There's no way around it, is there? I must address the astro-kerfuffle heard 'round the world.
So listen up, folks: Your astrological sign has not changed.
For those of you not tapped into the hot-potato frenzy of Facebook, Twitter and the like, which can quickly spin a piece of nonsense into full-fledged newsworthy gossip, a story hit cyberspace a few days ago informing the uninformed about how we astrologers (morons that we obviously must be) had no idea the constellations in the sky don't line up with what we refer to as the zodiac signs. (Find this story, in different permutations here, here or here.)
Here's the real scoop: There is absolutely no new news being reported here. The gap between (1) the constellations' positions and (2) the celestial regions that comprise the signs, now approximately 23 degrees, is something any credible astrologer already knows about.
Most practitioners of western astrology (such as myself) use what is called the tropical zodiac in our work. The tropical zodiac is a circle in the sky divided into twelve equal 30-degree portions (called 'signs'), fixed so that the Sun is at 0-degrees Aries at the Spring Equinox (in the Northern Hemisphere) every year, around March 21 or so. By human design, it coincides with the earthly seasons as a convenient, consistent structure of reference for measuring the planets' locations. The astrological interpretations I, and many of my colleagues, rely upon were born out of this system.
The sidereal zodiac, on the other hand, is the sign-based system that is linked with the stars' actual physical locations. It's used primarily by Vedic astrologers (and a few westerns), and holds its own coherent interpretative structure distinctive from the tropical zodiac.
There's a lot more detail to this story, which plenty of other people have already taken the time to explain more thoroughly. I myself mentioned all this stuff back in 2004, in a discussion about the so-called 'Age of Aquarius', as the precession of the equinoxes (the concept behind the 'Ages', a 26,000-year cycle) is the astronomical explanation of this ever-shifting gap between the zodiacs.
I defer to my intelligent, witty (and patient) colleagues for more insight on this latest faux-controversy:
'Attention All AstronomersThe World is Flat', by Eric Francis (PlanetWaves.net)
'Here We Go Again with "The Zodiac is Wrong" Scam', by Rob Breszny (from Facebook)
'The Signs Have NOT Changed', by Gary P. Caton (Soul Sign Horoscopes)
'Oh No, It's Ophiuchus Again!' , by Samuel F. Reynolds (Practicing Astrologer)
I'm all for skeptics examining the veracity of a belief system for themselves, though it would be nice if those who seek to criticize astrology would bother to investigate the subject before they run their mouths off. This same tired presumption of ignorance on astrologers' partthat we are so far removed from the 'rigors of science', we know nothing about the precession of the equinoxes or, for that matter, basic astronomical mechanicsis often the first place critics begin in their efforts to badmouth us. Critics, you're going to have to do better than this 'your astrological sign is wrong' bullshit. All of the guys I linked to above, and so many of the other wonderful astrology professionals I've been privileged to come in contact with over the years, are smart cookies. A quick research call or email to any one of us by the author of this piece (or the countless others just like it) would've quickly yielded the conclusion that there's no headline here. (And isn't research, like, Journalism 101?!?) Of course, they can create more hype and attention by simply making provocative statements and then letting the social-media currents do their trick, making very much ado about nothing.
It was indeed amazing to observe this wrong-sign hysteria sweep across cyberspace like wildfire. The naysayers who already feel astrology is bunk (and probably still would no matter what evidence to the contrary was provided them) got their self-affirming head-pat while everyone else basically freaked out about whether they'd bought into the wrong astrological stereotypes about themselves all this time. I was impressed at how loudly and ferociously so many casual astrology-followers clung to the zodiac sign they identify themselves with. I wonder what portion of those loyalists in fact know anything about their astrological makeup beyond their sun-sign (the merest tip of the iceberg) and how much more fiercely they'd defend astrology if they did.
Neptune, finishing up his last few dalliances through Aquarius, reminds us not to believe everything we see on the Internet. Just because large groups of people are trafficking in the same nugget of supposed information, that doesn't make it true.
I guess I should simply be grateful whenever astrology, as a topic of interest, is fortunate enough to catch a wave of heightened popularity. After all, they say any publicity is good publicity. So many of my colleagues have reported massive increases in website traffic, requests for interviews by mainstream media outlets, and lots of contacts from the scores of folks who rely on them for level-headed insight. I have personally fielded dozens of inquiries, emails and Facebook posts and bar-chats, all egging me on to answer the same damn thing: 'Has my sign really changed?' And I must admit, it's gotten a bit irritating to address one subject over and over and over and over again in the course of a few short days though I'm flattered everyone seems to want my opinion on the matter. Hopefully, this article can serve as my final word on the topic. (By the way: If I had the personal mailing address of the offending astronomer, I'd love to cram his mailbox full of a couple tons of junk-mail.)
For now, I'll just continue posting my weekly horoscopes based on the same system I've always usedand you can be the judge of whether you're still who you thought you were.