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.
It’s important to remember that we do not exist in a vacuum and life is a journey that builds upon what came before. Each year begins anew but does not wipe away all that was: Aries may be the beginning, but there is an eternity behind it. Aries may be the will, but without introspection and examined experience, we may not always enact our own.
This clash of will is the original Aries battlefield and the Ram himself a secret weapon of destiny. In order to understand the sign’s role in our evolution, we need to understand the divine machinations that led to its creation. After Athamas, King of Boeotia, abandoned his wife for Ino, one of the original Maenads, his kingdom began to suffer. His marriage was actually arranged by the Olympians themselves and his wife was a cloud nymph shaped by the hand of Zeus in the image of the Queen of the Gods herself. When her husband strayed, she vanished back into the skies. The Queen was gone, but she left behind two children that assured Ino’s path was not yet clear. Human will is a great power and ambition drives people to unfathomable extremes: to assure her place as rightful Queen of Boeotia and cement her own children’s status, Ino knew she had to revise the kingdom’s history. She toasted the seeds of the annual crops and bribed the advising oracle to say that Nephele, the Cloud Nymph Queen, had cursed the fields and in order to prevent famine, her children must be sacrificed. Whether through allegiance to his kingdom or adoration for his new queen, Athamas agreed and the sacrifice was arranged.
But this was an act of human will, and the royal children of Boeotia had other fates. Before Ino’s scheme went any farther, Nephele’s twins were rescued by a creature just as impossible as the game they’d been embroiled in: a talking, winged ram with golden fleece. Chrysomallos swept in, tossed the children on his back, and took to the air. They crossed the landscape at break-neck speeds at impossible heights, and in their daring twists and turns the princess fainted. Unable to grasp the golden fleece, she fell. In the end, Chrysomallos continued his mission and did not turn back: the prince was delivered to Colchis where he was received warmly by the king; the princess was dead.
We tend to see beginnings as something new, generated from the ether, untouched by the past. But the past remains. New beginnings are nothing more than a series of decisions, a process of curation. What of the past will we take into the future? What missions will we accept? What do we leave behind? Aries Thomas Hobbes argued that nothing is truly new — even dreams and inspiration, self-appointed missions of imagination and aspiration, spring from that which came before: the vehicle that moves us forward is none other than memory and perception. In the context of personal evolution, each moment becomes an origin in itself, a vehicle of the divine ferrying the past into the future. The challenge of Aries Season is not rebirth but cultivation: even the Field Worker of Babylon harvested his seeds from plants that came before.