Astrology Basics

The Signs

As everyone knows the zodiacal signs are twelve; but why precisely twelve? Why not ten, for example? In order to answer this question we need to better understand the Western esoteric tradition. Since ancient time it was in fact strongly influenced  by geometric shapes and their correspondences. The concept of divinity, for instance, has always been related to the circle, symbol of perfection, wholeness and purity.

Many of you will be familiar with the so-called Flower of Life. Starting from a circular shape, the One develops harmoniously in a six petals flower shape, which in turn emanates twelve other circles. These three unfoldings corrispond to three levels of manifestation: the One, for the Spirit; the seven for the Soul; and the seven-into-twelve for the matter (whose three-dimensional version is indeed a cube).


So, here’s the answer: the divine (the circle) manifest itself phisically (three dimensions, three layers) through seven “spheres” enclosed by twelve energies. As you may have already guessed this seven spheres are the traditional planets, while the twelve energies the signs of the zodiac. Astrology—which literally means “study of the stars”—is the art of interpreting the manifestation of the divine.

The Twelve Energies

The twelve zodiacal energies can be analyzed using different models, which reflect ways of dividing the number twelve. The simplest, is the binary model that splits the signs into two categories: Masculine (or electric) and Feminine (or magnetic).

Masculine Masculine energy is extroverted, energetic, projective, releasing, and binary (things are black or white). Masculine signs are Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius.
Feminine Feminine energy is introverted, calming, receptive, absorbing, and balancing (opposites—black and white—are balanced by a third element). They are Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces.

As you can see masculine and feminine signs are distributed alternately. The second model is the ternary, which divides signs in four groups of three. It is based on the way the energy tends to distribute itself. These ways are called Modes—they are Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable.

Cardinal In Cardinal Signs energy moves from the center to the periphery. It is a sort of radiating movement, typical of things that start. No coincidence that cardinal signs are placed at the beginning of the four seasons. They are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.
Fixed In Fixed Signs the energy coming from the center tends to consolidate and organize itself in the periphery. It is a stable type of energy that opposes changes. As you can see it is the complementary movement to Cardinal Signs. They are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.
Mutable Mutable Signs dynamize existing energy, transforming it. In this way the stagnant energy of Fixed Signs is processed and released. They are placed at the end of a season, since they are ableto free the space needed to a new cycle. They are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

The last model is the quaternary which divides signs in three groups of four, following the elemental sequence. We’ve already discussed in the Elements page their characteristics. It is without any doubt the most famous and complete model used by astrologers. To complete, we report in the table below the signs distribution according to their element.

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

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