It is an ancient theory in astrology that the signs of the zodiac parallel the parts of the body. They do so in sign order, from head to toe, from the spring equinox sign of Aries which launches the solar year through the tail-end-of-winter sign of Pisces which ends the solar year.
Additionally, while the zodiac rules general body areas and external body parts, the planets of the solar system (which rule and are of parallel natures with the signs) rule the various internal organs and systems. As we come to better medical understanding in the modern era of how our bodies work, we are gradually coming to see why some of the ancient attributions of planet-to-part exist, and we become able to understand which parts not heretofore attributed to a planet might go with a particular one.
In traditional astrology, which has techniques and theories dating back to ancient Greece, the concept of the homunculus, or “little man,” describes this parallelism. The homunculus is a little man envisioned as stretched over the circle of the zodiac as if doing acrobatics in mid-air, feet touching his head. The image of the homunculus illustrates the parallels between body parts and the zodiac. Astrology is not the only discipline that uses the concept of homunculus—in modern conventional medicine, the human brain has been similarly mapped by placing a “little man” over it to show brain regions which parallel parts of the body.
In alternative medicine, the homunculus concept is called reflexology and acupuncturists are well aware of the parallels among parts of the body. They have discovered a “little man” in the human foot, ears, hands and even the tongue. When an organ or other body part is in need of healing but is too damaged or in too much pain or discomfort to be treated directly, often an approach to its corollary on the foot, hand, ear or some combination of these will help the healing speed along.
The Zodiac, Head to Toe
What follows is a very brief description of the zodiacal associations for parts of the body.
Have you ever watched a film of two rams fighting? It’s the very epitome of head-banging. You may have heard that Aries rules the head (which it does) and since rams are so head-oriented, this comes as no surprise. Human rams like a little head-banging too—life just isn’t as interesting without a little conflict. Aries rules the head and all of its contents (brain, skull, etc).
Taurus rules the throat; this is said to be connected with the Taurean tendency toward musicianship and a love of music. Taureans love not only music’s sound, but also the feel of music in the throat when one is singing, and the vibrations of music when they hit the whole body. Inside the body, Taurus also rules the thyroid gland.
Gemini rules shoulders, arms and hands. Gemini is the Twins and shoulders are the first place the body splits into two when you are proceeding from the head downwards. The hands in particular are twins of each other, a matched set, even to having a “good” (dominant) and “evil” (nondominant) twin. You probably already know that the word dextrous comes from the Latin word “dexter” which means right, while “sinister” was left. Being left-handed has been highly discouraged at frequent times and places in human civilized history. Gemini also rules the nervous system; people with strong Gemini influence tend to be jumpy. And Gemini is associated with the lungs and breathing (it is the first air sign in the zodiac).
Cancer rules the breasts, which is appropriate for the sign most associated with mothering, feeding and nurturing. Large-breasted women are generally assumed to be both more motherly and more fertile. Cancer rules the stomach and alimentary canal–the feeding theme continues here. Cancer is also the first water sign to appear in the zodiacal order, linking it with the realm of emotions and intuition.
Leo rules the back and the spine, appropriate because Leo is the lion and is thus associated with a certain sense of royalty. What better part than the spine to convey this sign’s sense of dignity and noblesse oblige? Leo’s “planet,” the Sun, rules the heart, appropriate for the sign that is also associated with love, romance and a sunny disposition.
Virgo rules the belly and the digestive tract, which is appropriate because Virgo is all about sorting and separating. The stomach belongs to Cancer, but Virgo gets the small and large intestines, colon and rectum. Virgos are highly conscious of dirt and disorder.
Libra rules the hips and, through the ruler it shares with Taurus (Venus), the kidneys. The hips are like a scale inside our body from which right and left legs dangle, balancing us as we walk.
Scorpio rules the genitals, whether male or female and also, paradoxically, the nose. That these would be connected through the sign of Scorpio makes sense because the nose detects pheromones, allowing attraction and reproduction to happen. I am of the opinion that Scorpio rules all the mucus membranes of the body, because these areas allow intimate connection which joins one human to another into a single biological system. Since Scorpio itself rules the function of sex as intimate connection and bonding between two, this makes sense—humans bond at the genitals and mouth. The sense organs are given to Taurus, which is a sign that represents the age of life (babyhood) in which we are exploring the world through our senses, but the mucus membranes of them (nose, eyes, etc) should belong to Scorpio.
Sagittarius rules the buttocks and thighs. These are the major muscle groups of the body, which makes sense because these are the parts most involved in locomotion, and Sagittarius is the sign of travel and exploration. Through its ruler Jupiter, Sagittarius also rules the liver.
Capricorn is all about structure and thus rules the skeleton with all its bones, including the teeth. The skeleton is the framework on which the rest of our body is built. If we were exoskeletal creatures, our exoskeleton would be ruled by Capricorn. The skin is ruled by Capricorn too—you see the theme here of boundaries and structure. This sign also governs the knees, as is appropriate for a sign associated with the theme of hierarchy.
Aquarius rules the ankles, which seemed to me for many years like an afterthought until I learned that Aquarius rules all the joints. This makes much more sense, because Aquarius is all about networking and connecting things to each other into systems. Also, when you crack your joints, you are actually popping a bubble inside your body. Joints build up small amounts of gasses inside their tiny spaces, and when you crack your knuckles, you are releasing gas, like popping bubble wrap. That this air-filled area would be ruled by an air sign is appropriate.
Pisces rules the feet, a body part which is both humble and sensitive. It makes sense that the feet themselves would be a homunculus, because Pisces is generally regarded as a repository for the qualities of all the signs that came before (thus the Piscean tendency towards confusion and dispersion of identity).
In the last few hundred years, new planets have been discovered (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) and astrologers are still figuring out their attributions. Also medical science has advanced tremendously in understanding of the parts of the body and their functions. This leads to such interesting questions as: what rules the lymph system? What qualities in the physical function of the spleen parallel the medieval concept of “venting your spleen?” Why are some body parts venerated while others are reviled? It is an ongoing study and a fascinating one.
The Moon Sign and Body Sensitivity
One useful application of the connection between zodiac and body parts is to be aware of one’s Moon sign, because the Moon confers sensitivity to that part of the body belonging to the sign it is in. So, for example, I have the Moon in Taurus and had many sore throats as a child. A person with Moon in Virgo should take good care of their digestive tract and a Moon in Sagittarius person, already attracted to and prone to excess, should avoid drinking too much because of stress to the liver.
Find out your Moon sign and protect that part of the body. It may well be extra-sensitive.
Another application involving the Moon is around surgery. Medical astrology is a large and detailed branch of the field unto itself, and shouldn’t be practiced by anyone who isn’t also medically trained, but there is a thing that most astrologers know, even without special training. That is that you should avoid having surgery on a body part when the Moon is moving through that part’s sign. This means you should avoid having heart surgery when the Moon is in Leo and reschedule that boob job for a time when the Moon is not in Cancer. Dental surgery involves two signs to avoid: don’t have root canal work when the Moon is moving through Aries (because the teeth are inside the head), but also avoid it when the Moon is in Capricorn, because the teeth are bones.
Why would the Moon affect surgery, of all things? This is because a body part is sensitized by the passage of the Moon through its sign, making it more vulnerable to infection. Another reason is that the risk of hemorrhage during surgery is higher because the Moon pulls the tides of the Earth—and also of our bodies. The Moon moves our blood, hormones, neurochemicals, etc. and creates stronger flow (higher tides) in any particular body part when it moves through that part’s sign. To open up that part surgically is more risky than to wait until the Moon moves on. The Moon only spends 2 and a half days per month in a given sign, so it’s often not difficult to avoid an inauspicious surgery date, if you have any control over the date at all.
In most metaphysical bookstores you can find a pocket calendar, which will tell you the daily Moon sign, along with a bunch of other astrological and astronomical data. Also, most metaphysical bookstores can recommend an astrologer who may be willing to simply tell you dates to avoid over the phone for free. It is easy to look up and takes just a minute.
Naturally, this article has only scratched the surface of medical astrology, which is a fascinating field all its own, but the bit of information I’ve given you today is enough for anyone to use to their benefit and without harm.