Astrology 101: The Zodiac as Self-Care, From Aries All the Way to Pisces

Astrology is having a moment. Or should we say that astrology is here to stay? No longer just for the "woo-woo" New Age community––like its last big heyday in the 1970s––the practice of astrology has become widespread among millennials and Gen Z in the last few years. So why the hype? If humans have been practicing astrology for several centuries (and reading horoscopes in the paper for the last few decades), why is the belief system getting so much attention right now?

Well, we're also in the golden age of self-care. More and more, people recognize the serious impact that factors such as stress and burnout have on one's mental health and psyche. And while astrology might not appear like a form of wellness to a skeptic, learning more about your zodiac sign can be a huge help in recognizing your own triggers, stressors, and self-care needs.

After all, when you dig into your zodiac sign and birth chart, you're ultimately learning about yourself. Knowing how you tick can help you be more aware of what stresses you out or upsets you, what makes you feel happier or more relaxed, and (speaking generally) work on your sh*t. And don't we all need a bit of that?

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Astrology: Way More Than Just Your Horoscope

So you've decided to learn more about your zodiac sign. Great! There are three main things to know before you get started.

  1. If you're interested in doing this for the "fortune-telling" aspect of horoscopes, you're not going to find what you're looking for. Astrology is a spiritual tool for better understanding your psychology, basically. Horoscopes should be read with that in mind––an interpretation of planetary shifts through the lens of your personality type (aka zodiac sign) horoscope interprets planetary shifts with your personality type (aka zodiac sign) in mind.

  2. In other words? Astrology requires a lot of fancy geometry. But (thankfully) you don't need to learn all those formulas if you're only looking to learn more about your specific signs! That's what professional astrologers are for.

  3. Yes, I said "signs" plural. Astrology only begins with your zodiac sign.

Where to Start: Your Birth Chart

Your birth chart (aka "natal chart") is exactly what it sounds like: a map of where each planet was located in the sky at the moment of your birth. (See what I mean about geometry?) To find your birth chart, you will need your date and time of birth––we're talking to the minute––and the city where you were born. So if you were born in a hospital outside your hometown, for example, you'll need to put the city where the hospital is located.

(Need to call your mom to learn your birth time? We can wait.)

When you're ready with the necessary information, you can plug in your birthday, time, and location into a site like Cafe Astrology to find your birth chart. While the actual chart might look daunting or confusing at first, stick with us; you'll also find a full report below about what it all means.

The Big Three you'll need to know? Your sun, moon, and rising signs. All the other stuff––your planets, houses, and transits––can come later. To start, we suggest focusing on these three below.

Your Sun Sign

When people ask "What's your sign?", or you read your horoscope (aka "star sign") in a magazine, you're looking at your sun sign. This means that on your date of birth, the sun was hanging out in the part of the sky associated with that zodiac sign.

Since the Earth takes one year to orbit around the sun, you can generally figure out your sun sign by your birthday. That's why you don't need more than that to know that you're a Gemini or Aquarius, Sagittarius, Virgo, et cetera. (One asterisk here? Because of phenomena like leap years, people born near the cusp between signs might be one or the other depending on their year of birth. So it's best to do your birth chart anyway, even if you super-identify with your sign.)

Astrologers say that your sun sign is your core identity––who you are deep down. Sometimes that's obvious from the outside, and sometimes it isn't. So if you don't "feel like" your sign, that's why.

Your Ascendant, AKA "Rising Sign"

Your rising sign, or ascendant, indicates the zodiac sign that the horizon was in at the moment you were born. This is why you need the minute of your birth to get an accurate birth chart––because the Earth spins on its axis, the location of the horizon changes throughout the day, astronomically speaking.

Your rising sign is your public persona––the way you come off to other people and the personality you present in social situations.

Your Moon Sign

Your moon sign is determined by––you guessed it––where the moon was located in the sky when you were born. Since the moon cycles around the Earth every 28 days (hence the phases of the moon), it only spends a short window of time in each zodiac sign: about 2.5 days. That's another reason why your date of birth is so crucial to get a full picture of your psyche.

Like water and the tides, which the moon controls, your moon sign is associated with emotions. This sign indicates how you respond and behave emotionally, and is likely the sign you connect with the most if you don't identify with your sun sign.

The 12 Zodiac Signs––And the Best Subscription Boxes for Yours

To make things a little simpler, when we say "your" zodiac sign below, we're referring to your sun sign.

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Aries: The Ram

As the first sign of the zodiac––and a fire sign––Aries are all about "me, myself, and I." But not in a self-absorbed, narcissistic way; Aries isn't so much obsessed with themselves as they are enamored with experiencing (and interpreting) all the goodies that life has to offer.

Like the ram that symbolizes this sign, Aries leads the charge, and they don't do anything halfheartedly. When it comes to relationships, they fall in love quickly and bounce back even faster. When it comes to fitness, they run marathons. When it comes to time management, they keep 18 ever-changing hobbies and work 50 hours a week.

In other words, Aries tend to keep busy... and have a lot of interests. If you're looking for a present for an Aries, a six-month subscription to just any box might be tricky (unless it's a fitness subscription box to help burn off all that energy!). Aries will be happiest with subscribing to a box that always changes it up––such as a mystery box with a new case each month––or, even better, a few short-term subscriptions to jump from one subscription box to the next.

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Taurus: The Bull

Taurus, as the second sign in the zodiac, prefers to stay cozy and comfy at home. (Think Ferdinand the bull in a field of flowers, not so much charging a matador.)

As an earth sign, Taureans are decidedly, well, solid––thoughtful, steady, reliable, and a bit slow-going compared to their fire sign friends. To unwind, they need to soak in the tub with a bath bomb or take a long, long nap. When it comes to socializing, they're all about leisurely cooking and long dinner parties at home. And once they make a decision, big or small, they're not going to change their minds.

A great birthday gift for Taurus would be anything that helps them feel more at home (or more at peace with leaving their home, even for an afternoon). Boxes like Magickal Earth Bath Box, which sends magically-infused self-care products like bath bombs, crystals, candles, and more, or any of the offerings from Introverts Retreat, which features a new novel and homebody staples like candles and fun snacks, would be ideal for this comfort-loving sign.

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Gemini: The Twins

The stereotype about Gemini is that, as the Twins––and the first air sign of the zodiac––they're a little "two-faced." Well, we don't stand for this kind of slander against our favorite social butterflies. Is Gemini as changeable as the wind that this air sign evokes? Sure, but so are other signs. (cough Sagittarius, anyone?)

Really, Gemini is playful more than anything: friendly, charming, vivacious, optimistic, and curious about everything. In other words, kind of like an Aries minus the Ram's self-seriousness. Endlessly interested in meeting and conversing with other people, Gemini––even the introverts among them––love a good party, especially an elaborate, themed affair. They express themselves best with words, so they tend to be great conversationalists... and listeners, too.

When a Gemini's birthday rolls around, you know you'll need to bring the noise. Help them unbox some of that effervescent joy each month with a box like Raising the Bar, so they can pop on that party hat even at home––and learn something, too, as they make hostess-ready mocktails each month.

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Cancer: The Crab

The fourth zodiac sign, Cancer introduces the fourth and final element of astrology: water. Water signs are said to feel more deeply––or at least let themselves be ruled more easily by their emotions––and Cancer, a homebody whose waters run deep, is a prime example.

Ruled by the moon (remember how the moon oversees your emotional self?), the Crab cares intensely about the people they love and is all about family––whether related by birth or chosen later in life. That being said, because they care so much, their feelings can also be hurt more easily, and they may retreat into their shell a bit for mental wellness.

The ultimate nester, Cancer rivals Taurus in making their home comfy and cozy. Treat your favorite Cancer friend to a gift they'll love with a home decor subscription box, a gardening subscription box to bring the outdoors in, or a journaling kit to write out all the feels.

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Leo: The Lion

As we all know, the lion is "the king of the jungle"––and Leo wants you to know that they're the queen, whether they're at a house party, at the office, or simply striding down the aisles at the supermarket. Arguably the most glamorous sign in the zodiac, Leo is loud, fierce, loves drama, and knows that they're worth it.

Of course, Leo's no narcissist either. A passionately loyal and generous friend, this fire sign knows you're worth it, too––even more than you do––and will fight on your behalf whatever the situation. Leo's the friend you want on your side at the bar, the club, and anytime you've been dumped; they're a cheerleader and one-person celebration rolled into a single dynamic package.

Looking for a gift for the Leo in your life? Help them (continue to) practice self-love with the most luxurious beauty products money can buy––but make sure it's ethically-developed, given Leo's generous heart. Shop cruelty-free beauty from Vegancuts Beauty Box or clean luxury skincare from Laurel & Reed, and this lion will purr in gratitude.

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Virgo: The Virgin

The next earth sign in the zodiac, Virgo the Virgin is (like Taurus) reliable and thoughtful. But Virgo is also more reserved––and more practical than the Bull and its weakness for comfort. Always a perfectionist, Virgo are the original overachievers: workaholics with a perma-case of anxiety and a classic example of why self-care matters.

Soaking in the tub isn't how Virgo relaxes, however. No, this earth sign will be much better off with a DIY gift to channel those Virgo energies into a detail-oriented project, such as Craftee DIY, or a practical gift that allows them to feel productive in their spare time, such as eco-friendly household products from greenUP Box or personal growth kits from Passion & Growth.

As the middle earth sign between Taurus and Capricorn, Virgos tap into the same hyper-logic as Capricorn the Sea Goat (more on this later). At times, they might be accused (by, say, a Leo or Cancer) of approaching their emotions like an intellectual puzzle to be solved and put away, rather than with nuance or the care that self-love might require. After all, feelings are messy––and there's nothing a Virgo enjoys more than organizing.

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Libra: The Scales

As an air sign––like the wind, the most unpredictable of the zodiac's four elements––Libra might be best summed up as a cross between Leo's flirtatious glam and Virgo's sense of practical decorum. What's that mean, exactly? Like the Scales that symbolize this zodiac sign, Libra is obsessed with balance and symmetry––and that obsession goes beyond the balance of justice to visual appearance, aesthetic beauty, and more.

Libra's passion for harmony often translates to relationships as well, whether they're working to build community or falling into people-pleasing behaviors. Like the Scales, Libras can be precise in what they choose to do, as well. With such high standards for themselves, they often excel, even if they're indecisive on the inside.

Show your favorite Libra how to relax for a second (and reflect that obsession with beauty) with luxe, Libra-worthy gifts like essential oils from Goddess Provisions and high-quality, minimalist glam from Glamour Jewelry.

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Scorpio: The Scorpion

Like our airy friend Gemini, Scorpio is another sign that tends to be unfairly stereotyped. Chalk it up to their symbol, the scary-looking and venomous Scorpion, but this water sign is often assumed to be manipulative and calculating. While the actual Aaron Burr wasn't born in Scorpio season, his character in Hamilton is definitely channeling some Scorp energy when he declares, "I am not standing still, I am lying in wait."

In real life, however, this water sign is simply proof that still waters run deep. Because they're all-in or nothing, Scorpios are observers more than anything, playing mental chess to minimize social awkwardness. Loyal to a fault, magnetic, passionate––especially when it comes to romance––and intellectually curious, Scorpio wants to understand what makes you tick before they share any secrets of their own. Earn a Scorpio's trust and you have a loyal friend for life; burn them once, however, and may vengeance rain upon you. Nobody holds a grudge quite like a Scorpio.

Given their interest in "peeling back the curtain" on things, a great gift for Scorpio would be magick, pagan, and witch subscription boxes. Give them a good smudge stick to clear the air after a breakup, then a new tarot card deck to visualize their new future, and Scorpio will bounce back with their tail held high.

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Sagittarius: The (Centaur) Archer

The final fire sign in the zodiac, optimistic Sagittarius is like the flames of a bonfire at its height––leaping and changing, never staying in one place. In layman's terms? The Archer has a big case of wanderlust... and fear of commitment, to boot.

Like Aries, Sagittarius always wants to learn something new, and like Leo, they can be the life of the party. But these funny, adventurous folks might not know what to do with themselves when the party ends and there's no one to regale with another witty anecdote. So spontaneous Sagittarius seeks out another adventure, and another, and another. That isn't to say that they're flighty; they just need a lot of room. Give a Sagittarius the space they need to explore and be themselves, and you'll have a friend (or partner) for life.

The ideal gift for Sagittarius would help them tap into their longing for adventure––like Celebrate States, which curates local products and foods from a featured state each month––or something that lets Sag entertain themselves (or company) with a curated surprise each month, such as VINYL MOON's compilation records of new releases.

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Capricorn: The (Sea) Goat

All work and no play might make Jack a dull boy, but for Capricorn, that's called "living their best life." The workaholics of the zodiac, Capricorn has the same drive and detail-oriented mindset as fellow earth sign Virgo without any of the anxiety or second-guessing. Hyper-ambitious––but pragmatic, too––this Goat knows they could be the G.O.A.T. if they only work a little harder, a little longer, and put everything else second.

Balance is not really in a Capricorn's vocabulary. If they're into something––or someone––they'll give it their all, both in attention and productivity. That being said, their focus on problem-solving, crushing those goals, and checking off their to-do list can come off as stoic or cold at times. It can be hard for a Cap to engage in something as messy as relationships, where there may not be a clear resolution to a conflict.

A perfect gift for your favorite Capricorn should push them to organize their time and set boundaries, whether that means at the office (eye-catching planner supplies from CLOTH & PAPER, anyone?) or at home (a bath bomb or two from Bath Bevy could help enforce some much-needed me time). And if all else fails, these go-getters always love a chance to work on their personal development.

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Aquarius: The Water-Bearer

Aquarius, as the last air sign in the zodiac, can be hard to pin down. Think of the breeze in the days before a storm rolls in off the coast: quick, changeable, forecasting much bigger things to come. This zodiac sign takes pride in their role as town rebel, eschewing convention and brainstorming utopias. These free spirits are all about community, rather than authority, and fight for radical, humanitarian change at all levels.

An idealist, Aquarius has big ideas and (often) their head in the clouds. But it's all for the better––they need the space to, well, space out and innovate! That being said, Aquarius's focus on what could be can sometimes make them miss what is happening right in front of them.

Treat Aquarius to a gift that suits their dreamy nature, like vintage fashion to show off their iconic style or spiritual tools to explore the power of the seven chakras. This zodiac sign will be happy with anything that helps them explore, experiment, or express themselves.

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Pisces: The Fish

As the twelfth and final zodiac sign––and, surprise surprise, a water sign––Pisces is all about the "we," just like Aries is about "me." Artistic, intuitive, and acutely sensitive, these empathetic Fishes don't know the word "boundaries"; they care about others deeply, and while that makes them great at giving advice (even if you haven't asked for it), it doesn't help them make space for themselves and their own needs. Some could say that Pisces is "too nice"... and we all know where that road leads.

Like Aquarius, Pisces is a visionary above all, someone who strives to create the world they want to live in. While Aquarius charges ahead on the conviction of their ideals, however, Pisces approaches their own dreams a bit more thoughtfully, compassionately, and––other signs would argue––passively. Know someone you'd call an "old soul"? They're probably a Pisces.

Remind your favorite Pisces to stop worrying so much and focus on themselves with a self-care gift more their speed: less "spa night," more "mindfulness." A crystal of the month or herbal apothecary subscription box would make perfect gifts for Pisces, allowing them to ponder the mysteries of the universe, learn a little something, and find just the right aromatherapy trick (or gemstone) to help them the next time they get their feelings hurt. After all, it's only a matter of time.