Wednesday, February 18, 2009
What is the Zodiac?
If you could observe the motion of the Sun against the stars for an entire year, it would appear to trace out a large circle in the sky that we call the "ecliptic". This circle also happens to be the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. The zodiac is a thin band of the sky on either side of the ecliptic. The word "zodiac" literally means "circle of life", since most of the zodiac signs are animals or people.
Astrological signs represent twelve equal segments or divisions of the zodiac. According to astrology, celestial phenomena reflect or govern human activity on the principle of "as above, so below", so that the twelve signs are held to represent twelve basic personality types or characteristic modes of expression.
In Western and Indian astrology, the twelve signs are associated with constellations, while in Chinese astrology there is no connection with constellations, as it is simply the line of the equator that is divided into twelve equal segments.
In Western and Asian astrology, the emphasis is on space, and the movement of the sun, moon and planets in the sky through each of the zodiac signs. In Chinese astrology, by contrast, the emphasis is on time, with the zodiac operating on cycles of years, months, and hours of the day. A common feature of all three traditions however, is the significance of the ascendant or rising sign, namely the zodiac sign that is rising (due to the rotation of the earth) on the eastern horizon at the moment of a person's birth.
Sign - English name - Element - Quality
Aries - The Ram - Fire - Cardinal
Taurus - The Bull - Earth - Fixed
Gemini - The Twins - Air - Mutable
Cancer - The Crab - Water - Cardinal
Leo - The Lion - Fire - Fixed
Virgo - The Virgin - Earth - Mutable
Libra - The Scales - Air - Cardinal
Scorpio - The Scorpion - Water - Fixed
Sagittarius - The Archer - Fire - Mutable
Capricorn - The Sea-goat - Earth - Cardinal
Aquarius - The Water Carrier- Air - Fixed
Pisces - The Two Fish - Water - Mutable
The twelve signs
The following are the characteristics of the Western Zodiac signs as understood by astrologers:
- Aries (The Ram) (cardinal, fire, personal): Keyword: "I am". The Aries person is assertive, brave, energetic, kind, action-oriented, intelligent, individualistic, independent, impulsive, full of strength, competitive, eager, straightforward, forceful, headstrong, pioneering, a leader, focused on the present and freedom-loving. They can also sometimes be intemperate, violent, impatient, fiery, rash, extreme, and arrogant. Suitable occupations are where initiative and enterprise are needed, and preferably physical activity; such as entrepreneurs, businessmen, soldiers, sportspeople and explorers. In medical astrology Aries governs the head and skull. In astrology Aries is ruled by the planet Mars. The sun sign dates for Aries are March 21 — April 19. The fire form of Aries is a wildfire, an uncontrolled fire. Therefore, commonly known as the most dangerous of the twelve signs.
- Taurus (The Bull) (fixed, earth, personal): Keyword: "I have". The Taurus person is resourceful, thorough, dependable, responsible, loyal, patient, placid, stable, sensual, affectionate, comfortable, solid, earthy, strong, money-oriented, practical, productive, cautious, musical, and artistic. They can also sometimes be stubborn, indulgent, insecure, acquisitive, possessive, rigid, stodgy and slow. Suitable occupations are where perseverance, practicality and responsibility are awarded,and security is available; such as builders, farmers, bankers, civil servants, accountants and artistic pursuits, especially singing and sculpture. In medical astrology Taurus governs the throat and neck. In astrology Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus and for a few modern astrologers, the dwarf planet Ceres. The sun sign dates for Taurus are April 20 — May 20. The earth form of Taurus is fertile soil that has green growing plants.
- Gemini (The Twins) (mutable, air, personal): Keyword: "I think". The Gemini person is versatile, inquisitive, intellectual, whimsical, nimble, articulate, lively, active, curious, independent, talkative, sociable, mercurial, and creative. They can also sometimes be restless, scattered, dual or two-faced, inconstant, rash, gullible, gossipy and superficial. Suitable occupations are where constant variety and/or travel are guaranteed; such as commercial traveller, writer, journalist, clerk, teacher, printing and publishing. In medical astrology Gemini governs the hands and lungs. In astrology Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury. The sun sign dates for Gemini are May 21 — June 20. The air form of Gemini is strong winds.
- Cancer (The Crab) (cardinal, water, personal): Keyword: "I feel". The Cancer person is protective, sensitive, compassionate, tenacious, retentive, resourceful, empathetic, a great leader, charming, independent, mysterious, powerful, self-contained, intelligent, family and home oriented, maternal, security oriented, philosopher, honest, nurturing, motherly, warm, sympathetic, artistic, passionate, self-sacrificing, patriotic, sentimental, musical, emotional, and loving. They can also be touchy, clingy, over-protective, moody and crabby. Suitable occupations are where shrewd but sensitive nature can be constructively employed, or in looking after others; such as nurses, flight attendants, gardeners, archaeologists, fashion and hairdressing, hoteliers, publicans, estate agents. In medical astrology Cancer governs the stomach and breasts. In astrology Cancer is ruled by the Moon. The sun sign dates for Cancer are June 21 — July 22. The water form of Cancer is a torrent, such as rain, a river, or the flow of the ocean.
- Leo (The Lion) (fixed, fire, social): Keyword: "I will". The Leo person is creative, generous, proud, fun-loving, dramatic, dignified, theatrical, passionate, affectionate, ardent, ambitious, loves attention, independent, noble, a leader, sunny, naive, magnetic, kingly, and powerful. They can also sometimes be bossy, jealous, patronizing, promiscuous, snobbish, egotistical, boastful, over self-conscious, and arrogant. Leos like to think that they are special and important. They love attention, and will do anything to get it. Suitable occupations are where leadership, bossiness, and powerful self-assurance can be displayed; such as manager, director, social organizer, chairperson, actor, and president. In medical astrology Leo governs the heart and spine. In astrology Leo is ruled by the Sun. The sun sign dates for Leo are July 23 — August 22. The fire form of Leo is a controlled bonfire.
- Virgo (The Virgin) (mutable, earth, social): Keyword: "I analyze". The Virgo person is practical, industrious, efficient, thorough, methodical, exacting, precise, detail-oriented, observant, intelligent, critical, work and service oriented, painstaking, pragmatic, modest, discreet, health and cleanliness conscious, mentally active, and flexible. They can also be fussy, nervous, pedantic, petty, and over-critical. Virgos often have a long beautiful neck and can be careless with fingernails. Suitable occupations are where analytical and practical, methodical qualities are needed; such as teacher, psychologist, nursing and health and hygiene sectors, scientist, accountant, secretary, inspector. In medical astrology Virgo governs the intestines and digestion. There is some debate in regards to a modern ruler of this sign with Chiron, Pallas, Vesta and Ceres often considered candidate by some modern astrologers, but the planet Mercury is typically used as the default by tradition pending a consensus among modern practitioners; but no one knows if or when this will be. The sun sign dates for Virgo are August 23 — September 22. The earth form of Virgo is a full grown harvest. Totem animal is the Bushbaby.
- Libra (The Scales) (cardinal, air, social): Keyword: "I balance". The Libra person is co-operative, diplomatic, sees both sides, open-minded, just, urbane, fair, partnership oriented, avoids conflict, refined, balanced, graceful, charming, debative, idealistic, egalitarian and sociable. They can sometimes also rationalize, be easily deterred, indecisive and lazy. Suitable occupations are where human relationships and a harmonious environment are important; such as artist, poet, diplomat, social worker, cosmetic industry or a stay at home mom. In medical astrology Libra governs the kidneys and lumbar region. In astrology Libra is ruled by the planet Venus. The sun sign dates for Libra are September 23 — October 22. The air form of Libra is the calm fall winds.
- Scorpio (The Scorpion) (fixed, water, social): Keyword: "I desire". The Scorpio person is passionate, secretive, powerful, penetrating, perspicacious, intense, determined, purposeful, imaginative, insightful, perceptive, deep, complex, analytical, inquisitive, resourceful, ambitious, shrewd, magnetic, hypnotic, creative and mysterious. They can also sometimes be cunning, suspicious, compulsive, aggressive, jealous, and controlling. Suitable occupations are where the penetrating mind and determined attitude can prevail; such as research work, detective, physicist, doctor, surgeon, engineer, butcher, lawyer, the occult. In medical astrology Scorpio governs the pelvis and reproductive organs. In astrology Scorpio is ruled by the planets Mars and Pluto. The sun sign dates for Scorpio are October 23 — November 21. The water form of Scorpio is calm, murky waters that holds unknown things.
- Sagittarius (The Archer) (mutable, fire, universal): Keyword: "I see". The Sagittarius person is freedom-loving, extrovert, straightforward, benevolent, philosophic, idealistic, sincere, intellectual, knowledgeable, philosophical, broad-minded, truth-seeking and telling, just, fun-loving, athletic, adventurous, expansive, and optimistic. They can also sometimes be blundering, careless, exaggerative, know-it-all, over-indulgent, tactless and scattered. Suitable occupations are where free-ranging and versatile qualities are needed and where philosophical traits are important; such as churchman, lawyer, philosopher, interpreter, teacher, politician, explorer, also working with animals. In medical astrology Sagittarius governs the hips and thighs. In astrology Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter. The sun sign dates for Sagittarius are November 22 — December 21. The fire form of Sagittarius is a campfire or a room with multiple candles in it or a lighting bolt.
- Capricorn (The Sea-goat) (cardinal, earth, universal): Keyword: "I use". The Capricorn person is prudent, responsible, realistic, formal, patient, methodical, disciplined, traditional, cautious, conventional, hard-working, persevering, self-reliant, ambitious, businesslike, career-oriented, authoritative, conscientious, and competent. They can also sometimes be rigid, suspicious, status-seeking, demanding, insensitive, inhibited and saturnine. Suitable occupations are where responsible, patient and economising qualities can be exercised; such as scientist, engineer, manager, civil servant, mathematician, farmer, builder, politician, director. In medical astrology Capricorn governs the knees and skeleton. In astrology Capricorn is ruled by the planet Saturn. The sun sign dates for Capricorn are December 22 — January 19. The earth form of Capricorn is hard cold winter grounds or mountains.
- Aquarius (The Water Carrier) (fixed, air, universal): Keyword: "I know". The Aquarius person is unconventional, detached, intellectual, objective, individualistic, inventive, tolerant, unique, rebellious, sophisticated, future-oriented, friendship-oriented, humanitarian, cause-oriented, believes in groups and society, attractive and progressive. They can also sometimes be unpredictable, dogmatic, over-permissive, aloof, eccentric and elitist. Suitable occupations are where the progressive mental qualities can be developed, preferable in a group; such as, photographer, writer, broadcastor, publisher, social worker, scientist, and the electronics, aviation, and computer industries. In medical astrology Aquarius governs the circulatory system and the ankles. In astrology Aquarius is ruled by the planets Saturn and Uranus. The sun sign dates for Aquarius are January 20 — February 19. The air form of Aquarius is a cold winter night.
- Pisces (The Fish) (mutable, water, universal): Keyword: "I believe". The Pisces person is compassionate, empathic, imaginative, sensitive, mystical, spiritual, dreamy, passive, easy-going, idealistic, visionary, inspirational, accepting, undiscriminating, charitable, believes in soul growth, self-sacrificing and artistic. They can also sometimes be distracted, detached, illusory, impractical, gullible, neglectful, escapist and lazy. Suitable occupations are where compassionate and intuitive qualities are needed; such as caring for the sick, needy and animals, religious, social workers, hospitals and institutions, poets, writers, actors, psychics, and models. In medical astrology Pisces governs the feet and immune system. In astrology Pisces is ruled by the planets Jupiter and Neptune. The sun sign dates for Pisces are February 20 — March 20. The water form of Pisces is the ocean.
The four elements
In traditional Western astrology there are four triplicities based on the classical elements. Beginning with the first sign Aries which is a Fire sign, the next in line Taurus is Earth, then to Gemini which is Air, and finally to Cancer which is Water -- in Western astrology the sequence is always Fire, Earth, Air, & Water in that exact order (except in sidereal astrology, where currently Pisces is the first sign). This cycle continues on twice more and ends with the twelfth and final astrological sign, Pisces. The elemental rulerships for the twelve astrological signs of the zodiac (according to Marcus Manilius) are summarised as follows:
Fire - Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius - hot, dry, ardent
Earth - Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn - heavy, cold, dry
Air - Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius - light, hot, wet
Water - Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces - wet, soft, cold