Our distant ancestors kept a close watch on the starry night sky. Not only was it incomparably beautiful, but it also provided a fixed backdrop against which the moon’s nightly movements could be measured. They called the special stars that moved too “planets” (“wanderer” in Greek).
They noticed that every 29 days or so, the moon swelled full. But, as it did so, it moved to the next section of the “zodiac,” the narrow belt of sky that the sun, moon and planets moved through as they appeared to circle the Earth. “Zodiac” is taken from a Greek word meaning “circle of animals,” in the manner of a circus parade. So, the signs of the zodiac are derived from the constellations, symbolized mainly by animal forms, which occupy the band of outer space surrounding the Earth’s equator.
As the planets move, each is said to be “in” the sign it is passing through—and each sign represents a different way to approach the world. In astrology, the sign a planet is passing through modifies and blends its meaning with the energies signified by that planet.
Early astrologers watched the sky for omens, both good and bad. They noticed that certain kinds of events on Earth coincided with particular planetary movements and alignments. They also noticed that when the planets, sun and moon were passing through different parts of the zodiac, certain events were favored—and others were not.
Tracking this information was vital to our ancestors because they could use it to prepare for the different seasons. It is something we all take for granted now, but, then, it could be a matter of life or death.
The zodiac was (and is) divided up into 12 sections, and the stars in each section were identified as a unit called a “constellation” (aptly meaning “a group of stars”). Each constellation was assigned a name, a “sign” that symbolized the natural events taking place on Earth during the time of the year when the Sun was moving through.
Each section became associated with a symbol that represented the favored events taking place on Earth as the Sun passed through that particular segment. These symbols are what we now call the signs of the zodiac.
Learn more about your astrological chart through daily updates and in depth private readings with lauded astrologer, Monte Farber.