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Western & Chinese Zodiac Astrology Tattoos: Meanings & Design Ideas

Updated on June 1, 2017
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Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

The word "zodiac" comes from the Greek words "zoe," which means "life" and "diakos," which means "wheel." Together, they refer to the wheel of life for animals and humans both. Although the zodiac has Greek origins, it is also believed to have roots in Egyptian, Arabian, and Babylonian times.

"Zodiac" also refers to the belt of constellations that are centered evenly on the elliptic path of the earth around the sun. There are 12 constellations and each one is divided equally into 12 separate sections. Each sign and constellation is represented by an image.

Zodiac designs are a popular tattoo choice with many people. They can be unique, mysterious, and creative. In this article, we discuss all the different meanings associated with each symbol as well as what they represent. To understand these tattoos, we have to study each zodiac sign.

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The Signs in Western Astrology

  • Aries, the ram (March 21- April 19)
  • Taurus, the bull (April 20- May 20)
  • Gemini, the twins (May 21- June 20)
  • Cancer, the crab (June 21- July 22)
  • Leo, the lion (July 23- August 22)
  • Virgo, the virgin (August 23- September 23)
  • Libra, the scales (September 24- October 22)
  • Scorpio, the scorpion (October 23- November 21)
  • Sagittarius, the archer (November 22- December 21)
  • Capricorn, the (sea) goat (December 22- January 19)
  • Aquarius, the water bearer (January 20- February 18)
  • Pisces, the fish (February 19- March 20)

You would use your birth date as reference. For example, if you were born on June 6th, your zodiac sign would be Gemini. Each sign is associated with one of the four elements; earth, air, fire, and water. Below are their meanings.

  • Air: Pervasive and everywhere. Creation and unity.
  • Earth: Use of physical body to make things happen. Hard-working and goal-achieving.
  • Fire: Independent element of self. Expressive of self; fearless.
  • Water: Self-reflective and fluid; emotional and sensitive.

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This tattoo depicts the Virgo sign.This tattoo is part of the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the snake.This Capricorn sign shows the goat. The tail is that of a fish. Thus, you get the sea goat.This sign is Aries.This tattoo is of the Japanses zodiac.This is an example of mixed tattoos, the zodiac with Celtic art. The sign is Taurus.This tattoo is from the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the rat.This tattoo is also from the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the rooster.The dragon is part of the Chinese zodiac.
This tattoo depicts the Virgo sign.
This tattoo depicts the Virgo sign. | Source
This tattoo is part of the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the snake.
This tattoo is part of the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the snake. | Source
This Capricorn sign shows the goat. The tail is that of a fish. Thus, you get the sea goat.
This Capricorn sign shows the goat. The tail is that of a fish. Thus, you get the sea goat. | Source
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This sign is Aries.
This sign is Aries. | Source
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This tattoo is of the Japanses zodiac.
This tattoo is of the Japanses zodiac. | Source
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This is an example of mixed tattoos, the zodiac with Celtic art. The sign is Taurus.
This is an example of mixed tattoos, the zodiac with Celtic art. The sign is Taurus. | Source
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This tattoo is from the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the rat.
This tattoo is from the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the rat. | Source
This tattoo is also from the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the rooster.
This tattoo is also from the Chinese zodiac. The sign is the rooster.
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The dragon is part of the Chinese zodiac.
The dragon is part of the Chinese zodiac. | Source
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The Traits and Meanings Associated With Each Sign

Aries. The symbol of Aries is the ram. Aries is a fire element ruled by the planet Mars. Aries make good leaders, but they can be impatient at times. They can be outgoing, idealistic, inspirational, active, and courageous. They can also be selfish, overbearing, impatient, sarcastic, and jealous. The body part associated with this sign is the head. The color is red. The metal is iron. The flower is buttercup. The gem is sapphire or diamond. The food is tomatoes.

Taurus. The symbol of Taurus is the bull. It is an earth element, ruled by the planet Venus. Tauruses work well with money and like to eat. They hold anger very well, but when they are mad, stand clear. They are sincere, productive, loyal, and practical, but also slow, overbearing, violent, and possessive. The body part associated with Taurus is the neck. The color is orange. The metal is copper. The flower is daisy. The gem is amethyst or emerald. The food is celery.

Gemini. The symbol of Gemini is human twins. It is an air element, ruled by the planet Mercury. Geminis are usually curious and very adaptable. They also enjoy traveling. They are intellectual, alert, versatile, and instinctive, and also restless, impatient, unstable, and difficult. The body parts associated with Gemini are the shoulders and arms. The color is orange. The metal is mercury. The flower is the Lily-of-the-Valley. The gem is emerald or pearl. The food is cauliflower.

Cancer. The symbol is the crab or crayfish. Cancer is a water element and is ruled by the moon. Cancers are devoted to family and marriage. They often are collectors. They are often emotional, family-oriented, romantic, and cautious but also tend to live in the past and be timid, stubborn, and moody. The body part associated with Cancer is the chest. The color is orange-yellow. The metal is silver. The flower is the moon flower. The gem is aquamarine or ruby. The food is watercress or milk.

Leo. The symbol of Leo is the lion. It is a fire element and is ruled by the planet Saturn. Leos are drawn to beautiful things. They have difficulty in relationships and are easily hurt. They are active, creative, leadership, and generous, while also demanding, dignified, selfish, and uninspired. The body parts associated with Leo are the heart and spine. The color is yellow. The metal is gold. The flower is marigold. The gem is ruby or sardonyx. The foods are oranges, plums, and peas.

Virgo. The symbol of the Virgo is the virtuous maiden. Virgo is an earth element. It is ruled by the planet Mercury. Virgos are usually balanced. They like balance in their life. Great decision making abilities. They are clever, intelligent, alert, graceful, and perfectionist, but also tend to worry and be nervous, timid, and critical. The body trait associated with Virgo is the abdomen. The color is yellow-green. The metal is mercury. The flower is azalea. The gem is sapphire. The food is lemons.

Libra. The symbol for Libra is the scales. Libra is an air element. It is ruled by the planet of Venus. Libras believe in doing things correctly. They also like balance in their life and enjoy others well. They are orderly, peaceful, gentle, helpful, and spiritual but also lazy, dependent, and unorganized. The body part associated with Libra is the lower back. The color is green. The metal is copper. The flower is violet. The gem is diamond or opal. The food is strawberries.

Scorpio. The symbol of Scorpio is the scorpion, but it has also been an eagle. Scorpio is a water element. It is ruled by Pluto. Scorpios make decisions very easily. They have a good memory and are good with money. They are also determined, confident, emotional, and inspirational (and cruel, sarcastic, secretive, and selfish). The body part associated with Scorpio is the lower abdomen. The color is green-blue. The metal is iron. The flower is the honeysuckle. The gem is topaz and the food is prunes.

Sagittarius. The symbol of Sagittarius is the archer. It is a fire element. Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter. Sagittarius are seekers of peace. They are active and like to travel. They are social, independent, honest, loyal, and enthusiastic, but also overconfident, self-indulgent, and conceited. The body parts associated with Sagittarius are the thighs and hips. The color is light blue. The metal is tin. The flower is goldenrod. The gem is turquoise. The foods are cucumbers and asparagus.

Capricorn. The symbol for Capricorn is the goat. It is an earth element. It is ruled by the planet Saturn. Capricorns are very ambitious, outgoing, and dependable. Traits include honesty, patience, trustworthiness, and responsiveness, and they are also fearful, selfish, suspicious, and secretive. The body part associated with Capricorn is the knees. The color is deep blue. The metal is lead. The flower is the poppy. The gem is garnet. The foods are cabbage and kale.

Aquarius. The symbol for Aquarius is a man pouring water into a urn. It is an air element, ruled by the planet Uranus. Aquarius are lively and have a good attitude. They enjoy helping others and are artistic, creative, independent, friendly, and wise. They're also perverse, erratic, emotional, and overly sensitive. Body parts associated with Aquarius are the ankles and shins. The color is blue-violet. The metal is lead. The flower is tulip. The gem is jade or amethyst. The food is pomegranates.

Pisces. The symbol of Pisces is two connected fish. It is a water element, ruled by the planet Neptune. Pisces have two-sided thoughts. They find it difficult to make decisions. They are open minded and peaceful, emotional, artistic, imaginative, poetic, and kind. They can also be insecure, weak, unstable, and restless. The body part associated with Pisces is the feet. The color is violet. The metal is tin. The flower is violet. The gem is pearl, jasper, or bloodstone. Foods include raisins, dates, and cereals.

Chinese Zodiac Signs

The meanings and symbols are completely different from the Western ones, but the Chinese zodiac also has twelve signs that circulate every twelve years. To find your sign, locate your birth year. Each new sign starts on the Chinese new year near the end of January and lasts until the next Chinese new year.

  • Rat: 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032
  • Ox: 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033
  • Tiger: 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034
  • Rabbit: 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035
  • Dragon: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 3036
  • Snake: 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037
  • Horse: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038
  • Sheep: 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039
  • Monkey: 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040
  • Rooster: 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041
  • Dog: 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042
  • Boar: 1911,1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043

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These are the following traits that each sign has:

  • Rat: Intelligent, charming, and artistic.
  • Ox: Loyal, strong, and determined.
  • Tiger: Leader, courageous, and energetic.
  • Rabbit: Trusting, sincere, and loyal.
  • Dragon: Lucky, artistic, and imaginative.
  • Snake: Organized, smart, and intuitive.
  • Horse: Loyal, ambitious, and adventurous.
  • Sheep: Warm, calm, and sensitive.
  • Monkey: Lucky, versatile, and decisive.
  • Rooster: Honest, confident, and intelligent.
  • Dog: Loyal, courageous, and adaptable.
  • Boar: Determined, optimistic, and sincere.

DO YOU FOLLOW YOUR HOROSCOPE?

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    • profile image

      taboo32 2 years ago

      Hi I'm a Virgo and I'm stubborn as heck and in love w a cancer is this a good thing cause now I believe it might be bad.

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      champarameah 3 years ago

      Combined this name

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      HBN, thanks for taking the time to check it out. Yes, those are great traits my friend:) Take care.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      I'm a dragon. "Lucky, artistic and imaginative," sounds good to me!

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Rosemay, thanks for coming by and for your comment and time. Thanks for the compliments. It was a well researched article. Hopefully I captured everything needed. Sort of a fun read I would guess.

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      HBN, thanks for coming by and I appreciate your time, comment, and votes. The Chinese Zodiac is based on your birth year. It is a 12 year cycle. You just have to take your birth year and find it on the table. For example, if you were born in 1931, you would be a sheep.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This was a fun and very interesting hub.

      I am an aquarius, the only thing I would disagree with is the pomegranates. Lol

      And for the Chinese sign I am the OX, sounds awful but the meaning is not so bad.

      You did a great job here, well researched and beautifully set out for easy reading and finding.

      There are some wonderful tattoos there.

      Well done my friend

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      What a well-researched and comprehensive hub. I appreciate the amount of time you must have put into it and love the way you laid this out so that it was easy to find the signs I was most interested in - those of myself, hubby and son.

      Although I was familiar with the zodiac signs I didn't realize that many people get tattoos based on their signs.

      I also didn't know how to figure out the Chinese signs but it was fun doing so here.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Gypsy, thanks for taking the time to check it out. Thanks for your time, comment, and vote. Happy Holidays:) Take care.

    • Gypsy48 profile image

      Gypsy48 5 years ago

      Love this hub,great read. I am a Sagittarius/rat. I love to travel and am artistic. Voted up and awesome.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Hey Sueswan. Thanks for coming by and for your time and votes of course:) I am a Capricorn and I am also a boar in the Chinese Zodiac. I was born on January 17, so that is close to Aquarius. The traits for my sign really describe me, it is weird. Thanks for coming by.

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Eddy, thanks for coming by and checking this article out. I am late on the reply, so have a great week and Merry Christmas.

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Ausseye, thanks for taking the time to add your expertise on the matter. It is greatly appreciated. I have read the book. It really opens your eyes on tattooing, especially amongst women. Yes, as the universe continues to expand ever so slightly, we drift farther and farther out. I am almost certain there are tattoos that depict that event. I haven't searched for any just yet, but I will have to do it. To be honest, I forgot all about that event. They call it something?? Thanks for the visit and added to the article Ausseye.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Prasetio, thanks for coming by my friend and thanks for your time and votes. I am glad that you are able to take something away from this all. Be good and take care.

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      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi lyricwriter,

      I am an Aries but was born close to Taurus so I have traits from both signs.

      I am a Boar in the Chinese Zodiac

      What sign are you?

      Voted up and awesome.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting indeed and I vote up .

      Take care and enjoy your weekend.

      Eddy.

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      Ausseye 5 years ago

      Gees I’m some bunny, my dogs chase the hell out of them when they go outside. They are the scourge of the Australian landscape, boy am in the wrong country!!! A fist full of information with some great pagan artwork, makes you see skin in a different way. The story “ Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is full of dark edges which would suit the universe full of dark spaces. Meant a lot more until the concept of the “ increasing speed of the expanding universe” which means planetary systems are but momentary and we are all heading for nothing, which means star signs are a momentary aspiration lasting some inhuman time frame. I am content to be a little life form, that is overjoyed, to be a moment in time devoid of universal significance and responsible for all my actions without excuse. There’s a star in my eye’s that hopes we humans leave a gift for those after us that shows we are all grateful for being of the stars, independent and not predetermined. The next big thing is the collision of two galaxies that are in our part of the universe which is going to send some of our planetary systems out of this universe, is their a tattoo for that? A sight this site is tat-fabulous and ink for thought. Great read full of possibilities and lyrics....Cheers Ausseye

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      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. I am Taurus guy. My frind, I learn many things here. The pictures so beautiful. Thanks for writing and share with us. You have done a great job. Rated up!

      Prasetio

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Genesis, thanks for coming by and for your time and votes. You ask a real important question. Here is my perspective. I believe, depending when we are born, we could develop traits from another constellation. For example, you mentioned Gemini and Taurus. Taurus is the 2nd sign and Gemini is the 3rd. If you are born on a date closer to the beginning of Gemini, you may develop small traits from Taurus. This goes for all signs. Once again, this is my opinion, but when I researched them, I found similar qualities for neighboring constellations. That is what I believe. Thanks for the question and best wishes.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Hey there Kash! Thanks for coming by. Leo is a great sign. They have a lot of great traits and a great personality. Hope all is well. I am glad the tattoos added to your experience. Take care.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      B Malin, hey girl! Thanks for dropping by. I know you are with your perfect sign from your writings, that is great. Very interesting. That is cool, the dating service. Wondering how much success you had with it? Some people just can't be fixed though. I am sure you did a great job running it:)

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Xethonxq, thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment on this article. I am glad you enjoyed the zodiac side of this. I am glad I added the traits because I am Capricorn and they described me very well. So thanks and take care.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      AE, thanks for coming by and for your comment first off. LOL, your so funny! I am so glad that you found this fun and interesting. Best wishes and take care. Stay warm!

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Gypsy, good to see you. Thanks for coming by. LOL. I really don't know how that would be? Hope you are well. Still getting ready for Christmas. Happy holidays!

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Hey there Deb. Thanks for dropping by to check out this article. Personally, I couldn't get full body cast tattoos. But, some people are just way into all of that. Thanks for taking the time to come by and comment. Merry Christmas to you as well dear.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Mentalist, thanks for coming by my friend. That is an interesting perspective. It shows that even though we all have bad traits, we all have good traits as well. A person needs to focus on embracing their good traits and making them stronger. Learn from the bad traits and avoid situations that bring those traits out.

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Bluestar, thanks for taking the time to check out the article. I appreciate your time and votes also. With adding the art perspective to the symbols, you can see the creative side of each sign in the tattoos. I think it adds an interesting level with each symbols, knowing that they all have meaning. Best wishes.

    • Genesis profile image

      Genesis 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi thelyricwriter,

      I love horoscopes! they're so fascinating and I've read them from an early age!

      Thank you for sharing this, the pics are beautiful and I may have to get a zodiac tattoo now! ;0)

      The Gemini section of the article has some bits of info on Taurus... wasn't sure if it meant they had the same ruler/traits...

      Voted Up!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi thelyricwriter, a very interesting and informative hub on these fantastic tattoos and loved all the photos you used to highlight this hub . I am a Leo !

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Suhana, thank you for taking the time to read it. I appreciate your time. Hope you enjoyed it. Have a great evening and best wishes.

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      AA, thanks for taking the time to visit and read this article. I hope you are doing well. I really like the Sagittarius tattoo. You can really be creative with it. Take care.

    • thelyricwriter profile image
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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Learner365, thanks for coming by and checking this article out. I really appreciate your time, votes, and comment. Best wishes:) I am a Capricorn and a Boar.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      Great Hub Lyricwriter. I'm a Capricorn...and most of it is true. Many years ago I had an Astrological Dating Service...I really tried to fix up signs...sometimes it worked and sometimes NOT.

      I am now married to the BEST sign for me, a Taurus. Loved this Hub!

    • xethonxq profile image

      xethonxq 5 years ago

      This is fascinating information. I loved reading about all good and bad traits. Mine (Leo) fit me to a tee...lol.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Cock a doodle doo, guess who? HaHa..This was interesting and fun to read.. I'm a pisces...

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      This is one interesting and informative hub. I'm a Pisces and a Rooster. Don't have any idea how a fish and a rooster get along. lol

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Really interesting HUB.. wow the tattoos... I know some men that have tattoos from the top of their heads to their toes.. thanks for sharing.. have a MERRY CHRISTMAS

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      Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Your arrow hub hit me,the archer,in the information heart...Horoscopes are important as an influence that though one is not perfect one has a center of light and quality...thanks for sharing Ricky.;-))

    • thebluestar profile image

      Annette Donaldson 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Brilliant hub and fantastic tattoos. You have researched your subject very well. I am Pisces/Rooster and I have yet to read a truer characterisation. I am typical Pisces and typical Rooster, not great symbols two old smelly slimy fish and a puffed up chicken lol But it is me down to a fine art. Voted up A&I Keep writing hunnie. Net:)

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

      I'm a sagittarian and a Rooster. I can live with it.

    • learner365 profile image

      Saadia A 5 years ago

      Hi thelyricwriter

      This is an interesting Hub and i really enjoyed reading through it. I am a Capricorn and a Snake so it was interesting to observe myself and the qualities as well the bad traits mentioned above.

      Good job...My vote up and interesting !!!

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      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Writer, thanks for coming by and for the visit. I am a boar myself.

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      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Jeepers, I was born in the year called Rat, not nice and don't get me going on about being brought by a Gemini.

      voted up and interesting.