Ecliptic, the apparent yearly path of the Sun, represents the central part of the zodiacal circle dividing it into two equal parts regarding the northern, that is, southern heavenly sphere. This big heavenly circle, by its central position relative to the zodiacal background, symbolically depicts the hierarchy of astrological cosmos which is rooted in Platonist notion of cosmic hierarchy consisting of 14 spheres, 7 of them being situated above and 7 below the central Sun. According to the cosmological system of astrology, the Sun doesn’t occupy central position regarding only the 6 visible heavenly bodies, but also regarding the heaven containing stars, which we recognize today as visible constellations, then regarding the heaven which contains no stars which we designate as Zodiac and lastly, regarding the two highest spheres of cosmic hierarchy, the sphere of Divine Pedestal and the sphere of Divine Throne. These four superior spheres are directly connected to the three lower spheres, the so called planetary spheres, which are astronomically determined by their distance to the Earth, that is, by the amount of time required for their heavenly revolution. These three lower, supra-solar spheres belong to Saturn, Jupiter and Mars which are known as superior, masculine planets in traditional astrology. In the sub-solar sector (which is below the Sun) the three superiors find their counterparts in the three inferior planets – Venus, Mercury and Moon. Below the Moon are situated the lowest spheres of elementals (the ontological elements of the universe) – fire, earth, air and water which, by symmetry and number, correspond to the four highest spheres of the Fixed stars, Zodiac, Pedestal and Throne. Zodiac is the 12th sphere in the order of heavenly hierarchy and it represents a part of transcendental heaven, situated entirely beyond the visible cosmos of time and space in which the planets and the stars of the visible constellations move. This spherical form is purely symbolic because it signifies the transition from astronomical toward metaphysical cosmos and integral cosmology. The heaven without stars, the heaven of 12 zodiacal towers is, hence, not the equivalent to the part of the visible sky which is covered with zodiacal constellations. In relation to them, zodiac symbolizes the virtual determinant of heavenly space from which all the possible human conditions are derived; in relation to these conditions the particular signs represent archetypal principles. This sphere of the first superior heaven is the primum mobile of the notional universe while the spheres of the stars and planets (visible cosmos) and the elemental spheres of our planet are subject to the laws of time and space.
The divergence between the two big heavenly circles, the heavenly equator and the solar cycle (ecliptic), symbolizes the violation of balance in the order of manifestation of the cosmos. The four heavenly cardinal points (equinoxes and tropics) thus determine zodiacal elemental quadruplicity representing the essence of differentiation through which the universal principles of superior heavens manifest in spatial – temporal universe. These four universal tendencies, the four ontological elements of fire, earth, air and water, manifest through twofold qualifications of hot and cold, that is, dry and wet. Hot and cold are active qualities, which are diametrically opposite. They also manifest as expansive force (hot) and the force of contraction (cold). These two forces of creation and existence determine the two passive qualities, dry and wet. Transmitted to the four heavenly cardinal points, cold corresponds to the solstices and hot to the equinoxes; that is why cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn) follow each other according to the principle of absolute contrasts. Aries is hot and dry and hence, fiery, followed by Cancer which is cold and wet, i.e. watery.
Zodiac is thus divided according to the elements, but also according to the three modalities: cardinal, fix and flexible (mutable). The modalities symbolize the three states of spirit and its three spatial orientations: the orientation of the fall into spatial - temporal cosmos and the dimension of depth (cardinal signs), the orientation of expansion and the dimension of breadth (fixed signs) and the orientation of return toward the source and the dimension of height (mutable signs). This trinity of the spirit is superior to the elemental quadruplicity of the nature. Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) refer to the development of all the qualitative conditions pertaining to this world. Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) go beyond this world symbolizing upward orientation of the spirit and the timeless dimension of human existence, whereas synthesizing, flexible signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) represent the linking of spiritual and physical levels of cosmos.
Author: Natasa Karalic Koprivica
First published: 25/August/2010 on Traditional Astrology Blog