How To Tell If Your Zodiac Sign Is Active Or Receptive

It’s all about where your energy is directed.

Top view of astrologer holding notebook with watercolor drawings and zodiac signs on cards on table

For most people, their first introduction to astrology comes in the form of the 12 zodiac signs. Each sign has their own unique energies, qualities, attributions, and strengths, and in astrology, they’re divided into different categories. Exploring these zodiacal categorizations can help you gain a deeper understanding of the signs and their vibes. You may already know which of the four elements in astrology your zodiac sign corresponds with, and perhaps you even know your zodiac sign’s modality, too. But an even simpler place to start is to familiarize yourself with the two dualities in astrology, which can give you a general idea of how each sign’s energy is aligned.

All zodiac signs are divided into two sets of dualities, which are sometimes known as polarities or binaries. Like elements and modalities, which refer to what drives each sign and how they contribute to the world, polarities are another way of categorizing zodiac signs. If you look at the zodiac wheel, you’ll notice that the dualities switch off every other sign, which illustrates the ebb and flow of certain energies as planets travel through the zodiac. This also means that the adjacent signs to any zodiac sign will always be of the opposite duality, while the opposing sign on the zodiac wheel will be the same.

Each zodiac sign is thought to have “positive” or “negative” charge to its energy, which are also described as being active versus receptive. These associations are somewhat similar to the Taoist concept of yin and yang. Active signs tend to be more focused on actions and thoughts, while receptive signs are more focused on the internal world of their emotions and sensory experiences. For a long time, the two dualities were known primarily as “masculine” and “feminine” energies. While these expressions are still used, many astrologers are moving away from using such gendered language to describe energy.

Knowing what dualities mean in astrology can help you understand your zodiac sign personality on a deeper level, as these groupings shed light on how we direct our energy and interact with the world around us. Read on to find yours and glean a little more insight into your unique cosmic self.

Meet The Active Signs Of The Zodiac

The “active” signs of the zodiac are comprised of the passionate fire signs and communicative air signs: Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius. These are also described as positive or masculine signs (although masculine doesn’t refer to gender here — everyone has a blend of masculine and feminine energies in their chart!).

The six fire and air signs that fall within the active duality tend to be more social, action-oriented, and focused on externally interactive realm of thoughts and movement. They relate to the world in a dynamic and non-passive way, and they take initiative more easily. People born under one of the active signs are usually more assertive, fast-moving, and extroverted than the receptive signs. They direct their energy into the outside world in tangible ways.

Meet The Receptive Signs Of The Zodiac

The “receptive” signs of the zodiac are comprised of the pragmatic earth signs and emotional water signs: Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces. These are also described as negative or feminine signs (although feminine doesn’t refer to gender here — everyone has a blend of masculine and feminine energies in their chart!). It’s also important to note that “negative” isn’t a bad thing here — it simply means that the energy of these signs is more internally focused.

The six earth and water signs that fall within the receptive duality tend to be more introspective, passive, and focused on the inner realm of their feelings and senses. They relate to the world in a more gentle and slow-moving way, and are more likely to react than take initiative. People born under one of the receptive signs are usually more introverted than the active signs, and they prefer to get in touch with their emotional experiences before making decisions.