Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as an influence on human affairs.
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Symbols in the Sky - Astrology - The White Goddess

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Thursday, 07 July 2022

Symbols in the Sky

Astrology Star Signs

" Among the tombs and temples of the great civilizations of Egypt,
Mesopotamia and India, there once flourished a sacred study of the stars
that arose from Man's innate need to find order and meaning in the
universe and within himself. "

Symbols in the Sky.

Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as an influence on human affairs.

The images and symbols that represent the 12 sign of the zodiac have evolved over many centuries and draw upon ancient traditions, some of them secret. The images are pictorial forms of animals, humans and objects, loosely related to the constellations of the zodiac, while the symbols, known as Sigils, are a shorthand graphic representing the sign.

Aries Taurus and Gemini

The first sign of the zodiac is Aries. In the Egyptian temple in the city of Dandara, Aries is represented by a Ram, in its mediaeval form it can be seen in the zodiac on the north door of the west front of Chartres Cathedral in France. In the esoteric tradition Aries represents the fire of the spirit.

Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, is represented as a bull. In the earliest Egyptian and Babylonian, Taurus is also depicted as a bull. In the esoteric tradition Taurus represents earthiness and fecundity, growth and incarnation.

The third sign, Gemini, is usually represented by the image of two youths or men. In the Roman zodiac, they were identified with the twins sons of Leda; Castor who was mortal and Pollux who was immortal. During the mediaeval ages, Gemini is more frequently depicted, as a couple of the opposite sexes. The floor of the San Minato al Monte in Florence, Italy, from the 13th century, reflects the change in the symbolism and the changes in the relationships between men and women. During the 15th and 16th centuries Gemini is often depicted in the form of lovers, often engaged in sexual activities. In the esoteric tradition Gemini represents communication and expression.

Cancer Leo and Virgo

The fourth sign of the zodiac, Cancer has the image of the crab. It is the first water sign. This symbolism, is linked to the womb, birth, motherhood and the birth of all things. The zodiac in the baptistry of Parma Cathedral, from the 13th century, Cancer is represented by a crayfish. In other mediaeval zodiacs the tail is often overlaid with the halo of the archangel Gabriel, linking baptism with the spiritual world. Cancer is often called the 'house of the mother', linking it to the physical and spiritual experience of birth.

Leo, the fifth sign, is one of the four fixed signs, and its image of a lion has been given from the earliest times. During the early centuries of Christianity, Leo as the second of the four fixed signs was adopted to represent Mark, one of the four Evangelists. Leo is ruled by the Sun, the symbol of Christ, and is placed in zodiacs and churches as the first of the fixed sign. The symbol of Leo, is regarded to have been derived from ancient Greek horoscopes and is a representation of the lion's tail.

The sixth sign, Virgo, is depicted as a young woman in the starry realms. Early Christians were quick to adapt this image, as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Byzantine and Renaissance artists often placed a star on the shoulder or head to represent the brightest star of the constellation of Virgo, alpha Virginis, whose traditional name Spica, means 'ear of corn'. Many images of Virgo are often shown as a young maiden holding a corn stalk in her hands.

Libra Scorpio and Sagittarius

Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac, is shown as a woman holding a pair of scales. The 13th century Cathedral of Chartres in France, on a column to the south of the 'astrological door' is a small carving of the symbol of Libra. One of the zodiacal sculptures by Benedetto Antelami, depicts a man holding a set of scales. The Egyptian symbol for Libra, showed a disc above a bowl like form, said to represent the setting Sun above the Earth. More importantly, the space between the Sun and Earth represents the airy realm of Libra. It is this space that exists between the male principle and the female, that the impulse of Libra is trying to bridge.

Scorpio, the eighth, is shown as a scorpion, although it may have developed from a single drawing of a serpent, having a head, many coils and a tail. In the symbolic development of the sign, the serpent, the tempter from the Garden of Eden, was cut in two, the head became the symbol for Virgo. While the tail, became one of the symbols for Scorpio. In Egypt the symbol was derived from the pictograph, in demotic script, for a snake, and by late Greek times closely resembled the modern symbol. The 16th century occultist, Agrippa, claimed that the modern symbol represented the sting of the scorpion. Scorpio is associated with passion. It is sometimes called 'the house of death'.

The ninth sign of the zodiac, Sagittarius, has suffered very few changes since ancient times and is depicted as a centaur about to shoot an arrow. In the baptistry at Parma, Sagittarius is shown as a man, and the quarter foil on the cathedral of Amiens, in France, shows a satyr like figure with hairy legs, bushy tail and cloven feet. Sagittarius is associated with the earthy pleasures of good food and the possessive love of the physical realm. In Greek astrology, the symbol is an arrow, a symbol of spiritual impetus, representing the impulse to rise above the delights of the flesh and to pay attention to the higher things.

Capricorn Aquarius and Pisces

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, has the image of a goat. In Babylonian symbolism, Capricorn was a horned goat with a mermaid like tail. Many early astrological manuscripts are shown in a form that is closer to Babylonian image, in later times the Greek symbol of the goat was adopted. In astrological traditions Capricorns seek to live in the light of day, are ambitious and admirers of excellence.

The eleventh sign of the zodiac, Aquarius, is represented by the image of a man pouring water from a large jar. This image is said to be derived from from the Nile God Hapi, who poured water from two jars. An earlier Babylonian image of a star god, also held a water pot. The Babylonian name for Aquarius can be interpreted as 'great star' or 'constellation of the great man'. This later definition was adopted by early Christians who used Aquarius to represent St Matthew, one of the four Evangelists. Despite its name, Aquarius is one of the air sign, and its symbol, of zig zag lines, are derived from early mediaeval symbols representing water flowing from the jar of Aquarius.

Pisces, the final sign of the zodiac, is normally depicted as two fish swimming in opposite directions. In an Egyptian carving at Dandara the two fish are pictured swimming in the same direction, their tails joined by a thread. The 12th century bronze doors of the church of San Zeno in Verona, show a woman suckling two fishes, a Christian reference to Christ and the Virgin Mary. This reflects a link with Pisces and Virgo, the signs directly opposite in the zodiac, also the association between Pisces and Christ and Virgo with Mary.

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