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|History of astrology|
|Astrology & astronomy|
|Sidereal vs. Tropical|
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|Hindu · Chinese|
In Western astrology, astrological signs are the twelve 30º sectors of the ecliptic, starting at the vernal equinox (one of the intersections of the ecliptic with the celestial equator), also known as the First Point of Aries. The order of the astrological signs is Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.
The concept of the zodiac originated in Babylonian astrology, and was later influenced by Hellenistic culture. According to astrology, celestial phenomena relate to human activity on the principle of "as above, so below", so that the signs are held to represent characteristic modes of expression, or specific qualities of experience, through which planets manifest their dimension of experience.
The twelve sector division of the ecliptic constitutes astrology's primary frame of reference when considering the positions of celestial bodies, from a geocentric point of view, so that we may find, for instance, the Sun in 23º Aries (23º longitude), the Moon in 7º Scorpio (217º longitude), or Jupiter in 29º Pisces (359º longitude). Beyond the celestial bodies, other astrological points that are dependent on geographical location and time (namely, the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Vertex and the houses' cusps) are also referenced within this ecliptic coordinate system.
Various approaches to measuring and dividing the sky are currently used by differing systems of astrology, although the tradition of the Zodiac's names and symbols remain consistent. Western astrology measures from Equinox and Solstice points (points relating to longest, equal and shortest days of the (tropical year), while Jyotiṣa or Vedic astrology measures along the equatorial plane (sidereal year). Precession results in Western astrology's zodiacal divisions not corresponding in the current era to the constellations that carry similar names, while Jyotiṣa measurements still correspond with the background constellations.
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 - 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.
While Western astrology is essentially a product of Greco-Roman culture, some of its more basic concepts originated in Babylonia. Isolated references to celestial "signs" in Sumerian sources are insufficient to speak of a Sumerian zodiac. Specifically, the division of the ecliptic in twelve equal sectors is a Babylonian conceptual construction.
By the 4th century BC, Babylonians' astronomy and their system of celestial omens were influencing the Greek culture and, by late 2nd century BC, Egyptian astrology was also mixing in. This resulted, unlike the Mesopotamian tradition, in a strong focus on the birth chart of the individual and in the creation of horoscopic astrology, employing the use of the Ascendant (the rising degree of the ecliptic, at the time of birth), and of the twelve houses. Association of the astrological signs with Empedocles' four classical elements was another important development in the characterization of the twelve signs.
The body of astrological knowledge by the 2nd century AD is described in Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, a work that was responsible for astrology's successful spread across Europe and the Middle East, and remained a reference for almost seventeen centuries as later traditions made few substantial changes to its core teachings.
The following table enumerates the twelve divisions of celestial longitude, with the Latin names (still widely used) and the English translation (gloss).
|[0º, 30º[||[30º, 60º[||[60º, 90º[||[90º, 120º[||[120º, 150º[||[150º, 180º[||[180º, 210º[||[210º, 240º[||[240º, 270º[||[270º, 300º[||[300º, 330º[||[330º, 360º[|
|Gloss||The Ram||The Bull||The Twins||The Crab||The Lion||The Maiden||The Scales||The Scorpion||The Archer||The Goat||The Water-bearer||The Fishes|
Empedocles, a fifth century BCE Greek philosopher, identified Fire, Earth, Air, and Water as elements. He explained the nature of the universe as an interaction of two opposing principles called love and strife manipulating the four elements, and stated that these four elements were all equal, of the same age, that each rules its own province, and each possesses its own individual character. Different mixtures of these elements produced the different natures of things. Empedocles said that those who were born with near equal proportions of the four elements are more intelligent and have the most exact perceptions.
Each sign is associated with one of the classical elements, and these can also be grouped according to polarity: Fire and Air signs are considered positive or extrovert, masculine signs; while Water and Earth signs are considered negative or introvert, feminine signs. A modern description is summarized in the following table.
|Fire||Enthusiasm; drive to express self; faith||Aries; Leo; Sagittarius|
|Air||Communication; socialization; conceptualization||Gemini; Libra; Aquarius|
|Earth||Practicality; caution; material world||Taurus; Virgo; Capricorn|
|Water||Emotion; empathy; sensitivity||Cancer; Scorpio; Pisces|
Classification according to element has gained such importance, that some astrologers start their interpretation of a natal chart, by studying the balance of elements shown by the position of planets and angles (especially the Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant).
Each of the four elements manifests in three modalities: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. As each modality comprehends four signs, these are also known as Quadruplicities. They are occasionally referred to as crosses because each modality forms a cross when drawn across the zodiac. Christian astrology relates the three qualities to the three aspects of God in the trinity.
|Cardinal||Action; initiative||Aries; Cancer; Libra; Capricorn|
|Fixed||Resistance to change||Taurus; Leo; Scorpio; Aquarius|
|Mutable||Adaptability||Gemini; Virgo; Sagittarius; Pisces|
The combination of element and modality provides a basic sign characterization. For instance, Capricorn is cardinal earth, meaning that the sign is associated with action in the material world. That can translate into ambition (search for security through professional achievement) or practical application to the concrete, everyday necessities of life. The next table displays the twelve combinations of elements and modalities.
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In traditional Western astrology, each sign is ruled by one and only one of the seven visible planets (note that in astrology, the Sun and Moon are termed The Lights by astrologers, while the other bodies are called planets, which literally means wanderers, i.e. wandering stars as opposed to the fixed stars). The traditional rulerships are as follows: Aries (Mars), Taurus (Venus), Gemini (Mercury), Cancer (Moon), Leo (Sun), Virgo (Mercury), Libra (Venus), Scorpio (Mars), Sagittarius (Jupiter), Capricorn (Saturn), Aquarius (Saturn), Pisces (Jupiter). Psychologically-oriented astrologers often believe that Uranus is the ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius instead of Saturn, Neptune is the ruler or co-ruler of Pisces instead of Jupiter, and that Pluto is the ruler or co-ruler of Scorpio instead of Mars. Some other astrologers believe that the planetoid Chiron may be the ruler of Virgo, while other group of modern astrologers acclaim that Ceres is the ruler of Taurus instead. Traditional astrology adheres to the rulerships system listed in the paragraph above, and the debate continues between those who consider the newly discovered planets as rulers or co-rulers of certain signs and those that do not.
Some astrologers do not even use the astrological signs at all (mostly Cosmobiologists and Uranian Astrologers/Hamburg School); therefore they do not take into account planetary rulerships and the essential dignities when interpreting an astrological chart.
Note that, if one starts from Leo and Cancer, the traditional planetary rulers are arrayed outward in the same order from the sun as they occur in the natural solar system. A luminary ruling Leo and Cancer, Mercury ruling Virgo and Gemini, Venus ruling Libra and Taurus, Mars ruling Scorpio and Aries, Jupiter ruling Sagittarius and Pisces, Saturn ruling Capricorn and Aquarius. The result is a symmetry of traditional rulerships across the 0° Leo/Aquarius axis. Note that modern rulerships which attribute Pluto as ruler of Scorpio break this symmetry.
The following table shows the zodiac names in Latin, with their English translation along with the element and mode associated with each sign. The celestial body ruling each sign, follows the modern rulership, by including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
A traditional belief of astrology, known as essential dignity, is the idea that the Sun, Moon and planets are more powerful and effective in some signs than others, because the basic nature of both is held to be in harmony. By contrast, the Sun, Moon and planets are held to find some signs to be weak or difficult to operate in because their natures are thought to be in conflict . The most important of these categories are Dignity, Detriment, Exaltation and Fall.
In traditional astrology, other levels of Dignity are recognised in addition to Rulership. These are known as Exaltation (see below), Triplicity, Terms or bounds, and Face or Decan, which together are known as describing a planet's Essential dignity, the quality or ability to give of one's true nature. Contemporary traditional astrologers like John Frawley or J Lee Lehman explain further on the concept of Essential Dignity.
In addition to Essential dignity, the traditional astrologer considers Accidental dignity of planets. This is placement by house in the chart under examination. Accidental dignity describes the planet's "ability to act". So we might have, for example, Moon in Cancer, dignified by rulership, is placed in the 12th house it would have little scope to express its good nature. The 12th is a cadent house as are the 3rd, 6th and 9th and planets in these houses are considered weak or afflicted. On the other hand, Moon in the 1st, 4th, 7th or 10th would be more able to act as these are Angular houses. Planets in Succedent houses of the chart (2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th) are generally considered to be of medium ability to act. Besides Accidental Dignity, there are a range of Accidental Debilities, such as retrogradation, Under the Sun's Beams, Combust, and so forth.
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While knowing the element and modality of a sign is sufficient to define it, several other groupings can be used for those interested in better understanding their symbolism. The most common is a sequential cycle detailed below. Although most commonly used to define planets, it is valid for signs as well. This cycle has been used as a metaphorical descriptor of the process of birth, development, and death, of humans, societies, or even humanity.
The Tropical Zodiac Primary Factors: These factors were presented by Dane Rudhyar and are used in the curriculum of the RASA School of Astrology.
The tropical zodiac is the zodiac of seasonal factors as opposed to the sidereal zodiac (constellation factors). The primary seasonal factors are based on the sunlight. In fact, the tropical zodiac could be defined as the changing ratio of light and darkness across the year.
First factor: Half of the year daylight is increasing, and the other half darkness is increasing.
Second factor: Half of the year there is more daylight than darkness, and the other half there is more darkness than daylight.
Third Factor: the four seasons. Winter: Daylight is increasing and there is more darkness than daylight. Spring: Daylight is increasing and there is more daylight than darkness Summer: Darkness is increasing and there is more daylight than darkness. Autumn: Darkness is increasing and there is more darkness than daylight.
In Indian astrology, there are five elements: fire, earth, air, water and space. The master of fire is Mars, while Mercury is of earth, Saturn of air, Venus of water and Jupiter of space.
|Number||Sanskrit||International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration||Sanskrit gloss||Western name||Greek||Gloss||Tattva (Element)||Quality||Ruling Planet|
|1||मेष||Meṣa||ram||Aries||Κριός||ram||Tejas (Fire)||Cara (Movable)||Mars|
|2||वृषभ||Vṛṣabha||bull||Taurus||Ταῦρος||bull||Prithivi (Earth)||Sthira (Fixed)||Venus|
|3||मिथुन||Mithuna||twins||Gemini||Δίδυμοι||twins||Vayu (Air)||Dvisvabhava (Dual)||Mercury|
|4||कर्कट||Karkaṭa||crab||Cancer||Καρκίνος||crab||Jala (Water)||Cara (Movable)||Moon|
|5||सिंह||Siṃha||lion||Leo||Λέων||lion||Tejas (Fire)||Sthira (Fixed)||Sun|
|6||कन्या||Kanyā||girl||Virgo||Παρθένος||virgin||Prithivi (Earth)||Dvisvabhava (Dual)||Mercury|
|7||तुला||Tulā||balance||Libra||Ζυγός||balance||Vayu (Air)||Cara (Movable)||Venus|
|8||वृश्चिक||Vṛścika||scorpion||Scorpio||Σκoρπιός||scorpion||Jala (Water)||Sthira (Fixed)||Mars|
|9||धनुष||Dhanus||bow||Sagittarius||Τοξότης||archer||Tejas (Fire)||Dvisvabhava (Dual)||Jupiter|
|10||मकर||Makara||sea-monster||Capricorn||Αἰγόκερως||goat-horned||Prithivi (Earth)||Cara (Movable)||Saturn|
|11||कुम्भ||Kumbha||pitcher||Aquarius||Ὑδροχόος||water-pourer||Vayu (Air)||Sthira (Fixed)||Saturn|
|12||मीन||Mīna||fish||Pisces||Ἰχθεῖς||fish||Jala (Water)||Dvisvabhava (Dual)||Jupiter|
The dates for these zodiac signs are those in sidereal astrology, different from those in Hellenistic tropical astrology. Aries begins at the date when the sun enters into the constellation Aries, taking into account the precession of the equinoxes, while in tropical astrology Aries begins at the vernal equinox.
A nakshatra (Devanagari: नक्षत्र, Sanskrit nakshatra, from naksha- 'approach', and tra- 'guard') or lunar mansion is one of the 27 divisions of the sky, identified by the prominent star(s) in them, as used in Hindu astronomy and astrology (Jyotisha).
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Unlike the Western or Indian zodiacs, the Chinese zodiac signs are not derived from constellations, and are not assigned to sections of the ecliptic. Instead, Chinese astrological signs operate on cycles of years, lunar months, and two-hour periods of the day (also known as shichen). A particular feature of the Chinese zodiac is its operation in a 60-year cycle in combination with the Five Phases of Chinese astrology (Wood, Fire, Metal, Water, and Earth). Nevertheless some researches say that there is an obvious relationship between the Chinese 12-year cycle and zodiac constellations: each year of the cycle corresponds to a certain disposal of Jupiter. For example, in the year of Snake Jupiter is in the Sign of Gemini, in the year of Horse Jupiter is in the Sign of Cancer and so on. So the Chinese 12-year calendar is a solar-lunar-jupiterian calendar.
The following table shows the twelve signs and their attributes.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2009)|
In Chinese astrology the zodiac of twelve animal sign represents twelve different types of personality. The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat, and there are many stories about the Origins of the Chinese Zodiac which explain why this is so. When the twelve zodiac signs are part of the 60-year calendar in combination with the four elements, they are traditionally called the twelve earthly branches. The Chinese Zodiac follows the lunisolar Chinese calendar and thus the "changeover" days in a month (when one sign changes to another sign) vary each year. The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2009)|
The elements differ in Chinese astrology from their Western counterparts: Air is not one of the elements as defined by the Chinese. Instead, Wood and Metal are elements alongside Earth, Fire and Water. In addition, the elements also govern various aspects of one's personality, and are assigned to various other things such as directions (North, South, East and West), colours, seasons and planets. The characteristics of the four elements are as follows:
The five elements operate together with the twelve animal signs in a 60-year calendar. The four elements appear in the calendar in both their yin and yang forms and are known as the eight heavenly stems. When trying to calculate the relevant year of the cycle in relation to the Western calendar, an easy rule to follow is that years that end in an odd number are Yin, those that end with an even number are Yang.