Beginner’s Corner By Sheridan Semple
Recently, a friend of mine asked me, “Why does the signs start with Aries?” A valid question that many people ponder. I thought, “Does it start with Aries?” Why do we think Aries is the first sign? Is it really the first sign? Is Pisces the last sign then?
I’m no expert in traditional astrology, but it is my understanding that we say Aries starts the zodiac because its hemisphere-ily biased. Aries is first because it rises due east and starts the year with the spring equinox. Does it do that in Sydney or Rio? Nope. Libra rises due east as well and signifies the spring equinox in the southern hemisphere. Should we say Libra is the first sign? Is the beginning of the zodiac hemisphere dependent?
Interestingly, one of the only points that astronomers and many astrologers agree upon is starting their coordinates at 0 degrees Aries. Does that mean Aries really is the first sign?
Aries is the sign of individuation, thus is the beginning of becoming something new. But, couldn’t Pisces be the start where we are within the unity again? What about Scorpio or Aquarius? Could going into the depths be the start or consciousness itself?
The zodiac is a wheel of pie-slices through the sky, that the Sun, Moon and planets travel through repeatedly. It’s a circle. Where is the start of that circle? Where is its ending? There really isn’t a beginning or end to a circle. It’s continuous, never beginning or ending. Or it starts and finishes everywhere.
In Shamanic Astrology, we often say the new year begins with Capricorn, at the December solstice. Is that the start of the zodiac? It is the seed point of winter in the northern hemisphere, like the new Moon of the yearly cycle. Does that make Cancer the start of the new year in the southern hemisphere? Wouldn’t the Cancer solstice be the seed point of the year in Argentina or New Zealand?
Does the zodiac begin at each equinox and solstice point? 4 starts, 4 ends? Are the cardinal or householder signs the start of the zodiac and the mutable or in service to spirit signs the end?
There is no beginning nor end. Each sign is a natural progression or growth out of the one that preceded it. You could look at each archetype as a reaction to the previous one as well. Aries is individuating from Pisces unity. Is unification the ending of the cycle or really the beginning? Cycles are well cyclical, always repeating and continuing. The zodiac is the same.
From Aries focus on individualization, Taurus steps us into the vehicle of that individuation, the body, sensing the vehicle we’re traveling within. Gemini comes next as we notice ourselves, our thoughts and start to communicate and cry out our needs. Cancer responds by nurturing those needs. Leo follows, as once our needs are met, we are free to discover our power and creative force. We become more than our body, voice and nourishment needs, we make stuff happen. Virgo lets us use that light we’ve discovered in Leo to serve and see, to bring it beyond ourselves. Libra reacts by needing to get personal, moving us into relationship. Scorpio responds to the highs and hurts that only relationship can offer. It brings us into the depths of our feelings. Sagittarius has had enough of spelunking and looks outside itself and wants to explore what’s out there. It wants up and out. Capricorn desires to bring that Sagittarian knowledge back to the ground. It teaches us how to work with the energies we’ve discovered and use them here. Aquarius reaches out and up again from practical uses into an exploration of consciousness itself. Next, Pisces takes that vast awareness and brings it into the heart again, surrendering to and merging with Spirit again. Next the need to separate and individuate arises again, leading to the sensation of the body we’ve individuated into once more. Now we have to express ourselves and so it continues, no end and no beginning.
Fire takes us to new creations. Earth grounds us in the experience of the new creations. Air helps us to perceive and express the experiences. And, water brings us into the feeling, the heart of it. The cycle continues endlessly.
So, my friend asks me, “Why does Aries begin the zodiac?” And, I ask, “Does it?” I think not. The zodiac isn’t linear. It’s a circle. There is no beginning and no end. It is an infinite progression, a cycle that continues eternally. In the words of Meggan Watterson, “There is no hierarchy in the spiritual world. There’s just this circle where the first becomes the last, and the last becomes the first” written in Mary Magdalene Revealed