The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac
Why were astrology and zodiac signs created? Humanity has always searched for meaning, and looking to the sky makes perfect sense. Ever since we have been measuring the movements of the stars and planets, we have been assigning meaning to them.
I. History Of Western Zodiac Signs
Where did the Western zodiac come from? Most astrologers agree that credit for creating the practice belongs to the Babylonians during the mid-second millennium B.C.E. This is in part because they were a dominant culture in that period of history. And they had the time and resources to dedicate to the arts and sciences. By the 4th century B.C.E., their ability to make calculations improved to the point that instead of signs from the sky, they predicted planetary movements with some degree of accuracy.
Prior to that, signs and omens could be found in animal liver markings as well as the sky. In fact, it was not until the Middle Ages that astrology and horoscopes for individuals were considered. Until that time, zodiac signs was used to decide the fate of rulers and kingdoms, telling them who would win certain battles and what advice they should follow.
When Alexander the Great began his conquest of Asia, the Greeks picked up several cultural and scientific philosophies from Babylon, Syria, Persia, and central Asia. When their writing was transferred into the Greek language, astrology/astronomy was appropriated from the Babylonians in 1stcentury B.C.E. Highly-regarded philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato considered it a science because of its practical applications regarding weather and crop predictions. From there, the Romans, who were suspicious at first, accepted the practice.
Later, when Alexandria fell to the Arabs in the 7th century A.D., Islamic scholars were fascinated by the then-ancient study of astronomy. Quite possibly, this was due in part to the fact that many people in that region of the world would do their traveling by night, and they used the stars (and constellations) to guide them.
Not only that, but facing directions were crucial in some cases, such as where a mosque should face, or what direction people should pray toward. At that time, the term used for astronomy was astrology, and the two were inseparable. In the between the 8th and 10th centuries, centers of scholarship in astrology and healing medicine were built in Damascus and Baghdad. In Baghdad, a large observatory was built, making it a leading astrology center in the world in its day.
European Medieval astrology is marked almost solely by the time period. It falls between the Hellenistic (Greek) period and the Renaissance. This means that the Medieval (or Middle Ages) encompassed the 7th through the 14th centuries. Not surprisingly, those in the Middle Ages were heavily influenced by the Greeks, as this was a period in history when “our best days” were “behind us” rather than ahead.
At least, this was the general consensus. It is interesting to note the major differences in Medieval and modern astrology charts. The people of the Middle Ages were the first to focus on individuals. But they spent most of their energy looking at one’s life events and experiences. But today, most people use astrology to do a personal character evaluation.
In the Renaissance, astrology and zodiac signs went through a sort of identity crisis. On the one hand, practitioners held on to Hellenistic and Medieval teachings that came before them. On the other hand, these same people tried to validate and advance the precision of astrology/astronomy’s calculations and compatibility predictions.
The study was part of a liberal arts education, along with a “new” science called alchemy, among other things. There was a fascination with how the world worked. The Church initially approved of the practice; in fact, in the earlier part of the 16th century, the popes gave their stamp of approval. However, by 1586, Pope Sixtus V condemned all magic, including astrology. It has been at odds ever since.
In the modern era, astrology has taken on a very personal aspect. It is possible to pick up the phone, read a newspaper, drive down the street, or log on to the Internet and read one’s horoscope. How does it work? The zodiac signs are based on specific constellations which appear to circle around the earth in a predictable pattern, year after year – or at least it would seem that way.
The modern Western zodiac signs is a complex set of predictions based on calculations and planetary movements, including that of our sun. A person’s zodiac sign is actually the Sun Sign. There are many other signs to consider when drawing up a chart for a person. This chart needs the date, time, and location of a person’s birth to determine the rest of the information. For our purposes, we will focus on the Sun Signs or the Star Signs. There are a few things to take into consideration with each sun sign.
There are four astrology elements:
These three zodiac signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) harbor the intensity, spontaneity, zeal, idealism and gusto of the 12 signs.
These three zodiac signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) harbor the pragmatism, rationality, materialism and realism of the 12 sun signs.
These three signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) harbor the communication skills, social skills, logic and intellect of the zodiac.
These three zodiac signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) harbor the emotions and the spiritual, mystic and perceptive skills of the zodiac.
Ruling Planets In Astrology
- Mars rules over Aries Sun Sign
- Venus rules over Taurus, Libra Zodiac Signs
- Mercury rules over Gemini, Virgo Zodiac Signs
- Sun rules over Leo Star Sign
- Pluto rules over Scorpio Zodiac Sign
- Jupiter rules over Sagittarius Sun Sign
- Saturn rules over Aquarius Astrology Sign
- Neptune rules over Pisces Zodiac Sign
These four signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn) are the initiators of the zodiac. They are the idea people who have the creative spark, but lack the ability to follow through. They signal the start of a season.
These four signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) are the achievers of the zodiac. They follow through with things and are filled with a sense of purpose, but it they have a reputation for being obstinate. They fall mid season.
These four signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces) are the transformers of the zodiac. They are the closers and are flexible to the point of bringing chaos in their wake. They herald the end of a season.
12 Zodiac Signs
Aries Zodiac Sign (March 21 – April 20)
More than anything, Aries zodiac sign is willful and independent. They are also full of endless energy and curiosity about the world. This combination makes them the leaders and trend-setters of the zodiac. In fact, they would much rather be leaders than followers, which can make working for other people a problem.
Underneath all this bravado lies a deep-seated insecurity, in many cases. If an Aries feels cornered, he or she will lash out and project his or her own shortcomings on the nearest target.
Taurus Zodiac Sign (April 21 – May 21)
Taurus zodiac sign are not normally found at the head of the pack. Rather, they make slow and steady progress and spread a sense of stability and security to those around them. This is not to say they follow blindly.
In fact, they are stubborn as the bull that symbolizes them. That stubbornness serves them well in the business sphere because they refuse to give up in the face of adversity. On the other side of that trait, they dislike and even fear change.
Gemini Star Sign (May 22 – June 21)
Freedom is essential to the mental well-being of Gemini zodiac sign. Part of that freedom includes the ability to change course in thoughts, careers, relationships and life directions. They love to start new ventures and their enthusiasm is contagious to say the least. That ability to motivate others makes them great managers or sales people.
If that energy is not brought under control (and they strongly dislike the concept of control) it can make them restless and jittery. Lastly, Gemini tend to look on the surface of things, including people. This can lead to wrong impressions, which in turn can make them miss out on making good memories.
Cancer Zodiac Sign (June 22 – July 22)
Whether or not the Cancer zodiac sign can handle life on their own depends in large on whether they have matured and “evolved.” A mature Cancer is self-sufficient, yet still able to help others resolve emotional issues. A Cancerian who is perhaps young or not fully evolved is overly dependent on others for self-esteem and even material support.
While they are good at getting others to share their feelings, Cancer rarely share their own. They also have a highly developed sense of intuition which can lead them to a successful career in investing (in almost anything). The most important thing for Cancer is that they don’t lose sight of who they are while helping others.
Leo Sun Sign (July 23 – August 21)
While Leo zodiac sign likes to feel independent, they do not like to live in a vacuum. Others need to surround them in order to appreciate Leo’s charm and power. At the same time, Leos lift others’ spirits by their charismatic, upbeat natures. As long as Leo is in a position of authority at work, he or she is easy to get along with excellent zodiac compatibility.
Leos can be enthusiastic motivators to their peers or underlings. If a Leo doesn’t start off as the manager or even CEO, his or her drive and charm will get them there (as long as they don’t anger the wrong people). This outward show of pride is a cover for an inward need for praise and ego boosts.
Virgo Zodiac Sign (August 22 – September 23)
Virgo zodiac sign is ruled by logic, procedure, and checklists. They are appealing to others for their straight answers and non-emotional problem solving skills. But sometimes they can be a little too uptight for their own good. Their analytical minds and intellectual rigor make them good researchers and investigators, in part because they are not likely to miss any details.
In fact, the Virgins can become so bogged down in the details of any one project or issue that they become paralyzed. The need to know everything, including the future, can be damaging to a Virgo’s psyche. The more they learn to let go of the little things and relax a little, the healthier they will be.
Libra Zodiac Sign (September 24 – October 23)
Libra zodiac sign are often found at the center of a group. They love being surrounded by people, and people tend to like them. Life is an adventure that is meant to be shared, according to Libra. While they don’t enjoy “dirty work,” they are great at coming up with new ideas for making money and starting or rejuvenating businesses.
While they tend to be laid back about most things, the one thing that will stir them from their daydreams is something they perceive as unfair. If this is the case, watch out! That Libra will be on the move and be very motivated. While they are considered the “diplomat” of the zodiac, once their sense of fairness has been ruffled, all bets are off.
Scorpio Sun Sign (October 24 – November 22)
Scorpio zodiac sign are not terribly social, as they see things like gossiping and small talk as silly and a waste of time. What motivates them is power. Needless to say, this sun sign is ambitious, focused, and able to read people quite easily. Their surgical dissection of others’ personalities and motivations may be off-putting, but it is how they see the world.
Scorpions are perfectly suited for careers that require the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, such different specializations in surgery. Deep inside, a Scorpio’s greatest dread is fear of failure. For all their ambition and ability to work through obstacles, to fail at something would be the worst thing in the world.
Sagittarius Star Sign (November 23 – December 22)
Sagittarius zodiac sign has an independent streak, and they love to travel to all corners of the world to see, learn, and explore everything. The fact that they tend to be positive, happy people makes them good friends, and they are never boring. Conversation is their forte, and they have many exciting stories to tell. One thing they do not care for is an overly controlled and systematic environment.
For these reasons, careers in a 9 to 5 cubicle would crush the Sagittarian’s spirits. They make excellent entertainers of all kinds. The thing they fear the most is boredom. You will most likely not find them stuck in a rut. If they are threatened with this possibility, they will drop everything and travel to an exotic location to “find themselves.”
Capricorn Zodiac Sign (December 23 – January 20)
Capricorn zodiac sign lives and plays by the rules and expects others to do the same. Their stern exteriors mask a caring, almost fatherly interior. As a result, they are quite good at helping people bounce back from difficulties. This is not surprising, as their focus is on success; both for others and especially themselves.
Ambition is the key. In fact, that cool exterior that is off-putting to some is a protective measure for this melancholy sign who never feels like they measure up to an impossible ideal. They are much kinder to others than to themselves.
Aquarius Zodiac Sign (January 21 – February 19)
Aquarius zodiac sign has an almost obsessive need to be completely independent. If they feel even the slightest tug of obligation or duty, they will bolt. This eccentric sign does have redeeming qualities. They exist to make the world a better place. What matters most to them is having a wide swath of friends from every walk of life, but no one can get too close. Their favorite thing to do is shock people, whether by their appearance, by what they say, or by what they do; any of these things are designed to make a point, however.
If an Aquarius can have someone to handle the paperwork, he or she thrives in heading up a non-profit organization. The thing they struggle with the most is their emotions. They are motivated by thoughts and ideals, not their feelings. In fact, their own feelings are a mystery to them. This makes them difficult to get very close to.
Pisces Zodiac Sign (February 20 – March 20)
Pisces zodiac sign is easily the most sensitive sign in the zodiac. They are true empaths. They feel their emotions and the emotions of others very deeply. It is hard for them to distinguish between the two sometimes. Their tendency to attract people with serious problems and then want to solve those problems can become an issue.
Pisces can become overwhelmed and not able to help anyone. In addition to being highly emotional, they tend to be quite artistic. Since structure, discipline, and schedules do not work for this sign, embracing their creative side makes much more sense. It isn’t surprising that many actors, singers, dancers, and writers are Piscean.
II. History Of Chinese Zodiac
What is the Chinese Zodiac and how does it work? First, there is the mythology. Some say it was the Jade Emperor (the first and primary god), while others say it was the Buddha. Regardless, he invited the animals to participate in a race, and the first dozen winners would take their places in the zodiac calendar. Their places in the calendar would be determined by their finishing position. The clever rat, who used his wits to outsmart the rest, finished first. Some versions include a cat who was much wronged by his then-friend, the rat. The rat was supposed to awaken him from a nap, but the rat forgot in all the excitement.
Another story that has been told instead involves either the Jade Emperor or the Buddha as well. The protagonist in this story invited the animals to his birthday party, but only twelve appeared. This is how the animals were chosen for the zodiac. Now, for the history. Chinese astrology is so old, in fact, that the reason why these animals were used is unknown.
Chinese astrology and zodiac signs first emerged in the Zhan Guo period, which took place in the early 5th century B.C.E. Much later, during the North Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century, the zodiac was a prevalent way to establish a person’s birth year.
It is interesting to note that while some practitioners of Chinese astrology use just birthdates, others use the positions of stars and planets as well. They use the Chinese lunar calendar (based on the orbit of the moon) instead of a solar calendar even for matching Chinese horoscope compatibility.
This is why Chinese New Year doesn’t fall on the same day each year. The same system is used to this day, and it has spread to most corners of East Asia. In actuality, the zodiac was first created to count the years, months, days, and even hours. There are twelve animals in this system of zodiac signs that are used for a number of purposes: one per year for a twelve-year cycle, one per day in a twelve-day cycle, and one per two hours in a one-day cycle.
12 Chinese Zodiac Signs
Chinese Rat Zodiac Sign
Born in years 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032 – Tends to be lively, extrovert, vigilant, demanding, critical
Chinese Ox Animal Sign
Born in years 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033 – Tends to be honest, cautious, persistent, obstinate, prudish
Chinese Tiger Sign
Born in years 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034 – Tends to be open-minded, courageous, virtuous, short-tempered, hasty
Chinese Rabbit Animal Sign
Born in the years 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035 – Tends to be sensitive, mild, kindhearted, tentative, conformist
Chinese Dragon Zodiac Sign
Born in the years 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036 – Tends to be passionate, inspirational, benevolent, unrealistic, odd
Chinese Snake Sign
Born in the years 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037 – Tends to be smart, zealous, witty, distrustful, fickle
Chinese Horse Zodiac Sign
Born in the years 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038 – Tends to be approachable, social, independent, tattletales, spendthrift
Chinese Goat/Sheep Sign
Born in the years 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039 – Tends to be softhearted, conscientious, thoughtful, tentative, moody
Chinese Monkey Zodiac Sign
Born in the years 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040 – Tends to be self-assured, clever, trendsetting, cunning, conceited
Chinese Rooster Star Sign
Born in the years 1909,1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041 – Tends to be quick-witted, capable, autonomous, critical, narrow-minded
Chinese Dog Zodiac Sign
Born in the years 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042 – Tends to be noble, sensible, loyal, emotional, traditionalist
Chinese Pig Zodiac Sign
Born in the years 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043 – Tends to be gentle, kind-hearted, amicable, naïve, slow
Chinese Zodiac Trines Or Pillars
Rat, Dragon, Monkey. These zodiac signs are commanding, passionate and impulsive. They are said to be articulate, bright, artistic and confident. But they can also be egotistical, covetous and manipulative.
Ox, Snake, Rooster. These zodiac signs are persistent, meticulous, and stubborn. They are said to be simple, diligent, loyal and moral. But they can also be judgmental, small-minded and proud.
Tiger, Horse, Dog. These zodiac signs are romantic, idealistic, and impulsive. They are said to be vibrant, independent, enterprising, and protective, but they can also be rebellious, nervous, and argumentative.
Rabbit, Goat, Pig. These zodiac signs are well-mannered beauty seekers who are resigned to their situation in life. They are said to be careful, self-denying, compassionate, and tactful, but they can also be self-doubting, naïve, and negative.
III. Celtic Astrology
While the early Celts did worship nature, there is little proof to suggest that they had an organized, calculated, star-based zodiac like the Babylonians, Chinese, or Mayans. What is most commonly found in Internet searches and recognized today as the “Celtic Tree Calendar” was created by Robert Graves in the mid-twentieth century.
His controversial work entitled The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth is about his version of Celtic mythology, culture, and practices. It was first published in 1948 under the name The Roebuck in the Thicket, but has been republished several times due to its popularity in certain circles.
Graves went under the assumption that the Celtic language was a derivative from Greek and Roman languages. Today, thanks to the study of linguistics, we know this is not the case. However, back in 1948, they did not understand the origins of language. From this supposition, he based his Celtic Tree Calendar (later Zodiac) on Greek and Roman mythology.
The calendar (or Celtic zodiac) is based on the lunar year. Celtic astrology compatibility too matches the tree signs. The year was broken down into 13 months with 28 days each. Interestingly, there is one extra day per year. It occurs in December, and it is called the “Nameless Day.”
Celtic Tree Zodiac Signs
Celtic Birch Sign
The Achiever (December 24 – January 21) – These people tend to take chances and achieve their goals. They are the leaders.
Celtic Rowan Tree Sign
The Thinker (January 22 – February 18) – These people tend to be the philosophers and truth-seekers. They are the unique sages.
Celtic Ash Zodiac Sign
The Enchanter (February 19 – March 17) – These people tend to be creative and derive inspiration from nature. They are the artists.
Celtic Alder Tree Sign
The Trailblazer (March 18 – April 14) – These people tend to attract a large number of friends and look for causes to support. They are the advocates.
Celtic Willow Zodiac Sign
The Observer (April 15 – May 12) – These people tend to be intuitive and able to recall information quickly from memory. They are the psychics.
Celtic Hawthorne Astrology
The Illusionist (May 13 – June 9) – These people tend to be different on the outside than they are on the inside. They are the adapters.
Celtic Oak Sign
The Stabilizer (June 10 – July 7) – These people tend to be strong mentally and physically. They are the burden-carriers.
Celtic Holly Tree Sign
The Ruler (July 8 – August 4) – These people tend to carry themselves with power and regality. They are the authorities.
Celtic Hazel Zodiac Sign
The Knower (August 5 – September 1) – These people tend to be intelligent and perfectionists. They are the teachers.
Celtic Vine Zodiac Sign
The Equalizer (September 2 – September 29) – These people tend to be able to see both sides of anything and are flexible. They are the diplomats.
Celtic Ivy Zodiac Sign
The Survivor (September 30 – October 27) – These people tend to be positive, giving, and always striving to be their best. They are the overcomers.
Celtic Reed Zodiac Sign
The Inquisitor (October 28 – November 24) – These people tend to find out hidden information and motivations from people using their wits and charm. They are the sleuths.
Celtic Elder Tree Sign
The Seeker (November 25 – December 23). These people tend to chase thrills and speak their minds. They are the adventurers.
In addition, there is the notion of an animal-based Celtic zodiac signs, which is an even more modern in construction. It too is based on the notion of Celts and druids being nature worshipers (which they were).
Unfortunately, modern information is not consistent, from which animals were used to what they mean. Not only that, but there is also a belief in Celtic Animal Totems. This is not based on birth dates, but on several criteria:
- An animal that appears in dreams
- An animal that appears when one is on a quest to understand themselves
- An animal that appears during meditation
- An animal assigned to you by an expert
Each type of Celtic animal sign represents different things regarding what is going on in a person’s life at that time. Therefore, the zodiac signs may change.
IV. Mayan Zodiac
The Mayan civilization began in the 6th century B.C.E., and their territory covered what is now Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. The Olmec Empire predated them, and the Mayans appropriated their calendar and system of writing, at least initially. Everything changed in the first century of the new millennium; the Mayans came up with the concept of zero.
For the next millennia, the Mayans focused their attention on astronomy, astrology, zodiac signs and a much more complex calendar. This was based on the measurements and calculations created by the study of the stars. Interestingly, they did not have advanced tools to use. Rather, they built amazing buildings for scientific and religious purposes that allowed them to measure the heavens.
Mayan astrology looks very different from what most of us are used to. It is highly dependent upon their specialized calendar in addition to the stars. It has just as much to do with cosmic time as with an individual. Each calendar (or tzolkin) has 260 days.
Day signs are the closest thing they have to what we would call a Western “zodiac sign.” The calendar divides the year into 20 days at a time. Those blocks of days have one day sign each. These day zodiac signs would tell people about their temperaments and purpose in life.
The trecena is another type of astrology sign. The closest semblance it has to the Western zodiac is the moon sign. To find this sign, the Mayans also divided the calendar into 20 groups of 13 days each. These signs would tell the listener deeper self-knowledge.
The Lords of the Night is named for a Mayan “week” made up of nine days, each named after a god of the underworld. The traits you learn from this lot will tell you about your inner workings.
The “Calendar Round” is another delineation. Every group of 52 years is complete cycle. Each year in a 52-year cycle has a name, and people born in a certain year were said to have certain traits attributed to that year and sign. This is much like the zodiac signs in the Chinese zodiac.
The Cycle of Venus is based on the orbit of Venus. Venus was incredibly important to the Mayans. This cycle is four periods used to mark the calendar; each one telling a person about their role in society. Mayan compatibility too can be calculated this way.
Mayan Zodiac Signs
Ch’en (January 2 – January 21) Black Storm
These are people of the night. They find their energy in the moon.
Yax (January 22 – February 10) Green Storm
These people love nature. They are ruled by the sacred planet, Venus.
Sak (February 11 – March 2) White Storm
These are people of the day. They find their energy in the morning.
Keh (March 3 – March 22) Red Storm
These people are fiery. Their power color is red.
Mak (March 23 – April 11) Enclosed
These people are a mystery. Their power number is 3, the number of divinity.
K’ank’ln (April 12 – May 1) Dog
These people love the earth below and the sky above. Their spirit animal is the dog.
Muwan (May 2 – May 21) Owl
These people can see truth through the darkness. Their spirit animal is the owl.
Pax (May 22 – June 10) Steam
These people are a mixture of water, fire, and earth. Their element is water vapor.
K’ayab’ (June 11 – June 20) Moon
These people love spiritual things and seeing beyond the ordinary. They are drawn to the moon.
Kumk’u (July 1 – July 20) Conch over Maize
These people see both sides of nearly all issues. They are the definitive statesmen.
Wayeb’ (July 21 – July 25) Unlucky
These people take on the unhappiness and bad luck from those around them. They are the scapegoats.
Pop (July 26 – August 14) Chief
These people have quiet strength and practical authority. They lead from the front lines.
Wo (August 15 – September 3) Black Sky
These people draw inspiration from the hours just before dawn. They are the mystics.
Sip (September 4 – September 23) Red Sky
These people grow from weathering the storms of life. They are survivors.
Zotz’ (September 24 – October 13) Bat, Fish
These people have two spirit animals that allow them to move seamlessly through air and water. Their spirit animals are the bat and the fish.
Sek (October 14 – November 2) Sky
These people have a gift for knowing solutions to life’s problems. They have a fascination with the universe.
Xul (November 3 – November 22) Dog
These people were the most closely associated with the spirit world. Their spirit animal was the dog, the guide to the afterlife.
Yaxk’ln (November 23 – December 12) Sun God, Ah Kin
These people are guardians from disease and darkness, both physical and spiritual. They have a close relationship with the Sun God.
Mol (December 13 – January 1) Clouds
These people bring blessings in the form of rain for crops. They are closely associated with the element of water.