Most people have seen or at least heard of horoscopes, which use astrological signs going either by the month or the year. I posts the only picture I could find that had the two side by side, but I just noticed it’s written in Spanish. Why do most of my Google and Yahoo image searches end up bringing back a lot more Spanish than English lately? At least the point is getting across here.
Anyway, these are ways to ‘predict’ a great range than other fortune telling systems. Part of this is because it has a more general focus than on specific situation like runes and tarot. With the latter, you ask a question and use that to guide you through deciphering the answers. Zodiac is used more to give an overview of your day and ‘explain’ parts of your personality. For example, Aries are supposed to be leaders, have tempers, be passionate, and have more of an interest in starting projects than finishing. Those born in the year of the monkey are witty, intelligent, mischievous, and can get bored very easily. That’s what I’m supposed to be, which isn’t telling my future so much as giving an explanation about me.
Zodiac is a challenge for writing when it comes to fantasy. The Western symbols are connected to astrological symbols, so you can’t use them if you aren’t on Earth. Same goes for any science fiction that travels to another galaxy or stories that take place prior to these symbols being created. With Eastern astrology, you run into a problem because it stems from a specific culture. If that doesn’t exist then you can’t use it. Other genres aren’t much better since you need to know what you’re talking about at least a basic level. Last thing you want to do is have someone claim they’re a Libra Rabbit, but a reader does the research to find that they’re really a Sagittarius Rooster. Trust me, people take these things seriously.
The answer for fantasy authors comes down to making a variation of them for your world, so here are some tips:
- The Eastern Astrology system divides up the year. You might have to create a basic calendar for months and amount of days. Seasons can help a bit, but they aren’t necessary outside of details. After all that, you can choose as many symbols as you can using a variety of sources. For Windemere, I went with 11 Gods and Goddesses that had main purposes and a connection to the Zodiac.
- Western Astrology systems switch by the year, so you need to think up a slight history and calendar. This might be a little easier since you choose the symbols first and then put them in order. A more difficult trick here is deciding on what they’ll be. You can go with animals found in the world, but other options are flowers, gems, and whatever else you can think of.
- Even if you don’t mention it in the books, pick out the symbols for your characters. It requires choosing a birthday, which is at the core of these systems. Best to have at least one character on each symbol too. The reason is because this will help you figure out the personality traits that are connected to each one.
You don’t really see this one in fantasy as often, but it can be a useful part of world building. If anything, it can make you stand out since non-Earth stories don’t usually go for zodiac systems.