Western astrology has been a popular pseudoscience for centuries. By now, most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the 12 signs of the zodiac, our sun sign, and our astrological signs' personality traits.
But what about your zodiac flower? How about your ruling planet or gemstone? Are you cardinal, mutable, or fixed? Will your star signs thrive or struggle in the current Aquarian Age?
These interesting but lesser-known facts about the 12 zodiac signs go further than a weekly horoscope, offering more profound insights into our personalities, aspirations, and interpersonal relationships.
The ancient Greeks named the first sign of the Western zodiac after Ares, the attractive, courageous, and quick-tempered god of war. True to their ruling element, Aries are fiery, hot-blooded, and passionate.
Aries ushers in the spring season, making it a cardinal or scout sign. Astrologer Susan Miller explains that cardinal signs govern creativity and are often restless, active, and self-motivated.
In Aries’ case, it’s the first cardinal sign—the best of the best. Aries are the go-getters, groundbreakers, and trend-setters. Their ruling house governs initiative and leadership, and if someone’s in their way, these blunt straight-shooters have zero qualms with making the roadblocks move.
Famous Aries: Lady Gaga, Lil Nas X, and Sarah Jessica Parker (Aries are totally Carries)
Of the four fixed signs of the Zodiac, Taurus is the most strongly associated with a strong-willed personality. Tauruses are grounded Earth signs ruled by the second house, which governs the immediate physical and material environment.
Combined with its ruling planet, Venus, Taureans tend to be homebodies by nature, prioritizing deep, meaningful relationships and comfort, familiarity, and routine within their daily lives. Taurus commemorates Zeus’ self-transformation into a white bull to win the affections of Europa—if that isn’t deep, intense love, we don’t know what is.
Stargazers can see Taurus with a naked eye in spring, winter, and fall skies next to Orion’s Belt. To see the famously conspicuous Crab Nebula located near the southern “horn” of Taurus, you’ll need a telescope.
Famous Taureans: Kelly Clarkson, Kenan Thomspon, and Ellie Kemper
Gemini signs are likely all too familiar with the bad raps recently bestowed on the astrological twins (Scorpios have gotten used to it by now). Their inherent duality is associated with two-facedness and deception, but really, Geminis are just master communicators.
The Gemini sign is ruled by Mercury and the third astrological house, both of which govern communication, intelligence, and reason. Geminis are mutable air signs and ruled by fast-moving Mercury, which means they tend to remain in quick-paced, constant states of flux.
This ever-changing nature can come across as flaky or inconsistent, but Geminis’ adaptability also helps them remain open-minded and curious.
Famous Geminis: Helena Bonham Carter, Mel B, Anderson Cooper
According to Greek mythology, Karkinos was a giant crab that came to the aid of Hydra in a battle against Hercules. Hercules crushed the crab, but as a reward for its service, Hera placed the crab among the stars.
Its ruling planet, the moon, further emphasizes cancer’s watery origins. Like the shifting tides, cancers have a constant ebb and flow of deeply felt emotions. True to their subdued, private nature, stargazers can rarely see cancer’s constellation with the naked eye.
Famous Cancers: Meryl Streep, George Orwell, Frida Kahlo
Leo is a fixed sign ruled by the fifth house, which governs self-expression, creativity, attention, and drama, and by the sun, which is literally the center of our universe. So, can anyone really blame Leos for being drama queens? After all, it’s in their astrological DNA.
Leo season stretches from late July to late August, but a single month doesn’t cut it for this regal sign. Every November, the Leonids produce dazzling displays of up to 1,000 meteors per hour radiating from the Leo constellation. Go big or go home, right?
Even bigger than their ego is Leo’s heart. The fifth astrological house rules romance and passion, and these cats love dishing it out as much as they love receiving it.
Famous Leos: Barack Obama, Greta Gerwig, Elisabeth Moss
If you want to get s**t done, ask a Virgo. Thanks to communication-centered Mercury and a ruling sixth house that governs service, schedules, and helpfulness, Virgos have all the makings of a bonafide boss.
A ruling earth element keeps Virgos practical and focused, but their mutable modality means they’re never completely satisfied. This can manifest as overly-critical, nitpicky personalities that some employers have gone so far as to explicitly avoid while seeking new employees.
But then again, Beyoncé is a Virgo, so they can’t be all that bad.
Famous Virgos: Idris Elba, Misty Copeland, Amy Poehler
Ah, Libras—the lawful lovebirds (and leaders) of the zodiac. It’s the only star sign not represented by an animate object, but that was not always the case.
The ancient Greeks considered Libra’s constellation to be the outstretched claws of Scorpio. Libra’s two brightest stars, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, are Arabic for “southern claw” and “northern claw,” respectively.
These cardinal air signs should feel right at home in today’s air-governed Aquarian Age. Libras have lots working for them in the relationship department—namely, their ruling house, planet, and element—which is probably why they’re always so well-liked.
Famous Libra: Snoop Dogg, Serena Williams, Olivia Newton-John
Scorpio is 100% the zodiac bad boy, and like all brooding bad boys, they’re not evil—just misunderstood. Their ruling planets and house are to blame. But most people are so busy dogging on Scorpios that they miss out on the spectacular show this clawed constellation puts on year-round.
The Hawaiian Astronomical Society cites one version of a Greek myth in which Scorpio, originally named Scorpius, is sent to kill Orion, the hunter. Fight as Orion might, Scorpius eventually killed the giant. Zeus pitied both of them and placed them side by side in the stars.
The two constellations, however, are never seen at once. In winter, Orion stands alone, free to “hunt” in peace while Scorpio sits below the horizon. Come spring, Scorpio rises in the sky and chases the hunter out of the night sky until next winter.
Famous Scorpios: Bill Gates, Winona Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg
Another attention-grabbing, vivacious star sign (sorry, Leos) is Sagittarius, or the centaur, Chiron. Sagittarius is the only sign ruled by Jupiter, the planet governing good fortune and personal growth.
Pair that with their ninth house in charge of travel, expansion, language, and higher education, and their restless mutable spirit, Sagittarians are ready to take the world by storm.
Sagittarians' ambition is most deeply felt during the winter solstice when the Sun is shining in the centaur's constellation. In fact, many Sagittarians might still be reeling from the Great Conjunction of their ruling planet and maleficent Saturn last December.
Famous Sagittarians: Jane Fonda, Eugene Levy, Ozzy Osbourne
Another sign associated with the Great Conjunction of December 2020 is Saturn-ruled Capricorn. Capricorns’ practical, grounded nature comes from their ruling element. Paired with the tenth house, which oversees tradition, discipline, and authority, Capricorns can come across as a bit rigid.
These cardinal earth signs are also ambitious, hard-working, and loyal. So, it really comes down to the specific Capricorn. Some of which are notably worse than others—Killer.Cloud compiled the star signs of 488 serial killers, and Capricorns were #1 on the list with 55 total.
Of course, being a Capricorn doesn’t guarantee a criminal nature, but… maybe all that rigidity is making you guys a little tense.
Famous Capricorns: Michelle Obama, Jim Carrey, Betty White
Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, governing responsibility and challenges; Saturn, generational uniqueness and inspiration; and the 11th house, social justice, rebellion, and humanitarianism.
Unsurprisingly, the counterculture movement of the 1960s felt particularly drawn to these free-thinking, flower power ideologies. Once the 1968 musical Hair included an Aquarian reference in a medley à la The 5th Dimension, the association stuck for good.
Like Leos, Aquarians are a fixed sign that likes to show off long after their season has ended. Every year from late April to late May, remnants of Halley’s Comet explode through Earth’s atmosphere in a dazzling meteor display that radiates from Aquarius’ constellation.
Famous Aquarians: Alicia Keys, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey
Pisces is the last of the twelve zodiac signs, but it’s been around far longer. Pisces, Latin for “fishes,” is considered one of the earliest zodiac signs on record, with two fish appearing on an Egyptian coffin lid as far back as 2300 BC.
According to Mythic Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope, we’re actually in the Piscean Age—not Aquarian. Some astrologers consider the rise of Christianity as the beginning of the true Piscean Age, with Jesus Christ playing the archetypal Pisces' role.
And while we’re not comparing all Pisces to Jesus (that's just too much pressure), there is something particularly mystical about these fishy signs. This otherworldly nature is primarily due to Pisces’ ruling 12th house, governing the unseen realm of life: death, consciousness, and the afterlife.
Famous Pisceans: Rihanna, Steve Jobs, George Harrison