature in Spring. The Sun is in Taurus annually from April 21 to May 20. Astrologically and astronomically it is in the second thirty-degree arc from the Spring Equinox, from 30° to 60° along the Ecliptic. It is the Fixed quality of the Earth element, conferring external will power that, ordinarily passive, and negative, becomes obstinate and unbending when aroused. Negative, nocturnal, cold, dry and melancholy.


Ruler: Venus.     Exaltation: Moon.     Detriment: Mars.     Fall: Uranus.


Headstrong Taurus
        Who smiles through life — except when crossed?
        Who knows, or thinks he knows, the most?
        Who loves good things: baked, boiled or roast?
        Oh, Taurus.


Symbolic interpretation:
The head and horns of a bull; the sacred Apis in whom the god Osiris was incarnate; a sepulchre or tomb. Taurus represents the manifestations of the Self, hence his basic possessions, and inherited tendencies.
        The mighty Bull trudges the stellar lanes.


First Decan:
Determination, the soul's exaltation; materialistic and mediumistic tendencies.


Second Decan:
Struggle, the conflict for supremacy.


Third Decan:
Mastership, triumph over physical limitations and environment; utilizing physical things for spiritual progress.



The Twins. The third sign of the zodiac. Its symbol represents two pieces of wood bound together, symbolical of the unremitting conflict of contradictory mental processes. The Sun is in Gemini annually from May 21 to June 20. Astrologically it is the thirty degree arc immediately preceding the Summer Solstice, marked by the passing of the Sun over the Tropic of Cancer, and occupying a position along the ecliptic from 60° to 90°. It is the Mutable quality of the element: positive, dual.


Ruler: Mercury.     Detriment: Jupiter.


Worrisome Gemini.
        Who's fond of life and jest and pleasure;
        Who vacillates and changes ever?
        Who loves attention without measure?
        Why? Gemini.


Symbolic interpretation:
Castor and Pollux; Bohas and Jakin, of Solomon's Temple; the Pillars of Hercules. Gemini establishes a relationship between the Self and substance, the linkage of rhythm and form.
        Fair Leda's twins, in time to stars decreed,
        One fought on foot, one curbed the fiery steed.


First Decan:
Mastership, activities on the mental plane, deduction after assimilation.


Second Decan:
Fidelity, the espousal of progressive causes.


Third Decan:
Reason, the' power of the objective mind.



The Crab. The fourth sign of the zodiac. Its symbol presumably the folded claws of a crab, probably is intended to symbolize the joining together of a male and female spermatozoa — as indicative of the most maternal of all the signs. The Sun is in Cancer annually from June 21 to July 22. Astrologically and astronomically it is the first thirty-degree arc following the Summer Solstice, marked by the Sun's passing of the Tropic of Cancer, and occupying a position along the Ecliptic from 90° to 120°). It is the Leading quality of the Water element: negative, cold, moist, phlegmatic, nocturnal, commanding, moveable, fruitful, weak, unfortunate, crooked, mute.


Ruler: Moon.     Exaltation: Jupiter.     Detriment: Saturn.     Fall: Mars.


Hard-Shelled Sympathetic Cancer
        Who changes like a changeful season:
        Holds fast and lets go without reason?
        Who is there can give adhesion
        To Cancer?


Symbolic interpretation:
The claws of the celestial crab; two spermatozoa intertwined, signifying the male and female seed, implying retirement and nurturing; the crab or scarab.

Cancer expresses the living organism, its capacity to grow.
       Soon as the evening shades prevail
       The Moon takes up the wondrous tale,
       And nightly to the listening Earth
       Proclaims the story of her birth.


First Decan:
Moods, strong emotions, poetic and dramatic expression.


Second Decan:
Revelation, resourcefulness, energy; powerful emotions; the struggle with sex.


Third Decan:
Research, curiosity, discontent, restlessness; love of Nature; a stormy life.



The Lion. The fifth sign of the zodiac. Its symbol is possibly an emblem representing the phallus, as used in ancient Dionysian mysteries. It is also an emblem of the Sun's fire, heat or creative energy. The Sun is in Leo annually from July 23 to August 22. Astrologically and astronomically it is the second thirty-degree arc after the Summer Solstice, marked by the Sun's passing of the Tropic of Cancer and occupying a position along the ecliptic from 120° to 150° — It is the Fixed quality of the Fire element, conferring an internal will motivated by an impulse of the heart. It is positive, hot, dry, choleric, eastern, diurnal, commanding, brutish, sterile, broken, changeable, fortunate, strong, hoarse, bitter, and violent.


Ruler: Sun.     Detriment: Saturn.     Fall: Mercury.


Loving Leo
        Who praises all his kindred do;
        Expects his friends to praise them too —
        And cannot see their senseless view?
        Ah, Leo.


Leo exemplifies the principle of cosmic splendor; wherein character defects due to planets in Leo persist through long periods, and good qualities from planets favorably aspecting the Sign are never lost.
       The Lion flames: There the Sun's course runs hottest.
       Empty of grain the and fields appear
       When first the Sun into Leo enters.


First Decan:
Rulership, fiery love, and the desire to rule others; extremes of pleasure whether in love or asceticism.


Second Decan:
Reformation, a convincing leader, given to ruthless onslaughts against his enemies; clear vision as to weaknesses in politics and religion.


Third Decan:
Ambition, a determination to rise in life, at the sacrifice of anything and anybody.



The Virgin. The sixth sign of the zodiac. Its symbol is probably a representation of the Girdle of Hymen, and has reference to the Immaculate Conception of a Messiah. It is usually pictured by a virgin holding in her hand a green branch, an car of corn, or a spike of grain. Spica is a star in the constellation of Virgo. Here was commemorated the Festival of Ishtar, goddess of fertility. The Sun is in Virgo annually from August 23 to September 22. Astrologically and astronomically it is the thirty-degree arc immediately preceding the Sun's passing over the Fall Equinoctial point, occupying a position along the Ecliptic from 150° to 180°. It is the Mutable quality of the Earth element: negative, cold, dry, sterile, human; also critical, practical, helpful.


Ruler: Mercury.     Detriment: Jupiter.     Fall: Venus.


Critical Virgo
        Who criticizes all she sees:
        Yes, e'en would analyze a sneeze?
        Who hugs and loves her own disease?
        Humpf, Virgo.


Symbolic interpretation:
A green branch; an car of wheat or corn; the Immaculate Virgin who gives birth to a world-saviour. Form and the differentiation of sex. Discrimination through a critical analysis of the fruits of action.
       But modest Virgo's rays give polished parts,
       And fill men's breasts with honesty and arts;
       No tricks for gain, nor love of wealth dispense,
       But piercing thoughts and winning eloquence.


First Decan:
Achievement, a good mentality, gigantic tasks.


Second Decan:
Experience, an assimilative mind, skilled in diplomacy; great temptations; powers of discernment and compassion; love of worldly honor; susceptible to allurements of the flesh.


Third Decan:
Renunciation, the Crown of Thorns: work on behalf of others or of science, without thought of reward; forsakes everything for duty.



Libra. The Balances, or Scales. The seventh sign of the zodiac. Its symbol representing the balancing scales, is emblematic of equilibrium and justice. The Sun is in Libra annually from September 23 to October 23. Astrologically and astronomically it is the first thirty-degree arc following the passing of the Sun over the Fall Equinoctial point, occupying a position along the ecliptic from 180° to 210°. It is the Leading quality of the Air element: positive, hot, moist, sweet, obeying: also restless, judicial.


Ruler: Venus. Exalta- tion: Saturn.     Detriment: Mars.     Fall: Sun.


Introspective Libra
        Who puts you off with promise gay,
        And keeps you waiting half the day?
        Who compromises all the way?
        Sweet Libra.


Symbolic interpretation:
The setting Sun; the central part of a balance, signifying equilibrium and justice. The sign of cosmic reciprocity, of cooperation rather than competition, of consciousness objectified through associations and partnerships.
        Now dreadful deeds Might have ensued, nor only Paradise
        In this commotion, but the starry cope
        Of heaven perhaps, or all the elements
        At least, had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn
        With violence of this conflict, had not soon
        The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
        Hung forth in heaven his golden scales, yet seen
        Betwixt Astraca and the Scorpion sign.
                (John Milton, in Paradise Lost)


First Decan:
Policy, the quality of wisdom; subtlety in public relations; adventurous in human relations.


Second Decan:
Independence, strong individuality; exponent of liberty in thought and action; in rebellion against restrictions and centralized conservatism; espouses progressive movements.


Third Decan:
Expiation, a superiority in art and letters; mind often used to enslave others, ending in a fatality.



The Scorpion. The eighth sign of the zodiac. Its symbol resembles that of Virgo, but with an arrow on the tail — doubtless to represent the sting. It is symbolized by the asp or serpent, harking back to the serpent of the Garden of Eden, and indicating that the will governs or is governed by the reproductive urge. It is sometimes symbolized by the Dragon, and is frequently linked with the constellation Aquilla — the Eagle. The Sun is in Scorpio annually from October 23 to November 22. Astrologically and astronomically it is the second thirty-degree arc after the Sun's passing of the Fall Equinox, occupying a position along the Ecliptic from 210° to 240°. It is the Fixed quality of the Water element: negative, nocturnal, cold, moist, watery, mute, phlegmatic.


Ruler: Mars.     Exaltation: Uranus.     Detriment: Venus.     Fall: Moon.


Ultimate Scorpio
        Who keeps an arrow in his bow,
        And if you prod, he lets it go?
        A fervent friend, a subtle foe —


Symbolic interpretation:
The legs and tail of: a scorpion: the tail with the sting, the serpent. The alembic of the Zodiac, the sign of cosmic purpose, Scorpio is a success Sign. Self-contained, self-centered, and concentrated, it usually succeeds in what it sets out to accomplish; great personal magnetism and healing power.
        Bright Scorpio, armed with poisonous tail, prepares
        Men's martial minds for violence and for wars.
        His venom heats and boils their blood to rage,
        And rapine spreads o'er the unlucky age.


First Decan:
Resourcefulness, an excess of creative energy that ever goads to action; creatice imagination; fertility of ideas; absence of repressions. Second Decan: Responsibility, restrictions in expression; strong character, for good or bad; vivid passions.


Third Decan:
Attainment, the Laurel Crown of Victory. Intense intuitions, vivid ideals, the potency of sex to stimulate ideals and ambitions.



The Archer. The ninth sign of the zodiac. In Hindu astrology: Dhanus. Its symbol represents an arrow and a section of a bow, typifying aspiration. It is usually pictured as the Centaur: half horse, half man — representing the conflict between the philosophical mind and the carnal instinct of conquest; also aspiration supported by effort that aims at the stars. Said to have been named for the Babylonian god of war. A typical Sagittarian sentiment is:
        Go plant a ladder: climb it!
        Even if it doubles up
        'Tis better than to lounge below
        And sip Life's idle cup.

The Sun is in Sagittarius annually from November 23 to December 21. Astrologically and astronomically it is the thirty-degree arc immediately preceding the Sun's passing over the Tropic of Capricorn, occupying a position along the Ecliptic from 240° to 270° — It is the Mutable quality of the Fire element: positive, hot, dry, changeable, bicorporeal, obeying.


Ruler: Jupiter.     Detriment: Mercury.


Pursuing Sagittarius
        Who loves the dim religious light:
        Who always keeps a star in sight?
        An optimist, both gay and bright —


Symbolic interpretation:
The centaur; an arrow with a short section of the bow, the symbol of enthusiasm and effort, aiming at the stars. Significator of cosmic progress and abundance, that perverted becomes prodigality.
        Midst golden stars he stands resplendent now
        And thrusts the Scorpion with his bended bow.


First Decan:
Devotion, cosmic consciousness, operating from in- stinct rather than upon advice.


Second Decan:
Expiation, a restless search for new fields to conquer; demands work of a definite importance.


Third Decan:
Illumination, piercing the illusion of matter.



The mountain-climbing goat. The tenth sign of the zodiac. In Hindu astrology, Makarar — and considered by the ancients to be the most important of all the signs. Is it possible the ancients recognized in the Winter Solstice the point of gravitation that controls the Sun's orbit? Its symbol represents the figure by which the sign is often pictured — that of the forepart of a goat, with the tail of a fish-vaguely suggesting the mermaid. Sometimes also by the sea-goat, or dolphin.

It is said to have a reference to the legend of the goat and the Sun gods.

Dryden makes reference to it:
        And, what was ominous, that very morn
        The Sun was entered into Capricorn.

The Sun is in Capricorn annually from December 22 to January 20. Astrologically and astronomically It is the first thirty degrees following the Winter Solstice, marked by the passing of the Sun over the Tropic of Capricorn and occupying a position along the ecliptic from 270° to 300°. It is the Leading quality of the Earth element: negative, nocturnal, cold, dry, obeying.


Ruler: Saturn.     Exaltation: Mars.     Detriment: Moon.     Fall: Jupiter.


Relentless Capricorn
        Who climbs and schemes for wealth and place,
        And mourns his brother's fall from grace —
        But takes what's due in any case?
        Safe Capricorn.


Symbolic interpretation:
A goat with a fish's tail, signifying extremes of height and depth; changes wrought by time; union of the Christian and Jewish religious dispensations.

The sign of Initiation, of Cosmic Order and justice, wherein the Individuality is developed, and humanity fulfills its obligations to others.
        Siroccos lash the main, when Capricorn
        Lodges the Sun and Zeus sends bitter cold
        To numb the frozen sailors.


First Decan:
Organization, coordination, a forerunner of better things; conciliates factions.


Second Decan:
Martyrdom; dauntless, again and again it comes back for more; by indefatigable effort, scaling heights of success.


Third Decan:
Idealism, natural ability to grasp high ideals, and to express them in concrete form; powerful imagination joined to intensive labor; draws knowledge from the infinite.



The Water Bearer. The eleventh sign of the zodiac. Its symbol represents a stream of water, symbolizing the servant of humanity who pours out the water of knowledge to quench the thirst of the world. The Sun is in Aquarius annually from January 21 to February 20. Astrologically and astronomically it is the second thirty-degree arc following the Sun's passing of the Winter Solstice, occupying a position along the Ecliptic from 300° to 330°. It is the Fixed quality of the Air element, in which the will is largely motivated by reasoning processes-whether sound or unsound. It is positive, hot, moist, sanguine, rational and obeying.


Ruler: Saturn; or by some moderns: Uranus.     Exaltation: Mercury.     Detriment: Sun.


Deliberate Aquarius

        Who gives to all a helping hand,
        But bows his head to no command —
        And higher laws doth understand?
        Inventor, Genius, Superman — Aquarius.


Symbolic interpretation:
Waves, of water, or the vibrationary waves of electricity; parallel lines of force.

The humanitarian principle coordinating spirit and matter, that prompts all acts of unselfish love; that secs, feels, and acts for others as though all were one Self.
        Men at some time are masters of their fates;
        The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
        But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
                (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar.)


First Decan:
Originality, remarkable knowledge of human nature; progressive tendencies; ever in pursuit of this own ideas; ability to handle people; to impart to others his enthusiasm for advanced ideas and methods.


Second Decan:
Inspiration, ability to gain ideas from the invisible; imaginative power; dramatic, convincing.


Third Decan:
Repression, reaches highest expression through association with opposite sex; must work with and for others.



The Fishes. The twelfth sign of the zodiac. Its symbol represents a pair of great sea-horses or sea-lions, yoked together, who dwell in the innermost regions of the sea; symbolical of life after death; of bondag — the inhibiting of self-expression except through others; and of the struggle of the soul within the body. The Sun is in Pisces annually from February 21 to March 20. Astrologically and astronomically it is the thirty degree arc immediately preceding the passing of the Sun over the point of the Spring Equinox occupying a position along the Ecliptic from 330° to 360°. It is the Mutable qual- ity of the Water element; negative, cold, moist, obeying, fruitful; also effeminate, idle, sickly and unfortunate.


Ruler: Jupiter; or by some moderns: Neptune.     Exaltation: Venus.     Detriment: Mercury.     Fall: Mercury.


Soulful Pisces
        Who prays, and serves, and prays some more;
        And feeds the beggar at the door —
        And weeps o'er loves lost long before?
        Poor Pisces.


Symbolic interpretation:
Bondage, captivity; the inhibition of natural expression.

Silent, passionless, all-comprehending, granting to every creature the power to act according to its development and capacity. Its imaginative faculties are a great contradiction. The ability to abstract one's self from his immediate surroundings and throw himself into an imaginary life. often termed the Sign of Self-denial and of withdrawal; of the Messiah or Outcast.
        Westward, and further in the South wind's path,
        The Fishes float; one ever uppermost
        First hears the boisterous coming of the North.
        Both are united by a band. Their tails point to an angle
        Filled by a single goodly star,
        Called the Conjoiner of the Fishes' Tails.


First Decan:
Verity, mystic, psychic; seekers of truth through psychic faculties rather than through the exact sciences; detectives of a high order, either materially or spiritually.


Second Decan:
Self-sacrifice, lives hemmed around by restrictions, often voluntarily assumed, as the price exacted by the world for the sake of assisting in its progress; gets most from life through alleviating the distress of others.


Third Decan:
Vicissitudes; sex decanate of the Sign of Imprisonment; eventful lives; wide variety of careers, recapitulating in their lives the events and conditions expected from other decanates; reach highest expression through psychic research, and in adopting and advocating a regime that best prepares Man for a life after death.



There are many groupings and classifications of Signs according to a variety of characteristics and effects. It must be emphasized that these are not based solely on the presence of the Sun in the Sign, but may be evidenced in greater or lesser degree by virtue of any accent in the Sign; such as the presence therein of the Ascendant, Moon, several planets, or a strongly aspected planet. Some of the following classifications are ignored by modern authorities:



The Ascending signs are those from Capricorn to Gemini, inclusive, proceeding counter-clockwise in the order of the signs. These are the signs through which the solar sys- tem bodies approach the North celestial pole, and wherein the declination of the Sun is increasing.

The Descending signs are those from Cancer to Sagittarius.



The Signs of Long Ascension are those which, due to the obliquity of the Ecliptic, require more than two hours to rise over the Eastern horizon. The Signs of Short Ascension are those which rise in Less than two hours. For example, in Latitude 40° N, approximately that of New York, Leo may require as much as 2h 45m to rise, while Aries and Pisces may rise in 1h 10m. In the Northern hemisphere, the Ascending signs are the signs of Short Ascension; the Descending signs, those of Long Ascension. In the Southern hemisphere, these are reversed. Thus by the law of averages the majority of birth maps in the Northern hemisphere have an Ascendant in an Ascending sign; while in the Southern hemisphere the majority of Ascendants are in a Descending sign.



The so-called Barren or Sterile signs, are Gemini, Leo and Virgo; and by some authorities, Aries-with a mild tendency attributed to Sagittarius and Aquarius. Generally classed as the Fruitful signs are those the Water triplicity, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, in that the Lord of the Ascendant or of the Fifth house in a fruitful sign, or such sign on the Asc. or the cusp of the Fifth, are taken as an indication of the probability of offspring. Taurus and Capricorn, and by some Libra and Aquarius, are classed as Moderately Fruitful.



The Bestial Signs are those named after animals: Aries, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Capricorn and the last half of Sagittarius; also spoken of as feral, or four-footed. The Human Signs are Gemini, Virgo and Aquarius, and the first half of Sagittarius, so-called to distinguish them from Signs named after animals. Sepharial insists that the first half of Sagittarius is the animal portion and that the human portion is the last half, and cites in proof Jacob's words concerning Dan. (Genesis 49:I7) In a different sense Ptolemy rated Libra a humane Sign, since he discovered that the Lord of the Ascendant posited in Libra conferred a humane disposition.



The Double bodied, or dual Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.



Older authorities classed Aries, Leo and Sagittarius as hot, fiery and bitter, and often referred to them as the Bitter Signs. The Sweet Signs, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, were presumably sweet-tempered.



From Boreas, the north wind. The six northern Signs: Aries to Virgo inclusive.



Perfect and Imperfect. Signs deemed more likely to produce distortions of the body or limbs, when in the Ascendant and unfavorably aspected, are variously known as Broken, Mutilated, or Imperfect Signs. These are Leo, Scorpio and Pisces, to which many authorities add Capricorn and Cancer. Any rising Sign may have its defects if severely afflicted planets are posited therein. The Whole or Perfect Signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius because those born thereunder are said to be strong, robust and less liable to accidents.



Leo and the last half of Sagittarius were so classified, because unfavorable as cots accenting these arcs appear to produce savage, coarse mannered, intractable and inhuman traits.



Certain Signs were so classed because they are said to change their natures according to their positions. These arc:

In the EastIn the West
GeminiHot and dryCold and moist
LeoHot and dryHot and Moist
VirgoHottish ColdMoist
Sagittarius   Cold and moistHot and dry
CapricornCold and dryCold and moist

Wilson in his dictionary calls these foolish distinctions.


CHOLERIC: said of the Fire Signs, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.


The ancients classed all the even-numbered Signs as Cold Signs, but most modern authorities list only Cancer and Capricorn in this classification. The odd-numbered Signs were termed Hot Signs. The modern terms Positive and Negative have largely displaced the designations Hot and Cold.


COMMANDING. v. Northern.


COMMON. v. Mutable.


The four Fixed Signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.


Taurus, Capricorn, Pisces are listed by Wilson as liable to produce crooked legs or arms when an afflicted Moon is posited in one of them; yet he scoffs at the classification.


DESCENDING. v. Ascending.


DIURNAL. v. Positive.


The Dry Signs are Aries, Taurus, Leo, Virgo, Sagittarius and Capricorn; the Moist, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, and by some, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.


DUAL, OR DOUBLE-BODIES. v. Bicorporeal.


DUMB. v. Mute.


The Sign Pisces is so characterized by Wilson.


The Equinoctial Signs are Aries and Libra: those marked by the Sun's passing of the Equinox at the beginning of Spring and Autumn. The Tropical signs are Cancer and Capricorn: so called because they limit the course of the Sun, which reverses its direction after entrance therein, and thereafter diminishes in elevation. The Sun's passing over the Tropic of Cancer announces the beginning of summer; and of Capricorn, winter.


ESTIVAL (aestival) AND HIEMAL (Hyemal).
The Estival Signs are those belonging to the Summer; the Hiemal, the Winter.


FEMININE. v. Negative.


FERAL. v. Bestial.


Applied by Sepharial to the Mutable Signs (q.v.).


FORTUNATE. v. Positive.


Aries, Taurus, Leo, Sagittarius, Capricorn.


FRUITFUL. v. Barren.


HIEMAL, or Hyemal. v. Estival.


According to Manly Hall these are Cancer, Scor- pio and Pisces.


HOT. v. Cold.


HUMAN. v. Bestial.


Pisces is so classed by Wilson.


LONG ASCENSION. v. Ascension.

Aries is so classed, because of a propensity to luxury and intemperance.


MASCULINE. v. Positive.


The Earth Signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are so classified by Wilson.


MOIST. v. Dry.


The Cardinal Signs.


The Signs of the Water element, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Also termed Dumb Signs, in that afflictions to planets therein often produce speech defects.


NEGATIVE. v. Positive.


NOCTURNAL. v. Positive.


Northern, or Commanding Signs constitute the first six, Aries to Virgo inclusive since planets posited therein are said to command, while those in the opposite Signs obey. They are considered to be more powerful because nearer to our Earth, hence by some are presumed to confer the ability to command. The scientist who first applied the term possibly and perhaps properly assumed that this portion of the Earth's orbit lay above the plane of the Sun's orbit. The Southern, or Obeying Signs are those from Libra to Pisces inclusive.

Strictly speaking, the Northern Signs are those in which the Sun has North declination from March 2I to September 23; the Southern Signs, those in which the Sun has South declination, from September 23 to March 21. The commanding and obeying appears to apply more properly to Houses than Signs. v. Ptolemaic Astrology.


OBEYING.< br /> The Southern Signs. v. Northern.


PERFECT. v. Broken.


The odd-numbered Fire and Air Signs are considered to be more fortunate when rising, and are spoken of as the Positive, Masculine, Diurnal or Fortunate Signs; while the even-numbered Earth and Water Signs are termed the Negative, Feminine, Nocturnal or Unfortunate Signs. For some untenable reason the ancients deemed the Negative Signs to be unfortunate in the general tenor of their lives; Capricorn, particularly, possibly due to its Saturn rulership. The extent to which good aspects from well-placed planets, and the reverse, can overbalance the intrinsic nature of the Sun Sign has largely thrown these classifications into the discard. Nevertheless it can readily be seen that for objective results, public acclaim and personal glamor the Fire and Air Signs hold a certain advantage over the more self- contained and introspective Earth and Water Sign groups. An ancient aphorism held that the first half of each Positive Sign and the last half of each Negative Sign is dominated by the Sun and thereby has a tendency to lightness of complection; while the reverse half is dominated by the Moon and tends to the brunette types.


Those named after animals that chew the cud: Aries, Taurus and Capricorn. Some authorities advise against the administering of drugs during the Moon's transit through these Signs.


SHORT ASCENSION. v. Ascension.


SOUTHERN. v. Northern.




STERILE. v. Barren.


Cancer, Capricorn and Pisces are termed Weak Signs; and Scorpio and Aquarius, said to give strong, athletic bodies, are termed Strong Signs. One can see why Cancer and Pisces, which compare to the Fourth and Twelfth Houses, might be reckoned weak and unfortunate, but why Capricorn should be so classed is less apparent unless because of its rulership by Saturn. These terms are little used by modern authorities. Some class all of the Fixed or Foundation signs, as Strong Signs, in that they confer strength of character, fixity of purpose, and general ruggedness of constitution.


Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. v. Bitter.


Those of the same polarity, consisting of each opposition Sign: Air and Fire, or Earth and Water. Some confine the term to those Signs which together form either a trine or a sextile. Planets in trine are always in the same element; those in sextile, are in elements that are sympathetic.


Cancer and Capricorn. v. Equinoctial.


Those ruled by the malefics, or wherein the malefics are exalted, viz: Aries, Libra, Scorpio, Capricorn and Aquarius; also applied to parts of Signs in which are any remarkably violent stars, such as Caput Algol in 25° Taurus. v. Stars.


The Fire Signs, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius; so termed not because they have more vitality, but because they spend it to excess — hence are often prone to anemia and nervous debility. Since the measure of lung capacity in actual use is the index to vital energy, one must limit this classification to a certain psychological quality of vitality or "punch."


Gemini, Libra, the latter part of Virgo, and the first part of Sagittarius; so-called because when posited upon the Ascendant, with Mercury or the Moon well placed and unafflicted, it is deemed to indicate one with the capacity to become a good speaker or orator. Some authorities include Aquarius.


The Signs of the Watery Triplicity: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.


Taurus, Gemini, Leo, Scorpio, Sagittarius and Aquarius; also termed Strong Signs, by Alvidas, since the Sun in these Signs, unafflicted or rising, gives a strong body and greater powers of endurance.

See also:
♦ Constellation ♦ Zodiac
Signs of the Zodiac [Munkasey M.]

The symbols associated with the astrologicaldivisions of the Ecliptic, like: Aries, Taurus, etc.

See also: ♦ Sign ♦ Aries ♦ Taurus ♦ Gemini ♦ Cancer ♦ Leo ♦ Virgo ♦ Libra ♦ Scorpio ♦ Sagittarius ♦ Capricorn ♦ Aquarius ♦ Pisces


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine


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