The Twelve Signs

The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac (M. M. Shoemaker, 1904)
The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac (M. M. Shoemaker, 1904)

The earliest recording of the twelve zodiac signs is dated to around 700 BC and found in Babylonian astronomy. The path of the sun in the heavens as observed from a geocentric point of view was subdivided into twelve equal coordinate zones. The first Babylonian calendar was keyed to the twelve signs, with the positioning of the sun during the vernal equinox marking the first sign, or Aries (known historically as the First Point of Aries).

From Practical Astrology A Simple Method of Casting Horoscopes (1901) by Comte C. de Saint-Germain, page 22
From Practical Astrology A Simple Method of Casting Horoscopes (1901) by Comte C. de Saint-Germain, page 22

In the Babylonian star catalogs, the twelve signs were assigned names, which have become the predecessors of the names we ascribe to the twelve zodiac signs today.

Twelve Zodiac Signs (Babylonian Names)
Click chart image for enlarged viewing.

Aries

Expression and Influences: Involving initiations, new beginnings; plants the first seed; exerts strong personal willpower, possessing a strong sense of identity, confident, aggressive, assertive, seeking glory; native is ambitious, determined, and takes the initiative when it comes to this area of life; short fuse or bad temper; can have a short attention span when it comes to this area of life.

Characteristic Traits: Headstrong, bold, decisive, born to lead, shows great initiative, need for conquest, enterprising, intrepid, passionate, arrogant, stubborn, impulsive, can be difficult to work with, egotistical.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Sun in Aries; Mars in Aries; Pluto in Aries; in House 1, 5, or 9; also strong in House 3, 7, or 11. These are areas where Aries exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Venus in Aries; Saturn in Aries; in House 4, 8, or 12. These are areas where Aries may exert a more challenging influence.

Taurus

Expression and Influences: Material acquisitions; power to build strong foundations; involving land, nature, the earth, or estates; motivated by material desires; seeks control over land and earth; traditional; conservative and risk averse; practical; assets, money, commerce, or trade oriented; ambitious; high-achieving but cautious.

Characteristic Traits: Seeks security and stability; practical; powerful; independent; stubborn; forceful; sensual; a natural eye for beauty, and the arts and culture; loyal, but possessive, can be lazy or self-indulgent; frugal.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Moon in Taurus; Venus in Taurus; in House 2, 6, or 10; also strong in House 4, 8, or 12. These are areas where Taurus exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Mars in Taurus; Uranus in Taurus; Pluto in Taurus; in House 3, 7, or 11. These are areas where Taurus may exert a more challenging influence.

Gemini

Expression and Influences: Expressive, flexible and adaptable; involving siblings, twins, or multiple personalities or multiple approaches; multiples; changeable; many changes and shifts will be experienced in the corresponding area of life; fluctuating; situations involving this area of life are unpredictable, changeable, and ever shifting; short distance travels will be productive for this area of life; expressive and communicative; cerebral; many initiations few completions.

Characteristic Traits: Unpredictable, adaptable to changes, versatile, multi-talented, persuasive, witty, intellectual, conversational, can be capricious, too many ideas and not enough execution; volatile, changeable; lacks focus; gives a strong first impression but no follow-through; frenetic energy; indecisive; curios and inquisitive.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Mercury in Gemini; in House 3, 7, or 11; also strong in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Gemini exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Jupiter in Gemini; in House 2, 6, or 10. These are areas where Gemini may exert a more challenging influence.

Cancer

Expression and Influences: Constructive use of intuition and sentimentality in corresponding area of life; where one can be more intuitive; motivated by home and family; emotional; private; relating to ancestry, heritage, or lineage; hidden treasures; self-preservationist; where one seeks spiritual understanding or meaning.

Characteristic Traits: Complicated individual; fundamentally conservative, home-loving; intuitive; loving; protective over one’s personal space and loved ones; tough outer shell to break; moody, timid, pessimistic; emotionally sensitive; empathic.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Moon in Cancer; Jupiter in Cancer; Neptune in Cancer; in House 4, 8, or 12; also strong in House 2, 6, or 10. These are areas where Cancer exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Mars in Cancer; Saturn in Cancer; in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Cancer may exert a more challenging influence.

Leo

Expression and Influences: Glory-seeking; leadership; nobility; seeking happiness and romance; creativity; a lot of pride for achievements in the corresponding area of life; bold and courageous; seeking attention; where one tends to dominate, where one tends to shine.

Characteristic Traits: A powerful leader; big-hearted and magnanimous; needs to be the center of attention; seeks fame and glory; optimistic; strong in performing arts; action-oriented; self-confident, can become overly proud of self; vanity; intense.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Sun in Leo; Neptune in Leo; in House 1, 5, or 9; also strong in House 3, 7, or 11. These are areas where Leo exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Saturn in Leo; Uranus in Leo; in House 4, 8, or 12. These are areas where Leo may exert a more challenging influence.

Virgo

Expression and Influences: Strives for perfectionism; relating to health or healing; servitudes; where one is restricted; obstacles; emotionally unavailable; holding oneself back due to being risk averse; fear of vulnerability; hermit-like or introverted tendencies in that area of life; where one tends to be more suppressed.

Characteristic Traits: Highly intelligent and meticulous; discriminating tastes; detail-oriented; analytical; highly critical of self and of others; reliable; health-conscious; down-to-earth; fussy, fastidious; sensitive; finicky; judgmental, conservative; difficult to please.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Mercury in Virgo; in House 2, 6, or 10; also strong in House 4, 8, or 12. These are areas where Virgo exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Venus in Virgo; Jupiter in Virgo; Neptune in Virgo; Pluto in Virgo; in House 3, 7, or 11. These are areas where Virgo may exert a more challenging influence.

Libra

Expression and Influences: Seeking balance and harmony in corresponding area of life; multi-talented and knowledgeable when it comes to that area of life; values arts and culture; seeking diplomacy; partnerships, contracts, legal issues; social associations; tendency to be indecisive in this area of life.

Characteristic Traits: Diplomatic, fair, just; sociable, romantic, charming; tactful, even-handed; can be over-compromising; tries too hard to appease all; innately attractive; can be superficial, unreliable, or indecisive; self-indulgent; good counselor, good at giving advice; impartial opinions; has difficulty saying “no.”

Strongest Dignities: Natal Venus in Libra; Saturn in Libra; in House 3, 7, or 11; also strong in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Libra exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Sun in Libra; Mars in Libra; Pluto in Libra; in House 2, 6, or 10. These are areas where Libra may exert a more challenging influence.

Scorpio

Expression and Influences: High-achieving toward this area of life; intense; many secrets; concealing true identities; the esoteric and the occult; sensual; seeking power; risk-taking; passionate; physical external crises and transformations incurred in this area; legacies; desirous; high ambitions; some arrogance; may go through one major, emotional shift in corresponding area of life.

Characteristic Traits: Intense, strong-willed, fearless, determined, poised, demanding, penetrating perception, possesses the power to confront; gets attention for accomplishments; sensitive and passionate; intuitive, secretive, can be resentful of others; destructive, overly dramatic, vengeful.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Mars in Scorpio; Uranus in Scorpio; Pluto in Scorpio; in House 4, 8, or 12; also strong in House 2, 6, or 10. These are areas where Scorpio exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Moon in Scorpio; Venus in Scorpio; in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Scorpio may exert a more challenging influence.

Sagittarius

Expression and Influences: Seeking expansion, diversity of experiences, and broadening personal horizons; higher education; active imagination; hunter-mentality; hunter-prey dynamics; ambitious; risk-taking in this area of life; spiritual; seeking higher ideals; faith; long-distance travels bring fruition; foreign lands; pilgrimage or inner spiritual journey for self-knowledge in corresponding area of life.

Characteristic Traits: Intellectual, idealistic, witty, free-spirited, has a bright and optimistic outlook; can be careless and tactless; adventurous, goal-seeking, enthusiastic; can be reckless and unrestrained toward others; arrogant; overly confident with self; too much restlessness; non-committal; inconsistent; dislikes boundaries; philosophical, generous, and giving.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Jupiter in Sagittarius; in House 1, 5, or 9; also strong in House 3, 7, or 11; also strong in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Sagittarius exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Mercury in Sagittarius; in House 4, 8, or 12. These are areas where Sagittarius may exert a more challenging influence.

Capricorn

Expression and Influences: Seeking to scale new heights; proud of accomplishments; seeking glory; seeking to transcend past and be better than the previous; aiming high; seeking higher social status, power, or public esteem in corresponding area of life; seeking advancements in that area of life; where one is more ambitious and represents the themes of one’s life goals.

Characteristic Traits: High achieving, goal-oriented, results-oriented, pragmatic, disciplined, stable, conservative, modest, prudent, can be callous and pessimistic; stubborn, introverted, self-centered, detached, moody; inability to express the self; seeks achievement rather than self-knowledge; rigid in values and ideologies; can be materialistic; may lack imagination or creativity; always steadfast, reliable, and trustworthy.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Mars in Capricorn; Saturn in Capricorn; in House 2, 6, or 10; also strong in House 4, 8, or 12. These are areas where Capricorn exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Moon in Capricorn; Jupiter in Capricorn; Neptune in Capricorn; in House 3, 7, or 11. These are areas where Capricorn may exert a more challenging influence.

Aquarius

Expression and Influences: Humanitarian, devotional, spiritual; eccentric and unconventional; marching to beat of own drum; where one seeks to contribute to the greater good; where one seeks change and progress; involving collective or group endeavors.

Characteristic Traits: Highly intelligent, amicable, friendly, humanitarian, innovative, possesses a lot of ingenuity, progressive, group-conscious; strong and attractive, forceful, possesses tremendous personal power; popular, intelligent, unpredictable, rebellious, eccentric, aloof, emotionally superficially or unavailable; can be an extremist when incited; stubborn; energies of Higher Thought.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Saturn in Aquarius; Uranus in Aquarius; in House 3, 7, or 11; also strong in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Aquarius exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Sun in Aquarius; Neptune in Aquarius; in House 2, 6, or 10. These are areas where Aquarius may exert a more challenging influence.

Pisces

Expression and Influences: Difficulties and challenges as pertaining to emotions felt toward corresponding area of life; fluctuations; indecisiveness; self-sacrificing, passive, and too yielding in corresponding area of life; crises, revelations, and epiphanies to be experienced in that area of life; karmic lesson for this life path is to gain self-knowledge and reveal the hidden self in this area.

Characteristic Traits: Sensitive, self-sacrificing, intuitive, values human relations, creative, possesses a vivid imagination; may swing between planes of reality and spiritualism; mysterious, sensual, romantic, emotional; great at conceptual or abstract thought; compassionate, empathic; sensitive, yielding to others; an escapist and idealist; can be lazy or weak-willed (gets hurt easily; gets demoralized easily), overly sensitive, hyper-sensitive to criticism, impractical.

Strongest Dignities: Natal Jupiter in Pisces; Neptune in Pisces; Pluto in Pisces; in House 4, 8, or 12; also strong in House 2, 6, or 10. These are areas where Pisces exerts a more constructive influence.

Weakest Dignities: Natal Mercury in Pisces; in House 1, 5, or 9. These are areas where Pisces may exert a more challenging influence.

"Hermes Hieroglyphic Plan of the Ancient Zodiac" from Athanasius Kircher Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652)
“Hermes Hieroglyphic Plan of the Ancient Zodiac” from Athanasius Kircher Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652)

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