In my recent Sunday Check Up, I have shared my love to postage stamps, which I used to collect back in the days were we had mail rather than e-mails. Since last week we covered music and the signs, I wanted to look into postal stamps from around the world that depict astrological themes. I wanted to see how different cultures capture the 12 zodiac signs.
The first postage stamps was used on May 6 1840 in Victorian Britain, showing the face of, well, Queen Victoria of course. As you noticed, the first stamp was born in Taurus, the sign of art and design. Unlike that barcode we use today to replace stamps, which is a very Gemini black and white affair, the stamps of past and those who are still issued now, are colorful, bosting a great deal of artistic creativity and freedom. They are like murals painted on envelops and packages.
It was a schoolmaster names Sir Rowland Hill who came up with the ingenious idea of adhesive postal stamps, for which he was granted knighthood by the Queen of Queens – Victoria. Soon after, every country joined the stamp bonanza giving birth to a wonderful hobby: stamp collecting.
The zodiac stamps became very popular in the 60s. Flower-power, LSD, Buddhism conquest of the heart of youngsters, mystical awakening, Marijuana, and the spread of yoga in the West were all linked to the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. In Feb 1962, the 7 planets that are visible to the naked eye converged in Aquarius and sparked the interest in Astrology that is said to be ruled by Aquarius. Since then, every few years, postal services around the world issue new sets of zodiac stamps. Some of them are not only beautiful but also educational and hilarious. Here are some examples:
The choice of colors for the sign is esthetic only, meaning the color of the sign are not related to the actual frequency of the sign. There is a quote from Brachot, which is part of the Jewish liturgy: “I have created 12 constellations in the firmament.” A nice synchronicity that the main stamp of the series, the one in blue depicting the entire wheel is priced at 1 Shekel.
Here we see the Canadians attempting to combine many different elements rather successfully. The glyph of the sign, along with the actual fixed stars that construct the constellations and, best part, the true color assigned to each sign. You can see Aries is red, Leo is yellow, Libra green etc.
Uniformity and minimalistic, the Japanese version colors all the signs in the same magical sky blue. The constellation are seen in black, like an ancient script.
One of the funniest and spot-on caricatures of the zodiac I have even seen. Look at them one by one. Whimsical characters, naughty yet full of charm. Check out the Aquarian kid, water bearer, peeing while looking back at you defiantly, his look is saying, “What?” Look at the Leo pretending to be a lion, of the Pisces, trying to fish herself. The Virgo girl lifting her dress up, how very chaste, or the Libra who can’t decide between two desserts.
Since we are in Easter Europe, and already smiling, here is neighboring Poland depiction of the zodiac. I love this series. Simple and profound, deep and humorous. Look at the first one, Aquarius, a plumber who can’t fix the leak and is about to drawn. The Gemini who is spying on his other side, a Taurus who is clenching his safe box, a Virgo watchmaker, and a Napoleon Leo suffering from a Napoleon syndrome…
I couldn’t find all the 12 together so I had to fish them from different corners of Google. These stamps are very educational as well as sassy. You can see scenes of zodiacal life with a few words on the stamp to describe the sign (I don’t agree to all but most are accurate):
I love what Brazil did. There are some hidden messages. First, you can see Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn, all positioned outside of the circle. These are the four cardinal sign. Each one of these signs begins in one of the four angles, or corners of the year: the two equinoxes and two solstices. They are cardinals because they push the zodiac forward, each in his or her own element (Aries – Fire; Libra – Air; Cancer – Water; and Capricorn – Earth). It is very clever how the artist positioned these signs not only out of the circle but also at the four corners of the inner square. In addition, the center circle depicts the planets and their rulership over the signs. An entire Astrology book on your stamp!
That’s is for today. Maybe you can google some more of these and send me if you find any original ones. We can digitally collect stamps these days!
Have a wonderful week and a happy new moon Jan 12-13.
love from the City of Angels.