First the astronomers decided Pluto wasn't really a planet anymore and that sent everyone into a tailspin. Some of us laughed that maybe this would mean we wouldn't have death, destruction or other Plutonian events, or perhaps they would be less intense. Have you noticed less trauma, power, manipulation or suspicion in the world? ... No, probably not. Pluto exists, its symbolism and meaning are exactly the same, and the astronomers can define Pluto astronomically as they wish and we astrologers will continue to interpret the meaning as a powerful force.
Now astronomer Parke Kunkle told NBC news the astrological signs aren't right at all. The articles and blog posts sound like this is news, that astrology has suddenly changed, truth revealed. My email's been ringing off the hook, so to speak, with anxious questioners. I thought I was a Cancer. Am I really a Gemini? Why does Scorpio only have six days (Pluto slammed again!)? What is an Ophiuchus???
Astrologers do know all about this discrepancy between the position of the stars and the horoscopic signs as we read them. Because of the earth's tilt and rotation it has been moving over thousands of years away from its original position when the star systems more closely matched the twelve basic signs. At this point the sidereal system is about 23 degrees behind the sign based tropical system.
The tropical zodiac is used in what is often called modern 'western' astrology. It is a symbolic system based on the seasons in the northern hemisphere. The first day of Aries is the first day of spring. Each of the twelve signs contains exactly thirty degrees. The cardinal or initiating signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn each start on a solstice or equinox.
Each astrologer has already chosen whether we prefer to use (and believe in the results of) the sidereal zodiac or the tropical zodiac -- although I know a few straddling types who like to look at both. The sidereal zodiac is where the the constellations of stars really are so naturally this is what the astronomers study. Vedic astrology is based on this system. I like the western tropical system. It works for me. It resonates with the clients I talk to.
If you're born in the last days of your Sun sign, you probably the same sign in either system. If you're born earlier in the sign, then the siderealists will consider your Sun sign to be in the previous sign. The differences between the two systems includes the entire chart. Everything moves backwards approximately 23 degrees, including the Ascendant.
I always love to consider other systems. I've looked at my chart and many others from a sidereal point of view, and I've listened to a quiet Virgo tell me excitedly that she likes thinking of herself as actually being a Leo, and a flamboyant Leo wax poetic about his obvious nurturing skills, since now he prefers to think of himself as a Cancer.
I find it hard to make the leap to fully believe the sidereal signs just looking at the Sun sign because each sign is an energetic reaction to the previous one. There is a very great difference in qualities between a Cancer and a Leo, or a Sagittarius and a Capricorn. But when we look at the whole chart, often there are mediating factors. Your Sun might have moved back into a grounded, earthy sign, yet your earthy moon has moved back to fire. It's like musical chairs, and the whole chart taken together can often seem at least sort of true in either system.
The truth is, our world is deep, rich, textured and holographic. We can see ourselves through many prisms. The fact that this article has thrown so many people into panic leads me to consider the bigger picture.
If we are holding a particularly rigid image about who we are based on a Sun sign or even what we know about our whole chart, we might feel our image is threatened when the astronomers say the zodiac isn't really correct.
'Who am I if I am not this Sun sign!?'
Perhaps we've come to feel comfortable and safe thinking of ourselves in these terms, perhaps liking our 'positive' qualities and accepting our 'negative' ones, or even using them as an excuse for particular thought patterns or behaviors.
If you remember that you are YOU, a multi-dimensional being incarnated through that first breath to manifest your karma in this life, evolve, grow and transform, then the labels and definitions take on a simpler, more helpful role. What am I learning? How can I manifest the best energies of who I am?
Through the symbolic expression of our Self shown through our chart, we contemplate the meaning of life. We understand cycles of time. We are shown our soul's purpose, our tools, gifts and challenges. Ultimately we have some of each sign within us and hopefully we learn to express the best of all. We have every single planet somewhere in our chart and we learn to use that energy wisely.
I would invite you to consider what you would be like if you let go of your attachment to the labels you now identify yourself with, considering the many possibilities you would have if you considered yourself through new labels, or completely label-less. Would you as a Capricorn stop working so hard and take a trip to Tahiti? Would you as a self-oriented Aries decide to work in a soup kitchen? If you're born from November 29th to December 17th, you would have the Sun sign of Ophiuchus in the sidereal system. Serpents and snakes, transformation and healing ... do you relate?
If you are comfortable with your chart as it is in western tropical astrology you can continue to be you through that lens. If you wish to consider the sidereal lens you can get your chart done in that system and think about how it feels to you intuitively to wear this new set of clothes.
Astrology is symbolic and we are living the symbols whether we know about astrology or not or whether there are different systems through which to discuss the symbols. Make choices you love! The symbols will follow.