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are they frequently found individually among other hieroglyphics, but there are several zodiacs in specie, and many Isiac tablets in the nature of zodiacs, still existing in the temples of Egypt, where the other hieroglyphics are found, and they are not to be distinguished from these last, either in respect of method of invention or style of execution : while almost all other hieroglyphics have sunk into oblivion, these have survived the wreck, and having a known application to fixed spaces in the heavens, are in daily use: in the important science of astronomy.
What was the origin of the signs of the zodiac? what induced the early astronomers to designate particular portions of the heavens by the symbols of a ram, a bull, or a lion, rather than by any other animals? These questions are to this day a subject of dispute. That the choice of those and
* The symbols that lie in the province of heraldry are still likewise in common use; and they are most of them of the nature of hieroglyphics, and many of them real hieroglyphics and of the greatest antiquity; but they are no longer, like the signs of the zodiac, applied to any scientific purpose, that for which they seem to have been originally employed, namely, to furnish evidence in matters of genealogy, and thereby in family property, being now utterly obsolete.
the other animals and objects of which the zodiac is composed, originated in any positive likeness between them and the portions of the heavens which they represent, or of any detached number of stars therein, a transient view of those stars, whether with a telescope or the naked eye, is sufficient to negative. Still less can these denominations be supposed to have their origin in the usefulness of those animals and objects to mankind ; for however true it may be that some of them are useful to mankind, it can by no means be said of the greater part : yet still the universal convention which has stamped upon those portions of the heavens the names by which they are designated, can never be deemed to have been the effect of mere accident: it appears, indeed, satisfactorily, that this matter may be traced to a more rational cause.
The twelve signs or constellations, collectively taken, occupy the ecliptic, or that space in the heavens through which the sun passes in the complete period of a year, of which, therefore, one-twelfth part is traversed in the time of a month ; and since the earth itself, during the period of the sun's annual circuit, comes back again to the same point nearly from whence it had set out at the beginning of the year, (by which, in fact, it is evidenced that the sun has completed
ħis circuit,) and of course performs a twelfth part of his progress towards that point in the time of a month, that circumstance might lead, naturally enough, to the notion of establishing an artificial connexion between the space in the heavens traversed by the sun, and the correspondent quantity of space on the earth, through which the earth in the same time, that is, in any given number of months, should advance in its return towards its original point of outset. This again might lead, as naturally, to the fancying of an ideal resemblance between the several portions of the circumference of the globe, and the corresponding monthly portions of the sun's circular path in the ecliptic, as marked there by the stars successively traversed by bim : such idea being controled only by the propriety of ascribing those portions of the globe which lie under the tropics to those portions of the heavens (or, in other words, to those constellations) which the sun traverses when in the tropics, and contriving the other signs or constellations in the heavens aş nearly as possible in conformity with a like rule.
Upon these simple principles I conceive the invention of the signs to have been originally founded; the only thing remaining necessary, in order to determine how much of his course the sun had at any time run, being, to agree which of the signs should be called the first, from whence that course should be measured; it being obviously immaterial which of the twelve should be thus conventionally considered as the first,
The sign established from time immemorial as the first, is Aries, the Ram; and whether the choice of it as such was altogether the effect of accident, or proceeded upon more solid reasons, it is not to be doubted that the true prototype of the Ram is to be found in the British Islands; and that of its head in particular, by which it is often simply designated, in Ireland.
Aries. In order to have the similitude between the sign Aries and its prototype (still keeping in view the idea of a supposed resemblance between certain distinct portions of the heavens and of the earth, as above stated) it is to be remembered that the figure of that sign is commonly represented as looking sideways or backwards, (vide the Zodiac* in the Frontispiece) and sometimes as lying down; and, if the map of the British Islands be examined sideways, that is, with the north at the left hand instead of being uppermost, as maps of the earth
* This zodiac is copied from that inserted in Spence's Polymetis, which was engraved from the reliet's on the globe, supported by the statue of Atlas in the Vatican at Rome,
are usually drawn, it will be seen that Ireland has a strong likeness to the head of a ram, its face looking southward, the brow at Wexford, nose at Cape Clear, and its horn winding round the province of Connaught up the river Shannon. If now the reader, haying still the east side of the map uppermost, will conceive the Ram's head (or Ireland) to be raised a little out of the plane of the map, the larger of the two British islands, together with the Hebrides, will be found to resemble the legs and body of the Ram, behind its head so looking sideways or backwards, and as it were lying down, in which last attitude it is in fact represented in the Egyptian zodiac presently mentioned ; that is to say, the near hind-leg and thigh will extend from the coast of Norfolk to Cape Cornwall, and the off leg through South Wales; the tail will be formed by Kent and Sussex ; and (the body stretching to the North) the shoulders will be in the counties of Murray. and Aberdeen in Scotland, the off fore-leg in the county of Sutherland and the near fore-leg in the Hebrides; the whole resembling figure 149, as drawn below: which the reader is requested to compare with the general aspect of any map of the British Islands.