Astrology is the study of celestial bodies and their impact on Earth and humanity. Astrology has been around for millennia and was used in several cultures and civilizations, including the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and more. Today, astrology is still used as a means of self-discovery through the zodiac signs. Many people believe that the zodiac constellations and signs relate to their own personalities, desires, and actions. While the debate over astrology’s credibility regarding human affairs is ongoing, the history behind astrological signs remains interesting and influential in the modern world. Discover the meaning of all 12 astrological signs and find out when the zodiac constellations rise and fall.
What are the Zodiac Symbols?
The term “zodiac” refers to a belt in the sky that extends 9º on either side of the earth’s orbit around the sun. The earth completes its orbit in 365 days, or once every year. Each zodiac symbol signifies a constellation present in the sky. A zodiac constellation represents a portion of Earth’s orbit, and each portion takes up approximately 30º, or one-twelfth, of this orbit. However, the earth’s orbit no longer follows the zodiac belt entirely and without flaw.
The earth’s orbit is divided into 12 portions according to the zodiac symbols, but they are not divided evenly across the 12 months of the year. Rather, a zodiac symbol typically begins between the 19th and 24th day of a month and ends between the 18th and 23rd day of a month. For instance, the zodiac symbol Pisces begins on February 19th and ends on March 20th. The allocation of days to certain zodiac symbols correlates to birthdays within a zodiac’s given period. For instance, if a person says, “I’m a Pisces,” their birthday lies between February 19th and March 20th.
Aries is considered the first sign of the zodiac, lasting from March 21st to April 19th. The symbol of Aries is represented by a ram that appears in many ancient civilizations’ understandings of the zodiac constellations. In Ancient Egyptian culture, the ram represents the deity Amon. Greek mythology mentions a ram with a golden fleece carried by Phrixus, a figure of Greek mythology. Phrixus sacrificed the ram to the god Zeus. According to legend, however, Zeus put the sacrificed ram in the sky as a constellation.
Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, represents the period between April 20th to May 20th. The sign is symbolized by a bull from Greek mythology. The god Zeus transformed into a white bull to kidnap Europa, who was the daughter of a famous mythological figure. However, the father of Europa has been disputed; some believe Europa’s father was Phoenix while others believe him to be King Agenor. Nevertheless, Europa went on to give birth to several other prominent characters, such as Minos ruler of Crete.
Gemini is the third zodiac sign that signifies the period between May 21st and June 21st. Different cultures have different symbols for the Gemini sign, but all cultures represent it as a set of two beings, or a pair. Most reference Gemini as a set of twins. Egyptian astrology represents Gemini with a pair of goats, and also Arabian astrology uses a pair of peacocks to signify the sign. Castor and Pollux were a pair of twin deities from Greek and Roman mythology that inspired the Gemini sign. However, other twins have been attributed to Gemini, such as Romulus and Remus, who founded the city of Rome, according to legend.
Cancer is the fourth sign that lasts from June 22nd to July 22nd. The sign is represented by a crab. In Greek mythology, a crab pinched the mythological figure Hercules as he was battling the Lernaean hydra. During the battle, Hercules crushed the crab. However, Hera, the goddess of marriage and queen of the gods, was the enemy of Hercules. Feeling sorry for the crab, Hera placed it as a constellation in the night sky.
Leo is the fifth zodiac sign that represents the period between July 23rd and August 22nd. The sign Leo is symbolized by a lion. The lion is typically associated with the Nemean Lion of Greek mythology, which was killed by Hercules. In addition, the slaying of the Nemean Lion was Hercules’s first task on a list of 12 tasks given to him by King Eurystheus.
The sixth sign of the zodiac, Virgo, lasts from August 23rd to September 22nd. The symbol Virgo is represented by a maiden holding a sheaf of wheat. However, the maiden holds several titles, according to various cultures. She was considered the goddess of fertility in Babylon and Assyria, known by the name Ishtar. In addition, in Greek mythology, the maiden associated with Virgo was Persephone, who was the goddess of agriculture and the daughter of Zeus.
The seventh zodiac sign, Libra, represents the period between September 22nd and October 23rd. Like the sign Virgo, Libra is also signified by a woman. The woman holds a balance scale, similar to the common figure of Lady Justice. However, many associate the woman signifying Libra with Astraea, who was the Roman goddess of justice.
Scorpius, also known as Scorpio, lasts from October 24th to November 21st and is considered the eighth sign of the zodiac. The symbol of the sign Scorpio is a scorpion, deriving from Greek mythology. Legend says that a scorpion stung the mythological figure Orion, and Orion died as a result. In astrology, the constellation Orion falls as the constellation Scorpio rises in the night sky. This movement of stars appears to be a representation of the scorpion’s defeat of Orion.
Furthermore, Scorpio may originate in another Greek mythological tale. In this story, however, a scorpion causes the horses of Phaethon, son of the god Helios, to bolt, which resulted in the destruction of the land. As a consequence, Zeus struck Phaethon with a thunderbolt and killed him.
Sagittarius, the ninth sign of the zodiac, lasts from November 22nd and December 21st. However, the zodiac sign can be represented by two symbols. Firstly, Sagittarius is represented by a centaur shooting a bow and arrow. On the other hand, the sign can also be signified by a bow and arrow alone. The symbol derives from the Babylonians, who created it as an archer mounted on horseback.
Capricornus also takes the name Capricorn and lasts from December 22nd to January 19th. Capricorn is the 10th sign of the zodiac and is typically signified by a goat with a fishtail. The half-goat half-fish image comes from Greek mythology. In this legend, however, the mythological figure Pan was attempting to avoid a monster by the name of Typhon.
Furthermore, to escape, Pan jumped into a body of water. However, Pan had begun to change into animal form as he jumped in. Therefore, Pan’s upper body was turned into a goat, or a mammal representing land, while his lower half transformed into a fish, as his lower body was underwater during the time of his jump.
The 11th zodiac sign, Aquarius, represents the period between January 20th and February 18th. The symbol of Aquarius is a man pouring water out of a jug. In addition, the symbol comes from ancient civilizations’ interpretations of certain weather patterns. During the rising of the constellation Aquarius, the Middle East experienced flood season and plentiful rain. Thus, the man pouring water from the jug became a symbol for the constellation Aquarius, which rose during flood season.
The 12th and final sign of the zodiac is Pisces, which lasts from February 19th to March 20th. The sign is symbolized by two fish, which are tied to one another. However, the story of the symbol of Pisces is much like the legend of Pan, relating to the sign Capricorn. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, who was the goddess of beauty, and Eros, the god of love, jumped into a river to escape Typhon. Like Pan, the two deities turned into fish. In other versions of the story, however, two fish came along and brought the deities to safety. Nevertheless, the two fish in the legend are represented through the constellation Pisces.
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