What is the zodiac?

The basis of the modern astrological signs goes back to the Babylonian period  (around 1000 BC), but they were refined into their present state by Hellenistic Greece. They are twelve in number and are represented by the symbols of the ram, the bull, the twins, the crab, the lion, the virgin, the scales, the scorpion, the centaur archer, the sea-goat, the water-bearer, and the fishes.  These twelve signs are collectively known as the zodiac.

These symbols are immediate, suggestive, and fertile for resonate interpretations.  Why have these signs remained so popular (now used on t-shirts, key-chains, etc.) for nearly 3000 years?  They resonate as archetypes in our collective subconscious.  They make sense to our minds as metaphor and so we continue to use them.


Do you believe in astrology?

It’s a fun way to get to know people, and it is a good way to familiarize yourself with the zodiac, but if taken too seriously, like other forms of divination, astrology can be a distraction from real magick.  Magick is about taking action based on being present in the moment.  Though I love the symbolism of the zodiac (and the planets) for defining certain human tendencies, I prefer to define my own fate rather than look for it in the stars.  However, if you eventually choose to practice astrology, the symbolism you learn here will go a long way in your studies.

Beyond astrology as a form of divination, I find that many people subconsciously take on the traits of their Sun sign, so astrology definitely has a psychological validity.  I find this to be true even in cases of those who know nothing of astrology.  Everyone usually knows their zodiac sign even if they don’t know exactly what it means.  These symbols resonate somehow, hence their continued popularity with mankind.


Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable

The signs of the zodiac are broken up into the four elements, and then further subdivided into cardinal, fixed, and mutable categorizations:


  Cardinal Fixed Mutable
Fire Aires Leo Sagittarius
Water Cancer Scorpio Pisces
Air Libra Aquarius Gemini
Earth Capricorn Taurus Virgo


Cardinal signs are the onrushing energy of that sign.  Fixed signs are the most stable versions of their element.  Mutable signs are the element as they tend to change into something else.  Therefore, cardinal signs tend towards starting things.  Fixed signs tend to stay the same.  Mutable signs are adaptable.


The Rulers of the Zodiac 

Each of the twelve zodiac signs is “ruled” by one of seven traditional planets given above.  This means that the ruling planet of the sign adds another level of interpretation to the zodiacal sign.  Perhaps more importantly, the ruling planets show how to “stir up” the specific energy of the zodiac we are looking for.   More on this in later chapters.

The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac



“The Ram”

Ruled by: Mars

            Aires is the initial burst of energy that starts any new action or project.  Aires is the fresh, new energy of Spring.  Aires energy is direct, straightforward, and sometimes rigidly determined.  This energy may be short-lived and can be destructively impetuous.




“The Bull”

Ruled by: Venus


Taurus is steady, persistent, and durable.  It is difficult to sway Taurus energy from its current path since it is Earth energy in its most stable and reliable form.  There also is grace and beauty in this sign granted to it by its ruler Venus.




“The Twins”

Ruled by: Mercury

            Gemini is dual-natured, quick-witted, and intuitive energy.  Mercury rules this sign and so Gemini’s energy is fascinated by the power of language and responds well to savvy intellectual stimuli.





“The Crab”

Ruled by:  The Moon

            Cancer is protective, secretive, nurturing energy.   Being ruled by the Moon, the passion of the crab is stirred by mystery.  This also suggests the mood and energy level of Cancer tends to ebb and flow like that of tides.



“The Lion”

Ruled by: The Sun

            The Lion is “King of the Jungle.”  The royal Leo is as much the center of attention as the Sun is the center of the solar system.  Leo loves to be the source of good energy, thus dominating everyone and everything in his sphere of influence.




“The Virgin”

Ruled by: Mercury

            The virgin is pure potential, i.e. the potential to give birth.  So this entire card is about the hidden mysteries of procreation.  The path itself is attributed to Yod, which means not only the hand, but also symbolizes spermatozoa.  Virgo energy is prudent and detail-oriented.




“The Scales”

Ruled by: Venus

            Libra is all about balance, which includes energy tipping from one side to the other in the name of equilibrium.  This includes energy moving towards a final result such as marriage or court cases.  Ruled by Venus, Libra energy also exudes elegance, beauty and harmony.



“The Scorpion” and “The Eagle”

Ruled by: Mars

            Scorpio is passion and brooding intensity.  Scorpio has the ability to destroy oneself (Scorpion) or the ability to transcend (Eagle).  This energy is magnetic and darkly seductive.  Obsessive, sometimes dangerous, sexual impulses can originate with Scorpio.  This is Cancer’s only rival for “most secretive” of the signs.




“The Archer Centaur”

Ruled by: Jupiter

            Sagittarius is focused intelligence and directed action.  Sagittarius energy is optimistic and freedom loving.  Imagine the image of the centaur (body of a horse with the head and chest of a man).  The centaur roams carelessly free across the plains, but when it’s time to hunt, the archer is deadly accurate with his aim.




“The Goat-Fish”

Ruled by: Saturn


Capricorn, a goat with a fish-tail, ascends from deepest emotions (the fish-tail) all the way to the highest mountains of action and accomplishment (symbolized by a mountain goat).  Capricorn energy is practical, yet still contains a certain emotional sensitivity.  Capricorn is persistent, determined energy that will not be easily shoved aside from its ambitions.



“The Water-Bearer”

Ruled by: Saturn


            Aquarius  is original, independent thought.   An intellectual sign, Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, suggesting that the grandiose ideas of the Aquarian are best governed by practical and realistic concerns.



“The Fishes”

Ruled by: Jupiter


Pisces is mysterious, reflective,  intuitive and imaginative energy.  The weakness here is that Pisces energy can be led astray by external influences.  Also it can stagnate and lead to malaise.

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