The 13th Sign [originally sent out April 2012]

Good Day Everyone,

And happy full moon.

You may have noticed that Astrology hit the national media this week; it was just a short filler-type article, but it generated plenty of buzz all over the place. In line with the idea that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” I’m going to take it as a chance to educate and enlighten.

It was reported that there is now a 13th zodiac sign and that all the dates have been changed for each sign. This is not true; your sign did not change. Apparently, when an astronomer was being interviewed recently about something called the precession of the equinoxes, he noted that some years ago astronomers had decided to change the zodiac so that it fit the current sky more perfectly. This story was widely reported a few years back, but with the rise of the internet and social media it got a whole lot more notice this time around.

The astronomers hadn’t consulted with the astrologers before they made that change. But that’s not surprising, considering that nearly all astronomers don’t believe in astrology, simply on the basis that they can’t measure it. Unfortunately, in the scientific community, unmeasurability tends to preclude the possibility that something might be true. I believe that one day we will find a way to measure the effects that astrologers have seen for millennia, and that science can then be reunited with what is now considered spiritual or the occult. (Occult literally means “hidden.”)

The reason the astronomers added a 13th sign is that there is a fairly large constellation that appears to bridge the gap between two of the others. They didn’t like the gap that they saw. If you look at any star chart of the constellations, you’ll see that they’re all different sizes and some take up a lot more of the sky than others. Yet the zodiac signs have always been equal in length, because they were simply named for a constellation that happened to take up a big part of that piece of the sky; the zodiac signs were not named after the constellations. Astronomers are simply taking things literally, seeking to fill in a gap that made no sense to them.

The twelve signs of the zodiac were created thousands of years ago, when the sky looked different. Over great periods of time, the precession of the equinoxes causes them to change position with respect to the Earth’s orientation. This is a long-known and indisputable fact. But the astronomers don’t understand that it’s not the constellations that create the effects we observe in astrology. Rather, it is a part of the sky—as divided into twelve equal pieces—and anchored to the Earth’s seasons. Two thousand years ago, when the zodiac signs were given their present names, they were about thirty degrees away from the constellations that bear their names today. (A constellation is just some stars that reminded someone of a picture when they connected them in their minds, and nothing more.) Two thousand years from now, they will all be about thirty degrees farther along, and in 26,000 years they will have returned to where they are now.

(But this is all just talking about the northern hemisphere; the constellations are different south of the equator. In fact, you can’t see most of our northern stars from Australia, but the zodiac signs are the same down under as they are here, because they are connected to the seasons not the constellations. They were simply named after how the sky looked 2000 years ago, and the naming was done in the northern hemisphere.)

There is, however, another way in which your sign actually might be different than the one you have grown to associate with your birthday. There is a tradition developed in ancient India—when the sky was different—called Vedic astrology. It is a different system with a different focus than Western astrology, and it is very useful in many ways. But they still use the old sky to determine the dates, so the first ten days or so of each sign are considered to be still in the previous sign. So someone born in the first several days of Gemini here is considered to be a Vedic Taurus. Just to be clear, Vedic uses the same twelve signs that we do today, not the thirteen of the recent astronomers.

The bottom line for you is that no one’s sign has changed. None of your planets or house positions has changed. What has changed is the power of the internet to amplify the media. Someone in the media apparently didn’t know that the same facts had been widely reported a few years ago, and apparently it was a slow news day, so the old news story got put onto all the major media outlets as if it was new. It went viral because of our new hyper-connectedness, and a whole lot of people heard about the story for the first time. It was a media distortion based on misunderstanding. It’s now easier to spread information far and wide in very little time, easier than it ever has been before. Let us all keep in mind that rumors can be spread just as well as any fact, so beware. Traditional journalists normally double-checked their facts before publishing something, because their reputations were on the line. Apparently, accuracy has now taken a backseat to entertainment, and many people who comment on the news are only doing so to keep the pot stirred up—thereby to keep their audience stirred up, excited. Good or bad, excitement sells.

(If you’d like to find out what your rising or Moon signs are, or what it all means, please contact me.)

Have a great year ahead—Rich

P.S., A few years ago a similar thing happened regarding the re-designation of Pluto. Pluto still does what it always has, but a small majority of astronomers decided it was too small to be called a planet and changed its title. Many other astronomers disagreed but were out-voted, an example that in science not everything is clear cut either.

By Rich

Rich is a practicing astrologer based in Santa Barbara, CA.