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THE ZODIACAL SIGNS AND THE ELEMENTS

The Signs of the Zodiac are generally valued for the most part by astrologers, having
characteristics that are modified when the planets fall within them. Usually the Twelve Signs are
separated into four groups of three called Triplicities, each Triplicity being called by the name of one
of the Four Elements of the ancients: Fire, Water, Air, & Earth. They can also be divided into three
groups of four signs called Quadruplicities, called Cardinal, Kerubic, and Mutable, but these
are irrelevant to our present discussion excepting the fact that each Triplicity contains one of each.
It is my firm conviction that one of the primary reasons for the present tendency to look down
upon astrological terminology is simply a misunderstanding: Astrological terminology is simply an
ancient form of what we might call the technical jargon of a school of psychology, and it takes very
little research to see how this could be so. The interaction of the planets in the Signs & Houses and
their relation to one another can describe in detail very many aspects of a person's persona as they
present themselves to others; the Sun-sign in particular, the Sign that the Sun is in at the moment birth,
can be a very good generalization of the characteristics of the outward personality of the individual. Of
course, this generalization represents roughly 1/12th of the human race, but this first approximation can
be very interesting as an exercise in exploring my contention that it is simply a lost technical
psychological terminology.
Each Sign has three characteristics that I prefer to label under the category of the Hindu terms
Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva, a very rough and inadequate (but suitable for the present discussion)
translation of these might be Energy, Stillness, and Neutral Balance1. These I like to think of as
the Positive, Negative, and General/Neutral characteristics respectively of a given Sign (without,
of course, any modifying factors). A person born under a given Sign will most probably exhibit one of
these characteristics over the others, some to a more extreme degree than others. Let's now look at
each Sign grouped by Triplicity, in the order of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, or Neutral, Positive, and
Negative.
Fire Triplicity
The Zodiac begins with the Cardinal Sign Aries (the Ram) which the Sun enters on March
20th of each year, marking the Vernal Equinox, or the beginning of the true year, and ends April 20th.
In its purest expression it indicates Action, but action without direction. Positively applied it can
indicate ambition, leadership, or those qualities that lead to the position of leadership. Negatively, it
can make a person bossy...one who wants things his or her way regardless of their fitness for the
position or lack thereof: Basically, one who wants their own way at all times, however irrational.
The Kerubic Sign of the Fire Triplicity is Leo (Lion), extending from July 22 to August 23.
Neutrally it indicates the desire or propensity to stand out, to be important. Positively this can be
quite good as it imparts great self-esteem and self-assurance; confidence. Negatively this can cross
over into egotism, narcissism, and the like forms of behavior. In the Twelve Labors of Heracles Leo
is often equated with the Nemean Lion.
The Mutable Sign is Sagittarius (Archer), extending from November 22 to December 22.
Neutrally one with their Sun in this Sign is clever, tending also to delve into areas others might ignore;
curious in general. Positively they are often giving people, whether it be time, money, knowledge
perhaps mostly what they themselves consider most valuable. Negatively they can be selfish, hoarders,
holding on to things in the manner of a packrat. Mythologically it is often associated with the centaur
1 I know this is very simplistic and will receive a lot of criticism, but conveys to the layman what I mean better than
diverging into a long discussion of what is really meant by these terms. Chapter XIV of the Bhagavad-gta discusses
them at some length.

2, who was renowned as a teacher for his wisdom. At his death he was set among the stars by
Zeus as the constellation under discussion.
Water Triplicity
The Cardinal Sign of the Water Triplicity is Cancer (Crab), stretching from June 21 to July 22.
Neutrally the best description is that of holding; those with their Sun in the Sign tend to be
conservative in some respects and dislike change. Positively a Cancer can be a protector, such as a
police officer, a dedicated parent, a conscientious nurse, or some similar occupation in which he or she
has the chance to save a life or defend another. Negatively, this can lead to overwhelming, controlling
behavior; clingy and grasping. The claws of the crab can defend you or hold you down, but
remember that, like the actual crab, their hard exterior often masks a soft interior. The Ancient
Egyptians represented this constellation with a scarab, which, being a form of the Sun as Kheph-Ra,
again represented the Summer Solstice, just as the Sun's entry into Cancer represents that to this day.
The Kerubic Sign of this Triplicity is Scorpio (Scorpion), extending from October 23 until
November 22. Neutrally one with their Sun in this Sign is by nature passionate, though about what
depends on the individual. Positively they tend to be very intuitive and perceptive, perhaps due to their
passionate emotions giving them much empathy with others, while negatively this passion can
become directed into lustful, grasping behaviorin this case perhaps the passions are directed to more
worldly channels. Also, the fact that the ruling planet of Scorpio is Mars often seems to make some
rather argumentative, combative individuals. More insight on this Sign may be gleaned from a close
study of the chapter on the XIIIth Trump of the Tarot (Death) in The Book of Thoth by A. Crowley.
The Mutable Sign here is Pisces (Fishes), stretching from February 19 until March 20.
Neutrally this describes a person who is adaptable and flexible. Positively they tend to be dependable
and trustworthy, while negatively this could lead them to become followers--the kind of person to
whom authority, whether given by the state or tacit, is to be obeyed; those who go along with the
crowd. Readers are urged to consider the similarity between the ancient symbol for this Zodiacal Sign
and the Chinese Yin-Yang.
Air Triplicity
The Cardinal Sign of this Triplicity is Libra, which extends from September 23 to October 23.
Neutrally it carries the quite obvious and appropriate concept of balance, while Positively it still
imparts that sense, more instead of being of a more general interpretation it is then given the balance of
serenity, of being whole and content. Negatively, however, it is as if the scales have tipped in one
direction or the other too far: This person would be unstable...emotionally or in some other way but
unbalanced all the same, at least in their interrelations with other people.
The Kerubic Sign is Aquarius (Water-bearer), which begins January 20 and ends February 18.
Neutrally it represents a tendency for activity in a public forum, whatever that might be. Positively this
could lead to political activism in order to improve some perceived injustice or for any other reason
even just to be in some public forum, while negatively this could result in the individual being powerhungry, such as assuming public office, etc.
2 From the Ancient Greek , meaning 'hand', which some think helped, because of increased dexterity and
more complex tool usage imparted by opposable thumbs, in the advance of human intelligence.

The Mutable Sign is Gemini (Twins), stretching from May 21 to June 21. Neutrally a Gemini is
what one would consider clever, although this is a general statement and cleverness can describe
many things and have many implications. Positively a Gemini can be creative and sharp--an
intelligent artist being a good example, while negatively this can lead to the individual being
scatterbrained and perhaps even destructive (as opposed to the positive creative tendency). This Sign
is also associated with the Eros/Anteros syzygy, which may explain the two extremes aforementioned.
Earth Triplicity
The Cardinal Sign is Capricorn (Goat), stretching from December 22 until January 20.
Neutrally this Sign is characterized by ambition, as the wild mountain-goat scales peaks no one else
dares to tread. In their own mind he or she is, so to speak, above the rest of us, if not overtly then
somewhere in the back of his or her mind, ants viewed from a summit. Positively a Capricorn can be
patriarchal/matriarchal, feeling themselves to be protectors of those below themselves, but this can
lead to the negative aspect of being opportunists; of taking advantage of others to gain what they want.
If the Pisces is the follower, the Capricorn is the leader. In ancient times Capricorn was pictured as
a half-goat with the tail of a fish, thus associated with Dagon and Oannesthus the Sun's entry into
this Sign is the first day of the Winter Solstice. This Solar symbolism in conjunction with the fish
symbolism may be one of the many possible reasons that Christmas, with its fish symbolism in the
form of Jesus () is placed roughly on the Winter Solstice.
The Kerubic Sign is Taurus (Bull), going from April 20 to May 21. Simply put, the neutral
aspects of this Sign can simply be described as bull-headed. Positively a Taurus might seem to be
simple but under that may lie depths unguesssed-at. On the other hand, this simplicity may be
negatively manifested with brute selfishness and irrational decision-making. There is a phonological
similarity between Bull and Ba'al, and due to nature of the bull's association with fertility in times
past it is no wonder that the Phallic fertility rite called May Day occurs when the Sun is in this Sign.
The Mutable Sign is Virgo (Virgin), extending from August 23 to September 23. The neutral
aspect of Virgo is adequately described by the name of the Sign itself: The individual is open, or
virgin in their outlook, potentially seeing things without preconception: The beginner's mind of
Zen. Positively this may come out as a perceptive individual devoted to painstaking service to others.
Negatively, it can mean one who is open to every opportunity for personal gain.3
Keep in mind that in this paper I have spoken only of generalities: Neutral, Positive, and Negative
characteristics I have given perhaps in their most extreme forms. Within the natal chart there are many,
many things that can alter or even reverse these interpretations.

3 There is a particular relationship of this Sign to certain imagery known to the 3 Master Mason, the nature of which was
obtained in a 'Vision' by the author some years ago.