The Word Foundation

The history of life and death and the promise of immortality is written in the Zodiac. One who would read it must study the unborn life and follow its development through the ambitions and aspirations while traveling through this world.

THE

WORD

Vol. 3 APRIL, 1906. No. 1

Copyright, 1906, by H. W. PERCIVAL.

THE ZODIAC.

BEFORE our historical period, wise men read the history of the creation of all things in the zodiac, as it was there unrolled and recorded by time—that most implacable and impartial of historians.

Through many and repeated experiences on the wheel of rebirth in this world, men became wise; they knew that the body of man was a duplicate in miniature of the great universe; they read the history of universal creation as it was re-enacted in the genesis of each human being; they learned that the zodiac in the heavens could only be understood and interpreted by the light of the zodiac in the body; they learned that the human soul comes from the unknown and slumbers and dreams itself into the known; and that it must awake and pass consciously into infinite Consciousness if it would complete the path of the zodiac.

Zodiac means “a circle of animals,” or “a circle of lives.” The zodiac is said by astronomy to be an imaginary belt, zone, or circle of the heavens, divided into twelve constellations or signs. Each constellation or sign is of thirty degrees, the twelve together making the entire circle of three hundred and sixty degrees. Within this circle or zodiac are the paths of the sun, moon, and planets. The constellations are named Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. The symbols of these constellations are ♈︎ ♉︎, ♊︎, ♋︎, ♌︎, ♍︎, ♎︎, ♏︎, ♐︎, ♑︎, ♒︎, ♓︎. The zodiac or circle of constellations is said to extend about eight degrees on each side of the equator. The northern signs are (or rather were 2,100 years ago) ♈︎ ♉︎, ♊︎, ♋︎, ♌︎, ♍︎. The southern signs are ♎︎, ♏︎, ♐︎, ♑︎, ♒︎, ♓︎.

To have been kept in the minds of the people, and handed down to us from them by tradition, the zodiac must have had a practical bearing on their life. The zodiac was the guide of all primitive peoples. It was their calendar of life—the only calendar to guide them in their agricultural and other economic pursuits. As each of the twelve constellations of the zodiac in turn appeared at a certain part in the heavens, they knew it to be the sign of a particular season and they governed their actions and attended to the occupations and duties made necessary by the season.

The motives and ideals of modern life are so different from those of the ancients that it is difficult for the man of to-day to appreciate the industrial and professional occupations, the home, and the religious life of ancient peoples. The reading of history and mythology will show the keen interest which the people of early periods took in all natural phenomena, and especially the phenomena of the heavens. Aside from its physical meaning, there are many meanings to be taken from every myth and symbol. The significance of a few of the constellations have been given in books. These editorials will endeavor to point out several of the different meanings of the zodiac—as it is related to man. The following application may be found scattered through the works of those who have written on the subject.

When the sun passed the vernal equinox, men knew that it was the beginning of spring. They called that constellation the first, and named it “Aries,” the ram, because it was the season of lambs or rams.

The constellations which followed, and within which the sun completed his journey, were numbered and named consecutively.

When the sun passed into the second constellation, they knew it to be time to plough the ground, which they did with oxen, and as that was the month when calves were born, they named the constellation “Taurus,” the bull.

As the sun rose higher the season grew warmer; the birds and animals had mated; the minds of young people naturally turned to thoughts of love; lovers became sentimental, composed verses and walked arm in arm through green fields and among spring flowers; and so the third constellation was called “Gemini,” the twins, or lovers.

The days grew longer as the sun continued to rise higher in the heavens, until he had reached the highest point in his journey, when he crossed the summer solstice and entered the fourth constellation or sign of the zodiac, after which the days decreased in length as the sun began his backward course. Owing to the oblique and retrograde motion of the sun, the sign was called “Cancer,” the crab, or lobster, so called because the oblique retrograde motion of the crab described the motion of the sun after he had passed into that sign.

The heat of summer increased as the sun continued his journey through the fifth sign or constellation. The streams in the forests were often dried up and wild beasts frequently entered villages for water and in search of prey. This sign was called “Leo,” the lion, as the lion’s roar was often heard at night, and also because the ferocity and strength of the lion resembled the heat and power of the sun at this season.

The summer was well advanced when the sun was in the sixth sign or constellation. Then the corn and the wheat began to ripen in the fields, and as it was customary for girls to gather the sheaves, the sixth sign or constellation was called “Virgo,” the virgin.

Summer was now drawing to a close, and when the sun crossed the line at the autumnal equinox, there was a perfect balance between the days and nights. This sign, therefore, was called “Libra,” the scales, or balances.

At about the time the sun had entered the eighth constellation, the frosts seemed to bite and cause vegetation to die and decay, and, with the poisonous winds from some localities, would spread diseases; so the eighth sign was called “Scorpio,” the asp, dragon, or scorpion.

The trees were now denuded of their leaves and vegetable life had gone. Then, as the sun entered the ninth constellation, the hunting season began, and this sign was called “Sagittarius,” the archer, centaur, bow and arrow, or arrow.

At the time of the winter solstice the sun entered the tenth constellation and announced that he had reached the lowest point in his great journey, and, after three days, the days began to get longer. The sun then began his northern journey in an obliquely forward motion, and the tenth sign was called “Capricorn,” the goat, because while feeding goats continually ascended the mountains in an oblique direction, which best symbolized the obliquely forward motion of the sun.

When the sun had passed into the eleventh constellation, there usually came heavy rains and a great thaw, the snows melted and often caused dangerous freshets, so the eleventh sign was called “Aquarius,” the water-man, or sign of water.

With the passage of the sun into the twelfth constellation, the ice in the rivers began to break up. The fish season began, and so the twelfth sign of the zodiac was called “Pisces,” the fishes.

So the zodiac of twelve signs or constellations was handed down from generation to generation, each sign appearing to take the place before it in every period of 2,155 years. This change was due to the sun’s falling back a few seconds in every year of 365 1-4 days, which period was required for him to pass through all the twelve signs, and which continual falling back caused him in 25,868 years to appear in any sign that he had been in 25,868 years before. This great period—called a sidereal year—is due to the precession of the equinoxes, when the pole of the equator has revolved once around the pole of the ecliptic.

But although each sign appeared to change its position for the one before it in every 2,155 years, the same idea of each of the signs above mentioned would be maintained. Races living in the tropics would have signs suited to their seasons, but among every people the same ideas would prevail. We see this in our own times. The sun has been in pisces over 2,155 years, a mesianic cycle, and is now passing into aquarius, but we still speak of aries as the sign of the vernal equinox.

This is the material physical basis for the signs of the zodiac being named as they are. It is not as strange as it may at first seem that the same ideas concerning the zodiac should prevail among widely separated peoples and through all periods, because it was the course of nature and, as already shown, the zodiac served as a calendar to guide the people in their pursuits, even as it now serves to guide us in the making of our calendars. But there are many other reasons for thus preserving the same ideas among different races, about the constellations, which may appear to some as a fanciful collection of meaningless signs and symbols.

From the earliest ages, there have been a few wise men who attained to divine knowledge, and wisdom, and power, by a method and process not ordinarily known or easily followed. These divine men, drawn from every nation and from every race, united into a common brotherhood; the object of the brotherhood is to work for the interests of their human brothers. These are the “Masters,” “Mahatmas,” or “Elder Brothers,” of whom Madame Blavatsky speaks in her “Secret Doctrine,” and from whom, it is claimed by her, she received the teachings contained in that remarkable book. This brotherhood of wise men were unknown to the world at large. They selected from every race, as their disciples, such as were physically, mentally and morally fitted to receive instruction.

Knowing what the people of any period are capable of understanding, this brotherhood of wise men permitted their disciples—as messengers and teachers of the people to whom they had been sent—to give to the people such explanations of the zodiac as would serve the double purpose of answering to their needs and at the same time preserving the names and symbols of the signs. The occult and inner teaching was reserved for the few who were ready to receive it.

The value to the people of preserving the knowledge of the signs of the zodiac through all phases of racial development lies in the fact that each sign is not only assigned to and corresponds with a part of the human body, but because the constellations, as groups of stars, are actual occult centers in the body; because these constellations are similar in appearance and function. Further, it was necessary to preserve the knowledge of the zodiac in the minds of the people because all must in the course of development become aware of these truths, that each, when ready, would find the aid needed and at hand in the zodiac.

Let us now compare the animals or objects and the symbols of the zodiac, with the physiological parts of the body to which the signs and symbols are assigned.

Aries, the ram, was the animal assigned to the head because that animal is made conspicuous by the use of its head; because the sign of the ram’s horns, which is the symbolical sign of aries, is the figure formed by the nose and eyebrows on every human face; and because the symbol of aries stands for the half circles or hemispheres of the brain, held together by a perpendicular line, or, a perpendicular line dividing from above and curving downward, thereby signifying that the forces in the body rise by way of the pons and medulla oblongata to the skull and return to rejuvenate the body.

The bull was assigned to the neck and throat because of the great strength of that animal in its neck; because the creative energy is closely connected with the throat, because the two horns of the bull symbolize the downward and upward paths and the two currents in the body, as they descend from and ascend to the head, through the neck.

The twins, or lovers, represented so differently by the different almanacs and calendars, always preserved the idea of two opposites, the positive and negative which, though each distinct in itself, were both still an inseparable and united pair. This was assigned to the arms because, when folded, the arms and shoulders formed the symbol gemini, ♊︎; because lovers would place their arms around each other; and because the right and left arms and hands are the two most powerful positive and negative magnetic poles in the body as well as being the organs of action and execution.

The crab, or lobster, was chosen to represent the breast and thorax because that part of the body contains the lungs which has the downward and forward motion of the crab; because the legs of the crab best symbolized the ribs of the thorax; and because cancer, ♋︎, as a symbol indicated the two breasts and their two streams, and also their emotional and magnetic currents.

The lion was taken as the representative of the heart because this was the animal universally chosen to represent courage, strength, valor and other qualities always relegated to the heart; and because the symbol of leo, ♌︎, is outlined on the body by the sternum with the right and left ribs on either side, in front of the heart.

Because of the conservative and reproductive nature of woman, virgo, the virgin was chosen to represent that part of the body; to preserve the seeds of life; and because the symbol of virgo, ♍︎, is also the symbol of the generative matrix.

Libra, ♎︎, the scales or balances, was selected to show the division of the trunk of the body; to distinguish between each body as being either feminine or masculine, and to symbolize by virgo and scorpio both of the organs of the sexes.

Scorpio, ♏︎, the scorpion or asp, represents the masculine sign as a power and a symbol.

The signs sagittary, capricorn, aquarius, pisces, which stand for the thighs, knees, legs, and feet, as such, do not represent the circular or occult zodiac which it is our intention to deal with. It will therefore be left to a subsequent editorial where it will be shown how the zodiac is that universal design by which universal powers and principles operate and how by the action of which these principles are transferred to the body, and to the building of the new body or embryo of man, physical as well as spiritual.