The foundation of the science of Astrology was the belief which all the ancients shared, that the stars ruled their destiny, or rather that the stars which were overhead at the time of the birth of a child, would be an index to his character, and as the sun and moon have more effect on this earth than any other star or planet—so their position at that time would have the greatest controlling influence.
They knew as well as we that the stars of summer were different from the stars of winter, and that it took one year for all of them to complete their seeming revolution and begin again on their journey, and that each spring at the same time showed the same stars overhead. As a result they divided the year into twelve parts, with a separate set of stars directly overhead during every part. Each set looked to them like the outline of some animal or object, so they named them after that which they resembled. Also the character of the object which the stars represented overhead would bestow like characteristics on the child born under them.
If the influence of the sun, moon and oertain stars overhead form the character of a child during the first hours of its life, the sun being the greatest, must have the most influence. So it is thought that a child born in the night-time forms character more slowly than one born under the sun's rays. And therefore a night child will develop more slowly than a day child, and will win his success later in life.
There is another theory that at full moon the world moves more harmoniously, and people get along better together, while more evil is done in the dark of the moon.
The ancients believed that the earth was composed of four elements—fire, earth, air and water, and every person born on the earth belonged to one of these elements, according to the time of year he was born, and under which one of the twelve groups of stars. These twelve constellations marked the path of the sua around the earth, as they thought—but as we know, the earth around the sun—and were called the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac.
There are three Signs of the Zodiac to each of the four elements, viz.:
The Positive or Head Sign, the Centre or Equatorial Sign, and the Negative Sign, just as there is a positive or repellent pole, an equatorial centre, and a negative or attractive pole to the earth. Thus—
The Positive Signs of the four elements follow each other, beginning with Fire and going through successively Earth, Air and Water. These Positive Poles, Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer are repellent, aggressive, assertive and masterful and are apt to repel each other, and sometimes—not always—the Middle Signs, but strongly attract the Negative Poles.
Then come the Equatorial or Middle Signs— Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio, always in the order of the elements. These are fortunate signs in that they attract both poles equally and each other. Last are the Negative Signs, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius and Pisces, beginning with Fire and ending with Water. These are the Attractive Poles—very much so to the Positive Poles and in a slightly lesser degree to the Middle Signs.
A person born under Aries, named so because the group of stars was thought* to resemble the outline of a ram, is born in the head sign of the Fire element, and partakes strongly of its fiery character. One born in the next month would come under Taurus the Bull, and would partake of his earth element. The next month would be Air, and the next Water. The next month would be the Middle Signs, beginning with Fire and ending with Water, and then would come the Negative Signs, thus completing the twelve months of the year.
In this way they accounted for the unreasoning antipathies, or as unaccountable attractions, which then, as now, man had felt for his fellow man. They argued that just as fire and water are natural foes—so Fire People and Water People would find it hard to agree. Air and Fire are good friends—and Earth and Air, if Air does not soar too high for Earth to follow. Earth and Water sometimes make a paradise, sometimes mud. Air stirs Water into great commotion, generally to the achievement of much higher aims. Like signs are almost invariably congenial except in cases where two head signs each strive to rule the other, such as two Taurus people each insisting on advising the other. Some people have so conquered their faults and tempers as to be lifted above this strife of elements, and so enabled to become equally attractive to all.
But the ordinary mortal is still in elemental chaos—or in process of conquest only—and to such whether a person is naturally congenial or not means everything as far as peace and happiness are concerned.
Also many people do not know at all, or at best only faintly guess at their inner natures and constitutional faults; and to them a knowledge of their characteristic element, or elemental faults, would be of inestimable value. Forewarned is forearmed, and to know one's faults is to be well along in the battle of conquering them.