In Hebrew, astrology was called hokmat ha-nissayon, "the wisdom of prognostication". While not a Jewish practice , astrology made its way into the Jewish community, and became especially predominant in some books of Kabbalah.
Some historians hold that astrology slowly made its way into the Jewish community through syncretism with ancient Hellenistic culture.
Sefer Yetzirah, one of the first Jewish books ever written, reveals the secrets of Jewish astrology.
Throughout the Bible, Talmud and Code of Jewish Law there are fascinating descriptions of how God channels His life force into our world through heavenly bodies.
Jacob's sons, who became the 12 tribes of Israel, are actually 12 different soul roots from which the Jewish people descend. These roots correspond with the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 12 Jewish months, 12 of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet and 12 attributes of the soul. Jewish holidays do not only commemorate historical events, but are the result of heavenly forces and energies.
Jewish Zodiac Signs
Aries (Nissan)This first month of the Jewish zodiac is governed by the letter hei (h). This is the letter associated with speech. Human beings are distinguished from other creatures by their power of speech. The celebration of this month is Passover. During the Passover meal we employ our power of speech for its highest purpose: to communicate to our children the experience of God's miraculous presence in our lives and our history. The tribe of this month is Yehuda, the royal leader, from which Jewish monarchs descend. The Passover sacrifice in the Temple was a lamb, the Ram which signifies the zodiac sign of Aries.
Taurus (Iyar)Iyar is the month between Nissan and Sivan. Accordingly, the letter of this month, vav (v), represents the straight line of truth. The sign of Taurus, the bull, signifies the individuality and stubborn devotion to this truth. Iyar is the month for the preparation for receiving the Torah. The tribe of this month, Yissachar, excelled in their loving devotion to the study of the Torah.
Gemini (Sivan)This is the month of "correct movement," of learning how to walk in the ways of the Torah. The Torah is our weapon against evil; this month is governed by the letter zayin (z), which means "weapon." Walking in the ways of the Torah is epitomized by this month's tribe of Zevulun, the seafaring business people of Israel who supported the tribe Yissachar in their Torah study. These two brothers had different careers but worked together, symbolized by the astrological sign of Gemini, the twins. The concept of twins also evokes the image of the two tablets at Mt. Sinai.
Cancer (Tammuz)This month is governed by the letter chet (ch), which means "fear." Cancer, the crab, is a passive creature that tends to run and hide. The challenge of the summer months is to use our faculties of thought, speech and deed in a God-fearing way, and to retreat from situations that obstruct our Divine consciousness. The tribe of this month is Reuven.
Leo (Menachem Av)In this month, we cultivate "correct hearing," alluded to in the name of the tribe of this month, Shimon, which comes from the word for "hearing." On the ninth day of Av we mourn for the Holy Temple, destroyed by the lion-like nations of Babylon and Rome-hence the association with the sign of Leo. The letter governing this month, tet (t), has the first letter of the word "good" (tov).
Virgo (Elul)The month of return, Elul, is the period when we focus on "correct action." We take stock and spiritually prepare for the High Holidays. The desire to achieve a new innocence in our relationship with God is expressed by the sign of this month, Virgo, the virgin. The letter governing this month, yud (y), means "hand," reminding us that sincere regret for our misdeeds and resolutions for the future must be reflected in our actions. The tribe of this month, Gad, were the arch-warriors.
Libra (Tishrei)This is the month of correct feeling. According to Jewish Astrology, God weighs and evaluates our past deeds, determining how he will distribute the blessings of life over the coming year. This is reflected by the sign Libra, scales. Tishrei is therefore the month of marital union between God and Israel. This month of is governed by the Hebrew letter lamed (l), the first letter of the word "heart" (lev). The name of this month's tribe, Ephraim, means "fruitful".
Scorpio (Cheshvan)In this month, the inspiration of Tishrei are integrated into real life. The numerical value of this month's Hebrew letter nun (nun) is 50, indicating the 50 levels of Divine consciousness we can attain when we are spiritually proactive, and the 50 levels of impurity we can sink into if we let life as it is. The poison of the Scorpion is cold, symbolizing the danger of approaching life without passion. The name of this month's tribe, Menasheh, also spells "breath" , connecting it to the sense we refine this month, smell.
Sagittarius (Kislev)During this month, we work on correct relaxation or sleep. The name of this month's letter, samech (s), means "reliance." Our true reliance on God gives us the confidence to assert our holiness and resist those who challenge it. This is reflected in the celebration of Chanukah and the astrological sign of Sagittarius, the archer. Accordingly, this month's tribe, Benyamin, possessed valiant warriors. Their territory contained the site of the Holy Temple.
Capricorn (Tevet)In this month, we cultivate correct anger. The Talmud tells us to always regard others favorably, and that anger is almost always something to be avoided. But there is also a positive anger, the sense of what to reject. The name of this month's tribe, Dan, means "to judge." This month's letter, ayin, means "eye." We have two eyes in order to constantly discern what to accept in life, and what to reject. The ability to constantly reject the negative is symbolized by Capricorn, the goat, known for its steadfastness.
Aquarius (Shevat)This month's attribute is "correct eating." The letter of this month, Tzadik (tz), means "righteous. The true test of our spirituality is whether we make eating and other earthly activities a spiritual experience, or a surrender to sensual gratification. By purifying our attitudes toward materiality, we become conduits for distributing God's beneficence to the world. This is reflected in the sign Aquarius, the water distributor. The territory of Asher, this month's tribe, produced an abundance of food.
Pisces (Adar)The central holiday of this month is Purim, which celebrates God's hidden hand in history. This month's letter, kuf (k), means "monkey.The celebration of Purim sheds the inhibitions that conceal our inner essence. "Through "correct laughter," this month's attribute, we transform obstacle into opportunity, a decree for destruction into a day of celebration. We effect this transformation with the speed of this month's tribe, Naftali, the swiftest of the sons of Jacob.