Astrology: 12 Zodiac Signs, Dates, Symbols, Definition, and More

Astrology’s resurgence has completely taken over the world, especially in the lives of millennials. From astronomy and the planets to tarot to zodiac compatibility, more and more people are getting invested in the placement of the signs in our chart and noticing details about our personalities and what the future holds. In a way, astrology allows us to find comfort in uncertainty.

History of Astrology 

  • Babylonian astrology is the oldest zodiac system, mostly used by priests to determine the will of the gods, depending on what was happening in the night sky
  • Ancient Babylonians:
    • Originally believed there were 18 constellations of the zodiac, but then gradually they determined there were 12 main zodiac symbols to focus on. 
    • They were the leaders in the foundation of western astrology and the tropical zodiac. 
  • The Greeks: 
    • More specifically, astrologer Ptolemy of Alexandria. 
    • Added significant elements of astrology: the four elements of the astrological sign and the equinoxes.

How Does Astronomy Relate to Astrology

  • Astronomy and astrology can go hand-in-hand. 
    • Astronomy — “star laws”; scientific study of space, stars, and planets.
    • Astrology — “star study”; spiritual beliefs of humans and that space we occupy. 
  • In astronomy, there are eclipses that occur 4-6 times a year and retrogrades, and both of these events affect astrology too. 

Lunar Eclipse

  • When the moon passes into Earth’s shadow and the Sun, Moon, and Earth are all perfectly aligned. 
  • It only occurs at a full moon
  • In astrology, lunar eclipses are all about relationships and our emotional connections. It sheds light on who we are and how we have room to grow in new directions all by acknowledging our emotions. 

Solar Eclipse:

  • When the Moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun 
  • In astrology, it means it’s time for a fresh start! We’re being faced with new beginnings towards paths we hadn’t considered before. 


  • There’s an astrological event known as “retrograde” when Earth is passing or being passed by other planets. Every planet in our solar system goes through retrograde periods, but the most commonly known and hated one is Mercury Retrograde.
    • “Mercury in retrograde” is, physically, an optical illusion in that the planet appears to be moving backward. 
    • Emotionally and spiritually, it’s when technology, communication, and travel get disrupted. It’s not a good time to sign contracts, make big decisions, or travel because something always gets screwed up.  
  • Every star sign is affected by and deals with retrograde differently, depending on our personalities.

Both solar and lunar eclipses represent new beginnings. Sudden, significant shifts occur during these times. However, solar and lunar eclipses have their differences. For instance, solar eclipses are more internal. During a solar eclipse, you might suddenly become aware of the way others are impacting you. You might have a shift in thought and realize something you never realized before. However, during a lunar eclipse, you are more likely to take action. You might decide to let go of someone or something that is causing you pain. You might say goodbye to a relationship, a friendship, or a career.

Retrograde also has a strong impact on each star sign. However, every sign is impacted differently. For instance, when it comes to the infamous Mercury retrograde, an Aries sign is angrier than usual because they are forced to remain patient. Meanwhile, a Taurus sign tends to make impulsive decisions, even though they are usually rational. Geminis are challenged with major changes. Cancers are moody during the ensuing chaos. Leos get off track due to forces outside their control. A Virgo sign loses their sense of order and routine. Libras lose touch with the people who mean the most to them. A Scorpio sign is forced to endure unexpected hardships. A Sagittarius sign is forced to change their plans. Capricorns lose their progress. Aquarius have trouble with their high-tech gadgets. And Pisces intuition simply feels off.

What Is Natal Astrology?

  • Natal charts follow western astrology principles of the zodiac and the planets. 
  • Natal astrology is based on the concept that our life path and our personality can be determined by our birth chart or natal chart. 
    • Using an astrology app like Cafe Astrology to determine a person’s birth and how it conflates with certain zodiac signs:
      • Your birthdate; the time you were born; the location of where you were born (the time zone).
  • Natal charts can determine the placements of our sun sign, moon sign, rising sign, and planetary rulers in our chart, and this can evidently lead us to know and understand our own horoscope(s). 
  • There’s also a little thing known as “heavenly bodies” which pertains to the placement of the planets in our chart. “Heavenly bodies” are also known as “celestial bodies” or “Jyotisha Sanskrit.” 
    • It’s a belief that our spiritual nature is associated with the placements of the planets in space (ecliptic) and certain zodiac signs in our chart (to the degree).
    • Planets can be in our signs and also in our houses. 
    • For example, if someone has “Aquarius” in the planet Venus (ruler of love and beauty) placement of their zodiac chart, you can expect them to be a bit more elusive when it comes to love because that’s the kind of personality of this air sign
    • To give another example: if you have the planet Jupiter in the 5th house, you are most likely warm, playful, and generous in friendships and relationships.

Natal astrology is also known as genethliac astrology. Instead of basing a person’s personality off of their zodiac sign alone, this method takes the time and location of their birth into account, as well as the positioning of the sun, moon, and other planets. Although there are websites and apps that can interpret this data, natal charts are most accurate when they are interpreted by an individual person who can go through the process of chart weighting and chart shaping. Chart weighting involves looking at the distribution of zodiac signs and houses in the chart and determining their significance to an individual’s personality. Meanwhile, chart shaping involves looking at the placement of the planets in the chart and determining any significant patterns between them.

The planets are so important in natal charts because they each represent different personality traits. The sun symbolizes your fundamental essence, which includes your ego, sense of self, general preferences, and your basic personality. Meanwhile, the moon represents your emotional core, your private self, your heart beneath the surface. The planets are also incredibly important. Mercury represents logic and rationality. Venus represents beauty and love. Mars represents action and aggression. Jupiter represents philosophy and education. Saturn represents resilience and hard work. Uranus represents rebellion and innovation. Neptune represents escapism and mysteriousness. Pluto represents transformation and regeneration.

What is the Zodiac?

    • Belt of constellations — every zodiac (and zodiac constellations) occupies 30 degrees of the celestial longitude in a celestial sphere (an abstract sphere that rotates along the earth’s axis) which is the sun’s placement at the time of the vernal equinox (when the sun’s path crosses the equator from south to north).
      • So when looking at the zodiac sign dates, you’ll see that the vernal equinox’s first point is in Aries. Aries season is March 21 to April 19th and covers 0 degrees to 30 degrees, Taurus season is April 20th to May 20th and covers 30 degrees to 60 degrees, and then going all the way to the end at Pisces, from February 19th to March 20th, which covers 330 degrees to 360 degrees.
    • Based on the relationship of its position with Earth, as well as the seasons and calendar on Earth.
    • The zodiac signs in your birth chart represent the astrological prediction of who you are to your core. 
    • There are twelve signs of the zodiacAries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. 
    • Each star sign is represented by a quality, an element, a symbol or constellation, and a ruling planet,  or in some cases, ruled by the sun or the moon:
      • Qualities:
        • Fixed signs → 
          • Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius. 
          • No matter what they set their minds to, they will get things done; stable; persistent; stubborn; hard for them to let go of things 
          • A Taurus will want to create things that last, a Leo won’t settle for less, a Scorpio will have a stable “my way or the highway” attitude, and an Aquarius will be an intellectual go-getter.
        • Mutable Signs → 
          • Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces. 
          • Flexible; adaptable; know that all things must come to an end 
          • A Gemini will be open-minded and will ride the rollercoaster of life, a Sagittarius will evolve through traveling and learning, a Pisces will adjust themselves to the environment and feelings of others, and a Virgo won’t love change but will be flexible if needed–they’ll just want to organize and analyze things first.
        • Cardinal Signs → 
          • Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn. 
          • Each sign is the beginning of a new season; natural-born leaders; appreciate originality. 
          • Like the beginning of spring, an Aries will be a raw force. A Cancer, the beginning of summer, will lead with the heart and into new emotional territories. A Libra, the beginning of fall, will be a balancing force of creativity. A Capricorn, the beginning of winter, will be a natural, grounded presence working towards long-term goals.
      • Elements 
  • Earth Signs → Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn 
          • Very down-to-earth personalities. 
          • Stable and dependable friends. 
          • Stubborn at times. 
          • Nurturing and helpful. 
          • Don’t love change — would prefer for things to stay put and grow and progress on their own.  
  • Fire Signs→ Leo, Sagittarius, Aries 
          • Passionate and often impulsive. 
          • Outgoing / sociable. 
          • Like to be the center of attention. 
          • Temperamental.
          • So blunt that their words can really burn us. 
          • Creative.
  • Air Signs→ Libra, Gemini, Aquarius 
          • Elusive. 
          • Goes with the flow. 
          • Quite uncertain and unpredictable. 
          • Lives in their thoughts – very intelligent but oftentimes, lack emotional depth.
  • Water Signs→ Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
        • Deep and mysterious. 
        • Can have a wishy-washy personality. 
        • Very empathetic and in tune with their emotions, but may or may not express them. 
        • Sometimes their emotions / personality is so intense and can wreak havoc. 

Each zodiac symbol shares their element with two other signs. Some astrologers believe that zodiacs actually feel better during their elemental season. That means an Aries will feel their best during Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius season because of the abundance of fire energy present. When it comes to compatibility, most signs get along with the other signs included in their element. However, air and fire signs are also compatible, like oxygen to a flame. So are water and earth signs, which equate to rain and plants. Meanwhile, fire and water signs can clash and cause each other emotional turmoil. Likewise, earth and air signs can have trouble forming deep emotional connections, although they tend to get along perfectly fine.

All four elements (fire, water, air, and earth) are represented in each quality (fixed, mutable, and cardinal). Although they have a shared personality trait that groups them together, they express that characteristic in completely different ways. For instance, cardinal signs are natural-born leaders. However, Aries are more impulsive and spontaneous. They will charge headfirst into a fight without any hesitation. Meanwhile, Capricorns rely more on logic and will think things through before making a decision. One will lead with their heart. The other will lead with their head. This proves that, although their groupings suggest they are similar, they are still very different in many ways.

zodiac symbols
All 12 of the zodiac signs and symbols
Zodiac Sign Elements Quality Symbol Planetary Ruler

(March 21-April 19)

Fire Sign Cardinal Ram Mars 

(April 20-May 20)

Earth Sign Fixed Bull Venus

(May 21-June 20)

Air Sign Mutable Twins Mercury

(June 21-July 22) 

Water Sign Cardinal Crab Moon

(July 23-August 22)

Fire Sign Fixed Lion Sun

(August 23-September 22) 

Earth Sign  Mutable Virgin Mercury

(September 23-October 22) 

Air Sign  Cardinal Scales Venus

(October 23-November 21)

Water Sign Fixed Scorpion  Pluto and Mars

(November 22-December 21)

Fire Sign Mutable Archer  Jupiter

(December 22-January 19)

Earth Sign Cardinal Sea goat  Saturn

(January 20-February 18)

Air Sign Fixed Water carrier  Uranus and Saturn

(February 19-March 20)

Water Sign Mutable Fish Neptune and Jupiter

What is Tarot

  • Astrological readings and predictions of your life in every aspect–love, career, good fortune, family, health, money, friendships 
  • Every zodiac sign is represented by a tarot card: 
    • Aries → The Emperor – wisdom; loyalty; leadership 
    • Taurus → The Pope – reflection; reassurance  
    • Gemini → The Lovers – communication; duality 
    • Cancer → The Chariot – fresh starts; moving forward 
    • Leo → Strength – passionate connection between bravery and rulings of the heart 
    • Virgo → The Hermit – wise; nurturing; connected to nature; 
    • Libra → Justice – balanced; morality; searching for truth 
    • Scorpio → Death – transformation; new beginnings; purification 
    • Sagittarius → Temperance – enthusiasm; action 
    • Capricorn → The Devil – temptation; ambition 
    • Aquarius → The Star – inspiration; hope; promising opportunities 
    • Pisces → The Moon – intuitive

The tarot cards that are associated with each zodiac sign compliment the natural energy already present in that zodiac sign. Each zodiac actually has two separate cards that are associated with them. They have a singular card, which is listed above, as well as a card based on their elemental group. Fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) are represented by The Tarot Wands. Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn) are represented by The Tarot Pentacles. Air signs (Gemini Libra, and Aquarius) are represented by The Tarot Swords. Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) are represented by The Tarot Cups.

To break it down even more, Aries are represented by The King Of Wands. Taurus are represented by The King of Pentacles. Gemini are represented by The King of Swords. Cancers are represented by The King of Cups. Leos are represented by The Queen of Wands. Virgo are represented by The Queen of Pentacles. Libra are represented by The Queen of Swords. Scorpio are represented by The Queen of Cups. Sagittarius are represented by The Page of Wands. Capricorns are represented by The Page of Pentacles. Aquarius are represented by The Page of Swords. And Pisces are represented by The Page of Cups.

What is the Chinese Zodiac

  • Based on the lunar calendar. 
  • Assigns animals to each year and restarts every 12 years:
    • Rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig 
    • 2019 — the year of the pig 
    • 2020 — the year of the rat 
    • 2021 — the year of the ox 
  • Only focuses on the year you were born:
    • Born in 1998 — Tiger
    • Born in 1996 — Rat
    • Born in 2000 — Dragon
    • Born in 2003 — Goat

Each year is connected to a certain animal because the people born on those dates have the attributes of this animal. These twelve animals were specifically chosen by ancient Chinese men and women, either because they were closely connected to their way of living or because they had lucky meanings. Although most people will focus on the animal connected to their year of birth, every hour also has an animal. That means your birth hour matters as much as your birth day and birth year. The rat is associated with the times between 11pm and 1am. The ox is associated with 1-3am. The tiger is 3-5am. The rabbit is 5-7am. The dragon is 7-9am. The snake is 9-11am. The horse is 11-1pm. The goat is 1-3pm. The monkey is 3-5pm. The rooster is 5-6pm. The dog is 7-9 pm. The pig is 9-11pm.

However, it is much more common for people to pay attention to their year of birth. If you were born in the year of the rat, you are quick-witted, kind, and resourceful. If you were born in the year of the ox, you are dependable, determined, and strong. If you were born in the year of the tiger, you are brave, confident, and competitive. If you were born in the year of the rabbit, you are quiet, elegant, and responsible. If you were born in the year of the dragon, you are confident, enthusiastic, and intelligent. If you were born in the year of the snake, you are intelligent, wise, and mysterious. If you were born in the year of the horse, you are animated, energetic, and active. If you were born in the year of the goat, you are calm, gentle, and sympathetic. If you were born in the year of the money, you are sharp, smart, and curious. If you were born in the year of the rooster, you are hardworking, observant, and courageous. If you were born in the year of the dog, you are lovely, honest, and wise. If you were born in the year of the pig, you are compassionate, generous, and diligent.

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.