January 18, 2011
The Zodiac and the truth behind astrology
“Astrology is one of the most ancient sciences, held in high esteem of old, by the wise and the great. Formerly, no prince would make war or peace, nor any general fight in battle, in short, no important affair was undertaken without first consulting an astrologer.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Ever so often Astrology is presented with an opportunity to explain herself and thus improve on her wisdom and service to humankind. Such occasions, alas, usually happen when her system of symbolism is under attack, usually from people who have no knowledge of Astrology and who base their dismissive notions on popular culture and misunderstandings instead of serious consideration.
In the last few days, I received many alarmed emails asking me about the recent internet craze concerning the shattering “new discoveries” that the signs have shifted due to a “wobble” in the Earth’s axis and that there is a new 13th sign called Ophiuchus.
Let me address some of these concerns and assure you that whatever your sign was before 2011 is still the same and if you thought you could get an upgrade to a “nicer” sign, you are out of luck :(
1 - Astrology is based on the seasons and the relationships between the planets (called aspects) and NOT what sign is located behind the Sun when you were born.
The signs of the Zodiac are merely symbols and metaphors that divide the year into 12 different and equal “seasons”. This partition is based on the proportions of day and night or light and darkness experienced throughout the year. Aries always begins on the first day of spring (aka the Spring Equinox), when the day and night are equal and the amount of light is growing. Libra, on the other hand, always begins on the Fall Equinox, when the day and night are also equal, but the amount of light is receding.
Astrology postulates, regardless of what constellation occupies the Equinox, that people born in the spring will exhibit characteristics such as high energy and optimism. They will be the kind of people who spring into action, the same way that nature buds into life after its long winter slumber.
A new study, published by the Nature Neuroscience Journal, found links between the season of birth and personality. It is proven that people born in the winter, i.e. Capricorns, are more at risk to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), schizophrenia and depression. In Astrology, Capricorn, beginning on the longest night of the year, is associated with suffering, difficulties and pessimism. To quote the author of the paper, Professor Douglas McMahon, “Our biological clocks measure the day’s length and change our behavior according to the seasons.”
2 - When Astrology was developed by the Babylonians, the constellation of Aries happened to be located right behind the sign Aries during the Spring Equinox.
Astrology was developed in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, as a cosmic clock, most likely to help early farmers trace the seasons. In fact, the reason why we have seasons to begin with is because of the Earth’s 23 degree tilt, which is also connected to its wobble. The idea is simple: one should plant in Spring, party in Summer, harvest in Fall, and be careful with provisions in Winter.
The first zodiac sign, Aries, begins on March 21st, the Spring Equinox. Of course there is no real Ram out there in the skies. The ancient wise women and men of the time chose a Ram to symbolize Aries because it is a great metaphor for the initiation of spring, the leader of the flock. When the refuters of Astrology claim that people born in Aries should be called Pisces, they are misunderstanding the symbolism of Astrology. It’s like saying New York City should be called “York” because by now it is hundreds of years old. However, when it was founded it was new, and it symbolized a modern place full of possibilities. Aries was located behind the Equinox, on March 21st 2000-4000 years ago, when Astrology was “founded”. That is why we still call this period of time Aries.
3 - Astrologers and Astronomers have known about the issues presented in the “Astrology refuting hoax” for thousands of years and CHOSE NOT to include a 13th constellation.
There is nothing new about the 13th constellation or the shift in the signs. The ancient Greeks, who were the first to cast astrological “Natal Charts,” were quite aware of these two issues. In fact, Claudius Ptolemy wrote extensively about the 13th sign and the procession of the equinox in the 2nd century AD. As you can see, there is nothing new under the Sun.
Ophiuchus, the so called 13th sign, was not adopted into Astrology because the Sun barely touches the constellation during its path through the Zodiac. It also doesn’t fit into the Babylonians’ sexagesimal system that is based on 60 and 12. That is why we have 60 minutes in an hour and two sets of 12 hours in a day. That is also the reason behind the decision to have 12 signs in the Zodiac and not 13.
With all due respect, most of the people who rebuke Astrology have little knowledge about the ancient art. Intellectual giants the like of Johannes Kepler (considered by many the father of modern astronomy), Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Carl Jung, Benjamin Franklin and Sir Isaac Newton all knew about these two anomalies in Astrology. However, they continued to practice, study and develop astrological theories that resulted in amazing predictions and insights. (http://cosmicnavigator.com/blog/gahl-sasson/Astrology/Astrology-rocks-some-historical-magic)
Astrologers for centuries have incorporated the earth wobble in their understanding of the connection between the heavenly bodies and life on earth. Ever heard about “The Age of Aquarius?” The reason why we have these ages and why they move backward (Age of Aquarius follows the Age of Pisces) is because of the wobble of the earth. So to claim astrologers had not known about this phenomenon or chose to ignore it is simply ridiculous.
4 - Astrology is a system of symbols and metaphors designed to help us connect to the universe, just like the words and metaphors found in the various spiritual texts from around the world.
Many people claim that Astrology has no scientific backing and therefore cannot provide “real” help to humanity. I was stunned to see that this assertion regarding Astrology, came from the Christian Science Monitor, a news organization owned by a church.
But wait, there is no scientific proof of the resurrection of Christ, and yet the teaching of Jesus can still inspire love and compassion. There is no archeological proof of the Exodus and yet millions live and die by the teaching of Moses. There is no evidence to support Muhammad’s nightly flight on a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem. However, the holiest shrine for Islam, the Dome of the Rock, was built to commemorate that event on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Help and healing can be provided by systems that have no scientific proof, and have been for hundreds of years. I am not saying that these events did not happen. I am just noting that there is NO scientific proof that they did. However, the power of these systems of belief is undeniable.
Handled in the right way, Astrology can help guide us to a better future. Over the last 15 years I have personally experienced Astrology prove herself again and again in remarkable ways with clients of all ages, races, nationalities, and genders. I can only hope that she will do for you, what she has done for me and thousands of my clients.
“Obviously Astrology has much to offer psychology, but what the latter can offer its elder sister is less evident.”
Gahl E. Sasson teaches Astrology, Mythology and Kabbalah worldwide. His books A Wish Can Change Your Life (endorsed by HH the 14th Dalai Lama) and Cosmic Navigator, have been translated worldwide. www.CosmicNavigator.com