Zodiac and its Origins

Did you know that 90% of people know their Zodiac sign? Even if they don’t find anything especially useful from that information, they still know their sign and usually the “short answer” as to the attributes of their sign. That speaks to the power and popularity of the zodiac.

When Did the Zodiac Wheel Come About?

Research has shown that early cave dwellers recorded changes in the night sky, and that lunar cycles were noted as early as 25,000 years ago.


The oldest known astrological references were found in the Mesopotamian area (present-day Iraq). The Babylonians, who lived over 4,000 years ago, appear to have been the first to map out the constellations and fixed stars. Because of their discoveries, they also were the first to follow a 12-month calendar year. They associated each month with a different zodiac sign derived from the shape of the constellations and associated them with their gods.

Interestingly, it was the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, Hammurabi, that assigned a fixed set of rules, based on astrology, as a system for societal law-making.


While the Babylonians were deepening their connection to the stars, other countries were also charting the skies. In China, they made note of eclipses as predictors of good (or bad) fortune for the Emperor and continued to develop their system further to allow for predictions not based just on the sun or moon. Even Confucious held astrology in high regard!


It was after Alexander the Great occupied Egypt where we find the zodiac as we know it today. It was a mixture of Babylonian astrology with the Egyptian Decanic astrology that created Horoscopic astrology.

The astronomer Ptolemy is credited with creating Tetrabiblios which became the basis of Western astrology tradition. It also became one of the first astrological texts to be introduced to Medieval Europe. Ptolemy’s tome solidified the 12 zodiac signs. He codified that each zodiac sign was 30° wide and ascertained that the sun moved through these signs regularly throughout the year. The Greeks based the first day of spring when the sun appeared in the constellation Aries and marked other changes around the celestial year.

Fun fact: did you know that the word “zodiac” is Grecian and means “sculpted animal figure?” Impress your friends with that tidbit of information.


India developed Jyotish, which is a Hindu and Indian astrology, now referred to as Vedic astrology. It came about with the blending of Indian and Hellenistic cultures. The first Jyotish treatise, called the Bhrigu Samhita, was written by the Hindu sage, Bhrigu. He is considered the “Father of Hindu Astrology.”

Medieval Europe

Western astrology became fragmented due to its unpopularity with the Church. However, by the 13th century, it became part of everyday medicine in Europe, in ways such as consulting the position of the moon to determine the best days for surgeries, etc.

Shortly thereafter, attaining a university education required knowledge of the seven arts and sciences. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic were called the trivium, while arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy were called the quadrivium.

Astrology also crept its way into works of literature at that time. The Divine Comedy, written by Dante, includes planetary associations. Geoffrey Chaucer often worked astrology into his works, as did Sir William Shakespeare.

North America

After renewed fascination with mysticism and spirituality in England during the late 1800s, the US took note. By the 1920s, magazines and newspapers began publishing daily horoscopes. Esteemed psychologists (e.g., Carl Jung) and early movie stars (Enrico Caruso, Mary Pickford, etc.) promoted the zodiac’s accuracy.

The 1960s brought the “Age of Aquarius” to the forefront. It is commonly referred to as the time when humanity expands its consciousness and mental enlightenment occurs. We are going through another “Age of Aquarius” which began on the vernal equinox this year, March 20, 2021.

The zodiac holds many mysteries and the key to discovering more about yourself and the world. Now you know how it all began!