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Zodiac signs are a belief that particular time periods like twelve months of the year or the cycles of the moon have special value and can be used for the prediction of life and fortunes of a person who is born in the time period of that sign. Astrologists are those people who study the signs and they usually do it for several years for having an insight of the meanings behind the zodiac.

During ancient times even before the human race started in villages and before writing was invented, the ability to predict the passage of the moon, sun and other objects in the sky was mainly useful because the only way was memorizing the positions of the stars and planets in relation to the moon for predicting the changing of seasons, determining their path and position and appeasing the gods who were constantly inconsistent against each other and sometimes against people.

The stars and planets are seen in modern times as celestial objects having mass and their own orbits rather than gods. However, the value of the ancient's observations should not be discounted as they were the ones who made the first calculations and calendars that are still in use today for tracking movements of outer space objects. The need for predicting other celestial objects like comets helped in base for the modern astronomy.

As early as around 6000-7000 years back, the Mesopotamian priests of the summer valley used to track the movements of the Venus, moon and the sun in relation with the stars as they appeared during the year. The moon, Venus and soon were considered as gods and their path in the space was used for indicating the changing seasons, the winter and the summer solstices. The pattern of the stars were not of extreme importance, however the events like shooting stars were considered as a sign of good luck or as a sign of impending doom depending on the priest's reading at that time.

The passage of the sun was used by the Indian astronomers in Vedic times for understanding the changing of seasons and the sun was identified with Vishnu who was said to have three aspects, the bull, the lion and the ram. They were coincidently the symbols that continued into the shifting political scenery of India and Near East during the reign of Alexander the Great.

The ancient Egyptians were the first to identify signs relating to the individual in the stars passage of the moon, sun and other outer space objects. According to the records, the astrologers as early as 2750 BC wrote horoscopes for prominent people of Egyptian society. However, they were not based on zodiac signs hence they are not direct ancestors of the horoscope readings of today.

During the 1300 BC or perhaps earlier, the Assyrian people in the Near East started gaining power and control of the region and conquered most of their neighboring territories. They noticed that the more they travelled further away from home, the stars remained always the same, perhaps a bit lower or higher in the space but were essentially the same. This led to the development of constellations, this was an act that made more precise calendars. Some symbols for their constellation were borrowed by them from their own religion and from the legends of the conquered people.

The Assyrians originally had eighteen constellations but reduced to only twelve by the time of Alexander the Great. The knowledge of the Babylonian constellations was brought back by the Greek warriors to the ancient Greece whose priests found them as a superb addition to their existing knowledge of gods. The constellations of Babylonian zodiac were twelve - Aquarius, Capricornus, Pisces, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpio, Leo, Spica, Praesepe, Pleiades, Gemini and Aries.

The Greek astrologers changed the names of Capricornus, Spica, Praesepe and Pleiades to Capricorn, Virgo, Taurus and Cancer. These names have stayed till today. Every constellation was assigned to a god or hero has a special importance related to each zodiac sign depending on the magic or strengths of the sake of its name.

The birth of a person had enormous importance for Greeks. With the new constellations, the strengths of person at birth was now possible to determine, this would perhaps prepare their parents it was hoped that the individual would be aware of the challenges ahead by knowing which god or hero would be their protector. The Greeks later started believing that a person's life was already ordained and the knowledge of horoscopes could help in predicting every major event.

The modern astrology revived mostly from the writings of Ptolomy who was a Greek astronomer and mathematician. We don't know any relation of it to the Egyptian pharoahs of the same name. However he was the head librarian at the Alexandria's great library and has access to every writings of the civilized world on the passage of the outer space objects. The Tetrabiblos was his fourth volume work on astrology which explained every detail about the astronomy known to the ancient Greeks.

The succeeding Arabic and Roman knowledge of astronomy directly came from the writings of Ptolemy. The Romans were not too much interested in astronomy than the medieval people and the Greeks, they tended to disagree that a person's life was already ordained and they instead preferred to place their fate in the hands of gods and their own actions.

When the Roman Empire fell, the medieval society reverted to local folklore and the astrology was lost to the western society until later Ptolomy's writings were rediscovered by the Arab world around the turn of the first millennium. From the times of Greek into the renaissance period, astrology was mostly unchanged despite disappearing from daily use for several hundred years. Astrology was rejected by puritan and protestant Christians and was termed as un-Christian. However in Catholic parts of Europe, the zodiac signs and horoscopes were regularly identified with the power of the saints.

Astrology found new converts in the 20th century in the western world, particularly in the US where people sought more meaning of life as a traditional community around the local church was disappearing. People investigating other faiths like buddhism, kaballah, wicca and other mysterious traditions easily adopted astrology. Astrology was found to have great synergy among many tarot readers and have been helpful in keeping the ancient art of astrology alive in the 21st century.

I always feel excited writing about history and topics like history of zodiac signs and also who discovered the constellations.

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