Yes, we get it, you’re Donnie Darko. You’re Edward Scissorhands. You’re the Miley Cyrus blue eyes meme. You’re the entire cast of The Addams Family and then some. You don’t tell anyone your name. You probably have a Scorpio tattoo, or something tattooed on your body that you don’t even realize is a Scorpio tattoo, like the phrase “satisfaction is the death of desire.”
The “you” I’m addressing here is mostly a caricature of Scorpio that’s been cobbled together via pop culture, Wiccan Tumblr, and the modern association of Scorpio = Pluto = 8th house.
It’s true that Scorpio is often enigmatic, but you know what’s even more Scorpio than a goth Scorpio? A Scorpio who’s so seemingly normal and vanilla on the outside that no one bothers to ask them any further questions. They will say things like, “Yeah, that resonates” without telling you how it resonates, giving you the impression that they’re revealing things about themselves while actually giving you no information at all.
For whatever reason, Scorpio either doesn’t want to be found out, or it wants to lay all its guts out on the table. There is no in between.
The modern association with Pluto accounts for this tendency because Pluto has to do with extremes, and it has to do with secrets and subtext. But you can probably arrive to a similar conclusion by taking into account its traditional status as the nocturnal, fixed water expression of Mars where the moon experiences its fall and Venus its detriment.
Fixed signs tend to be all or nothing, water signs are more nonverbal in their expression, and the nocturnal sect is where our more irrational passions and feeling states bubble over. In this sort of environment, Mars becomes less of a gladiator and more of a chess player. It must achieve its ends by not revealing its position prematurely, but it’s also driven by a desire to drill all the way down to the water table — to perform its work so thoroughly that no stone is unturned.
That’s because Scorpio is primarily concerned with getting to the bottom of everything, or with getting acquainted with the totality of our experience — especially whatever we’ve repressed or swept under the rug. The abiding wish of a planet in Scorpio is to know everything and to be known in return, but it’s a rough environment for both Venus and the moon, which means that our usual pathways to trust and connection become an obstacle course of misgivings, bullshit detector smoke alarms, and memories of abandonment. It’s not an impossible obstacle course, but it is designed to keep the chumps at arm’s length.
There are a lot of words associated with Scorpio that seem to mean something but don’t say much of anything when you think about them for longer than a second, and this is entirely on-brand for an archetype that wants to give the impression of being known without really being seen. “Intense” is one of these words.
Yeah, Scorpio is intense for all of the reasons stated above, but there are different kinds of intensity. Do we really mean emotional depth when we say this? Sure, that tracks. But Scorpio is also “intense” in the way that Mars can be intense when it’s completely focused on one target or objective. When a Scorpio becomes interested in something or fixes themselves to complete a task, they’re on it like a dog with a bone it’s not ready to give up. They’ll read the book from cover to cover, investigate their crush like they’re ex-CIA, and play the long game so well that they’ll chart out a pathway to their eventual victory 10 years from now if that’s what it takes.
What about “sex, death, and transformation?” Don’t all the signs experience transformation? And why would a fixed sign — a sign that notoriously resists change, resists letting go — be the primary emblem of alchemy in the zodiac?
Let it be known that some Scorpios think it’s lazy and annoying that they’re always pegged as the horny ones, and some totally relish it. Mars is associated with fornication, and Scorpio with the genitals, so there is that. Like, yes, but. It’s as simplistic to associate Scorpio with sex as it is to associate Taurus with food. You’re not wrong, but “being horny” is just one of many ways to have a drive, or a hunger. “Being really into food” is just one of many ways to be epicurean, to savor the natural pleasures around you.
Death is an 8th house topic, and signs don’t perfectly correspond to houses, even if you can see how they might be related. It’s possible that we’ve equated Scorpio with the 8th house for so long that all the edgelord death stuff became correct by feeling correct, but there’s also something to the fact that so many holidays associated with the underworld take place during the month of Scorpio (like Día de los Muertos and All Saints Day). Halloween’s pagan roots can be traced back to the old Celtic celebration, Samhain, which marked the end of summer and beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. Clearing out the old to make way for the new was one way to mark this occasion, as was dressing up in costumes in order to honor the dead, who were believed to be set free on this occasion in order to roam our physical world.
You can forgive Scorpio for being a little goth for this reason, but have you considered that refusing to make yourself palatable by mainstream society’s standards is also a Venus in detriment thing? Indeed, the Scorpio experience is one of struggling to put on airs for the sake of making other people comfortable, of having less patience for the rules of polite society in general, and finding beauty and pleasure in unexpected places — or in the places most people think are too dark and gross to want to spend time in.
Scorpio thinks surgery videos are kind of neat. Scorpio practically invented the pimple popping video craze. Scorpio doesn’t want to see you with a full face of makeup — they want to see what you look like at the end of the night with your dorky retainer in. They almost definitely think it’s cute and endearing.