There are twelve signs of the western Zodiac. Each sign is given one month of the year. These months do not equate exactly with the months of the Gregorian calendar in common usage today, and this has perhaps gone some way to lead people to believe that the signs of the Zodiac are somehow arbitrary and meaningless. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
As the year progresses, a different part of the ‘firmament’ is visible just above the skyline as the sun rises. There are twelve constellations that more or less govern each of these positions. These constellations each have a name and each of these names is one of the signs of the Zodiac. These names have been with us since the birth of history, around five thousand years ago. It is one of the strange anomalies of human history that, at the birth of civilisation, mankind appears to have already been making detailed astronomical measurements for some time. Astrology emerges simultaneously with writing and record-keeping as a complete science. There is no clear evidence of how it evolved out of the simple, ‘savage’ world view that we assume our ancestors must have had at some point.
It is not until you study astrology that you begin to see any of the beauty and elegance of the system, and how it is based on sound mathematical principles. For example, each sign is attributed to one of the four elements, Fire, Water, Earth or Air, which also correspond to the four cardinal directions, South, West, North and East. Each sign is also masculine or feminine and classed as ‘Cardinal’, ‘Mutable’ or ‘Fixed’.
The Cardinal signs all come at the onset of a season and represent the first initiatory energy of that season. The Fixed signs are all al the height of the season, and the Mutables come at the end. Thus each sign has its own signature, and it is this signature which gives each sign its unique characteristics, and also its similarities and differences to the other signs.
The Mutable signs are all considered to partake of two seasons. Thus we see that Pisces, for example, has a dual nature, represented by two fishes swimming in opposite directions. This is the time of year when Winter is ending and there are some of the first signs of Spring around. All of the mutable signs have this double nature and it is reflected in the sign itself. Gemini, the Twins, comes at the end of Spring, Sagittarius, the Horse-Man or Centaur at the end of Autumn.
There is much to be learned from studying these principles, not least how simple numbers can generate patterns and sequences that can then give rise to more and more complex principles. Once you realise that there is a solid backbone of repeatable observations at the core of Astrology, you soon realise that it is indeed a science, albeit one that has gained a very bad press of late.