The constellation the ancients designated as Pisces doesn’t look much like two fish. Nonetheless, the human penchant for pattern recognition fixed a pair of fish in the starry firmament.

The origin of the idea that stars and human fates intertwine is lost in ancient history.

The oldest written astrology records date to roughly 4,000 years ago in Babylon. The concept spread from there to India.

The 12 zodiac signs we think of today as the organizing principle of astrology developed in Egypt when it was ruled by Greek kings.

Indian, or Vedic, astrology uses the same 12 signs, but with differing dates.

The Chinese also had a form of astrology and cast horoscopes for newborns. So did other peoples worldwide, among them indigenous Americans.

Which brings us to…seafood?

It actually makes perfect sense.Long ago, when our ancestors looked at the stars, they saw the shapes of things that mattered to their survival, including the fish and shellfish they ate.

So how, exactly, did our forebears believe seafood-shaped constellations play a role in our personalities and fates? Let’s look.

Zodiac fish signs

Pisces is the Latin word for fish. In Greek legend, the love goddess Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) arose at birth from sea foam. Later, she and her son Eros, or Cupid in Roman mythology, disguised themselves as fish to flee from the giant monster Typhon. In an alternate version, two fish helped the pair escape by offering a ride on their backs.

In a Syrian tale, two fish save Ashtarte, also a goddess of love.

As a consequence of all of these myths, fish won an honored place in the night sky. People born from Feb. 19 to March 20 are said to have a “sun sign” of Pisces and to be deeply romantic and empathic in love. (In a full Western astrology chart, each of us has many signs, not just a sun sign you see in horoscope columns).

Cancer was the Latin word for a crab. In Greek legend, the Queen of Heaven, Hera, needed the help of a crab and rewarded it by creating the constellation. People born from June 22 to July 22 are said to be sensitive, moody, and inclined, like crabs, to hide inside their shells.

Capricorn in Latin means horned goat, but hang on, there’s a seafood connection. In the constellation, the head and upper body of the goat appear with a fishtail at the bottom. There are actually many ancient myths featuring sea goats. In a Jewish tale, a sailor encounters a sea-goat; the god Aegipan shows up in Greek art as a sea-goat, and he may be the father of the fertility goat-god Pan. People born from Dec. 22 to Jan. 20 are said to combine a mountain goat’s tenaciousness and a fish’s passion and intuition. Sounds ideal!

Other astrology traditions

Nor does this star-grouping look much like a crab…though one could argue that any group of stars looks like a crab.

Around the world, people have linked local animals to the stars or dates and said that they affect our destiny and personalities.

The Chinese see our lives in terms of 12 animals, each tied to the year of a person’s birth.

Sometime in the 90s, the term “spirit animal” took off in popular culture, referring to an indigenous tradition. It was bandied about casually. In truth, there are many indigenous traditions linking political or family groups to an animal, or linking an individual to several animals. Those animals are most commonly a bear, beaver, deer, falcon, otter, owl, raven, snake, snow goose, wolf, woodpecker or salmon.

Yes, that’s 12 again.

For example, people born from late July to August are born under the sun sign of Leo in the Western zodiac, associated with a lion. But in some Native American traditions, they are influenced by the much-honored salmon. Like these persistent fish, which swim against the current when it is time to lay eggs, they enthusiastically go against the flow to pursue their vision.

Today, astrology is having a moment, and the Internet is swimming in titles like “How to Cook The Perfect Salmon Depending on Your Zodiac Sign,” “The Best Sushi for Your Zodiac Sign,” and the all-purpose “What You Should Make for Dinner, Based on Your Zodiac Sign.”

These accounts indicate that Pisces like mixed seafood on spaghetti, Scorpios enjoy shrimp on its own, and Capricorns like to serve salmon.

So regardless of your views on the reliability of astrology, by all means, eat salmon! We couldn’t agree more, Capricorns!

Author

Temma Ehrenfeld has been a writer for more than 30 years. Her novel "Morgan" is available at bookstores.

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