Your Basic Astrology Questions Answered
This is a continuation of a continuation. You can board this train of thought by reading earlier posts here.
Ok, so last time, I think I may have gotten off on a bit of a tangent. No biggie. Let’s see if we can get back to our question and reel this thing in. “What’s an Ophiuchus?”
Well, Ophiuchus is a constellation in our western sky culture. The associated image depicts a snake bearer. The snake itself is actually depicted in a neighboring constellation called Serpens. Ophiuchus is just the dude part of the image.
Ok, so what does this have to do with the Zodiac? Well, when we look at the constellations along the ecliptic, it’s like looking at a big group photograph. Most descriptions of this photograph count 12 people. But some people look at the photograph and say “What about that guy?! That guy right there?!”
Everyone squints and says “What are you talking about? Do you mean that foot?”
“Yes, that’s someones foot. So, technically there’s 13 people in this photograph.”
“Ok, Captain Anal. Sure there’s a foot in there. It’s Ophiuchus’ foot. But, he’s not really part of the club. He’s a bystander who’s foot got in the frame.”
“Why isn’t he part of the club? I mean he’s on the line, isn’t he? He should be part of the club!”
If you’ve been reading with me this far you know that the conceptual signs don’t line up with the physical constellations. (If you didn’t know that, return to part 1, do not pass go, do not collect $200.)
Lost Observer: “I thought the Sidereal Zodiac did line up with the constellations. This is what I was led to believe.”
Close but no cigar lost observer. Just like the Tropical Zodiac, the Sidereal Zodiac measures signs in equal units of 30 degrees. Remember, the constellations are not evenly spaced in the sky. The signs are evenly spaced divisions named after the constellations. So, it’s not the signs, but the starting point of the Sidereal zodiac that is said to be more “accurate” since it supposedly lines up with the beginning of Aries. But again, that is an arbitrary point. Once upon a time, Taurus used to be considered the starting point of the Zodiac. The letter A that we use today comes down to us from the Hebrew letter Aleph which depicts an Ox. Hello! That’s Taurus. But, if astrology teaches us anything, it’s that all things change, to everything there is there’s is a season, turn turn turn, blah blah blah. So, eventually the vernal point occurred in Aries and this was around the same time that people said “Let’s nail this thing down. Let’s make a zodiac that doesn’t move.” So we get Aries as the starting point for the Sidereal Zodiac. The really funny part is some Siderealists cannot even agree on where Aries starts. That’s right, there is still some disagreement over where the boundary of Aries actually starts.
So, we’ve got two Zodiacs, the Tropical and the Sidereal. Then out of nowhere, the aforementioned Captain flies in and says “Why can’t we have a zodiac that actually matches the boundaries of the constellations?”
I have seen this third type of Zodiac referred to as the Constellational Zodiac, the real Zodiac, and/or the Galactic Zodiac.
Here’s where traditional people start freaking out, Tropical practitioners and Siderealists, alike. They shout and stamp their feet and say “No! No! No!, We have always done it this way, we will always do it this way! Your idea frightens us because it challenges our comfortable paradigm.”
Behind all the noise, the more stoic astrologer will quietly note that the Constellational Zodiac is not very practical (yet) and that is the real reason it is unpopular. See, the number 12 is a very elegant number. It is easily divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and itself. It is easier to work with than the number 13 which can be divided by, er, um, 1 and 13. Also, the divisions are all different sizes. I’ll say it again, the actual constellations are not all evenly spaced across the sky. For example, in the Constellational Zodiac the boundaries of Taurus are about 5and a half times farther apart than Scorpio. Scorpio is just a tiny sliver of the pie. Mathematically speaking, that’s a pain in the a… Or is it?
There was a time when to get into astrology, you had to be good at math. Charts were all drawn by hand. Complex calculations were made with fingers, ropes, beads, or more recently pencil on paper. But now we have machines. Computers can do all the heavy mental lifting for us. The idea that a number has fewer factors really shouldn’t wig us out anymore.
Do I think the Constellational Zodiac will replace the other zodiacs? No. Do I think it has a place as an alternative point of view, one that marks a shift in our consciousness about our place in the cosmos, just like the divide between the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiacs did? You bet.
If you just got a handle on your current chart and all that seems like too much to consider, don’t worry. There are plenty of Uranian types out there right now hacking away at this relatively new frontier of conceptualizing our universe, so you don’t have to yet. And about 5 percent of them are Ophiuchians (that is, if they even care to define themselves in such egoistic terms as the sun sign.)
I think I may have come to a good stopping place. Unless someone throws out a good question or two. Anyone?
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6 Responses to ““What’s an Ophiuchus?” Part 2 by Nota”
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