Aries the Ram

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces

Who works from morning to evening?
And never likes to be outdone??
Whose walk is almost like a run???
It is the Arian!

sign symbolism | rulerships | famous Arians | Babylonian myth
Sign symbolism

Aries the Ram

by Deborah Houlding

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Aries is the wake-up call of the zodiac. As the Sun enters this sign its celestial longitude ascends from the southern to the northern hemisphere and intersects with the line of the equator. This special moment is called the equinox (Latin: ‘equal night’) because the periods of day and night are equal for all regions on Earth. For most inhabited parts of the world, this is the official commencement of spring: days start to become increasingly longer than nights, and plants and animals burst into activity.

In ancient times the spring equinox marked the start of the new calendar year (as well as the renewed seasonal cycle), with festivities held to celebrate the return of vitality and new opportunities. The ram was used as a sacred symbol of solar resurrection, partly because its fleece grows back rapidly after being shorn, providing an ever-flourishing, abundant supply of wool, so symbolising the concept of regrowth re-emerging after loss.

Ancient Egyptians held rams in especially high regard, and sacrificed them at the spring equinox to ensure the Sun’s return and secure a successful year ahead. Christian customs still reflect this New Year worship in the resurrection rites of Easter – the date of which is ceremoniously tied to the full Moon after the Sun’s entry into Aries (the custom of giving eggs also symbolises the welcoming of new life that this seasonal burst of energy brings).

Astrology rests on the belief that everything materialising into being is imbued with the temporal qualities of the moment of emergence. As the Mars-ruled ‘leader’ of the zodiac, Aries embodies the principles of haste, thrust, newness, naivety borne of innocence and ignorance of deceitful tactics, vigorous energy, buoyant anticipation, assertiveness and competitiveness, as well as the instinct to be first in everything or to gravitate towards the lead position. Most racehorses are born under the sign of Aries, perfectly illustrating why the astrological association of Aries with the head is metaphorical as well as physical (see below). The ancient author Manilius tells us to note how the celestial Ram is not sedentary but depicted running, with its head turned backwards,1 because impatient Aries is in a rush to get somewhere fast, but is only truly ‘moved’ when sensing the presence of a competitor gaining pace (its focus is less on where it is going than getting there before someone else!).

Image from Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (c.1402)
The Ram as chieftain of them all is allotted the head, and the Bull receives as his estate the handsome neck; evenly bestowed, the arms to shoulders joined are accounted to the Twins; the breast is put down to the Crab; the realm of the sides and the shoulder blades are the Lion’s; the belly comes down to the Maid as her rightful lot; the Balance governs the loins, and the Scorpion takes pleasure in the groin; the thighs hie to the Centaur; Capricorn is tyrant of both knees; whilst the pouring Waterman has the lordship of the shanks, and over the feet the Fishes claim jurisdiction.
Manilius, (1st cent.), II.453 ff.

[Illustration from Très riches Heures, Duc de Berry (1415) — Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Aries is not a sheep, remember, but a head-butting ram, “proud of his lordship over the woolly flock”,2 with powerful coiled (Mars-like) horns that are insensitive to pain and make hardy weapons against obstacles that stand in the way. In Greek myth it is the golden winged ram, sent by the gods to rescue Phrixis and Helles from their hate-filled stepmother, and afterwards sacrificed back to the gods with its golden fleece ritually hung and guarded in the holy grove of Ares. The glorious golden fleece would be later sought by Jason and the Argonauts for its power of resurrection – another mythological reminder that the Sun becomes ‘exalted’ in Aries, since its return to the point of the zodiac where light begins to overcome the dark is seen as the sun-god regaining his power and rising victorious again.

So, although ruled by the fiery planet Mars, Aries has much to do with gold, golden opportunities and the solar qualities of creativity, energy, enthusiasm and courage. The Sun is the symbol of individuality, clear direction and definition – the power of the will to rise above instinct and take consciously applied control. Those born when the Sun is strong in the chart, as it is here in the sign of Aries, appreciate honesty and truth, hate deceit, and need things to be clearly expressed in an obvious, logical manner. Subtle undertones and delicate suggestions mean nothing to them; their greatness lies in clarity, action and openness; their weakness is their limited capacity to ‘feel’ what someone else is talking about and their lack of sensitivity to those who expect them to read their minds.

To this underlying solar quality, Aries resonates the energy of its planetary ruler, Mars, mythologically recognised as the God of War, the bringer of action and stirrer of the impulse to attack or strike back. Mars is the defiant spirit: when dignified it denotes courage, fearlessness, respected leadership, the propensity to take a risk and the love of challenge. In this form Mars is the moral champion, ready to take up arms on behalf of others less able or willing to put their own heads on the block. When poorly placed (suggesting less noble traits), it represents needless aggression, violent eruptions, assertiveness to the point of selfishness, and the urge to take from others without due regard to their needs and well-being. No astrologer can know from the sun sign alone whether those born under this sign display the higher or lower facets of its planetary ruler, but they will be certain that the character is marked by high-energy and readiness for action, with impatience, impulsiveness and competitiveness marking their actions, for good or bad.

Arians are often described as ambitious, but this is ambition borne of the need to be in front, to let no one stand in their way. That same disposition often causes conflict with others who might otherwise have helped them if they had taken a more carefully planned approach, as witnessed through the thoughtful and long-sighted ambition of the Capricorn. But Arians (who tend to be noisy and express themselves with ‘colourful language’) are more inclined towards head-butting as their strategy for advancement. Applause is deserved in the way they remain true to their immediate instincts and impulses, untarnished by devious or guileful manipulation. Generally, what you see is what you get and what others might view as ‘social niceties’ they will view as something between timewasting and unnecessary sycophantic hypocrisy.

Oh yes, and Aries has a widely reputed love of freedom, but this detail is also worth exploring. With the exaltation of the Sun in Aries, the striving towards independence of mind and spirit is strong, but that quest might often rely upon squashing the freedom or rights of others in order that the Aries urge to lead is fulfilled. Even when it is a genuine challenge for a worthy cause, an Arian may get so wrapped up in the flush of the battle that they lose sight of the cause, failing to yield at appropriate points of negotiation that others would take as a fair-minded victory.

Hence, Arians can suffer from a ‘do or die’ mentality. When they conquer a challenge they emerge stupendous, but where they fail, in any combat or contest, their depressed spirit will find it difficult to accept defeat with stoic grace. Fortunately, this is not a sign that harbours grudges but one that seeks instant gratification, and the easy ability to express on the surface what is felt within means that Arians vent their frustrations with directness as they arise. Others will find that trait abrasive, but Arians don’t care; they scorn political correctness. They also detest false civility and never relate well to those who raise remembered slights long after the moment has passed.

Other keywords attributed to Aries are adventurous and pioneering – both reliable descriptors for a sign that dares to tread the road less travelled and seeks out challenge (consciously or unconsciously) as a way to feel enthused and stimulated. Where challenge is unconsciously pursued, however, it fails to bring a feeling of worth and might manifest the belief that the whole world is set up as an obstacle. This type of Aries fights itself and anyone brought into close contact, being readily moved to temper, although just as quickly calming down again, and often regretting the consequences that their passion aroused.

Much of this is reinforced by the connection of Aries with the element of fire, which is expressed through its commencement of the zodiac, its rulership by Mars and by the natural symbolic association of the renewal of the Sun. Fire depicts the qualities of heat (activity), dryness (singularity) and vitality; when strong as a temperament type it portrays an outgoing, reckless personality, craving attention, but not wanting to give it, and strongly self-focussed. A fiery spirit adds a vivacious sparkle to any occasion, but (as par the pattern with Aries) what fire types gain in confidence and drive they lose in sensitivity, patience, caution and practicality.

The gift of the fire signs is creative inspiration, evolving into an endless supply of bright ideas and contagious enthusiasm. When the fire is lit, i.e., when they are motivated by a cause, they simply blaze with energy and ideas and become so enthused by their passions that everyone around them feels drawn to the flame. But fire consumes, and ultimately those energy levels will drop, particularly if the Aries proclivity for instant action is not matched by the reality of instant results. Unless other factors in the chart bestow the needed discipline and perseverance, Arians struggle to keep a sense of even balance and are prone to suffering from nervous, emotional or physical burnout, refusing to recognise their limits or respect their bodily needs.

As lovers, Aries can be refreshing, challenging and stimulating, but they can also be frank, easily irritated, noisy and demanding. Their high energy level usually gives a strong sex drive, but remember that ever-present need for instant gratification which does not fully appreciate the soft touch and gentle, patient stimulation that a tender partner may require.

For all of us, the sun sign indicates the true spirit, the ‘heart’ of our being, where we find strength in easy self-expression. We should never deny these natural qualities but shape them through worthwhile, and constructive outlets. All Arians should accept that they are driven to lead, and realise they rarely flourish when compromising this by being too eager to fit into the team. However, true leadership recognises the needs of the team, and steering positions call for diminishing the ego while respecting the trust of that status. Although always looking for a ‘prospect’, in any kind of career matter Arians are enterprising, eager to instigate, change, renovate and renew. As one of the four strongly energetic ‘moveable’ signs (a.k.a.cardinal') they enjoy being on the move, preferring stimulating environments or activities in which they can innovate and develop ideas. They particularly suit environments filled with pulse, strong energy, or where there is an element of hunting, challenge or battling against the odds. Ruled by Mars, they are not afraid to get their hands dirty (or bloody), and as a ‘fire-type’ they are often drawn to work involving heat, danger, action, aspirational challenges or chemical sciences.

They can excel in any activity that calls for swift, energetic responses, and should never be afraid to act on intuition, despite the negative undertones that the word ‘impulsive’ conveys. With development and conscious channelling the urge to take action is the great gift and strength of this sign, leaving the hesitating majority in shame. Self-development, for Aries, comes from striving to use these patterns for positive change and through the mental discipline and sense of responsibility that reflectively hones unconscious motivations. But it should always be remembered that the emblem of Aries is the self-regenerating ram, representing the invincible ability to arise again with renewed vigour and refreshed spirits after periods of weakness and loss. Being prepared to let go of the unused and the outgrown is essential for all Arians if they are to develop their full force and potential. They have been given a significant gift of power, but how that power is used is not determined by the astrological chart, but by the conscious expression that moulds, hones, and then purposefully directs its elemental energies.
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Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces
Aries the Ram
Fiery, hot & dry, choleric, diurnal, masculine, moveable (cardinal), equinoctial, bestial, eastern



Dignified Planets

Mars: Saturn  - as sign ruler.
Sun: Sun - as exaltation and day-time triplicity ruler.
Jupiter: Jupiter  - as night-time triplicity ruler.

Debilitated Planets

Venus: Venus - by detriment.
Saturn: Saturn - by fall.

Typical Features

A tinge of redness is often apparent in the complexion or hair, or the complexion is well tanned with a flush of high colour in the cheeks. Strong and active body with quick movement; lean rather than fat but generally average in height and build; long neck, large bones, not overly tall but strong limbs. Male Arians often suffer from baldness or thinning of the hair.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  All fire signs relate to the east; as the cardinal fire sign Aries relates to due east.

Anatomy:  The head and face.

Illnesses:  Arian illnesses are those affecting the head and face, including tooth-ache, headaches, migraines, hare-lips, boils and skin eruptions generally, and all marks and pimples in the face. Through its rulership by Mars Aries can often indicate burns or scars.

Places:  Sandy and hilly ground, newly built land or where construction work is taking place. Land where sheep and small cattle feed or stables for small animals. Unfrequented places where criminals find refuge. Brick foundries, smiths and factories or workplaces marked by combustion, fire or high-energy. Inside houses: the ceiling, plastering or internal covering of the house; the kitchen and (as a fire sign) any location near to fire or sources of heat.

Countries & cities:   Include England, Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Palestine, Syria; Florence, Naples, Marseilles.

Colours  Hot, fiery or burnt colours. Red in particular.

Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with Mars, Aries has affinity with bloodstone, jasper, and vermilion.

Animals:  All hoofed animals, wild and domestic, such as goats and sheep; also rams and deer.

Traditional Definitions:

Bestial / quadrupedal:  Aries is sometimes defined as quadrupedal (four-footed), or ‘bestial’ (as opposed to ‘humane’), because the zodiac signs represented by animals are less inclined towards social graces, with a more instinctive / animalistic reaction to their moods and emotions. In locations, bestial signs suggest places associated with animals, or natural habitats where animals roam.

Equinoctial:  The Sun’s ingress into the four cardinal signs indicates the times when the seasons change, from spring, summer, autumn and winter. Of these, two signs (Aries and Libra) mark the equinoxes and are noted for having an equalising effect and bringing balance to the periods of day and night, whilst the other two signs (Cancer and Capricorn) mark the solstices and have a reputation for causing turns and changes.

Famous Arians
Aries - FAMOUS ARIANS - Aries

King Henry II (Fr)31 Mar 1519 (JC); St Germaine, France; 7:06 am LMT (RR:DD)chart & bio ⇨
Vincent Van Gogh 30 Mar 1853; Zundert, Netherlands; 11:00 am LMT (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
Wilber Wright 16 Apr 1867; Millville, IN, USA; 1:00 am LMT (RR:C)chart & bio ⇨
Harry Houdini 24 Mar 1874; Budapest, Hungary; 4:00 am LMT (RR:B)chart ⇨
Joan Crawford 23 Mar 1903; San Antonio, TX, USA; 10:00 pm EST (RR:DD)chart & bio ⇨
Bette Davis5 Apr 1908; Lowell, Massachusetts, USA; 9:00 pm EST (RR:A)chart ⇨
Alec Guinness2 Apr 1914; London, England; 5:45 am GMT (RR:C)chart ⇨
Marlon Brando3 Apr 1924; Omaha, Nebraska; 11:00 pm CST (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
Maya Angelou4 Apr 1928; St Louis, MI, USA; 2:10 pm CST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Steve McQueen 24 Mar 1930; Indianapolis, Indiana; 12:15 pm CST (RR:AA) chart ⇨
Nancy Pelosi 26 Mar 1940; Baltimore, Maryland; 3:10 pm EST (RR:B) chart ⇨
Aretha Franklin 25 Mar 1942; Memphis, Tennessee; 10:30 pm CWT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Diana Ross 26 Mar 1944; Detroit, Michigan; 11:46 pm EWT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Robert Carlyle 14 Apr 1961; Glasgow, Scotland; 5:15 am BST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
M.C. Hammer 30 Mar 1962; Oakland, California; 11:59 am PST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Robert Downey Jr. 4 Apr 1965; Manhattan, New York; 1:10 pm EST (RR:A)chart ⇨
Ajay Devgan 2 Apr 1969; New Delhi, India; 1:32 pm IST (RR:A)chart ⇨
Ewan McGregor 31 Mar 1971; Perth, Scotland; 8:10 pm BST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Lady Gaga 28 Mar 1986; Manhattan, New York; 2:00 am EST (RR:DD)chart ⇨
Kristen Stewart 9 Apr 1990; Los Angeles, CA; USA; 9:21 am PDT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Emma Watson 15 Apr 1990; Paris, France; 6:00 pm MEDT (RR:AA)chart ⇨


Plate from Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, 1690

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces

Notes & References:
1 ] Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, (trans. G.P. Goold, Harvard University Press, 1977; hereafter ‘Manilius’); II.247, p.103.
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2 ] Manilius, II.229, p.101.
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Deb HouldingDeborah Houlding, creator of Skyscript, is based in the UK and has worked as an astrologer since the late 1980s. Founder of The Traditional Astrologer (1993 to 2000) and STA School of Traditional Astrology, she is the author of the STA Practitioners-Level Horary Course, The Houses: Temples of the Sky, and (with Oner Doser) Soru Astrolojisi: Horary Astrology (2015). She is also the editor of a modern retype, annotated edition of William Lilly's Christian Astrology and Griffin's Astrological Judgement Touching Theft.

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Text & artwork Deborah Houlding.

Audio provided by Elisabeth Grace (Sun/Mercury in Aries)