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. Leslie

    Stupid!!!!!!!

    January 16, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    That Eastern astrologers use the Sidereal zodiac (drawing their charts based on the actual backdrop of constellations astronomers now see in the sky), and Western astrologers, the Tropical zodiac (a zodiac constructed symbolically and numerically, by dividing the space around the earth into sectors of 30 degree “spaces where the forces of creation morph into qualities and functions”) is also standard knowledge.

    western astrologers “allegorically” refer to zones of celestial activity (that happen to have the names of the constellations). These zones are called Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces and are represented by the Ram, Bull, Twins and Crab etc, because the qualities of these animals symbolize these cosmic principles not because they are physically near the constellations by the same names.

    According to the mythos of Greek or Western Astrology, the Sun acts as a middle man, bringing in the cosmic forces from the Galaxy and streams the energies into 12 zones, like 12 cosmic energy portals that the Earth passes through on its trip around the Sun. The planets focus these energies and step the galactic forces down even more and bring them into our earthly experience.

    Quoted from an article on Examiner.com: A Twitter scandal: Why your zodiac sign has NOT changed – National Holistic Science & Spirit | Examiner.com

    http://exm.nr/hjw3BH

    January 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff

    Let's go back to the Mayan calendar thing and 2012. What made them think they needed a 5000 year calendar in the first place? If they could predict the end of the earth don’t you think they would have foreseen their own demise and made a shorter calendar? Why make a 5000 year calendar when you are only going to be around for a little while, unless you want to mess with somebody’s 5000 years down the road? Or maybe you were bored, so you made a really long calendar until you found something better to do. Regardless the world won’t be ending in 2012. Even if humanity nukes it’s self to death the world will still be here and it will recover.

    January 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. misfit120

    than Gawd, I was about to scrap all of my astrological lottery number picks.

    January 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Except your wrong about the babylonians wanting it changed to the 12 signs. It was the catholic church, who changed our entire natural rythmic calendar from 13 to 12. which astrologers by "simplifying" their calendar. If your telling news, find out what really happened.

    January 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nard doo doo

    I dunno bout anyone else buy my 'new' sign seems to fit me better than my old one. But my old sign made more sense for
    The early part of my life.

    January 16, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    Ive always siad the Mayans just STOPPED writing it... not they had a reason other than they got bored... I mean seriously.. Unless your gunna interview the guy that said we were gunna end I dont see a point in the whole thing. If there was something to it, why is this just now come to light? Did noone know anything about it 50 years ago? As for the zodiac... This is just something else that some yoyo wants us to be bothered by...UNREAL.

    January 16, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nikunj

    Rubbish ! I dont care about astrology ! its just the way of making money, no way a goddamm star can decide my fate !!! You can debate what it is and what it is not ! Sucks though !! What fools all pple to believe !

    January 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Random

    I though this article was about the Zodiac but apparently it has turned into a giant religion bash. Grow the hell up people.

    January 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. april=meandurbigbrother

    On April 5, 199* the sky was blue and I was born in aries. And guess what? April 5, 2011 I'll still be one and the sky will still be blue.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Oscar A. Abrego

    Hey what's My zodiac sign now !!!! My birth day is 06 27

    January 17, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. GAME OVA man! GAME OVA!!"

    "Jeff

    Let's go back to the Mayan calendar thing and 2012. What made them think they needed a 5000 year calendar in the first place? If they could predict the end of the earth don’t you think they would have foreseen their own demise and made a shorter calendar? Why make a 5000 year calendar when you are only going to be around for a little while, unless you want to mess with somebody’s 5000 years down the road? Or maybe you were bored, so you made a really long calendar until you found something better to do. Regardless the world won’t be ending in 2012. Even if humanity nukes it’s self to death the world will still be here and it will recover."

    +1

    January 17, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kadie

    Lmao I love it when people quote Wikipedia as a legitimate source.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. coolmaxhot

    compare the sidereal and tropical zodiacs at coolmaxhot.com

    January 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaylene

      Short, sweet, to the point, FREE-exactly as infaormtion should be!

      July 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Just Me

    I can't belive the amount of comments on this topic. Doesn't anyone have anything better to worry about? Does anyone have a job, family to to take care of, friends,relatives,neighbors who are ill or elderly and may need help? Have YOU ever had a serious illness? If so, then you know that it doesn't matter WHAT sign you are, but how you live your life, not how an astrological sign says you should behave. May this be the biggest worry of your life.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
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