Astrological Zodiac 12 Signs

It comes around every so often – critics of astrology decide to introduce 3-D scientific phenomena into an art that is, at its heart, a mystical way of seeing the world.

It is quite true that there are more than 12 constellations, or star groups, that fall along the area of the sky astrologers call the zodiac band. The star group Ophiuchus – sometimes referred to as the 13th zodiac sign – is one of them. The formal term for this sector of the heavens is the Ecliptic: an imaginary circle which traces the Sun’s apparent year-long journey around the Earth.

Astrology has turned what is actually the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun into a perfect circle of 360° and divided it into 12 equal sections of 30° each, naming it “The Zodiac”. This is not a scientific concept as no such thing as The Zodiac exists in 3-D reality. It is an artistic,  philosophical, multidimensional way of observing our experience as physical beings living on Planet Earth.

Why the ancient astrologers selected only 12 of the constellations along the ecliptic is a mystery which remains to be solved. It’s possible that they were seeking perfect symmetry of shape and form. They were probably working with the secret symbolism of sacred geometry and numerical patterns – specifically the 3/6/9/12 series.

And why they chose to feature Scorpio or Sagittarius rather than Ophiuchus as one of the 12 Signs is another question without a definite answer, although some scholars of astrology may put forward explanations. It could have been something to do with spiritual or mythical beliefs. It may even be that they deemed the characteristics intuitively assigned to Ophiuchus should not be included in the Zodiac or were to remain separate from it for a specific reason.

In any case, as western astrologers we remain loyal to the stylised version of the heavens around Earth based on the division of 360 into 12 equal sections, or Signs. We stay true to the insight of the Ancients and to their mysterious designs, their arcane patterns and their sacred templates. 

The 12 signs are sub-divided by 4 to give the elements:

FIRE Aries, Leo & Sagittarius
EARTH Taurus, Virgo & Capricorn
AIR Gemini, Libra & Aquarius
WATER Cancer, Scorpio & Pisces

And again by 3 to give the qualities:

CARDINAL Aries, Cancer, Libra & Capricorn
FIXED Taurus, Leo, Scorpio & Aquarius
MUTABLE Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius & Pisces

The reoccurring patterns based on number 12 are a constant theme in astrology.

There are 6 Yang (Pro-active) Signs from the Fire & Air elements:
Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius.

The 6 Yin (Re-active) Signs are from the Earth & Water elements:
Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces.

Perhaps the importance of being able to divide and sub-divide the zodiac to create definite, symmetrical patterns is what motivated the ancient astrologers to select only 12 constellations on which to base their investigations into the mysterious secrets of the skies surrounding their home planet.


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