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Sun Sign, Rising Sign, Moon Sign? – Mercury In What? Your Astrology 101 Questions — Answered Here

Written by: Serena A. Carbonell, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Have you ever wondered what it means when a soul says, “My Sun Sign is in Leo, Rising Sign is in Capricorn, and Moon Sign is in Pisces,” or what the newly cool and popularized Mercury in retrograde means?

Woman Consulting The Stars - Zodiac Signs In The Sky

Is it nonsense, or is there some fascinating and fun truth to it all? Well, I am here to explain and, hopefully, answer your ASTROLOGY 101 questions in the simplest of layman’s terms. For centuries, astrology has been used as a tool to guide souls on their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual sacred journey through life — most notably, via Western and Vedic (Eastern Indian) systems. Considered an art form by some and pseudoscience by others, this star divination and foretelling provides you, the human soul, with a greater understanding of who you are as an individual, how you relate to others, and what your place is in the universe — as well as your fate, karma, destiny – and so on. Awesome, right?

Western Astrology

This beautiful language correlates to our change in seasons and celestial cycles of our solar system. On your date of birth, your exact time of birth, and specific geographical position (where you were born) — the placement of every planet in 12 “astrological houses” in alignment with the 12 zodiac signs creates a relationship with one another. This is depicted as a 360-degree elliptical circle based on a tropical measurement. In essence, within this “planetary relationship,” it is here where the 4 elements (our basic life principles) are connected with the 12 zodiac signs, and astrologers are thus able to determine your personal horoscope by creating your natal birth chart. In other words, there are 12 signs, 12 houses, and each planet is placed in a house. Keep in mind planets may share a house so some houses may be empty.

There are also 3 aspects that connect with the seasons and the celestial cycles with which all 12 zodiac signs align:

Cardinal (season start)

Fixed (entire season) Mutable (season end and transitional stage) Oh-k! Have I confused you already?

Let’s start with the 4 elements and their respective 12 zodiac signs:

Fire Signs => Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Earth Signs => Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Air Signs => Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Water Signs => Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

  • Each sign is also represented by a symbol (that I note in my Spiritual Living with Serena Astrological Sun Sign descriptions further along in the article)

3 aspects and their respective 12 zodiac signs:

Cardinal Signs => Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn

Fixed Signs => Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius

Mutable Sign => Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces

The planets and their brief meaning:

SUN: grand aura, glowing, radiating; lightness of being; true-self, divine ego & courageous power; rules Leo

MOON: deepest emotions; sensitive; intuitive & spiritual enlightenment; power of the subconscious; rules Cancer

MERCURY: communication to the core; thought; conscious mind; common sensical; gift for gab; rules Gemini & Virgo

VENUS: love; appreciation for aesthetics, art; attraction; romance; sensuality; relations with others; passion; rules Taurus & Libra

MARS: sexual prowess; energy; action-oriented; angrily impassioned; driven; fire in the belly; rules Aries

JUPITER: positive; philanthropic; thought-provoking; upbeat & compassionate; rules Sagittarius

SATURN: driving force; ambitious; fearful & controlling; power hungry; completer of tasks; rules Capricorn

URANUS: light bulb moments; creates shock & sudden energy shifts; uncontrollable change; rules Aquarius

NEPTUNE: divine connection; spiritual & mystical energy; very creative; deep thinking; away with the fairies; rules Pisces

PLUTO: cycle of death, rebirth, growth & change; evolution of mystical transformation; mysterious shifts; rules Scorpio

  • True Node (North Node): coordinate of fate, karma, destiny; reflective of the moon; spiritual growth & life’s lessons

  • Chiron (asteroid): greek mythological “wounded healer” — wise sage; triggers sore spots; reflective on the past

  • Each planet rules a specific sign(s) noted above, and to possibly overwhelm you even more, there is also a shadow-like spirit (node) and asteroid used in this system.

The 12 houses and their brief meaning:

1st: true self; how we come across to the world; Rising Sign (Ascendant-AC) placement

2nd: ruler of money; finance-oriented; finding security & value by connecting with deep inner emotions & material possessions

3rd: conscious mind; brain power & intellect; process of learning; overall communicative expression (e.g. writing, etc.)

4th: origins; home-life; childhood & ancestral connections; emotional development via family & father relationships

5th: pleasure-oriented; sexual drive; where creative sparks & ideas flow; connecting with children; spirited, fun; playful

6th: daily motivations & routines; work, lifestyle; health related factors (illnesses); overall bodily hygiene; self-care (or lack of)

7th: connecting with others; the relationships & partnerships we seek & choose (even if involuntary); attraction

8th: experiences of loss — material; personal; actual (death); how we handle such losses; suffering

9th: spiritual enlightenment; higher learnings; foreign travel; a scared journey of worldly exploration

10th: professional development; who we inevitably become; duty; occupation; emotional development via mother relationships

11th: soul friends; teachers; educators; those whom we share a bond with & learn from; societal connections; our role in society

12th: loss of self & governs institutions: hospitals, prisons; mental health wards; diving deeper to explore true-self — monasteries; retreat centers

The Sun, The Rising & The Moon

Today the most commonly shared horoscope generally offered daily, pertains to your Sun Sign — the sign you were born in. These readings tend to be more generic. It is important to note that your entire soul makeup stems from the complexity of the planetary relationships found only in your personal natal birth chart. The Rising Sign (AC) and Moon Sign are also most significant in elementary astrology. So if you know all three, I recommend when reading your daily horoscope, to read your Rising and Moon.

On the exact time of your birth, a zodiac sign was rising (ascending) in the heavens from the east in your first house. This specific sign is important in astrology because it is basically the determining factor for the chronological ruling house order in your natal birth chart. The true mastermind behind which zodiac sign will rule what house.

From a personality and lifestyle perspective, the Rising Sign (AC) also represents who you are on an external-spirited level— how you come across to the world. Whereas the Sun Sign is more connected to your inner spirit. For example, I showcase more Virgo traits (Rising Sign) externally and internally more Gemini traits (Sun Sign). Interestingly, however, Virgo and Gemini are ruled by Mercury so communication comes more naturally for me, externally and internally. This may clearly not be the case if, for example, your Sun Sign is in Scorpio and your Rising Sign is in Aquarius. Internally, you might focus on justice being served and experience trust issues while externally you may radiate more warmth, love, and compassion — being guided by your intuition.

  • Remember — you will always show traits of your Sun Sign externally (though not as prominently as internally) and vice versa with your Rising Sign.

With the Moon Sign, you channel and embrace your deepest emotions, the heartfelt element of feeling and who you are to the core. In alignment with your subconscious, your Moon Sign is most valuable in understanding the workings of your psyche and how you are tapped-in on a soul and empathic level. Intuition, spirituality, and feminine energy are often highlighted, in addition to your connection with your biological birth mother and how her influence as a goddess figure has impacted you. Even if your mother may have transitioned on in your early years or sometime during your life, the importance of her role is eternally symbolic. For some, the Moon Sign is more powerful than your Sun Sign (found in the practice of Vedic astrology).

Per the above and as an example from my natal birth chart:

I was born on 6 June 1975 at 12:00 PM in Wilmington, Delaware, USA

My Sun and Mercury are placed in my 10th house in Gemini (they share a house)

My Rising (AC) is in Virgo

My Moon is in my 9th house in Taurus

One of my empty houses is my 6th house in Aquarius — so I have NO 6th house relevancy and NO Aquarius traits in my natal birth chart.

Thus, my Sun is in Gemini, Rising is in Virgo, Moon is in Taurus, and Mercury is my ruling planet.

*There is more of a breakdown with the circle — deeper intricacies of planetary rotations and descriptive terms — though I am solely providing the astrological language basics. The last I want to do is confuse you! Two of our most influential and famous astrologers, Liz Greene & Robert Hand, provide stellar in-site on Astrodienst — which is also where I highly recommend having your natal birth chart done (and it’s free)!

So, “What’s your sign?” The ultimate flirtatious “pick-up line” or curious question that perhaps many souls may have a minimal idea about and are merely trying to make a personal connection with someone. Now that is the beauty, magic, and divine intrigue of astrology!

Spiritual Living with Serena Astrological Sun Sign Descriptions


Aries – The Ram (20 March– 20 April) Creative, competitive & continually optimistic; may be temperamental. Always bursting with energy & enjoying life!

Leo – The Lion (23 July – 22 August)

Distinguished & carefree while cultivating ideas & innovations, happily the center of attention! Sagittarius – The Centaur (23 November– 22 December) Headstrong, anxious & curious, living freely while bringing personal dreams to fruition!


Taurus – The Bull

(21 April –21 May) Peaceful & trustworthy; loves life’s comforts; strengthens all their near and dear! Virgo – The Virgin (23 August– 22 September) Peaceful & serene while content alone, sharing talents & sympathetic in offering charitable support!

Capricorn – The Goat (22 December– 21 January) Goal-oriented, hard-working, and serious about life with a passionate inner drive to establish & maintain success!


Gemini – The Twins

(22 May – 22 June)

A powerful communicator, free-spirited with a sense of enlightenment & a passion for adventure! Libra – The Scales (23 September– 22 October) Harmonic & skillful, appreciating beauty & creativity while providing a sense of balance to their world!

Aquarius – The Water (22 January – 20 February)

Humane & hospitable, guided by the power of the mind & intuition, inherently bettering people's lives!


Cancer – The Crab

(23 June – 22 July)

Imaginary yet timid & emotionally delicate; comfortably secure being close to family and home! Scorpio – The Scorpion (23 October– 22 November) Independent, brave & enlightened, a life explorer who sensitively believes that justice must prevail! Pisces – The Fishes (21 February– 19 March) Graceful, philosophical & spiritual; enjoys spending time alone while daydreaming about the mysteries of life!

Vedic Astrology

A super brief note!

Quite fascinating and intricate, the ancient form of Vedic astrology — aka Hindu astrology (Jyotiṣa) — is based on the religious teachings and works of the Sanskrit Vedas. Here you are presented with the sacred spiritual Hindu practices and rituals that are still devoutly performed and worshiped in its country of birth, India (as well as other countries that also have an appreciation).

According to Indastro (one of my favorite astrology sites!) — “Vedic Astrology is the oldest form of Astrology known to us, being 5000-7000 years old. Unlike the Sun sign based Western System, Indastro & Vedic Astrology uses the Moon Sign as the basis of all predictions. The Moon changes its sign every 2 & 1/2 days making it impossible to judge the Moon Sign by only the date of birth. The Moon Sign uses the date, place & time to bring greater precision & all your horoscopes & forecasts are based on your Moon Sign on Indastro.”

Vedic astrology uses a sidereal division chart system in the shape of a square (not a circle) based on the constellation's fixed nature and specific patterns of change or movement.

It is also important to note that in addition in using the Moon Sign (Birth Nakshatra), the degree in your planetary and zodiac sign placement and rotation in Vedic astrology falls back a month from that of Western astrology. Akin to Western astrology, there are also 2 shadow-like spirits (lunar nodes) — Rahu & Ketu — used in this system.

Per the above and as an example from my basic natal birth chart:

My Moon is in my 1st house in Aries (Rashi)

My Sun is in my 2nd house in Taurus

My Rising (Lagan) is in Leo

  • Varies from my Western placements

Traditionally, as you may know, when a couple in India are paired for a union (arranged marriage) — their birth charts are compared. Seriously compared! This is the foundation for determining a couple's compatibility, what their sacred blessings will be, and how they must learn to honor, love and cherish their connection and the family they will have. What their financial successes and career path will be — the key to their ultimate destiny, karma, and sacred journey to spiritual Moksha enlightenment. A match! Of course, even in non-arranged unions, which are au courant today, many souls still find validation in the power of chart comparison.

Clearly, there is A LOT to these systems and plenty to digest. A college thesis paper might not even be able to cover all of these heavenly prophetic practices. I encourage you to dive deeper — amazed you will be!

So which astrological system to follow? Well, that depends on what resonates with you. They complement one another in their unique divination tools, and Western astrology is definitely more familiar and well-known worldwide — though I absolutely enjoy resorting to both.

Now on to our beloved Mercury in what?

Mercury in Retrograde (MIR)

As the renowned astrologer Susan Miller will tell you — “Mercury doesn’t actually move backward. In Mercury’s case, a three-and-a-half-week period – the planet will reverse itself and move “forward” again. Mercury is the planet situated closest to the Sun, its orbit is much shorter than Earth’s. About three or four times a year, Mercury speeds past Earth, and that is when we experience a Mercury retrograde period. The turbulence and disruption Mercury creates when it retrogrades can affect what we feel on Earth in our everyday lives. In astrology, we always believe the following rule is true: “As above, so too below.” By that we mean there is a fractal relationship between the orbits in the heavens and human activity down here on Earth.”

There is often a “panic” in the air, it seems, when souls learn or know that Mercury is in retrograde. I often hear … “OMG! It feels as though Mercury is always in retrograde.” Yes — it may feel that way. The main 3 1/2 week period Mercury is in full retrograde is when we are most impacted. On the whole, when we are experiencing MIR, the length of its period generally lasts 5 1/2 weeks. We may start to feel it a week before it begins its retrograde period and a week after it has completed its cycle. In total, for 3 - 5 months a year we experience MIR. Wow-zers! Or I hear … “Holy sh*t! My mobile phone is not texting properly (again)” — “What is up with all the delayed flights?” — “I already have an issue with my new car and I bought it yesterday!” So what does this mean overall? Mercury is (as mentioned) the ruler of COMMUNICATION. There is an expansive array of how we, as souls, communicate. From speaking to writing to reading to listening and educating, making purchases to selling goods, to contractual negotiations. Endless.

Have you ever, for example, written an email and then went back to review it and you realized you had either a. mistakenly sent it to the wrong soul(s) or b. meant to bcc and “by accident” cc’d the 100+ souls on your distribution list — so now someone else is potentially privy to classified information? This has certainly happened to me more than once, and yes — it was during MIR!

We are also in a technological era that is forever advancing, so codes are being entered religiously, and we utilize all travel-related resources on a daily basis. With MIR we have to take into account that the planet is in a resting space — meditating, if you will — and therefore, the powerful communicative influence we are used to from Mercury is not available at our fingertips during this time.

Ultimately, all souls' decision-making skills are tested and altered. You may also feel scattered — as if whatever you say or do is not being heard or received correctly. I once, desperately, wanted to have a very intimate conversation with a family member (like immediately!) and waited until Mercury was out of retrograde just in case my delivery was to have been off, or my message would have been misinterpreted, and that went for the family member also. I have definitely had my share of personal conversations during MIR that caused more discomfort than ease — crappy communication with mixed signals. No fun!

Obviously, you may be faced with emergencies and other situations requiring your prompt expertise — be aware that hiccups may occur (accidents) or you may not receive your answer in a timely fashion. If you are taking an exam — you may experience computer glitches and unsaved answers.

In essence, you are best to double or triple-check ALL communication during MIR. If you are able to put off signing contracts (leases, wills, new job applications, etc.), making large purchases or sales — and like I waiting to submit this article for publication post-MIR (as its current cycle ended 14 May at 8:12 AM EST) — you will be safer in the long run. Minimal to no repercussions or errors.

If you have to sign a contract for a new job and have already received an offer from the new company or organization, say a month before MIR — you are in the clear.

Keep travel to a minimum — as transportation delays will happen. This also goes for making future travel arrangements. What you plan for in the future during MIR may not end up being what you envisioned.

Seeing as Mercury rules Gemini & Virgo — if you have any of those signs represented in your chart (planetary, house) — you will feel its impact more.

Speaking of big purchases. Several years ago, my mother ventured to Costco to buy a microwave. Mercury was in retrograde. She was super excited to enjoy her appliance when lo and behold —it stopped working, like immediately. Brand spankin’ new. So she calls me in a fluster and I asked her when she bought it. She told me “Two days ago,” and my immediate response was — “Well, no wonder Mercury is in retrograde.” She took it back post-MIR, and thankfully Costco has an amazing return policy, and she was able to exchange it. And guess what? Her new microwave worked perfectly. Ah-frickin-men!

Basically, during MIR, you are better to meditate and relax, using the time to reflect, and be mindful of yourself. I know that is merely impossible for many souls. Though if you are able to calmly partake in your daily routines and celebrate — well, you are definitely in for a blessed, free-spirited ride of a retrograde!

Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!


Serena A. Carbonell, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Serena is the founder of Spiritual Living with Serena (SLS) ‒ a holistic intuitive healing coaching & spiritual advisor service providing a simple approach for high performers in achieving happiness. Her name is pronounced akin to "Serenity" with a short second e. Serena utilizes her expansive certified therapeutic background to serve those who strive for excellence and have the challenge of living a more stress-free, rewarding, meaningful and holistic soulful life. She typically works with high-level executives, professional athletic coaches and successful competitive athletes. Always celebrating with a positive, loving zest for life, Serena is eternally in touch with her healing spirit: body, mind & soul.



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