You Are Not Your Sign
Ever read a description of your “sign” and just felt like it had little or nothing to do with you? Ever felt categorized by astrology, forced into a grouping that had no relevance for your life? Ever felt frustrated by others who discover your sign and then nod sagely and say “of course” as if now they suddenly have the key to you? It’s all very annoying. Believe it or not, it’s annoying to astrologers too. Believe it or not, the problem is not with astrology, it’s with how people use astrology. Your sun sign is only one small part of who you are, and while astrologers view the sun as important and central, it’s not everything. Not in the least.
What Does My “Sign” Mean Anyway?
When someone asks you your “sign,” they are asking about your sun sign, or the sign of the zodiac the sun was in when you were born. The sun moves through all 12 signs every year in a regular pattern we experience as the seasons. The sun is always just entering Aries on the first day of spring—in fact, that’s an integral part of the very definition of the first day of spring. On the first day of spring, the sun is directly overhead at the equator, making the days and nights of equal length (equator, equinox, equal—coincidence? I think not!). The sign of Aries is the season of early spring, where the sun is when it’s just beginning to warm up the northern hemisphere for the summer. All the other signs are similarly linked to seasonal zones.
Why Sun Sign Astrology?
In the 1960’s an astrologer named Linda Goodman popularized astrology greatly by focusing on sun signs. She’s the reason why asking someone’s sun sign at a party (and drawing compatibility conclusions from it) is such a 60’s cliché. The sun is a very easy part of one’s chart to be aware of—all you need to know is your birthday and you’re off and running. Also it’s accurate enough of the time to intrigue many people.
Linda Goodman did astrology a great service by making it accessible to everyone. This has probably led to a lot more people getting useful guidance from astrology than would ever have thought of it on their own. However, she also did astrology a great disservice by reducing it to such a simple factor. The sun simply is not all there is to any individual, and to categorize individuals by sun sign is to miss out on all the other rich details in human personality.
What Else is There?
A look around an actual birth chart quickly reveals that there’s much more to it than the sun. A chart is full of detail—overwhelmingly so (thus the need for sun sign simplicity). Not only is the sun in a sign, but everything else in our solar system is too. You have a Mercury sign, a moon sign, a Venus sign, even a Neptune sign. And to add layers of complexity, planets-in-signs may be important, but they are still only part of the picture. Check out this sample chart and you’ll see what I mean:
It’s hard to even know where to start, isn’t it? If you look at the bottom of the chart and a little to the left, you’ll find a small circle with a dot inside it. That’s the sun. As you can see, it’s just one factor among many.
Actually this single diagram is loaded with information, all coded in symbols. Astrology is a language, like Spanish or algebra or C++ or musical notation. Every symbol shown here means something and every combination of symbols adds layers of complex and individual meaning. And because the patterns of planetary placement in the sky change at least a little every 3 minutes, this makes a birth-moment, and thus the chart that locked in during it, and by extension the person who was born that moment, highly individual. No categorization at all.
This chart has a complexity of a factor of 11 x 12 x 12 at a minimum. Why? Because in the chart there are 11 “planets” (two of which are the sun and moon, not strictly planets at all), each of which has the possibility of appearing in any of 12 signs and any of 12 houses. And this is just the beginning of the complexity here. I won’t belabor the point because by now no doubt you are getting the picture. You are not your sun sign! Not remotely.
Sun signs were really only ever intended as a gateway. If you find your sun sign interesting, seek out more information (one great way is to order your own personal Astrology Chart Decoder, which translates your chart into English). You will find that your astrology chart, if accurate, is surprisingly well-suited to describe you in great detail. And the chart does more than describe—the chart also advises. Read properly, your chart will show you your own best life, describing avenues of success and happiness and giving your existence meaning. All in much more detail than your sun sign alone could.
What Is A “Sign Type?”
Every month I’ve been writing about the personality traits associated with the current sun sign. You may wonder why I bother to use the phrase “sign type” instead of just saying “sign.” If what I mean is Pisces, why don’t I just say Pisces instead of “Pisces type” or “Neptune type?” It’s because many things go into making a Pisces type and not every Pisces person actually is a Pisces type. You may wonder also why I mention planets—why is a Pisces type a “child of Neptune?” It could sound like so much New-Age silliness. Hang on, dear reader—this article will explain all that.
Are you a Pisces who doesn’t feel like a Pisces? Are you a Libra who feels much more like a Scorpio? Not every person is true to the temperament of their sun sign, because your sun sign is not all you are. It’s a strong part of who you are, but it only dominates your personality when supported by other factors. If those other factors gather around a theme different from your sun sign, then you could easily identify as a very different sign. Thus you could pick up a book about zodiac signs, read “your” chapter, reject it as bunk and decide that all of astrology is bunk because it doesn’t match your experience and because categorizing all of humanity into twelve flat types is ridiculous. And you’re within your rights to draw that conclusion.
The situation is frustrating for astrologers, because we know that with a precise birth time we can read personality with uncanny accuracy and we can do it consistently. So when we see a person who doesn’t feel the truth of their sun sign, we naturally feel the urge to search that person’s chart to discover which archetype calls to them the most. And for many many people there are two or even three archetypes blended together that call to them with equal loudness.
Practicing professional astrologers know better than to reduce a human being to a single flat type. Each human being is a unique blend of at least a few sign types. To determine sign dominance, an astrologer will sort through the masses of factors in a chart, matching like factors with like until a whole picture emerges of a human being made up of a few strong traits or themes that really pop out, supported by any number of weaker, more background ones. A practiced astrologer does this very fast and can glance over a chart to determine the strongest 1-3 archetypes inside about 5 minutes. A thorough analysis can take hours and have stronger results; this process is only part of what a professional does when preparing for a reading.
As an example, here are some things an astrologer might find in the chart of a “Libran type:”
- They might have the Sun or the Moon in Libra, supported by at least one more planet in Libra.
- They might have a “stellium” or grouping of at least 3 planets in Libra (without need for the Sun or Moon to be among them).
- They might have Venus, Libra’s ruling planet, in the First House.
- They might have Venus placed prominently in their chart, either by connection to Sun or Moon, or perhaps at the Midheaven.
- The Seventh House is ruled by Venus, so they might have a very full Seventh House (i.e. having at least 3 planets in it).
- They might have a see-saw type chart, where many planets are in opposition to each other, generating an overall Libra feel.
To really be a Libran type, you have to have not just one but several of the above. Having an emphasis involving both the sign and planet strengthens the type considerably and in an article about a given sign I’ll frequently name the planet that rules it. For example, in an article about Libra, you might catch me using the phrases “Libran type,” “Venusian type” or even “child of Venus” (can you stand it?) to convey the connection between this sign and its ruling planet.
If you have never felt a resonance with your own sign (i.e. your Sun sign), you could have an emphasis of planets in a different sign which might call to you more, if only you knew what it is. To find out, you might want to order your own personal Astrology Chart Decoder. This is a special tool I’ve invented that puts your chart’s details in English, instead of astrology symbols. Your Decoder tells you where every planet in your chart is located: the sign it’s in, the house it’s in and the exact degree it occupies. When you’ve got your Decoder in front of you, check to see if any sign appears 3 times or more. If one does, that sign is pretty darned strong in your personality–most likely stronger than that Sun sign of yours.
Now, most of the criteria I listed above is stuff you don’t need to know about. What you do need to know is that some Librans are more Libran than others, and that you don’t have to have the Sun in Libra to qualify, so some Libran types will not know they are. When you become familiar with the archetypes, you’ll learn to spot the types. Then you’ll want to find out if you were right by looking at the person’s chart. Watch out because then you might become hooked on astrology. Believe me, it can easily become a lifelong obsession.
I love astrology because of its endless complexity. It is the only personality system equipped to describe the tremendous intricacies of being human. And I am speaking as someone with great respect for Myers-Briggs and the enneagram. But there’s nothing better than your accurate astrology chart to reflect you to yourself, in all your complexity and depth. And your chart works not only today, but also tomorrow, next year and for the rest of your life, bringing fresh insight as your life unfolds and you move through its changes.
What Makes a Strong Sign Type
In my previous article You’re Not Just Your Sun Sign I pointed out that human beings are too complex to be reduced to a single sign of the zodiac. I hope also that I made it clear that it’s possible for a person to be a pretty strong type by virtue of having several planets in a given sign. One way this can happen is if Mercury and Venus are in the same sign as the sun. Because of the way the solar system is arranged, this is not at all unlikely. Here’s why:
In our solar system, Mercury is closest to the sun. Venus is next in line, followed by Earth, then Mars, then Jupiter and so on. This means that from Earth’s point of view (which is what matters in astrology, because Earth is where we live) the sun, Mercury and Venus will always be in the same quadrant of sky. You will never see Mercury opposite the sun in a birth chart and if someone tells you that you have that, they’re pulling your leg because it’s physically impossible. Mercury will always be found in the sun’s sign or one sign ahead or behind the sun. Venus ranges a little further, but it will never be further from the sun than two signs ahead or behind.
So in any chart, relative to the sun, Mercury has three signs it could be in, while Venus has five. This significantly increases the statistical chances of Mercury, Venus, or both doubling up in the sun’s sign, which will intensify the sun sign traits. This is why some people are purer types than others and it’s also why some people may identify with their sun sign very little. If you are a solid Capricorn sun, but you have a flirtatious Aquarian Venus and a loquacious Sagittarian Mercury, you won’t feel much like a Capricorn unless you have some other planet there (or at least in another Earth sign) to back it up. However, your Capricorn nature will out eventually, probably around the time of your Saturn return, when you are approaching 30 and find yourself suddenly taking life more seriously.
It’s fairly easy to find out where your Mercury and Venus are by ordering your own personal Astrology Chart Decoder. This is a special tool I’ve invented that puts your chart’s details in English, instead of astrology symbols. Your Decoder tells you where every planet in your chart is located: the sign it’s in, the house it’s in and the exact degree it occupies. When you’ve got your Decoder in front of you, you’ll be able to easily find your Mercury and Venus signs.
While you have your Decoder in front of you, look to see if a single sign appears three or more times. If it does, that is probably your strongest sign, whether it is your sun sign or not. If you enjoy reading the silly newspaper “horoscopes,” then this is the sign you should look at, not necessarily your sun sign.