The zodiac astrological sign chart was introduced thousands of years ago when civilizations relied on constellations and star signs for navigation and agriculture. Since then, as our understanding of the traits and behaviors associated with each zodiac sign has grown, western astrology and reading horoscopes has changed and evolved dramatically.
Today, the zodiac is used as a means of understanding ourselves and others — the traits that define us and them — in order to help us form meaningful relationships, better connect with loved ones, and contextualize the world we live in. Here’s an in-depth look at the important traits and features associated with each zodiac sign to help you on your astrological journey.
Zodiac Signs at a Glance
While you likely know your own zodiac signs and traits, it can be useful to recognize the traits of other signs when forging important relationships and communicating with friends and family.
The zodiac is divided into four elements: air, fire, water, and earth. Each sign has its own animals, traits, and mythologies. Additionally, there are different houses, rising signs, moon signs, and planets on our birth charts that can influence our behavior and dominant traits. We usually look at our sun sign (or “star sign”) to determine which of the twelve zodiac signs represents us based on the date we were born. This is a good way to start when familiarizing yourself with the signs of the zodiac and their common characteristics.
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Ruling Planet: Mars
Aries is the first zodiac sign of the calendar, and it’s not hard to see why. Aries are fire signs: They’re known for being ambitious, sometimes to the point of headstrong, and they make for good leaders and competitors. The flip side of Aries’ strength and passion is impatience, a short temper, and aggression — so it’s little wonder that Aries is associated with the ram.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Ruling Planet: Venus
Taurus is an earth sign represented by the bull, and it’s associated with nature and serenity. Taurus zodiacs work hard and relax hard, embracing finer luxuries when possible, whether that means a sweet treat or a day spent in the sunshine. Still, don’t mistake Tauruses for being lazy. They’re disciplined, hard-working, and focused on the future.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
Ruling Planet: Mercury
The Gemini sign often gets flack for being flighty or two-faced, but the truth is that Geminis are just insatiably curious and excited about the world around them. They’re air signs represented by the twins because they interact with as many hobbies, interests, passions, and new people as possible. If there’s any sign that wishes for a clone or more hours in the day, it’s the bold and busy Gemini.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
Ruling Planet: The Moon
Cancers are water signs represented by the crab — and there are several reasons for that. Crabs move between water and land, the way Cancers move between emotional and material plains, which helps to make them intuitive and empathetic. Cancers have a hard exterior shell, making it difficult to get to know them. However, once you crack the exterior, Cancers are loyal, tenacious, and full of emotional depth.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Ruling Planet: The Sun
Leos are fire signs that radiate passion, humor, and cheer whenever they enter a room. At their best, they make for great leaders — which is why Leos are represented by the lion, the king of the jungle. However, that predisposition to leadership can also manifest as arrogance, stubbornness, and entitlement. Leos aren’t shallow, though. They’re loyal to their friends and extremely courageous when necessary.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Ruling Planet: Mercury
Virgos are earth signs, represented by the symbol of the maiden or the virgin and often associated with wheat. They are perfectionists with analytical, logical, and intentional approaches to work and relationships. Virgos can be incredibly careful when they make decisions, and they’re always seeking self-improvement and more discipline. Both Virgos and Geminis are ruled by Mercury, which is associated with communication. Where Geminis are expressive and outward, Virgos focus on internal processing to find practical solutions.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
Ruling Planet: Venus
Libra is an air sign, and it’s represented by the only inanimate object in the zodiac: the scales. It is no surprise, thus, that Libras are associated with diplomacy, cooperation, peacefulness, and fairness. They strive for balance and look at the world through a collective lens, taking ownership of the challenges and the victories faced by individuals and society as a whole. However, this can lead to people-pleasing — so Libras must resist the urge to make everyone happy and focus on accomplishing their goals.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
Ruling Planet: Pluto
Despite their passion, drive, and easy collection of power, Scorpios aren’t actually fire signs. They’re water signs associated with the symbol of the scorpion, known for their resourcefulness and ability to think on their feet. Scorpios are brave, true, and make for great leaders … but if you cross a Scorpio, you may find yourself getting stung by deception and manipulation.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Ruling Planet: Jupiter
Sagittariuses are fire signs that think big and look at the world with an open mind. They love to be free and may come across as idealistic to a fault, but the optimism they share is infectious. When it comes down to it, Sagittariuses get stuff done. They are represented by a centaur with a bow and arrow, which speaks to their adventurous spirit and ability to keep a constant eye on the horizon.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Ruling Planet: Saturn
Capricorns are earth signs, and it’s clear that they have their feet planted firmly on the ground and a good head on their shoulders. They’re represented by the sea goat, and once you get past their disciplined and self-controlled exterior, you’ll see the fun and mischief that earns them this symbol. It’s been said that Capricorns work hard and practice restraint when they’re younger, while more of the playfulness and trouble comes out as they grow up and achieve their goals.
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Ruling Planet: Uranus
Aquariuses are air signs represented by the water bearer, and they showcase true air traits in nearly everything they do. They’re the perfect combination of intellectual and creative, and their contagious social presence brings people from all walks of life to seek their favor. It can be difficult for Aquarius to compromise or express themselves emotionally. At their best, Aquarians are original thinkers interested in helping humanity and creating progress in the world.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Ruling Planet: Neptune
Pisces is represented by two fish swimming in different directions because they are water signs balancing reality and fantasy in their everyday lives. Sometimes they manage that balance, and sometimes they lean into their desire to escape reality. Pisces are gentle and wise, and their compassion nets them a wide group of loyal and caring friends. They are incredibly artistic and creative and can inspire those around them, but they can also become overwhelmed by emotion when left unchecked.
What’s your sign?
Following and interpreting your zodiac sign can be deeply rewarding. Our signs inform us about ourselves, which makes it easier to respond to challenges, foster connections, and set goals. The changing zodiac, however, requires regular astrological readings and interpretations of what might come next.
Studying the zodiac can also help to improve your relationships with different types of communicators, friends, family members, and romantic partners. Each sign has its own way of moving through the world; the better we know and understand those ways, the more grace and patience we’ll have, and the better able we’ll be to set boundaries and explain our needs. The world of astrology is vast, and sun signs are just the beginning of the equation — let this be your starting point in the interesting and complex study of the zodiac.