- Element: Fire
- Modality: Cardinal
- Ruler: Mars
- Dates: March 21 – April 19
- Symbol: The ram—the glyph illustrates the ram’s head and curved horns
First Aries shines, and as he ofte doth loseMarcus Manilius, Astronomica tr. Thomas Creech
His Fleece, and then as frequently renews,
‘Twixt sudden Ruin, and a fair Estate
He fixes the variety of Fate;
Spring in the northern hemisphere traditionally began as the Sun moved into the constellation of Aries. On this day, the spring equinox, the day and the night are of equal length, but as spring progresses the day grows in length as the Sun gains power toward summer. The weather grows warmer, plant life bursts forth from the once-frozen ground, and new life rises from the long sleep of winter. This is the domain of Aries, the Ram.
Currently known by the Latin word for a male sheep, the constellation was first identified as the Ram during the late Babylonian period. Before that, it was known as the Agrarian Worker, thanks to its association with the shepherd deity Dumuzi and the cycle of the seasons. The ram was already a potent symbol of rebirth in ancient Egypt, where the animals were traditionally sacrificed on the spring equinox. Similarly, the Egyptians associated the constellation with Aman-Ra, a god with a ram’s head known as the “Lord of the Head” that served as a symbol for fertility and creativity. The modern glyph of the sign, representing the ram’s face and horns, points to the significance of the head in matters regarding this sign.
The Greeks identified Aries as the ram in the myth of Phrixos and Helle. The son and daughter of King Athamas were subjected to the jealousy of their father’s second wife, who blamed an induced famine on the children. The woman delivered a false ultimatum from an oracle to her husband, claiming that the famine would end if the children were sacrificed. A ram appeared just as Phrixos was to be sacrificed, allowing Phrixos and Helle escaped on its back. Although Helle fell into the sea at the Dardanelles, a place later known as Hellespont in her honor, Phrixos made it to safety and sacrificed the ram to Jupiter. He then hung the fleece in the grove of Ares, where it would become the Golden Fleece sought by Jason for its power to restore life to the dead.
Rebirth, creativity, and new beginnings are all keywords for the zodiac sign of Aries. Ruled by the aggressive, action-oriented Mars, Aries is the site of the Sun’s exaltation, where the greater luminary regains the upper hand against darkness and the forces of winter. Venus is in detriment in this sign, not at all comfortable in a decidedly martial environment of open competition and hostility. Saturn is in its fall—Aries is a sign frustrated, sometimes outright enraged, by boundaries, but also one unable to maintain the staying power and discipline Saturnian projects require. As a cardinal fire sign, the first on the wheel of the year, Aries can be likened to the match that lights the fire, both quick to catch and quick to fizzle out. It provides the spark of life at the start of spring that the fertile persistence of Taurus brings to fruition at the height of the season.
Thanks to the Sun’s exalted position, the ego has no trouble expressing itself in this sign. Associated with the energy of new life in spring, Aries are filled with childlike enthusiasm for the new. This may not be the same passion for sheer novelty as that of a Sagittarius, but more the excitement of a new project the native can make their own. The idea does not have to be new, just new to them—meaning that Aries may take ideas and run with them, even if countless others have done the same before. Their cardinal energy means that the Aries impulse is to initiate, not to complete, so the average Ariean native has plenty of half-finished pet projects littering the halls of their past.
While Mars lends this sign plenty of potential for confrontation, making Aries known for both courage and recklessness, natives born under this sign are not drawn to competition and leadership positions for the sake of dominating others, but rather the deep-seated urge to be first, at the head of the pack, where the horizon is clear and empty and full of possibilities. They rush into unfamiliar situations head-first, without considering the consequences or planning ahead. Impulse, not considered reflection or emotional intuition, guides their actions. Still, the forward momentum of their almost boundless energy can be very effective for getting places quickly, making individuals born under this sign quick learners. Their contagious enthusiasm can also be inspiring, and Arieans are known for using their will to get things moving or urging signs with more staying power to begin projects that have been put off.
The Ram also rarely shies away from a fight—they might be courageous or downright confrontational, apt to charge when they should be a bit more cautious. Poorer placements can translate into a domineering, self-righteous temper. However, the rage of an Ariean native is typically not sustained; they cool down as quickly as they heat up. More hot-tempered Rams may find themselves in a cycle of rage and regret, but the sign prefers to openly address a problem than hold a festering grudge.
While most astrologers emphasize the martial characteristics of Aries, the Latin writer Marcus Manilius associated the sign with Minerva, giving the sponsorship of Mars wholly to Scorpio. The Etruscan counterpart of Athena, Minerva similarly burst forth from the skull of Jupiter and was the goddess of war, schools, and art. This association underlines the sign’s creative potential; after all, they represent the new life that bursts forth in spring. Arieans can be quite creatively inclined and especially excel in the brainstorming phase. However, the Ram works in short bursts of energy and needs external support—or a wealth of fixed placements—to see an idea through to its completion. Not unlike the similarly curious Gemini, the Ariean native is intellectually omnivorous, full of enthusiasm, and typically a life-long learner, although they may not dive into learning with the same attention to detail as someone born under the sign of the Twins.
In contrast to the more secretive Scorpio, Aries is open to a fault. In the martial realm, Scorpio channels the spirit of the spy, whereas Aries is the warrior. Guileless and naive, the Ariean native declares their intentions openly. This is partly because of a distaste for beating around the bush, and partly a lack of sensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of others. With little patience for social niceties and a limited ability to take a hint, if an Aries wants something they will make it clear; they expect you to do the same, a tendency more subtle types might balk at or see as downright rude. A drive to express what is true at the moment, without recognizing how relative or short-lived a truth can be, may result in some Ariean natives dealing in absolutes or resorting to black-and-white thinking.
Natives of this sign tend to be staunch defenders of their friends and loved ones, and when they are in the mood, they can give you the full weight of their warm attention. Typically, their love of freedom counteracts any urge to dominate, although they aren’t ashamed to share a bit of tough love. What Aries intends as constructive criticism may seem unabashedly direct, but whether you take their advice or not is entirely up to you. Particularly in romance, they are drawn in by a hint of a challenge or chase. They can be demanding, passionate lovers with a strong sex drive, surprisingly vulnerable and childish with those they let closest to their hearts. However, given their notoriously short attention span, once the spark is gone the Ram may wander off in search of another new beginning.
Inaction is kryptonite for this sign, which explains their reputation for impatience. They move faster than most other signs and quickly tire of waiting around for others to deliberate. Propelled by the deep-seated urge to just do it, they often opt to undertake a project entirely on their own rather than rely on someone else. Regardless, Aries benefit from a cause to harness and direct this forward momentum, as well as the support of a team that ensures all of this initial steam does not peter out when the going gets rough (or boring). Seemingly individualistic, the Ram craves attention but not necessarily recognition. Unlike the stereotypical Leo, it matters less that they are lauded for doing something than simply that it got done. Instead, they want to be in the thick of whatever is happening, all the time. An egocentric mindset—the Ram’s initial impulse is not to put themselves in another’s shoes—means that they often feel left out, whether rightly or not, because they missed some part of the “action” of life.
Planets in this sign experience a speeding up of sorts, a dose of daring and impulsiveness. Mercury in Aries natives, for example, are notoriously quick to share their thoughts—at times recklessly so—without reflecting too much on how their words might be received. Ancient authors also comment on such natives’ ability to assimilate and repeat the thoughts of others, more so than generating original thoughts. Venus in Aries might get their kicks from a more competitive approach to romance, with a teasing insult or two an important part of foreplay. Saturn, by contrast, might represent a fear of the same, an aversion to open competition of any kind. Hard aspects with Aries placements can also represent a source of frustration for the native. Similarly, Aries on a house cusp will represent an area of your life that spurs you to action, a launchpad of sorts that gets things moving in your life—or where you have the drive to get others moving as well.
The sign of the Ram is considered choleric in nature, hot and dry like its planetary ruler. Typically, Ariean natives have a lot of physical energy, thanks to the vitality of their sign. Associated with the color red, Aries natives often prefer bold, bright colors. Some may be particularly drawn to hats. Traditionally, the sign of the Ram signified the head and face—as is clear in this sign’s glyph and its symbolic tendency to rush into pretty much anything head-first. The constellation’s brightest star, Hamal, is located in the head of the Ram, and since ancient times has been associated with violence, intemperance, and the head. Facial scars and head injuries may be common for people with heavy Aries placements, while Aries risings may have a particularly prominent nose and a reddish complexion.
Enthusiasm, a drive to action, and recklessness are central to the sign of Aries, although sustained power is not. But here we return to the intrinsic phoenix-like element of this cardinal fire sign. After all, the sign’s mythological roots give it the power to restore life. The initial flame burns hot and bright, quick to consume the fuel that feeds it. But as quickly as it peters out it can start again and burn just as bright as before. An Aries facing failure is unlikely to mope or give up. Instead, they simply take a few steps back, readjusting their angle before they dash headfirst into the fray once again.
- The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook – Sue Tompkins
- Sun Signs by Linda Goodman
- Star lore of the Constellations, Aries: the RAM by Deborah Houlding
- Aries (constellation): Wikipedia
- Aries the RAM: skyscript.co.uk