The “13th Sign” – Science or Science-Fiction?

UPDATED September 20, 2016 – September 20, 2016, people!

Apparently this is still “news.” The last round of anxious texts and Facebook messages I received from people asking about the “new zodiac” was in 2011, but apparently the meme is making the rounds again because I’ve got another slew of messages from people wondering whether they’re still an Aquarian, or gulp, God forbid, a Capricorn. Clearly this is a veeerrry urgent concern, so this post is for all of my little radishes out there who do not want to be any other sign than the sign they thought they were!

In short: fear not, Little Radishes! You are still Radishes! Or Aquarians, or whatever it was you were before this “new discovery.” In fact, neither the Precession of the Equinox (which incidentally is the phenomena responsible for the idea of the Age of Aquarius) nor the constellation Ophiuchus are new discoveries, least of all to astrologers. Knowledge of both dates back over two thousand years ago to a time when the terms astrology and astronomy were synonymous, so the fact is, the discoveries were very likely made by someone who also practiced divination. Neither of them affects our craft because our craft is actually not (despite widespread popular belief) based on the constellations.

I can understand that this sounds absurd when it’s common astrological lore to talk about the double-faced Gemini “twins,” and the unforgiving sting of the Scorpio “scorpion.” Never the less, it’s true.  Western astrology is based on the relationship of the earth to the sun and moon, or the seasons, not on the relationship of the earth to the constellations. In other words, 0 degree Aries is the beginning of the western zodiac and it always coincides with the spring equinox, NOT 0 degree Aries the constellation.  It’s been this way since Ptolemy in 200 AD, and although no one knows exactly why the ancient Greeks decided to abandon a sidereal zodiac (based on constellations) for the tropical (based on seasons) they did, and it fits in nicely with the Greek obsession for the ideal, the perfect. The western zodiac is simply the circle divided into 12 equal portions all balancing each other out – it’s very yin and yang, and the Greeks conceived it as a perfect representation of a perfect, ordered world.

Hence a sign is simply a 30 degree division of a 360 degree circle, with no relation to a constellation. Therefore the proposal of a “13th sign” is irrelevant. Since the signs are not based on constellations, the fact that there are more than 12 constellations has no bearing on anything.

However, modern astronomers are prone to error in their assumptions about astrology, and like to pose both these astronomical facts as “proof” that astrologers are ignorant of the astronomy behind their craft and hence that astrology is bunk. The media, being unsatisfied with the current political and/or celebrity circus of the moment periodically jumps on the bandwagon to stir up the dust and an unwitting public gets dragged into the melee.

If you’re interested in knowing more about this it’s worth checking out what the inimitable Deborah Houlding, author of one of my favorite books on the houses has to say about it. You can read that over on the site she founded, Skyscript.

TL;DR: you’re the same sign you always were, because your sign is based on the change of the seasons, not the constellations. In short, you’ll always be a radish to me <3

 

Just Blame Astrology!

I have been feeling all manner of Apocalyptic lately.

But I remind myself that with Pluto transiting my Venus right now and Saturn approaching my Moon, it’s only natural that I should be feeling so full of death and fear of destruction.  Which brings me to my point:  although you can’t blame astrology for any impending apocalypse  if you hate your life for any reason, chances are you can blame astrology for it!  After all, astrology is very simply a measurement of time and how it affects us, so it always serves as a useful reminder that everything, good and bad, shall pass.  Except your human nature, and astrology can help you there too, by describing your human nature and telling you to just deal with it.  Sometimes, in some ways, you just suck.  It’s OK.  The only thing worse than sucking at being human is pretending you don’t suck at being human.  Stop fighting yourself.

It’s like how I used to be seriously uptight.  All. The. Time.  And then I started getting stoned, which made me really super paranoid, but then I could just tell myself, “hey, Wonder, relax, you’re just stoned!”  and then later when I was sober and started to feel paranoid, I found myself telling myself, “hey, Wonder, relax, you’re just uptight and paranoid!”  Saved my life.  Now when I’m freaking out about this or that I just check my transits and tell myself, “Dude, relax, it’s just Mars rocking your Descendant!  It’ll pass!”

Obviously, this isn’t going to work for everybody.  Some people prefer Jesus, or Buddha, or a nice warm gun.  But I take the long range view.  The planets have been here awhile – since way before Jesus or Buddha – and they’ll probably be here a lot longer than any of us here now.  They’re real, they’re visible, and they couldn’t care less about my death wish or whether I’ve gained a few pounds.  Very comforting, that.  Especially that last part.  Excuse me while I go check my transits to see if I can blame astrology when I go visit Yogurtland for the sixth time in four days…

Astrology, Apocalypse & 2012

You guys, I can’t stop thinking about the obvious impending APOCALYPSE that is CLEARLY about to befall us. It doesn’t help that the news is reporting 2010 is the most natural disaster ridden year “in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined.”

It also doesn’t help that people are all the time asking me what I think of 2012 and the Mayan prophecy that it’s the end times…  It sort of keeps the idea fresh in my head. At times like those I like to remind myself of all the hours I spent at Kepler reading about how astrologers for millennia have been predicting the end of the world. My professor Nick Campion laid forth some very convincing arguments (some of which you can read in his book Astrology, History and the Apocalypse) that the much vaunted “Age of Aquarius” is just the newest version of apocalyptic doom and gloom we’ve been predicting for centuries and we really have to choose how much we want to be ruled by these myths. The conclusion I drew then, and struggle constantly to draw again and again, is that humans just have an undeniable, insatiable (and seriously arrogant) death wish and it’s just very hard for us to really contemplate anyone or anything carrying on without our precious selves to watch over them/it. So logically I really do agree with my fellow Kepler classmate, Chris Brennan, when he says that everyone should calm down about 2012, but unfortunately, being human, and a gloomy Capricorn to boot, in my heart of hearts on a down day I really do believe WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.  SCREAMING.

That’s usually when I check my transits, though, ’cause although astrologers are widely supposed to be predicting the apocalypse, well, even if that were true some astrologers have been predicting it for centuries to no avail thus far. The good news is, however, you can still blame astrology for any death wish you might be going through, ’cause nine’ll get you ten you’ve got Saturn riding your Moon for a year, or Pluto squaring your Sun for two years, or, if you’re really lucky, Mars making a mockery of your Mercury for just a couple of days. On the other hand, it could just be something you ate.  Only time will tell…