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A Historical Zodiac

The stars have always been a thing of wonderment for mankind. With every generation, more is learned about the celestial world around us. Yet many still cling to one belief; no matter how much the earth changes; how many planets are added or removed; people still hold the zodiac near and dear.

The Zodiac, out of all the constellations in the sky holds the most notoriety, with the exception of course of the big dipper, and Orion’s belt. The Zodiac consists of 12 different constellations or star formations.

  1. Aries, The Ram
  2. Taurus, The Bull
  3. Gemini, The Twins
  4. Cancer, The Crab
  5. Leo, The Lion
  6. Virgo, The Virgin
  7. Libra, The Scales
  8. Scorpius, The Scorpion
  9. Sagittarius, The Archer
  10. Capricornus, The Sea-Goat
  11. Aquarius, The Water Bearer
  12. Pisces, The Fishes

These twelve constellations have held influence over Western Civilization since their inception. However, there weren’t always 12 Zodiac symbols; despite popular belief the Zodiac signs we have today don’t actually match the dates they are associated with either. The Zodiac originated with the Babylonians, where it started with 18 different constellations. For the Babylonians the Zodiac was a Calendar and a marker for the paths of Anu, Enlil, and EA.
The 18 parts also marked the path of the moon.

It was not until the greeks adopted and modified the Zodiac in the late Assyrian period that it became divided into twelve balanced parts. The 12 parts we know were originally detailed by the Greek astrologer Ptolemy. Today do to the gradual tilting of the planet’s axis these Zodiac signs are “ahead by one sign”. So someone labeled with the astrological sign of Taurus would actually be an Aries. Many people may not know of the historical and geological changes of the Zodiac. They also may not know the origins or “meaning” of a particular zodiac sign.

Aries
Aries is the ram that carried Phrixus and Helle to Colchi to escape their wicked stepmother Ino.

Taurus
Taurus is the bull-form / avatar of the Greek God Zeus.

Gemini
Gemini represents Castor and Pollux the twin sons of Leda.

Cancer
Oddly enough cancer the crab represent the defeat of the Lernaean Hydra by Heracles.

Leo
Leo represents another of the 12 trials of Heracles; in which he defeated the Nemean Lion.

Virgo
Virgo represents the goddess of justice, daughter of Zeus, Astraea or the Star Maiden.

Libra
Libra is representative of the legend of Atalanta, the female huntress raised by bears.

Scorpio
The scorpion is associated with the Greek god of the underworld Hades.

Sagittarius
Sagittarius is the embodiment of the centaur Chiron that trained many greek mythological heroes; and gave up his immortality for the life of Prometheus guardian of fire.

Capricorn
Capricorn represents the goat Almathea that gave its milk to the king of the gods, Zeus, when he was an infant.

Aquarius
Aquarius the water bringer is actually remembrance of King Odysseus. Odysseus was hero to the greeks and villain to the Romans.

Pisces
Pisces is sign of Helen of Troy, daughter of Zeus and Nemesis.

While this is really only a brief synopsis of the historical and ancient Zodiac, it gives one insight into the tremendous past of mankind’s Western ancestors. Despite the history and wonder the Zodiac has held, it is pale and comparison to the wonderment and age of the stars themselves.

For more information:
* Signs of the Zodiac: A Reference Guide to Historical, Mythological, and Cultural Associations
* The origin of the zodiac

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