The zodiac (literally, “circle of animals,” from the Greek zoion, living
being, figure), is the name given to the imaginary circular zone of the
heavens in which the Sun, Moon, and planets have their orbits. Because
the orbits of the planets in the solar system all lie within approximately
the same geometric plane, from any position within the system all of the
heavenly bodies appear to move across the face of the same set of constellations.
The zodiac is divided into twelve astrological signs associated
with the twelve constellations—Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo,
Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
The notion of the zodiac is very ancient, with roots in the early
citied cultures of Mesopotamia. The first twelve-sign zodiacs were
named after the gods of these cultures. The Greeks adopted astrology
from the Babylonians, and the Romans, in turn, adopted it from the
Greeks. These peoples renamed the signs of the Babylonian zodiac in
terms of their own mythologies, which is why the familiar zodiac of
the contemporary West bears names from Mediterranean mythology.
The notion of a twelve-fold division derives from the lunar cycle (the
orbital cycle of the Moon around the Earth), which the Moon completes
twelve times per year.
Because various gods have traditionally been associated with the
signs of the zodiac, it seems natural to suggest a possible correlation
between angels and the zodiac. The connection is also a natural one to
make because angels and astrological signs are both located primarily in
the celestial realm. It was thus almost inevitable that angels came to be
associated with the zodiac. The traditional correlations are as follows:
Aries Malahidael or Machidiel
Libra Zuriel or Uriel
Sagittarius Advachiel or Adnachiel
Aquarius Cambiel or Gabriel
Many Judaic beliefs about astrology and angels were derived from
Chaldean and Egyptian sources. The names of many of the angels were
manufactured from the nature of their assignments in an almost atavistic
regression to a pagan pantheon that assigned gods and goddesses for
almost every natural force. The number of these became so vast in the
apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature that the rabbis believed they
posed a threat to Judaic monothesism and so condemned all of the
writing in this genre. Because such writings were suppressed, little
information regarding the nature of these angels survives today.