Ironically, I learned of the new zodiac sign (Ophiuchus) on my birthday last week. Suddenly, I was no longer a Capricorn, but a Sagittarius. It was pretty much the icing on the cake of an awful day. Subsequently, it was interesting to follow the threads of conversation on the “status posts” of my Facebook friends concerning this new bit of trivial information.
Some people are very indignant, or even downright angry, at the change in the zodiac calendar. Others wonder aloud what all the fuss is about, communicating their opinion in a rather condescending manner that suggests anyone who follows astrology is beneath them. I strongly suspect most of the people I know fall squarely in the middle: astrology is a pleasant and occasional diversion not to be taken too seriously, but that helps remind one to take stock of their life now and then.
Belief in astrology is almost beside the point as I see it. The zodiac is, or was, like death and taxes: something predictable and common to all people. It is part of our social fabric, dependable even in its frivolity. It can stimulate a conversation, much like “What weather we’re having!” or “How ‘bout them (insert sports team here)?” The zodiac calendar has boundaries, rules, and suddenly all of that has been thrown out of whack.
I will readily admit reading my horoscope, usually when I blunder into it while reading a newspaper like our local alternative paper, the Tucson Weekly. I find the “Free Will Astrology” column by Rob Brezsny to be entertaining but also thought-provoking on a personal level. I may rarely take any action recommended in his horoscopes, but I feel at least a little more self-aware and introspective as a result of reading them.
Interestingly, Brezsny calls the recent announcement of the new sign a “scam” that resurfaces almost annually based on the assumption that astrology is associated with the constantly changing positions of stars in distant constellations. Not so, says Brezsny, who points out that (here on planet Earth, at least) astrology revolves around the position of the sun and planets in our own solar system. The zodiac signs were named for constellations, but are no longer tied to them.
It is probably only human nature to cling to things we feel are constant because so much of the world around us changes continually, ever faster. We seek philosophies, religions, and other institutions to ground us in these times of uncertainty. I generally find my horoscope neither positive nor negative, but empowering. It reminds me I always have the opportunity to change, to adapt, to ground myself in….myself.