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Micah Ross

Micah Ross

The Festivals of Aquarius


Since its origin in Mesopotamia, the zodiacal sign of Aquarius has been associated with several public religious festivals. The Mesopotamian "Festival of Ea" fell at the beginning of the flood season, roughly when the sun occupied Aquarius. The Egyptian flood season began in a different month, but when Egyptian astronomers adopted the zodiac, they adapted iconographic elements from an Egyptian flood festival to the sign of the zodiac. In fact, Greek accounts of public Egyptian rituals clarify the Greek vocabulary of the zodiac. Also, an Indian festival called Kumbh Mela invokes Aquarian zodiacal iconography. This apparently long-standing festival claims an origin in mythology, but the scheduling of the festival depends on astrological doctrines derived from Western astrology. A parallel consideration of the tools, rituals, and theological ends of these festivals of Aquarius elucidates the transformation of zodiacal iconography between cultures.


Micah Ross studies the transmission of astronomy and mathematics between cultures. In Providence, he prepared an edition of Demotic horoscopes. In Paris, he considered the history of Egyptian mathematics. In Kyoto, he studied Sanskrit astronomy. In Hsin Chu, he worked on the Jesuit introduction of Western astronomy to China. He is presently assembling work on the transmission of zodiacal iconography.



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