Here is an essay written by a very intelligent woman studying astrology with me…
A Sign is defined as the area of space that the Sun travels through as it moves along the celestial equator. Each sign is “a collection of the Suns’ locations” measured with reference to the relative movement of the Sun and Moon as observed from Earth (i.e. how far the Sun has travelled during a rotation of the Moon) and results in 12 equal divisions of 30degrees, making up the 12 signs of the zodiac that all the planets travel through.
Each sign has unique characteristics, formed by three major factors: planetary ruler, element and modality.
The Planetary ruler bestows its key symbolism and is the most significant factor in characterising a sign. The rulers are allocated to signs in a systematic way. The Sun and Moon (being the most prominent celestial bodies as seen from Earth) occupy the prime regions of the zodiac (the areas where the Sun is at its most northerly, uppermost position on its path along the celestial equator). The rest of the planets are allocated divisions on either side of these regions according to their orbital speed. Mercury being the fastest secures the areas adjacent the Sun and Moon and Saturn being the slowest is allocated the regions furthest from the apex positions and is the reason why the two Saturn ruled signs Capricorn and Aquarius occupy adjacent positions in the zodiac at the southernmost, lowest position along the Sun’s path.
Each sign is associated with a specific element. The four elements are fire (bright, hot), earth (solid), air (breezy, invigorating) and water (deep, reflective, soft). Each confers its natural attributes and their extrapolations to the character of its sign.
The signs are paired to their element in accordance to the four cardinal directions, which are in turn associated with the four goals in life. Fire is connected to the East and morality (Dharma); air associates to the West and pleasure (Kāma), earth to the South and stability (Artha) and water allies itself to the North and enlightenment (Moksha). With this reasoning in mind, the four directions and goals align with the significant points noted on the Sun’s path along the celestial equator, namely the Sun rising over the celestial equator at the March equinox (Aries), its most northern point at the June solstice (Cancer), it moving below the celestial equator at the September equinox (Libra) and its’ most southerly point at the December solstice (Capricorn).
Therefore, there are four “cardinal” signs at the root of each element and life-goal: Aries (fire, morality), Cancer (water, enlightenment), Libra (air, pleasure) and Capricorn (earth, stability). Each root extends by trine/triangle to the remaining signs. Aries forms the apex of the fire/morality trine with Leo and Sagittarius. Cancer forms the apex of the water/enlightenment triangle with Scorpio and Pisces. Libra forms the apex of the air/pleasure triangle with Aquarius and Gemini. Capricorn is the apex for the earth/stability triangle with Taurus and Virgo.
It is also important to note that each element has a gender association. Fire is strongly masculine and water is very feminine. Air is also masculine and earth is also feminine, however these signs are less potent in their gender identifications and considered to be more neutral.
The third contributing factor in developing the nature of a sign is the modality, which is a reference to the behavior the Sun exhibits whilst it passes through that sign and how the weather is affected as a result. There are three modalities (orientations): cardinal, fixed and dual.
The four cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, all coincide with significant points on the Sun’s path and is indicative of its behavior (entering a new zone of the zodiac, and thus setting a new objective). In these signs, the Sun carries an inceptive quality, heralding the beginning of a new phase (with reference to the weather we would welcome a new season). As such, cardinal signs are imbued with inspiration and the pursuit of new ambitions.
As the Sun moves from cardinal signs to the neighbouring fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) it becomes more focused and committed, dedicated to developing the ideas inspired by those previous cardinal signs. (With reference to weather we would see a deepening of seasonal trends.) Cardinal signs are imbued with fidelity, loyalty, and steadiness.
The dual signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces) describe the Sun’s anticipation to reach its next major turning point (cardinal point) whilst still entertaining the themes of its current location, signifying dualism and a seeking of balance. (Weather patterns in the dual modality tend to sway back and forward between two seasons.) Dual signs are many-branched, bridge many opinions and sides, and are non-commital.
To understand the nature of a specific sign, combine these three with careful consideration of the mechanics and dynamics of symbolic combination (Emphasizing synergy between common themes and clash between opposite themes.) Doing so indeed reveals the nuances and true nature of each sign in full detail.
- Dicara, V. (2017). Radically Deep Fundamentals of Astrology. Middletown, DE: Vic Dicara/Vraja Kishor.
- Astrology 102 –The Signs, Vic Dicara/Vraja Kishor
 There is another factor, the signs’ relative order in the natural zodiac (i.e. its position from the first sign Aries) but it is much less significant than the other three.
 There are five elements in Vedic philosophy: Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, listed from the subtlest (Ether) to the grossest (Earth), with each element carrying forth its attributes into the following one. Ether, being the subtlest is ubiquitous and as such is not given specific consideration in this scenario. The space permeates the entire zodiac equally, but the other four elements are more prominently found in one specific locations.
 The modalities do not describe the actual weather conditions themselves, rather the trend associated with the changes in weather, i.e. changing, stationary or fluctuating, and as such are not hemisphere specific.