The 12 archetypes were first observed by the ancient Babylonians as sections of visible outer space, each represented by a constellation. They noticed that the constellations remained in the same place every night, while certain "stars" wandered off a bit. They used the constellations as placeholders in the sky. There were no cute animals or mythical creatures associated with them yet. Different energies were observed to correlate with the position of the planets in different sections of the heavens. They labeled these 12 different sections/styles. (Notice how the 12 styles recur in history: 12 Gods of Olympus , 12 sons of Abraham, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles, 12 Successors to the Prophet Muhammad). The 12 archetypes are the zodiac signs, which already had their traits before the ancient Greeks attached the popular symbols to them. The Greeks had the uncanny brilliance of choosing symbols that parallel the sign traits very closely. So now, when we think of the sign of Aries, we think of a ram; when we think of Sagittarius, we think of an archer, and so on. This lesson will not delve into the mythological stories behind the choice of symbols for the signs. We will give a topical, general description of the archetype of each sign.
To clarify, the following descriptions of the zodiac signs refer to the archetype of the sign itself, regardless of which planet is in the sign. We will describe the zodiac sign as if it were a person, with characteristics. In other words, the following descriptions do not specifically or exclusively apply to people with the Sun in that sign. When we say that “so-and-so is an Aries,” we mean that the person has the Sun in Aries in their natal chart. While the Sun sign is important, it is by no means the complete story of our personal profile. Our Moon sign, Rising sign, Mercury sign, Venus sign, and all the rest are just as important in giving us a complete picture of ourselves. We all have the entire zodiac in our charts – all 12 zodiac signs. For this reason, it is important to learn the traits of all the signs. Planets in the signs will be expressed according to the traits of the sign they are in. Thus, the zodiac signs modify the planets. Each zodiac sign is like a stained-glass window through which the planets must pass to manifest in our lives. Each "window" is different. And different planets through the same "window" will also be different. (For example, the Sun in Aries is not the same as the Moon in Aries). (*See Bottom for Sun sign dates.)
Click on each zodiac sign below to learn about it.
* Sun Sign Dates
The Sun's apparent path through the zodiac coincides with our 12-month year, almost exactly. Our calendar months do not coincide precisely with the actual celestial month. We are out of sync by a little bit of time (hence, Leap Year). This means that the Sun moves into a new zodiac sign approximately every month, anywhere between 19th and the 23rd of our month. That group of days is called a cusp, meaning the span of days in which the Sun may change sign (there is also another meaning for "cusp" in astrology). However, being born during those days does NOT automatically mean that you have 2 Sun signs (a common misconception). Birth charts are calculated using astronomical ephemerides that chart the exact time of a Sun sign change for every year. If you were born between the 19th and 23rd of any month, you must check an ephemeris to see exactly where the Sun was at the time of your birth.
Here are the approximate dates for Zodiac Sun Signs:
- Aries: approximately March 20 – April 22
- Taurus: approximately April 21 – May 22
- Gemini: approximately May 21 – June 22
- Cancer: approximately June 21 – July 22
- Leo: approximately July 21 – August 22
- Virgo: approximately August 21 – September 22
- Libra: approximately September 21 – October 22
- Scorpio: approximately October 21 – November 22
- Sagittarius: approximately November 21 – December 22
- Capricorn: approximately December 21 – January 22
- Aquarius: approximately January 20 – February 19
- Pisces: approximately February 18 – March 21