Basic Qualities of the Zodiac Signs

Let’s start to understand the twelve signs by exploring how their element and mode combine to create their basic qualities. We are talking about the signs themselves, not people born into those signs. Real astrology does not consider a person to be a single sign, but a unique combination of the all twelve signs.


Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn are all Cardinal signs, that’s true. So they all share common traits of ambitious growth, decisiveness and annoyance with distractions. But each sign expresses this ambition in different ways!

To figure out these differences you just think about what is different between each sign. So far you know about the elements which make the signs: fire, earth, air and water. So let’s see what we can figure out about this.

Aries is a cardinal sign of fire. That makes it quite different from Cancer, even though Cancer is also a cardinal sign, because Cancer is a cardinal sign of the opposite element, water! Libra is a cardinal sign of air which distinguishes it from Aries and Cancer. And similarly Capricorn is cardinal sign to, but it is an earth cardinal sign.

Let’s talk a bit about those differences.

Aries: Cardinality and fire have a lot in common. They are both decisive and ambitious, for example. So the cardinal sign that also happens to be a fire sign, Aries, will naturally be the “most” cardinal of the four cardinal signs. Aries is very ambitious, more than any other sign even any other cardinal sign. It is extremely decisive and loves movement to new territory and new heights, like fire moving quickly to in a straight line to consume new fuel. This sign hates distraction the most: commitment and indecisiveness are like balls and chains around the ankles of Aries.
Cancer: Water and Cardinality don’t have much in common, so Cancer – which combines the two – is the most complex and uncommon of the Cardinal group. It is like a strong underwater current, hidden and private but still forceful and moving things in a clear and decisive direction. In Cancer, the ambition and decisiveness of cardinality expresses itself almost entirely in the watery realm of emotions and subjective emotional opinions. Were it not for the emotional decisiveness of Cancer, it could almost pass as a fixed sign.
Libra: Air and Cardinality blend in libra. The result is a sign with practical sensitivity (a trait of air) in spite of its strong opinions. Libra is like a strong wind blowing due north (or south, or in any clear, decisive direction). Therefore this sign is full of important opinions and evolutions of a practical and tangible nature.
Capricorn: Cardinal earth makes this sign is something like a mountain – the earth moving upward. Creating a mountain is not easy, and Capricorn is not an “easy” sign. Earth makes Capricorn solid almost like a fixed sign. But unlike fixed signs Capricorn has the ambition and decisiveness that comes from being a member of the cardinal group. Capricorn’s decisiveness is not the quickest of this group, but is the strongest and heaviest. Practical and economic growth (a trait of earth) is the main focus and unshakable ambition of Capricorn.


Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius are the fixed. What these four signs have in common is that they all desire to be unshakable, reliable, and strong. Like the Cardinal signs, they have strong opinions and therefore tend to ignore anything that is superfluous to their commitments. Now let’s discuss how the four elements differentiate the four signs that share the fixed mode.

Taurus: Earth and fixedness – the two factors combining in Taurus – have a lot in common, and this is what makes Taurus the archetype of all the earth signs. Taurus is like a fertile plain: solid, reliable, useful, and able to produce food to support you. More than any sign, Taurus thrives on commitment and impenetrable strength. It is the unmoving earth beneath your feet, unshakably stubborn, yet unquestionably reliable.
Leo: Fire and fixedness – the constituents of Leo – don’t have much in common, and this is what makes Leo unusual and complex among the fixed signs. Leo is like fire in a stove, or contained in some useful device like a lamp. Leo uses its power of moral commitment and its fiercely stubborn strength as a tool to further the bold objectives of fire. Because fire makes Leo quite ambitious it could almost pass as a cardinal sign, but stubbornness and emphasis on loyalty and commitment give away its roots in the fixed group.
Scorpio: The deepest ocean is Scorpio, which combines the depth of fixity with the reflective emotional qualities of water. Like the ocean floor, this sign likes to become inaccessible. Scorpio makes its emotions impenetrable and unshakable via this inaccessibility.
Aquarius: A combination of air and fixedness is difficult to achieve, and this makes Aquarius a challenging place. You can think of Aquarius as the motionless wind, like in the famous “horse latitudes.” Aquarius is unshakably committed (fixed) to being sensitive in practical ways to the wants and needs of others (air). Were it not for this quality of commitment, the Aquarian sensitivities could almost allow it to blend in among the dual signs.


Gemini, Mercury, Sagittarius and Pisces are the four dual signs. What they all have in common is a love of possibilities and options. They all seek, each in its own unique way, to be more and more aware of alternatives and viewpoints. Because they do not decide to commit to any single option or point of view, they remain open and interested in anything that comes to them. Finally, let’s talk about the way the four elements create differences among the four signs sharing the dual mode.

Gemini: Duality, which seeks to explore every option, and air, which blows things into every nook and cranny – are very complimentary and have a lot in common. Combining dualism and air in a single sign makes Gemini the archetype dual sign. This sign is the least interested in making a decision or a commitment – it wants to enjoy every possibility and explore every option. Gemini is like the air blowing every which way.
Virgo: Duality wants to move equally among all options, but earth wants to be heavy, solid and still. Combining these two in a single sign – which is what Virgo does – is a challenging task. You can envision the dual earth of Virgo as something like an earthquake, the earth attempting to move in many directions at one. This sign is particularly well suited for exploring every option (dual) of practical and economic topics (earth).
Sagittarius: Combining dualism with fire we get Sagittarius. It is is fire moving here and there in search of fuel. In Aries fire burns most brightly, because it blows in a single, constant direction. In Sagittarius the fire sometimes blows back on itself and diminishes. Yet, in some ways the Aries fire is too strong, and Sagittarius strikes the perfect balance. Sagittarius is bold and daring (fire) in its pursuit of understanding every idea and viewpoint possible (dual).
Pisces: This combination of water and dualism creates a very unique sign. If you have ever gone underwater in the ocean and allowed the flows to carry you back and forth, here and there, you have a good image of Pisces energy. This sign focuses on trying to understand every angle and viewpoint (dual) while reflecting deeply and emotionally on topics (water).
– Vic DiCara
© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved


  1. Krishna Priya says:

    The best explanation of the numerous astrology books I have read describing qualities of each sign. Your understanding is very accurate and is an indication that you have been at this for more than this lifetime.


    1. vicdicara says:

      Thank you!


  2. Katheliz says:

    This has all been so clear and cleanly explained. It makes much sense and I came here looking for exactly what I have now found. Much gratitude :)!


  3. Pankaj says:

    Vic – I stumbled on this site by chance – But you are the Best – Combining Tradition and modern and correlating to context !!


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