People have long been looking to the stars in an attempt to discover a purpose to life and the universe at large. Make time to step outside to get away from the city lights to marvel at the night sky.
The literal meaning of Astrology is the study of the stars. It differs from Astronomy by focusing its attention on the study of celestial and human events on earth. The orbits of the various planets in the solar system all lie within approximately the same geometric plane and all heavenly bodies appear to move across the face of the same set of constellations. Over 3000 years ago, early astronomers wondered how the sky would appear if the stars could actually be seen during the daytime. From their observations, some determined that the Sun appeared to “enter” or pass through a different constellation each calendar month. These twelve constellations are called the Zodiac.
The idea of the zodiac is ancient and has roots tied back to the early cultures of Mesopotamia. The first 12-signs were named after the Gods of these cultures with the Greeks adopting astrology from the Babylonians and the Romans. They renamed the signs of the Mesopotamian zodiac according to the mythologies of their own culture. This is why our familiar zodiac of the contemporary West has names related to the Mediterranean mythology.
Let's look at some Zodiac signs from around the world and their origins.
The traditional Western zodiac signs are:
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn
Air: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius
Fire: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
Whether you believe in the zodiac or not, most people know their star signs and a few traits associated with those signs. While most people are familiar with their astrological sign with regards to contemporary western culture, few are acquainted with other cultural zodiacs.
A visit to nearly any Chinese restaurant will introduce you to the Chinese zodiacs which are as recognized as the Western ones.
The Chinese zodiac is based on the year you were born and uses twelve animal signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. But it doesn’t stop there: They rotate between yin and yang and have five elements: (earth, metal, water, wood, and fire). These combinations can be more detailed such that a person can be a yin water rabbit, yang metal rabbit, a yin fire rabbit, etc.… The entire Chinese zodiac cycle takes sixty years to complete.
Hindu astrology, or Vedic astrology, is tightly linked to India’s historic astronomy. There are three branches: Siddhanta (astronomy), Samhita (which predicts major events) and Hora (more detailed predictions).
While elements of the Hindu zodiac closely resemble the Western zodiac, the Hindu places a greater emphasis on the moon. They understand a persons moon sign to be of more importance than their star sign. Another difference is that they use a sidereal (relating to the stars) rather than a tropical zodiac. This means the Hindu zodiac is fixed to the constellations whereas the Western zodiac moves slightly over time with the earth’s poles. Around 285 AD both zodiacs would have been the same but the Western rendition has since moved by over twenty-two degrees.
Similar to the Western zodiac, the Celtic tree zodiac is also based on the date of your birth. Celtic history holds supreme respect and sacred mindset on nature which was incorporated into their representation of it. Based on the day you were born you are entitled to the knowledge of that sacred tree and this is what gives you your unique personality.
The Celts correlated the date of birth to one of thirteen types of trees. They used thirteen rather than twelve since they subscribed to a lunar calendar system and therefore followed the thirteen phases of the moon.
During this same period the Druids, who were expert observers themselves, were known for being able to decipher omens and divine events from just the rustling of leaves. They performed the same kind of intense invocations and divinations by meditating upon the moon and her motions.
The Egyptians were constantly seeking answers from the night sky to give them advice, knowledge and to determine their fate. They held the belief that their personality, life, and destiny were tied to the heavens. Their astrology is comprised of twelve constellations that form thirty-six decans (star groups). Each decan has its own ruling planet and lasts for 10 days.
Each sign is based on gods and goddesses from ancient Egyptian mythos such as Amon-Ra, Anubis, Horus and Osiris among others. Your individual sign represents your character, behavior, and skills. Each sign is equal to three decans for a total of thirty days. While two people can share the same sign, their distinct decan, and different ruling planet would influence their personality drastically.
Native Americans used nature as their main source of inspiration. They associated nearly every aspect of life, including birth symbols, with living creatures around them. An important part of Native American culture is their representations of animals, especially as it relates to their concept of the zodiac.
Animals are closely associated with birth months and Native Americans subscribed to the belief that the time of year a person was born would affect a person’s characteristics. They shared a deep spiritual connection with nature and understood it played a crucial part in understanding the cosmos.
We hope that you find yourself looking to the night skies as you explore the world around you. You’ll be gazing at the same stars the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians examined for answers. Make time for yourself to escape the city lights and pollution so that you can better view the night skies overhead. And as always, live intentionally and leave your mark on the way!
Curious about what your zodiac is in each culture? Take a look at the linked sites below to find more about your zodiac and the traits associated with it.
Our fascination with the night sky and love for writing led us to combine both and create our Zodiac Collection. Order one for yourself or the horoscope fanatic you know.