The zodiac with its attributions (see mandala below) is the basic vocabulary of astrology.  Learning the signs is like learning the months in your long lost native language from back when the year began at the spring equinox.   The attributions of element (fire, earth, air, water) and mode (cardinal, fixed, mutable), describe the quality of energy and how quickly it is changing. 
Meditating on the zodiac is like repeating sun salutations, a very basic series of yoga movements. The first several times doing the exercise the student is so focused on executing the movements properly that there is little opportunity for insight.  As they become more adept at maneuvering their body, the practitioner has the luxury of observing how the exercise changes their perception of nature inside and out.  Astrology is the same process on a mental level, it is an exercise that trains the mind to perceive the specifics of the universe around and inside as yoked or united. 
The Ancient Mandala
for Pondering the
of all
Subject to the Cycle of Birth and Death

“Twelve are the fellies.  Who has understood them?”    Dirghatamas

We train the mind to see every experience, including thoughts, as a step in a cycle.  There are several basic cycles visible to the naked eye in the movement of Earth and the other bodies in our solar system, and then many other cycles generated by the relationships between the various radiating bodies.  The zodiac is the unit cycle that we use to calibrate all cycles.  Though it is rarely noted in astrology literature the zodiac as unit cycle refers not just to the Earth’s orbit of the Sun, but just as importantly and at the same time, to Earth turning on its axis.

Here is a list of the signs coupled with 12 steps in an agricultural cycle as an example of the zodiac illuminating the cycle of the year. 

We learn early in life through observation and instruction that the amount of time the Sun shines each day rules this cycle.  The fluctuation of light is generated by Earth’s spin on a tilted axis in communion with its steady orbit of the Sun.   In astrology we take great care in tracking the amount of time a source of light is above the horizon, otherwise there is nothing mysterious about the thought process.  The zodiac is just a way of taking those quantities and describing them with words and images instead of numbers. 

Now for the cycle of Earth’s daily revolution-- the same energy changes that the zodiac calibrates in a year faithfully reflect an advancing cycle that repeats itself every day.  The concept of a day reflected in a year is at the heart of astrology.  It seems so simple that we can be fooled into skipping over this meditation, and miss half the wisdom the zodiac offers. The mascots, such as the goat and crab, will not make sense from just studying the cycle of the year, so eventually you will want to get an astrological handle on the Earth's daily spin.  An introduction to the cycle of the day is at this link--  The MC or Midheaven

Don't be afraid to think for yourself when pondering astrology.  We are meditating on life, not sending a person in a rocket to the space station.  As long as your thoughts are focused on understanding how we are affected by the light you cannot go wrong.  Below is a link to a meditation to help get started.   But before we even begin let's stop for a few seconds and give our minds a moment to focus on this very important riddle of how we are carved out of light. We don't need immediate answers, we don't need to come to conclusions, we only need to spend some time following the patterns of changing light.  This link goes to a page designed for meditation, not speed reading.  Serious Attention to the Light

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