The Truth Behind the Myth of the 13th Sign
A 13th sign of the zodiac? It gets eye rolls from every accredited astrologer and many amateurs, but still the myth persists. Let’s lay this to rest once and for all.
Over the last several decades, there are those who have argued that there should be a 13th sign of the zodiac rather than the normal 12, because of a constellation that lies on the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun during the year).
It appears some want to be innovators and take astrology to a place it’s never been before; as though people for the past few thousand years weren’t happy with the 12 signs they had and were desperately searching for a solution. It’s like selling a piano that has an 89th key, and saying that it works better when playing a piece by Beethoven – both ideas are nonsensical.
This “new and improved zodiac” falls flat on its face because it’s basic premise is both illogical and poorly conceived.
The Ancient Astrologers had it Right
Why do we think that we’re so much smarter than the people of the past? Because we have miniskirts, hot dogs and the atom bomb? Progress? This is called the “myth of modernity,” part of the dogma that began in the so-called Age of Reason.
We constantly talk about being smarter than those who built the Antikythera, a mechanical analog computer that calculated eclipses and planetary positions. How about the ancient Minoan Calendar Stone? It used the daily movement of wooden pins within concentric rings of holes to mark the positions of Jupiter, Saturn and other celestial bodies, without fractions, decimals, algebra or other modern mathematics.
Another failure of this thinking is the very premise used by the scientists who do a regular mockery of astrology. They argue that the zodiac signs don’t match the constellations. Well, guess what? It never did. It was not designed to, and anyone looking into the structure and origins without prejudice knows this.
Both Astrologers and sky observers realize this, and it’s a fact that the anti-astrology community has not studied the subject enough to understand why the zodiac exists as it does and how it was designed – by ancient people to track the movements of the planets and interpret the stories of the stars.
The zodiac as we know it has existed for thousands of years. As a comparison, today's technology is built on several layers of failed and abandoned work, because we continue to find things that operate better and suit the same purpose. Steam powered automobiles were thrown away, because cars running on gasoline were less dirty and dangerous. Now, autos run on fossil fuel are being replaced by electrics for the same reason. The point is that there is nothing wrong with the 12-sign zodiac, and we’ve never needed to replace it because it works, and will continue working, despite those who think success is based on the celebration of their originality, even though their theories are bogus.
You could say the zodiac is a coordinate system used to measure the movements of the planets, based on the annual path marked by the apparent movement of the Sun. This apparent movement is measured by the Solstices and the Equinoxes. In fact, when considered that way, longitude and latitude, navigation and the computer programs that track stars and planets with both large and small telescopes are based on calculations that were originally used by astrologers to calculate horoscopes.
According to ancient monuments, the Equinoxes and Solstices were marked by the rising of the Bull, the Scorpion, the Lion and the Waterman, but today they fall in the constellations of Pisces, Virgo, Gemini and Sagittarius.
Simply stated, you could say that astrology is a matter of the Sun, Moon and planets telling the stories of their cycles with plot twists, alternate endings, or continual revisions as they are seen from the Earth. These stories are found in literature, in the Bible and even appear in our laws and politics, all pointing to the same origins – the names of constellations in the sky and the movements of what the ancients called “wandering stars” – our planets.
The zodiac was never about matching the stars. The ancients simply borrowed the names and myths of some relevant astral bodies and made up new ones to fit the scheme of 12 signs. This was done mostly in Hellenistic Egypt by philosophers who designed the scheme of the zodiac on the basis of what most people today call Sacred Geometry.
The Importance of Three and Four: Qualities and Elements
In ancient times, numbers were not just for counting. They had their own intrinsic meanings that had to do with their qualitative properties. For instance, four represented stability and structure, the cube and the square, the foundation upon which things were built, and the four corners of the world.
The triangle, pyramid or tripod was the simplest structure men created that could stand up on its own. People felt that everything they did was natural, so it stands to reason that they thought these forms, represented by the numbers four and three, were a natural part of the structure of the Universe. So they organized their view of the geometry of the Sun’s annual journey around two groupings.
One group of four, representing the foundation points or pivots of the heavens, and expressed by the elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water. And groups of three, characterized as the Qualities – Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable, of which each of the pivots are a part. That’s four multiplied by three, or 12 signs in total. Since they, like us, knew a perfect circle contained 360 degrees, that made 12 even divisions of 30 degrees each, which is what you see in an astrological chart.
The four fundamental element groups were once called the “four winds”, or the four types of energy, described as the physical temperaments of hot and wet, hot and dry, cold and wet and cold and dry. Many may be surprised to find that most Western universities taught this as the foundation of medical diagnosis well into the 19th century.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the sign of Aries is the point where the Sun begins its northern course, and at noon, it distributes its light evenly in both the northern and southern halves of the globe. The other two signs of the group that make its triangle are Leo and Sagittarius. Leo is a Fixed sign, meaning that it is stable, and Sagittarius has both Mutable and Fixed qualities.
When the Sun reaches the sign of Cancer, it’s at its northernmost point in the sky, which means that those of us in the northern half of the globe receive the most warmth, and this is the beginning of Summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the beginning of Winter, because the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky. In the Cancer group of Water signs, we have Scorpio which has a Fixed quality and Pisces, which takes on the characteristics of both Fixed and Mutable qualities.
Libra is opposite Aries on the astrological wheel, and consequently day and night are about equal in length, and the Sun distributes its force equitably in the north and south. Among the Air signs, Aquarius is the more stable member and Gemini is the changeable or common member of the Libra trigon.
Capricorn, a Cardinal sign is opposite Cancer, so the Sun is furthest South, marking the beginning of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In its trigon, Taurus is the Fixed or solid sign, while Virgo is the common member of this group. Most globes and maps indicate the apparent path of the Sun through the circles we call the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, while the Equator is the point that marks both Aries and Libra.
Although these points are mostly used to build calendars today, they were originally used to track and interpret the planetary movements. This gave the ancients information about events that would shape the fate of the kingdom, war and victory, weather and other things important to human society. Eventually, the ancient astrologers began to interpret individual life patterns from the relationships between planets, the local horizon and the zodiac.
In order to make it easier to use the calendar, we are still counting the beginning of the zodiac as the beginning date of the zodiac sign of Aries. Astronomers also count the Aries point as the beginning of the equatorial scale they use to measure star positions.
Astronomy vs Astrology
We know that the positions of the stars and constellations are different from those measured by the zodiac. It’s as if you were measuring space for something five feet long, starting at 11 inches from the wall and only had a 12-inch ruler. The idea that there is something wrong with the way astrologers measure sign coordinates is unfortunate and misinformed.
Lauded astronomers Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe and Galileo Galilei were all astrologers by profession.
If the predictive use of the 12-sign zodiac hadn’t proven itself over and over in the last few thousand years, it would have been abandoned long ago.