s a Leo, I am terrified of letting people down — which is why, under my May astrology column, a comment thread about how I perpetually undersell Cancer caught my eye. If you’ll allow me to put on my Carrie Bradshaw voice for a moment, I couldn’t help but wonder: How many people feel alienated and disappointed by repetitive, stereotypical sign readings? I imagine many so I took a deep dive into the recesses of the zodiac and came up with (what I believe to be) the most overlooked or forgotten trait of each sign. Let me know if I’ve disappointed you in the comments!
Aries is typically depicted as energetic, quick-witted and demanding. Your easy charisma and knack for leadership gives you an impressive reputation — one that either inspires fear or adoration, depending on your mood and audience.
Being the first sign in the zodiac, however, also makes Aries a rather precious sign. You have an innocent idealism that tends to be overshadowed by your aggressive ambition — when it’s precisely your pure, almost childlike view of the world that may fuel your passion. Because you are driven, honest and usually well intentioned, you expect others to be the same. You may easily become blindsided by deception and grow impatient in the face of laziness. It’s possible that you maintain a certain naiveté about the world and the people who inhabit it because despite your tough, go-getting exterior, you privately tend to a rather delicate, ingenuous disposition.
Taureans are known for being down to earth, stubborn, focused and self-indulgent. The most reductive reading might say that Taurus natives are lazy and only want to eat and sleep — which probably stems from the sign’s love of comfort and luxury, but is nevertheless completely untrue.
Ruled by Venus, the planet of love and romance, Taureans are actually some of the most magnetic and irresistible people in existence. There exists an undeniable tenderness, even a sensuality, that burns beneath your surface. Taurus is a tactile sign, which makes its natives highly connected to their senses and bodies — usually manifesting in a captivating sort of confidence. (This is all just a flowery, roundabout way of saying that you’re probably really good in bed.)
Depending on who you speak to and who hurt them, people will usually characterize a Gemini in one of three ways: flaky, two-faced or Kanye West. None of those feel particularly fair.
While it’s true that you are self-sufficient and can get caught up in yourself, you also have an incredible capacity to care. You care about worldly issues, cultural affairs, friends’ problems, your own problems, celebrities’ problems — you care so much about such a variety of topics that it can make you feel physically sick at times. Your tendency to overthink can send your compassion (or, in more serious circumstances, concern and anxiety) into overdrive. You are able to be incredibly thoughtful and tolerant, which makes you an invaluable one-man support system for friends and family.
In the words of Karen L., one of the Man Repeller commenters who inspired this article, Cancer is sometimes seen as the Hufflepuff of the zodiac: “All of the Cancer descriptions I’ve read about seem to imply that we are barely holding back tears because we are so sensitive and crabby and our ultimate ambition is to pop out babies and hide at home all day. Yikes.”
Yikes, indeed. Cancer readings are notoriously reductive and constantly overlook the absolute influence that the sign can wield over others. Because you are highly capable — not to mention a dynamic conversationalist — you are a formidable force in any social situation or professional atmosphere. Your easy, alluring charisma gives you the ability to adapt, inspire devotion and convince other people of almost anything. (Think: Selena Gomez. How is she the most-followed person on Instagram?) The bottom line is that people listen to you. A Cancer is a force to be reckoned with — people just may not notice at first because they’re too busy feeling charmed.
It’s easy to typecast a Leo as self-obsessed, dramatic and vain. And it’s not necessarily wrong, either. Thanks to the sun — as Leo is the only sign ruled by a flaming star, not a moon or planet — there is a shiny, performative aspect to the sign.
But Leos are also extremely particular, hard-working and painstakingly attentive. You sometimes feel that you cannot accomplish any task without sitting down and plotting it for hours, days, weeks or maybe even years, depending on your long game. Trying to take over the world? Well, it may take you decades, but if any sign could accomplish that task, it would be a Leo. You have a strength of purpose and a meticulous, diligent thought process that sets you apart from your impulsive fellow fire signs. You want things done a certain way but see the world through wide-open eyes, so you spend most of your time considering all possibilities and plans of attack.
Because of the sign’s analytical, detail-oriented perfectionism, Virgo has a very Type A reputation. And it is probably true that you are an intensely focused worker who thrives in organized, clean surroundings.
A passion for hygiene and an impulse to make to-do lists, however, does not necessarily mean Virgos are all logical, uninspired math whizzes. You have an impressive capacity for creation and constantly draw inspiration from the simplest sources. You have a deeply vested interest in culture and history, as well as in translating that curiosity and knowledge into self-creation. Your attention to detail allows you to achieve stunning artistic feats. You are able to collect your own thoughts and feelings and channel them into sensory experiences — whether visual, like a Tim Burton film, or audible, like “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé.
Many consider Libra to be a shallow sign. You value culture, beauty and romance; you prefer to be around other people and don’t necessarily come across as the self-sufficient, capable type.
On the contrary, Libras are always one step ahead. You rarely flaunt your quick-witted cleverness because you strive for harmony and don’t enjoy injecting yourself in conversations where you don’t belong. Many will find, upon further inspection, that you carry a veritable feast of thoughtfully formed opinions — you just prefer not to shout about them. Libra is an exceptionally perceptive sign, and your insights tend to be invaluable. Your bright, discerning nature allows you to easily charm others; to invite peaceful, stimulating conversation; and to navigate the world in any way you choose.
Scorpio is the sign of intensity and extremity. You are probably known for being mysterious and unattainable — or, to your friends and family, for seeing the world as “blood-hot and personal,” in the words of the ineffable Sylvia Plath (a Scorpio, obviously).
In reality, you are constantly tempted by your quixotic nature. Away from prying eyes, you are starry-eyed and impractical with grand, dreamy visions of life itself. You believe that things can be perfect — that you yourself can be perfect — and that is why you are so very difficult to please. You tend to be guarded because you are busy crafting your surroundings to match your idealistic vision. You take great measures to manipulate your environment so that it measures up. Your ultimate goal is to create a utopia for you and your loved ones; if something doesn’t feel quite right, your instinct is to cut it out, burn it down, and begin again from the ashes.
Sagittarius is often seen as flighty and unattached. The sign is home to truly adventurous, spontaneous, and free-spirited people who love to discover what life has to offer. It’s probably true that you get bored easily and prefer not to be tied down.
It is not true that Sagittarians are unemotional and glide through the world wholly unbothered. You don’t develop strong emotional attachments easily, but when you do, that sensation burrows itself into your memory. If you hear a song that you associate with an ex you once loved or an important past relationship, you’ll probably cry. (You might wait until you get home and take your makeup off, but still.) You tend to keep mementos for way too long — whether they’re movie ticket stubs from first dates or souvenirs from family vacations. You appear indestructible on the surface, but once a significant memory is planted, its roots grow throughout your whole body.
Capricorns are matter-of-fact, practical individuals. You prefer to be constantly in control and are not easily shaken off your path; you have a traditional, linear way of looking at life and a level-headed, realistic method of achieving your goals.
From this description, many people assume that Capricorns are serious, solemn and perhaps even pretentious. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You may appear aloof, but once you open up, you are affectionate and downright hysterical. Capricorn has a soft spot for entertainment and a knack for connecting with others. This is often expressed with dry, sarcastic and occasionally self-deprecating humor. In some cases, you may use humor to deflect expressing real emotion or ease uncomfortable situations. You may consider yourself the “glue” of your friend group, thanks to your ability to organize — but also your abilities to lighten the mood, create inside jokes and encourage people to laugh at their weaknesses.
Aquarius is known for humanitarianism, independence and creativity. You may have been described as “allergic to emotion,” detached or even standoffish. Your characteristic uniqueness may lead you to feel like an outsider at times, as though other people don’t understand you.
This self-created isolation is truly born from your fragile, sensitive nature. You are interested in protecting people, especially yourself, and so you tend to say, “Whatever. I’ll do my own thing.” Difficulty with expressing emotion does not mean that you don’t have strong emotions; in fact, Aquarius’ capacity to get invested and then be hurt is one of the highest in the zodiac. You are also sensitive to the feelings and auras of others, which can sometimes bleed into your own emotional life. Your surface may sometimes be icy, but your blood churns passionately and relentlessly by night and by day.
As the last sign in the zodiac, Pisces is typically seen by astrologers as the most mature and spiritually developed. Pisces natives tend to project a calm, nurturing reassurance — or they’re seen as daydreaming space cadets with little grasp on reality.
While it’s true that Pisces is generally a gentle sign, the cool sense of control is only achieved through tireless self-examination. Your inner life may feel naturally chaotic, as though you are constantly negotiating with multiple dimensions. You are empathetic because you feel everything on a deep, personal level — which is probably exhausting. You navigate life through music, literature, art and a highly active imagination; it’s as if you see the world through a kaleidoscope. You enjoy a fluency with fantasy and nonsense. Remember, chaos is not inherently bad. You simply seem to replace all major organs with your heart and feel things all over.
Illustrations by Allison Filice.