Scorpio zodiac sign explained: Dates, compatibility, traits

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Can you smell summer receding and hear winter approaching through the comforting crunch of dead leaves underfoot?

That can mean only one thing: Scorpio season has arrived in its customary puff of dark smoke, psychological warfare and leather accessories.

There is perhaps no zodiac sign more maligned or misunderstood than Scorpio. Ruling the skies from Oct. 23 to Nov. 21, Scorpio is a fixed sign, making those born beneath it extremely goal-oriented and ruthless in their pursuits. As a water sign, Scorpio is associated with oceanic emotion, psychic intuition and profound transformation. 

In her poem “Elm,” famous — and famously suicidal — Scorpio Slyvia Plath writes, “I am terrified by this dark thing / That sleeps in me; / All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.”

That same dark thing beats in the tender goth hearts of all Scorpions, but the best and brightest among them learn — through a lifetime of trial, trauma and error — to transmute that darkness into luminous survival. The gift of an actualized Scorpio is being able to show others that there is a way through the dark and that what awaits you on the other side can be better than anything you may have shed to get there.  

As the sign of shadows and extremes, Scorpio at its lowest vibration is prone to obsession, vengeance, envy and well-practiced tactics of emotional manipulation. These modalities can be activated in the Scorpio psyche by friends, lovers, enemies or adversaries. Deciding who, however, is an unending journey for Scorpio who feels and fears the sting of betrayal more acutely than any other sign in the zodiac.

In combat, Scorpio comes armed with heightened intuition that shares a fine line with — and often veers violently into — paranoia. Rather than deny or repress these tendencies, Scorpio is charged with investigating their own insecurities in order to discover the foundational wound that created them. Scorpio’s dark tactics are an expression of fear and uncovering the root system of that fear allows them to claim power over it. 

Who is most compatible with the power and pinch of Scorpio? Fellow water sign Cancer is a natural fit for Scorpio’s intense emotionality. Taurus, Scorpio’s zodiac opposite, encourages forays into lighthearted pleasure and earthly delights, while Virgo wins points for their dedication to service and practical approach to love.  

The gift of an actualized Scorpio is being able to show others that there is a way through the dark and that what awaits you on the other side can be better than anything you may have shed to get there.  

Chemistry and compatibility aside, one thing is certain: heartbreak is hellfire for a Scorpio. Case in point, Scorpio singer Ryan Adams who in 2018 reacted to news of his ex-wife Mandy Moore’s new relationship by going on an ill-advised and allegedly chemically induced Twitter rage in which he called Moore the “spiritual equivalent of a soggy piece of cardboard” and revealed he was so high at their wedding that he apparently has no memory of it. He later apologized but Moore — and the internet — apparently have yet to forget

In the major arcana of the tarot, the sign of Scorpio is represented by the Death card.  Fittingly, the operative style of Scorpio is memento mori: They exist as skulls, waning hourglasses and rotten fruit in the paintings of yore, to remind us that life is brief and death is inevitable. This energy is not to be understood as grim but urgent — a call to be conscious of the ephemeral nature of time and to be present in each moment of it.

Scorpio intrinsically understands that death is the currency that gives life value. It is thus no coincidence that Halloween, Samhain and Dia De Los Muertos — occasions that revere the life cycle — fall during Scorpio season. These observances, and Scorpio season at large, create a collective atmosphere of grief and remembrance.

This time is, in essence, an invitation to honor our ancestors, practice uncompromising love for the living and praise the pain we are dealt as evidence of our own fugitive existence. 

There is perhaps no zodiac sign more maligned or misunderstood than Scorpio.
There is perhaps no zodiac sign more maligned or misunderstood than Scorpio.
Getty Images

In astrology, Scorpio rules the eighth house, synonymous with the transference of energy; sex, literal and metaphorical death, psychic abilities, resurrection, the unseen and other people’s money. The negative manifestation of this house can be found in the cutthroat energy of organized crime; operating below the surface, beyond the law and for the express purpose of gaining assets and building power through dubious means. This nefarious but decidedly dynamic energy is epitomized by the late, convicted mafia lord John Gotti and outlaw Billy the Kid, both criminal and criminally stylish Scorpios.

Mars is the jock planet of sex and aggression. It gets things done and is driven by the pure desire to win, exhibited in the cool, competitive streak that lives within each Scorpio.

At its greatest expression, eighth house energy stands boldly in the face of darkness. An actualized Scorpio, though an empowered eighth house, understands that wholeness is impossible without the acknowledgment and integration of our shadow selves: the parts of us that are wounded, shameful, difficult. Eighth house energy flows when the dark side of all matter and all people is acknowledged, examined and honored for the lessons it has to teach us. The eighth house reveals hidden truths and mines the unconscious and its power can be positively channeled into study and investigation.

For Scorpio, there is no allowance made for the middle ground — only a desire to dig for and towards what lies beneath. By default, Scorpios make for excellent investigators, psychologists and forensic accountants. 

In terms of the physical body, Scorpio rules the reproductive organs. While there is indubitably a powerful component of sexuality in Scorpio’s nature, this sign does nothing casually and sex is rarely pursued for the physical act alone. Scorpio is ultimately seeking profound intimacy, the transformative power of surrender and the dissolution that can occur when two bodies share a heightened energetic exchange. That being said, they’re known to settle for trauma bonding or getting to third base in a graveyard.

As the sign of shadows and extremes, Scorpio at its lowest vibration is prone to obsession, vengeance, envy, and well-practiced tactics of emotional manipulation.
As the sign of shadows and extremes, Scorpio at its lowest vibration is prone to obsession, vengeance, envy, and well-practiced tactics of emotional manipulation.
Getty Images

In ancient astrology, Mars was the ruling planet of Scorpio. Named for the god of war, Mars is the jock planet of sex and aggression. It gets things done and is driven by the pure desire to win, exhibited in the cool, competitive streak that lives within each Scorpio. Pluto became the modern ruler of Scorpio when the planet was discovered in 1930. Named for the god of the underworld, Pluto is the shadowy nether ruler of death and regeneration. 

In addition to having two planetary rulers, Scorpio is represented by more than one creature. Besides its Arachnidan namesake, Scorpio is associated with the serpent, the eagle and the ash-born glory of the rising phoenix. The serpent and the eagle demonstrate the high and low manifestations of Scorpio energy, which can manifest as either regal or reptilian.

Together, these totems represent the cycle of subconscious discovery, shadow acceptance and the separation of our lesser selves from our potential selves. The journey from scorpion to phoenix reminds us all that we must descend in order to soar.

With that trajectory, it’s unsurprising that many of our greatest and most fearless poets and painters fall under the stars of Scorpio: Pablo Picasso, Robert Mapplethorpe, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ana Mendieta, Maxine Hong Kingston, Dylan Thomas, Margaret Atwood, Frank Ocean and the late great playwright Sam Shepard. Shepard’s approach to life and storytelling has a decidedly Scorpionic spirit, writing in 1997, “The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning.”

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Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience.



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