The signs of the zodiac are the symbolic images that mark the twelve sections of the zodiac . In antiquity, they were defined as geometric circle segments of 30 ° each on the ecliptic , in front of which the sun was located one after the other for a year, each one twelfth of the year length. Over 2000 years ago was indeed of Hipparchus the precession discovered, but only from the 5th century in the astrology of the East and the Eastern Mediterranean to the beginning of the zodiac sign Aries continuous with the ecliptic point of the spring equinox connected. Previously, the signs of the zodiac were based on the ecliptic constellations of the sidereal zodiac , which seem to have shifted due to the precession .
The zodiac and its division into "signs" at 30 ° was possibly already during the Seleucid Empire in the 4th century BC. In the area of Mesopotamia or was even already known. During this time, the use of mathematical astronomy for the precalculation of planetary positions, which would have been possible with the help of this coordinate system with 30 ° segments, can be proven.
The zodiac or zodiac (from ζῳδιακός zōidiakós " circle of living beings") is an approximately 20 degree wide zone around the ecliptic , within which the apparent orbits of the sun , moon and planets run.
The central line of the invisible great road of heaven was called the ecliptic by the Greeks, because the eclipses , the solar and lunar eclipses , take place in it. The ecliptic serves as a measuring circle for determining the position of the stars and the astrological intersection points medium coeli (MC), ascendant , lunar node and aries point .
Tropical and sidereal zodiac
There are two different zodiac, which divide the ecliptic into twelve signs of the zodiac: the tropical zodiac in twelve sections with a 30 ° arc on the ecliptic, which astronomically aligns itself with the ecliptic points of the sun at the exact time of its equinoxes and solstices , and the sidereal zodiac , which is based on the - differently sized - constellations in the area of the ecliptic.
As probably from the 3rd century BC BC the astrological system was developed in the Hellenistic Alexandria , the tropical and the sidereal zodiac perhaps still largely coincide. Compared to then, the two zodiacal circles are now about 30 ° shifted from one another. This is due to the fact that the earth's axis , which is decisive for the seasons, wobbles - similar to a top , only very slowly, namely one lap in approx. 25,800 years; this process is known as precession . At a speed of 1 ° in around 72 years, the point of spring or Aries moves clockwise through the constellations of different sizes from the earth's point of view. Around the birth of Christ, but more likely around 100 years earlier, he switched from the constellation Aries to the constellation Pisces, which in the later 20th century was cosmologically interpreted in the New Age movement as the beginning of the Pisces age. This means that if a human is born, for example, the sun is in the zodiac sign Capricorn at the beginning of January , but is actually in the constellation Sagittarius .
The tropical zodiac is used extensively in western astrology. Its alignment at the four ecliptic points of the equinoxes and solstices of the sun gave the tropical zodiac its name, which is derived from the Greek τρόποι, trópoi , which means "turns, turning points". Based on the equinoxes and the solstices, the ecliptic is divided into twelve sections of 30 °, the twelve signs of the zodiac , starting from the spring equinox . So the tropical zodiac is a geometric abstraction because it does not correspond to the constellations on the ecliptic . In late antiquity, after the 5th century, it finally prevailed against the sidereal zodiac. Astronomers had already noticed several centuries before that the astronomical beginning of spring, which was then standardized on the sidereal zodiac or ecliptic constellation Aries and on the previously so-called 'normal stars', was reached later and later in the course of the year, and therefore migrated towards the meteorological summer due to the precession had also shifted the ecliptic constellations in relation to the signs of the zodiac.
The predominantly Indian-oriented method known as Vedic Astrology uses the sidereal zodiac. As with the tropical zodiac, it divides the measuring circle into twelve sections of 30 ° and is still based on the ancient constellation Aries as the beginning of the zodiac, whose ayanamsha value is officially based on the opposition to Spica . Since the annually recurring positions of the constellations change very slowly due to the precession (by approx. 1 ° in 72 years), the point of the spring equinox moves around March 21 in the tropical zodiac apparently backwards along the zodiac constellations currently through the Constellation Pisces and according to the Vedic constellation classification will reach the constellation Aquarius in 2442 AD.
The twelve signs of the zodiac of the zodiac
|Period of the apparent
passage of the sun a
|Aries||Aries||Κριός||0 ° -30 °||March 21st - April 20th|
|bull||Taurus||Tαῦρος||30 ° -60 °||April 21st - May 21st|
|Twins||Gemini||Δίδυμοι||60 ° -90 °||May 22nd - June 21st|
|cancer||Cancer||Καρκίνος||90 ° -120 °||June 22nd - July 22nd|
|lion||Leo||Λέων||120 ° -150 °||July 23rd - August 22nd|
|Virgin||Virgo||Παρθένος||150 ° -180 °||August 23 - September 22|
|Libra||Libra||Ζυγὁς||180 ° -210 °||September 23 - October 22|
|Scorpio||Scorpio||Σκορπίος||210 ° -240 °||October 23 - November 22|
|Sagittarius||Sagittarius||Τοξότης||240 ° -270 °||November 23rd - December 20th|
|Capricorn||Capricornus||Αἰγοκερεύς||270 ° -300 °||December 21st - January 19th|
|Aquarius||Aquarius||Ὑδροχόος||300 ° -330 °||January 20th - February 18th|
|fishes||Pisces||Ἰχθύες||330 ° -360 °||February 19 - March 20|
Constellation-like fixed star groups found at the latest from the second millennium BC. In ancient Egypt, it was taken into account as a day calendar , according to the same principle in Mesopotamia . Interpretations go back to a merger with the Babylonian signs of the zodiac that took place in the late ancient Egyptian period (around 664–332 BC) .
“Furthermore, it was first established by the Egyptians which month and day is sacred to the individual gods and which fate, which end and which character will have those born on this or that day. Greek poets have adopted these things as well. And the Egyptians found out omens far more than any other peoples. If something conspicuous happens, pay attention to its consequences and write it down. If a similar incident occurs in the future, they then believe that the same consequences must occur again. "
The complete zodiac with its twelve constellations - still of different lengths - on the ecliptic was finally established in the 5th century BC. Developed or first handed down during the Achaemenid Empire in the area of Mesopotamia. In the 4th century BC During the Seleucid rule after the Hellenistic conquest of the area, the exact division of the zodiac into twelve "signs" at 30 ° as well as the ancient mathematical astronomy, which made it possible to calculate the planetary positions in advance based on the coordinate system of the 30 ° sections of the individual signs of the zodiac. The sidereal zodiac itself with its twelve equal 30 ° sections and the beginning with the zodiac sign Aries could have been created by following the schematic "ideal calendar" with twelve months to 30 days, with which the Babylonian year is close to the spring Equinox perhaps from the 7th century BC Began, and was based on the parallel constellations.
In Hellenism or the Egyptian Ptolemaic Empire , the imported Babylonian zodiac was connected with the idea of the dean stars rising on the horizon. Later, the idea of assigning certain basic interpretations to the individual signs of the zodiac was continued. Astrological-astronomical traditions from the Mesopotamian region or the ( Neo-Babylonian ) and Achaemenid empires were mixed with the meanings of the division of the fixed star heaven into deans and degrees, which had been practiced in Egypt for a long time (see Egyptian calendar and Nutbuch ) . Later, the independent dean and degree astrology developed from this. An additional meaning was assigned to each degree segment.
Assignment to the elements
The Hellenistic interpretations were supplemented by the doctrine of the four elements (water, air, fire, earth), which developed from the 6th to the 5th century BC. And was part of everyday Greek thinking:
- Water, Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC)
- Luft, Anaximenes (585-525 BC)
- Fire, Heraclitus (approx. 540-475 BC)
- Earth, Empedocles , (around 500 BC)
The four-element doctrine followed around 500 BC. The theory of harmony of the Pythagoreans (founded by Pythagoras, 570-510). They dedicated u. a. of geometry and number symbolism. They used counting stones to place geometric figures (e.g. trigons and squares). The tetrad (Tetraktys) was very important because the total of the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 results in the sum 10. Furthermore, the contrast between even and odd numbers and between female and male was distinguished. This resulted in the assignments: even for unlimited and female and odd for limited and male.
Aristotle (384–322 BC) expanded the four-element doctrine with the assignments dryness or moisture and warmth or cold. The resulting composition led to an order with the following combination:
- Dryness and warmth the fire
- Moisture and warmth the air
- Moisture and cold the water
- Drought and cold the earth
Use of the tropical zodiac
The four-element theory and Aristotle's additions formed a significant basis for the ancient Hellenistic astrology and the interpretation of the signs of the zodiac. In doing so, Aristotle's approach of the four elements and four states (warm-cold, dry-humid), understood as scientific-physical, was combined with the annual course of the sun and the tropical zodiac. The sun enters the spring in the sign of Aries, in the summer in the cancer, in the autumn in which the scale and in the winter in the Capricorn.
The intersections of the four seasons connected with lines result in a square . According to Pythagoras it is of great importance due to the sum, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10. Between the points of intersection there are three consecutive signs of the zodiac, each of which has a graduated meaning: the first sign strong (cardinal), the second medium strong (fixed, communal), the third variable (falling, mobile).
The assignments that had been started were increasingly condensed in the course of the following centuries, referring to traditions and templates from earlier times, e.g. B. Geography, meteorology and medicine, the beginnings of which can be found with Hippocrates (around 460-370 BC).
Then came the distribution of the stars (sun, moon and planets), animals, plants, precious stones and metals, later the tribes of Israel and the four apostles, s. u. Evangelist symbols , personality traits, professions and partnerships and life stages as well as astrological medicine ( Iatroastrology ), which assigned the limbs of the human body from head to toe to the twelve signs of the zodiac, similar to the illustration of the zodiac man, Homo signorum . In this way, all physical life on earth was ultimately reflected in the zodiac.
The following two overviews were made by the astrologer Antiochus of Athens (2nd century AD); Additions can be found in Claudius Ptolemy (100–160 AD) and Vettius Valens (120–175 AD). They are based on the tropical zodiac, which begins with the Aries point , i.e. the beginning of spring:
|Zodiac signs||season||elements||quality||Age||Wind direction|
|dry + warm
dry + cold
damp + warm
|damp + cold
dry + warm
dry + cold
|damp + warm
damp + cold
dry + warm
|dry + cold
damp + warm
damp + cold
|moist + warm||liquid||blood||sanguine||red|
|dry + warm||fine (gaseous)||bile||choleric||yellow|
|dry + cold||tight||black bile||melancholic||black|
|damp + cold||tough||mucus||phlegmatic||White|
|Aries||Britain , Galatia , Germania , Bastarnia , Koilesyria , Palestine , Idumea , Judea|
|bull||Parthia , Media , Persia , the Cyclades , Cyprus , the coast of Asia Minor|
|Twins||Hyrcania , Armenia , Mathianien, Cyrenaica , Marmarika , under- Egypt|
|cancer||Numidia , Carthage , Africa , Bithynia , Phrygia , Colchis|
|lion||Italy , Gaul , Sicily , Apulia , Phenicia , Chaldea , Orchinia|
|Virgin||Mesopotamia , Babylonia , Assyria , Hellas , Achaia , Crete|
|Libra||Bactria , Kasperia, Serika , Thebes , Oasis, the land of the troglodytes|
|Scorpio||Metagonia, Mauritania , Gaetulia, Syria , Commagene , Cappadocia|
|Sagittarius||Thyrrhenia , the land of the Celts , Spain , Arabia Felix|
|Capricorn||India , Arriania, Gedrosia , Thrace , Macedonia , Illyria|
|Aquarius||Sarmatia , Oxiana, Sogdiana , Arabia , Azania , Central Ethiopia|
|fishes||Phazania , the land of the Nasamontans, the Garamanten , Lydia , Cilicia , Pamphylia|
Calendar interpretation, calendar astrology
In view of the ever more complex design of the zodiac with interpretations and divisions, added u. a. around tables for favorable or unfavorable, fateful or disastrous and neutral days as well as annual, monthly and daily regents, an independent zodiac astrology began to establish itself around the turn of the times. In practice, it was limited to the birthday as a basis, which turned it into an exclusive calendar interpretation. The "Tabula Bianchini", a star prophecy table, an astromantic dice board, developed around 3.–2. Century BC BC, to be viewed.
It no longer bore any resemblance to mathematical, calculating astrology (see below), which includes the conscientious calculation of the positions of the sun, moon and planets, but still used its name, perhaps to appear more meaningful.
The calendar interpretation , mixed with popular superstition and customs , favored the beginning of the simplified, superficial lay and entertainment astrology. Within a few centuries it blossomed to an undreamt-of size, pictures of the year, pictures of the month , planet children were added, to which the art in painting, architecture, sculpture, literature and music, which deviated from the idea that everything earthly and human is reflected in the zodiac, made a significant contribution , was creatively inspired (Examples: Albrecht Dürer , 1471–1528, Melencolia I / Melancholia and illustration for Theoderich Ulsenius ' Syphilis poem; Aby Warburg collection , and monthly pictures in the Palazzo Schifanoia ; also many frescoes, wall and ceiling paintings, marble panels, elaborate woodcuts for Manuscripts).
Their imaginative representatives could be found in illustrious circles as well as on the streets, at fairs and in the circus; There were also eloquent charlatans and fraudsters who tried to impress the gullibility of the people with their ambiguous, vague and universally valid but believable fortune-telling texts. The calendar interpretation had something for every taste and offered descriptions, all of which can be assigned to the Barnum effect .
With the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, its potential for distribution increased by leaps and bounds. It has been discussed in the millions to this day in print media, on cards and calendars, amulets and textiles of all kinds, in TV and radio programs, on the Internet, etc. It has become part of everyday life internationally. This applies mutatis mutandis to Chinese astrology , which can also be assigned to the calendar interpretation.
Practical application in astrology
The tropical zodiac with its twelve equal-sized sections, the zodiac sign is the horoscope as a measuring circuit to the chart elements like the sun and moon and planets, the Ascendant and the other entered Horoscope houses. No horoscope can be created without a place and time of birth. A person's zodiac sign is the one in which the sun was at the time of their birth (birth sign ) . The signs of the zodiac also play a role in the lunar calendars , which came back into fashion at the end of the 20th century and which date back to early forms from the Middle Ages.
Zodiac signs and civil calendar
Since the sun seldom changes from one sign of the zodiac to the next at midnight on a day in the civil calendar , the general division into calendar days that is often found is not completely precise. The exact time of the transition also varies from year to year and sometimes even changes the date, since the solar year is not exactly 365 days long. Astrologers therefore calculate the transition precisely with the help of the ephemeris , but in zodiac books and newspaper horoscopes it is still common to specify calendar days.
Zodiac in India and China
The branches of the earth ("Chinese zodiac") have nothing to do with the starry sky , but are a numbering system of the Chinese calendar , which as an astronomical calendar is related to the actual solar path. They probably go back to the ancient Dodecaetris .
In Indian astrology, the 30 degree zodiac signs are tied to the constellations and gradually move with them through the seasons. This type of astrology is called sidereal astrology in contrast to tropical astrology with signs tied to the vernal equinox.
A majority of those who believe in the effectiveness of astrology consider calendar astrology or, even more frequently, the position of the sun at their own birth in the respective zodiac sign for 'astrology'.
The science rejects all forms of astrology on the basis of their "undisputed unscientific". In 1975 the American magazine The Humanist published a statement entitled Objections to Astrology . At the beginning it said: “We, the undersigned - astronomers, astrophysicists and natural scientists from other disciplines - would like to warn the public against unchecked trust in the predictions and advice that astrologers make and give privately and publicly. Anyone who wants to believe in astrology should keep in mind that there is no scientific basis for its teachings. "
The Danish-German research team around Peter Hartmann also dealt with zodiac astrology in a large-scale study. It evaluated the data of a total of more than 15,000 people statistically and determined: a connection between date of birth - and thus also the zodiac sign in which the sun is at the time of birth - and individual personality traits could not be proven.
The media often reported only about the alleged discovery of a 13th zodiac sign, serpent bearer . Due to the precession of the earth's axis , the periods of the zodiac signs would have to be corrected by the meanwhile 30 °, which would move many people to another zodiac sign. However, these reports are based on the confusion of constellations with signs of the zodiac, come regularly in the media and were repeated in 2011 and 2016. The lower stars from the snake bearer were still assigned to Scorpio at the time the signs of the zodiac and constellations were created and named, as there were no binding definitions of constellations and the boundaries between constellations were fluid. There were only 12 constellations on the ecliptic - which roughly correspond to the twelve months of a year.
- Hans Georg Gundel : Zodiacos: Zodiac images in antiquity. Cosmic references and conceptions of the afterlife in everyday life in ancient times (= cultural history of the ancient world. Volume 54). Von Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1324-1 .
- Wolfgang Huebner : The characteristics of the signs of the zodiac in antiquity: Their representation and use with special consideration of Manilius (= Sudhoffs archive. Supplements, Volume 22). Steiner, Wiesbaden 1982, ISBN 3-515-03337-8 .
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- The four ecliptic points of the equinoxes and solstices do not have completely fixed daily dates in every solar calendar . The 12 sections of the zodiac, on the other hand, begin on the same calendar days in simplified calendars, e.g. B. Aries on March 21st instead of exactly on the spring equinox, Cancer on June 22nd instead of exactly on the summer solstice , Libra on September 24th instead of exactly on the autumn equinox, and Capricorn on December 22nd instead of exactly at the winter solstice (based on the Gregorian calendar ).
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Also Udo Becker: Lexikon der Astrologie. Herder, Freiburg / Br. 1981, p. 278.
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