Since the publication of a claim in 2011 by Minneapolis astronomy instructor, Parke Kunkle, there has been widespread confusion about whether star signs have shifted and that there are 13 zodiac signs instead of the traditional 12. Kunkle proclaimed that the original designated constellations no longer apply to the existing Western system. He also states that for Western astrology to correspond with astronomy correctly, there would need to be a 13th sign: Ophiuchus.
Traditional Western astrologers denounce Kunkle’s claims as ‘mischievous’. The furore has continued to rage with many people upset at the prospect of being born under a different zodiac sign, especially those who have had their sign tattooed on their body.
So what should you believe? The traditional 3,000-year-old view or modern science? Are you a Capricorn or a Sagittarian? What if your star sign is now Ophiuchus? How do you even pronounce it?
Astrological vs. Astronomical
Western astrologers say our current system was developed by the ancient Babylonians, who divided the apparent path of the sun, the ecliptic, into 12 equal ‘slices’. At the time they did this, they named each slice after the constellation that appeared behind it.
When an astrologer says ‘your sun is in Cancer’, he means that the Sun is visually tracking a path through the part of the ecliptic called Cancer, not that it is in the constellation of Cancer. Of course, we know that it is the movement of the Earth itself that causes the Sun to appear to be moving through the ecliptic, hence the variation… and the disagreement.
Astronomers like to point out that the Earth is subject to the pull of gravity from both the Moon and the Sun, and this causes it to wobble on its journey through space, a little like a spinning top. The deviation means that the path of the sun across the tropics moves a little every year – known as ‘precession’. Precession has caused the appearance of a shift in the constellations relative to the Sun. Of course, there is no real shift – they are more or less where they have been for thousands of years – it’s simply that our perspective has changed slightly from where we stand on our wobbly planet.
Astrologers, in turn, say that Western astrology is not based upon the position of the Sun in the constellations at all, they were simply the convenient labels assigned to each twelfth of the sky by the Babylonians. The current tropical zodiac remains the same and is calculated from the vernal equinox – the point where the sun crosses the equator on 21st March.
To add to the confusion, there are other systems of astrology, Sidereal and Vedic, that do base their analysis on the position of the Sun in the constellations.
Your New Zodiac Sign
It’s quite fun to see what your new zodiac sign is and see if the description of its characteristics fits you at all.
Ophiuchus: the 13th Sign
If you were born between 1st and 18th December, according to Jungle, your new zodiac sign is Ophiuchus (Off-yoo-cuss) – the Serpent. In fact, this sign’s alternative name is ‘Serpentarius’.
Ophiuchus is connected to the ancient god of healing, Aesculapius, who was often depicted holding a snake-entwined staff, similar to the caduceus, symbol of physicians.
Image credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons Kepler Drawing of SN 1604
Characteristics of Ophiuchus
Those born under Ophiuchus are capable of interpreting dreams, healing, and lifting the spirits of others. They are empathic and intuitive. Ophiuchus continually seeks to further their knowledge and education. They are attracted to careers in medicine or other healing arts. Some prefer to create in the sense of building and architecture. They are determined to leave their mark on the world, rather than fade away leaving no trace of their time on Earth.
Typically, they are members of large families and are often their parents’ favorite child. However, they are inclined to move away from their families as they get older, preferring to beat their own path, using their own talents and inbuilt resoluteness to achieve their goals.
Should You Adopt Your New Zodiac Sign?
The choice is yours. If you do, then you would do best to abandon the Western tropical zodiac and instead study the Vedic system. Those who follow Vedic astrology claim that it is more accurate and in-depth than the tropical system. More information can be found at the Council of Vedic Astrology.
Does your birthday fall under Ophiuchus? Or perhaps, you have decided to switch to your new zodiac sign? How has that affected you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.