The Akkadians and Sumerians of Mesopotamia (Babylonia) were the originators of the Zodiac signs which consisted of the original Taurus the bull, Cancer the crab, Virgo the moon goddess, Scorpio the scorpion, Capricorn the goat-man, and Pisces the fisherman.
Added to the originals were Aries the ram, Gemini the twins, Leo the lion, Libra the scales and Sagittarius the archer.
Much later, Aquarius the water bearer was added to complete the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
The Zodiac signs slowly evolved from 1300 BCE to 500 BCE.
The Babylonians used the signs mainly for marking the seasons. Later they employed the zodiacal system for locating the position of the planets and the moon in the sky.
The Greeks borrowed the zodiacal system from the Babylonians for astronomical and astrological reasons. It must be noted though that the animals in the Zodiac are Greek in origin and it was said that these animals were honored by Zeus himself.
The Greek Zodiac signs are composed of part animals and part humans. On the other hand, the Chinese Zodiac signs are represented by twelve animals.
Presently, both Zodiacs are used with the Greek Zodiac representing certain days of the year whereas the Chinese Zodiac representing a year on a 12-year cycle.
Aries is a fire sign and those born under this sign are deemed to be active, outgoing and generally adventurous. Its zodiac symbol is represented with a Ram. The Ram is associated with force, power, energy, drive, protection, virility, and fearlessness. In Greek mythology, in order to escape Ino, the ram carried Phrixux and Helle to the city of Colchis. Upon reaching the Colchis, Phrixux offered the ram as sacrificed and hung its fleece in Ares. The fleece turned to gold and it was the same fleece that Jason and the Argonauts sought.
Taurus is the second Zodiac sign. The Babylonian constellation represented by the Bull with Earth as its element and the ruling planet is Venus. In Greek mythology, Zeus turned into a bull to carry off the King of Crete’s daughter Europa. In Celtic animal symbolism, the bull is a representation of brute physical strength and symbolizes virility and fertility. In Chinese symbolism, the bull (ox) is symbolic of determination and perseverance.
Gemini is an air element with Mercury as the ruling planet. According to Greek mythology, the sign is represented by twin brothers Castor and Pollux, brothers of Helen of Troy. They were the protectors of sailors and ships. The Twins represent seeking new experiences and knowledge. They are multi-faceted beings who prefer to be “jack-of-all-trades” as variety is what they seek. The Geminis are known to be loquacious and in their professional lives have the talent for giving talks and speeches and are usually talented and good writers.
Cancer is the fourth of the Zodiac signs. It is a water sign and ruled by the Moon. In Greek mythology, Hera sent a crab to fight and defeat Hercules while he was fighting with Hydra. In Chinese symbolism, the crab signifies high social status and prosperity. It represents trust, cycles, emotion, regeneration, protection and transformation.
The fifth Zodiac sign, Leo is a fire element and ruled by the Sun. In Egyptian mythology, the Lion represents the “life-giving flood” since the constellation has the Sun during the heavy rain season. In Greek mythology, the Lion is a representation of the Nemean Lion that Hercules killed. The sign represents power, exuberance, and expanse.
The sixth of the Zodiac signs is Virgo, the Virgin. The Goddess of harvest symbol represents Isis, Demeter, Cybele, Ishtar, and Athena. Persephone, the queen of the underworld is also represented by Virgo. The element is water and it is ruled by the planet Mercury who is a messenger of the gods and goddesses of Olympus.
Libra is an air element, ruled by the planet Venus. Represented by Scales, it is the only non-living Zodiac sign. In Greek mythology, the scale held by Astraea, the goddess of innocence, is Libra. It is said that the scale is made of Scorpion claws chopped by the Romans during the autumn equinox. Libra signifies justice, balance, stability, and equanimity.
Scorpio is the eighth Zodiac sign. This is a water element where Pluto is the ruling planet. In Greek mythology, Gaia, the goddess of the Earth, sent a scorpion to kill Orion when the latter’s vowed to kill every animal on Earth. Perhaps this is why Scorpio and Orion are at the opposite sides of the night sky. The Scorpion sign has been associated with the transition, control, sex, solitary, passion, treachery, protection and defensiveness.
The ninth Zodiac sign, Sagittarius is a fire element where Jupiter is the ruling planet. The symbol of Sagittarius is the Centaur – a mythical creature that is half human and half horse. According to Greek mythology, Centaur was Chiron the son of Saturn who was famous for his medicinal skills, as well as general scientific knowledge. Chiron was instructing Achilles on how to defeat the Hydra. Accidentally he was poisoned by the Hydra’s blood and, as immortal, translated to the sky to represent the constellation of the Archer.
Capricorn is an earth element that is ruled by Saturn. According to one Greek myth, Amaltheia, a goat nymph, is said to have raised the infant Zeus, in a cave on Mount Ida on the island of Crete, after he was saved by his mother, Rhea, from being devoured by his father, Cronus. As a reward for her good deed, Amaltheia is said to have been placed amongst the stars as the constellation Capricorn by Zeus, who grew up to be king of all Greek gods. The symbol is associated with courage, curiosity, faith, sturdiness, and virility.
Aquarius represented by the water carrier or bearer is an air element and ruled by Uranus. According to Greek mythology, Zeus captured Ganymede transformed as a giant eagle and brought him to the Mount of Olympus. Ganymede was forced to be a cupbearer in service of Zeus. After some time, Ganymede couldn’t take it any more and decided to pour out all the wine from mount Olympus down to earth. This caused heavy rains and floods that threatened the entire world. Zeus, realizing that he was unfair to the boy, decided to make Ganymede immortal, securing a place in the Southern sky in the form of the constellation of Aquarius.