12 Zodiac Signs Dates, Symbols, And Defining Traits

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zodiac wheel

Astrology is a type of divination involving the study of the star constellations along with the movements of the planets to help us prepare and learn about the events that occur in our own lives and past lives. This practice has been around since the 2nd century, and because of the influence of Greek philosophers, the stars as well as planets boast names that correlate to their mythology beliefs.

When we reference our zodiac signs, what we're really referring to is our Sun sign, which can be one of 12 zodiac signs.

What are the 12 zodiac signs?

There are 12 signs in astrology that affect our personality, our likes, our dislikes, how we function in relationships, what we’re attracted to, and even what career might best suit us.

  • Aries (Ram): March 21 - April 19
  • Taurus (Bull): April 20 - May 20
  • Gemini (Twins): May 21 - June 21
  • Cancer (Crab): June 22 - July 22
  • Leo (Lion): July 23 - August 22
  • Virgo (Virgin): August 23 - September 22
  • Libra (Scales): September 23 - October 23
  • Scorpio (Scorpion): October 24 - November 21
  • Sagittarius (Archer): November 22 - December 21
  • Capricorn (Goat): December 22 - January 19
  • Aquarius (Water Bearer): January 20 - February 18
  • Pisces (Fish): February 19 - March 20

Photo: Marigold Studios, Icons8 and Marketplace Designers / Canva

Each zodiac sign is based on a star constellation. While every so often we hear that there are now 13 or even 14 zodiac signs in astrology and that we’re no longer the zodiac sign we have grown up believing we are, this is not common practice.

Our zodiac sign is just the beginning. With anything, the beginning matters because it gives us validation, hints at what’s to come and also the lessons that we likely need to learn in order to get there.

RELATED: Why Do People Believe In Astrology?

Aries (March 21st - April 20th)

  • Element: Fire
  • Ruling planet: Mars
  • Zodiac symbol: Ram

Aries is Latin for Ram and refers to the dramatic rescue of the King’s children, for which he was then handsomely rewarded. Again, this emphasizes all of those traits that we come to know this fire sign for.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. When we begin the season for this sign, we’re also celebrating a Zodiac New Year in which we’re restarting the cycle of the stars.

Aries is known to be driven and motivated and doesn't always think things through. However, this is also a sign that tends to get things done because of that drive. This sign is passionate, temperamental, honest and courageous, which means that even if tempers can flair and we might have to plan for the unexpected, Aries brings energy and ambition to their life, as well as all that surrounds them.

RELATED: 13 Brutal Truths About Loving An Aries (As Written By One)

Taurus (April 21st - May 20th)

  • Element: Earth
  • Ruling planet: Venus
  • Zodiac symbol: Bull

Taurus is represented by the Bull. In ancient cultures, it's known as the Great Bull of Heaven, pointing to the holiness associated with this sign and its ruling planet, VenusThis earth sign is one that is both grounded and romantic, which can’t be helped considering Venus, the planet of love, is associated with this sign.

Every sign has both its good qualities and its negative ones, and together it brings balance — not just to them but to life, in general. Taurus tends to be reliable, strong, patient and responsible, while their shadow side may mean they can come across as stubborn, uncaring and jealous.

Taurus is a wonderful sign that is great at planning, building and working towards a common goal. They tend to be good with money and also enjoy the simpler things in life.

RELATED: 12 Facts About Taurus You Should Know (But Don't), According To Astrology

Gemini (May 21st - June 21st)

  • Element: Air
  • Ruling planet: Mercury
  • Zodiac symbol: Twins

Gemini is symbolized by the Twins, one of only two signs in the zodiac represented by this sense of duality (the other being Pisces).

Gemini is a quick-witted and intelligent air sign that thrives off mental connection and conversation. They are compassionate and love to cuddle; however, the surplus of mental energy sometimes translates as restless, anxiety, and inability to decide to stick with ideas. Of course, this can be balanced out by other energies in a birth chart, but it's still something that Geminis contend with, usually earlier on in life.

While not often spoken about, Gemini can be two-faced — both in a fun way and in an unhealthy way, depending on their own journey. This means that while we’re likely to never get bored as a Gemini, or if we’re with one, it does mean they could change it up a bit too much.

RELATED: Gemini Compatibility: Most And Least Compatible Signs

Cancer (June 22nd - July 22nd)

  • Element: Water
  • Ruling planet: Moon
  • Zodiac symbol: Crab

This water sign is known to represent the mother and the role of women. They are very loyal signs dedicated to home and family; however, they can have a hard time being vulnerable enough to speak their truth and share their innermost feelings. At its best, Cancer can be imaginative and empathetic, and at its worst, it can be manipulative and pessimistic.

Represented by the crab, these water signs are known for preferring to be home, although the water will always call to them when they travel.

RELATED: 8 Myth-Busting Facts About The Cancer Zodiac Sign

Leo (July 23rd - August 22nd)

  • Element: Fire
  • Ruling planet: Sun
  • Zodiac symbol: Lion

Leo is represented by the Lion and this sign tends to truly act like the King (or Queen) of the jungle. Those born under this sign can be charismatic leaders, self-makers and creative, but can also be overly dramatic, self-conscious, self-centered and arrogant. This is about finding the balance between both parts of this personality and knowing our worth but making sure we are aware of the worth of others as well.

The ruling planet for this sign is the Sun, and that represents the energy that Leo brings to any crowd or event. Because the spotlight will always find this sign. While at times it can feel like a bit much, the really wonderful aspect of Leo is that they know how to follow their hearts — and they aren’t afraid to either.

RELATED: 4 Zodiac Signs That Are Leo Soulmates

Virgo (August 23rd - September 21st)

  • Element: Earth
  • Ruling planets: Mercury and Earth
  • Zodiac symbol: Virgin

In astrology, we are classically taught certain things about zodiac signs, and there are more modern beliefs we’ve since adopted. This is why some star signs have two planets. But for Virgo, an earth goddess sign, it feels like both planets are able to represent both sides of this planet. A sign that is known for being detail-orientated, logical and pragmatic, this sign is also deeply loyal, kind and generous.

There is a deep connection to the earth for this sign that sometimes doesn’t always come across, especially if the darker side of the sign is more present. This includes being overly critical of self and others, and being anxious and prone to work more than they play.

As long as this sign can find the balance between worth and criticism, and work and play, it can be an abundant sign in all areas of life.

RELATED: Virgo Compatibility In Love, Sex & Relationships

Libra (September 22nd - October 22nd)

  • Element: Air
  • Ruling planet: Venus
  • Zodiac symbol: Scales

Libra is depicted as the balancing of scales and a sense of justice. Ruled by Venus, this brings a different sort of partnership into focus. While Taurus, who is also ruled by Venus, is all about pleasure, Libra is all about partnership. This sign, while mentally stimulated in similar ways to Gemini, also respects silence and listening, knowing that when to speak and when to hold our tongues are key.

Libras tend to be very kind, diplomatic, caring and generous people who try to only do the right thing; however on the other side, they tend to avoid confrontation and also hold grudges without taking responsibility for their own part in whatever occurred. This is especially true if they feel there will be no fair or just outcome for themselves or those involved, so they will avoid it altogether. Libra has been revered for her sense of balance that she brings to life throughout history — it’s just that sometimes this quest is her downfall, too.

RELATED: Libra Compatibility: Most And Least Compatible Signs

Scorpio (October 23rd - November 22nd)

  • Element: Water
  • Ruling Planet: Mars and Pluto
  • Zodiac symbol: Scorpion

Scorpio is known for its intensity; however, despite this energy, they often come across as unaffected. Calm, cool and casual is the vibe that this sign likes to carry, regardless of how much they have going on internally.

They are known for being able to walk their own path, not caring if others agree or approve of their choices. Scorpios do have a darker side than most and can not only be possessive and jealous but also have a temper that borders on violent. Now, not every Scorpio will hold these traits, as more placements in our specific birth charts make a difference, but this is still a sign known for being at home in their darkness.

The symbol for this sign is the Scorpion, pointing to that feisty nature that doesn’t always get expressed in the best ways. But with time and growth, this sign can blossom into an emotionally deep personality with great potential in life.

RELATED: What Does A Scorpio Look Like?

Sagittarius (November 23rd - December 21st)

  • Element: Fire
  • Ruling Planet: Jupiter
  • Zodiac symbol: Archer

All good things in life are wild and free — just like Sagittarius. This is a sign that doesn’t like to conform, and because of that, is often found walking to the beat of their own drum while contemplating the meaning of life.

Sagittarius is known for being charismatic, fun-loving, adventurous and philosophical, which are all reasons why this sign tends to make life a little bit better. But the other side of Sagittarius is that they can over-promise and under-deliver, become distracted, take things and people for granted, and generally be impatient with having to wait for anything in life. None of us are perfect, and with time and age often comes greater knowledge as well. This is something that Sagittarius is always interested in.

Sagittarius is often seen as the half-man, half-beast animal known as Chiron, who was seen as the bridge between heaven and earth. This is where it seems this sign prefers to dwell more than anywhere else.

RELATED: Sagittarius Compatibility In Love, Sex & Relationships

Capricorn (December 22nd - January 20th)

  • Element: Earth
  • Ruling Planet: Saturn
  • Zodiac symbol: Sea goat

Unfortunately for Capricorn, being fun and easy-going is not what this sign is known for. But that’s okay, because this sign has strengths that others do not.

Capricorn is an earth sign that is strong and stable. Represented by the sea goat, this is a sign that likes to get things done and accomplished. While sometimes running the risk of climbing a mountain that’s not going anywhere, generally speaking, this sign knows how to build strong foundations for later success. Delayed gratification is the name of the game for Capricorn.

Known to be responsible, disciplined and ethical, they tend to have successful careers; however, family and love can be a bit different because it requires more emotionality than this sign is known for. The shadow side of Capricorn is unforgiving, condescending and has too high of expectations from others.

With the mythology of Capricorn, the name goes back to ancient times when he was known as the god of wisdom. It's also what this sign usually spends his life trying to acquire, in one form or another.

RELATED: 5 Zodiac Signs Destined To Be Capricorn Soulmates

Aquarius (January 21st - February 19th)

  • Element: Air
  • Ruling planet: Uranus and Saturn
  • Zodiac symbol: Water bearer

This is a sign that knows not just how to walk to the beat of their own drum, but how to create that rhythm. Aquarius is best known for being the rebel with a cause, innovative, independent, great at figuring out new solutions for old problems, and for getting to the heart of what really matters without attaching to the opinions of others.

While their strengths are separate from their weaknesses, their sense of individuality can come across as avoidant of emotional situations. Because of that, they can seem callous and unyielding at times.

We need the evolution mindset of the Aquarian, though — it's served best with a small side of empathy.

RELATED: What It's Like To Have Aquarius As A Friend

Pisces (February 20th - March 20th)

  • Element: Water
  • Ruling Planet: Neptune and Jupiter
  • Zodiac symbol: Fish

Pisces is the final and 12th sign of the zodiac. Because of this, it’s said that Pisces is the only sign to embody qualities from all of the signs, making it a dynamic and sometimes confusing one to figure out from an outside perspective.

Superficially, this sign can be seen as overly romantic and dreamy; however, as a sign of duality, Pisces can also go cold rather quickly if feelings were hurt or if there was disrespect.

Represented by two fish swimming in opposite directions, it seems Pisces is always having to make a choice or decision between one way or another — sometimes, reality and their dream world. Pisceans are wise, generous and very intuitive, often seeming to hold psychic traits and to anticipate the needs of those around them with skill. Their shadow side is that they tend to be overly trusting and optimistic. Because of that, they often are fearful or anxious.

For Pisces, the biggest lesson exists in finding the balance between the two worlds they are always swimming in between.

RELATED: 5 Zodiac Signs That Are Pisces Soulmates

Kate Rose is a writer, spiritual astrologist, relationship and life coach, and motivational speaker. For more of her work, visit her website