Signs from above: Astrology and the Zodiac

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These symbols represent the twelve signs of the Roman Zodiac. “My mom always thought I was a Taurus, so she was like ‘Oh, typical,’ whenever I do something. I looked it up … and it turns out I’m Gemini or something!” freshman Adnan Askari said.

Netta Kaplan, Managing Editor

For some, they’re a serious way to predict and define your future and yourself. For others, they’re a just fun gimmick to play around with. No matter what you believe about them, horoscopes and star signs have captivated, entertained, and helped people make decisions for millennia.

Although the most familiar form of astrology may be the daily horoscopes found in newspapers and other publications, the term can apply to a vast array of practices, from electional astrology which tries to establish the best time to begin an endeavor to horary astrology which tries to answer questions by looking into the positions of celestial bodies at the time of asking and the motive of the asker. Natal astrology, which is based on the effects of the position of celestial bodies at someone’s time of birth on their personality or future, is the most familiar, with horoscopes and charts deriving from it.

Western astrology, among many other astrological traditions, divides the ecliptic (the path the sun seems travel in the sky through constellations) into twelve houses depending on time and location. Each house corresponds with a sign so that the first house has a proclivity for the first sign, Aries. Each house also has a title and basis of interpretation. For instance, the 11th house (with sign Aquarius) is often titled the House of Friendships and relates to friends, groups, and aspirations.

Putting too much stock in star signs can sometimes lead to funny misunderstandings, as in the case of freshman Adnan Askari. “You know what’s really funny? My mom always thought I was a Taurus, so she was like “Oh, typical,” whenever I do something. I looked it up … and it turns out I’m Gemini or something!” Askari said.

I think daily horoscopes can be fun as a weird little thing that you do to predict how your day is going to be, but I don’t think daily horoscopes mean anything.”

— senior Olivia Fitch

Signs have corresponding symbols, elements, and qualities. Elements can be masculine (fire and air) or feminine (earth and water) and relate to introversion, extroversion, and methods of problem-solving. The qualities are cardinal, fixed, and mutable and relate to how people engage with the world. Each quality grouping has four signs, one of each element.

Most of the horoscopes seen in popular culture are based on sun signs, or the position of the sun at the time of birth. These are taken with varying degrees of seriousness.

“I think daily horoscopes can be fun as a weird little thing that you do to predict how your day is going to be, but I don’t think daily horoscopes mean anything,” senior Olivia Fitch said.

Zodiac signs go much more in depth than the average person may be aware of. For instance, most people know what animal sign they are based on the year they were born in the Chinese zodiac. This cycle of animals–rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig–repeats every 12 years, and the order is based off a story about the animals having a race.

“I’m a dragon,” freshman Ben Konstan said. Although he knows what animal year he was born in, he doesn’t put any stock in it defining his life. “When you’re born has nothing to do with who you are,” he added.
Zodiac animals don’t just correspond to years. Animal signs can also be based in month, day, and hour, called inner animals, true animals, and secret animals respectively. These animals don’t necessarily have to match up; someone could be a different animal for each. The animal sign assigned by year just represents how people appear outwardly or how they present themselves.

“In the grand realm of astrology, your sun sign, moon sign, rising sign–all the signs on your chart- relate to where the planets were when you were born. There’s all kinds of planetary alignment that goes into this interpretation,” Fitch said. “So if you’re just reading about your sun sign, the major one, like Pisces, for example, if you’re just reading what’s happening that one day with for one planet, it doesn’t mean much.”