No, your zodiac sign hasn't changed
January 13th, 2011
10:11 PM ET

No, your zodiac sign hasn't changed

Tattoo parlor owners must be salivating. An assertion in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article that our understanding of the zodiac is off by about a month - and that therefore people have been identifying themselves with the wrong sign - caught fire on the internet Thursday, and many folks are in an absolute panic on social media.

"If my zodiac symbol has been changed to a Libra, what am I supposed to do with my Scorpio tattoo?!?!," read one tweet Thursday.

Some vowed to get their tats removed. Others groaned about losing the sign with which they’ve identified themselves for years. The zodiac and related terms - including Ophiuchus, said to be a 13th and neglected sign - were trending Twitter topics much of Thursday.

But before astrology fans scrape the ink from their arms because they think they're now a Virgo instead of a Libra, they should consider this: If they adhered to the tropical zodiac - which, if they're a Westerner, they probably did - absolutely nothing has changed for them.

That's worth rephrasing: If you considered yourself a Cancer under the tropical zodiac last week, you're still a Cancer under the same zodiac this week.

That's because the tropical zodiac - which is fixed to seasons, and which Western astrology adheres to - differs from the sidereal zodiac - which is fixed to constellations and is followed more in the East, and is the type of zodiac to which the Star Tribune article ultimately refers.

Two zodiacs. That's nothing new.

"This story is born periodically as if someone has discovered some truth. It's not news," said Jeff Jawer, astrologer with Tarot.com.

The hubbub started with Sunday's Star Tribune article, which said the following: "The ancient Babylonians based zodiac signs on the constellation the sun was 'in' on the day a person was born. During the ensuing millenniums, the moon’s gravitational pull has made the Earth 'wobble' around its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars' alignment."

"When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it’s really not in Pisces," Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, told the Star Tribune.

"Indeed," the article continued, "most horoscope readers who consider themselves Pisces are actually Aquarians." The article also asserts Scorpio's window lasts only seven days, and that a 13th constellation, Ophiuchus, used to be counted between Scorpio and Sagittarius but was discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.

True enough, Jawer says, the sun doesn't align with constellations at the same time of year that it did millennia ago. But that’s irrelevant for the tropical zodiac, codified for Western astrology by Ptolemy in the second century, he says.

In the tropical zodiac, the start of Aries is fixed to one equinox, and Libra the other.

"When we look at the astrology used in the Western world, the seasonally based astrology has not changed, was never oriented to the constellations, and stands as … has been stated for two millenniums," Jawer said.

People who put stock in astrology can ask whether they should adhere to the tropical zodiac or the sidereal zodiac. Jawer argues for the tropical.

"Astrology is geocentric. It relates life on Earth to the Earth’s environment, and seasons are the most dramatic effect, which is why we use the tropical zodiac," he said.

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soundoff (1,486 Responses)
  1. Lacey

    I understand that people like their zodiak signs – I love telling people that I'm a leo – but honestly, it has nothing to do with who you are. I can't believe people are upset because their "new" sign doesn't describe them as well as their old sign. It has nothing to do with you! If it did, every leo would be exactly the same, every virgo, every pisces, etc. I know people who have the same sign as me but are very different. It's not fact, it's just fun.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Thank you, Lacey!

      TRUTH!

      January 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ahhhhhh

    Science is real.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Maki

    I was so scared when I saw my birthday in between Leo and Virgo. But then I came upon this article. Now I'm really relieved 🙂

    January 15, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Peter Johnston

    LOL-when I was young, I was confused-My Birthday is July 22'nd-in different newspapers and other publishings, when I was young, I was so confused on if I was an "Undreded Cancer"-hell I don't wanna get Cancer, or a Leo?!? Maybe because the majority said I had "Cancer", they "made" me start smoking cigs! Hell, I think I will get Cancer even if I trully am a Leo!!!

    January 15, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ann

    The is no God and Horoscope is a fraud.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • april 1

      There is no ANN and your a fraud .. 🙂

      January 15, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter Johnston

      There is Only ONE and I am not the ONE to judge

      January 15, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. yoyo

    mane thes be crazi stuf. ya all be som funy peeps an bord ahhahahaha

    no but really wow this has been one heck of a topic to read on. People really have nothing better to do in this world huh. let's figure out how to make more Nuke's yeahhhhhhh hahaha

    January 15, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. melicious

    Wow some of you people can be mean so you gonna be mean when i ask what year was this changes suppose to have happened?

    January 15, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. TokeTheTalk

    when the news factory presents
    a fact known for the last 1700 years
    such as the precession of the equinoxes as news
    and it still sparks a debate over the net,
    then you can see that the only lasting achievement of public education is
    writing.
    BTW welcome to CNN's testing facility for fake stories.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter Johnston

      Jason and Freddy musta been reborn from the Thirteenth Century

      January 15, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • TokeTheTalk

      Freddy's a wuss who needs a good machete manicure.
      But this math stuff.....

      January 15, 2011 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Anonymous

    There is detailed information that contests the "new" zodiac here: http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/01/14/5841166-the-twitter-snowball-effect-the-zodiac-and-npr

    I encourage everyone to read this

    January 15, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Anonymous

    In Defense of the 12-Sign System:
    Why the New Zodiac is Wrong

    By Anonymous

    The introduction of the new sign Ophiucus is an attempt to channel or interpret the configurations of a constellation, or a body of stars, and work it into the 12-zodiac astrology system which is based upon the seasonal marking points of the equinoxes and related to the planetary configurations. Under the new system, all current signs are apparently shifted by about one month or so, and the sign Scorpio is squeezed into the week of November 23-29 when the constellation Scorpius passes through that part of the year. Scorpio as we knew it was swallowed entirely by the assigned dates of the new Libra.

    However, this apparent change or shift in the constellations should not affect the current workings of astrology for several reasons. Astrology as was performed for the past thousands of years has rested upon the configuration of the planetary bodies in relation to a person's birthplace, the exact hour being used to determine the ascendant according to planetary and celestial bodies' configurations. The planets represent the ego, outlook, or persona of the person, and the configuration of certain planets in relation to the others would determine other traits such as needs (often associated with the moon sign) and the external ego (ascendant). A person born in the middle of November, for example, would be considered a Scorpio because the sun passes through Pluto which is considered a planet that governs that sign. This person would embody some of the traits ascribed to the Scorpio personality in addition to effecting the influence of that sign, often associated with research. What has happened is that the "new zodiac" signs have been confused with the constellations, or the position of body of stars, in relation to the person's birthplace. Libra's constellation, for example, would appear during the period assigned traditionally to Scorpio and Scorpius, the constellation so named after the scorpion which is symbolic of Scorpio, would appear during November 23-29 which is in the sign Sagittarius.

    There are a number of possibilites why this is so. A first possibility is that the constellation presiding over the sign may be said to effect an "influence" over that part of the sign. For Scorpio, the constellation Libra, when it passes through that sign, may impart a sense of judgment or discernment. For the week of November 23-29, Scorpius may impart some qualities associated with Scorpio to that part of Sagittarius. Astrology combines not only the sun sign and the moon sign but other aspects, including planetary configurations. Each sign is supposedly split into three decans which have differing qualities according to the rulership or influence of presiding planets, though they all share the same "theme" represented by the planet governing their shared sign. For example, Gemini is often divided into three decans presided over by Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, though all three decans are considered essentially Gemini. The constellation passing through the sign may be another "aspect" or influence of that part of the sign in determining his or her personality.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Anonymous

    Another factor that perhaps causes some confusion is the "carryover" of some signs' traits into others. It has often been observed that natives of one sign may exhibit some of the traits of the sign preceding it; some astrologers would point to the significance of having "recently passed through" that sign. A gemini, for example, may show a great appreciation of food, or "comfort food," which is often used to describe a Taurus. A cancer might be rather garrulous, but his essential nature is supposedly to hold onto things and letting go only afterwards. A Leo can be a great caretaker of the home, a carryover trait from Cancer, and a Virgo may be rather flamboyant when attracting a mate; a Libra may be critical and practical if a situation calls for it, and a Scorpio may seem to possess judgment and discernment as well as the ability to balance another person's view if called for; a Sagittarius may seem to be able to see through one's exterior, and a Capricorn may seem to be headed past the horizon; an Aquarius may often have a more conservative framework from which he works, and a Pisces may be rather friendly, humanitarian, and diffuse in compassion; an Aries may seem somewhat nebulous at times and a Taurus may appear to take on the lead on occasion. Some signs also have special qualities that seem to contradict their essential nature. Capricorns, for example, are often noted for growing younger with age, after having experienced some hardships; it is a cardinal earth sign associated with construction and public distinction among other things. Cancers can be talkative in matters concerning relationships; they are also changeable and moody and capable of becoming confidence tricksters; they may also change affiliations.

    There is also the influence of the progressed sun. A person born in one sign, for example, may have his goals, image, or aspirations changed later on in life due to the influence of the newer configuration of planetary bodies; he may also take on the traits of another sign. Some qualities may not change, but some can. Each year in a person's life could be said to correspond to a day progressing after the person's day of birth. For example, a person born in January 21 who is thirty years old would probably have an affinity with someone who is born on February 21 because of his or her progressed sun. That is, his or her views, aspirations, image, or goals, may be influenced by or have an affinity with Aquarius. A Gemini born in June 3 may see his progressed sun move into Leo at the age of around forty-eight. The "new zodiac" seems to offset each sign by about one month. If a person's characteristics, traits, and aspirations can be observed over time, it can be seen that a person may enter a turning point when his progressed sun crosses into another sign. Since each sign is followed by a supposedly incompatible element, it would seem that they appear to change, though their ego or outlook may remain the same. Fire and air signs have often been associated with "masculine" qualities such as energy, enthusiasm, activity, and are diurnal while earth and water signs are associated with "feminine" qualities such as receptivity, sensitivity, selectivity, practicality, and are noctural. Of course, there are several other aspects and influences that one needs to take a look at in determining a more holistic view of a person's astrological profile. It is possible that the "new zodiac" has somehow noticed this "change" without making the proper distinctions. Scorpio, which was replaced by Libra, could be associated with the more "masculine" qualities of Sagittarius, as a Scorpio's progressed sun would move into Sagittarius. Perhaps it is more likely that the "carryover" traits were used in confirming this "new" zodiac, if evidence were used at all.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Anonymous

    The 12-sign system of astrology corresponds to the seasons. Scorpio, which is traditionally associated with the fall, would represent death and decay. Each season represents also an "inner age" and Scorpio could be said to preside over the ages forty-nine through fifty-six. Its tarot card is often shown as "Death," which represents death through putrefaction but also the qualities of renewal, regeneration, or rebirth; it is associated with change. Aleister Crowley called Scorpio the "great putrefier" due to its nature towards putrefaction, or getting rid of what one does not need. It is associated with transformation that is total and complete, sometimes secrecy, research, other people's possessions, and emotional intensity among other traits and associations. It is often compared with the ocean, and many Scorpio natives seem to have an appreciation of views of the ocean. It makes sense that this sign would correspond with the fall, sometime between late October and late November. There is a fixity of emotion associated with this time of the year; it is also the time of hoarding before winter, and Pluto presides over the underworld as well as wealth. Sylvia Plath, for example, was a Scorpio. To call the week of November 23-29 the new Scorpio would be to deny the astrological and symbolic influence of the season, which has proven significant in the establishment of astrology; it would be ascribing the traits of the fixed water sign to a muteable fire sign. Perhaps why this week is associated with Scorpio is because of the qualities imparted by the Scorpio sign itself. Those born on the "cusp" of two signs seem to have traits corresponding to both signs, often deemed incompatible. The week November 23-29 would coincide with the Scorpio-Sagittarius cusp, which is acknowledged and referred to by some astrologers as the "Cusp of Revolution," though usually cusps can include slightly more of the previous sign and a bit less of the rising sign. The natives born in this week would then exhibit some traits of Scorpio, perhaps a strength of energy and tenacity of willpower with secrecy coupled with those of Sagittarius. Scorpios are often recognized by their intensity, composure, and emotional nature. Another sign, Leos are accompanied by the end of summer; its associations include the child, the lover, and the glory of man that comes at summer's end before the beginning of autumn. Each week also corresponds to a different "theme" in astrology.

    To give another example of seasonal significance, people in the spring often are considered to possess more energy and enthusiasm while those in the fall appear more critical or selective; those born in the summer are often said to have more measured responses and those born in the winter are said to be more tolerant. Capricorn, for example, occurs sometime between late December and late January; it is associated with winter and its corresponding tarot card is the Devil who appears as a cloaked priest; it is the point during which the sun begins its climb from the southernmost point, bringing perhaps with it aspirations and hope, and Crowley noted its significance in his book The General Principles of Astrology.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Peter Johnston

    So the Zodiac really doesn't let every1 see-we gotta get new glasses

    January 15, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. Speedo the Torpedo

    What this world needs is a real life event like the movie "Independence Day" to happen, and just as the movie played out, it was about survival, and nothing about religion playing a factor. All the nations of the world put their "religious" beliefs aside to save humanity. It was symbolic in my mind, partly because of the lack of a religious belief, it was just kill or be killed. Our "God" may well be a super intelligent alien who has populated our world for his amusement. You also can't discount the "sun worshipers in our past, the Egyptians, Mayans, Incas", ect., that knew as we Know now, this world does not exist daily without our Sun. Our "Sun" is the single reason we are allowed to exist. Not religion, not politics, not money...I wish more people could grasp the concept that we are allowed to live each day because of our Sun and not any God. Their response will be that our "GOD" made the Sun and that is how we must worship him for his "gift" of life to us through the Sun. Thing is, I can "see" the Sun, just have never seen our "God". Tucson, anybody?

    January 15, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. Servo

    If this story is retold periodically, then why can't I google search similar articles that predate 2011?

    January 15, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
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