Ever read a description of your “sign” and just felt like it had little or nothing to do with you? Ever felt categorized by astrology, forced into a grouping that had no relevance for your life? Ever felt frustrated by others who discover your sign and then nod sagely and say “of course” as if now they suddenly have the key to you? It’s all very annoying. Believe it or not, it’s annoying to astrologers too. Believe it or not, the problem is not with astrology, it’s with how people use astrology. Your sun sign is only one small part of who you are, and while astrologers view the sun as important and central, it’s not everything. Not in the least.
What Does My “Sign” Mean Anyway?
When someone asks you your “sign,” they are asking about your sun sign, or the sign of the zodiac the sun was in when you were born. The sun moves through all 12 signs every year in a regular pattern we experience as the seasons. The sun is always just entering Aries on the first day of spring—in fact, that’s an integral part of the very definition of the first day of spring. On the first day of spring, the sun is directly overhead at the equator, making the days and nights of equal length (equator, equinox, equal—coincidence? I think not!). The sign of Aries is the season of early spring, where the sun is when it’s just beginning to warm up the northern hemisphere for the summer. All the other signs are similarly linked to seasonal zones.
Why Sun Sign Astrology?
In the 1960’s an astrologer named Linda Goodman popularized astrology greatly by focusing on sun signs. She’s the reason why asking someone’s sun sign at a party (and drawing compatibility conclusions from it) is such a 60’s cliché. The sun is a very easy part of one’s chart to be aware of—all you need to know is your birthday and you’re off and running. Also it’s accurate enough of the time to intrigue many people.
Linda Goodman did astrology a great service by making it accessible to everyone. This has probably led to a lot more people getting useful guidance from astrology than would ever have thought of it on their own. However, she also did astrology a great disservice by reducing it to such a simple factor. The sun simply is not all there is to any individual, and to categorize individuals by sun sign is to miss out on all the other rich details in human personality.
What Else is There?
A look around an actual birth chart quickly reveals that there’s much more to it than the sun. A chart is full of detail—overwhelmingly so (thus the need for sun sign simplicity). Not only is the sun in a sign, but everything else in our solar system is too. You have a Mercury sign, a Moon sign, a Venus sign, even a Neptune sign. And to add layers of complexity, planets-in-signs may be important, but they are still only part of the picture. Check out this sample chart and you’ll see what I mean:
It’s hard to even know where to start, isn’t it? If you look at the bottom of the chart and a little to the left, you’ll find a small circle with a dot inside it. That’s the sun. As you can see, it’s just one factor among many.
Actually this single diagram is loaded with information, all coded in symbols. Astrology is a language, like Spanish or algebra or C++ or musical notation. Every symbol shown here means something and every combination of symbols adds layers of complex and individual meaning. And because the patterns of planetary placement in the sky change at least a little every 3 minutes, this makes a birth-moment, and thus the chart that locked in during it, and by extension the person who was born that moment, highly individual. No categorization at all.
This chart has a complexity of a factor of 11 x 12 x 12 at a minimum. Why? Because in the chart there are 11 “planets” (two of which are the sun and moon, not strictly planets at all), each of which has the possibility of appearing in any of 12 signs and any of 12 houses. And this is just the beginning of the complexity here. I won’t belabor the point because by now no doubt you are getting the picture. You are not your sun sign! Not remotely.
Sun signs were really only ever intended as a gateway. If you find your sun sign interesting, seek out more information (one great way is to get a natal chart reading). You will find that your astrology chart, if accurate, is surprisingly well-suited to describe you in great detail. And the chart does more than describe—the chart also advises. Read properly, your chart will show you your own best life, describing avenues of success and happiness and giving your existence meaning. All in much more detail than your sun sign could do alone.
This is one of three related articles on the subject of why your Sun sign is not all that you are. For more insight, see the other two.
You Are Not Just Your “Sign” posted 4/4/07
What Is A “Sign Type?” posted 4/9/09
What Makes a Strong Sign Type? posted 8/28/07