Chances are you are familiar with the zodiac, especially your own sign. You might casually read your horoscope in a magazine, or study it online to find deeper meaning in the cosmos. Humans have used the zodiac to help narrow their focus on what to improve in their life for millennia.
The Twelve Signs
Your zodiac sign is based on what the sky looked like when you were born. The position of celestial bodies determines your Sun sign, your Moon sign, and your Rising Sign. The Suns position when you are born determines your sun sign as an Aries (The Ram) born March 21 to April 19; Taurus (The Bull) born April 20 to May 20; Gemini (The Twins) born May 21 to June 21; Cancer (The Crab) born June 22 to July 22; Leo (The Lion) born July 23 to August 22; Virgo (The Virgin) born August 23 to September 22; Libra (The Scales) born September 23 to October 23; Scorpio (The Scorpion) born October 24 to November 20; Sagittarius (The Archer) born November 21 to December 20; Capricorn (The Sea Goat) born December 21 to January 20; Aquarius (The Water Carrier) born January 21 to February 21; or Pisces (The Fish) born February 22 to March 20.
Who categorized the zodiac?
The word zodiac has Ancient Greek origins. The “wheel of little animals” was used in the Roman era based on Greek astronomy. The Greeks inherited their ideas from Babylonian astronomy charts from 1000 B.C. E. Claudius Ptolemy c.100 – c. 170 C.E. a Greek mathematician, described the zodiac as far back as 200 C.E.
The Hindu zodiac established in Ancient India uses fixed stars, but the signs are similar to Greek signs like the Archer and the Water Carrier, and was likely influenced by the ancient Greeks.
The Chinese also developed a zodiac that is used in many South Asian countries. Theirs is based on the lunar calendar, and rotates on a twelve year cycle. The lunar year you were born determines if you are a Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, or Pig. Just as the Greek zodiac recognizes influence from moon and rising signs, the Chinese zodiac assigns animals to months, days, and hours. Animals assigned by month are called the Inner Animal, day animals are called True Animals, and signs assigned by hour are called Secret Animals. Instances of Chinese zodiac use has been recorded as far back as The Han Dynasty which ruled from 202 B.C.E. to 220 C.E.
Whether you are a casual fortune seeker wondering which dessert suits you best or you are using the stars to focus your intentions in life, you are not alone. People have been looking to the stars for meaning in life and knowledge of themselves for millennia.