ICYMI, the most fundamental aspects of astrology are the 12 Sun signs and the very specific personality traits that correspond to each one. Your individual Sun sign is based on where “the sun was in the moment you were born,” says Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer at Horoscope.com and Astrology.com, as well as author of Moon Signs: Unlock Your Inner Luminary Power.
“[Your sign] is determined by the day, since the sun changes signs once a month. However, if a person was born on a day when the sun switches signs, their sun sign will be determined by the zodiac sign that the sun was in at the exact time of their birth.” Noted!
And btw, that’s why “cusp signs,” a.k.a. zodiac signs that straddlele two different signs, don’t really exist. Or at least they’re not recognized by many astrologers. “Technically, a planet cannot be stationed in two signs at once,” explains astrologer Sanasjia Clervoix. If you feel that you better embody the signs before or even after your sun sign, try getting your full birth chart read to understand where else these energies might exist in your chart, Clervoix suggests.
If you want to know even more about your sign’s characteristics, look no further than “triplicities” and “quadruplicities,” two important tenets of astrology. Each zodiac sign falls one of four triplicities (fire, earth, air, or water) and one of three quadruplicities (cardinal signs, fixed signs, and mutable signs). More on these below:
The Four Triplicities
“The concept of triplicities refers to the way the 12 zodiac signs are divided by element, forming a harmonious trine aspect with each other,” Montúfar says. “This indicates an easy and positive flow of energy with one another,” she notes.
• Earth: The Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are all ruled by the earth element. This makes them symbolize personalities who — like the physical earth itself— are grounded, dependable, and hard-working, Montúfar says.
• Water: This element is symbolic of emotion, dreams, healing, intuition, and as well as the cycles of death and rebirth, explains astrologer Valerie Mesa. Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are all classified as water elements, thriving when they can go with the flow, as they prefer an emotional or intuitive approach to life, Mesa says.
• Air: If someone is an air sign, they’re known for communication, intelligence, and versatility, Mesa explains. The air signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, all approach life from a logical standpoint, though at times can be indecisive or fickle, Mesa notes.
• Fire: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are all ruled by the fire element. This makes them passionate, energetic, and creative, known for their spontaneity and knack for inspiration Montúfar says.
The Three Quadruplicities
Quadruplicities are another way the 12 zodiac signs are divided by modality, Montúfar says. They highlight the obstacles and challenges that eventually bring growth.
• Cardinal: Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn are all a part of the cardinal modality, quick and ambitious, the initiators of the zodiac, Montúfar says.
• Fixed: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are all of the fixed modality, determined and stable, the signs that follow through on a project, Montúfar notes.
• Mutable: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces are the mutable modality, making them versatile and resourceful, the ones to put the final touches on projects, Montúfar says.
Now that you’re more informed on the basics of astrology, you’re ready to get a little bit more specific. Here’s exactly what you should know about the 12 zodiac sign’s dates, corresponding personality traits, triplicities, and quadruplicities, according to expert astrologers.
Aries signs are symbolized by the ram, and yeah, they loooove being leader of the pack. “Because they’re ruled by Mars and are the first fire and cardinal sign, Aries prefer to initiate rather than to complete,” says Montúfar. Basically, if you’ve got a project you need to get done or a recipe you’ve been dying to try, call an Aries for a kick-start.
Oh, and PSA: Leo and Sagittarius join Aries on the fire sign front. An association with the element of fire means these three are a passionate, energetic, and creative bunch. Plus, if you share the same element with another zodiac sign, it indicates that you’ll have a positive flow of these specific energies between one another.
Modalities are another way that the zodiac signs are divided; Aries are of the cardinal modality, which is known for housing quick and ambitious signs.
“Ruled by Venus, Taurus is ‘the bull’—an earth sign whose mantra is ‘slow steady wins the race,'” Montúfar explains. If you’re a Taurus, you’re totally a pleasure seeker and sort of a genius when it comes to collecting material goods. Consider yourself a money magnet, thanks to your incredible skill of manifesting. And, as an earth sign, you’re naturally grounded, dependable, and hard-working.
ICYMI, there are things called “quadruplicities” in astrology. “The concept of quadruplicity refers to the other way the 12 zodiac signs are divided by modality, forming a tense square with each other,” says Montúfar. There are three modalities: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. The fixed signs include Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, all of whom are determined, stable, and follow through on their goals.
The “twins” represent Gemini, which is ruled by planet Mercury. “Recognized as the sacred duality present in the universe, Gemini is an intellectual and versatile sign with an endless curiosity and a bright, quick-witted mind,” notes Montúfar.
Btw, Gemini is a mutable sign, along with Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. These signs are all versatile and resourceful. Each quadruplicity grouping indicates obstacles and challenges between the zodiac signs that will eventually lead to personal growth, Montúfar explains.
Cancers are *very* loyal. “Intuitive and tenacious, this sign sticks to their roots and excels at getting what it wants to protect their family and loved ones,” explains Montúfar. And btw, they’re ruled by the Moon and their symbol is the crab.
Zodiac signs are also divided by element, either being of the water, earth, air, or fire. Cancers are a water sign, which makes them very well-spoken and ~in touch with their emotions~. They’re also a part of the cardinal modality (modalities are another way to separate the signs), meaning that, among other things, they’re initiators, Montúfar says. They use their intellect toward their ambitious tendencies.
King of the jungle, the Leo sign is represented by “the lion” and is ruled by the Sun. If you know a Leo, then you probably also know that making a good impression is the number one priority. “This sign’s creativity and fiery magnetism puts this sign at the center stage of life,” Montúfar says.
It also makes sense, then, that the Leo is connected to the fire element, since their upbeat energy and passion makes them perfect for being at the forefront of people’s attention. Determined and stable, Leo is also a part of the fixed modality, meaning they’re very #consistent. (And ICYMI, modalities are just another way that the zodiac signs are separated from one another.)
“Ruled by Mercury, Virgo is ‘the virgin,’ representing the ideal of wholeness and perfection,” Montúfar explains. Virgos are literally designed to be industrious, methodical, and efficient. Those characteristics enable them to get through pretty much any endeavor.
The 12 zodiac signs are also divided by element: Virgo, Taurus, and Capricorn are all earth signs, making them grounded, dependable, and hard-working people. Modalities are another way in which the zodiacs are distinct from one another. Virgo is of the mutable modality, making them versatile and resourceful people.
You know those scales of justice symbols? Yeah, that represents Libra. An intellectual sign ruled by the planet Venus, they’re basically the epitome of beauty, balance, harmony, and a sense of fair play. (Get it? Scales? Balance?)
Along with Aries, Cancer, and Capricorn, when it comes to quadruplicity (another way in which the signs are distinguished from each other), Libras fall under the cardinal sign modality. Because cardinal signs are the initiators of the zodiac, each of these signs are super quick and ambitious.
Libra is also associated with the air element, meaning they’ll approach life from a logical standpoint, though at times can be indecisive or fickle, Mesa explains.
Scorpio is, yep, “the scorpion.” An emotional and resilient sign, Scorpios have a knack for “zeroing in on essential questions and gleaning the secrets that lie within,” says Montúfar. Oh, and they’re ruled by Mars and Pluto (which might explain why they can be kinda hot and cold).
The 12 zodiac signs are also divided by element. Scorpions aren’t an aquatic animal, but Scorpio signs are associated with the water element, along with Cancer and Pisces. Water signs are eloquent, intellectual, and curious. In terms of quadruplicates, another way that zodiac signs are separated, the Scorpio is associated with the fixed modality, making them determined and stable.
Sagittarius is “the archer” ruled by the mighty planet Jupiter. Sags are fiery, versatile, and, most importantly, truth-seekers. The best way for them to get answers is to seek out tons of connections with others.
In case you forgot, triplicities are the way that the zodiac signs are divided by element. When it comes to those connections, Sagittarius feel the strongest connections to the creative and crafty signs that are also members of the fire element triplicity: Aries and Leo.
Sags are also mutable signs, another way to separate the signs, along with Pisces, Virgo, and Gemini. Being a mutable sign makes them versatile enough to build closeness with anyone, says Montúfar.
Ever heard of a “sea-goat”? You have now—it’s a mythological water creature that represents the Capricorn sign. “Ruled by Saturn, Capricorns are ambitious and determined initiators,” says Montúfar. If you’re a Cap, you’re definitely super tough. (Like, you’re at your best when facing the biggest obstacles.)
That toughness definitely comes into play since Caps are cardinal quadruplicities (a modality used to separate signs), which just so happen to be the fast-paced and initiative-taking members of the zodiac.
When it comes to element association, Capricorns are ruled by earth, along with Taurus and Virgo. This means they are grounded, dependable, and hard-working, Montúfar says.
Aquarius is the “water bearer.” Ruled by Saturn and Uranus, people born under this sign are often humanitarian-focused, visionaries, and progressive souls interested in making the world a much better place. (Can ya blame ’em?)
You should also know that the 12 zodiac signs are each associated with an element. Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra are all air signs, which makes them an eloquent, curious, and intellectual zodiac bunch.
Aquarius is also associated with the fixed quadruplicity, meaning that they are a determined, stable sign that will always follow through on a project, Montúfar says.
Ruled by Jupiter and Neptune, Pisces is represented by the “two fishes” (which makes sense, since it’s a water sign!). “Dreamy and spiritual, this sign represents the end of the zodiacal journey,” Montúfar explains. “Pisces wraps up the qualities of all the previous eleven signs to bring the spirit into a perfect state of wholeness.” Not a bad sign to be, amiright?
That wholeness is also encompassed in the fact that Pisces have the curiosity and impassioned nature of the water element, as well as in their mutable sign modality that allows them the flexibility to complete the zodiac.
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