On either side of the ecliptic or Sun's path are a number of fixed stars which form twelve groups or constellations, that are called 'signs of the Zodiac,' not because they resemble the animals they are supposed to represent, but because their influence has developed, or is still engaged in bringing out in us the main characteristics embodied in the animal symbol. The bombastic arrogance, the energy and courage which come from Aries could not be better symbolized than by the Ram, neither could the quiet, but prodigious strength and the stubborn persistence which come from the divine Hierarchs who work with us from the constellation Taurus be more aptly described than by the symbolic 'Bull.'
The characteristics of he other signs must be interpreted in similar terms, for the Zodiac is the womb of the solar system; and sometime when we and the myriads of other beings who are now evolving in our solar system have learned all the lessons of this phase of existence, we also shall form a zodiac and perform a similar service for others as the twelve Great Creative Hierarchies are now doing for us.
These twelve constellations are called the 'natural' Zodiac; they remain always in the same relative positions, at least their movement is so slight that centuries elapse without appreciable change in their position. Hence we may use a table of houses our whole life, but we must buy an ephemeris of the planets' places every year.
Every year on the 21st of March the Sun leaves the Southern Hemisphere, crosses the celestial equator, and enters the Northern degrees of latitude where he remains during the summer. But owing to a vibratory motion of the poles of the earth, called 'nutation' by astronomers, the Sun crosses the celestial equator a little earlier (precedes) than it did the year before, and as day and night are of equal length at the point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator or equinoctial, this precedent crossing is called 'the precession of the Equinox.'
If there were no precession of the equinox the Sun would always enter the constellation Aries at the vernal equinox, but on account of this backward motion of one degree in about seventy-two years, the vernal equinox occurs in the first degree of Pisces about 2156 years later. After a similar period of time it recedes to the first degree of Aquarius, and so on through the circle of the twelve signs in about 25,868 years. At the time when the Sun was in Taurus, the sign of the 'Bull,' at the vernal equinox, the ancient Egyptians worshiped the sacred 'Bull Apis' and their priests wore the Uraeus or Serpent Symbol belonging to Scorpio, the serpent sign opposite Taurus, to indicate their possession of the esoteric wisdom. When the Sun went into Aries by precession it became idolatry for 'the chosen people' to worship the 'Bull,' or golden calf; they left 'Egypt' and pinned their faith to the 'lamb' or 'ram' which was then 'slain'. But according to the esoteric symbol of Libra, the scales of justice, which is opposite Aries, he shall come again as judge.
In A.D. 498 the Sun was in the first degree of Aries at the equinox, and in the 1418 years which have since elapsed it has receded nineteen degrees, forty-two minutes, so that in 1916 the Sun crosses the equator in ten degrees, eighteen minutes of Pisces, and in the year 2654 it will be on the cusp of Aquarius.
During the 2000 years which have elapsed since the equinox came within orb of Pisces, the fishes, the religious rites have required that the people anoint themselves with the Piscean water at the door of the church, the Service was performed by a priest whose headgear was made to resemble the head of a fish, and they were commanded to abstain from the eating of meat at certain times, and bade eat fish instead. They were also taught to worship an immaculate virgin because Virgo is the sign opposite Pisces; and this worship will continue, though in a decreasing degree until the new ideal embodied in the sign Aquarius and its opposite sign Leo has superseded orthodox Christianity as that has taken the place of the earlier religions.
Since the middle of last century the Aquarian influence, focused by the equinox, has made itself felt because the Sun's orb is so large that it touches the cusp of Aquarius, and as a consequence we have had an unprecedented awakening of thought and a galaxy of inventions previously undreamed of as remotest possibilities. But as the years go on, the equinoctial Sun will illuminate our minds in such a manner as to justify our grandchildren in speaking of this as "the dark age"; and when, in the year 2654, the Sun's actual entrance into Aquarius ushers in a new age, they will be justified in thinking of the Piscean age as we do of the time B.C.
We see then, that there is a natural zodiac composed of the stationary star clusters, Aries, Taurus, etc., and a shifting Zodiac, which starts at the equinoctial point, no matter where in the constellations that occurs; and the first thirty degrees from that point are called Aries, the next thirty degrees are called Taurus, and so on. This is the intellectual zodiac.
This may seem an arbitrary manner of division but it is a matter of observation that though the equinox actually occurs in Pisces ten degrees at the present time, the Spring activities ascribed to the Sun in Aries commence at once after the equinox. There is, however, a blending of Aries and Pisces which accounts for certain evolutionary changes.