The science of astrology and the twelve signs of the zodiac are at least 3,000 years old. The science is said to have originated in ancient Egypt and Babylonia, with similar sciences in both Asia and China.
Using the astrological constellations to chart the fate an destinies of people was wide spread in the ancient world. Though the Sumerians and Babylonians are actually credited with the development of this science, it was the Greeks who derived the word zodiac with actually means the "circle of animals"
The naming of astrological constellations with both human and animal terms was refined by Greek philosophers such as Aristotle who developed the science into what we know today. The science was further refined by the Romans who gave the 12 signs the names that were are familiar with today: Aquarius
(the water bearer), Pisces
(the fish), Aries
(the ram), Taurus
(the bull), Gemini
(the twins), Cancer
(the crab), Leo
(the lion), Virgo
(the virgin), Libra
(the scales), Scorpio
(the scorpion), Sagittarius
(the archer), and Capricorn
About The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac
The term zodiac originated from ancient Greek astronomy. It was used to refer to the ring of constellations that made up the elliptic. This was believed to be the path the sun took as it crossed the celestial sphere. This distance was covered by the sun in a year and repeated every year. The paths taken by the planets and the moon were also included in the Zodiac as they somehow lay within the elliptic. The 360Â° path of the sun was divided by ancient Greek astrologers into 12 zones each 30Â° apart. Each segment of the elliptical coordinate system was represented by a single sign known as a Zodiac sign. The Zodiac was said to extend about 8Â° outside the sunâ€™s elliptical path.
The term Zodiac was the Latin word zodiacus. Zodiacus was in turn derived from the Greek term Zodiakus kuklos which means circle of animals. This name was derived from the fact that more than half of the twelve signs used in the Greek Zodiac were represented by animals. There are two signs that are represented by mythological hybrids. Animals were used as signs to represent the spiritual qualities believed to be present in the stars.
The signs of the Zodiac represent spiritual entities and are therefore believed to have qualities such as gender. The Zodiac signs were therefore assigned masculine and feminine genders. This divided the sings into female signs and masculine signs. The feminine signs of the Zodiac consist of Taurus, Virgo, Cancer, Capricorn, Pisces and Scorpio. The masculine signs of the Zodiac are Libra, Aquarius, Sagittarius, Aries, Gemini and Leo.
The 12 signs of the Zodiac were further divided into 3 categories. The first category consists of what are known as the Cardinal signs. These signs have the quality of being dynamic. They exhibit vitality and movement. The Cardinal signs of the Zodiac are Libra, Cancer, Capricorn and Aries. The second category consists of the fixed signs. These signs exhibit stability, fixity and earthiness. They include Scorpio, Taurus, Aquarius and Leo. The final category is known as the Mutable signs
. These signs adapt and change according to the circumstances surrounding them. They include Pisces, Gemini, Sagittarius and Virgo.
The twelve signs of the modern Zodiac are assigned start and end dates on the modern calendar. These form a Zodiac calendar that fits into the modern calendar. The first sign of the Zodiac, Aries is assigned from March 21. The Last sign of the Zodiac Pisces is assigned from February 19 to March 20. All other signs fall within the period between these dates.
The signs of the Zodiac are also assigned metallic elements. These are used in modern astrology for predicting the type of life partner people born under each sign should approach. They are also used to guide everyday decisions and actions of followers of astrology.
There is widespread argument that a 13th sign of the Zodiac exists. This sign is called Ophiuchus. It is also sometimes referred to as the serpent bearer or Serpentarius. This sign was associated with healing in ancient Greek astrology. The sign however has not been included in the modern Zodiac chart.