ZODIAC SIGNS AND THEIR MEANINGS
In astrology, a sign refers to the Zodiac signs known as: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc ... Before analyzing the meaning one by one, let's try to understand what is a sign.
The term "sign" expresses exactly the meaning of "something that stands for something else". In each case, the sign can be broken into two parts, the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the thing, item, or code that we ‘read’ – so, a drawing, a word, a photo. Each signifier has a signified, the idea or meaning being expressed by that signifier. Only together do they form a sign. There is often no intrinsic or direct relationship between a signifier and a signified – no signifier-signified system is ‘better’ than another.
When we talk about zodiac signs, we refer to the meanings in a symbolic, metaphorical and archetypal way. It's about a set of information (and meaning) that occur in the natal chart as graphic symbols and names that refer to the constellations of the zodiac (signifier); obviously the referent is the man that has approached synchronically the temperature changes and weather conditions to the constellations of the zodiac in which he saw the sun rise during that period of time.
Moreover, there is a fundamental difference between zodiac signs and zodiac constellations: the constellations are astronomic elements, they are patterns often formed by the most prominent stars to the naked eye. Constellations often carry names and take the shape of gods, hunters, princesses, objects and mythical beasts associated with Greek mythology.
On the other hand, signs are related to astrology, and they represents a set of meanings, symbols, archetypal contents: when we talk about the constellation of Taurus, we are referring to the stars that we see in the sky, while when we talk about the sign Taurus, we refer to a specific part of the year (which is the month from the end of April to the end of May) in which the Sun enters in the constellation of Taurus.
In other words, watching the sunrise in the East allow us to see the sun rising in the background of costellation of Taurus, and the light of the sun deletes the constellation itself. Precession causes the cycle of seasons (tropical year) to be about 20.4 minutes less than the period for the earth to return to the same position with respect to the stars as one year previously (sidereal year). This results in a slow change (one day per 71 calendar years) in the position of the sun with respect to the stars at an equinox. It is significant for calendars and their leap year rules.
The sign of Taurus refers to a specific time of the year, and the main features are related to the life on Earth during that specific time of the year: the cycle of nature, vegetation,and animals habits. It is an abstract, symbolic, archetypal meaning based on experience to the planet"Earth" but it has not that much to do with the stars that make up the constellation of Taurus.
The term derives from the greek word zoon, "animal life" and odòs, "road, path", meaning "animal road", but also "life cycle." It refers astronomically to a portion of the celestial vault. The zodiac signs are the 12 sections in which the zodiac is divided, and they are named after the constellations. Another element to understand the difference between signs and constellations could be seen in the following case: we count 13 costellations , because between Scorpion and Sagittarius we can find Ophiuchus (or Serpentario): the Sun transits only for 7 days in the constellation of Scorpio, and 18 days in the one of Serpentario. Despite that, it's not a really relevant phenomenon from an astrological point of view.
The zodiac signs are traditionally associated with the four elements that Western science considers the constituents of matter and reality: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.
From a psycological perspective , Jung combines the four elements of astrology and with four functions of the psyche: intuition, thinking, sensation and feeling. Jung considered thinking and feeling judging functions because they express an evaluation like judgment, while intuition and sensation as receptive and perceptive functions because they only record experience. Each function can be expressed in a introverted or extroverted manner; from the intersection of possibilities arise sixteen "psychological types" of Jungian theory. The four elements and the four mental functions are a necessary prologue concepts to get the logic of the zodiac signs.
The four elements can be regarded as four basic principles of life. These can be applied to all sorts of things through the principles of similarity and analogy. Overall, each element refers synthetically but at the same time in a complex way to a fundamental quality, an "elementary" quality.
The fire burning in nature transforms matter into energy, it produces light and heat, and the Sun itself is a large ball of fire. Fire is connected to the energy in all its manifestations: it is made of light, heat, action,and it is a fundamental element of life that gives vitality and dynamism. It is associated with energy, movement, and action. Fire is associated with the mental faculties of intuition, which is a receptive function of the mind: it is an irrational faculty which perceives directly from experience.
The zodiac fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. The fire element can manifest in different ways: as a volcanic explosion (Aries, Cardinal), as sun that heats or fire that burns (Leo, fixed), or as an element that knows how to light that illuminates the night, a flame that cooks and transforms (Sagittarius, mutable).
In a natal chart, the excess of Fire (e.g. the presence of so many planets in the signs of fire) produces a centripetal movement, a selfish process which may result in destruction and violence behaviour, lust for power and recognition. On the other hand, the lack of fire can bring a lack of vitality, lack of enthusiasm and initiative and inertia.
Earth is a feminine element and it is linked to stability, safety and reality: it is the ground to walk on, the basis on which you can set roots, and it is connected to the functions of nourishment and security (the principle of conservation). The earth element is associated to patience, practical sense, to the material world, immobility and solidity. It corresponds to the psychological fuction of sensing, and it is the receptive function of the body directly conveyed through the senses, the organs, and through the taste, smell, and touch.
The Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn: the soft earth, fat and fertile qualities are associated to the sign of Taurus, which is the sense of patience and calm necessary for growing, preserve and nourish (fixed sign).
It is also the concreteness of the Virgo that splits, sterilizes and preserves the nature and the fields. It represents the yeast added to the mass that makes everything grow in a protected space, it is the separation and categorization of the ingredients, it represents order and cleaningness (mutable). At its finally stage is the cold, solid and reliable solid rock represented by the Capricorn(cardinal).
The excess of earthly elements in a natal chart can bring a sense of greed, jealousy, possessiveness and obsession. A lack of earth elements could lead to difficulties to realize things, to make decisions, to build and find stability.
Air is light and mobile of the elements, it could be like the wind: warm, fresh but even cold. Air is the element that has less resistance to changement, and it is even a good conductor of it like light frequencies and sound through the air. In this sense, the element air is associated with mobility, communication, socializing, entertainment, mental faculties, and imagination. Air is connected to ideas, thoughts, projects and for its lack of concreteness needs connections, and thus is a creative and social element.
It corresponds to the psychological function of thinking, which is the understanding of reality based on the true / false categories and right / wrong, then mediated by the judgment and the rational activity. It is connected to the basic instincts of aggregation, communication, sociability and sharing, as well as having a sense of ideational artistic or inventive type (principle of adaptation).
It occurs in form of the spring breeze full of smells of the sign of Gemini, so that brings creative ideas, suggestions and pleasure, fun and creation; it is the voice of the air, the singing of the birds whistling (mutable). It could be the warm late summer wind, Libra, which dilutes come before the cold period of the year, keeping peace and harmony in the environment(cardinal); or the air of high altitude in which everything is sparse and thin, and the landscape is broad with its sense of totality and equality expressed by the Aquarius (fixed sign).
An excess of air bring its own quality to an extreme point (rational thinking, harsh judgment, critical analysis), but especially highlights its weaknesses regarding the feelings, the actions and the reality itself, leading to a difficulty understanding of feelings and their expression. A lack of air elements could lead to a lack of stimulation, ideas and projects, and to the difficulty in communication and poor social skills.
The water in nature is suitable for any occasion: it evaporates, its condenses and it could get in a liquid state; in the liquid state does not have its own shape, but it adapts to the contents, it surrounds and fills every space. Water is connected to the universe of deep feelings and emotions: includes passions, love in all its forms as a cure, a reproductive act, like empathy as closeness and deep understanding. Water is an element associated with the feeling, the emotion, adaptability, sensitivity, and it needs someone or something that contains it.
The water element is connected to the psychic function of feeling, the function of the heart which is mediated by the judgment, and the principle of pleasure (pleasant / unpleasant, good / bad), and it translates into the ability to imagine, to dream and to the artistic creation (protection / reproduction principle). It is connected to the concept of flowing.
It manifests itself starting from single-celled organisms to the amniotic fluid which create life (Cancer, Cardinal sign); then it decomposes to water and creates the humus which penetrates deeply and generates the aquifers that flow underground (Scorpio, fixed sign); and finally the water is mixed with the ground, which brightens what is dry, what it nourishs the earth from the sky, as the depths of the personal conscience and collective dimension to access to the spiritual world (Pisces, mutable).
An excess of water elements in the natal chart could be translated into a strong emotional conditioning due to excessive sensitivity, a lack of balance and rationality. Weak water presence in the natal chart could bring emotional and spiritual aridity, lack of empathy, hope and dreams, the inability to celebrate and enjoy the present.
Furthermore, connecting the polarity of the signs with the elements, the signs of Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius) represent an extrovert attitude, while Earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) and Water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces), an introverted attitude.