"But I Don't Feel Like A Libra!"
My journey from disbeliever to part-time professional astrologer and how I came to love my sign
My Introduction to Astrology
My first encounter with astrology was from a coffee-stained newspaper on the corner of my grandparents' kitchen table. The article it contained struck a chord with me, but not a beautiful harp chord, more like a screeching violin chord. According to the "Horoscope of the Day," being born in October meant that I was "charming, dishonest and gullible." Charming? I wish. I had no friends and got bullied everyday by a bunch of ugly boys who would try to trip me in the halls of our elementary school. Dishonest? No way. My pious-like inability to lie was probably the reason for my social awkwardness. Gullible? Ok, maybe that one is true but I didn't want to be. I was terrified of being manipulated. If only I was born a couple days later, then I would be a Scorpio like my sister, a sign which the newspaper described as "powerful, magnetic and strong." It's true too: despite being two years younger than me, my sister excelled at the sports I sucked at and seemed to make friends with ease.
Being born with Sun square Uranus, as I later came to find out, meant that I was a free spirit. I liked believing that I could choose my own destiny, even when circumstances lead me to doubt that was true. The idea that the stars could determine my fate just seemed like another obstacle in my view and I wasn't going to let such a thing get in the way of becoming the person I wanted to be. Nevertheless, I was always able to sense that people possessed these particular "energies," facets of the personality that went beyond nature or nurture. For example, why were me and my sister so different when we were raised by the same parents and shared the same genes?
It wasn't until the age of sixteen during an awkward conversation with my high school principal that I thought about astrology again. She asked me what my sign was but guessed that I was a Leo before I could even answer. I cringed. My dad was a Leo and I didn't think we were anything alike. So, I told her that I was a Libra.
"Right," she replied, enthusiastically. "I'm an Aquarius! Aquarius and Libra are supposed to get along."
"If that's the case, I don't believe in astrology," I told her, even though at the time my best friend was an Aquarius.
But over the next few weeks, astrology kept coming up in my conversations with others, almost as if some higher force were guiding me to it. I didn't believe in it but I subscribed to a certain principle that in retrospect I realize to be very Libran in nature: consider all the facts with an open mind before forming any final opinions. I realized that I couldn't in all fairness say I "didn't believe in it," without researching it first and so I did...
My Journey Begins...
I stayed up all night reading up on the zodiac signs of everyone I knew and I was surprised by what I found. I learned that the Sun Sign was not the whole picture but that we had a whole chart, which included all the planets and something called "houses," or divisions of the sky.
Apparently, being born around 8:30 PM meant that Gemini was on the eastern horizon at the time of my birth, the place where the sun rises. According to the traditional rules of astrology, the "Rising Sign" tells you a lot about a person's character and personality as well as their health and physical appearance. Being a Gemini Rising not only meant that I was intellectual, chatty and a multitasker but also that I was petite and looked young for my age. It also meant that my Libra Sun was placed in the "5th house," the house associated with self-expression and creativity. Now, this was me to a T. Not to mention I had a ton of Scorpio placements in my chart, explaining my initial resistance. But did I relate to my Libra Sun?
I swear 90% of the time when I hear someone say they don't "relate," to their sign, I learn that they're a Libra. In most cases, I don't believe this is due simply to "other placements," but a misunderstanding of the Libra archetype in general. I've found that regardless of other placements, each and every one of these Libra possessed a similar energy, so to speak, hat went beyond the usual stereotype.
It makes me wonder: where did these stereotypes even come from anyway? I maintain that to truly understand a sign, you need to look at it's modality, element, and ruling planet, as well as it's symbol and any mythology that might be associated with it.
Libra is of the cardinal modality. These are the signs that usher in the seasons. Aries, corresponding with the Vernal Equinox, ushers in the Spring, while Cancer and Capricorn are connected to the Summer and Winter Solstices, respectively. The other qualities (fixed & mutable) are connected to the seasons as well. The Sun's movement through the fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) corresponds with the middle of the season when the weather is relatively static. On the other hand, the Sun's movement through the mutable sign (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) take place at the end of the season when the weather starts to change and a new season is about to begin.
Since the Sun's entrance into the cardinal signs always correspond with the beginning of a new season (either a Solstice of an Equinox), they are considered the leaders and initiators of the zodiac. Traditionally considered "movable signs," they are associated with swift-moving action and changes, although they are not always known for finishing what they had started. Known for pushing things forward, each cardinal sign seeks to gain control of their environment in a style particular to their own element.
Libra Season starts on the Autumnal Equinox when the days and nights are of equal length. This makes sense, considering that the Libra constellation represents the scales of balance. It makes sense too that Libra should be associated with the fall season rather than the Spring Equinox, because that's when the Sun's power is being brought back into balance after a long, hot summer, whereas it gains strength after winter. The Sun is considered to be in "fall," when in Libra while Aries is the sign of it's "exaltation." It makes sense then that Aries would be the initiator of the solar cycle.
In any case, when we acknowledge that Libra belongs to the cardinal modality, the quality associated with leadership and initiation, stereotypes about it being a "weak," sign seem to lose their power. In reality, Libras are often "passive-alphas." As the cardinal air sign, Libra is an initiator of relationships and social connections, but also, new thoughts and ideas. Rather than leading through direct action like an Aries (the cardinal fire sign), Libra's strength is more of the mind. While Aries is more akin to the drill sergeant who leads through force or fear, or the military commander who has no choice but to make snap decisions in the heat of the moment for better or worse, Libra is more akin to the judge who after slow deliberation makes the final decision. Perhaps a better metaphor would be to look at Aries as representing those who enforce the law and Libra as the ones who actually make it. From Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to Vladimir Putin, there are actually many Libras in politics. Rather than being indecisive as stereotyped, Libra is more often thoughtful, intelligent and shrewd. Considering all the outcomes before they act allows them to make the "right," decision. Whether "right," refers to that which is actually righteous and just or that which is simply in their own best interests depends on the person.
Likewise, as stated before, all cardinal signs seek to have control over their environment in some fashion. Now, I don't normally think of the fair-minded Libra as a particularly controlling sign. However, upon further thought, I realize that it's strive for social harmony can be interpreted as controlling in a sense. While Capricorn (the cardinal earth sign) may be more overtly controlling in it's need to maintain order, Libra's need to maintain balance at all costs comes from a very similar place. When a situation is too unbalanced, or in other words out of their control, Libras tend to get anxious. Rather than being passive or lacking in agency, the drive to maintain balance or seek justice is an active need. However, rather than being the stereotypical control freak, most Libras only want to be in control so they can make sure everyone gets a fair chance and that everyone's included. Even when a Libra's intents are more selfish, they know how to take control in such a subtle way that you may never notice it. In this way, their strength actually lies in their apparent passivity. They know how to get their ideas across by making you think it was your idea all along.
The zodiac signs are further divided up into four elements which include one sign of each modality. The classical elements (fire, earth, water, and air) were proposed by the Ancient Greek philosopher as being the basis for all things, including a human being's character or temperament. I personally believe that the elements display a much more obvious influence on a person's energy than the specific sign itself. Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) are associated with passion, enthusiasm and action, whereas the water signs are associated with emotion and feeling. Meanwhile, the earth signs are associated with stability and the material realm.
Libra is of the air element. Associated with the sanguine temperament, this is the element most strongly linked to ideas, reason and the socio-relational sphere. I personally tend to think of air energy as being free like the wind. Air signs possess an easy, breezy aura that is equal parts refreshing and chaotic. Apart from that, these signs are often described as curious, light-hearted and communicative. Think about it this way: air is an element that travels, carrying messages from person to person and connecting us all. Furthermore, it's what our lives first and foremost depend on: it's literally what we breathe. Perhaps that's why air signs tend to be such easygoing and sociable people. Flexible and fair, they have an open mind and heart that allows them the ability to get along with people from all walks of life. At the same time, they tend to be very independent-minded, living by a live-and-let-live philosophy.
To restate what I said before, all air signs are, in some way, linked to the socio-relational sphere. For Gemini (ruled by Mercury), this is primarily about the exchange of information and knowledge, while for Aquarius (ruled by Saturn), it's about the broader collective and the ideas that govern society as a whole. The Libra archetype, however, is more about connecting with people one-on-one.
Perhaps the influence of Venus allows Libra to connect with others on a more personal level than what Gemini or Aquarius is known for, but I reject the stereotype that they are all doe-eyed romantics. Belonging to the air element ultimately makes Libra more intellectual than emotional. To me, Libra is less about romantic relationships per se and more about the art of relating to others in general, the art of connecting to other people and finding common ground. This is what makes Libra-influenced people such skilled diplomats and mediators. Their ability to understand multiple points of view and objectively assess all sides of a situation makes them go-to people when advice is needed. Libras are skilled at the arts of negotiation but this doesn't necessarily make them "liars." On the contrary, Libras are all about facts rather than fantasy. They simply know how to word the truth in a way that is pleasing to the ear, striking a balance between truth and tact.
In any case, when we acknowledge that Libra belongs to the air element, the element associated with communication, stereotypes about the sign being dishonest should be put to rest. I suppose any sign can lie, but Libras are often depicted as being too afraid to speak their own mind, lying to avoid conflict due to an obsession with being liked. I've even seen memes depicting Libra as a "dumb blonde," with no mind or personality of their own, which certainly contradicts the air element's association with intelligence. In reality, I've found Libra placements to be quite opinionated. I've never met a Libra who doesn't have plenty of unique observations and insights to share about the world around them... although how confident they are in sharing them with the outside world varies according to other placements. As diplomats and negotiators, they know how to advocate for their viewpoint and can even be argumentative at times. Their opinionated nature is what makes them such strong activists and social justice advocates, a topic which I will address again in the next section. However, as I have said before, cardinal is fast-moving and doesn't always finish what it starts. So while a Libra may very well have strong opinions, those opinions are never static or set in stone. Just remember that as the cardinal air sign, they are the initiators of ideas, making them at least just as creative and free-thinking as the mutable Gemini or fixed Aquarius.
Symbol: the Scales
Libra is represented by the scales, carrying associations with balance and symmetry. Balance and symmetry are two things that most people born under this sign work very hard to achieve in all sectors of life. Of course, in practice, they often wind up swinging back and forth between opposite extremes instead. The scales are also widely recognized as a symbol of fairness and justice, making most Libras advocates for liberty and/or equity. In fact, in Tarot, Libra is actually associated with the Justice Card. However, Libra's scales are sometimes thought to be symbolic of marriage, as well, in so much as union and cooperation is a result of two opposite forces being brought into balance with one another. Additionally, Libra is often associated with the scales that were believed to weigh and judge the souls of the dead at the end of life.
I should note that some skilled astrologers who I otherwise respect object to the notion that Libra is fair or balanced because it's history as a constellation is fairly new, at least as far as European thought is concerned. In Ancient Greece, this constellation was believed to represent the claws of Scorpio, an image with very different implications. However, I believe the Libra constellation was used in Babylon, where the history of western astrology originates. Even in Hellenistic Astrology, Libra's existence as a sign extends at least as far back as the 3rd Century BC, making it at least as old as the system of "twelve houses," or places, along with many of the other factors that make astrology what it is today. Since becoming it's own constellation, it's become associated with Virgo instead. The idea is that the woman represented by the Virgo constellation (often interpreted to be Astraea, the Goddess of Justice) holds the scales represented by Libra.
Have you ever noticed the similarities between the glyphs (or symbols) of Virgo ♍️ and Scorpio ♏? Perhaps they are connected and Libra ♎️ can then be looked at as a bridge between these two signs. This makes sense, considering it's association with balance. Virgo is a symbol of purity and perfectionism, and from this angle, Libra can be looked at as a symbol of idealism and perfection, but when we look at Libra as representing the claws of Scorpio, it's image paints a picture of someone who uses their charm and tact as a means to an end. Perhaps, Libra can be either/or. After all, it is the sign of the lawyer who tailors the facts in favor of their case, but also the judge who maintains an objective mind in pursuit of what is true.
Ruling Planet: Venus
I decided to save Libra's ruling planet, Venus, for last, because I'm convinced that the majority of Libran stereotypes stem from this and this alone. Perhaps it's a consequence of the "12 Letter Alphabet," system that equates houses with signs and with their ruling planets. As Libra's ruler, Venus does have a huge influence on the sign that would be ridiculous for me to ignore. I just don't think that Libra's essence can be reduced down strictly to Venusian qualities at the expense of the other traits we've discussed.
Venus is primarily considered to be the planet of love and beauty. In modern astrology, it is sometimes said to represent money or values as well. From a psychological perspective, Venus is believed to tell you about what a person looks for in a relationship, their love style, as well as their aesthetics and what they find beautiful. Venusian individuals are believed to be in love with love, but also hedonistic and vain. I think this is where stereotypes about Libra being a shallow material girl stem from.
As a Venusian sign, Libras often are romantic, flirtatious and/or pleasure-seeking. In any case, they are definitely relationship-driven. Co-operative and social, they seek harmony and connection with other human beings. As far as physical beauty is concerned, however, I think Taurus, being an earth sign also ruled by Venus, is probably more concerned with sensuality or materialism than airy Libra is. As a lover of harmony and symmetry, Libras do appreciate beauty in all it's forms. In fact, many Libras are artists and fashionistas. However, I do not believe this to be the sign's dominant trait as often stereotyped nor the most interesting one.
Venus is also used in astrology as a general significator for women and femininity. I'll come right out and say it: because we still live in a misogynistic society where womanhood is often equated with weakness, I believe this to be the heart of Libra's most negative stereotypes (and same goes for Taurus as well). Because masculinity is equated with strength, it is the Mars-ruled signs (Scorpio and Aries) that are considered most strong. However, if we look to Greco-Roman mythology to inform our astrological practice, we will see that while often vain and jealous, Venus (or Aphrodite) most certainly did not lack agency. She was the goddess of love, yes. However, this did not make her a goddess of domestic bliss but of sex. A passionate goddess filled with desire, she was known for her many consorts, most of whom she pursued herself. I definitely do not mean to argue that Libras are necessarily promiscuous but I do want to dismantle the notion that Libra is a weak sign that is not meant to act but to be acted upon. After all, Venus is quite literally a planet covered in fire: much more dangerous than Mars is!
Despite my initial skepticism towards astrology, I am now an astrologer myself. You can schedule a reading with me on my website or you can read through my many astrology-themed articles on Vocal. These days, I am more interested in mundane astrology than I am the astrology of personality. However, I do still believe that the natal chart can exhibit an influence on a person's character and psyche, and I realize that despite my initial resistance towards it, my Sun Sign exhibits a very strong influence on me.
While I don't relate to memes that characterize Libra as "shallow, vain, manipulative or indecisive," I do relate to being a cardinal air sign. I resonate with the symbol of the scales and I even feel a connection with the planet Venus. That, to me, is what the essence of Libra is all about.
I'm honestly quite proud of my sign and I hope that if anything, this article reminds other Libras of their own value. Because if there's one thing I don't like about my sign, it's the low self-esteem, the tendency to be so "fair-minded," that we put ourselves down in the process. Oddly enough, in the astrological community, I see this trait manifest most often in Libras who wish they were another sign, usually Scorpio or Sagittarius. Essentially, I think we Libras need to take our power back. We need to learn to love ourselves and all our strengths, starting with the way we see our own sign.