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What is a Zodiac?



A horoscope (also called an astrological chart) is a map of positions of luminaries and planets (sometimes also asteroids) of the Solar System at the time of an event in the place of the event. The most widely used and the most informative horoscope that describes a person’s psychological profile, natural abilities and difficulties, as well as major life themes that persist throughout the whole life, is the natal horoscope (the natal chart). This is a map of the sky at the time of your birth in the place of your birth. An astrological chart, or horoscope, is a schematic representation, and it uses an artificial system of coordinates that does not exist in the reality in the sky, but does reflect the positions of the planets in the given place at the given time. This system of coordinates is called Zodiac – the name that everyone heard, but only few understand what is means.


Zodiac is the division of the path of the Sun and of the planets of the Solar System (they all move along the same narrow belt in the sky around the Earth), Ecliptic, into 12 Zodiac signs. The whole Ecliptic (the belt) is 360°, and its equal division into 30° signs produces 12 Zodiac signs. In Western astrology, the one to which most people in the Western world relate, the point of the Vernal Equinox is used as 0° (this point of the belt rises over the horizon with the Sun at the Vernal Equinox), and at this point the sign of Aries begins (the next 0 - 29°59’ are called the sign of Aries). This does not mean that the Sun is actually seen in the sky in the constellation of Aries (it used to be long time ago, but it is not now), but this lack of correlation does not create any problem for the Western astrology, because the Western Zodiac is based on the Sun’s path in the sky and on the Earth seasons, not on the actual constellations.


There is another system of coordinates used, for example, by the Vedic astrology – Sidereal Zodiac, which divides the Ecliptic (the belt where the planets and luminaries move in the sky) in 12 signs based on the actual constellations that remain constant (fixed) in the backdrop of the sky behind the planets and luminaries. However, it still divides the belt (the Ecliptic) into 12 equal signs of 30° each, despite the fact that constellations are different in size and overlap. Thus, the Sidereal Zodiac is also an artificial system of coordinates, although there is a loose correlation between the sign and the constellation fixed in the sky background behind the Sun and the planets (i.e., when Sun or Saturn are in the sign of Capricorn, the constellation of Capricorn is somewhat in the background of the Sun or Saturn position in the sky).

The twelve Zodiac signs are (starting with the Vernal Equinox): Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Saggitarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each of the signs possesses specific qualities, and the planets traveling through each sign modify their influence on the humans and their life, because the planets are influenced by the sign, in which they are traveling. For example, the Moon reflects our moods and all things that make us feel good and emotionally safe. When the Moon is in the part of the Ecliptic (the belt) designated as the sign of Capricorn, we may be in the mood to do more work, to attend to our business, and we will feel better doing this (Capricorn is the sign of career, responsibility, and business). When the Moon is in the sign of Pisces, we may be dreamy and sleepy, and it may be difficult to be present in the reality (Pisces is the sign of dreams and illusions).

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