Looking for your astrology forecast? East Asian fortune tellers will build your horoscope by first asking you for your year of birth. This is because the Chinese zodiac (shengxiao), and the other Asian zodiacs derived from it, are governed by yearly cycles of the 12 zodiac animals. Each year in the repeating 12-year zodiac cycle is directed by one of these zodiac animals, each with its own reputed attributes. In the Asian zodiac, your birth year is paired with one of these 12 animals. The belief is that this determines your personality traits and compatibility in love.
These 12 animals are:
So how did this horoscope system originate?
Origins of Chinese Zodiac
A well-known myth tells of the Jade Emperor (or God or Buddha in other versions) who sponsored a race which required the crossing of a river. The various animals used cunning, their physical abilities, and luck to cross the river. The Rat finished first and the Pig finished 12th, thus creating the list and order for these 12 zodiac animals.
But astrology, from the very nature of the word itself (astro = star, ology = study of), concerns the study of stars and any way they may affect our lives. Astrology cannot originate from these 12 animals since they do not involve any stars. So what was the original astrology?
Two pioneering Chinese astrologers, Gan De and Shi Shen, living in the 4th century BCE, recorded accurately the motion of the planet Jupiter, which takes 12 years to revolve around the sun. Historians believe that this forms the historical reason for the 12 animals rotating through 12 years (wiki). The ancient Chinese knew Jupiter as the “Suì Star” (Suìxīng 歲星) and established their cycle of 12 based on the years it takes Jupiter to revolve around the Sun. The Chinese language still uses its name (simplified as 歲) when referring to years of age.
Long before these founding astrologers established their 12-year zodiac system by grafting Jupiter into it, another 12 sign astrology already existed.
From Bootes to Babylonian Astrology
Jupiter was associated with the star constellation Boötes (Sheti 摄提; 攝提-) long before these astrologers lived. Boötes, meaning ‘herdsman’, forms the constellation image of a victorious man with a spear in one hand and a sickle in the other. The star Arcturus, the most prominent star In Bootes, is called Da Jiao (Chinese: 大角; pinyin: Dàjiǎo; lit. ‘great horn’), because of its brightness.
Bootes and its prominent star, Arcturus, have been paired since ancient times with the constellation Virgo and its prominent star Spica.
Virgo and Bootes, with their stars Spica and Arcturus, form the central pillar of the astrology system from ancient Babylon. This Babylonian astrology then spread to all civilizations. So it seems that from Babylon, the cradle of all civilizations, a system of astrology went out to all nations, including in East Asia.
Babylonian astrology was the first known organized system of astrology, arising in the second millennium BC. (ref)wikipedia on Babylonian astrology
In China and the nations of East Asia, astrology became focused on Jupiter. This then resulted in the 12 year cycle of the 12 zodiac animals. But it came from that system passed on from ancient Babylon.
The Babylonian family of constellations also has 12 prominent and well-known constellations: Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo. But though Babylon passed this system on, it did not conceive it.
From Babylon to the Oldest Written Source
Probably the oldest book in existence today, written over 4000 years ago, is Job. Job is one of the books in the ancient Hebrew Bible. Job states that the Creator God made the star constellations.
He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,Job 9:9
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
So does Amos, another ancient prophet of the Hebrew Bible.
He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
Amos 5:8 (700 BCE)
The Pleiades are stars that make up part of the Taurus constellation. If Job speaks of them in a book more than 4000 years old, the zodiac constellations have been with us a very long time.
The Jewish historian Josephus (37 – 100 CE), writing about the first Man, whom the Bible called Adam, stated about him and his immediate children:
69 …They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies, and their order.The Antiquities of the Jews 1:69
So the study of the signs in the stars began with the very first humans! The children of Adam placed 12 signs in the stars as a memory aid to remember the Creator’s Great Story. This story undoubtedly affects you, showing how your destiny is fused into this cosmic story. This comes not by the year of your birth, but by the powers and purposes from the Creator Himself, which these 12 signs point to.
Zodiac from the Creator Himself
Long before prophetic messages were recorded in books, they were placed in the stars as images to tell the story of the Creator God’s plan. Thus the original zodiac was not to guide us to wealth, love, and good fortune depending on the time and place of our birth. Rather, the zodiac was a visual story to reveal the Creator’s plan.
We see this from the creation account at the beginning of the Hebrew Bible. During the creation period it says:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years…
Genesis 1: 14
Modern astrology claims to know about human affairs and events on earth based on the position of the stars at one’s birth. But it is not the stars that affect our lives. They are just signs marking events that the Creator planned – and He affects our lives.
Since the creation of the stars were to ‘mark sacred times’, the intent behind the constellations was for us to know His horoscope through the twelve Zodiac Signs. They form a Story in the Stars, and the study of this Story was the original astrology.
Thus the Plan of God, given through 12 pictures in the stars, remembered in the constellations of the Zodiac, was studied, told and retold in the centuries after the first humans.
We will also use the ancient zodiacs, over two thousand years old, that exist still in Egyptian Temples. The most famous are the zodiacs of the Dendera Temple and the Luxor Temple. They provide ancient evidence to guide us.
The Ancient Zodiac Story
This story written in the stars from the beginning of history extends an invitation to you. It invites you to participate in this cosmic plan of the Creator. But before we can participate in this Story we must understand it.
Where does the story begin? Today’s horoscope reading usually begins with Aries. But this was not so from ancient times, when it began with Virgo as we see in the ancient linear Egyptian Esna Zodiac.
We begin the Zodiac story with Virgo and then continue through Zodiac. Each Zodiac sign builds a chapter. Think of them as primeval signs that build on each other to form a Story. Here are the 12 Signs of the most ancient zodiac.
- 1. Virgo: Seed of the Virgin
- 2. Libra: Weighed in Heavenly Scales
- 3. Scorpio: The Cosmic Conflict
- 4. Sagittarius: Archer’s Final Victory
- 5. Capricorn: The Goat-Fish explained
- 6. Aquarius: Rivers of Living Water
- 7. Pisces: Multitudes in Passing Bondage
- 8. Aries: The Lamb Alive!
- 9.Taurus: The Coming Judge
- 10. Gemini: Royal Sons & Cosmic Bride
- 11. Cancer: Rising from the ashes of death
- 12. Leo: The Roaring Lion Comes to Rule