The 12 Zodiac signs in astrology are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each represents a specific set of characteristics, desires, and motivations that shape planets and houses placed in them.
Your natal chart contains all these 12 personalities, but some will stand out in you more than others. So who are these characters and which ones do you express the most?
- Each of the 12 Zodiac signs describes a set of personality traits.
- The signs of the Zodiac are shaped by an element and mode.
- Every sign is influenced by a planetary ruler.
Zodiac Signs Meaning
Each of the 12 Zodiac signs describes a set of personality traits, desires, motivations, and challenges.
The Zodiac signs are based on seasonal changes with Aries marking the spring equinox, Cancer symbolizing the summer solstice, the autumn equinox lining up with Libra, and Capricorn ushering in the winter solstice, with the rest of the signs filling in between.
Where a sign sits in the astrological chart will determine the sign’s element and mode (which you can read more about below). The elements and modes lend each signs some of their characteristics, and each sign also has one or two “rulers” which also shape the sign.
What are my Zodiac signs?
Your natal chart is like a photograph taken of the heavens at your exact moment of birth. One of the things it maps out is the exact moment of the planets when you were born.
Planets express the style of the sign of the Zodiac that they are placed in. Most people know “their sign” which actually describes which sign their Sun is found in their birth chart, their Sun sign.
You may be able to identify with your Sun sign, at least somewhat, because the Sun is an incredibly significant planet in your chart and life, helping to lay the foundation of who your are. The core of who you are will be filtered through the sign of the Zodiac its in.
But, your Sun sign isn’t your only sign. Every planet in the birth chart is shaped by the characteristics of the sign of the Zodiac it sits in.
You also have a Moon sign, Jupiter sign, even a Pluto sign. Every planet has a sign that influences it.
In addition, the way you experience a house is influenced by the sign of the Zodiac the house cusp, or boundary line, lands in.
The sign that your 1st House falls in is especially important and is referred to as your rising sign. Your rising sign is incredibly important in your chart reading and in forming your personality.
So what are these 12 signs of the Zodiac and what are the traits and motivations of each?
What Are the Zodiac Signs in Astrology?
Twelve zodiac signs represent 12 styles, ways of seeing things, and motivations. Which sign do you think describes you best?
Dates: March 21-April 19
Courageous, ambitious, and bold, Aries charges through life, taking action first and thinking later.
Optimistic and resilient, this brave and pioneering sign of the Zodiac is a natural-born leader who can inspire with its passion, as long as it can keep its overly-aggressive, impulsive, and self-centered tendencies at bay.
Dates: April 20-May 20
Peaceful, stable, and patient, Taurus takes a down-to-earth approach to life, thinking before it acts and sticking with what is tried and true.
Polite and loyal, this friendly and wise sign can make a fantastic friend or partner who can be a calming force for those around it, as long as it keeps its potential for stubbornness, materialism, and possessiveness in check.
Dates: May 21-June 20
Intellectual, social, and witty, Gemini takes on life with curiosity, wanting to gather as much information as it can to feed its sharp mind.
Charming and adventurous, this sign of the Zodiac is a natural-born storyteller who can draw anyone into a conversation, so long as they don’t interrupt frequently or twist the truth to make it a better story.
Dates: June 21-July 22
Nurturing, protective, and imaginative, Cancer wants to take care of others, making everyone feel loved, safe, and secure.
Fluent in emotions and willing to fight for the wellbeing of others, this sensitive Zodiac sign has a deep well of empathy and compassion that makes it an excellent caretaker and companion, although it needs to fight the urge to smother and give in to its mood swings.
Dates: July 23-August 22
Grand, magnetic, and optimistic, Leo has greatness inside that it needs to express and share with others.
Filled with passion and charisma, this resilient sign in astrology has the potential to put on a fantastic show, dazzle with its talent, and warm the hearts of others with its courage and generosity, although it needs to be cautious of vanity and attention-seeking.
Dates: August 23-September 22
Meticulous, mature, and driven, Virgo strives to be the best version of itself it can be. And then it keeps pushing.
Disciplined and responsible, this down-to-earth and humble sign of the Zodiac has the potential to learn and achieve anything it puts its mind to and improve the lives of others with its skill, as long as it doesn’t work itself into the ground.
Dates: September 23-October 22
Charming, clever, and stylish, Libra seeks balance and harmony in life and relationships.
Diplomatic and full of social graces, this non-judgemental sign has the ability to build bridges and find a compromise between two very different views. However, it may struggle with indecision and using its skills to manipulate.
Dates: October 23-November 21
Intense, honest, and emotionally deep, perceptive Scorpio seeks the truth no matter how ugly or scandalous it may be.
Compassionate and genuine, this tenacious sign of the Zodiac is capable of sparking transformation and healing in others with its quest for the honest truth but needs to keep watch for moodiness and cynicism.
Dates: November 22-December 21
Adventurous, philosophical, and optimistic, open-minded Sagittarius is on a journey to encounter as many world views as it can and find more meaning in life.
Enthusiastic and independent, this fiery sign is capable of expanding minds, as long as it doesn’t get stuck on one philosophy of life, leading to dogma and hypocrisy.
Dates: December 22-January 19
Hard-working, loyal, and practical, goal-oriented Capricorn comes at life with a great sense of integrity and a need to take on challenges.
Mature and wise, this reliable and determined sign is capable of huge achievements, overcoming anything that stands in its way. However, it needs to watch for loneliness and working itself past a point that is healthy.
Dates: January 20-February 18
Original, intellectual and independent, idealistic Aquarius is here to shake up the status quo and live life according to its own rules.
Clever and inventive, this analytic and truth-seeking sign of the Zodiac has the potential for revolutionary ideas that the rest of the world may not be ready for yet, although it needs to be careful not to become withdrawn and keep its anxiety under control.
Dates: February 19-March 20
Empathetic, spiritual, and devoted, intuitive Pisces is here to lose itself in oneness.
Endlessly compassionate and imaginative, this mystical and inspired Zodiac sign is capable of seeing beyond earthly matters and illusions and connecting with something greater. However, escaping and being taken advantage of are traps Pisces needs to watch for.
Zodiac Sign Elements and Modes
The 12 astrological signs can be divided into a few different groups according to the qualities they have in common.
Two of these groups are the triplicities (elements) and quadruplicates (modes).
All Zodiac signs fit into one of 4 elements, fire, water, earth, and air also referred to as the triplicities in astrology.
Elements are often described as the kind of energy a sign gives off. For me, it helps to think of it as the “currency” or “language” of a sign, or what each sign “runs” on.
The three fire signs of the Zodiac are:
Fire signs run off of passion and activity. These bold signs are confident and prefer taking action over stopping and thinking. The fire signs are bold and confident, but cafn also warm those around them.
Fire sign traits are:
The water signs of the Zodiac are:
The currency of water signs is emotion. These imaginative signs are compassionate and use their feelings to make decisions and move through the world. Water signs are soulful and imaginative, caring for and inspiring those around them.
Water sign traits are:
The 3 earth signs are:
The determined earth signs are concerned with things that are real and tangible and run on practicality. They are stead and solid. Earth signs can be a peaceful and stabilizing force for others.
Earth sign traits are:
The 3 air signs are:
The language of air signs is logic. These intellectual and curious Zodiac signs make decisions based on knowledge and reason. Air signs can take information and pull out the “meat” of what it means without attaching their feelings or opinions to it, making air signs great at helping others see things clearly and objectively.
Air sign traits are:
- Good memory
- Good communicator
Zodiac signs are categorized into 3 modes, cardinal, fixed, or mutable, which are also called modalities and quadruplicates in astrology.
Modes are often described as the way each astrological sign reacts to changes, adapts, or the style in which they take action in life.
The 4 cardinal mode signs are:
Signs of the cardinal modality prefer to initiate action, jumping into new endeavors.
Cardinal mode sign traits are:
The 4 fixed mode signs are:
The Zodiac signs of the fixed modality want to continue things that have already been started, keeping the ship moving in the right direction.
Fixed mode sign traits are:
The 4 mutable mode signs are:
The signs of the mutable mode embrace change, being able to conform and adapt to its surroundings and changing circumstances.
Mutable mode sign traits are:
- Easy going
Zodiac Sign Planetary Rulers
A big part of what shapes each Zodiac sign into the character it is are its planetary rulers.
Each sign has a planet that helps to influence its personality traits, desires, and motivations.
Some astrological signs have 2 planetary rulers, their modern sign ruler, and their traditional sign ruler.
Traditionally, astrologers associated signs with particular planets. After new planets were discovered, they linked these new planets with particular signs as well.
It is up to personal preference whether an astrologer uses only the traditional sign rulers, only the modern sign rulers, or considers both rulers when doing a chart reading.
Below are the planetary ruler(s) for each of the Zodiac signs.
- Aries: Mars
- Taurus: Venus
- Gemini: Mercury
- Cancer: the Moon
- Leo: the Sun
- Virgo: Mercury
- Libra: Venus
- Scorpio: Mars (traditional), Pluto (modern)
- Sagittarius: Jupiter
- Capricorn: Saturn
- Aquarius: Saturn (traditional), Uranus (modern)
- Pisces: Jupiter (traditional), Neptune (modern)
Zodiac Sign Dates and Symbols
|March 21-April 19
|April 20-May 20
|May 21-June 20
|June 21-July 22
|July 23-August 22
|August 23-September 22
|September 23-October 22
|October 23-November 21
|Mars (traditional), Pluto (modern)
|November 22-December 21
|December 22-January 19
|The Sea Goat
|January 20-February 18
|The Water Bearer
|Saturn (traditional), Uranus (modern)
|February 19-March 20
|Jupiter (traditional), Neptune (modern)