According to Minneapolis astronomy instructor Parke Kunkle, whose story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune generated a flurry of panic last week, the current signs of the zodiac are “wrong”, and they omit a “13th sign”. It’s not the first time this controversy appears.
By Nancy Black, Linda Black Horoscopes, syndicated by Tribune Media Services (written January, 2011)
Don’t worry: your horoscopes and zodiac signs haven’t changed. Astrologer Linda Black explained it well years ago, in her Introduction to Astrology: “The constellations themselves do not appear to have any impact on the individual (in Western Astrology). It’s the location of the planets, sun and moon in relationship to the earth, and to each other, that is important.”
In Western or Tropical Astrology (the kind used for newspaper horoscopes), the signs of the zodiac are named after constellations, but do not refer to their current locations (as Kunkle suggested).
Different systems of astrology use alternate methods to measure and divide the sky. Western Astrology is gauged from equinox and solstice points. Vedic Astrology measures along the equatorial plane (sidereal year). Western and Vedic Astrology emphasize space and the movement of the sun, moon and planets through each of the zodiac signs. Chinese astrology emphasizes time, with the zodiac in cycles of years, months and hours. All three give preference to the significance of the ascendant or rising sign (the sign that rises on the eastern horizon at the moment of a person’s birth).
Greek astrologer (astronomer, mathematician, and founder of trigonometry) Hipparchus (190BC-120BC), had “stumbled upon the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes,” stated my mother, astrologer Linda Black, back in 1991. “The part of the sky that was behind the Spring Equinox had changed. Although he didn’t understand why, we now know that it’s because the earth wobbles on its axis.”
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), an astrologer as well as the “father of science” and “father of modern observational astronomy”, understood this phenomenon. Later, Isaac Newton would explain the occurrence in his Principia Mathematica (1687), in which he verified the “Law of Universal Gravitation: Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle.”
“This discovery enabled him to explain the flattening of the Earth’s poles and the tilt of the Earth,” stated Linda, “and hence the cause of the precession of equinoxes observed by Hipparchus centuries earlier. It also was further proof of an interrelationship between all things in the universe.”
Greek astrologer Eudoxus observed that the spring equinox was at 0 degrees Aries. By the time of Hipparchus, it had apparently moved to nearer 0 degrees Pisces. Now, in 2011, it’s shifting into Aquarius. Approximately every 2,160 years the sun’s position at the time of the vernal equinox will have moved into a new zodiacal constellation. Astrologers know each of these phases as a great year, or “Age.” The constellation marking each Age is supposedly indicative of thinking patterns that symbolize an entire era.
The method of dubbing the spring equinox as 0 degrees Aries is still used by astronomers as well as astrologers. Since it’s the location of the planets, sun and moon (not the constellations) which are used to calculate western astrological charts, then the idea of locating 0 degrees Aries at the spring equinox works to give us a relatively stable seasonal format upon which to plot the movement of the orbs. This way, the summer solstice marks 0 degrees Cancer, the autumnal equinox is 0 degrees Libra, and the winter solstice is always at 0 degrees Capricorn. This seasonal method has always been useful for agrarian cultures, and the spaces portioned out for each zodiac sign were determined this way.
NEWSPAPER SUN-SIGN ASTROLOGY
Every person has a complex assortment of signs, whose significance is affected by their location and their relationships to everything else in the chart. To get an accurate reading, the astrologer really needs to compare the complete natal chart of the person to the chart for the day and location in question. That’s why newspaper sun-sign columns can never be more than partially accurate, reflecting more general trends.
To get the most out of them, you need to know at least the locations of your sun, moon, and ascendant in your natal chart. Read those and take an average, to assess your prospects for that day.
“Actually, your own feelings are your best indicators,” wrote Linda Black. “You can tell if the writer is any good or not, by the correlation between the advice and your own attitude! And please always remember that astrology is not a religion, something to be ‘believed’, or a substitute for a close relationship with God. Free choice is the bottom line. Astrology is more like a weather report. If you knew the chances of rain were high, you might bring an umbrella.”