What are zodiac signs? Their history and origin | Astrology - Hindustan Times

What are zodiac signs? Their history and origin

ByJahanvi Sharma
Jan 27, 2023 05:53 PM IST

It all began with stargazing! Yes, the zodiac signs that we know today, were discovered by the Greeks while stargazing at night. Zodiac signs are extremely helpful when one wishes to understand themselves on a more deeper and emotional level. Let us read along about their origin and meaning.

In astrology, the zodiac signs constitute a belt extending nine degrees on either side of the ecliptic plane of the earth’s orbit and the Sun’s apparent annual path. The constellations representing the 12 signs take up one–twelfth of this belt.

The twelve zodiac signs represent the twelve constellations that exist in space.
The twelve zodiac signs represent the twelve constellations that exist in space.

Around the second millennium BC, ancient Babylonian astrology emerged. It all began with stargazing, when they started noticing the movement of celestial bodies in space and how it affected the planet. It was seen that the stars moved and made up patterns, that later came to be known as constellations. They discovered that tracking these movements could also predict the changes in seasons and eclipses. These discoveries became the early foundations of astronomy.

They saw the planets as representations of their gods with Jupiter being Marduk, the patron god of the city, Venus being Ishtar, the goddess of beauty, fertility and war, Saturn being Ninurta, the god of farming and healing, Mercury being Nabu, the god of wisdom. Mars was Nergal, the god of the sun and the underworld.

The twelve zodiac signs represent the twelve constellations that exist in space. Most zodiac signs are represented by an animal. The ancient Greeks called their zones Zodiakos Kyklos, meaning a circle of animals.

Let us understand the origin of each zodiac sign:

Aries: At 0 degrees, Aries is attributed to those born between March 21 and April 20. It is symbolised by Ram, with fire as its element. Its ruling planet is Mars. In Greek Mythology, Ares was the god of war and thus, the people associated with the sign are highly energetic and passionate.

Taurus: At 30 degrees, Taurus are the ones born between April 21 and May 21. It is symbolised by the Bull and stands to be one of the oldest constellations in the universe. Its ruling planet is Venus. Taurus is associated with Zeus, the Greek god who adopted the shape of the animal to seduce and abduct princess, Europa. They later generated Minos who ruled over the island of Crete.

Gemini: At 60 degrees, Gemini is attributed to those born between May 22 and June 21. It is associated with the Greek goddess Athena. The constellation is made up of Castor and Pollux, two twins who share the same mother but different fathers being were great fighters. The former had an eventful death and later continued to live on in the body of his brother for alternate days.

Cancer: At 90 degrees, Cancer represents those born between June 22 and July 21. It is ruled by Moon, which affects their emotions and feelings. It is symbolised by a Crab, a creature sent by the goddess Hera to help Hydra fight against Hercules.

Leo: Leo stands at 120 degrees and consists of those born between July 23 and August 21. It is symbolised by a Lion and is ruled by the planet Sun. The Lion was killed by Hercules during the execution of his renowned twelve jobs.

Virgo: At 150 degrees, A Virgo is someone born between August 22 to September 23. It is symbolised by the goddess Astres, daughter of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice. She signifies purity and innocence. Virgos are ruled by the planet Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system.

Libra: This sign also is connected to Themis, with the scale representing justice. Positioned at 180 degrees, Libra covers the ones born between September 24 and October 23. It symbolizes balance in life. The sign is ruled by the planet Venus and shares a love for sentiments.

Scorpio: With their position at 210 degrees, Scorpions are born between October 24 and November 22. They are ruled by both Pluto and Mars. A scorpion sent by Artemis’ brother Apollo killed the great hunter Orion thus, making them highly intuitive.

Sagittarius: Standing at 240 degrees, Sagittarius include the ones born between November 23 and December 22. It is symbolised by Centaur Chiron who was transformed into a constellation after his death by Hercules. It is ruled by Jupiter.

Capricorn: At 270 degrees, Capricorns are symbolised by a goat with a fishtail and are ruled by Saturn. Zeus had a son with his nanny named Pan, who during the uprising of Typhoon against Zeus fled underwater and formed her fishtail.

Aquarius: At 300 degrees, Aquarius falls between January 21 and February 19. It is symbolised by Water-bearer and ruled by the planet Uranus. It is closely related to Ganymede who was abducted by Zeus to serve the gods in Olympus by filling the bowls and cups of gods with the nectar of immortality. Since he was abducted, Hercules made a constellation for his parents to remember him by.

Pisces: Pisces are the ones born between February 20 and March 20. They stand at 330 degrees and are ruled by Neptune. Fishes symbolise them as during the uprising of Typhoon against Zeus, Eros and Aphrodite had to dive into the water to save themselves and therefore, turned into fishes to be able to survive longer underwater.

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