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The Signs in Renaissance Astrology
Christopher Warnock, Esq.
Ramesey on the Names of the Signs

William Ramesey
Ramesey Biography
The Signs in Renaissance Astrology
Lilly on Using the Signs
Ramesey: the Order of the Signs
The Nature of Aries
The Nature of Taurus
The Nature of Gemini
The Nature of Cancer
The Nature of Leo
The Nature of Virgo
The Nature of Libra
The Nature of Scorpio
The Nature of Sagittarius
The Nature of Capricorn
The Nature of Aquarius
The Nature of Pisces
William Lilly
Lilly Biography
Web Site Search
Web Site Search
Earth and Zodiac

Demonstrating the Reasons of the names of the twelve signs; and why there are just twelve, and neither more nor less.

from William Ramesey's Astrologia Restaurata
(London, 1653).

Page 83


Demonstrating the Reasons of the names of the twelve signs; and why there are just twelve, and neither more nor less.

Let us now descend to the several divisions of the signs: it resteth now you know why they are so called, and wherefore there are no more nor less then twelve, which according to Albumnazer and Bonatus, is for these Reasons:
First, as all things are made of the four Elements, which are subject to the signs, every sign through the whole Circle of Heaven ruling one element or other: now there are four elements, every sign being over them; and they divided into three parts, as having relation to beginning, middle and end, as there is in all works, make just the number of 12. Besides the number 12. is so compleat a number, as none is to compare with it; it . having more particular divisions then any other number, there being therein three fours, and four threes; two sixes and six twoes: besides they are so constituted from the division of the Heaven (as you have heard already) divided into twelve parts, every part being a sign; the first called Aries, the second Taurus, the third Gemini, &c.


The reason why they are called by these names, are briefly thus; the first sign is called Aries (signifying a Ram,) because when the Sun is therein, he approacheth to his highest point; heat ( thereby being increased, yet being mixed with the humidity of the preceding Winter, makes the fi temperature of the ayr hot and moyst, which is according to the complexion of the Ram: but there are some of the Ancients say that the stars in the signs being particularly observed, and as it were measured with a line the one from the other, they resemble each the thing they are nominated.
The second sign is called Taurus (signifying a Bull) because the Sun being therein, the heat is more fixt and fortified, and the moisture consumed or expelled; the temperature of the ayr tending rather to dryness, which resembleth the nature of a Bull.
The third sign is named Gemini (signifying Twins) because the Sun therein causeth a reduplication of heat; and all Creatures couple and ingender, every thing delighting in its mate.
The fourth sign is called Cancer (signifying a Crab) because the Sun being therein, goeth, as it were, backward, (after the nature of the Crab) retiring towards the Equinoctial from whence he came, declining contrary to that of the Twins .
The fifth sign is called Leo (signifying a Lion) because the Sun being therein, the heat is there increased in great strength and dryness, after the nature of the Lion, which is of a strong, hot and dry nature.
The fifth sign is called Virgo (signifying a maid) because the Sun therein hath his heat diminished, and dryness ruleth, so that things cease to increase, and the earth becometh barren; being of the nature of a Virgin, who is naturally tending to cold rather then heat, and is of her self barren.
The seventh sign is called Libra (signifying Balance) for that the Sun being therein, both the length of the days and nights, as also the temper of the ayr, are in balance. as it were neither inclining one way nor other; the days and nights being of an equal length through the whole World; and the temperature of the ayr between the decayed heat of Summer, and the approaching cold of winter, is neither tending one way or other, but as it were in a balance.
The eighth is called Scorpio (signifying a Scorpion) because when the Sun is therein, cold and dryness is predominate, which are obnoxious to nature, and by reason

Begin Page 84


the natural temper of the ayr is hot and moyst; the ayr is thereby corrupted, so that dangerous diseases are ingendred thereby, as pestilential Feavers, Plagues and the like.

The ninth sign is called Sagittarius (signifying an Archer or one using to cast darts) because the Sun being therein, the heat is overcome by cold, whereupon ensue Fogs and Frosts, and such like, being (for the nature of the mischief and hurt they do) as obnoxious, or equivalent to venemous Arrows or Darts.
The tenth sign is named Capricornius (signifying a Goat) because the Sun being therein is farthest from the vertical point; so that by reason of the cold mixed with dryness, and the want of heat, which at that to time is, the nature and disposition of the ayr is melancholy, after the nature of the Goat.
The eleventh sign is called Aquarius (signifying a Waterman, or one pouring water) because when the Sun is in this sign, dryness is overcome by moisture beginning, yet the cold remaining which causeth the temper of the ayr to be cold and moist, after the nature of water .
The twelfth sign is named Pisces (signifying Fishes) for that when the Sun is therein, the ayr it is inclined to cold and moisture, yet having some small heat, after the nature of Fishes who are cold and moyst by reason of their Element the water, yet they retain some little natural heat; so the ayr is then somewhat participating of some small quantity of heat, by reason of the Suns approach to the equinoctial point.
And thus much concerning the Reasons of the names of the twelve Celestial signs...


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