Tag Archives: precession of the equinoxes

Ask Real Astrologers: Has My Sun Sign Changed?What About Ophiuchus?

Looking for AnswersThis week’s question comes from Blake in the United States:

Browsing the Internet today, I saw the excitement over Ophiuchus, the proposed 13th astrological symbol. Since the unofficial addition, the dates for sun signs seem to change … While all this seems so boisterous and asinine I decided to investigate what my proposed “new sign” would be (Sagittarius). Well, it turns out, I relate more to the Sagittarius sign than Capricorn. It’s like I found my “true” sign amidst all this “new information” on star signs.

How do I interpret this? Can your “sign” actually shift or am I projecting my craziness to Jupiter?

Blake, Blake, Blake … How on earth can we even begin to set the record straight when Time magazine is reporting this idiocy as some kind of scientific (read God-given) truth? Continue reading

Ask Real Astrologers: Does Precession Mean I’m Not an Aries?

Looking for AnswersThis week’s question comes from Carolyn in Seattle, Washington:

I have always thought of myself as an Aries, my whole life. I was looking at a website that said as of 2009, the sun is in Aries from April 19 to May 15. I have always known it as March 20-April 21 (ish). Does this affect my personal star sign, or does it only matter when I was born, not when my birthday is?

This is a great question, Carolyn, and one I’m asked often. What makes it so confusing is that we’re talking about two separate systems of tracking planetary movements. It’s comparing apples and oranges.

The zodiac is the belt of constellations along the ecliptic, the path the Sun makes in the sky throughout the year. The Sun currently moves through the constellation of Aries from April 19 to May 14, but it is in the sign of Aries from roughly March 21 to April 20. The exact dates vary slightly from year to year. The scientific community observes the movements of the Sun against the actual constellations, while astrologers refer to the Sun in the signs.

As the article you cited in your e-mail explains, this discrepancy didn’t always exist, but arose due to a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes. When astrology was first developed thousands of years ago, Aries was on the eastern horizon at sunrise on the spring equinox. But because of the tilt of the earth on its axis, this point has shifted backwards.

To address precession, astrologers in ancient Greece devised a system whereby the sky was divided into 12 parts, with 30 degrees assigned to each sign, starting with 0 degrees Aries on the spring equinox. This is the basis of our popular Western astrology, and it applies to the date you were born and every birthday in your lifetime. Even for those born on the cusp, you are the sign you were born under. That’s why it’s so important to look up your chart and not rely on the dates given in horoscopes in the current year. Further, if you were born on a day when the sign changed, it’s critical that you have your birth time, or you won’t know for sure what sign you are.

Now, at the risk of confusing you further, there are other branches of astrology that use calculations closer to the Sun’s actual path through the constellations. The most widespread of these is Vedic astrology, which is practiced throughout India and other Eastern countries. According to that system, Carolyn, you would be a Pisces from birth.

But unless you want to convert to that system and completely ignore Western astrology, you should consider yourself an Aries and not worry another minute that you’re anything but an Aries.

To anyone who would like to know more about the origins of astrology, I highly recommend the A&E “Ancient Mysteries” series, with Leonard Nimoy as host. You can find it, along with several other recommendations, in the RealAstrologers bookstore (yes, that’s where all my book links went!).

Aquarius, the sign of astrologyPat

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Saturday Extra!Documentary Film Explores Growing 2012 Debate

The latest offering in the growing 2012 craze, 2012: Science or Superstition, is intelligent enough to make it worth recommending.

The documentary film, released on DVD by the Disinformation Company (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, Bush Family Fortunes), takes on the question of whether there is any significance to the year 2012, specifically the date December 21, which according to some scholars is the end date of the Mayan Calendar.

Does it settle the question its subtitle proposes to answer? Not really. Is it the best film on the subject to date? I don’t know, because I haven’t seen all of the others. Is it worth laying out $10 for on Amazon.com? Absolutely. Be the first in your condo complex to see it. Better still, invite your friends over and make it a party. You’ll have an evening filled with lively discussion about a topic that does matter, in the grand scheme of things.

The filmmakers no doubt are hoping to capitalize on the 2012 hype, which will increase by galactic proportions with the release this summer of a big-budget Hollywood disaster film using 2012 as a theme. But hey, anything that injects some rational debate into the subject and entices mainstream audiences to think more deeply should win a public-service award.

The panel of experts featured in 2012 is impressive, but it could have done with fewer New Age writers. The film relies heavily on well-known author Graham Hancock, who makes a case for the end of civilization as we know it, and John Major Jenkins, a recognized pioneer in Mayan Calendar research. Jenkins comes across as bombastic and at times ridiculous. Maybe it was the editing, but I had a similar reaction several months ago when I happened upon an Internet debate between Jenkins and Carl Johan Calleman, another 2012 researcher. Actually, “debate” is giving it too much credit. It was more like two males egos in a cosmic pissing contest — hardly the kind of enlightened behavior one would expect from individuals claiming to have special knowledge about the evolution of human consciousness.

Among other things, Jenkins and Calleman disagree about the end date of the Mayan Calendar, with Jenkins promoting the Dec. 21, 2012 date and Calleman arguing for October 28, 2011. You’d hardly know, watching this film, that the exact date wasn’t carved in stone.

The film’s token scientist, Dr. Anthony Aveni of Colgate University, makes the predictable observation (of which he is very certain) that the world is not going to end in 2012. But at least he has a sense of humor.

Fortunately, the filmmakers also found Alonso Mendez, an archeo-astronomer and researcher at Palenque. Speaking with quiet conviction, Mendez makes perhaps the wisest observation of all: “The concept that this end date or completion date of the Mayan Calendar has some relevance to the world in a global sense I think is a fallacious thought, because this system is a particular system that was developed for and by Maya, for their particular ideology, for their particular place in the world. It would be a mistake to rally around a philosophy that has its place in its history and in its world and appropriate it as something that belongs to a global sense.”

From an astrology standpoint, the film uses fabulous special effects to explain the precession of the equinoxes, and for that reason alone should be in the library of every astrologer or serious astrology student. I’ve mentioned this phenomenon often in my writing about the coming Age of Aquarius, but explaining the reasons gets complicated and tiresome. With these brilliant visuals, you get it right away.

Aquarius, the sign of astrologyPat

2012: Science or Superstition
Documentary presented by The Disinformation Company
Available on DVD
Directed by Nimrod Erez
Written and produced by Gary Baddeley
78 minutes, no rating
Featuring interviews with Graham Hancock, John Major Jenkins, Anthony Aveni, John Anthony West, Walter Cruttenden, and several other writers and leading experts.
Official site