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Zodiacal Constellations

Zodiacal Constellation Mythology


Aquarius is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Aquarius (Latin for "water carrier") lies mostly south fo the celestial equator (the imaginary line formed by the projection of the Earth's equator onto the sky), between the constellations Capricornus and Pisces, and is visible from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres from September through January.
Aquarius is an ancient constellation. Since ancient times the constellation has been depicted as a young man pouring water out of a jar or urn. To the ancient Greeks, Aquarius symbolized several mythological persons, including Ganymede, the cupbearer on Mount Olympus; Deucalion, the hero of the Thessalian flood; and Cecrops, an ancient king of Athens. The water jar held in Aquarius' right hand, a small Y made up of mostly third- and fourth-magnitude stars, is the feature by which the constellation is usually identified. A sprinkling of more than 30 faint stars makes up the water flowing from the jar. In Johann Bayer's illustrated catalog 'Uranometria', published in 1603, the water is shown flowing into the open mouth of Pisces Austrinus (the Southern Fish), and that his how it is often represented.


Aries is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Aries, which is Latin for "ram," is a relatively faint constellation of the Northern Hemisphere. Its chief stars are arrayd in a V shape, which ancient skywatchers likened to a crouching ram.
Aries lies between the constellations Taurus and Pisces. It is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres from September through February. The head of the ram is marked by the first bright star due west of the Pleiades (a cluster of seven stars in Taurus). Aries is one of the oldest and most revered constellations. The chief traditional significance of Aries is its role as the first sign of the zodiac. At the time that astrology first developed, more than 2,00 years ago, one of the two points where the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator was located in Aries. This point marks the vernal equinox, or the precession, the slow change of orientation of the Earth's axis with respect to the stars, the vernal equinox has since moved into the constellation Pices. In spite of this, Aries retains its symbolic position as the first sign of the zodiac, and the vernal equinox is still known as the first point of Aries.

Earth Spinning

Cancer is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Cancer, Latin for "Crab," is the dimmest of the zodiacal constellations. Cancer lies north of the celestial equator between Leo and Gemini. It is visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
In Greek mythology, Cancer played a small role in one of Heracles' (Hercules') 12 labors. While Heracles fought the nine-headed monster Hydra in the swamp where it lived, the crab surfaced and pinched Heracles on the foot. Irritated, Heracles squashed the crab and burned off the Hydra's heads. Hera, queen of the gods and Heracles' enemy, reqarded the crab's attempted heroism by placing it in the sky as Cancer. The Greek philosopher Plato saw Cancer as the gate that people's souls passed through on their way into human form, a view shared by the Chaldeans.
The Romans, who inherited the mythology of the Greeks, gave the constellation its current name.

Capricornus is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Capricornus, Latin for "goat," is a relatively faint constellation between Sagittarius and Aquarius south of the celestial equator. The constellation represents a "sea-goat," with a curling fish's tail. It is located in a part of the sky populated by constellations representing watery creatures and known as "the sea."
Some historians theorize that the sea-goat symbolism of Capricornus originated with the Sumerians and Babylonians, whose mythology was populated with amphibious beasts. When the Greeks adopted the image, they called the constellations Aegoceros (Goat-horned), identifying it with their god Pan, who had the head and torso of a man and the legs, hindquaters, and horns of a goat. According to Greek mythology, Pan escaped the monstor Typhon by jumping into a river and turning his lower half into a fish. During a battle between the Titans and the gods of Olympus, Pan sent a warning by blowing on a conch shell. As a reward, Zeus installed Pan among the stars.
The Romans gave the constellation its present name.
Astrologers consider the sign of Capricornus to be one of the four cardinal signs, that is, signs that coincide with the beginning of the seasons. At the time astrology was first developed, more than 2,000 years ago, the winter solstice of the Northern Hemisphere occurred int eh constellation Capricornus. The winter solstice is the point where the sun reaces its farthest point south and marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Today, however, because of a phenomenon known as procession, the winter solstice has moved into the constellation Sagittarius.


Gemini is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Gemini, Latin for "twins," lies between Cancer and Taurus north of the celestial equator and is visible from bot the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Acording to Greek and Roman mythology, the twins Castor and Pollux were the sons of Leda, the woman whom Zeus seduced in the guise of a swan. In some versions of the story, only Pollux was the son of the god; Castor's father was Leda's moral husband. Castor became known as a horse trainer, and Pollux was a great boxer. They participated in several heroic quests, including Jason's voyage in search of the Golden Fleece. The twins' love for each other was legendary. When Castor was killed in a fight, Pollux begged Zeus to let him die, too. Moved by this devotion, Zeus let Castor take Pollux's place among the living every other day. He eventually placed Castor and Pollux among the stars as teh constellation Gemini.


Leo is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Leo, Latin for "lion," is the 12th largest constllation, covering about 950 square degrees. Astronomers find Leo notable for its many galaxies and multiple star systems.
Leo lies between Cancer and Virgo north of the celestial equator, and is visible from both the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere.
Leo is one of the handful of constellations whose star pattern clearly outlines the figure it is said to represent.
In Greek and Roman mythology, Leo represents the Nemean lion, which Heracles (in Roman mythology, Hercules) slew in fulfillment of the first of his 12 labors. The Romans, who inherited the mythology of the Greeks, gave the consellation its present name.

Libra is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Libra, Latin for "scales," is a relatively dim constellation. It lies south of the celestial equator between Scorpius and Virgo, and is visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Archaeological evidence suggest sthat sumerians may have identified Libra as Zib-Ba-An-Na, or "the balance of heaven," as early as 2000 BC. The idea of the balance may have originated in the fact that at that time, the sun was in LIbra on one of the two days in the year on which day and night are of equal length. The ancient Greeks did not share this symbolism. They regarded Libra instead as part of Scorpius and called it Chelae, or "the claws." The Romans designated Libra as a separate constellation during the 1st century BC, associating it once again with the scales, and giving the constellation its present name.
Libra is the only sign of the zodiac to represent a nonliving object.

Pices is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Pisces, Latin for "the fishes," is one of the larger constellations covering 889 square degrees. Its stars are arrayed in a large V shape, with a group of stars on either end, representing two fish connected by a knotted cord.
A number of early Western cultures, including the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, associated Pisces with fishes. The Greeks and Romans related Pisces to the story of how Aphrodite and her son Eros escaped the monster Typhon. In one version of the story, they turned themselves into fish and swam up the Nile. After Zeus vanquished the monster, the two deities were honored by being placed in teh sky. People in ancient Syria regarded the constellation as a representation of their goddess Derke, who was usually depicted witha  woman's head on a fish's body. The Chaldeans depicted the northern fish as a fish with the head of a swallow.
According to astrologers, Pisces is the 12th sign of the zodiac. It was so designated because at the time when astrology was first developed, more than 2,000 years ago, Aries, the constellation that follows Pisces, contained the vernal equinox, or the beginning of spring in teh Northern Hemisphere. The vernal equinox occurs at the point where the ecliptic intersects with the celestial equator. Because of a phenomenon known as procession the vernal equinox moved into Pisces about 2,000 years ago and now lies in its far western corner. As a result, modern astronomers regard Pisces as teh first zodiacal constellation.


Sagittarius is one of teh 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Sagittarius is visible in teh Southern Hemisphere and up throught eh middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.Eight of its brightest stars form a figure widely recognized as a teapot, with its handle in the east and spout in the west, spewing steam in teh form of milky Way star clouds.
Sagittarius is Latin for "archer," and since ancient tiems the constellation has been represented as a creature wielding a bow and arrow. The archer's best-known identity was that of a centaur, a beast with the upper body of a man and the lower body, hind legs, and tail of a horse. Although the centaur was most common in Greek mythology, it was also widely recognized in earlier cultures. The ancient Egyptians saw Sagittarius as a similar beast, but with the head of a lion. In the ancient Indian zodiac, the constellation was pictured as a horse.
The significance of Sagittarius in Greek mythology remains unresolved. Some records describe the constellation as Chiron, a wise and peaceful centaur. Chiron, however, is most closely associated with the more southern constellation Centaurus. According to other accounts, Chiron identified the constellation to hlp guide Jason and the Argonauts on the quest for the Golden Fleece. Many historians of myth dispute the connection between Chiron and Sagittarius, however, and say the constellation represents a more typical, unruly centaur. In many illustrations Sagittarius appears as a fierce beast, aiming his arrow at the heart of Scorpius, the legendary Scorpion.

Scorpius is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. Scorpius lies south of the celestial equator. Scorpius (Latin for "scorpion") is visible in the Southern Hemisphere and up to the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where it appears low on the southern horizon.
Scopius appears in many legends, particularly those involving the great hunter Orion. In one tale, the Earth sent the scorpion to sting Orion, who had boasted that he could kill any beast. The scorpion did not manage to kill him, but Orion fled and dove into the sea. In another story, the Greek god Apollo sent the scorpion to chse Orion into the sea, as part of a plot to keep Orion from Apollo's sister, the goddess Artemis. Legends such as these explained why the constellation Orion sinks below the horizon just as Scorpius appears.


Taurus is one of the 12 original zodiacal constellations. It lies just north of the ceslestial equator.
Taurus (Latin for "bull") is a vivid constellation, marked by several distinctive features, including the bright star Aldebaran and two open star clusters, the Hyades and the Pleiades. Aldebaran and the Hyades appear together along a line between the Pleiades and Orion's "belt."
People have recognized Taurus since ancient times, almost always associating the constellation with a bull. The Sumerians may have regarded Taurus as a sacred bull of light.
The ancient Greeks developed a variety of myths associated with Taurus and its individual stars. Accoridng to the most common legend, Taurus is a representation of Zeus in the form of a white bull. In this disguise, Zeus convinced the beautiful princess Europa to climb on his back and carried her out to sea. They arrived eventually at the island of Crete, where Zeus revealed himself to Europa and became her lover. Their son was Minos, the king of Crete.

Virgo is one of the 12 original constellations of the zodiac. It lies along the celestial equator and is therefore visible from most parts of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Virgo (Latin for "virgin" or "maiden") is the second largest constellation; only Hydra is larger. But Virgo can be difficult to identify because it contains few bright stars. It lies between the constellations Libra and Leo.
To civilizations around the Mediterranean, Virgo was widely associated with the harvest, because it marks the part of th horizon where the sun rises in autumn. Several Greek myths connect Virgo to the seasons. The most famous involves Demeter, goddess of the Earth and harvest, and her daughter Persephone. Hades, god of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone while on a visit to the Earth's surface. He captured the maiden and brought her back to his realm. Demeter became furious and placed a curse on the Earth so that no crops would grow until Persephone was returned. Zeus, king of the gods, ruled that Persephone would live on the Earth's surface for half of the year, and with Hades for the other half. This ruling brought about the seasons, for Demeter let crops flourish while Persephone was with her, in spring and summer, but made the Earth barren when she returned to Hades, in autumn and winter. By some accounts, the constellation represents Persephone; by others, it is Demeter herself.

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