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The History of Zodiac Signs

The Zodiac signs are a belief that certain time or cycles can be used for the prediction of fortunes and life of a person born under a sign. This prediction is done by astrologists who are considered to be gifted for studying the movement of stars for many years to understand the meaning behind the zodiac.

Prior to the time of human settlement in villages and before the invention of skills to predict the passage of stars, moon, sun and other sky objects was particularly useful because memorizing their positions was the only way of predicting and changing the seasons by ancient people, it was also used to appease the gods.

Zodiac Signs

The stars and planets are seen as outer space objects in the modern times. The value of the ancient observations shouldn’t be discounted, since it was they who produced the first calendars and calculations we still use today for tracking the movement of celestial objects. Their need to predict other portentous sky events such as comets helped lay the groundwork for modern astronomy.

As early as around 6000-7000 years ago, Mesopotamian priests in the Sumer valley used to track the movements of the sun, moon and Venus in relation to the stars as they appeared during the year. The sun, moon and Venus were considered gods and their path through the sky would be used to indicate the changing seasons and the summer and winter solstices. The patterns in the stars were not considered very important although events such as shooting stars were either a sign of good luck or of future doom depending on the reading of the priest at the time

Indian astronomers used the passage of the sun to understand the changing of the seasons and identified the sun with Vishnu who was said to have three aspects – ram, lion and bull. Coincidentally, they were the symbols that made their way into modern astrology from the shifting political landscape of the Near East and India under the era of Alexander the Great.

Perhaps Ancient Egyptians were the first to identify of indications relating to the individual in the stars and passage of the sun and moon and other celestial objects. Records suggests that as early as 2750 BC astrologers were writing horoscopes for important people in Egyptian society although these were not based on signs of the zodiac so aren’t direct ancestors of today’s horoscope readings.

Assyrian people in the Near East started to gain power and influence in the region at around 1300BC or perhaps a little earlier. They conquered or absorbed most of their neighbors and observed the further away from home they traveled that the stars were always the same, perhaps a little higher or lower in the sky but essentially the same, leading them to develop constellations, an act that made for more accurate calendars. They borrowed symbols for their constellations from their own religion and the folklore of conquered people.

The Assyrians originally had eighteen constellations but these had reduced to just twelve by the time of Alexander the Great. Greek warriors brought the knowledge of the Babylonian constellations back to ancient Greece whose priests found them to be a wonderful addition to their existing knowledge of the gods. The Babylonian zodiac consisted of twelve constellations – Aries, Pleiades, Gemini, Praesepe, Leo, Spica, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces.

Greek astrologers changed the names of Pleiades, Praesepe, Spica and Capricornus to Cancer, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn and they have remained till this day. Each constellation was assigned to a god or hero and special significance attached to each zodiac sign based on the strengths or magic of its namesake.

For the Greeks, huge importance was given on the day of a one’s birth. With the new constellations it was possible to determine the strengths of the person at birth and perhaps prepare their parents and then it was hoped the individual himself for the challenges ahead by knowing which god or hero would be their protector. The Greeks later believed that a person’s life was pre-ordained and that every major event could be predicted through knowledge of horoscopes.

The modern astrology has been mostly derived from the writings of the Greek astronomer and mathmetician named Ptolomy. No relation is known of to the Egyptian pharoahs of the same name although he was head librarian at Alexandria’s great library and so had access to all of the civilized world’s writings on the passage of the celestial bodies. His four volume work on astrology was the Tetrabiblos, this described everything about astrology known to the ancient Greeks.

Zodiac Signs

The succeeding Roman and Arabic knowledge of astrology is directly descended from Ptolemy’s writings. The Romans were not too much interested in astrology than the Greeks and medieval people. They tended to disagree that a person’s life was inevitable and instead preferring to place their fate in the hands of the gods and their own actions.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the medieval society reverted to local folklore losing astrology to the western society. It was until when the Arab world rediscovered Ptolomy’s writings around the turn of the first millennium. Astrology has largely remained unchanged from Greek times into the renaissance period despite disappearing from daily use for several hundred years. Protestant and puritan Christians rejected astrology as un-Christian but in Catholic parts of Europe the signs of the zodiac and horoscopes were often identified with the power of the saints.

During the 20th century, astrology had found new converts in the western world particularly in the US where people were seeking more meaning to life as the traditional community based around a local church started to disappear. People easily adopted Astrology through investigating other faiths such as Buddhism, Wicca, Kaballah and other esoteric traditions. Astrology is a source of great synergy for many tarot readers who have helped to keep the ancient art of astrology alive into the 21st century.

A Brief History of Gemini Sign

The Gemini sign is the third sign of zodiac year in astrology, it affects people born between May 21st and June 21st. Gemini is considered the child of the zodiacal year in the astrological world of the zodiac because being a sign with two personalities, Gemini people are considered a bit playful, quickly alternating from one course to the next without too much thoughts about it.

The signs of the zodiac are relatively new in recent history having their origins in Ancient Greek times, although many historians have proved that the key signs of the zodiac are actually much older which can be traced back to the very beginnings of human writing. In those times, much of what was written were historical accounts so we can be certain that the signs of the zodiac probably predate writing to the time when oral records of humanity’s history were passed from generation to generation which remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Gemini Sign

Some historians speculated that cave drawings of people may also be an early representation of gods and signs. So while the zodiac signs like Gemini seem to be quite a recent discovery, they have in fact been with us for much longer time and have proven in the eyes of astrology believers that the traits and destinies inherent in zodiac signs have a long history of being known and believed, they were not just made up in recent history as is often alleged by people who see astrology as nonsense. Recent findings suggest that astrology as a religion and method of divining the future is much older than most established religions.

Gemini is special among the Greek zodiac signs and can be traced to the story of two twin brothers, Castor and Polydeuces also known as Pollux, one was mortal and the other was immortal, they were born to Queen Leda of Sparta. Castor was mortal and his father was King Tyndareus while Polydeuces was fathered by Zeus who was the King of the Gods. Inseparable in life, they also remained inseparable in death and were depicted by the constellation that bears the name Gemini with the stars Castor and Pollux forming the heads.

The story of Castor and Polydeuces being in the heavens is a classic worthy of the times. Castor was an expert on horseback with a bow while Polydeuces could use his fists to box. The twins were also with Jason on his quest to bring back the Golden Fleece but it was long after when the two were tired of their adventures and ready to marry and have children that their story really became their own. The twins fell in love with the daughters of Leucippus, Phoebe and Hilaeira, who were unfortunately promised to the sons of Aphareus, Lynceus and Idas. Castor and Polydeuces kidnapped the sisters and brought them to Sparta where they were quickly married and within a short time expecting children of their own. The sons of Lynceus were determined to steal back their promised brides and they ambushed Castor and Polydeuces and when Castor was lying dead, Polydeuces pleaded to Zeus to give him back his life. Zeus agreed but only on the condition that they would share Polydeuces immortality, thus the twins spend half of their day in Hades and half of their day in Olympus. Mortals only see them when they rise from Hades to Olympus early in dawn morning.

Regardless of our knowledge about Gemini representing the brothers Castor and Polydeuces or Castor and Pollux as Roman people knew them, in fact the story isn’t directly about two heroes. The true meaning of the story relates the stars known by the same name as the boys, they are the first to rise at dawn and a little before the sun obscures them, more importantly the two stars only rise in spring. Thus the Gemini sign is particularly special because of its connection with rebirth and spring.

The Gemini sign is however restricted to the northern hemisphere with almost all ancient civilizations from Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America giving special significance to the rising of the twin stars during spring. Even people who migrated over the equator in Africa and Asia still have myths that relate to twins that fight to be immortal, yet in Australia where the oldest and most isolated branch of humanity exists, the Aboriginal people have no knowledge of immortal twins and suggest that the myths shared by so many cultures were formed in the north after humanity spread from Africa about 50-75,000 years ago.

Gemini Sign

Before the story of Castor and Polydeuces were told by the Greeks and Romans, other civilizations around them were already very familiar with the twin stars. Ancient Egyptians saw the twin stars as two goats that return to their goat herd at dawn and included the two stars in their Ramissede Hour Tables which was a scientifically useful measurement of time during the day.

No one is sure when the ancient Egyptians first started studying astronomy and created myths around stars. However we do know that at the same time the ancient Babylonians referred to the twin stars as Gilgamesh and Enkidu, together known as Mastabba Galgal. They were two heroic twin brothers who fought a series of epic battles against the gods as they sought to attain immortality. Curiously, they were worshipped for the same reasons like the Greeks leading to the theory which they borrowed the story of Gemini twins Babylon and then changing them to suit their own history.

Earlier still in ancient Vedic books from India the twin stars appear as Nakula and Sahadeva who were two Ashvin horseman of Indian folklore. The Mithuna, an Indian constellation in which the two horsemen appear was an almost exact match with the Greek constellation of Gemini could hardly be coincidental. On seeing this, the Greek zodiac signs must have their origins in the ancient oral history of humanity a long time before writing was invented.