A sign is a place in the heavens which can be occupied by the planets. The planets are like people, who utilize the resources of a place to achieve whatever ends they desire. So the zodiac signs influence astrology not directly, but indirectly by providing specific resources which limit, facilitate and otherwise modify what the planets can do in a horoscope.
To do astrology, you must clearly and deeply understand what resources are available in which signs. That’s what this article will help you with.
Each zodiac sign is a result of four things: gender, element, mode and ruler. We can take gender out of the equation because element implies gender (fire and air are always masculine, water and earth are always feminine). A zodiac sign, therefore is a combination of three things:
- An element (fire, earth, air or water), combined with
- A mode (cardinal, fixed or dual), and cultivated by
- A ruler (one of the seven primary planets)
Here is a list of the ingredients in the recipe for each of the twelve zodiac signs (if you are patient and have a good eye for abstractions, you will find many beautiful symmetries and patterns in this list. I apologize that the simple formatting here doesn’t reveal these perfections more clearly):
Sun + fixed fire = Leo.
Moon + cardinal water = Cancer.
Mercury + dual earth = Virgo.
Mercury + dual air = Gemini.
Venus + cardinal air = Libra.
Venus + fixed earth = Taurus.
Mars + fixed water = Scorpio.
Mars + cardinal fire = Aries.
Jupiter + dual fire = Sagittarius.
Jupiter + dual water = Pisces.
Saturn + cardinal earth = Capricorn.
Saturn + fixed air = Aquarius.
Saturn+ Cardinal Earth.
Recall what you learned about Saturn, reality, tenacity, etc. Now consider those interests expressing themselves through cardinal earth. The nature of Saturn becomes more forceful, decisive and ambitious due to the cardinal mode, and even more enduring, immovable and rigid due to the earth element.
Capricorn encourages absolutely unrelenting tenacity with decisive dedication to realizing practical results from extremely ambitious goals.
We symbolize this meaning in the image of a mythical sea creature called a “Capricorn” or “Mākara.” The original version of this formidable beast is a crocodile’s jaws with a shark’s tail and a deer’s legs. The crocodile jaws are symbolic of tenacity, never letting go. The ability to be swift on water or land like a shark or a deer shows the decisive cardinality of this sign, and highlights Saturn’s ability to tolerate and dominate in any condition, land or sea.
Saturn + Fixed Air
Now consider the same interests of Saturn expressing themselves instead through fixed air. The fixed mode resonates well with Saturn’s patient tenacity. But the air mode causes Saturn to be less stubborn, and more curious.
Aquarius encourages enduring curiosity and humble patience in discovering the many different facets of life and its ultimate meaning.
A pot symbolizes this quite well. Some say the symbol is of a man pouring a pot – water flowing out of the pitcher, but the older symbol is of a man filling the pot – water flowing into the pitcher. I find the older symbol more useful. The pot is a place to collect various things collected in ones travels throughout life. The bearer of the pot is a servile person, like Saturn, which reflects that Saturn’s humility is available in Aquarius.
Jupiter + Dual Fire
Remember the root of all Jupiter’s intentions is positive expansion, accomplished through good moral guidance. The fire element, an element which shines light on the path and clearly points the right way forward, resonates quite well with these intentions. The duality here prevents the fire from being hasty and overly judgmental – as it is prone to be by nature. Instead it encourages a broad and open minded inquisitiveness.
Sagittarius encourages an open-minded hunger for the positive future that is sure to develop from broad ethical, moral, and philosophical understanding.
The symbol is a drawn bow and arrow, carried by a centaur. The arrow symbolizes the high moral ambitions of Sagittarius – to understand morality, ethics and philosophy in an ever broader manner. The arrow and the centaur are very fast. The centaur can run in one direction while the arrow shoots in the other – symbolizing the dual nature of Sagittarius. The centaur and arrow want to cover as much ground as possible. Notice that the centaur is a centaur, not just a horse. It has the head, the brain of a human. This conveys that Sagittarius is intelligent. The wide-roaming centaur and arrow want to cover as much philosophical ground as possible.
Jupiter + Dual Water
Now consider the same energy as Sagittarius but with the moral and ethical interests of the fire element replaced by the contemplative, deep and reflective interests of the water element.
Pisces encourages deep introspection and careful reflection upon the heart of any matter, from all sides.
A fish is the symbol of Pisces. Naturally this is a reference to the water element in Pisces. Also, a fish is silent, and Pisces is quite introspective and reflective in how it goes about gaining a broader base of understanding. A fish can go very deep into the water, and this conveys the combination of Jupiter and water encouraging very deep contemplations. Often the symbol for Pisces contains two fish swimming in opposite directions, though tied together. This very clearly denotes the dual mode in Pisces.
The Signs of Mars
Mars + Fixed Water
Recall what you learned about Mars. He is our individual energy and ambition. Expressing itself through the fixed mode this results in the ambition to become deeper, more profound and more attractive. Because this fixed mode is blended with the element of water, the context of the ambition for profundity becomes emotionally, inwardly oriented. Fixed water, as a combination, creates great depths. Utilized by Mars it because an ambition to attain profound depths.
Scorpio encourages an inward search for more profound depths. Individuality is realized by strengthening and deepening one’s own inner self.
A scorpion is the symbol of Scorpio. This insect is dangerous, like Mars, and lives alone as an individual, like Mars. It lives in holes in the ground or secret cracks and shadows, symbolizing the inward, depth oriented nature of Scorpio as well as its proclivity for secrecy and secret things hidden in the depths.
Mars + Cardinal Fire
Now consider the same individualizing energy and ambition of Mars, not focused on inner depths as in Scorpio, but on outer heights. Cardinality resonates with the ambitious bravery of Mars. Fire shows the path and allows for swift progress without hesitation. Cardinal fire allows Mars to give great extroverted expressions to brave ambitions.
Aries encourages setting off alone and brave, blazing one’s own path as a bold declaration of individuality and self-assuredness.
The symbol of Aries is a mountain-goat, a ram. Like the scorpion this creature is dangerous with its formidable horns, and highly individualistic – living far from society and other animals, alone in the rocky heights of mountains. An animal who climbs great heights very appropriately conveys the ambitious cardinal nature, and by always knowing where to step without falling it symbolizes the fire element which illuminates the clear path.
Signs of Venus
Venus + Cardinal Air
Venus, remember, is mainly interested in making the world a better, more enjoyable place. When she cultivates this quality through cardinal air, in creates a very liberal nature. Cardinal is ambitious in seeking change towards new improvements. Air is curious and mobile and likes to change in search of new things.
Libra encourages a more pleasant world through liberal enthusiasm for new and better ways of life.
A lady holding a scale symbolizes Libra. This communicates the liberal ideal of fairness. The lady is fair and beautiful, symbolizing a more pleasant and enjoyable world. Scales symbolize justice and fairness, but also fair trade and exchange. This portrays how Libra does not hold on to old things and seeks to trade the old for something new and better.
Venus + Fixed Earth
Now consider how the same intentions of Venus can manifest using fixed earth. Earth is practical, so the outcome is towards improving the world in a tangible, real, practical manner. The fixed mode is deep, steady, and conservative, so we have an emphasis on preserving good things.
Taurus encourages preservation of beneficial traditions and creation of things which are good and enjoyable in a tangible, practical way.
The bull is a symbol of Taurus. The bull is a domestic animal, so is pitting to portray a sign owned by Venus, who is all about relationships, cooperation and marriage. The bull tills the earth – fitting for symbolizing a sign created from the earth element, and thus creates food – the most practical and tangible object of wealth, goodness and enjoyment. The bull plowing a field also symbolizes simple adherence to old ways and traditions, fitting for the nature of a fixed sign intent on preserving what is good and worthwhile in the world.
Mercury + Dual Earth
Remember that Mercury is the planet of interchange and intellect, whose main intention is to learn and understand. The dual mode, of course, resonates very sonorously with this – facilitating a multifaceted and objective approach. Earth directs this interest towards practical, tangible matters.
Virgo encourages intelligence in practical matters, caution and thoroughness in all affairs.
A virgin is the symbol of Virgo. Over the centuries a lot of symbolic baggage has accumulated around the image of “virgin.” One thing that is still easy to hear in the imagery is a reflection of the prudence and caution of the earth element. Young girls are extremely intelligent and excellent students, especially in comparison to young boys. This makes them a fitting symbol for a sign of Mercury, the planet of intellect and learning. Before marriage, a girl is still studying many different subjects in school – reflecting on the dual mode and the character of Mercury present in Virgo.
Mercury + Dual Air
The only thing different here from Virgo is the element. But what a significant difference it makes! Air is not at all cautious, it is free and mobile and fun-loving. Dual air allows Mercury to fully cultivate its wit, inventiveness, and fun-loving nature.
Gemini encourages ingenuity, invention, and a youthful love for freedom and fun.
Sometimes we see twins as a symbol for Gemini, but the more ancient image is a couple enjoying one another’s company. In both cases the two persons in the image point to the dual nature of the sign. That they are both human symbolizes the intellectual, witty, and refined nature of the sign. The more ancient image is more complete, however, because it portrays Gemini’s love for the fun and games associated with new youth.
Signs of the Luminaries
Sun + Fixed Fire
The Sun is the authority, and the strong sense of identity. The fixed mode is attractive and draws valuable things towards it rather than chasing after them. This causes Leo to support the kind of self-confidence that is charismatic and creates a powerful leader. This resonates loudly with the nature of the fire element, as well. Fire lights the path for others to follow.
Leo encourages strong self-confidence, generating the charisma and authority that commands and guides many followers.
The lion symbolizes Leo. The appropriateness of this image is quite obvious. The lion is the king of the jungle – and the Sun is the king of the planets. The lion is a calm, powerful, stately animal – much like the fixed mode. But like fire, the lion can be punishing when it decides to act.
Moon + Cardinal Water
The Moon is the mind, the seat of all desires. Cardinality is decisive and ambition. Water is emotional and reflective. Clearly water and the moon harmonize loudly and clearly with one another, for emotions, desires and the mind itself are one and the same. Cardinality puts an interesting twist on the mixture, causing the emotional mind to be ambitious and decisive! Though cardinality brings decisiveness and direction to Cancer, we can’t forget that the Moon is shy by nature, greatly desiring the approval and acceptance of others.
Cancer encourages strong emotions and decisive opinions yet expresses them shyly and somewhat fearfully.
A crab symbolizes Cancer. The crab is a water-creature, so it is appropriate to symbolize a water sign. It runs sideways, quickly – an image alluding to the directional and committed / decisive nature of the cardinal element. The hard shell can also inform us of the cardinal disposition, which is not flexible and which shields itself from distraction. It, and the crab’s overall behavior, also speaks of the Moon’s timidity and fearfulness of being hurt by others.