Still crabby after all these years – Astrology, astronomy and you

If you bought an astrology book for the new year, I hope you kept the receipt. You may not be the sign you think you are.

According to researchers at the Minnesota Planetarium Society the star signs have all been moved. Astrology claims to go back 3,000 years to when Babylonian astronomers first drafted the original Zodiac of constellations along the path of the sun and dividing it 12 sections. Your star sign is based on the position of the sun on their Zodiac on the day that you were born.

But a lot can happen in 3,000 years and the moon’s gravity has shifted the Earth by about a month, meaning that the horoscope we read this morning may not be for us. In fact, you may be a whole new sign – Ophiuchus, who are born between November 29 and December 17, and cruely ignored by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year. How fast do you reckon they can get a book out on that one?

I’m really quite happy about this. I was born early and missed being a sunny bouncy confident Leo. Instead I got landed with Cancer, the clingy kill joy of the zodiac.

In the bin with you, I have a new star sign now!

Yes, we get some nice stuff. Apparently we are protective. The word “nurturing” has been mentioned. It might appear that other stars get all good stuff – confidence (Leo), athleticism (Sagittarius), creativity (Aquarius), the sex appeal (Scorpio). It might appear that Taureans and Arians have cornered the market on determination, so we just get to be clingy. It might appear – say, to moody broody types like Cancers – that the name of our sign is either terminal or venereal.  But apparently, despite a tendency to cynicism and pessimism, Cancer the Crab is just great at nurturing.

We Cancers may be stroppy, snappy, crabby, moody crabs but at least we make good chicken soup for the soul. Or crab and sweetcorn soup, if you’d prefer.

Nurturing. I’m nurturing bitterness at getting such a useless star sign when I should have been a Leo. How about that?

It may be a load of old rubbish whatever way you decide to look at it. Astronomers generally ask that their practices of observing the stars be far removed from astrologers telling us they influence personality, so as far as they are concerned astrology has been rubbish all along.

And the astrologists are eager to get their allegations of garbage in too. According to Salon, professional astrologists believe that the Minnesota Planetarium Society is trying to throw doubt on astrology full stop. “Zodiac” is apparently used differently within each discipline, sort of the same way politicians and HR use words we think we understand in a whole new and interpretive way. (See “restructure”, “budget” and “Un-Australian”.)

A professional astrologer, Matthew Currie has this to say:

The Zodiac, the twelve divisions of the sky made up of the horoscope signs, and the Zodiac, the band of constellations in the sky, are two different things. This is how a lot of skeptics of astrology trick people to convince themselves and others that there’s nothing to astrology. But in reality, we’re talking about two different things.

Well, doesn’t that make it all sound completely sensible. Still, at least I now have an option on another star sign, even if it’s not the one I want. Despite the fact that the zodiac has apparently bumped along, I’m still not a fiery Leo – the darn thing has gone backwards and now, instead of being a moody Cancer, I’m a mercurial Gemini.

Which is totally different, of course.

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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.

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