Understanding the Libra Air Sign

A Deeper Understanding of the Supportive Scales

The word "Libra" in white script font on a pink and orange galactic background underneath the Libra constellation

How we relate to ourselves and to others may have more to do with outside influences than we realize. Ancient philosophers certainly seemed to think so. The 12 classical zodiacs (not including Ophiuchus) - Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces - roughly correspond with constellations at every 30° of celestial longitude, as well as with groups of characteristics and destinies. A myriad of mythologies have classified the zodiac most prominent during a person’s birth as a signifier of personality and fate, and the tradition continues today.

Today, we’re focusing on Libra, the great mediator of the zodiacs. Libra’s are born between September 23rd and October 22nd, right at the onset of the Autumnal equinox. They are ruled by the planet Venus, and represented by The Scales; interestingly enough, their association with scales is the reason why ‘pounds’ is abbreviated as ‘lbs.’ The Libra constellation spans the 180°–210° degrees of celestial longitude, and its mantra is “I Relate.”

Over the course of this article, we will be examining…

  • Libra’s element and mode
  • Libra’s ruling celestial body and constellation
  • Defining characteristics of a Libra

Air Element with a Cardinal Mode

All Things In Balance

An expanse of blue sky with streaks of white, whispy clouds
Libras have the full spectrum of air characteristics, from light-hearted imagination to cutting intelligence. Image courtesy of Ant Rozentsky.

Before we describe Libra’s element and mode, there are a few categories you need to be familiar with. You’re likely familiar with the four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. This characterization of the natural and spiritual world in subcategories is common among both modern and historical cultures, and many cultures have individually come up with similar categories. The four elements we know today most likely come from the Greeks, who also provided us with much of the mythology surrounding the zodiacs. Each of the 12 zodiacs is ruled by one of these four elemental categories, and displays the corresponding types of personalities. Earth signs tend toward being stable and rational. Water signs are sensitive and intuitive. Fire signs might be passionate and expressive. Air signs are prone to being adventurous and light-hearted.

There are also two broader categories into which the zodiacs fall: negative (yin) elements, and positive (yang) elements. Just as with yin and yang, the two must exist in balance with one another to be healthy and effective. So don’t be discouraged by the name; negative signs are in no way inferior to positive signs. Earth and water signs, the “negative” elements, focus their energy inward, and are more likely to be introspective and receptive; fire and air signs, the “positive” elements, focus their energy outward in active and dynamic ways. Each approach to life balances out the other, ensuring a healthy middle ground.

Finally, the signs are also categorized as cardinal, fixed, or mutable, depending on where they show up in their respective seasons. In simple terms, at the beginning of the four seasons are the cardinal signs, which are forceful initiators; fixed signs fall squarely within their respective seasons and are willful bedrocks; mutable signs close out their seasons and bring in the new ones and are flexible adaptors. How these characteristics present themselves is different and personal for each sign.

Libra is an air element. The interesting thing about Libra’s characteristics is that Libras are focused predominantly on how they relate to others, so their relationship with the other zodiacs often dictates their traits. Based on the ways that Libras tend to interact with Geminis and Aquarius, the other air signs, the air element leads Libra to be strongly intellectual and keen of mind. On the other hand, the connection with air also means that Libras are often “up in the clouds.” They have a tendency to have difficulty following through with ideas, but make no mistake: their imagination is still one of their best features. Of course, Libras also have a focus on balance, so in the middle ground between keen intellectualism and wild imagination, these air signs also have a natural ability to act as the support system in social situations and to explore the world with grace and poise.

Perhaps the least surprising thing about Libra is that it is a positive sign. Positive signs are notoriously extroverted, and Libras love to surround themselves with people. They rely heavily on partnership and on being able to mirror those around them and be mirrored in return. And, as previously stated, out of all of the zodiacs Libra may well be the most focused on their relationship with others above all else.

Last but not least, Libra is a cardinal sign. Cardinal signs as a rule are natural initiators, and Libra is no exception. Libras also have an inherent sense of balance and equality, as they come around right at the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are in nearly perfect balance.

Ruled by Venus and Starry Scales

Led by Love and Law

The planet Venus
Libra shares a celestial body, but they’d be the last person to complain about it. Image courtesy of Space.

According to classic astrology, each zodiac has a ruling celestial body. When ancient philosophers and astrologers put forward this theory, they doubled up many zodiacs, with one representing the “nocturnal” side of the celestial body and one representing its “diurnal” side. Over time, as more planets were discovered, most of the zodiacs got their own celestial body. Libra, however, still shares a heavenly body with Taurus, but as we’ve seen, Libra doesn’t mind sharing. Taurus and Libra are both ruled by Venus, with Taurus representing the nocturnal side and Libra representing the diurnal side. Venus’s diurnal side is peaceful, diplomatic, and loving, and also translates into Libra’s tendency toward elegance, grace, sociability, and artistic flair.

Libra has a handful of other traits that are not officially caused by its ruling planet, but that certainly make sense when looked at in relation to how Venus is portrayed in mythology. Known as Venus in Roman mythology and Aphrodite in Greek mythology, she was the goddess of love and beauty. It’s no surprise, then, that Libras are often incredibly pragmatic when it comes to love, and have a tendency to take control in romantic and sexual situations more than they might in other social situations. The other important thing to remember about Aphrodite is her notorious jealous streak. Despite being the literal goddess of beauty, she felt incredibly threatened anytime anyone else’s beauty was compared to hers. In similar - albeit less severe - fashion, Libras have a tendency to appear far more confident than they really are, and to harbor inner insecurities that they hide well from those around them.

However, Venus/Aphrodite is the only goddess with persuasive sway over Libra. The constellation of Libra is actually part of a larger picture - which is quite interesting, given Libra’s desire to focus on the big picture in life - that is completed by Virgo’s constellation. Together, these two constellations - Virgo as the body and Libra as the scales - represent Themis, the goddess of justice and law. These two goddesses are not as unsimilar as they may sound, and in fact shared a temple at one point. As is the ever-pervasive theme with Libra, everything works in balance.

Common Characteristics

What It Means to Be a Libra

Statue of the Lady Justice, blindfolded and with scales
Libra’s constellation is the scales. Is it any surprise that they are so focused on balance? Image courtesy of Tingey Injury Law Firm.

The fundamental tenets that most Libras live by can basically be summed up as follows:

  1. Community
  2. Peace
  3. Balance

As you’ve doubtlessly noticed by now, Libras thrive in social and community settings. They are naturally cooperative and social, and hate being alone, partially because so much of their identity is dictated by how they interact with others. In their kindness, they often effectively set themselves up as the “mom friend” of their friend group, but this desire to care for and love all of the people that they hold dear also means that they will often put others before themselves. This is commendable in moderation, but Libras must remember to care for themselves, too. Their motto is “no man is an island,” and they live by that mentality.

Libras also value peace. In the best cases, their natural peaceful nature leads them to be gracious and kind-hearted. But it also means that Libras are prone to avoid confrontations, even when certain situations cannot be resolved by ignoring or covering up the issue. In the worst case, this may lead to them holding grudges because they cannot bring themselves to confront the underlying issue in the ways that they need to if they ever want to let go of the past. Libras, remember this: you cannot always sacrifice your internal peace for external peace.

Last, but certainly not least, Libras value balance to their very core. This can sometimes lead to them being indecisive, or forgetting that they have a right to their own opinions, but ultimately a sense of balance is at the heart of a Libra’s identity. They value harmony in all forms, and look at life in terms of the big picture, becoming unhappy if they focus on singular details for too long. Ultimately, their earnest pursuit of balance is what makes them the social mediators among the rowdy crowd that is the zodiacs.

Miriam Reid

Miriam Reid is a writer, musician, and history nerd based in Philadelphia, PA.
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