We break signs down by three distinct categories: polarities, triplicities, and quadruplicities. "These relate to the consciousness and general expression of each sign," says intuitive astrologer and healer Rachel Lang. Triplicities are fire, earth, air, and water; quadruplicities are cardinal, fixed, and mutable. (More on that another time.) Polarities, meanwhile, more simply describe two categories: positive and negative.
"Astrologers may use different terms, including active/receptive, yang/yin, or masculine/feminine, but this in no way implies gender, and many are moving away from that as our own gender constructs are being reframed and as we move toward embracing a more non-binary understanding of gender," says Lang.
You can think of positive and negative signs as being somewhat akin to opposite magnet poles; they both have different charges, but neither is good or bad. Positive, or yang, polarities are fire and air signs: Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius. Negative, or yin, are water and earth signs: Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces.
"Positive signs tend to focus [energy] outward and be more self-expressive, while negative signs tend to focus their energy inward and be more receptive." —Rachel Lang, intuitive healer and astrologer
Understanding the characteristics of each polarity can help you to better understand the unique aspects of your sign as well as how signs relate to one other, Lang explains. Broadly, polarities describe how each sign is wired to focus their energy. "Positive signs tend to focus [energy] outward and be more self-expressive, while negative signs tend to focus their energy inward and be more receptive," she says. Hence, the extroverted/introverted analogy.
To illustrate the idea behind the former, Lang tells me to think of how the elements air and fire spread outward and catch on. "Air carries sound, and a simple spark of fire can spread quickly," she says. These signs tend to externalize their experiences. "An air sign will need to talk things through or express their ideas outwardly, for example," she says. So, if you have a positive polarity predominant in your chart, you may be more extroverted; however, this isn't necessarily the case. "Even our introverts born under this sign will find some way to express their energy outward," she says.
Lang goes on to explain that positive energy needs purpose and to be in constant motion. "A fire sign needs to move, and if they don’t, they can feel tight or stuck," she says. Negative energy, on the other hand, may be less proactive. "[It's] more relational, receptive, and reactive to life’s events," she says.
To determine which polarity is dominant for you, you can simply look to your sun sign, the defining point in your chart. If you're a more advanced chart reader, however, Lang advises adding up your planets in earth and water signs and those in fire and air signs to see which number is higher.
"If you have more planets in positive signs, you may need more recognition and appreciation for what you offer to the world."
"If you have more planets in positive signs, you may need more recognition and appreciation for what you offer to the world," she says. "You could have a stronger need to express yourself." If you have more planets in negative signs, on the other hand, Lang says you may be sensitive to the energies of other people and prize emotional connection in relationships. "You need to feel heard and connected," she says.
Positive signs may also, she adds, be able to process—or at least, brush off—emotional experiences more quickly in order to move on from them expediently, whereas negative signs may have a harder time letting go. "You may need more time to process emotional experiences, especially if you’ve been hurt," Lang explains.
In light of all of this info, my initial bafflement has given way to a lightbulb moment. Yes, I am a die-hard introvert, but my extroverted polarity may explain how I can be such a quiet, pensive homebody who powers down quickly in social situations and yet simultaneously be an attention whore broadcasting my every thought to millions of the people on the internet (from the comfort of my anxiety blanket at home). I guess you could say I'm sort of like an introvert, with an extrovert rising?
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