There are three primary sets of symbols that we work with in Astrology: the Planets, the Signs, and the Houses.
The Planets are drives and imperatives within us. The Planets are what we do.
The Signs are like modifiers that color the ways in which the Planetary forces go about their business when we let them work through us. The Signs are how we do what we do.
The Houses are various areas in our lives, like differently themed rooms within a single building. The Houses are where we do what we do.
The Planets are extra tricky in that astrologers can’t seem to agree on which ones equal essential members of the set. Traditionalists stick to the seven visible bodies that we track across the sky: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. More modern astrologers tend to add in additional bodies, such as the Outer Planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) and various Planetoids and Asteroids (Chiron, Ceres, Juno, Pallas, Vesta, Eris, etc.). The Planets also represent a scattering of points within a birth-chart. For these reasons, they don’t easily lend themselves to the kind of polarity analysis I’m about to get into…
The Signs, though, and the Houses, comprise a different story. Each of these two primary sets of astrological symbols does embody a closed group whose members virtually all astrologers do agree on (excepting those minority voices making their case for the inclusion of the so-called “thirteenth Zodiac Sign,” Ophiuchus, which I won’t be addressing here…).
But another interesting trait which separates the Planets on the one hand from the Signs and Houses on the other is the notion that while the Planets show up in a chart as a volley of distinct points, the Signs and Houses both add up in their respective ways so as to form the overall circle of the chart. The Signs combine to make up the outer circumference of the chart’s circle, while the Houses are the sort of “pie slices” into which the chart-circle’s interior is divided.
Taking this reality a step further, it’s possible to then note that each Sign and each House has an opposite number that lies directly across the circle from it: Libra lies opposite Aries…the Eleventh House lies opposite the Fifth.
And here’s the interesting part, which can be used as a tool to help with retention of the meanings of some of these symbols: the opposing pairs of Signs and Houses can each be seen as a distinct axis, the poles of which share a conceptual link. They’re like the two far ends of the same spectrum, or the opposite sides of the same coins.
The following table is admittedly a vast oversimplification, and shouldn’t at all be taken as a substitute for actually studying and living with all of the symbols mentioned…but it can be a tremendously helpful aid in getting more familiar with the symbols involved. And with that being said, here are some ways in which you might see the Signs and the Houses not just as sets of 12 unique personalities, but also as six pairs whose members share some very thematic connections:
|Aries||Libra||Aries = war / Libra = peace|
|Taurus||Scorpio||Taurus = simplicity, serenity / Scorpio = complexity, intensity|
|Gemini||Sagittarius||Gemini = gathering evidence / Sagittarius = taking things on faith|
|Cancer||Capricorn||Cancer = nurturing, “maternal” / Capricorn = serious, “paternal”|
|Leo||Aquarius||Leo = self-focus / Aquarius = societal focus|
|Virgo||Pisces||Virgo = earthly service / Pisces = service to the Universe|
|First||Seventh||First = “I” / Seventh = “You and I”|
|Second||Eighth||Second = one’s own possessions / Eighth = others’ possessions|
|Third||Ninth||Third = local focus (the “trees”) / Ninth = global focus (the “forest”)|
|Fourth||Tenth||Fourth = private, home / Tenth = public, workplace|
|Fifth||Eleventh||Fifth = “I speak alone” / Eleventh = “We speak together”|
|Sixth||Twelfth||Sixth = physical maintenance / Twelfth = spiritual maintenance|