This is the fourth and final part in my mini-series on mundane astrology. Here are the links to the previous articles:
The signs play a secondary role in mundane astrology. They describe the general field in which the planets and houses are expressed. When interpreting the signs for mundane astrology, focus on the modality (cardinal, fixed, mutable) and element (earth, air, fire, water) and polarity (masculine/feminine). You may also consider the sign symbolism, but be careful not to fall into 12 Letter Alphabet interpretations – more on that below.
Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) suggest the initiation or start of an event or several events all at once, which will flare up and then taper off quickly. In ingress charts, a cardinal sign on the Ascendant means that the chart is only valid for three months.
The fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) represent all of the fixed, dependable things in our world, as well as events that will be of a long duration. In ingress charts, a fixed sign on the Ascendant means the chart will be valid for a long time – for the next 12 months.
The mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) suggest events that will change and shift very quickly, and things that are of a changeable or transient nature. In ingress charts, a mutable sign on the Ascendant means it will be valid for about six months.
The element of the sign suggests associated areas corresponding to that element. Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) are associated with actual fires and explosions, war, violence and conflict. But they can also suggest the spark of imagination and invention, and have a general creative influence.
Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) are associated with actual water – so they can signify things like fishing, travel and shipping over the sea, bridges and issues involving waterways. They also signify emotional matters and issues that people feel very sensitive and emotional about.
Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) are associated with air travel, communication (“airwaves”), ideas and inventions – a similar creative force as fire, only less tangible – intellectual matters and other airy ideas.
Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are associated with the physical land and its resources, crops, animals and plants, as well as shipping and travel over land, buildings, structures and other physical objects. Earth signs are also associated with practical matters and issues that have a bearing over material things and the land.
The fire and air signs are masculine, while the earth and water signs are feminine. All the Hellenistic astrologers coded the signs in this way, and sometimes they used them very literally in natal astrology, to determine the gender of various people in the native’s life.
Polarity is also used more broadly, with the masculine signs being considered more active and the feminine signs more passive. Another way to think of them is through the Chinese concept of yin and yang.
The masculine signs are considered more commanding, leading and outwardly-expressing, while the feminine signs are more receptive, following, easily manipulated, hidden and inwardly-expressing. Yes, these do follow traditional gender roles and some people have a big problem with that. For the purpose of mundane astrology, however, set the gender politics aside and just look at these qualities in a neutral, geopolitical way.
For example, when a lot of planets fall in the masculine signs (fire and air), this will tend to be a more active time where themes of authority and leadership will be prominent; there will be lots of visibility around the events that unfold.
Similarly, if lots of planets are in feminine signs (earth and water) this may seem to be a quieter time where there’s less happening outwardly. However, there could still be lots of things happening; they will just tend to be of a more hidden nature.
To be honest, I don’t focus on polarity much in mundane astrology. Most of the time you get a mix of planets and therefore the polarity is a mixed bag. I will note any obvious trends, like if all of the planets are in masculine signs or vice-versa, but other than that I don’t really pay much attention to it.
There are other significations associated with each sign that derive from the planetary ruler of that sign, and/or the imagery of the sign’s symbol. For example, Pisces is often associated with oceans and fishing because it’s a water sign, but also because its symbol is a pair of fishes. Aries is associated with war and conquering because it’s a fire sign, but also because it’s ruled by Mars.
In modern astrology, the signs have been given meanings that did not exist in traditional astrology. This is sometimes called the 12 Letter Alphabet (read this article for my take on the 12 Letter Alphabet meanings of Saturn, Uranus and Aquarius).
An example of sign meanings taken from the 12 Letter Alphabet is the association of Taurus with money, because Taurus is the second sign and the second house signifies money. Another example is the association of Cancer with home and family, because Cancer is the fourth sign and the fourth house signifies those things.
I try not to get into 12 Letter Alphabet territory too much when doing my interpretations (both mundane and natal). Some of these do seem to apply, but that’s because they tap into the sign’s modality, element, polarity, planetary ruler and/or sign symbolism, as opposed to the false equivalencies with the houses.
For example, the association of Taurus with money, food and resources is only true insofar as Taurus is a fixed earth sign – so it symbolizes all sorts of earthy material things like food and resources. It doesn’t represent money per se, but could be associated with that due to money being a fixed constant (usually) that we use to buy material things. As an aside, the reason why the financial system has been so unstable over the last few years is due partially to the influence of disruptive Uranus transiting through Taurus.
To recap, in mundane astrology the signs provide the backdrop against which the planets interact with each other, while the houses describe the areas of life in which these interactions are occurring. Signs are of secondary importance in mundane astrology and should not be given significations that extend beyond their element, modality, polarity, planetary ruler and sign symbolism.
I hope you enjoyed this mini series in mundane astrology! Studying mundane charts in one of my favourite types of astrology. If you’d like to read more of my writing on mundane astrology, check out these blog articles.