Sun and Moon Signs in Astrology

A Big Leap to Self-Understanding

Illustration of the sun and moon

 Maciej Frolow/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The Big One

Everybody knows their Sun sign, popularly called the Zodiac sign. The Sun is the brightest, most obvious influence in your birth chart. A glance at your Zodiac traits has you saying, "That's so me!"

The Sun sign is active, it burns in the moment, and there's a sense of mission to it. We like the assignment of central purpose to the Sun's symbolic meaning.

By engaging with life, you come into your own, through the Sun sign. You feel more alive and confident when you're going after the natural drives of your Sun sign.

The Moon

Looking at your Moon sign brings on the first "ah-ha!" moments in astrology. Reading up on your Moon sign feels like coming home because the traits are so familiar. When preparing for a reading, this is the first thing we look at after the Sun sign.

Your Moon sign is home base, and the place you're acting from most of the time.

Moon Base

The Moon is the kick-back mode and the receiver. It's how we integrate what happens, by reflecting on it. The traits of the Moon are instinctual, unconscious, and the default setting. It's the groove we know and dwell in unless we're in active pursuit of the new.

Kevin Burk in Understanding the Birth Chart explains it this way: "Anytime we are confronted with a completely new experience, we access our Sun; once we have a frame of reference for something, however, the Moon takes over to a large extent."

Shining Ever Brighter

Ideally, both Sun and Moon find ways to work in harmony, with one being the explorer of the edges, and becoming (the Sun). The Moon is the well of memory, and where emotional alchemy happens. The Sun grows shinier when directed toward conscious drives. The Moon holds its own, as the driver of the interior life, where so much is first dreamed up.

We've observed this unfolding of the Sun's traits, as life experiences draw them out and strengthen the sense of who we are. That backs up the idea, that Burk notes, that we move toward the traits of the Sun, coming to know them by pursuing the unique path that calls us.

Sun-Moon Aspects

The aspects tell you whether there's harmony or tension, between the two luminaries in your birth chart. Find your Sun and Moon on your free chart. It's a big deal and a good place to go deeper beyond the Sun sign traits.

When the Sun is conjunct the Moon, you're a "double" of that sign. Your ego drives have a lot of emotional power behind them. You quickly know what you want, and go after it. You are a force to be reckoned with and can come across as having a strong sense of Self. You might be "full of yourself" from time to time and work on seeing others' perspectives.

With a Sun-Moon trine or sextile, you're confident and have a sense of well-being. This often means your Sun and Moon are in the same element (fire, earth, air or water), to heighten its coloring of your nature.

When the Sun and Moon square, your challenge is to integrate what feel like fundamental contradictions in your nature. What you want (Sun), may be so different from what you need (Moon). Resolving this takes time, and often comes through trial and error. Be patient with what's conflicted within you. As you experience your Sun and Moon in action, you bring this self-knowledge to the tension reconciling both.

With the Sun-Moon opposition, you can experience extremes in either direction. You could be totally outer-directed at times, or retreat into your own world, and merely react to events. Look to the polarity that's engaged, as they are mirrors of each other. A powerful balance can be found, and an expansive sense of Self, as your unique blending of the two, takes shape.