Still Confused about the 13th Astrological Sign?
Answers in Tribute to Astrology
By Katharina Wehrli
Recently there has been an upheaval involving a 13th zodiacal sign by the name of Ophiuchus. This isn’t the first time the issue has been raised. Unfortunately some astronomers continue to use it to discredit or at least question the validity of Western astrology. It is an age-old battle that has its origin in the fundamental difference between these two disciplines. Instead of acknowledging and celebrating these differences, some scientists continue to out-picture their insecurity through inappropriate criticism. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all times said: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
Astronomy is a “hard” science. Such systems are invaluable when calculating planetary movements, building bridges, cars or airplanes, for example. They ensure reliable results within the boundaries of precise objectives that are based on deductive reasoning and provable facts. Deductive thinking relies solely on linear left-brain processes. Results are achieved through examining parts, which are then put together to create the whole picture. Even so, this picture changes depending on what facts are presented and how they are linked. It is why science constantly comes up with new explanations based on additional data.
Inductive thinking as a nonlinear right brain function, on the other hand, validates phenomena by making sense of individual parts by first understanding the whole. The mind can thus grasp the entirety of any given concept or situation through symbols and images. Insight is gained by intuitive, inner learning rather than through rational processing. Inductive thinking is therefore suitable to understand and integrate phenomena that include emotional, psychological, and spiritual dynamics.
It should also be noted that there is a difference between truth and fact. Recognizing the truth involves mental dynamics of discovery followed by immediate, effortless recognition. It can originate from information gathered by the five senses, or through the sixth sense of intuition. Although not with immediately presentable evidence, experience shows that intuitive assessment has a way of proving itself over time.
Astrology as a “holistic” science uses both, inductive and deductive processes of inference. Through observation and correlation, this integrative discipline of exacting and symbolic methodologies is practical and quite accurate. Using both linear and nonlinear mental powers, this system traces the energies through the complexities of real life circumstances. Among many other areas Western astrology helps with timing, location, relationships, healing or health building, understanding personality, talents, challenges and purpose. This system of deep wisdom has worked beautifully for many centuries and is complete with aout adjusting degrees or adding signs. The following information may nonetheless clear some of the confusion, created by the resurgence of Ophiuchus as the 13th sign in the zodiac.
As for facts, Hindu/Vedic astrologers use the coordinate system with the zodiacal signs set against the stellar background, called the sidereal zodiac. Due to the wobbling of the Earth’s axis the current planetary positions must be adjusted. This means that they slowly move backwards through the zodiac (about 1° every 76 years).
In contrast, Western astrologers use the coordinate system with the zodiacal signs fixed to the vernal equinox, which is called the tropical zodiac. As it is orientated toward the earthly seasons related to the sun, the 12 signs remain static. Even though the actual zodiacal constellations vary greatly in size, Western astrology considers them of equal length, so that each sign occupies 30°.
These are the main reasons why it makes no sense to add a 13th sign. The constellation Ophiuchus has been part of the zodiac for eons, which Western astrologers have known all along. Naturally, many of Ophiuchus’ qualities, especially those associated with healing and transformation, were synthesized into the archetypes of the neighboring constellations Scorpio and Sagittarius.
According to Greek mythology Asclepius became Ophiuchus. He was trained by a master healer, the centaur Chiron. Thus Asclepius learned to fuse his consciousness naturally with that of the animal and plant kingdom. Asclepius outperformed his teacher by even raising the dead. This threatened Zeus, who resorted to killing Asclepius with his lightning bolt. Zeus then immortalized him in the constellation Ophiuchus, where he is often portrayed holding a snake, or a staff with an intertwining snake. The wand with the snake winding around it has become a symbol of healing worldwide. For example, it is often depicted on ambulances and pharmaceutical logos.
Ophiuchus inspires us to honor, learn from and be in union with nature and her laws. We can see this association through Ophiuchius’ location next to Sagittarius, together with his teacher Chiron, the centaur healer. Sagittarius also represents the intuitive right brain function. Ophiuchius’ metamorphic qualities correlate with Scorpio’s ability to overcome limitations through change. Even without being directly integrated, we can see this 13th zodiacal sign as a powerful facilitator of conscious awareness and healing of intuition. By obliquely working through his neighbors Scorpio and Sagittarius, Ophiuchius can help us access these important qualities in a time when they are most needed.
Interestingly enough, scientists keep bringing Ophiuchus to our attention! This appears to originate from a subliminal need to balance their linear with nonlinear thinking. The very best scientists are people who do in fact possess this quality. To quote Albert Einstein once more: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”