Zodiac Signs

We all know our Sun sign. And when we acquire some knowledge of what our sign means, it is quite a thrill.  Going deeper, there is a sense of how we can guide our lives in a way that is authentic, how we can express more of who we really are.

But the world is home to an enormously diverse population of individuals whose own authentic voices and ways of being might be quite different than ours. So, when we seek to get familiar with the zodiac signs, we need to go beyond those that we own, and get to know those that we may encounter in others.

Expanding our awareness into all the zodiac signs would help us understand where others–our family, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues–are coming from, and help us better navigate our own lives.

Sign Element and Mode

The signs are grouped into elements: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are the fire signs; Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are the earth signs; Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are the air signs; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are the water signs.

There is another grouping of signs called modes or states or qualities (most astrologers refer to these as modes.) The modes are cardinal, fixed, and mutable.

So each sign is in one of the elements, and one of the modes. The table below details this 2-way classification:


The signs in each element share certain common traits, and resonate with each other. But they are also different from each other by virtue of being in a different mode. For example, the water signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are bonded by the shared quality of feeling. But Cancer is cardinal, tending to initiate action based on how it feels, while Scorpio is fixed, sustaining feeling to control and keep things together, and Pisces is mutable, allowing free flow of feeling, pitching and yawing with circumstance.

You probably already know the Sun signs of family and close friends. Think of how their life direction (not how they react to daily stimulus, but how they have shaped their life) resonates with the element and mode of their Sun.

Sometimes it’s hard to isolate the Sun sign traits because there is a plethora of other factors, most importantly the Moon sign, that go into shaping the personality, and people don’t always show their Sun sign traits that obviously. But with someone you know really well, if you were to actually tell them a little bit about the element and mode characteristics of their Sun sign, they will surely resonate. And if they resonate strongly with the qualities of a sign different from their Sun sign, it will most likely be their Moon sign.

In closing, I have here some examples of individuals in the public eye, whose personal quotes are very telling of either their Sun sign or Moon sign. In fact, in most cases here, the Moon sign is behind the quote. The Moon sign animates the more instinctive or close-to-the-heart expression, and a personal quote is nothing if not a clear-as-bell statement of exactly how one feels about themselves, and about life.

I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to make and remake themselves for the better. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, writer. Sun in Virgo, the quality of continuous improvement and refinement.

I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum. Desmond Tutu, anti-apartheid activist and Noble Prize winner. Moon in Leo, the quality of leadership.

If you learn something new every day, you can teach something new every day. Martha Stewart, Retail Businesswoman and TV personality. Moon in Sagittarius, the quality of seeking and imparting knowledge.

I don’t like anything that scares me, and I prefer to face it head on and get over it. Anderson Cooper, TV anchor. Moon in Aries, the quality of boldness and need for challenge.

A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales. Marie Curie, Nobel prize winner (twice!) Moon in Pisces, the quality of imagination, fantasy, impressionability.

I’m someone who is very supportive of eliminating all discrimination. Angela Merkel, German chancellor. Moon in Aquarius, the quality of humanitarian action, equality and fairness.


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