Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's your sign (now)?

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.


  1. I just learned today about the change of the zodiac signs. Not that I have anything against Capricorns (which apparently I am now) I just grew accustomed to the personality traits that are attributed to Aquarius (which I incidentally have always been).
    Aquarius personalities have long been described as independent, gregarious, strong,exuberant, tolerant, fair-minded, frank, outspoken, and genial. Aquarians are also loners at times and refuse to follow the crowd. We are often considered to be exhibitionist at heart.
    All of these Aquarian traits describe me as a person and frankly I like it!
    I guess you could say I am indignant about the sudden desire scientists feel in bringing about this change. Do I follow my horoscope....nope. Do I believe that my life will be incomplete if I do not read my astronomical sign....nope. In fact I rarely read it at all. I just like the traits associated with a sign I've always been and see myself as. I look at myself and read about Aquarius and suddenly "I make sense" as a person. A lot of people think zodiac signs are so much bunk, and perhaps they are right, but who of us has not read the description of our birth sign and not felt some kind of recognition there?

  2. Very good points! I agree completely: our "sign" also tends to validate our own personality traits, often when those around us (especially our parents?) may not be embracing all that makes us who we are. Thanks for your comments :-)