If you’re reading this article, then there’s a good chance that either you or someone you love is a Sagittarius. And if that’s the case, you’re familiar with exactly the kind of curious and energetic drive that has led people to try and study the stars for hundreds of thousands of years. Today, Western culture bases its idea of the zodiacs off of the 12 in the original Greek classification (which didn’t include Ophiuchus): Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Spanning the length of the night sky 30° at a time and finding their origins across a plethora of mythological and historical sources, the zodiacs are truly a fascinating subject. And who better to talk about when it comes to fascination than Sagittarius?
Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign that embodies the traits of discovery and enthusiasm we just touched on. The constellation spans the 240th to 270th degrees of celestial longitude on which all of the zodiacs are found, and depicts the centaur archer. This archer is commonly thought to be Chiron, who in turn embodies a staggering amount of qualities that we’ll touch on later. Those born under Sagittarius have birthdays between November 22nd and December 21st. Sagittariuses - referred to often as “Sags” - are restless travelers who crave further understanding of the world, both within them and around them. They reside in the ninth house, and their mantra is “I See.”
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Sagittarius is a positive fire element with a mutable mode. Before we get into what that means, let’s break it down to basics. If you’re familiar with Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender, then you are familiar with the four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. This separation of the natural and spiritual world into subcategories is pretty common among both modern and historical cultures, and many cultures have individually come up with similar categories. Our modern understanding of the four categories mostly comes 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. Air signs might be adventurous and light-hearted. Water signs are sensitive and intuitive. Fire signs are prone to being passionate and expressive.
Related to the elements, there are also two broader categories into which the zodiacs fall: negative (yin) elements, and positive (yang) elements. Don’t be discouraged by the name; negative signs are in no way inferior to positive signs. Just as with yin and yang, the two must exist in balance with one another to be healthy and effective. 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.
This is not the only way that the zodiacs are split into categories. The signs are also categorized as cardinal, fixed, or mutable, depending on where they show up in their respective seasons. In simple terms, cardinal signs, at the beginning of the four seasons, are forceful initiators; fixed signs, falling squarely within their respective seasons, are willful bedrocks; mutable signs, closing out their seasons and bringing in the new ones, are flexible adaptors. These characteristics are relatively consistent, but they do change a bit from sign to sign.
So let’s get back to Sagittarius. Sagittarius is a fire sign, which is where it gets its enthusiasm. Fire is the lightest and brightest element, and that lightness and brightness, so vivacious that ancient philosophers likened it to the light of the divine, is reflected in Sags. They have a natural draw toward enthusiasm and truth-seeking, making them both excitedly authentic and at times brutally honest. For Sagittarius, being a fire sign means wanting to be constantly in touch with the world around you, taking in as many experiences as possible.
Why are fire signs - and specifically Sagittarius - so enthusiastic? It’s a side effect of being a yang (positive) zodiac. This leads to natural extraversion, optimism, and enthusiasm, as well as an affinity for change. It also makes Sags more prone to being joyous and benevolent; to a Sagittarius, the world is an adventure that must be explored, and they would love to share that adventure with those around them.
Sagittarius’s love of change also comes from its mutable mode. Sagittarius comes at the end of fall, leading into winter, where the days are shorter, the nightlife reigns supreme, and the air itself smells like things changing. Naturally, Sagittarius’s essence is affected by the falling of the leaves as Autumn wanes. They are born change makers, and thrive in changing environments that require them to adapt. That’s just one more reason that so many Sags are travelers.
Sagittarius’s ruling planet is Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Fittingly, this enormous planet was named after the king of the gods, Zeus - or, in this case, his Roman counterpart Jupiter. Interestingly enough, when classical astrologers first determined the ruling planets for each zodiac, they had not yet discovered some of the planets in our solar system that are now well known. For this reason, several zodiacs shared ruling celestial bodies. Sagittarius and Pisces were both ruled by Jupiter before Uranus was discovered; Pisces represented the dark or nocturnal side of Jupiter, while Sagittarius represented the light or diurnal side. Jupiter is commonly associated with judgment, but the diurnal side focuses more on affirming, joyful, optimistic, and friendly traits that Sags tend to represent well. Jupiter is also known as the Greater Benefic, and is associated with freedom and tolerance, both traits that Sags hold dear. Finally, Sagittarius gets some of its love of travel and expansion from Jupiter, as the planet is associated with the grandiose and exploration.
For even more insight into Sagittarius, it’s best to turn to their constellation. The constellation Sagittarius is commonly accepted to be an archer that is half human and half beast, but this is where the agreement over the mythology tends to wander. Some sources say that the constellation depicts Chiron, who was a centaur teacher or archery, music, medicine, hunting, and prophecy. The questing nature of the centaurs is certainly prevalent in Sags, but they also seem to have inherited Chiron’s characteristic kindness and supportive nature, which set him apart from his brethren. Chiron used his vast skills and knowledge to aid heroes such as Heracles (modernly known as Hercules), Jason, Aesclepius, and Achilles, and in doing so became an integral part of several different myths.
According to some sources, however, the constellation depicts Crotus, who kept the company of the nine muses and was half humans and half goat - a satyr. Other sources agree that the constellation is a centaur, but disagree that it is specifically Chiron. In any case, the general consensus is that Sagittarius’s constellation represents something that is half human and half something else. Sagittarius thus represents a balance between primal instinct and wisdom; like the human half, they are intelligent and civilized, but like the bestial half, they understand the value of all that is wild and unexplored.
Like all zodiacs, Sagittarius has a lot of common traits, some good and some bad. And just like all of the other zodiacs, the bad traits are often just flip sides of the good ones. Sags value three things above all else:
One of the biggest aspects of the Sagittarius nature is their search for truth. Not only are Sags honest, but they try to find the honesty in the workings of the world around them. They are wanderers, yes, but they do so often as a way to seek the truth. The delightful part is that this doesn’t necessarily impede their ability to keep secrets; a Sagittarius will probably not lie, but that doesn’t mean they’ll spill the beans on you if you’ve asked them not to. Unfortunately, this honesty can also lead to a lack of diplomacy. Sagittarius doesn’t instinctively see the benefit of tact and little white lies, and so will tell it like it is, no matter how blunt or tactless that may be.
Besides truth, Sagittarius also values freedom. Of all of the zodiacs, Sagittarius is the most likely to travel, and a lot of that is simply because of how much they love freedom. They are independent and strong-willed, and like going off the beaten path. Sometimes, when you mix together their need for truth and their love of freedom, you end up with a personal integrity that makes it well nigh impossible for a Sagittarius to follow the status quo. On the other hand, this willingness to step away from the pack often makes Sagittarius a good leader, even when their love of change and adventure runs the risk of making them lack commitment.
The other reason that Sagittarius travels is a drive toward exploration. This trait exists at the intersection of truth and freedom: they want to know what makes the world tick, and they will go wherever they need to to find out. Sagittarius will do anything to achieve their goals, and those goals sometimes take on very philosophical natures. They love to explore the inner workings of the world around them, but also of their own minds, and often do so using media if they can’t physically travel. Sagittarius has a keen interest in religion, philosophy, and anything else of the like. At the end of the day, they seek the meaning of life, and they want to accomplish that with as much freedom as possible.