Astrology signs and dates are pretty simple to understand although the idea of an astrological calendar has changed quite a bit since it was first created around 3000 BC. The zodiac also follows the solar year which is 365 and 1/4 days in length so the dates of astrological signs used to float against various calendars that were used. It wasn’t until the concept of a leap year was perfected in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII that the zodiac lined up perfectly with his new Gregorian calendar that we still use today. There might not have always been twelve symbols in the zodiac. Some scholars argue that the earliest astrology had only two signs, perhaps a shout out to the light and dark phases of the moon or the ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang.
Our modern zodiac begins its annual astrological progression across the sky in March with the arrival of the vernal equinox. Along with its partner the autumnal equinox, these are the only two days each year that we find the Sun firmly sitting upon the equator. During an equinox, the light of the Sun is equal in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Coincidentally, the zodiac also begins on the Pagan holiday called Ostara. In fact, many of the dates of astrology’s signs begin or end on a day that is shared with a Pagan sabbat. The astrological year begins with Ares and ushers in the annual beginning of Spring. It is the first of modern astrology’s twelve zodiac signs.
No one knows for sure when the study of astrology actually first began. Cave drawings dating back as far as 25,000 years ago show our early ancestor’s primitive understanding of the movement of celestial bodies. Many of the names found in astrology today find their origin in Greek and Roman times. Both the Latin word zodiacus and the Greek word zodiakos both roughly translate to “circle of animals” and are the basis of the modern term we use now called zodiac. Early astronomers who first observed constellations in the heavens tended to name them after figures from various types of mythology. One thing is for sure. The overall concept of the zodiac as we know it today has existed for at least several thousand years before the coming of Christ.
Here’s a quick rundown of the signs and dates of astrology.
Ares – The Ram
March 21 – April 19
Named after the ram that provided the golden fleece, Ares is the first sign of the zodiac. It spans the first thirty degrees of celestial longitude from 0 to 30 degrees. As one of the four fire signs, those born under Ares are often creative and ambitious. They are usually insightful and able to adapt to changing environments such as social settings. Ares are both devoted and fiercely loyal and make great family, friends and lovers.
Taurus – The Bull
April 20 – May 20
The run of the bull follows the next 30 degrees of the zodiac. As astrology’s second position, it is our first of the earth signs. Those born under Taurus are blessed with both strength and stamina but can also be quite stubborn. Taurians often make great teachers and business leaders. They are typically both patient and practical. While they often look after themselves, if they trust you they can be some of the most generous people you will ever meet.
Gemini – The Twins
May 21 – June 20
Gemini represents the twins, one of the few zodiac symbols not named after an animal. It is the first air sign in the zodiac as well. This sign represents the twin brothers Castor and Pollux that were made into gods following their death in Greco-Roman mythology. Look out for their mood swings as Gemini are known to be a bit flighty and often change their minds whenever they want. Gemini also make good salespeople and are great at bargaining. Take one along with you next time you buy a car or a house.
Cancer – The Crab
June 21 – July 22
Cancer is named after the crab Karkinos that bothered Hercules while he was battling with the Hydra. It is the forth sign of the zodiac and is our first water sign. They are usually pretty domestic and dote over their family lives and their homes. They are ruled by the Moon. Sometimes this can make them seem a bit contradictory or moody to a fault. Cancerians crave their private time. If they tell you to leave them alone, I suggest you do it or you might get bit by their sharp claws.
Leo – The Lion
July 23 – August 22
Leo is my personal favorite because its my own sign, of course. The second fire sign, those born under Leo are natural born leaders. They can be great friends because of their territorial desire to look after things around them. A Leo is usually incredibly strong yet very sensitive. Their overall motivation is to benefit the overall good. Even if their ego sometimes lets them down, they generally have the of best intentions at heart when they insert themselves into any situation.
Virgo – The Virgin
The sixth sign of the zodiac Virgo is also of the earth element. Another sign that can fall to the shortcomings of an inflated ego, those born under Virgo can often tell great tales of unimaginable adventures and remarkable exploits. But they are great teammates. They get along well with other people and can adapt to many types of situations. They generally have photographic memories and are extremely intuitive. Be forewarned. They are great at extracting information from other people. If you’re a Virgo, think about joining the CIA.
Libra – The Scales
September 23 – October 22
Venus is the ruling planet of Libra which is yet another air sign. This seventh sign of the zodiac, Libra starts the transition in the sky from 180 degrees back towards where it began. It starts annually on the autumnal equinox and lasts until 210 degrees of celestial longitude have passed. Another non-animal zodiac sign, the scales represent balance and stability. Libra’s are usually introverts but can argue long into the night about any topic.
Scorpio – The Scorpion
October 23 – November 21
A Scorpio is usually a bold individual and is generally known as both cool and confident. They like their animal namesake often lie in wait ready to strike at potential foes. Astrology’s eighth sign is tied to the element of water. Scorpios are somewhat fluid by nature. This sign is named after Scorpius, the huge scorpion that battled against Orion in mythology. Beware of these secretive beasts, as they often strike fast and furiously when sequestered for long periods of time by themselves.
Sagittarius – The Centaur
November 22 – December 21
Don’t ask a Sagittarius to get married. They tend to have some serious commitment issues. This ninth sign of the zodiac is the last of our fire signs. Sagittarius is named after the centaur Chiron who was once Achilles’s mentor. He was a half-human and half-horse creature who stood as the way point between man and beast. Sagittarius was also a great archer. Those born under this sign are not incredibly patient and often act with rash judgement in lieu of gathering proper facts.
Capricorn – The Goat
December 22 – January 19
Running from 270-300 degrees under the zodiac, those born under this last earth sign are generally pretty intelligent as well as highly ambitious. They pride themselves on organization, perfect types to ask to head up a party or major event. They don’t take constructive criticism extremely well but are usually somewhat patient about things. They are great at following directions and completing tasks.
Aquarius – The Water Bearer
January 20 – February 18
Curiously enough not a water sign, the last air sign Aquarius is named after the cup bearer to the gods called Ganymede. Those born under this zodiac sign are known for their less than normal ways of going about things but are also highly efficient. Aquarians are generally honest and loyal and will come to the aid of almost anyone that needs it. They are also both artistic and poetic.
Pisces – The Fish
February 19 – March 20
The last astrological symbol is the zodiac’s final water sign and this is appropriately named after the fish. This twelveth sign moves full circle from 330 to 360 degrees of celestial longitude. Pisces is named after the fish-tailed Ichthyocentaurs who helped Aphrodite when she was born in the ocean. Pisces usually have a quiet demeanor. They are often taken advantage of by other people. They are incredibly intelligent yet share their immense knowledge in less than obvious ways.
What sign are you? Do you think your astrological sign defines what you are or have you bucked that trend? Let me know. Leave a comment below and join this conversation.