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Summary: The zodiac is an imaginary belt in the celestial sphere divided into twelve sections. The signs of the zodiac have come to be referred to as birth signs.

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By: Elaine Murray

The zodiac is an imaginary belt in the celestial sphere, extending about eight degrees on either side of the ecliptic (the apparent annual path of the sun among the stars.)

The width of the zodiac was determined originally, so as to include the orbits of the sun and moon, and the five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) that were known at the time.

The zodiac is divided into twelve, thirty-degree sections called the signs of the zodiac. Starting with the vernal equinox and proceeding eastward along the ecliptic, each of the divisions is named for the constellation situated within the limits. It is believed the naming occurred in the second century B.C..

The names of the zodiacal signs are:

  1. Aries - the Ram
  2. Taurus - the Bull
  3. Gemini - the Twins
  4. Cancer - the Crab
  5. Leo - the Lion
  6. Virgo - the Virgin
  7. Libra - the Balance
  8. Scorpio - the Scorpion
  9. Sagittarius - the Archer
  10. Capricornus - the Goat
  11. Aquarius - the Water Bearer
  12. Pisces - the Fishes
The zodiacal signs are believed by many authorities to have originated in Mesopotamia as early as 2000 B.C.. According to that theory, the Greeks adopted the symbols from the Babylonians and thereafter, the zodiac was passed on to the other ancient civilizations. The Egyptians assigned other names and symbols to the zodiacal divisions.

The Chinese also adopted the twelve-fold division, but called the signs respectively: rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, sheep, monkey, hen, dog, and pig.

The Aztec Indians devised a similar system - apparently developed independently.

Most of us are best acquainted with the zodiac when we read our horoscope in the daily newspaper. (See horoscope.) The zodiac and all it entails, has been with us for a very long time. Have you had your chart done lately?

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Elaine Murray

Elaine Murray, B.A., teaches spiritual development classes with an emphasis on meditation. She has been a student of metaphysics and parapsychology for over 20 years, culminating in the publishing of "A Layman's Guide to New Age & Spiritual Terms." To contact Elaine write em@newagefast.com.

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