Zodiac represents an imaginary band in the celestial sphere, whose width extends to 8 ° north and south of the apparent path of the Sun in the sky known as the ecliptic. This band is named after the Greek words zodiakos and kyklos which means circle of animals.
If you’re not into theory, go straight to your Zodiac sign.
In the Cosmological system the sphere of Zodiac signs or sky without stars represents the border of the visible manifestations of the divine, an event which can be perceived by the senses. According to Ibn Ezra, the symbolic sphere marks the beginning of the upper, Third World, where it is necessary to look with eyes closed and let your mind be left to the imagination or the intuitive as the knowledge comes through images and archetypes.
The zodiac is divided into 12 equal parts, to 12 characters, each character at 30 °. Very often the Zodiac signs are mixed with the zodiacal constellations. Although they have the same names, and there are the same number, the zodiacal constellations are different in that they represent groups of stars along the ecliptic plane, which can be connected with imaginary lines to form figures and characters. Also, the constellations are different sizes, some occupy a larger space, some smaller, and have clearly defined boundaries, as opposed to the zodiac signs.
The Zodiac signs are immutable and correspond to the solar calendar, and therefore, the entry of the Sun in the first degree of Aries always marks the beginning of spring and the new astrological year. However, the first degree of Aries is not equal to the first degree of the constellation Aries. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the stars, and thus the constellations which are grouped, are shifted by about 1 degree every 72 years, so by today almost whole sign of Aries is located in the constellation Pisces. That is why there is a huge difference when we say that the sun entered the sign of Aries and when the sun entered the constellation of Aries, because it refers to two different positions of the sun.
It is believed that the symbolic metaphorical planets and stars goes back to Akkadians, the people who lived on the territory of present-day southern Iraq. Archaeological evidence of such interpretations date back to the distant 2350.y. BC, during the reign of Sargon of Akkad. This Akkadian king, with the help of his priest, made maps that predicted solar eclipses, and later they also made an astrological guide. According to historians, to bring the benefit and prosperity, primarily to his dynasty, and then his nation, Sargon has gathered all the scholars of that time and ordered them to encode and standardize the interpretation of the zodiac. In time it became a Collection of predictions and signs in more than 60 tablets with 6500 to 7000 different signs, Anu-Ea-Enlil, which explains and describes the effects of heaven on earth.
Successors of Akkadians, the Babylonians, continued with the advancement of the science of astrology which has a solid and unbreakable bond with nature. Around 1750.y. BC, the Babylonians made a calendar in a way that they divided a year on lunar months and, in accordance with this calendar, followed and recorded the appearance and disappearance of the celestial constellations.
What reminds of today’s Zodiac is the Egyptian zodiac from the time of about 1000 BC, which began with the sign of Virgo, ending with a sign of Leo. In the Zodiac, the Egyptians mapped their mythology and mythological stories. However, historians do not give them credit for the invention of the zodiac.
Babylonian calendar, which is assumed to have been made in the period between 650 – 700.y. BC, shared the ecliptic into 12 equal parts and each part was being assigned to one month or one character. The beginning was marked by the entry of the Sun in the constellation Aries. It is assumed that, at that time, sidereal and tropical zodiac were matched. Because of precession, the vernal point in the then sidereal zodiac is eventually located in the same place at the time of the vernal equinox, but nevertheless, Aries has kept the name and symbolism of the first character.
The first recognizable constellations are in a document from Babylon, which dates from 419.y. BC. The document listed 12 constellations, of which 9 had carried the names that they have today, and three wore the names of the stars or groups of stars (the Pleiades, Praesaepe and Spike). Later, these three constellations were renamed to Taurus, Cancer and Virgo.
Although it is assumed that the zodiac as we know was entirely shaped earlier, the first written evidence comes from 50.y. BC from Egypt, known as the Dendera Zodiac. This relief shows a complete map of the stars and planets at the time, and many scientists have taken this year as the year when the zodiac was officially created in the form of today’s.
The division of the Zodiac
Zodiac signs can be divided in several ways:
- by gender
- by triplicity
- by quadruplicity
According to gender, zodiac signs are divided into male and female so as alternates one male and one female character, starting from Aries male, followd by female Taurus, male sign Gemini, female Cancer and so on to the female Pisces. Male characters represent active, living, the male principle, while female characters represent passive, night, the female principle.
According to triplicity, Zodiac signs are actually grouped according to their elemental nature:
- Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
- Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
- Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
- Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Each of these elements is a combination of two qualities, and thus the fire sign means warm and dry, the air is warm and moist, the water is cold and moist, and the earth is cold and dry. This qualitative classification has important applications in many segments of the astrological analysis, especially in determining the structure of temperament in the natal astrology and mundane astrology in weather forecasting.
According to quadruplicity or modality, Zodiac signs are divided into:
- Cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn)
- Fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius)
- Mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces)
Modality of the sign is the way in which a particular sign works. Thus, the cardinal signs referred to as moving signs and they mark the four zodiacal crosspoints where the seasons start (Aries – spring Cancer – summer, Libra – autumn, Capricorn – winter). The ancients called them the pillars that hold up the heavens. In the natural Zodiac, cardinal signs are placed at the corners of the Zodiac circle and mark the four main directions of the world.
As mentioned earlier, Zodiac signs correspond to the Solar calendar, so that have a connection to the seasons and weather conditions in them. The cardinal signs are sudden, dramatic weather changes that are caused by changes of the seasons. Fixed signs represent periods in which the weather conditions of some season are stable, while variable signs have characteristics of both cardinal and fixed signs and represent the transition period between the two seasons.
There are many divisions of the Zodiac signs to quiet and loud, wild, violent, human and animal, art and so on. These divisions will not be presented here, but they will be found in the descriptions of individual signs. All these descriptions or adjectives are very important in the interpretation of any astrological charts because, thanks to them, we achieve concretization of the wide astrological symbolism.
As I looked at the living creatures,
I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.
This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike.
Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.