Star School Lesson 2: Characteristics of the Zodiac Signs

by Theresa Reed on February 17, 2016

star school an intro to astrology for total beginners

In our last lesson, we got acquainted with the symbols.  In this lesson, we will talk about the general characteristics of the signs.

Learning these traits is essential.  A basic understanding of how each Zodiac sign rolls will give you information on how the planets operate in those signs.  (PS you are more than just your Sun sign.  More on that in our next lesson on the Planets!)

Elements (aka Triplicities): there are four elements and each sign falls under one.  This gives a certain temperament to the personality.

Fire: fiery, passionate, enthusiasm, intense

Earth: earthy, grounded, reliable, practical

Air: intellectual, quick, analytical, communicative

Water: sensitive, intuitive, emotional, empathy

Qualities (aka Quadruplicities):  there are three qualities also add further dimension to the characteristics of the signs:

Cardinal: action-oriented, like to take the lead, initiating activity

Fixed: stubborn, prefer to build on current structures, like stability + order

Mutable: adaptable, like change, able to shift gears on a dime

This may seem like a lot to remember when you start to consider that there are 12 Zodiac signs but thankfully, some wise soul organized it all so they fall in an orderly fashion.  (This is why I secretly think a Virgo created this whole system…it’s actually pretty organized!)

Example:

Aries is a fire + cardinal sign

Taurus is an earth + fixed sign

Gemini is an air + mutable sign

Cancer is a water + cardinal sign (notice here we have a repeat of cardinal!)

Leo is a fire + fixed sign (notice now we begin repeating the elements too…it’s a pattern, y’all!)

And so on.

Think for a minute how these combos might influence the personality of the sign:

Aries would be fiery, passionate (fire sign) and born leaders (cardinal).

Taurus would be down-to-earth (earth sign) and stubborn (fixed).

Gemini would be intellectual (air sign) and adaptable (mutable).

Cancer would be emotional (water sign) and like to be in charge (cardinal).

Etc.

Got it?

Now keep in mind also that each sign has a positive and negative component to it.  Knowing this can show other ways the energy of the sign can show up.  Why do we need this info?  It’s because in further lessons, when we look at how the planets are aspected (for good or ill), you can get an idea of how a good sign can go bad.  Also, hear this: you CAN choose to manifest the positive or negatives in your chart.  (I don’t believe in ‘bad’ charts – I believe there are tendencies but we still have the free will to choose how we want to show up in the world.)

Here’s your little cheat sheet on those qualities, peeps (notice those patterns):

Aries
Element: Fire
Quality: Cardinal
Positive: fiery, intense, passionate, sexy, leader, bold, courageous, original, audacious.
Negative: selfish, impulsive, impatient, temperamental, hot-headed, bossy, reckless.

Taurus
Element: Earth
Quality: Fixed
Positive: dependable, gentle, patient, perseverance, determined, methodical, sensuous, artistic, loves beauty.
Negative: obstinate, materialistic, graspy, unreasonable, lazy, slow, greedy, dogmatic, unyielding, resistant to change.

Gemini
Element: Air
Quality: Mutable
Positive: witty, clever, intellectual, fun, adaptable, curious, loves to learn, versatile, free spirited, inquisitive.
Negative: flaky, immature, lack of empathy, superficial, judgmental, two-faced, gossipy, moody, sarcastic, unreliable.

Cancer
Element: Water
Quality: Cardinal
Positive: sensitive, nurturing, motherly, caring, loyal, intuitive, kind, expressive, sentimental, seeks security.
Negative: clingy, holds a grudge, cannot let go, overbearing, nagging, moody, worrier, brooding, touchy.

Leo
Element: Fire
Quality: Fixed
Positive: dramatic, bold, glam, leader, exuberant, exciting, regal, generous, big-hearted, affectionate, loyal.
Negative: drama queen, self-centered, egomaniac, prone to flattery, bossy, vain, demanding, unreasonable, overbearing.

Virgo
Element: Earth
Quality: Mutable
Positive: perfectionist, service, detail-oriented, intellectual, logical, industrious, seeks to improve, chaste, analytical, orderly, hard working.
Negative: tightly wound, nit-picky, never satisfied, boring, worrier, critical, cold, never satisfied.

Libra
Element: Air
Quality: Cardinal
Positive: charming, seeks balance and harmony, fair, elegant, stylish, loves beauty, cooperative, relationship oriented, team player, intelligent, diplomatic, even-tempered, idealistic.
Negative: superficial, unable to make a decision, passive-aggressive, puts relationships above own needs, dependent, frivolous, seeks approval, vain, avoids conflict at all costs.

Scorpio
Element: Water
Quality: Fixed
Positive: intense, deep, mysterious, psychic, sexy as hell, strong, magnetic, emotional, seeks purpose, penetrating mind, shrewd.
Negative: vindictive, scheming, controlling, moody, hidden agendas, deviant, resentful, obsessive, power-hungry.

Sagittarius
Element: Fire
Quality: Mutable
Positive: truthful, candid, optimistic, lucky, enthusiastic, wanderlust, likes to roam, philosopher, jovial, open-hearted, seeks freedom, humorous.
Negative: tactless, flighty, commitment-phobic, reckless, irresponsible, fickle, shallow, rebellious.

Capricorn
Element: Earth
Quality: Cardinal
Positive: industrious, disciplined, serious, steadfast, reliable, leader, determined, patient, diligent, witty, cautious, seeks security, loyal.
Negative: a user, obsessed with status, materialist, aloof, somber, social climber, competitive, prideful, controlling, miserly.

Aquarius
Element: Air
Quality: Fixed
Positive: intellectual, eccentric, futuristic, logical, friendly, unorthodox, truthful, rational, objective, curious, idealistic, inventive.
Negative: lack of empathy, stubborn, distant, detached, stubborn, commitment-phobic, rebellious, argumentative.

Pisces
Element: Water
Quality: Mutable
Positive: emotional, sensitive, dreamy, creative, intuitive, compassionate, ethereal, adaptable, likes change, capable of great sacrifice, poetic, aware, unselfish, soulful, visionary.
Negative: escapist, impractical, addictive tendencies, overly emotional, lazy, unreliable, flaky, depression, unrealistic, stubborn, unpredictable, own worst enemy.

Note: these are very, very basic descriptions.  I don’t want to overwhelm you.  Just a few key words to get your astro-juices flowing.

Also, do not take that negative stuff negatively.  Remember – these are tendencies.  Not every Scorpio I know is some evil, vindictive sex friend (although I have known a few!) and I’ve met my share of stupid Geminis.  There are many factors at work that go beyond the Sun sign stuff (which we’ll be exploring as we move on in further lessons) and you DO have a choice in the matter.  I’m a firm believer in that.  You don’t have to go to the negative on anything, ever.  Find your strengths and work them. Watch out for those not-so-nice qualities and keep those in line.  Astro-check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.  WORD.

Extra credit!

There’s two more wee little patterns to notice:

Polarities: each sign has a direct opposite sign which – you guessed it – has the opposite characteristics.

Aries – Libra: Aries is the self or “I am” while Libra is relationships with others or “We are”

Taurus – Scorpio: Taurus is our personal possessions “I have” while Scorpio is our shared resources or “I desire”

Gemini – Sagittarius: Gemini is our mind or “I think” while Sagittarius is our higher mind “I perceive”

Cancer – Capricorn: Cancer is our home base or “I care” while Capricorn is our public image or “I use”

Leo – Aquarius: Leo is the ego and creativity or “I will” while Aquarius is humankind and shared goals or “I know”

Virgo – Pisces: Virgo is the details or “I analyze” while Pisces is the dreams or “I believe”.

Each sign is also Masculine or Feminine (hint: Air + Fire signs are Masculine while Earth + Water are Feminine).

Look at the patterns in this little color coded chart – once again, you’ll see these Zodiac wheels are nicely laid out:

Characteristics of the Zodiac Signs

Homework: remember, these are only basic qualities. BUT a fun exercise is to find famous people (or people you know) that embody the positive or negative qualities of the sign in their Sun sign.

Ex:

Positive expression of Aries: Maya Angelou.  Negative expression of Aries:  Adolf Hitler.

Extra credit: search out other astrology sites to find more traits to add to your astro-vocab.  There are lots of standard interpretations but you may find some other ways of looking at the characteristics from additional sources.

Next month, we’re tackling Planets.  What they are all about.  Then we’re going to start putting some stuff together like a big phat cosmic puzzle ‘n stuff.

Blessings,

Theresa

© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016

images from taoxproductions and stock photography

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