Zodiacal Signs in Renaissance Astrology
Christopher Warnock, Esq.
Without exact knowledge [of the Signs],
one cannot attain to any exactnesse in naturall
Magick, viz. in gathering Hearbs, or perfecting many other rarities.
from William Lilly's Christian Astrology
(1st ed. 1647, reprinted 1985 Regulus).
The whole Zodiack is divided into twelve equal parts,
which we call Signs, and give
them the names of living Creatures, either
for their properties they hold with living Creatures, or by reason of the seituation
of the Starres in those places which somewhat resemble that effigies and similitude
of living creatures: Their names and characters follow.
Everyone of these Signs contains thirty degrees or parts in longitude: Hence it comes
to passe that the whole Zodiack doth contain 360 degrees, every degree containes
60 minutes, which we also call scruples, every minute containes 60 seconds, and so
further if you please, &c. but in Astrology we onely make use of degrees, and minutes
These Signs are again divided many wayes;
as first, into four quadrants or quarters, answering to the four quarters of the year.
They are again divided in division of the Elements,
- The Vernal or Spring quarter, is sanguine, Hot and Moyst,
and containes the first three Signs, viz. Aries, Taurus, Gemini.
- The Estival or Summer quarter is Hot, Dry and Cholerick, and containes the
fourth, fifth and sixth Signs, viz. Cancer, Leo, Virgo.
- The Autumnal or Harvest quarter is Cold, Dry and Melancholly, and
containes the seventh, eighth and ninth Signs, viz. Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius.
- The Hyemnal, Brumal or Winter quarter is Cold, Moyst and Phlegmatique, and
containes the tenth, eleventh and twelfth Signs, viz. Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces.
- for some Signs in nature are
Fiery, Hot and Dry, viz. Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, and these three Signs constitute
the Fiery Triplicity.
- Others are Dry, Cold and Earthly, viz. Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, and
make the Earthly Triplicity.
- Others are Aiery, Hot and Moyst, viz. Gemini, Libra, Aquarius,
which make the Aiery Triplicity.
- Others are Watry, Cold and Moyst, viz. Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, and are called the
Again, some Signs are Masculine,
Diurnal, and therefore Hot, as
Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius.
Some are Feminine, Nocturnal,
therefore Cold, viz. Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces.
The use whereof is this, That if you have a Masculine
Planet in a Masculine Sign,
it imports him or her more manly; and so if a Masculine Planet be in a Feminine Sign,
the man or woman is lesse couragious, &c.
Some Signs again are called Boreal,
Septentrional or Northern, because they decline
from the Equinoctial Northward, and these are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Virgo;
and these six Signs contain half the Zodiack, or the first semi-circle thereof.
Some Signes are called Austral,
Meridional or Southern, for that they decline
Southward from the Equinoctial, and these are Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn,
The Signs again are divided into Moveable,
Fixed and Common,
- Moveable Signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn are
called moveable and Cardinal: moveable, because when
the Sun enters into Aries and Libra, the Weather and Season of the Year quickly
varies and changes; they are called Cardinal, because when the Sun enters into any
of those Signs from that time we denominate the Quarters of the yeer.
For from the Sun entering into Aries and Libra the Equinoctial or the Spring and
Autumne arise; from the Sun his entrance into Cancer and Capricorn ariseth the
Solstice of Summer and Winter.
- Fixed Signs The Fixed Signs doe in order follow the
Equinoctial and Tropicks;
and they are called fixed, for that when Sun enters into them, the season of the
yeer is fixed, and we doe more evidently perceive either Heat or Cold, Moysture
or Drinesse. The fixed Signes are these, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio,
- Common Signes are constitutes between moveable and
fixed, and retain a property
or nature, pertaking both with the preceding and consequent Sign: and they are Gemini,
Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces.
They are called By-corporeal or double bodied, because they represent two Bodies:
as Gemini two Twinnes, Pisces two Fishes.
The right knowledge of these in Astrology is much,
and you must understand it thus;
In the Question or Figure of Heaven, if the Planet who is Lord of the Ascendant be
in a moveable Sign, and the Sign ascending be also one, it denotes the person to be
unstable, and of no resolution, easily mutable, perverted, a wavering unconstant man.
Let us admit the Ascendant to be fixed, and the
Lord of that Sign also in a fixed Sign,
you may judge the party to be of firm resolution, no changling; or as we say, one that
will stand to maintaine what he hath said or done, be it good or ill.
If the Sign ascending be common, and the Lord
of that Sign also in a Common Sign,
you may judge the man or woman to be neither very wilfull or easily variable but
The Signs also are divided into;
- Bestail or Quadrupediall , in viz. Aries, Taurus,
Leo, Sagittarius, Capricorn; these have representation of Four-footed Creatures.
- Fruitful or prolifical, viz. Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.
- Barren Signs, Gemini, Leo, Virgo.
- Manly or humane, curteous Signs, Gemini, Virgo, Libra, Aquarius.
- Ferall Signs are Leo and last part of Sagittarius.
- Mute Signs or of slow Voice, Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces; the
more if Mercury be in any of them, in Conjunction, Square, or Opposition of Saturn.
The use hereof is, that if your Significator or
Lord of the Ascendant be in Aries, Taurus,
Leo, Sagittarius, Capricorn, there's in the condition of that party something of the
nature of that Beast which represents that Sign he is in; as if he be in Aries, the man
is rash, hardy and lascivious; if in Taurus, steadfast and resolved, and somewhat of a
muddy condition, vitiated, with some private imperfection, &c. and so of the rest.
Let us admit, one propounds his Question,
if he shall have children, then if the Moon
and principall Significator be in Prolificall Signs, and strong, there's no question
but he shall the same doe, if the Question concern Barrennesse, viz. if the Ascendant
or fifth house be of those Signs we call barren Signs, it generally represents few or
In Questions, if Gemini, Virgo, Libra or Aquarius
ascend, or the Lord of the
Ascendant be in humane Signs, then we may judge the
man to be of civill carriage, very affable and easie to be spoken & withall &c.
Page Break, Begin Page 92
There are also many other divisions of the Signs:
The Signs of long ascention continue two hours and
more in the Ascendant:
and Signs of short ascentions, doe arise in little more then an houre, and some in lesse...
- Signs commanding, viz.
Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo,
- And Signs obeying; Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn,
- And into Signs of right or long ascention, [aka right] viz.
Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius.
- An into Signs of shorter oblique ascention, [aka tortuous] viz.
Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini.
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Aries: By reason Mars1,
a sterill planet hath that for his
house, and the Sun2 for Exaltation, is rather a
Sign of Barrennesse than otherwise.
Taurus: Is reputed more fruitful than barren, being the
house of Venus, who is fruitful3, and the exaltation of
Gemini: Is adjudged barren, being the house
of Mercury5, who discerns nothing of himself.
Cancer is a fruitfull Signe, it being the house of the
Moon, and the exaltation of Jupiter3.
Leo: Is reputed barren, being the house of the Sun,
and Lyons bring forth Young rarely.
Virgo: Hath the name of the barren Signe, for Mayds of
themselves produce no Births &c.
Libra: Rather a Signe of fecundity, it being the house of
Venus, and Saturn his exaltation.
Scorpio: Though the house of Mars, yet generally accepted for
Sagittarius: Ever conceived fruitfull, because the house of
Capricorn: A Signe of few children inclining to barrennesse.
Aquarius: Without doubt more fruitful than barren.
Pisces: Very fecund and prolificall, being the House of
Jupiter and exaltationof Venus, its Signe of many Children.
1Lilly says, "Sterill or barren planets are Saturn and Mars,
as also the South Node being of the nature of Saturn and Mars."
Christian Astrology page 565.
2Lilly says, "...the Sun is more neer to Barrennesse, by
reason of his excess of heat..." Christian Astrology page 565.
3Lilly says, Lilly says, "We call the Fruitful or
Jupiter and Venus and some do adde hereunto the North Node, being of the nature of
Jupiter and Venus." Christian Astrology page 565.
4Lilly says, "...the Moon, in regard she is moyst by nature,
is more fruitful than barren." Christian Astrology page 565.
5Lilly says, "Mercury is indifferent, and argues plurality,
where joyned with fruitfull Planets; the contrary when posited with barren, for he
assumes the nature of the Planet with whom he is in configuration."
Christian Astrology page 565.
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