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

William Ramesey
Ramesey Biography
The Signs in Renaissance Astrology
Lilly on Using the Signs
Ramesey: the Names 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
The Moon
Shewing the Reasons why the signs are reckoned from Aries, and not from any other sign; as also why they are not placed as according to the order of the four Elements.

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

[page 84]

And thus much concerning the Reasons of the names of the twelve Celestial signs; we come now to shew the Reasons why they are reckoned from Aries, and so in order to Pisces, and not from Taurus or any other sign; as also the Reasons why they are not placed according to the he order of the four Elements, viz. Fire, Ayr, Water and Earth, but first a fiery sign, next an earthy one, then an aery, and lastly a watry, &c.


Shewing the Reasons why the signs are reckoned from Aries, and not from any other sign; as also why they are not placed as according to the order of the four Elements.

I have said before, my intention in all these my Writings, is not to treat of any thing that hath been already delivered to the Students of this noble Art by the wel-willers thereof, in a plain manner, and our vulgar tongue, farther then to give me occasion for what is my drift, viz. to render to my loving Countrey-men and wel-willers of this Science, the reasons and grounds of the Art, according to the most rational of the Antients, that they may be both confirmed in their way, as also the better able to answer the weak Arguments, or rather cavils of their puny Antagonists, I mean the vain-glorious he ignorant praters and scriblers against this Heavenly Science.
I come therefore now, God enabling me, to shew you the Reasons of the Ancients why the signs are still reckoned from Aries, and so forward, since the Zodiack as well as the Heavens is round; and what he is round hath no beginning, and what hath no beginning must needs have no ending; and what wanteth beginning and ending, must needs have no middle: yet the twelve Coelestial signs are said to begin at Aries, which is called the first, and so forward to Taurus, which is the second, to Pisces which is the twelfth and last, for these reasons.
First, because the Equator cutteth and divideth the Circle of the Zodiack in the beginning of Aries, and also the opposite sign Libra; so that six signs are Northern,

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and six Southern; but the reason why the beginning is from Aries, and not from Libra, is for that that part which is Northern is stronger and of more force, efficacy and power, and is more noble then that which is Southern: and Aries is the first Northern sign, and so are all to the latter end of Virgo; the rest are Southern, or declining Southward; wherefore since by all in general, the Northern signs are accounted stronger, and more noble then the Southern, did the Ancients pre appoint Aries the first of the signs, it being the first of them.
Secondly, the Ancients began to number the signs from Aries, for that when the Sun enters into Aries, all things increase and multiply; the days increase in length, the Trees flourish, the earth brings forth fruit, and all things are as it were revived or raised from death, being to outward appearance (as it were) by the preceding Winter barren and dead; also then Sol enters Aries, it is the beginning or chief principium of the seasons, causing everything to receive vigour and strength, resembling youth, which is the prime and most pleasant time, and beginning of life, &c. which are the reasons why the Ancients have named Aries the first of the signs.
Aries a fiery sign, and next unto him they have placed Taurus which is an earthy sign; after him Gemini which is aery, and then Cancer which is a watry sign,; and then again beginning with a fiery sign, then an earthy one, after an aery, and lastly a watry , and so following the same order throughout the twelve signs, and not according to the order of the four elements viz. Fire, Ayr, Water and Earth; but the reasons hereof are briefly thus; for we will hasten to conclude this our first Treatise, being meerly an Introductory Discourse before we come to peruse the following Tracts.
Yet if you finde any benefit hereby, I shall be very glad, and esteem my pains well bestowed; for my desire is to benefit young Students, that they may give reasons and grounds for their Art, as I said before; I write not to the learned, but to such as these, for whom I took these pains, knowing they may happily (by some ignorant Antagonist and enemy to the Art) be questioned wherefore such and such things are held by them, &c.
But let us proceed; the Ancients then (as abovesaid) have placed first a fiery sign, then an earthy sign, after an aery, and lastly a watry sign for divers good Reasons; first then, for that the four Elements receive an alteration and corruption one with the other by the incessant motion of the Crelestial signs, of which corruption and alteration there are generated four special qualities incident to elementary bodies, viz. Generation, Conservation, Corruption and Destruction.


Now for that Generation is the chief and more noble quality, they began with that sign which is the author of Generation; viz. a fiery; Next unto which quality is conservation, fixation, durability or continuance, which is caused by those signs by which nature is moved to constancy or duration, as corruptible things receive permanency and fixation, and they are earthy;
After which is corruption the more inferiour quality; wherefore they placed in the third place that sign which is author thereof (according to that of Aristotle, Aer vita est vivorum, destructio mortuorum: Ayr is the life of every living thing, but the death or corruption of every dead thing) has viz. an Aery sign. Lastly, the most ignoble and rejected is destruction, which is caused by the and watry signs, wherefore they placed in the fourth place a watry sign.
Secondly, they have placed the signs in this manner, for that heat and cold are active: the Drought and moisture passive; and heat being strong and more noble then cold, signifying or causing generation, as most deserving, is placed first, viz. a fiery sign; so likewise for that dryness is the stronger of the Patients, it is put first of them, and next after heat, being an earthy sign, cause of durability, and therefore placed next to generation; and because corruption goeth before, destruction is an aery sign placed before the watry; and because generation is the first beginning of any living thing, and therefore first placed, so is destruction being the last, placed last; continuation and corruption in the middle, &c.

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They have also thus appointed the order of the signs, and placed a fiery sign first, for that heat ruleth in fire, by which all things are quickned and vivifyed, and therefore being the more noble of quality (as abovesaid) they place it first; and next unto it an earthy sign, by reason of the nearness of its quality with heat, it being a dry substance: after it they place an aery sign, and preceding the watry , as participating with the humidity thereof; and lastly, is the watry sign placed last, as the fiery is first, being contrary thereunto in nature and quality; the passives being placed in the middle between the actives, which are placed in the extreams.
There are several other reasons may be produced for this order of the signs, but one to two may suffice to put to silence any caviller against this most noble Art: let us therefore now look into the natures and significations of the signs.


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