Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 13th Sign?


That's right, kids. There's a new kid on the astral block!

Well, that's not exactly true. Ophiuchus has been around since Ptolemy. You know Ptolemy. He's that ancient astronomy guy. There are numerous constellations to be found in the night sky and people have been fascinated with them since the beginning of time, but there's been a slight difference of method between the astronomers and the astrologers.

13 isn't the easiest number to work with. 12 is much easier. So, without precise instruments, the ancients created the tropical zodiac, filled with only 12 signs. The Sun travels directly from Scorpio into Sagittarius. According to astronomers, this is simply not true. Now, this is not a new phenomenon, but thanks to an article with information from Parke Kunkle, everyone is spreading the word through social media and doing quick research. There's a sudden flurry of identity confusion because adding Ophiuchus to the mix means that the new schedule looks like this:

Sun Sign Meaning Dates
01: Pisces the Fishes 12 Mar to 18 Apr
02: Aries the Ram 19 Apr to 13 May
03: Taurus the Bull 14 May to 19 Jun
04: Gemini the Twins 20 Jun to 20 Jul
05: Cancer the Crab 21 Jul to 9 Aug
06: Leo the Lion 10 Aug to 15 Sep
07: Virgo the Maiden 16 Sep to 30 Oct
08: Libra the Scales 31 Oct to 22 Nov
09: Scorpius the Scorpion 23 Nov to 29 Nov
10: Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer 30 Nov to 17 Dec
11 Sagittarius the Archer 18 Dec to 18 Jan
12: Capricornus the Sea Goat 19 Jan to 15 Feb
13: Aquarius the Water Carrier 16 Feb to 11 Mar

Some are reacting with smugness. "See? We knew that astrology wasn't real!" Others are feeling a sense of rightness. "I never felt like a Scorpio anyway!" But most of the western astrological world is thrown by this. "I'm a Leo. I have always felt like a Leo. I will always be a Leo." Well, kids, I have to say that I fall into this last category, but there's something more to it than sheer stubbornness.

There are two zodiacs. There is the tropical zodiac which has been set in place by the ancients. This zodiac follows the seasons. Western astrology is based in this zodiac, with its 12 signs. Then there is the sidereal zodiac which follows the constellations themselves. This second zodiac is the one the astronomer is referring to. Do not worry - the tropical zodiac keeps your sign where it has been since ancient times.

Change is inevitable. The world spins forward and as it progresses, there are bound to be some changes. Still, I have to trust that the ancients knew what they were doing. The influences of the celestial bodies are not measured by instruments. There are many forces in the universe that are not readable, not categorized, and do not fit into the proven world of pure science.

This is not to say that Ophiuchus does not have its place in the sky or in the celestial influences. However, if it is to be a Sun-Sign, there need to be more adjustments than just the displacement of the other 12. Everything must be redefined or be left alone. After all, when Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were discovered, they joined the astrological teams, taking over Aquarius, Pisces, and Scorpio, respectively. The zodiac was reassessed, but the signs retained their attributes. In fact, they developed further. And there are many who say there are two more planets to be discovered as part of the astrological world.

There are still many things yet to be discovered in this universe and far be it from me to deny the possibility of more Sun-Signs. In fact, some speculate that there are yet other Sun-Signs, such as Arachne and Cetus. There are many possibilities up there in the night sky. Perhaps there were always meant to be more Sun-Signs, but mankind latched onto these 12 for a reason. They felt a connection. That connection hasn't disappeared and I don't think it will. They're rooted deeply in our psyches. That kind of energy is ingrained in the human condition.

It's likely that astrology will develop further as we discover more about our universe, but with things as they are, the ancient art and science of astrology still applies.

It's good to see Ophiuchus getting recognized as an important constellation, but I say the old zodiac still holds true. We are still our Signs. So, as the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy says, "Don't panic."