Zodiac signs

The Zodiac is used in both astrology and was previously used in historical astronomy. In the past it was used as an ecliptic coordinate system. The way it is divided also allowed for signs to be inserted that represent each of the twelve divisions of celestial longitude.

Modern astrology uses these signs in conjunction with someone’s date of birth and the position of the sun to interpret someone’s personality. It is also used to determine daily horoscopes in other forms of astrology. Today we’ll explore the various signs of the zodiac, how it's structured, and how these signs are interpreted in regards to someone’s personality.

What is the Zodiac?

The Zodiac itself was used in historical astronomy and in modern astrology. It is a circle composed of twelve 30 degree divisions that track celestial longitude. It is center on the ecliptic; the apparent path of the sun across the celestial sphere over the course of a year.

The path of the moon and the planets stays within several degrees of the zodiac belt when measured in celestial latitude. The divisions are equally spaced which results in a small discrepancy in regards to the constellations they are named after.

The twelve divisions of the zodiac are referred to as signs and are named after specific constellations. The coordinate system in place here uses the ecliptic as the beginning of the latitude measurement and the Sun at vernal equinox as the zero-point of longitude readings.

The zodiac was first used in the Roman era and was based on concepts dating back to the year 1,000 B.C. These concepts originated in Mesopotamia and were passed on through Babylonian Astronomy, the Greek, and finally the Romans. Everything originated from the first recorded star charts and ecliptic maps.

The name “zodiac” comes from the Latin word zōdiacus, this in turn is derived from the Greek phrase zōdiakos kyklos which means “circle of animals.” The name was chosen because half of the signs in the Greek zodiac are animals, two of them are mythological hybrid creatures.

The zodiac is still the main foundation of the ecliptic coordinate system for astronomy, but there is also an equatorial one in place. The zodiac itself and the twelve signs associated with it are most commonly associated with horoscopic astrology today. This name has also been used to describe the eight arc degrees above and below the ecliptic of a planet or celestial object’s sphere. For example, the “zodiac of the moon” is a band of five degree above and below the moon’s ecliptic.

According to the classical Greek zodiac, there are twelve constellations associated with each of the intervals. Let’s examine these signs and how they apply to astrology.

The Twelve Classical Signs of the Zodiac

While there are other sets of signs used in astrology such as the Chinese zodiac, the classic Greek signs are the most commonly used. They can be applied to daily horoscopes, but they also provide a basis for someone’s personality and resilience based on which sign they were born under.

While astrology is not a science, it does have a set of interpretations surrounding each of the twelve signs. Below are the twelve signs of the zodiac with a description of what each one entails:

  1. Aries: March 21st - April 19th

This first sign represents the planet Mars and the element of fire. The constellation that this sign is based on is mid-sized set of stars that ranks 39th out of the 88 constellations of today. It is composed of three stars that traces the image of a ram for many cultures.

The Chinese for example see it is a pair of inspectors, and the Marshall Islands believe it to represent a porpoise. In Greek Mythology, Aries represents the ram whose fleece was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts.

This is the first sign of the astrological year and people born under this sign are supposed to be outgoing, adventurous, and active. They are people who would rather lead than follow according to the zodiac interpretation. They are also resilient, and eager to trust others which can sometimes lead them into trouble.

Regardless, they are easily able to bounce back. They are regarded as someone who talks less and does more. They value experience over all else and live life on the edge.

  1. Taurus: April 20th - May 20th

This second sign is of the Earth element and has the ruling planet of Venus. The constellation that represents this sign is a bull. This is one of the oldest constellations with mentions of it dating back to the early Bronze Age.

The constellation is located between Aries and Gemini. In astrology, people born under this sign exhibit a calm and collected exterior, but they are actually very active in planning ahead and forging paths for themselves. People born under this sign are not supposed to enjoy change as it takes them out of a comfort zone and removes control from them.

This sign can cause people to become withdrawn or hesitant to be outgoing, but it is only because they wish to exert control over their situations and their ultimate destiny.

  1. Gemini: May 21st - June 20th

The name of this constellation is Latin for “twins.” In Greek mythology it represents the twin Castor and Pollux. This sign has an air element and the ruling planet of Mercury. People born under this sign are supposed to be fast and always moving through life. They constantly seek new knowledge and experiences.

This results in them having unique and possibly extravagant lives. They love to talk and examine the other signs of the zodiac according to astrology. When they find a life partner, it has to be someone who can keep up with them. In many cases they become talented writers or fluent in multiple languages.

They are also great at multi-tasking and a jack-of-all-trades in many cases. People born under the Gemini sign are supposed to have multiple talents and a knack for making and spending money.

  1. Cancer: June 21st - July 22nd

This zodiac sign is associated with the water element and has the moon as its ruling body. The name is Latin for “crab” which describes the constellations interpreted shape and symbol. In Greek mythology, Cancer represents the giant crab that Hercules fought in the second of his 12 labors.

The personality of people born under the Cancer sign of the zodiac is supposed to be one of mystery. They tend to be nice, caring, and loving to those they love, but also incredibly moody when it comes to jealousy and insecurity. They tend to put up an outer wall but deep down they are caring and compassionate people.

Since they are linked to the moon in astrology, they tend to go through phases much like the moon does in the science of astronomy. Having security and a strong relationship is important for those born under this sign as well.

  1. Leo: July 23rd - August 22nd

This sign is represented by one of the oldest constellations in recorded history. The star constellation represents a lion, the element of this sign is fire, and the ruling body is the Sun. In Greek mythology it represents the Nemean Lion which was killed by Hercules during one of the 12 labors.

In the story the lion could not be killed by any of his weapons, so Hercules strangled the beast and put it in the heavens to showcase his accomplishment. For people born under this sign, love and desires of the heart are supposed to be the most important priority. These people are supposed to be filled with positive thoughts and charisma.

They don’t forget those who do them wrong, especially people who break their hearts in a relationship. There are three levels of a Leo’s soul in astrology. The first is a lion cub who is still developing. The second is a lion who follows his/her ego but protects those they love. The final stage is the sphinx, someone who teaches others and holds wisdom.

  1. Virgo: August 23rd - September 22nd

This sign is of the Earth element and is ruled by the planet Mercury. The constellation is based on is the largest one in the zodiac and the second-largest constellation overall. The brightest star in the constellation is Spica which is bright blue-white star.

In Greek mythology this constellation is associated with both Dike, the goddess of justice, and Persephone, the harvest goddess. In the mythological story the Earth was in a constant state of spring until Hades, the God of the underworld, stole Persephone to be his wife. The time she stayed with him each year was when the Earth experienced the winter seasons.

The personalities of people born under this sign are supposed to compassionate and caring. Those who achieve self-confidence under this sign are planned to be successful, creative, and organized. They are firm believers in romance and love, and will continue to pursue it no matter how many times they’ve been scorned.

People born under this sign can be taken advantage of because they are so willing to help others, but when others are in need, they are the first to step up and help.

  1. Libra: September 23rd - October 22nd

This sign is of the air element and is ruled by the planet Venus. The name is Latin for “weighing scales” which is the symbol of the constellation. This is the only constellation of the zodiac that represents an object and not an animal or person.

Originally this constellation was a part of Scorpius, but it was later redrawn by the Romans to be a set of weighing scales. Scales have been symbolic in cultures dating back to the Babylonians. They represent balance between seasons, between day and night, and more. Ancient Greeks saw the constellation as the claws of Scorpius reaching outward.

People born under this sign are supposed to desire a true love and a strong relationship from a very young age. The experience they endure shape how they pursue this goal and they will sometimes settle for something that is not what they originally wanted.

In the world of business, those born under the Libra sign are supposed to have charm and charisma that helps them win successful jobs and friends in high places. They sometimes don’t know when to say no.

  1. Scorpio: October 23rd - November 21st

This sign is represented by the water element and ruled by Pluto. The name is Latin for “scorpion” which describes the constellation itself. While many cultures have followed this interpretation, other cultures have seen it differently. In Indonesia, the Javanese people see it as a “brooded swan” and a “leaning coconut tree.”

In Greek mythology, there are multiple interpretations for this sign. In one version Orion claimed that he would kill every animal and Earth and was subsequently struck down by a scorpion sent by Artemis and her mother, Leto. The other interpretation is that Orion claimed he was a better hunter than Artemis and the scorpion was dispatched by Apollo, her brother.

In either story, the two were placed in the sky as separate constellations that can only be seen at different times of the year. People born under the Scorpio sign are supposed to be extremely wise from a young age and very resilient. These people are known as the “oldest souls” by astrologers.

These people are supposed to be filled with passion and face a decision in their lives to choose between the power of love and the love of power.

  1. Sagittarius: November 22nd - December 21st

This sign is ruled by the fire element and the planet Jupiter. This constellation, like the other zodiac signs, was discovered in the 2nd century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. The name is Latin for “archer” which is the symbol of the constellation.

The Greek people knew Sagittarius as a centaur: a horse-human hybrid. This creature has the upper body of a man and the lower body of a horse with four legs. In the story, Sagittarius shot an arrow that killed Scorpio, the scorpion sent after Orion.

People born under this sign are supposed to have a natural sense of adventure and a love for life that results in them being a very optimistic type of person. Like the archer of mythology, these people keen on aiming at something they wanted and stopping at nothing to get it. Nothing is impossible for these kind of people.

  1. Capricorn: December 22nd - January 19th

This sign of of the Earth element and is ruled by the planet Saturn. The constellation represents a creature that blends a fish and a goat. The name means “goat horn” in Latin. The constellation itself is referred to as Capricornus while the name Capricorn is used for the sign of the zodiac.

The Sumerians identified this constellation as a mythical figure that was half goat and half fish, while Babylonians saw it is a human-goat hybrid. In Greece, it was associated with Pan, the god of nature. In one interpretation, Pan helped Zeus fight the Titans to earn a spot in Olympus.

Another interpretation says that the constellation is associated with Amalthea which is a mythical goat that protected Zeus as a baby. In astrology, this sign can create two kinds of people. The first is someone who represents a mountain goat: always seeking to climb higher and hungering for success.

The second type of person is a garden goat: these are people who are content with their surroundings and won’t leave unless forced. In both cases, Capricorns are patient and willing to persevere until they reach their goals.

  1. Aquarius: January 20th - February 18th

This sign of the zodiac is of the air element and is ruled by the planet Venus. The constellation’s name is Latin for “cup bearer” or “water bearer.” The Greeks saw this constellation as a symbol of Ganymede who was the cup bearer for the gods.

People born under this sign are very intellectual and intent on exploring various levels of mental engagement. They like to seek new trails and methods not used before. They usually don’t let emotions drive their decisions, instead they approach each situation objectively.

They can be viewed as eccentric or odd by other people because no two Aquarius born people are exactly alike in their personalities or their approach to specific situations. That being said, people born under this sign are usually extremely loyal to their friends.

  1. Pisces: February 19th - March 20th

This sign is of the water element and is ruled by the planet Neptune. The name is the Latin plural for “fish” and it is the 14th largest constellation. The symbol for this sign, like its name, is fish. In ancient Syria, Pisces was known as Atargatis, the goddess of love and fertility.

In Greek belief, Aphrodite turned into a fish and jumped into the Euphrates River to avoid the fires of the monster Typhon. She tied herself to her sons so they wouldn’t get lost in the waters which is why the symbol is pair of entwined fish.

Much like the two opposite moving fish, people born under this sign are supposed to be torn constantly between two potential paths in life. They are usually talented and gifted, but they are often seen as lost souls and visionaries. They can adapt to situations quickly and usually find themselves in the top of their fields before long.

Final Thoughts

While astrology and the zodiac signs are not a science like astronomy or cosmology, they do provide a unique connection to personalities and predictions that dates back to the earliest times of civilization. Believing in the horoscopes and personality traits of these is not required of anyone, but it does provide an interesting basis for living one’s life.

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