The development of the zodiac in Western astrology

Oct 6, 2020

Zodiac   1440 x 1080

The Perth Mint has issued this spectacular 2020 5oz silver coloured antiqued coin celebrating the Signs of the Zodiac.

The coin’s reverse portrays the signs of the zodiac in colour. With its name derived from Greek or Roman mythology, each sign represents one of 12 constellations central to Western astrology.

Early civilisations believed that the stars, Sun, Moon and planets had an influence on earthly affairs. Observing the night sky over the course of a year, the Babylonians identified 12 different patterns of stars through which the Sun appeared to travel. The roots of astrology lay in the idea that an individual’s character and fate was somehow linked to the arrangement of these celestial bodies at the time of their birth.

The respected Greek astronomer Ptolemy gave the concept scientific respectability in the 2nd century AD when he codified many pre-existing astrological beliefs. He described the zodiac (meaning ‘circle of little animals’) as comprising the 12 constellations, matching them with the month of their apparent ascendancy:

  • Aries – the ram (March 21 – April 19)
  • Taurus – the bull (April 20 – May 20)
  • Gemini – the twins (May 21 – June 20)
  • Cancer – the crab (June 21 – July 22)
  • Leo – the lion (July 23 – August 22)
  • Virgo – the maiden (August 23 – September 22)
  • Libra – the scales (September 23 – October 22)
  • Scorpio – the scorpion (October 23 – November 21)
  • Sagittarius – the centaur (November 22 – December 21)
  • Capricorn – the goat (December 22 – January 19)
  • Aquarius – the water bearer (January 20 – February 18)
  • Pisces – the fish (February 19 – March 20)

To Ptolemy, this ever-changing movement of the stars and planets created atmospheres to which Earth’s inhabitants were sensitive, an idea which continues to resonate with many people to this day.

Closely associated with the signs of the zodiac, a horoscope (derived from the Greek words ōra and scopos meaning ‘time’ and ‘observer’) is a chart of the heavens at a precise point in time – such as someone’s birthdate.

Astrology interprets the meaning of the chart to explain aspects of the individual’s personality and predict future events.

Subject to an extremely limited mintage, no more than 388 of these Signs of the Zodiac coins will be released.

(Purchase limit of two coins per customer).