There’s a saying about how some people get so caught up obsessing over minor details that they “can’t see the forest for the trees.” This means they get so hyper-focused on individual elements of a picture (the trees) that they lose sight of the whole picture (the forest). And if you can’t see the whole picture, it’s easy to get lost in the forest.
In most cases, a zodiac sign’s character traits are determined by what planet rules over them, as well as which one of the four astrological “elements”—sun, water, air, and earth—represents them. What often gets overlooked in reading someone’s chart is that the 12 signs are also classified into three different modalities: the cardinal, fixed, and mutable signs.
The “cardinal” signs are the four that kick off every season. Since they have front-row seats to the astrologically crucial changing of the seasons, these four signs enjoy an enviably vast perspective on what each season will bring. When it comes to being able to see the bigger picture, this is a rare case where one’s “elemental” sign is almost irrelevant. All four of the “elements” are represented in this list—Aries (fire), Cancer (water), Libra and Aquarius (air), and Capricorn (earth).
Of the four “fixed” signs, only Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, the planet that governs rules and responsibility. The immutability of being a fixed sign that is not given to wild flights of emotion, combined with being guided by Saturn’s calm rationality, makes Aquarius an outlier among all the signs and catapults them to the top of this list.
Not only is Aquarius able to “think outside the box”—they loom large over the box. They even run the factory that designed and manufactured the box. Aquarians can see the bigger picture because they pretty much painted the picture. They have an enviable ability to multitask, effortlessly juggling a dizzying number of projects that would befuddle and overwhelm any other sign of the zodiac. Because they are ruled by reason rather than emotion, they never engage in petty squabbles or get hung up on minor details.
The Ram’s chart not only signifies the blooming of spring—Aries kicks off the entire astrological year. This gives them a panoramic view of coming events as if they were perched high on a mountaintop staring down at the vast valley below. Being situated at the beginning of the astrological calendar gives Aries tactical advantages on what’s happening, where things seem to be going, and how to prepare for the changes ahead. This is a gift that is not to be taken lightly.
As the lyrics to the old soul song go, “It’s summertime and the living is easy/Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.” As the Crab scuttles along merrily at the bottom of the sea on a sunny summer day, it has a unique perspective—it can look up and see the jumping fish and the sky-high cotton plants, while almost no one can see the Crab. The fact that they can hide in the shadows and coolly assess what’s going on in the water and on land during the blistering summer months gives them such an unfair advantage, it’s almost like cheating.
Of all the zodiac signs, Libra is the only one represented by an inanimate object (the scales) rather than by an animal or human. This allows them to be objective rather than subjective. Along with being one of the cardinal signs, this is the main reason why Librans can see the bigger picture. Represented by the analytical scales, they can weigh any situation without being blinded by emotion. They can fairly assess any problem or opportunity—its pros and cons, its dangers and benefits, its potential highs and lows—without getting lost in the morass of feelings and ego.
Because of its unforgiving harshness, winter is the deadliest of all seasons. If you want to survive winter, you’ll need to prepare. You’ll need to stock up on food and fuel. This principle is illustrated in Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” in which the carefree grasshopper winds up begging at the industrious ant’s front door when winter comes, only to be rebuffed. The grasshopper only saw what was before his eyes and lived for the moment; the ant saw the bigger picture and prepared for the future. Capricorn the Goat is, of course, the “ant” in this analogy. The stars wisely provided Capricorn with a thick coat of fur to endure the bleak and frigid conditions that winter often brings.