The zodiac is a concept in astrology, where a number of signs relating to constellations have influence on the world. The concept of the zodiac, and in particular the western one, features prominently in Homestuck, most notably through the trolls, and is also connected to the cherubs. The twelve signs of the western zodiac on Earth are represented by the same symbols appearing on the shirts of the twelve trolls who created Universe B, and it would appear that due to the influence of these trolls (or at least, not coincidentally) the western zodiac's signs represent various traits of theirs.
On Alternia, each member of a given caste is to be labeled with one symbol derived from an alphabet used for that caste, after their hatching. The symbol for Cancer is specifically derived from Andrew Hussie has joked that the trolls have 48 of these signs because of the 48 squiddles that created their universe. It may be worth noting however that Ptolemy in his categorization of the constellations listed 48 constellations.. It was previously mentioned that trolls have for a version of a zodiac similar to that of the human zodiac, however it is presumably independent of the extended zodiac, which is purely used for sign assignations (and only associated with the astrological zodiac concept from a human perspective).
The Human Zodiac
The human zodiac, known in the real world simply as the traditional western conception of the "zodiac", is an ancient astrological concept that defines twelve constellations and corresponding regions that span a line that can be traced around the ecliptic; the path that the sun follows around the celestial sphere in a year. These regions are then utilized to define the positions of certain celestial objects at certain dates and times in order to make predictions. The human universes in Homestuck share this concept with our world, with the exception of the fact that the presence of the zodiac in the world and the existence of the equivalent constellations around Earth are seemingly derived from the fact that Universe B was created by the twelve post-Scratch trolls, all of whom bear the traditional human zodiac symbols as their troll symbol. This means that, in Homestuck's universe, the astrological zodiac is ultimately derived from the trolls rather than vice-versa as in the real world.
As the human zodiac symbols are therefore also part of the Alternian troll symbol alphabets, this means that all twelve human zodiac symbols are included as part of the extended zodiac, although this system includes further signs "extended" beyond them. One human zodiac sign belongs to each extended zodiac sign group/caste category, corresponding with the blood colour of the troll who bears it, and these signs constitute the first sign in their respective categories.
The Extended Zodiac
On November 27, 2017, an "extended zodiac" of 288 signs from all combinations of sign class, lunar sway (dream moon), and aspect was revealed, representing at least part of the alphabet of signs used on Alternia. In the real world, one could determine one's extended zodiac symbol, or "true sign", by means of a canonical extended zodiac quiz, determining your lunar sway and aspect based on a personality quiz (sign class was determined in accordance with the traditional zodiac's birth date groupings). This in turn suggests that the extended zodiac symbols used on Alternia are either assigned in accordance with or associated with particular personality traits, and also allows for the hypothetical aspect and dream moon of a given troll to be determined. A troll's blood caste determines their sign class, and thus the specific set of signs from which this symbol is taken. The exceptions to all these rules are the few canonical trolls that do not have symbols from the extended zodiac alphabet, such as the fantrolls, although they may have utilized a different system as they did not originate on Alternia. It is worth noting, however, that Vriska has there are far more signs for each blood caste than are represented in the extended zodiac: “Each class has a huge alpha8et of signs, so when someone shares yours, you know you have a lot in common.” This is backed up by seemingly random signs possessed by some of the trolls present in posters featured in Hiveswap.
The manner in which the names of each sign is decided follows a naming theme. The first half is dictated by the blood color, while the second half is determined by both the Lunar Sway and Aspect (within the context of the Extended Zodiac Quiz, it is unknown if these factors exist within the canon of Hiveswap). There are a total of 12 prefixes and 24 suffixes.
The prefixes and suffixes are derived from fragments of the 12 signs of the classic zodiac.
The alphabet of signs represented in the quiz can be found in each respective blood caste's pages.
Characters' extended zodiac signs
Almost every troll character in the Homestuck franchise originating on either Alternia or Beforus has an associated extended zodiac symbol which they were assigned by their culture at birth.
The mutant-blood Vantas characters are a special case, as their blood color is not a traditional part of the Hemospectrum. The sign associated with these characters, True Cancer, originated from the execution cuffs of The Signless, became regarded as his symbol posthumously, and was later applied to his descendant. This is odd, because even though this would imply that True Cancer is not an "official" Alternian sign, it is included in the extended zodiac as one of the Lime signs, albeit a miscolored one. It is unknown if this grouping is an informal one made for the framing process of the extended zodiac - perhaps reflecting a long hypothesized link between the Vantases and Lime bloods, or whether it means that, prior to the elimination of the Lime caste, the sign was a recognized part of the alphabet of Lime signs on Alternia.
Regardless, for the purposes of this list, both Karkat and the Signless are regarded as True Cancer, even though the latter was not assigned the sign at birth and it only became regarded as his posthumously. However, Kankri Vantas was also not assigned the sign at birth on Beforus and is never depicted with it, either on his clothing or person, despite having it reflected in his quirk. Given this, it is arguable that he was never "assigned" or even formally adopted this sign at all, in any capacity, even though his sign seemingly would be True Cancer as is the case for the other Vantases. As this list comprises only trolls that were canonically depicted bearing a particular sign, Kankri is therefore not included in this list, despite him being the pre-Scratch incarnation of The Signless, who is included.
The list below comprises all canonical trolls grouped by their extended zodiac symbols, in the order that they appear in hiveswap.com's complete sign list; the "extended zodiac order", which is also the order of the Hemospectrum with each blood color further sorted by the given sign orders:
In 1970, Stephen Schmidt suggested the inclusion of two additional western zodiac signs, Ophiuchus and Cetus; while this suggestion didn't catch on, in 1995 a 13 sign system only adding Ophiuchus to the traditional twelve was suggested by Walter Berg and Mark Yazaki. The 13-sign system has gained traction and as such when the original twelve trolls were introduced many theorized a thirteenth troll to exist. Eventually the character of Calliope was introduced, who initially appeared to be a new troll who used a Caduceus pictogram as their symbol. While Caduceus is not a constellation itself, both it and Ophiuchus are connected to snakes. Later still, Calliope's brother, Caliborn, was introduced, who used the symbol for Ophiuchus. These characters were later revealed to not have been trolls, but rather cherubs, a species possessing serpentine features, and to also share a singular body.
Per the above, two "13th and 14th" signs can therefore be listed as:
- Ophiuchus (⛎) - The sign of Caliborn.
- Cetus - No character uses this sign; however, the sign is named after a mythological monster of the same name that appears in Homestuck as a denizen.
In Hiveswap Friendsim: Volume Five, Polypa Goezee initially appears disguised as a Goldblood, and as such bears a fake gold sign. This sign, consisting of two interlocking rings, does not appear in the known extended zodiac signs. It is unknown if this is because it is a sign from a larger troll sign library (of which the extended zodiac signs are only a part), or whether this sign is simply an original fabrication of Polypa and/or her associates. Marvus Xoloto and Ardata Carmia typically have appeared without their signs, as has Marsti Houtek in some circumstances; which implies that it is socially acceptable to be seen without a sign.
Additionally, the fantrolls Mierfa Durgas and Nektan Whelan have signs based on the constellation Perseus and planet Neptune, which do not appear in the extended Zodiac despite appearing in-comic, and a music team member's trollsona that appears in Hiveswap has a sign resembling a musical note. There is also a tealblooded troll in the Paradox Space comic " " with a unique sign, although it's similar to Liga.
- The selection of Jade Signs that
show that at least part of the extended zodiac was completed as far back as in June 2015.
- In fact, an "expanded zodiac" of troll signs was teased in a Hiveswap Kickstarter update on March 26, 2015, describing around 250 signs that had been made. As this lines up fairly exactly with the eventually released 288 sign extended zodiac, this probably means that the alphabet was fully realized at this point, albeit not to be publicly released for the following 2½ years.
- Barzum and Baizli Soleil's matching signs, as well as designer Poinko's statement that they "Ran out of signs" for prototype designs, both imply that at least some Extended Zodiac signs were not designed until the Troll Call trolls were finalized.
- The descriptions of the 12 signs of the classic zodiac found in the extended zodiac appeared to be more associated towards the Beta trolls and their ancestors, as opposed to their Alpha counterparts.
- The only two True signs that directly take their suffixes from their ancestor are True Cancer and True Leo. This may reflect the relationship between the Sufferer and the Disciple.
- This is especially true for the signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces (the Sign of the Signless, the Sign of the Conquerer and the Sign of the Cleric, respectively), as their descriptions appear to be more accurate to Karkat, Vriska and Feferi and their respective ancestors, as opposed to Kankri (who would never grow up with the legacy of the Signless/Sufferer, or even a sign as Karkat did), Aranea (who for the most part was passive and harmless, if self-absorbed right until the very end) and Meenah (who rarely used her abilities as a Life player to heal others, unlike Feferi or even the Condesce).
- This may indicate that the Extended Zodiac might only be relevant to Alternia and not Beforus.
- One alternate suffix of note is -iborn, which is a corruption of -icorn (From Capricorn). This is especially of note since, within the context of the quiz, both -icorn and -iborn are assigned to Rage Players.
- So far, there are no known Prospit-swayed Burgundy or Fuchsia-bloods.
- The Troll Call trolls were not designed with specific signs in mind, as confirmed by Poinko.
- True Cancer is the only sign ever to be worn by a troll it does not technically belong to.
- The Extended Zodiac was written by primarily by Aysha U. Farah.
- One of Elwurd's bad endings features her flirting with a troll wearing the Scoro sign, a Derse/Heart sign which the extended zodiac calls "sign of the Wondrous".
- A cropped version of the Capricorn symbol appears as a question mark in the comic. This is within while he's chatting with Gamzee.