As many of you probably know the internet is ablaze with near panic as people are being told that they may not, in fact, be the Sun sign they thought they were. I have been contacted by many students and clients about this and even got a call from the Associated Press about it. If you are interested, you can see a brief comment I made here:
Let me speak about the confusion and let you know that nothing has changed and that you are still the sign you thought you were. Actually, the confusion arises from two different things. The first is the issue of the so-called new sign, Ophiuchus, and the second has to do with what astronomers refer to as the precession of the equinoxes.
The idea of the 13th sign of Ophiuchus is not at all new. In fact, it is quite ancient. Ophiuchus falls between the signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius. The history of this constellation is a bit tangled but suggests that it first appeared in the early Greek/Roman period somewhere between 130BC- 300BC.
It means “serpent bearer” in Greek and depicts the god Asclepius holding a snake. It is said that Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. Of course, this enraged Zeus who killed him, but later placed his image in the heavens to honor his good works. (Gods seem to act like politicians sometimes, don’t they?) This sign has rarely been used and I suspect that this is due to the harmony of the number 12. I personally studied it about 20 years ago because I was intrigued by the numerological significance of the number 13, which is often associated with the feminine. The reason for this association is that there are 13 lunar months in a year and the Moon represents the feminine aspect. The number 12 is associated with the masculine and solar principle since there are 12 solar months in a year. My research which was sketchy didn’t seem to lead me to any clarity so I let it go, not expecting it would become ‘all the rage’ in the future. The point for us is this. Astrologers have known about this for thousands of years.
The other factor, which this astronomer referred to as earth’s wobble is what is called the ‘precession of the equinoxes’, which is a 26,000 year cycle. This principle is that every 2,000 years or so, the sign that dominates our planet changes. Right now we are at the end of the age of Pisces and are about to embark on the new age of Aquarius. So, the signs do change in what is called ‘sidereal’ astrology. Sidereal astrology means that the placement of the signs is connected to where the planet is in relation to its location in the constellation. This method is used in Vedic astrology, but not in Western astrology and hasn’t been for thousands of years. Here, we use ‘tropical’ astrology which is based on how the Sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer (which is summer in the northern hemisphere) to the Tropic of Capricorn (which is winter in the northern hemisphere). In other words, in Western astrology the signs are connected to the seasons rather than to the constellations. Astronomers have been criticizing astrologers for years about this. In fact, this is one of their standard ‘go-to’ strategies for invalidating astrology.
The facts are that astrology has been using the Tropical Zodiac for over 2,000 years. The first day of spring is defined as 0° of Aries; the first day of winter is 0° Capricorn. We know that the signs we use are not connected to the constellations. Only ignorant people would assert otherwise. There is a long history of why the signs are aligned with the seasons and although it is too big for this article, any astronomer who WANTS to know why this is true, could easily find out. Part of the real story behind this hoax is the fact that this astronomer did NOT want to find out anything new. What he wanted was to create the illusion that astrologers do not know what they are doing. And all he did was prove that he does not know what HE is doing.
What is interesting to me is the degree to which people have had strong reactions to this story. Of course there is more than one interpretation possible for this, but my take is that there are a lot of people who think that there is something valid about astrology. Many people do resonate with astrology, and in fact maybe many more than we have realized. Is it not interesting that the efforts by astronomers to de-bunk astrology continue to fail. Why do they fail? Because the fact is that astrology speaks to a very real and valid part of the human psyche. It has for thousands of years. This is true despite the fact that astrology is never taught to us in elementary school, high school or college. All of the societal influences that dominate our culture are against the use of astrology. Does this not mean that on our own, no matter what our age, politics, or spiritual bent, we identify with our Sun sign because we really do learn something about ourselves from knowing about it and what it means? This offends scientists so much it itself is amazing. This reveals a lot more about them than it does about those who recognize that astrology may be valid. I am not anti-science at all. What I am is critical of their assumption that the only way of knowing that is valid is the scientific method. I am not against that method either. But is it the only way of knowing? No, I don’t think so at all. The fact is that scientists can be dogmatists. History has shown this time and time again. They believe that the only way of knowing is through the scientific method and pretend they are being ‘objective’ when they do this. They have their beliefs and this is one area where it dominates their thinking. It is so certain to them that they refuse to even study astrology themselves. It is beneath them and something that deserves disdain from the outset. Their minds are made up. The proof of their dogmatism is the degree to which they would attack and ridicule any scientist who was open to the possibility that there might be some degree of truth to astrology.
Another factor they cannot consider is the notion that astrology is an archetypal language. To really understand this one must go back to the ancient Greek ideas who believed in the existence of ‘archetypal forms’ that exist prior to human beings and which forms and in-forms us. Such ideas are anathema to scientists that have a pre-existing belief that we live in a soulless, random universe that is fundamentally DEAD. They believe that life has no consciousness. That’s a lot of beliefs to have for such ‘objective’ people, isn’t it?
When I studied astrology as a therapist, I was amazed at how much it was telling me. I didn’t expect it at all. I had been in pre-med and loved science. Still do. All I had going for me was a mind that was not already made up. I let astrology prove itself to me or not. That’s it.
There is a lot to take away from this story. Maybe one day science will entertain the idea that astrology works. We may not know why, but it does if it is approached in the right way.
Because I love irony, I must end this article with the kind of advice to scientists that the famous Star Trek characters, the Borg, would give when they advised that, “Resistance is futile.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this article. Have some fun and tell us what you think.
iIN THESE TIMES IT IS REFRESHING TO SEE THERE ARE STILL A FEW OPEN MINDED AS WELL AS INFORMED “TEACHERS” AND THEIR EXCELLENT STUDENTS ASPIRING TO THE HEIGHTS AND DEPTHS OF TRUE SCIENCE>>>GREAT ARTICLE
PEACE, LIGHT and
My Grandfather, a chemist/scientist, derided astrology and my interest in it. He searched for debunking evidence in scientific studies to back up his position (see below). Of course the powerful emotional tone of his argument: his feelings, which were anger and fear, lest “reason” be overthrown by the occult of esoteric teachings, only revealed the unconscious power struggle ( an out worn imprint) in which he was unwittingly engaged.
And, my understanding of “the feeling body” is that when we heal our feelings by loving them with huge gratitude (easier said than done!!!), We will evolve even science (!) to accept the importance and power of feelings in the light of consciousness as equal to reason, and to Spirit (maybe science will get around to acknowledge the existence of Spirit; Look what a good job the church did to get you to deny this one!) In fact without feelngs we are without a Heart, and this has far more important implications for the evolution of humanity than alomost anything else.
That Said, I would caution Mike’s equally emotionally toned, though factually interesting, scientific “position” in his above statements. I suggest that he consider (look up “consider” in the dictionary: noun, latin: con sider; which literally means “with the stars”) the following, that The “Barnum statements” and the very crafty psychological profile given to all of Forer’s students, is all imprinting; not Astrological knowlege at all.
Let me digress here, then I will return to my Grandfather’s discovery: that is: what we are all emotionally imprinted with, and imprinted with in our brains as humans, even as the mammals/ animals we are, because we are evolving, and the feeling/ feminine side of things has never been properly understood in all- of -time, so that feelings have not been able to bring us what they really are in a healed state; all we see is emotional imprinting, (imprinting is basic primordial assumptions from the primordial experience of all life from the Big Bang, and earlier) not the emotions themselves. Consider that the human brain mass not accounted for, has largely to do with emotional intelligence which the mind does not yet use. Why this is so is, I suspect, also imprinting: meaning that the mind is imprinted to dis-associate from the feelings, yet reacts to them all the time. Perhaps science will get around to study what some bodies of knowledge, and literature and Art, and Astrologers, have been observing for a very long time.
All of us have this imprinting. Astrology differentiates primordial emotional/psychological imprinting via the planets. Here, we are talking about the “Sun” and the slow changing (250,000 years)of the constellational backdrop along the ecliptic behind the Sun, the Moon, and all the planets with their primordial essence/ meaning: these qualities are archetypal imprinting. Now, please consider again, Forer was using only the Sun, which is fundamental, obviously and even scientifically, to all life on Earth, so I agree with Jim’s statement about the seasonal relationship of the Sun to the Earth as core to understanding Sun sign attributes; which are not the undifferentiated imprinting, slyly described in the ‘psychological profile”, or “The Barnum Statements”. Each “sign” is very different, has , except for Virgo, planetary rulers, and corresponds to all the other signs in important ways. Why? Science wold have to expend its’ field of study; also devise new methods.
Now consider this: a fundamental parallaxial shift is in play. Even far beyond the relatively close zodiacal constellations which back the ecliptic, is the Universe itself; and the field of affect itself, when taken many billions of light years out into this Universe, which is a place, is comprised of electro magnetic fields which do not change spacialy, in relation to our small Solar system and the relatively close-by constellations of the Zodiac/ ecliptic. The 12, or be it 13, zodiacal “areas” refer to a near infinite spacial reality of the Universe. This is the true backdrop, be it unchanging or not; and we can ask ourselves if this Universe is alive? To me it is arrogant and ignorant to judge(unconscious imprinting) that the Universe is not alive! We are made of the stuff, and the forces, of the Universe, across which, from our Earth’s perspective, the planets, and the Sun and Moon, travel; and these motions being watched,and experienced, by our human, and even pre-human ancestry, for give or take, hundreds of thousands of years. The personification, of this multidimensional placement of our Earth and the Solar System in the Universe, through the animals and mythical beings of the zodiac are not without merit either. Perhaps we astrologers will add another story along the lines of: well, when Earth became hospitable to life forms, my slice of Sun-space was occupied by such and such constellation (Leo, Pisces, whatever) Now I am a Taurus, and my fundamental slice of the sky at my birth will now contend with Mars/ Aries; having once been Geminii, and so forth. But consider the mapping of the Universe’s energies from a geocentric point of view, via the Sun, Moon and all the planets: now we are cooking with Crisco! and I would bet that astrology’s system would remain intact and be profounder still.
….Back to Grandpa: in his search for scientific study to argue against my interest in astrology, what did he find? He found Michel Gauquelin’s book on the statistical relevance of the effects of Mars, and i think also the Moon. The book was called something like “The Scientific Relevance, or Basis, of Astrology”. Google him, because he too set out to debunk astrology! And found, through years of careful scientific experiments, which you should read about, that there was undeniable statistical relevance to the effects of Mars! This was truly funny, and Grandpa became a partial, though grudging convert. He had run amuck with me also, when I went through the Hall of Rambrandt with him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, and I pointed out all of the fake Rembrandt paintings. He scoffed at my assertion, that hated “inner knowing” of mine, that half of them were fakes. Luckily for me, an article came out two weeks later in the New York Times (about 1972) announcing the closing of the Rembrandt Gallery because many of the paintings were now judged to be fakes. He sent me the article, and a letter of respect and apology. He was a Virgo! I am a Taurus. Mike, What’s your Sun sign? Thank You Jim!
hi jim! although it’s possibly completely irrelevant….it’s also worth mentioning: as the various oral traditions were first being recorded by their adherents in the PJs era (Post-Jesus-es), a few “teachings” were left out, but not only because they were too esoteric to be written down, but also because they were simply felt to be way too obvious by the scribes. as a heavily Scorpian Libran woman with my midheaven in Sagittarius, i have a personal feel for what the 13th piece is about. we are not surprised to learn that this esoteric oldie but goodie threads Scorpio — the higher vibration of a corresponding Aries — with the “travel” that commences in Sag. In terms of the effect on the separate self, Scorpio is the most powerful energy. as a higher expression of the corresponding Aries energy, Scorp is the horoscope’s portal into an allowing of a deeper process of the zodiac: separate-self-becoming-ever-more-transparent. Scorpian energy wasn’t meant to be handled like one would a snake, but to be released into. the highest expression of what can manifest afterward in duality is known as sacred, devotional energy — inclusive of wisdom. the type of free-flight towards total freedom that Sag is about doesn’t rest upon whimsy, but, paradoxically, subliminally depends upon the fervor of devotional energy. lastly, the re-insertion of a 13th slice of pie into the even-numbered pattern irretrievably throws off the “reasonable” and egoically-pleasing harmony of the three modes/qualities and the four elements (!) so…wouldn’t there have to be a fourth mode and a fifth element? or is that the wrong question? tee hee.
Examine the following: A horoscope is an astrological forecast. The term is also used to describe a map of the zodiac at the time of one’s birth. The zodiac is divided into twelve zones of the sky, each named after the constellation that originally fell within its zone (Taurus, Leo, etc.). The apparent paths of the sun, the moon, and the major planets all fall within the zodiac. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the equinox and solstice points have each moved westward about 30 degrees in the last 2,000 years. Thus, the zodiacal constellations named in ancient times no longer correspond to the segments of the zodiac represented by their signs. In short, had you been born at the same time on the same day of the year 2,000 years ago, you would have been born under a different sign.
* In fact, there should be 13 signs, not 12. It is this fact of precession which has altered the very constellations from which masses “derive” their charts.
* Precession of the equinox is caused by the fact that the axis of the earth’s rotation (which causes day and night) and the axis of the earth’s revolution around the sun (which marks the passage of each year) are not parallel. They are 23 l/2 degrees away from lining up; that is, the earth’s axis of rotation is tilted. This tilt also causes our seasons, a fact that Ptolemy did understand but that many people do not understand even today. Ptolemy understood that the rotation axis of the earth was slowly precessing, or moving in a circle, with an angular radius of 23 1/2 degrees with a period of around 26,000 years. He deduced this from comparisons of data taken by the ancient Sumerians 2,000 years before his time. He did not understand what was pushing the precession, but he did understand the motion. We now realize that the sun is rotating with a period of around 30 days and that this causes the sun to bulge at the equator, which causes a torque to be exerted on the top like motion of the earth’s day and night cycle. There is also a small 18.6-year variation caused by the moon’s orbit around the earth, and the moon also has a small effect on precession; however, the sun’s equatorial bulge is the main cause of the precession of the equinox, which is why your sign listed in the newspaper, by Sidney Omar for instance, in most cases is removed by one sign from the modern, actual position of the sun at your birth.
Notice the paradoxes. The modern signs as listed here are further complicated when their boundaries are those of the current constellations. A neater way of dividing the signs would be to divide the ecliptic into 30-degree slices, as Ptolemy did, but to keep the slices centered on the star patterns. This would make the time interval for the signs more nearly 30 days each and eliminate the [13th] sign of Ophiuchus, but your modern sign would still differ by one sign from the tradition designations.
Do a bit of research into the Forer effect, named after psychologist Bertram R. Forer, who demonstrated the propensity of people to believe that vaguely worded personality “profiles” (which could apply to anybody) were accurate, custom-tailored profiles.
In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a personality test to his students. Afterward, he told his students they were each receiving a unique personality analysis that was based on the test’s results and to rate their analysis on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) on how well it applied to themselves. In reality, each received the same analysis:
“ You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life. ”
On average, the rating was 4.26, but only after the ratings were turned in was it revealed that each student had received identical copies assembled by Forer from various horoscopes. As can be seen from the profile, there are a number of statements that could apply equally to anyone. These statements later became known as Barnum statements after P.T. Barnum, who used them in his performances, allegedly stating “there’s a sucker born every minute.” This, if he had said it, would be reference to the fact that Barnum statements can gull people into thinking they have been accurately assessed by the speaker or test when in fact the outcome could apply to anyone.
In essence Astrology is based on generalizations, false pretense and superstition. The Obstetrician who delivered you has a greater gravitational influence at your time of birth than does Mars 54+ million KM away!
Have been reading a lot of demystifying articles all over the web and it’s been great. A lot of people are solid sun sign junkies and that’s good news! Another tad of information here: where the Prime Vertical (straight up from the equator) hits in the heavens is where the current age is happening. Don Cerow does a fascinating presentation on the mythology, the ages and astrology/astronomy. Even been doing them at museum planetariums. The symbolism shows up in cultures around the world to match the current constellation/myths and has for centuries. The Picean fish showed up about 2000 years ago, the Ram’s horn and sacrifice of rams/sheep in the old Testament, Bulls and the cult of Mithras before that in the Minoan civilization. etc…. I always in enjoy the conversations on your blog, Jim.
“Non idea negari debet quod est aperturum; quia comprendi non potest quod est occultum.” Translation: because the obscure cannot be understood, does not mean the obvious should be denied.
~proverb on the frontispiece of The Miraculous Conformist, a 1666 book by Henry Stubbs on the subject of Valentine Greatrakes, the ‘Master Healer’ of Ireland
Great article, Jim! When I first heard about this “flap,” one thing I knew for sure. I was born a Cancerian and being a Gemini would not fit me no way–no how…no matter what “science” was opining. Some things we just know intuitively and trust our gut instinctively! Really appreciated your writing about this with such clarity and also glad that AP wire services contacted professionals like yourself for insights and perspectives for the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say. Thanks for an excellent blog…loved the humor in title! That seemed to be many people’s first reaction…OMG!
Thanks so much, Jim – this is well done and resources me well for the bazillion calls and emails I’ve had about that story. My only disappointment is that the mass coverage of that little story in the Minneapolis paper was not balanced by an effective message from the astrology community. Being a PR professional – I’m a big believer in the value of bad news, even, to shed light on a subject – so I was thrilled at the press that astrology got during those days. However, I though it was a real missed opportunity for there to have been no response. And by that I mean a response in that world – obviously there have been tons of responses within the community. Just really would have loved for a press release to have gone out to NBC and seen you interviewed with Brian Williams explaining all of this in your very eloquent way!
Nicely said JIM!
Was it a group of scientists that insisted that the earth was flat? Probably…
I had an experience with a 32 yr old Cal tech phd student tell that he ‘felt sorry for me that i believed in astrology’. My eyes nearly fell out of my head at the patronizing attitude. Yuck. Once I calmed down, I realized that he was the narrow thinker, in that he had no room in his mind for things he did not understand…
This is a fantastic explanation and I love the Greek history. Whew, am I glad I’m still a Virgo! LOL…
My sister who is married to a scientist, called another sister of mine to tell her that their signs are not what they thought. Both of them were totally upset. (esp. the Libra to think she is a Virgo!) I never knew they had any interest at all in astrology. They usually debunk anything I say. I’m sure they’ve ever had their charts done. I’m just glad I had heard the truth about this before I heard from them! What a surprise!
I’ve gotten your newsletters, Jim, for some time. This is a masterfully written article! I’ve been an astrological counselor myself for 30 years. Your writing reminds me of Sidney Omar, defending astrology in the 1950’s. I. too, have had many clients calling me confused.
You wrote well about most scientist’s opinion of astrology. Carl Sagan, whom I tremendously respected, called astrology astronomy’s wicked sister, though he was proud of his Scorpio Sun Sign. I have had a client for the past 10 years, who is a scientist. I call him a ‘closet case’, because he is still embarrassed that he has me do his solar Return chart every year. He took a chance 10 years ago, because he had curiosity about astrology, and has not been disappointed. I tell him he has become an amateur astrologer, himself, after a decade of readings and he winces, but he still calls me. Slowly we turn! Keep up the Great Work!