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January 15, 2011

Re-ASSigning the Signs

When has an astronomer ever written a horoscope? So why would you want to believe one about your sign?!?

When an astronomer states that the zodiac signs as we have known them are incorrect, astrologers must respond! This view is based on the sidereal (star-based) zodiac, which is the literal measurement of the Sun against the backdrop of the constellations along the path of its annual apparent journey. The astronomer is right that we have known a long time about the change in the calendar dates related to the movement of the Sun through the zodiac stars. What this astronomer does not mention is the more common, though more abstract, method of measuring the movement of the Sun through the zodiac constellations based on the seasons. This is known as the tropical zodiac (think Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and how these are the signs of the solstices, at the extremes of the earth’s tilt). In referring to the slow wobble of the earth, he is acknowledging the "precession of the equinox." This phenomenon accounts for the changing of the Great Ages and how we are currently entering the Age of Aquarius. Simply put, the location among the stars where the Sun appears at the spring equinox continually precedes the prior year's starting point. The backward shift amounts to one degree (of the circle's 360 degrees) every 72 years, taking approximately 26,000 years to go around the whole zodiac. When neatly measuring the twelve signs as thirty-degree sectors in relation to the spring equinox, no one is changing signs. This is a convenient protocol and maintains a lot of merit in interpreting personality traits and conditions associated with the signs. To adopt the perspective of Minnesota astronomer Parke Kunkle, the dates he lists need to be altered every 72 years to be accurate. (Years are always 365-1/4 days long and days are 24 hours; pretty consistent). Aligning with the seasons, variation is minimal, just a quarter of a day per year due to the man-made insertion of Leap Year. So if you assign the signs to periods of the year, you can use the seasonal system and enjoy your sign as you have always thought it to be OR if you want to go backwards, follow this guy. And if you want to know your REAL horoscope, find out your real birth time and learn your “rising sign” (the sign coming up over the eastern horizon at your birth). That is the sign for which you should read astrological forecasts. It lines the signs up with the departments of your life according to the order considered by astrologers in writing horoscopes. If you must change signs, find out your rising sign and adopt it.

As for a thirteenth sign, yes for years we have also known that a constellation Ophiuchus in the neighborhood of Libra and Scorpio intersects the path of the Sun (and other planets). This is true no matter which way you measure the zodiac. But in both zodiac systems, there are four seasons, each associated with three signs. Although astronomers (who in general have no love for astrologers) might like to stick a new sign into the nice, neat twelve-sign system (which would throw astrologers for a loop), do not hold your breath for any astrologers, sidereal or tropical, to rush to embrace Ophiuchus as a sign and assign it a ruling planet and affiliated behavior and associations. The system is not broken. We do not need to fix it.