Sometimes I wonder how other astrologers explain astrology Sun sign theory to the general public; I occasionally hear this area of astrology being knocked, from all angles, yet, whether anyone believes it is a right way or wrong way to go about trying to understand human action and personality types, there is an internal logic involved in its process! There is also a perfectly logical component (character) in so far as general astrology theory goes - and, to be fair, a somewhat less logical one (time). But, so long as we are clear about what we are picking up on in this respect, there are factors in Sun sign astrology that can be insightful and can even be said to accord with sound astrological theory. Essential compatibility is one of them.
When the subject of Sun Sign style astrology comes up with non-astrologers, it's often misnamed "horoscopes", which might well be to do with media naming but who really knows?! Regardless, I frequently hear a comment along the lines that this represents a strange way of looking at the world, because we're only considering a twelfth of the population. However, the fact is that there ARE only twelve zodiac signs considered in Western astrology.
Whilst it is true that, when looking at an individual birth chart, we take into account the specific mix of the way that all of the signs are represented in the chart, the fact remains that some signs are deemed to have more in common than others. This factor is highly relevant to making an assessment of an individual horoscope, internally, to understand the dynamics of someone's personality and life experiences. The same is also true, though, if we stretch this out to make a comparison of the planetary placements in two different birth charts; that is, when looking at the planets and the signs in which they appear.
When we look at the Sun signs involved - the zodiac signs in which the Sun appears in each chart, we do exactly that - we make a comparison. This same process is often carried over into Sun sign astrology and, hence there IS some validity in making this kind of comparison between your Sun sign and that of someone whose birthday you happen to know. The benefit of Sun sign astrology is we do not have to know the exact time, place or year of birth involved - we just need the birth day. And then to be sure to note in which sign of the zodiac the date of birth falls, from cusp to cusp (the cusp being the point at which the zodiac sign changes to the next one).
It is of course fair to say that, in a full scale compatibility assessment, the rest of the chart needs to be taken into account; only this way can a full and fair assessment of compatibility between person A and person B be made. However, a comparison of the Sun Signs (or "Birth Signs" as they are sometimes called) is a fair starting place and may give a flavour of basic life orientation and attitudes. In some relationships it is the most fundamental linking factor that can be seen in the astrology between the two people so, even as astrologers, we are not always best serving our subject by generalising about the absolute best technique.
The information below, which was written as an article for a printed publication, covers what is involved in this process of comparing zodiac signs, including the proper astrological terms used by astrologers when categorising their various components (elements and qualities) because it is in the chemistry of this mix that we find the answer to why one sign is more compatible with another. This is really just a light-hearted look at how this mixing and matching can work, yet it is based on some basic truths within general astrology theory and, therefore, you may even find some fundamental truth in it.
In looking for our ideal mate or trying to understand what makes our partner tick, astrology can tell the story in many ways. When astrologers draw out compatibility charts they do not always explain how they have found their information. But I can let you in on a few secrets! One of the most interesting facets of astrology is the way in which zodiac signs can be seen to be in or out of harmony with one another based on their "qualities".
This is an astrological term with a very specific meaning in astrological studies. Qualities consist of three types, known as cardinal, fixed and mutable. Below you can see which signs these relate to and what the categories signify:
Cardinal Signs - Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn - action oriented, leaders and pioneers, they enjoy starting things but are not always good at finishing them; restless and often ambitious, the sheer scale of their achievements and strength of devotion to a cause can often surprise.
Fixed Signs - Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius - stubborn and determined, these people stand their ground and you often know just what to expect from them; it can require a great deal of persuasion to get them to see matters from an alternative viewpoint. They do not give in easily.
Mutable Signs - Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces - versatile, easily bored and seeking almost constant stimulation, these are the signs that frequently juggle projects and options; changeable, flexible and adaptable, they tend to be easy and will usually try to meet others halfway.
Who gets on best with whom?
Signs of "like" qualities are often a wonderful match because they understand each other's basic approach to life. If you are a Leo (fixed) and you're involved with an Aquarian (fixed) you will tend to naturally understand the refusal to budge over a matter of principle. The down side of the fixed nature is stagnancy, therefore it can be refreshing to share your time with someone who has a cardinal or mutable nature, who can breathe new energy into your life.
Too much cardinality can mean that it's too hot in the kitchen! Too many chiefs and not enough Indians is the problem; each person has his own ideas and plans and you can end up either veering off in different directions or arguing over what is to be done. If you are a Cancerian (cardinal) you may warm to the solid qualities of the fixed sign of Scorpio, which can make you feel cosier and more secure.
When two mutable signs meet, because both are open to options it can be quite difficult settling on specific activities! There is great energy in such a paring and therefore Virgos (mutable) can find that they get a lot more done when they are around other mutable signs: Sagittarians and Geminis. There can also be excellent matches with some of the other types of signs, such as cardinal Aries, whose powerful leadership and creativity is a great inspiration.
Only experience can tell if similarities or differences will work the best for you. But next time you are wondering why you are clashing with someone or why there is such a brilliant rapport between you, remember that it might have something to do with the astrological "qualities" of your Sun's signs!
Article Copyright Diana McMahon-Collis 2006 All Rights Reserved. Originally published in Star Temple News October 2002 as Astrological Partners.