Last week the world freaked out when a Minnesota astronomer sent out a press release stating that the zodiac signs had shifted over time and, surprise, you’re not the sign you thought you were. Even more shocking, there was now a new zodiac sign — Ophiuchus.
Thanks to the power of the internet, the press release went viral and people whom I never thought would care about astrology were suddenly losing their stuff. Mainstream American news like CNN and MSNBC even devoted prime time to this allegedly new revelation. Well known astrologers like Susan Miller breathlessly went on air to refute the ill conceived press release. I fielded emails from friends and colleagues who wanted to know if it was true.
“So now I’m a Pisces?” an Aries sun sign incredulously asked.
First of all, it’s not true. IT’S NOT TRUE! Your sun sign has not changed. Astrologers have known about the precession of the equinoxes since the 2nd century AD. I could explain further in detail, especially how this myth pops up every few years, but frankly I spent all my energy last week calming the panicked masses. Instead I will defer to the following excellently written rebuttals:
- Attention All Astronomers — The World is Flat by Eric Francis of Planet Waves
- Ophiuchus puts his foot in it but it’s Cox who sticks the boot in by Deborah Houlding at Skyscript
- Ophiuchus – the 13th Sign of the Zodiac by Deiter Koch at Astro.com
Second, an astronomer shouldn’t be making definite statements about astrology without understanding what it is. After all, I don’t write press releases about quantum physics and cosmology. Just sayin’.
Once the dust settled, I had a realization. More people were emotionally invested in astrology then I would have previously assumed. Curious.
It’s not that I don’t think astrology has a place in prime time discourse, but it was a telling barometer of how many people followed their sun sign. It also made for a surreal moment when really talented and erudite astrologers were on cable news to explain exactly why western astrology doesn’t follow the precession of the equinoxes.
In short, this was astrology’s biggest moment in the spotlight since former First Lady Nancy Reagan was outed in 1988 for consulting an astrologer.
Okay, the world asked, if western astrology doesn’t follow the precession of the equinoxes and doesn’t shift the signs, then what does it do? What is astrology?
Now that’s a big question to ponder. How does one distill astrology into a short soundbite?
- Astrology is a language that conveys the human condition.
- Astrology is the study of the heavens as an archetypal reflection of our inner selves.
- Astrology is the understanding that we are are one with the universe.
- Astrology is a tool used to unlock the secreted parts of the soul.
- To study the stars is to study ourselves. To look at the stars is to pull back the curtain and see the inner workings of Source.
- Astrology is the study of natural cycles, whether it be day to night, spring to summer, or the planets in shifting relations to each other. To study astrology is to respect the natural timing of life.
In the words of astrologer Steven Forrest in his book The Inner Sky:
“Astrology is just a finger pointing at reality. Like any other language, it only provides a way of ordering our perceptions. At its best it aids us in seeing ourselves more honestly. At its worst it drops a wall between us and the rawness of our own experience. To be of value it must not only reflect the actualities of living; it must hone the cutting edge of our growth. If astrology does not give the mind the sharpness of a laser and leave the heart an open nerve, then it has failed.”
Although the glare of the spotlight is fading, we still have a chance to be ambassadors for astrology in the face of misinformation and ill informed skepticism. This is astrology’s big moment. Let us teach the world that as above, so below. The macrocosm is the microcosm. We are the stars.