Sign · Astrological definition of Sign · Astrology Encyclopedia  ·  October 3, 2023, 1:08 GMT
Right now: Moon at 27°47' Taurus, Sun at 9°35' Libra


Sign - Astrology Encyclopedia

Definition of Sign 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:






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:







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



..1. Aries......4. Cancer...7. Libra........10. Capricorn

..2. Taurus.....5. Leo......8. Scorpio......11. Aquarius

..3. Gemini.....6. Virgo....9. Sagittarius..12. 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, 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, representing 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:

...Category..........From contemplation of....................Because of accents in

1. Physical......Body: functions and needs....................Earth

2. Intellectual..Mind: concepts and thought processes.........Air

3. Aesthetic.....Soul: yearnings; emotional processes.........Water

4. Moral.........Spirit: 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."

(Nicholas deVore - Encyclopedia of Astrology)

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