Its Origin and Meaning in Astrology
The above image is the established symbol (also called glyph) for the Zodiac sign Aries, the Ram. It’s a simplified image of the ram’s horns. Both the Zodiac sign and its symbol have been along for ages.
The Zodiac division of the ecliptic into twelve parts, each assigned a Zodiac sign, is probably of Babylonian (Mesopotamia) origin. They were very early with astrology, mapping the sky and noting planetary movements thousands of years ago.
The Zodiac, very much like the one we know today, might have emerged in Mesopotamia around 1000 BC. But Babylonian astrology is probably far older than that.
The Spring Equinox Sign
Already the Babylonians connected the Zodiac sign to the ram – but not at first. Early Babylonian astrology called the sign and its constellation the Agrarian worker, probably because of its start at the Spring equinox. That’s when the light and warmth return, and farmers got to work their fields.
Contrary to some other star constellations, that of Aries hardly suggests the shape of the animal from which it got its name. The reason for the name and symbol of the Zodiac sign Aries might instead be related to some Babylonian mythological mix-up.
See the image below of the constellation Aries.
As you can see, there’s really not much suggesting the shape of a ram. This hasn’t stopped artists in the past from suggesting the image of the ram to be implied by the stars of the Aries constellation.
Below is an antique illustration of the same constellation, where the figure of the ram has been added. It’s from a 17th century book: Firmamentum sobiescianum, by Johannes Hevelius, 1690.
Aries in Ink
Below is an ink version of the symbol for Aries, which I did a number of years back in an experiment of using Japanese ink calligraphy (shodo) for old European astrology symbols. I’ve used these pictures on my astrology websites, mainly for fun and for the odd graphic effect, and I’ve seen them copied all over the Internet. I’m fine with that, although I think it wouldn’t hurt if the source was mentioned. Well, what to do?
Anyway, here’s that ink again, this time in the original black and white (click on the image to see a bigger version):
Aries the Sign
As for the picture commonly used to represent the Aries Zodiac sign, it’s been an image of a ram for as long as that has been its name – probably longer than the symbol described above has existed. Below is one typical example, where the stars of the constellation Aries have also been marked. It’s an illustration from Poeticon astronomicon, a 1482 book by Hyginus.
This is a graphic I made for Aries. I played a little with the Aries symbol – using the photo of a real ram together with the symbol for Aries. It shows quite clearly how the symbol is shaped to represent the horns. I also added some fire, the element of Aries and a relevant image of Aries energy.
Each Zodiac Sign
Here are the symbols (glyphs) of all the twelve Zodiac signs, and links to pages telling more about each Zodiac sign symbol.