How To Determine Your Signature Astrology Sign (And What It Means)

Have you ever met someone who acts nothing like their zodiac sign? Perhaps your best friend is a Cancer with all the fiery egotism of a Leo. Maybe your partner is technically an Aquarius, but operates with a level of intention and stability more akin to a Capricorn. Does this mean that astrology is nonsense and the naysayers were right all along? Of course not! When a person doesn't seem represented by their sun sign, the first place to look is their ascendant (rising) sign. This is where their most outward persona lies.


If the ascendant sign still doesn't quite fit, the answer can always be found within the person's astrological birth chart; you may just have to dig a little deeper. For instance, some people have what is referred to as a signature sign. This is what happens when someone's natal chart contains a dominant element and modality and, as a result, their personality doesn't seem to fit their sun sign at all. 

How is a signature sign calculated?

Before attempting to calculate your signature sign, it's important to acknowledge that not everyone has one. Many people have birth charts that feature a fairly even distribution of fire, water, earth, and air elements, as well as fixed, mutable, and cardinal modalities. These types of charts do not produce a signature sign (or produce an ambiguous signature sign). Charts that show an overwhelming dominance of one element and one modality, on the other hand, produce a clear signature sign.


To find out whether you have a signature sign, you can use an online calculator — like the one from Astroseek — or perform the calculation manually. To calculate your potential signature sign, simply note how many of the planetary placements in your chart are associated with the fire, earth, air, and water elements. Then, note how many are associated with the fixed, mutable, and cardinal modalities. For example, you might find that you have a noticeably high number of water placements and mutable placements. Since the only zodiac sign that is a mutable water sign is Pisces, your signature sign is Pisces, even if you don't have many (or any) actual Pisces placements. 

Traditional vs. modern calculation methods

Astrologically, the solar system can be divided into two groups of planets: those located closer to Earth, which affect individuals on daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and those that are farther away and affect humanity on a generational level. When calculating your signature sign, there are two approaches you can take — traditional or modern. If you're using a traditional approach to calculating, you will omit generational planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) in your tally of earth, air, fire, water, fixed, muted, and cardinal placements.


If you prefer to use the modern method, you will include the three generational planets in your birth chart in addition to the seven interpersonal ones (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, the sun, and the moon). While the modern method may be able to provide a more detailed picture of who you are, it can also make it more difficult to determine your signature sign. If you aren't getting a clear answer using the modern method, switching to the traditional method can narrow the scope and help your signature sign emerge. 

Elemental traits

When you calculate your signature sign — whether manually or using an online calculator — you may find that the answer is unclear regardless of the method you use. This means that your natal chart is too balanced to produce a signature sign. However, your calculations can still provide useful information about which elements are most prominent. If you notice that two elements are tied for most dominant, for example, take a look at the traits associated with both of those elements.


If the earth element is prominent in your chart, you are likely to display a grounded, logical nature regardless of what your sun and rising signs suggest. The same is true for a dominant number of intellectual and analytical air placements, bold and flamboyant fire placements, and emotional and nurturing water placements — or any combination of two or three prominent elements. Every layer of information garnered from your birth chart can shed light on who you are at your core. 

Modal traits

While the traits associated with the elements of earth, air, fire, and water are considered to be fairly common astrology knowledge, the three modalities (fixed, mutable, and cardinal) remain a bit more shrouded in mystery. A zodiac sign's modality refers to the mode in which its natives navigate through life and interact with their surroundings. In the absence of a signature sign, noting which modalities are most prominent in your birth chart can reveal a new context in which to interpret it as a whole.


A person with a prominent number of cardinal placements, for example, might exhibit much more drive and initiative than their sun sign alone would suggest. Someone with many fixed placements is likely to bring a steady, grounded, and focused approach to the rest of their chart, while those with a high number of mutable placements will show up as much more cooperative and moveable than expected. 

Signature sign vs. stellium

Having a signature sign isn't the only way that one particular zodiac sign's energy can seem to take over a person's birth chart. A stellium in astrology occurs when a natal chart includes three or more planets other than the sun or moon located in the same zodiac sign. Often, the sun and or moon will be located in this sign as well. When a stellium is present in a sign other than the chart holder's sun sign, it can create confusion as to why a person doesn't seem to fit within the traits of that sun sign.


If you find a stellium in your birth chart — depending on how many placements are involved — you may determine that the same sign your stellium is in is also your signature sign. This does not mean, however, that the two terms have the same meaning or that the presence of a stellium can automatically reveal your signature sign. In fact, you even might find that your chart displays more than one stellium. 

Can you have more than one signature sign?

A signature sign is comprised of one dominant element and one dominant modality across a single birth chart. Each of the 12 zodiac signs is associated with one of the four elements and one of the three modalities. This means that there is only one mutable water sign (Pisces), one fixed fire sign (Leo), one cardinal earth sign (Capricorn), and so on in the zodiac. Therefore, you can only have one signature sign.


If you struggle to relate to your sun sign, the presence of a signature sign might be to blame. However, don't be discouraged if you discover that this isn't the case. Look to your ascending sign or any stelliums that may exist within your birth chart for other explanations. The more you learn about your own chart, the better you can understand yourself. You'll also understand the way you experience the world around you through the wonder of astrology.