One of the most common questions I receive as an astrologer is about Aries Season — why is it the beginning of the year? The answer is complex, a manifold explanation of geocosmic movement and spiritual evolution, but very simply Aries aligned with the Spring Equinox. Much of what we know about astrology comes from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. During those times the Spring Equinox arrived within the constellation of Aries, and while ecliptic precession has placed the equinox under the sign of Pisces since about 68 BCE (around the same time the Romans replaced the equinox with January 1st as the start of year), many astrologers kept the signs aligned with their seasonal associations. Astrology is a system that relies on both material and symbolic language, but its artistry lies in discerning which of these indicators are most important — and of all signs, Aries may be our best illustration of astrological cultivation.
Aries began life not as the Ram, the tenacious, sure-footed beast portrayed in so many star maps and pop psychedelia, but as the Field Worker. The Spring Equinox marked the start of the planting season, a return to labor and preparation. It’s not exactly known when the transition began, but it seems Aries took work as a Shepherd before becoming one of his own flock: Aries as the Ram may have been conflated from Babylon’s sheep and the ram-headed god of Egyptian association. By the time Ptolemy wrote his classic text, Aries was Chrysomallos, the Ram of the Golden Fleece.
The Golden Fleece, independent of him who grew it, holds an important place in mythology. As a symbol of virility and masculine power, it was central to the plot of Jason and the Argonauts to reclaim the throne of Thessaly. On this alone it’s easy to see Aries’ Cardinal Fire — the ambitious, driven energy that aligns it with the tarot’s Emperor. Aries’ charge is not blind: it chooses values, sets standards, and defends its vision fiercely even if it means leading the world into war. Ruled by Mars, Aries lives on the battlefield — but if Scorpio is Mars as General, pulling the strings of war from behind the scenes, Aries is the infantry. As ruler of the 1st House, Aries is our face, our early life, and the dawning of self. It is, quite simply, the Beginning.