Is there a 13th sign? Is your Sag sweetheart really an... Ophiucan? Let’s sort this out.
The constellation called Ophiuchus (a discovery which predates the 1st century, Ptolemy’s time) is getting a lot of press for astrology, and on the positive side it’s giving us astrologers an opportunity to clarify a few things about constellations versus zodiac signs, and the precessed zodiac. And also to ask, just who is Ophiuchus?
First, constellations do not define the astrological zodiac. Ophiuchus is a cluster of fixed stars, one of many constellations, like Centaurus and Hercules, occupying space around the zodiac sign of Sagittarius. Most western astrologers do not use the fixed stars; the most important influences are the planets and seasonal signs.
Bringing us to our second point. The zodiacal signs no longer correlate to their actual location in the sky. The equinox marker for the first sign, Aries, called the Vernal Point, is no longer in the same place it once was. This point, demarcating where the zodiac begins, has moved backwards at a rate of 1 degree every 72 years. This is called the zodiacal precession.
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Although eastern or vedic/hindu astrology will follow this actual position, western astrologers don't. Like our egyptian ancestors who associated the astrological signs with seasons, western astrologers give the season of harvest (September) to Virgo, a time of gathering crops and preparation -and not Leo. Intuitively it makes sense: the fiery dramatic month of Leo better matches the August month, when we’re trying to squeeze out the last pleasures of summer.
Finally, who is the character Ophiuchus? We can only know through the fixed stars belonging to the constellation. Of the several, Ras Alhague, located at 22-23 degrees of Sagittarius is known as the head of Spentarius (serpent) and Sinistra at 29 degrees Sagittarius, the left hand of Serpentarius. According to Diana Rosenberg, a fixed star expert, Ras Alhague is extremely beneficial as those born under this star (Sun at 22-23 degrees of Sag) are gifted with remarkable gifts of creative expression. But for those born under Sinistra - sorcery, debauchery and lust make this star pattern unfortunate. So, girls check your ephemeris. If your boyfriend was born with his Sun at 29 degrees Sag... watch out! Perhaps these paradoxical definitions converge in the proposed symbol for Ophiuchus - which resembles the snake-like healing staff of the ancient healer Asclepius.
So what to do if your guy is an Ophiucan? Don't panic. Yesterday he was a Sagittarius, today he's an Ophiucan...but he's still the same snake charmer you fell in love with.
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