The scorpion with its barbed tail – or a coil accumulating and releasing energy. This is the time when the first frost congeals water, putting a decisive end to that which is green. In the old Celtic calendar it is the point of death, a break in the chain of the year, when the plant kingdom goes dormant and soul separates from body before a new cycle begins. In Scorpio, the energy harnessed for practical uses in Virgo is gathered more intensely and released to effect profound transformations. Having linked with another at a social level in Libra, one is ready for a deeper merging in Scorpio. Taurus had a simple sensuality; for its opposite sign, Scorpio, sex is the ego-death and merging of two individuals. Scorpio has a sustained emotional intensity, an interest in what is below the surface, a probing quality, an air of hidden power.
Aries The pointed face and horns of the ram – or a young plant springing from seed. As befits the beginning of spring, the idea is one of arising out of nothing into life, from non-being into being. Aries gives a fresh, sharp, young, eager quality, full of starting energy not yet disciplined or refined. It is adventurous, impatient, self-expressive, open, direct, and not always sensitive to others' feelings.
s Taurus The bull's head and horns – or a pot of earth to contain the Aries seedling. Taurus gives Aries energy a material, earthy base of operations. It is symbolized by the plant taking root, and by the baby discovering the physical world: seeing, tasting, touching. It is much concerned with the body, with comfort and sensual pleasure, with good quality in material things. It is practical, steady, persistent, and tends to do things more slowly than other signs.
d Gemini The twins – or the Roman numeral two, or a swing. The idea is of shuttling back and forth. It is the young plant putting forth its feathery branches in all directions, and of the baby learning to walk and name things, to move about the world, to communicate and interact with others. This sign has a light, youthful quality. It is sociable without getting deeply involved, interested and curious, talkative, restless and in constant motion.
f Cancer The crab – or cradling arms. This is the sign of the family unit, a protected space from which one can grow. The plant is now lush and green, pulling water up from deep levels of the soil so it can provide nourishment and shade. Cancer has to do with shelter, food, mother love, nurturing, taking care of. It gives a sensitive, emotional quality, a tie to one's heritage and the past, a concern with home and security, and a desire to foster, protect and to be attached to someone or something.
g Leo A lion's tasseled tail – or the proscenium arch of a stage. The plant is now in full flower, at the apex of its development, yet already it is showing signs of dryness. In Leo the child revels in its own energy, in pleasure, in being alive and having a self; and it proudly presents itself to the world. Leo is a star performer, radiating life energy to others and desiring in turn to be admired and appreciated. It runs the risk of egotism and bombast, but on the plus side is self-expressive, open and generous, as well as proud, dignified, fond of ceremony, and persistent.
h Virgo Coils of energy walled off and contained – or a symbol with its legs tightly crossed! This is a time of toil, when the plant bears fruit that needs picking, and the grain is ready to be gathered and stored for the lean part of the year. The energy realized in Leo is contained and put to work in Virgo. Pleasure is now deferred in order to master life's practical details, develop one's skills, learn to do and make. One learns not just to be an individual as in Leo, but to function as one, to be self-sufficient. Virgo gives a consciousness of duty, practicality, craftsmanship, pride in accomplishment, discrimination and attention to detail.
z Libra Balance-type scales, a bridge, or the setting Sun. This is a time of pause after the harvest, a point of equilibrium, of Indian summer when there is a final burst of flowering before the cold. Being self-sufficient, one is now ready to reach out for a partner and settle down. If Aries was a sign of a single being springing up vertically into life, Libra, its opposite, is one of reaching out horizontally. Aries went from stillness into motion; Libra seeks balance – in a relationship to another, in judgments and opinions, in manners and esthetic matters. In order to achieve balance, scores must sometimes be settled, so Libra may court contests and confrontations on the way to establishing a relationship of equals. Libra sees the world in terms of relationships; is sociable; is concerned with harmony, beauty, decorum and justice.
x Scorpio The scorpion with its barbed tail – or a coil accumulating and releasing energy. This is the time when the first frost congeals water, putting a decisive end to that which is green. In the old Celtic calendar it is the point of death, a break in the chain of the year, when the plant kingdom goes dormant and soul separates from body before a new cycle begins. In Scorpio, the energy harnessed for practical uses in Virgo is gathered more intensely and released to effect profound transformations. Having linked with another at a social level in Libra, one is ready for a deeper merging in Scorpio. Taurus had a simple sensuality; for its opposite sign, Scorpio, sex is the ego-death and merging of two individuals. Scorpio has a sustained emotional intensity, an interest in what is below the surface, a probing quality, an air of hidden power.
c Sagittarius The arrow and bowstring of the archer – or the Scorpio arrow of energy breaking through the surface. Deciduous plants are dormant, and so we celebrate the evergreen to remind ourselves that life continues. As the world of nature retreats, we enter the conceptual world of philosophy and religion. In Sagittarius the coiled-up energy of Scorpio is released into the air and it soars toward freedom. Sagittarius symbolizes wide-ranging energy, either physical as in travel and sports, or mental as in far-reaching intellectual interests. In both motion and thought, it covers much more ground than Gemini, its opposite sign. Whereas Libra and Scorpio perfected personal relationships, Sagittarius now attempts to comprehend relationship to society and the world as a whole. Sagittarius is fast-moving, energetic, idealistic, philosophical, and dislikes details.
v Capricorn The face and curling horn of the goat – or the winding path to a mountain peak. Capricorn marks the turning point when the year reaches its darkest day, and the daylight begins to increase once more. Cold and dry, it symbolizes a maximum of separateness and solidity. Capricorn slows down the energy released in Sagittarius so it can be used in the world to make things. It puts Sagittarian insights to work, implementing the details. Its eye fixed on the peak, it plods onward and upward, aspiring toward the pinnacle of personal achievement. It is firmly embedded in the social structure, conscious of everyone's place on the ladder. It still sees itself as an individual in society; only in the next sign will a true group consciousness be attained. Capricorn is conscious of authority, practical, serious, and wants to achieve something concrete and significant in the eyes of the world.
b Aquarius Streams of water from the waterbearer's jug – or a row of seats in a theater. Aquarius marks the time of year when the life processes that ended in Scorpio have new, barely perceptible beginnings. Looking closely, you will see buds forming. Humans, however, are still indoors and focused on their social world. If Leo is the star performer, concerned with personal identity, Aquarius, the sign opposite, is the audience, the collective participant in the drama of life. Instead of the one-to-one relationships of Libra, Aquarius signifies one-among-many relationships. Capricorn carried the idea of personal achievement to the utmost; Aquarius begins the theme of being part of a group. Aquarius identifies with friends and organizations, wants to perfect society, wants freedom for groups of people, is detached and fair-minded though fixed in opinions, does not cling to the past, is idealistic and wants the good of all.
n Pisces Two fishes bound together – or an image reflected in water so you cannot tell the image from the reflection. The remains of last year's plants have reached their final dissolution, and the moisture gathers to provide a medium for new growth in Aries. In Pisces everything is dissolved in the same ocean, image and reflection are the same, and you cannot tell the player from the audience. Whereas Aries began the zodiac with the first assertion of individuality, and Aquarius transmuted this into group identity, Pisces ends the cycle with the individual's letting go of the structure that peaked in Capricorn. The most fluid of the water signs, Pisces functions by loosening up and simply allowing flow, change and living processes to take place. The Pisces dissolving of structures and blurring of boundaries can come out in ordinary life as dreaminess and vagueness, but also as selflessness, sensitivity, and a deep sense of unity and empathy with others.