By: Aisling Bronach of House Shadow Drake
Note: This article is entitled the "Celtic Zodiac" as most individuals
who are searching for information regarding the zodiac ot astrology of
the so-called Celtic cultures use the term Celtic to describe the
collective of cultures found within insular Western Europe.
The Celtic zodiac is something left unknown to many people. There are very few
clues as to its constellations and meanings. The following is a compilation of the
scant pieces of information which are available in regards to the Celtic
zodiac and the associated folklore.
Katherine Maltwood, an aerial photographer, was able to reveal complex patterns
in contours and landmarks of Glastonbury, in England. These appeared to form a very
large zodiacal land chart. The only explanation of this land chart comes from L.A.
Waddell in his book, the "Makers of Civilization" where he suggests that the Cymry
might have originated in Sumeria and be the product of several immigrations which
resulted in colonization from 2700 BC onward. Thus, we find an explanation for the
arrival of the Welsh zodiac, the Caer Sidi. The Caer Sidi translates as the
"Fortress of the Fairies."
Caer Sidi is mentioned twice within the "Book of Taliesin" - once within the
`Spoils of Annwn,' and again at the end of poem xiv.
Perfect is my seat in the fort of Sidi
Nor pest nor age plagues him who dwells therein:
Manawydan and Pryderi know it.
Three organs play before it about a fire.
Around its corners ocean's currents flow,
And above it is the fertile mountain,
And sweeter than the white wine is the drink therein.
Perfect was the prison of Gwair in Caer Sidi,
Thanks to Pwyll and Pryderi's emissary.
Before him no one entered into it,
To the heavy, dark chain held by a faithful youth;
And before the spoils of Annwn sorely he sang,
And thenceforth remains he till doom a bard.
Three fernights of Prydwen went we thither
But only seven returned from Caer Sidi.
The Caer Sidi is also seen as the Turning Castle, which is the Welsh translation
of the Seint Greal,, an Anglo-Norman romance. The Turning Castle was said to be
located off the coast of Anglesey near Puffin Island. The existence of a terrestrial
location for a celestial object is not unusual within Welsh folklore. Another
example of a dual location can be seen within Caer Arianrhod which was located
terrestrially as being near Dinas Dinlle, and celestially as the corona
Within Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, the zodiac is referred to as the Mielan circul
zodiacum, the Great Zodiacal Circle, Twelf Tacna, and the Twelve Signs. However,
their English descendants around the 1400-1500's, recognized the zodiac as the
Bestiary, Our Ladye's Waye, and also as the Girdle of the Sky. The ecliptic was
known to them as the Yoke of the Sky and the Thwarrt Circle. The prime meridian was
called the Noonsteede or Noonstead Circle.
Allen, R. H. Star-Names and Their Meanings (G. E. Stechert, 1899). Page 4.
Rhys, John. Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx. (NY: Benjamin Blom, 1972.) Pages
678 and 679.