2. The Zodiac

I will focus here on the design of your natal chart – that should sit in front of you – and speak a little about the astronomy behind its construction. Then I will introduce you to the Zodiac.
Space is coordinated by including several (great) circles. We project these hypothetical measures from the Earth into the sky. Astronomers have comprehensively mapped out the sky using this mathematical system. They design it to place, and to find, objects in the vast blue space around us.

One of these circles is the apparent path of the Sun from our terrestrial perspective; the ecliptic. Astrologers have divided this circle into twelve equal sections: the zodiac. The zodiac begins where another great circle – the celestial equator – crosses the ecliptic.

This intersection marks the point of Aries (0° of longitude) in western astrology. This degree begins the ‘circle of animals’.

The zodiac has been subject to a great deal of varied interpretation for thousands of years. We interpreted the signs in: literal; Allegorical; Archetypal; Psychological; Philosophical; Artistic ways. I see them as a continuum of psycho-spiritual development.

They are the stuff we make books of!

For this basic chart reading blog I will use an older, and more expedient, approach. First, I need to introduce to you two separate but complementary types of (traditional) expression: MODES and ELEMENTS.


The CARDINAL MODE of expression is initiatory. It involves: starting up; beginning and directing one’s energies.
The FIXED MODE of expression is sustained. It involves: maintaining; holding on; intensifying; and safeguarding one’s initiative(s).
*The four fixed signs make up the figures depicted in the Egyptian Sphinx: they form an everlasting guard empowered by the magic of the signs.
The MUTABLE MODE of expression is changeable (the only constant is…): re-direction; understanding life; ‘the only constant changes’; re-formation; endings with the germ of renewal (e. g.Ragnarok).

The MODES form a continuum. They begin, establish themselves, then dissipate into the next phase. This form of eternal return is an integral part of Astrology.


The EARTH ELEMENT expresses itself as pragmatic; secure (bedrock); earthy; stubborn; supportive; things essential; realistic; and steadfast. It facilitates stability.
The WATER ELEMENT expresses itself through empathy. It emphasizes (according to Jung) the feeling component. Like the sea, it can be relentless, and deep; it is subject to tides; therefore changeable.
The AIR ELEMENT expresses itself through; articulation; words; communication; buoyancy (in adversity – staying afloat)
The FIRE ELEMENT expresses itself through action (like a forest fire); intuition (Jung) expansion: inspiration; contagion; and desire.

We live in an AIR / EARTH (e.g. Science) culture, and a lot of our astrological advice demeans WATER! I believe this to be foolish. All the ELEMENTS and MODES are of equal importance. Let’s now look at the signs using the above rationale:


♈ARIES (THE RAM) – CARDINAL / FIRE – this represents the most impulsive combination. To direct one’s energies (CARDINAL) through action (FIRE). To inspire (FIRE) beginnings (CARDINAL).

♉TAURUS (THE BULL) – FIXED / EARTH – this response to the staidest expression of expression. Here the response is geared to maintain (FIXED) a sense of reality (EARTH). To support (EARTH) the safeguarding of one’s initiatives (FIXED).

Do these interpretations ring true? They have brought us up on ‘sun signs’ haven’t they?

♊GEMINI (THE TWINS) – MUTABLE / AIR – This is a very strong sign for communication (AIR) as most verbal expression concerns itself with change (MUTABLE): the numerous stories we construct. Are all a means to learn, by analogy, about life.

GEMINI is the first human sign, and it signifies our unique intellectual growth.

♋CANCER (THE CRAB) – CARDINAL / WATER – this is the most proactive of the water signs. Here is the initiation (CARDINAL) of emotional expression (WATER) to satisfy a need. At 90° degrees from the Aries Point, it is the sign of the summer equinox.

Unlike the clear ease of AIR, the WATER element expressed so CARDINALLY with CANCER – often requires an armoured shell as the tide recedes!

♌LEO (THE LION) – FIXED / FIRE – here we have the desire (FIRE) expressed intensely (FIXED). This the pride often associated with LEO. Here there is Intense (FIXED) contagion (FIRE) which might equal charisma in some circles.

♍VIRGO (THE MAIDEN) – MUTABLE / EARTH – to undergo steadfast (EARTH) change (MUTABLE). To appreciate the essential (EARTH) elements of one’s life and understand (MUTABLE) them properly.

♎LIBRA (THE SCALES) – CARDINAL / AIR – an initiator (CARDINAL) of communication (AIR). A purveyor of relationship awareness. Libra is a social sign.

♏SCORPIO (THE SCORPION) – FIXED / WATER – an intense (FIXED) emotional (WATER) sign. Often relentless (WATER) in attaining needs. the management others by exerting control (FIXED) over the emotional (WATER) lives of others.

♐SAGITTARIUS (THE ARCHER) – MUTABLE / FIRE – expresses through expansion (FIRE) and multiple directions (MUTABLE); the act of re-forming (MUTABLE) conventional thought and practice. The process of discovery (FIRE).

♑CAPRICORN (THE GOAT) – CARDINAL / EARTH – the enactment (CARDINAL) of a pragmatic (EARTH) awareness. This leads, in some, instances, wise counsel.

♒AQUARIUS (THE WATER BEARER) – FIXED / AIR – the intensity (FIXED) ideas (AIR); the ability to find a sense of stability (FIXED) in everyday discourse (AIR).

♓PISCES (THE FISH) – MUTABLE / WATER – the realisation of a sense of totality (MUTABLE) perceived as a sea (WATER) of awareness. An understanding of being both everything and nothing (MUTABLE) and having to believe in what you feel to go forward. “To be bounded by a nutshell and still be king of infinite space.”

Writing this I realise just how much I have had to omit! This is a brief (but pertinent) introduction to a large subject!

You’ll notice that I haven’t written in the positive and negative traits. If you consider the sign meanings, expressed above, you can find your own. Most often such traits deal with the expression of the whole chart.

When we read a chart, we focus on the planetary archetypes.

The nature of these archetypes has to do with the sign in which they sit. Their nurture, that which their nature must adapt to, is shown in the houses they are posited in.

Between now and the next post look at the planets in your chart. See then in terms of the Astrological signs they fall in.

(e.g. Can you relate to the Cardinal / Earth nature of your Capricorn Sun, toward your life? Does the Fixed / Fire nature of your Leo moon say anything about your inner life and feelings?)

If you can see this, then you have uncovered about a quarter of the picture we will look at by the end of this course.

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