What is Zodiac?

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What is Zodiac?
Zodiac refers to the ring of constellations that supposedly traces the path of the sun in a given year. This path is called the ecliptic and through which the Sun positions itself relative to the stars that surround it. It is through this circular path that astrologers have divided twelve equal parts to denote the twelve signs that we know as “zodiac signs”. It is said that the literal meaning of the word “zodiac” is “circle of life” or “circle of animals” which explains the supposed personality traits attributed to each zodiac sign, depending on the Sun’s position in the ecliptic.

The term zodiac is both used in astronomy and astrology. In astronomy, zodiac just refers to the ecliptic path taken by the Sun in a given year. In the field of astrology however, this particular path is given more meaning with the twelve signs that represent different types of personalities.

The use of the zodiac with the various star formations and constellations dates back to the time of Ptolemy in 2nd century AD. During that time, listings were already made regarding the formation of stars called constellations. By the Babylonian era, astronomers recorded the sun’s path and divided it into twelve equal zones with the starting point at the “Aries” constellation. Over time, the twelve signs of the zodiac were completed from Aries to Pisces representing different times or periods in a given year. This is also the main reason that zodiac signs are referred to as the “Sun” signs, because each sign represents the Sun’s location at a particular time of year. So when a person is said to be an “Aries”, this simply means that the Sun is located at the zodiac sign of Aries when that particular person is born.

But what is described above is the Western interpretation of the zodiac. In other cultures, particularly the Chinese, the zodiac represents twelve animals and are based on their beliefs, culture, and mythology. But rather than classifying the zodiac based on the Sun’s location on the ecliptic, the Chinese zodiac involves a cycle of animal signs that repeats every twelve years.

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