To the Stellar Powers
With Grateful Thanks
Printed Version Book Cover
The Gate of the Fishes
The Land of the Man with the Pitcher
The Land of the Sea-Goat
The Land of the Archer
The Land of the Scorpion-Eagle
The Land of the Balance
The Land of the Virgin
The Land of the Lion
The Land of the Crab
The Land of the Twins
The Land of the Bull
The Land of the Ram
You have all heard about the twelve signs of the Zodiac, those groups of stars that form a band around the Earth, through which the sun seems to pass during the year and the Moon on her journey every twenty-eight days.
Tales and legends about the Signs of the Zodiac have been told for thousands or years, for they are very, very old, perhaps older than our Earth. Children in China, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Arabia knew much about them, and looked up and found them in the sky as you may do now.
The names the ancient peoples gave them were not always the same as ours, but the stories they told about them were similar.
In Babylon, the sign we call the Lion was the Great Dog, and the Twins had a shepherd to look after them, to see that they did not get into mischief I suppose, as twins often do!
The Chinese picture the Zodiac much as we do, but they have two Virgins sitting with their hands folded instead of one, and a Dragon instead of a sea goat, and sometimes all the signs are nicely seated on little stands like those you see in the shops on old Chinese vases.
You can recognize the same signs too in the Egyptian pictures, where the Sea Goat is often depicted as a Crocodile while in ancient Arabia the Ram, Bull, and Goat have a god riding on their backs, and the Fishes have a god seated between them.
The zodiacal New Year does not begin when ours does and perhaps you wonder why the Ram does not "rush in" on January first.
New Year does not start on January first for every nation, and many hundreds of years ago it was the custom to celebrate this at the proper sun Time--that is, March twenty-first, for the Sun always says that is the beginning of the year, in spite of the laws that men make. The old Romans recognized this for a long time until one of the Emperors decided he would alter the calendar.
The Sun, Moon, and Stars form a giant clock and calculate their time just the same whatever we say, and it is not so very long ago that men in England, counted their day, month, and year sums so badly that their time and the Sun's did not agree, and when they tried to put it right they had to lose eleven days to straighten things.
What happened to the children who had birthdays about that time I do not know; it is bad enough you will say to have one on February twenty-ninth in a Leap Year! However, just to show that the sun knows better than grown-ups, he gives you a birthday just the same every year even if you are born on the twenty-ninth, only it is not always on the same day.
The stars that make up the groups that are called the Signs of the Zodiac can be observed if you will go out on a clear night; you will see them best before the Moon has risen, and perhaps the easiest to find are the Twins, for the two big stars that are supposed to be on their heads are easily seen, one below the other. Not far off you will find a cluster of seven small stars called the Pleiades and these are in the sign of the Bull. They are sometimes termed the seven sisters and one was supposed to have done something wrong and so was shy and hid behind the others. Unless your eyes are very keen you cannot see her.
"Is any of the tale true?" you may ask. Well, some of it is, but which part you must find out for yourself. If you have a birthday on the same day as either Rex's or Zendah's you will find that some of their adventures will happen to you either asleep or awake, or you will want to do many of the things they loved to do.
Now we must start the adventure.
Rex and Zendah lived in the country, on the side of a hill with great pine trees on the top, which Zendah always said sang the sun to sleep at night.
Rex thought they were the poles that carried the fairies' wireless messages to the star people.
Every morning from their bedroom they could see the sun rise over the hill opposite, and at night they often watched the stars gradually light their lamps--that is if they happened to be awake!
In the winter they sometimes crept out of bed to peep at the sparkling Dog star that comes up over the side of the sky to keep watch over the Earth after Orion has drawn his sword and lighted up his belt for every one to see.
Rex's birthday was on March twenty-seventh, just when the sun has come into the sign of the Ram. He was quick and merry with bright brown eyes and curly hair, the colour of a ripe chestnut. Some of his boy friends said his hair was as hot as his temper, but he was never angry for long.
Zendah's birthday was on November twenty-sixth, when the Sun is in the Sign of the Archer. she was fair-haired, with big blue eyes, and thought it a great shame that her hair was only wavy and not curly like Rex's! Her greatest delight was to ride the little pony given to her by her father, on her twelfth birthday.
They both disliked being kept indoors, and they would rather spend all their time racing over the country in search of adventures of one kind or another.
In the winter they liked sitting by the fire, when the wind was howling in the pine trees on the hilltop, and listening to the stories about birds and animals that mother told them, or looking through father's telescope and trying to learn all the names of the stars. So that when the Great Adventure came--but there--you must read it for yourselves.