Perhaps one thing that all air signs have in common is the confusing nature of their symbols. Libra is represented by scales, an instrument that measures weight — practically the opposite of air. Aquarius is represented by waves or by a person pouring water, a name and image that have many people mistaking Aquarius for a water sign. Gemini is represented by a pair of twin humans, which might have you thinking that all human signs are air signs, until you remember that Virgo belongs to Earth. If these contradictory images aren’t enough to clue you in that air signs are hard to pin down, it’s worth thinking through what defines an air sign — especially since they love playing with definitions
In the Zodiac, the wheel is divided into four elements and those elements are further divided into three modalities: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. In the element of air, our cardinal sign is Libra, our fixed sign is Aquarius, and our mutable sign is Gemini. The modality of each sign affects how they move through the world, their temperament, and the way they interact with others. Like a weather pattern, the modality of each air sign affects the quality of the air and our experience of it.
Because we’re currently under the stars of Libra, we can begin with Libra. Libra is a cardinal sign and cardinal signs are often described as driven. Their drive and desire to move things forward serves a collective purpose as well a personal one. Cardinal signs initiate new beginnings and turn the wheel of the seasons. The drive and determination of Libra people runs counter to their reputation for being indecisive. In this case, drive must be redefined and redirected in service of a balanced approach. Cardinal Libra looks through the archives of Virgo, the sign that precedes her, and strives to make a well-informed step forward. While cardinal Aries moves out of fiery passion, and cardinal Capricorn moves methodically over time, cardinal Libra uses her intellect to move with precision, like a sword cutting the air.
Like Libra, Aquarius has a tendency to intellectualize, and like Libra, Aquarius can give off a cool countenance. But, unlike Libra, Aquarius is a fixed sign and fixed signs are not in the business of surveying their environment before deciding on their own approach. Preceded by the structural preoccupation of Capricorn, Aquarius is empowered by Saturn to buck tradition and build toward the future. Their future-minded approach differentiates them from the other fixed signs, like Taurus whose hooves are firmly planted in the present and Scorpio who excavates the past and transforms our relationship to it. Because the physical nature of the future is uncertain, Aquarius cultivates ideas. And, because Aquarius understands that ideas are a living thing, Aquarius nurtures friendships that allow ideas to flourish.
Gemini, our mutable air sign, knows a thing or two about the power of ideas. Like Aquarius, Gemini loves information, but while Aquarius cultivates their vision of the future, Gemini participates in the proliferation of ideas, translating between different groups of people, and facilitating an intellectual exchange. Ruled by Mercury, Gemini has no illusions about shared meanings, recognizing that context (and cultural influence) is everything. Gemini people know a little bit about everything and a surprising amount about everyone in their social circle. They rule over whisper networks and gossip chains alike, run book clubs, and love to collaborate. Mutable air, they have an incredible influence over the thinking of others — especially through the music they create and the stories they share.