Today is the day of the spring/vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and we enter the zodiac sign of Aries the Ram. This is of course also the day of the autumn/fall equinox in the southern hemisphere.
The word ‘zodiac’ comes from the Greek meaning ‘circle of animals.’ The only zodiac sign non-representative of a living creature is Libra, the sign of the scales, but even its scales are borrowed from the stars of Scorpio, the giant scorpion in the heavens next door.
Aries, heavenly sky Ram is a cardinal fire sign; the first sign of the western zodiac, the sign of spring in the northern hemisphere, and with it – lambing time.
Picture the star-ram lying or sitting head downwards. New life is ignited. The planetary ruler of Aries is Mars, the red planet of action, energy, enthusiasm, courage, passion, initiative- and war.
The real life ram is strong, brave, and at certain times of year, downright aggressive, charging headlong into the field, king of all he surveys. Ewes can be aggressive too if disturbed by strangers when they have new lambs to protect.
The sheep was among the first animals ever domesticated by humans around 11000 – 9000 BC (BCE). Once upon a time Aries marked the end of the main lambing season of wild sheep in Europe, 21 March – 20 April.
(The dog was the first domesticated species, and the only large carnivore to have been domesticated, possibly 15000 years ago -or earlier. The Bonn-Oberkassel dog found buried beside humans 14,200 years ago is to date the earliest undisputed dog, with disputed remains dated 36,000 years ago. )
The ancient Sumerians called the sun, ‘Subat’, meaning the ‘Ancient Sheep’ or Ram and the planets were the ‘Celestial Herd’. The Sumerians were one of the oldest known urban civilizations in what is now Southern Iraq, during the Neolithic-Bronze Age, 4500 BC to 1500 years BC.
In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was called ‘Lord of the Head’ – a reference to its symbolic significance, and it was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the spring (vernal) equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun.”
The position of Aries at the zenith at that time coincided with the rising of Sirius in the east and the flooding of the Nile. The Temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak bore the likeness of the supreme sun-god with the horns of a ram, while the road to Karnak was formed from the wings of two granite sphinxes bearing the head of Aries.
However, Aries was not fully recognized as a constellation until classical times about 1580 B.C. to 360 B.C. when the ancient Greeks oriented the construction of many of their sacred temples in relationship to Hamal – in Arabic ‘The Head of the Ram’ and the brightest star in the constellation.
In Hellenistic astrology the constellation of Aries was associated with the golden ram of Greek mythology.
The brother and sister Phrixus and Helle were the children of the Boeotian king Athamas and the cloud fairy, Nephele. But then she died, the king remarried, and his new wife, Ino, planned to kill Phrixus and Helle as a perceived threat to her own two later children by the king.
They were warned and fled, rescued by a flying golden ram sent by Hermes at the plea of Nephele, their dead mother watching in anguish from the other world.
Phrixus was seated on the ram, holding on to its horns, Hell behind him, clutching his waist, but Helle got tired and lost her grip. She plunged into the sea far below and was lost in the Dardanelles, known ever after as the Hellespont in her memory. Later, safely in Colchis, Phrixus (respectfully if rather ungratefully) sacrificed the Golden Ram, returning it to home to the gods, and presented its fleece as a gift to King Aeetes, who placed it on a tree in a grove under the guard of a dragon. This was the Hydra, whom Jason later killed in order to steal its fleece for its magical healing properties, on the orders of his uncle, the murdering usurper Pelias (who had no intention that Jason would return alive.)
Before we had CGI, we had Ray Harryhausen….
The Aries Archetype
All the zodiac signs represent archetypes, meaning something that is considered to be a perfect or typical example of a particular kind of person or thing.
A zodiac sign paint a poetic portrait of a person born at a particular time of year, in a particular season. A baby born in summer arrives into a different physical environment from a winter baby; differences of temperature, hours of daylight, maternal diet and so on, with potentially different effects on the baby’s physical makeup and constitution.
Aries is a cardinal sign, marking the start of a new season. The other cardinal signs are Libra, marking the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere and Capricorn, marking the onset of winter. The cardinal signs are traditionally considered the most innovative and proactive, the signs most at ease with driving change.
Aries is proud, eager, impulsive, brave, aggressive, ruled by the planet Mars and the element of Fire. Aries is also sunny, young at heart. It is the metaphysical ‘baby’ of the zodiac, adventurous, optimistic, generous, curious, brave, passionate, direct, self-willed and inclined to lose its temper if denied or crossed. Aries represents the concept of The Self. It seeks to express itself through exploration and pushing at boundaries. It is self-willed like a very young child. It wants its own way.
Aries is number one, the first sign in the Zodiac, youthful and exuberant- and let no-one forget it. Aries is the star of this show.
But it is also the sign of a king, and not only that but a warrior-king, as illustrated in the watchful, slightly weary, Emperor card in the Tarot.
See those Ram’s heads decorating his throne?
Aries is ultra-virile with a warrior spirit, just as a ram will charge headlong, at an intruder, and may attack or even kill a person who enters his field, threatening his ewes and his territory at the wrong moment. If knocked down by a ram, although it is counter-intuitive, stay down till he loses interest and wanders off.
Aries is known for its determination and zest for life, and in the same spirit, Aries can be reckless and with it, accident prone in its general haste to get on and do whatever is the next thing. Aries are at a statistically increased risk of accidents, especially with head and neck injuries in comparison with other signs, largely due to impatience and risk-taking behaviours.
Aries is ready to experiment or pioneer but may not finish what it starts. They are determined but can be diverted by their own impatience if they don’t get quick results.
Aries subjects may exhibit careless or even ruthless behaviour with a disregard for others in their desire to achieve and excel. They can bear grudges but, though they are sensitive, they can be careless about the sensitivities of others. In their closest personal relationships however, Aries are generally lively, pleasant, frank, direct and generous. Full of bounce and joie de vivre, there is much to admire about the early springtime subjects of fiery Aries, the Mighty Ram.
The Tarot will tell us more …
Aries in the Tarot
The Tarot cards associated with Aries are The Emperor, the Queen of Wands and the 2, 3 and 4 of Wands, and these minor arcana cards represent the decans of this zodiac sign.
The major arcana card associated with Aries is The Emperor. This sets the overall tone for this zodiac sign. The Emperor of the Ram seeks to claim territory and to create and impose order in that territory. At his best, he rules wisely and with care and justice. He is the great ptector, the best of fathers. At his worst, he is a tyrant.
Card Meanings: a man of authority, parent, employer, a military man, maturity, order, experience, hard won leadership, discipline, authority, government, organizations, rules, bureaucracy, doing things by the book, ego, I am in charge, what I say goes, Drawn reversed: bully, tyrant, warmonger. Note the ram skulls decorating his throne.
Every suit in the Tarot has its own court with a king and queen, a knight and a page. The Court card associated with Aries is the Queen of Wands. Aries is ruled by the element of fire in the Tarot, Wands is the suit of fire. Aries is ruled by the Sun, the ruler of the day. Notice how she holds a sunflower as her sceptre (We are seeing a lot of sunflowers online right now, as the symbol of Ukraine. Let us hope the sunflower of Aries will bring a ceasefire between now and 20 April – soonest.)
Card Meanings: A helpful woman, a mother figure, a lucky person (signified by the black cat, also notice the royal lions) She has good instincts and may also have occult abilities. Warmth, directness, spontaneity and independence, nurturing, generosity, enthusiasm, impatience are her qualities, but she may be either male or female in a real life reading. A man born under Aries may appear in a reading as the Emperor, a King of Wands or the Queen of Wands.
Lastly, the minor arcana cards associated with Aries are Two, Three and Four of Wands. These are the cards that talk about the decans of Aries.
If you don’t feel like you are a ‘typical’ Aries, well, we are all unique, but perhaps you are also a second or third decan Aries native, rather than a ‘most typical’ first decan Aries.
The Zodiac is the belt of sky we can see from earth, tracking the path of the sun across the sky over the course of the year. We call this pathway of the sun ‘the ecliptic.’
The Greeks named the signs after twelve of the constellations appearing on, or crossing this zodiac belt: Aries, Taurus, Gemini Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and lastly, Pisces.
Each of these zodiac signs represents a 30 degree section of the zodiac belt. Each sign is then further sub-divided into three blocks of ten degrees, each about ten days in length, with slight variations. This gives us the ‘decans,’ from the Latin meaning ‘ten,’ also called decanates, or the ‘thirty-six faces of astrology,’ bringing added depth and nuance to the story of your zodiac signs.
First Decan Aries (0-10 degrees of the sign)
21 March-31 March
Card Meanings: vision, ambition, melancholy, trade, global trade, entrepreneurship, agreements, partnerships, government, meetings, the world is my oyster. Reversed: fear of the unknown, lack of planning
The ruling planet is Mars and the co-ruler is also Mars, giving this first Aries decan a double dose of fiery, headlong Mars, bringing out the positive and dominant side of this Aries subject. Aries seeks power and usually they have great charisma too. But one of the nicknames of this card is ‘The Melancholy of Alexander,’ referring to the restlessness of the conqueror Alexander the Great, who won great lands but was never satisfied.
The personality is independent, forceful, temperamental, often generous, sometimes domineering, dictatorial or even aggressive. This is the first decan in the whole zodiac, the most aggressive Aries decan and –perhaps not coincidentally- the most sporty.
These natives of Aries think fast, act fast- too fast at times- and they can tend to be irritable with others who act more slowly. Respect, it must be remembered, is a two-way street. They are known for having a gift with words and public speaking abilities.
Famous first decan Aries: Harry Houdini, Robert Frost, Elton John, Mariah Carey
Second Decan Aries (10-20 degrees of the sign)
1 April-10 April
Card Meanings: progress, expansion, overseas opportunities, new horizons, a launch, your ship comes in, planning, critical timing, preparation, teamwork: Reversed lack of foresight, timidity, thinking too small, unexpected delays
The co-rulers of this decan are Mars and the Sun, the ‘Ruler of the Day.’
The sun is the centre of the solar system, the bringer of life itself, and here it stands for dignity, honour and ambition. This Aries personality not only welcomes change but actively seeks it out, relishing a challenge. This gifted Aries native desires a creative challenge and maybe a global challenge too, while they are at it.
They are generally known for their honesty, while rather stern in outlook. They will tell you something to your face but though they really do not like to be told what to do, they don’t shirk from telling others.
This Mars-Sun combination is considered a particularly lucky planetary combination. Everyone gets their own mix of luck, good and bad. That’s just life. But still, these Aries natives have a knack of landing on their feet.
Famous second decan Aries: Otto von Bismarck, Hans Christian Anderson, Bette Davis, Al Gore, Russell Crowe, Jackie Chan, Celine Dion, Quentin Tarantino
Aries Decan Three (20-30 degrees of the sign)
10 April-20 April
Card meanings: professional qualification, an achievement, property improvements, building, setting up home, celebration, joy, homecoming, publishing, creating an artwork. Reversed: bad luck, frustrations, roadblocks
This Aries native is generally more peaceable and easy-going than the other two decans; co-ruled by Mars and Jupiter, known as the God of Fortune. Jupiter brings good fortune and opportunity to the drive and ambition of Mars.
There is sincerity, honesty and warm-hearted nobility in this last Aries placement. Like the second decan Aries, these Aries natives often have some particular and well developed creative or artistic talent. They are witty, personable, and with a sense of humour. They are righteous, some might say self- righteous on occasion, other people may find them arrogant. They are proud, impatient and they may have every good reason for it, but they too, need to remember that others have their pride, but these are passionately devoted family people with a keen sense of justice, much concerned with right and wrong.
Famous Third Decan Aries: Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Clancy, Francis Ford Coppola, Victoria Beckham, Gary Kasparov
Happy Birthday, Aries, 2023.
Jupiter has been on your side for the first few months of this year, and big new opportunities or breakthroughs on cherished projects look likely this year. But family life is unusually demanding and complicated in 2023. It is important to be pro active but not overhasty. Good organization is paramount. Great changes are happening in your family life, more so than in other ways, some happy, some perhaps less so. In-between furious burst of activity, you may be spending more quiet time than usual with loved ones.