What Your Astrological Sign's "Keyword" Reveals About You

produced by Julie Borowsky; modeled by Nedra Washington; photographed by Rochelle Brock.
The world of astrology is full of tools with which we can refine our understanding of our Zodiac sign. If you're passionate about astrology, you've probably already read up on your sign's ruling planet, ruling element, quality, and representative symbol — but have you learned about your sign's keyword?
To be totally accurate, a sign's keyword is actually a two-word statement, one that indicates that sign's most integral values. For example, the keyword for Aries, the sign that's most closely associated with the self and the individual's needs, is "I am."
"The [signs'] keywords help to open the intuitive mind about each sign and give the pith or essence of what that sign’s about," says astrologer Juliana McCarthy.
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In her recent book, The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide To Astrology, McCarthy describes each sign of the Zodiac in great detail, including their keywords. Unlike their ruling planet or element, a sign's keyword is an ultra-accessible entry point into learning how they view the world. "Even someone who has never encountered astrology can intuit from these keywords what each sign means and the core personalities of the signs," McCarthy says. "In just those two simple words, they reveal so much about the sign."
Ready to discover your sign's keyword? Read on to find out.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Aries
"I am."

"Aries is the baby of the Zodiac, the first sign, so it’s very fitting that he proclaims, 'I am,'" McCarthy says. Like its symbol, the Ram, Aries is happiest charging ahead at the front of the pack. That way, it reaches the finish line first and has the opportunity to declare itself the winner. When you come in first, you get to define yourself and the narrative — and that's all that Aries wants.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Taurus
"I have."

The Taurus person is always aware of her possessions, McCarthy explains: "She loves to collect and touch and own." Plus, this keyword reflects Taurus' nature as a fixed, stubborn sign, and a statement like "I have" leaves little to no room for challenges or changes. "The quality of 'I have' is firm and earthy and tangible, just like Taurus," McCarthy says.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Gemini
"I think."

"Gemini is the most intellectual sign, so 'I think' sums up the Gemini’s main thrust," McCarthy says, adding that Gem is, after all, ruled by Mercury, a planet that all but demands communication and quick, inventive ideas. Plus, its ruling element, air, and its mutable, adaptable nature reflects the abstract and intangible essence of thought.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Cancer
"I feel."

If you know any Crabs personally, this one's kind of a no-brainer. Ruled by the moon, which is associated with maternal and empathetic care, Cancer is one of the most emotionally aware signs out there. We can also see Cancer's ruling element, water, in this statement: "Feelings are not easily defined, after all, and change like the tides — for seemingly no reason," McCarthy says.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Leo
"I will."

Try to tell a Leo they can't do something and they'll likely respond with some variation of "I will" anyway. "There’s a fiery and slightly selfish quality that Leo shares with Aries, but the difference is that Leo is now taking that fire and making things from it, asserting expression into the world," McCarthy says. Not only does this statement indicate Leo's passion, it also reveals that this sign can, at times, be overconfident.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Virgo
"I analyze."

McCarthy describes the Virgo person as someone with a hamster wheel in her head, constantly spinning and seeking to organize the information she's receiving. "She loves to help people and listen to people’s problems and analyze them until they make sense," she says. "She has a beautiful mind when it’s in balance, and is very precise and detail-oriented, which 'I analyze' reflects."
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Libra
"I balance."

Given Libra's representative symbol, the Scales, it's obvious that this sign values symmetry and balance in all things. "It’s all about looking at both sides and holding room for paradox," McCarthy says, alluding to Libran tendency toward indecision and total fairness, even at the cost of logic.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Scorpio
"I create."

McCarthy admits that this keyword may be unexpected, given Scorpio's connection with destruction, as it rules the eighth house of death, rebirth, and transformation. "But, from the rubble we create," McCarthy says. "I just read an interesting quote that goes something to the effect of: Artists have to destroy themselves in order to return to the innocence, from which true creativity is born. That is so Scorpio."
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Sagittarius
"I perceive."

Taking the scenic route or the road less traveled is the Sagittarian way. This sign craves new experiences that broaden its horizons — and it's always ready to absorb new knowledge. "Sagittarius is not about attaining a goal: The path is the goal," McCarthy says. "He perceives everything and relishes in the mere act of perception and discovering truth."
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Capricorn
"I use."

More than anything, Capricorn's natural pragmatism is reflected in its keyword. "Capricorn is the ultimate delegator," McCarthy explains. "She can take different people and resources and use them to create a system." People born under this sturdy earth sign thrive when they understand — and, ideally, have a hand in defining — the structures that govern their lives. Only then do they know their purpose (and that of those around them).
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Aquarius
"I know."

McCarthy clarifies that this keyword shouldn't be interpreted as Aquarius being a know-it-all sign. Rather, "it’s a deeply insightful knowing that comes from the ethers. Aquarius just knows things without being told," she says. As the mad scientist and eccentric innovator of the Zodiac, Aquarius always seems to have a new and unexplored idea that, more often than not, solves a problem you didn't know you had.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Pisces
"I believe."

Is there a more fitting keyword for the dreamy sign of Pisces? This statement, McCarthy explains, "is about transcending intellectualism and moving into a more spiritual state of believing in our divine essence, our sacredness, without the need to analyze." She adds that Pisces and Virgo are opposite signs on the Wheel of the Zodiac, so Virgo's desire to process and analyze finds balance in Pisces' preference toward faith and intuition.
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