Friday, January 14, 2011

Oh Crap! I'm a Virgo! (or My Thoughts on the Zodiac Panic)

Apparently, there’s a bit of a viral panic going on over the Zodiac. I’m highly amused by this. For those who haven’t see the story, a few links to get up to speed – basically, an astronomer pointed out that if you’re tracking where the Sun is at any given point in time, there are 13 constellations through which it travels, including the 12 traditional Zodiac constellations and Ophiuchus. Taking that observation to an astrological conclusion – viral panic dictated there should be 13 signs instead of 12.

What’s interesting to me about this story is, like most viral panics, it is oddly misinformed. First, it’s being presented as this “new” thing. Anyone who follows astronomy and astrology knows that the debate’s been around for quite some time. It’s basic science – yes, the Earth is a moving body and it’s path and pattern changes. But astrology is not science, it’s more a study of human nature. Empirical vs. humanistic if you will. Modern zodiac signs are merely generalizations about groups of people based on relative proxemic place in a system – and like most generalizations, there’s something to them, though they can’t be taken as hard and fast rules. Saying “people born in Pieces are generally quiet people” is the same as “people from New Jersey are loud and rude” – a generalized statement based on a group of people around a particular claim. Are there exceptions to both claims? Yes, of course. But grouping people for any purpose will never be entirely accurate (unless of course you want to parse out the empirical data, and even then, it’s limited by the number of people you’re able to sample which then limits your ability to generalize).

Second, and perhaps more importantly, what is getting lost in this fury is the notion that your Sun sign is the be all end all. People who actually follow astronomy know that your astrological sign is made up of a complicated series of placements of the planets based on the year, date and time of day you were born. While our modern Zodiac follows the Sun sign as our “primary guide,” your “true” astrological reading is a combination of the placement of all the planets at the time you were born. You can get a chart of this activity from this website. Here’s mine:

As you can see, I’m pretty solidly in Libra – Sun, Moon, Mercury, Pluto AND my antecedent node, all Libra. An important aspect of my chart is the placement of Venus (the planet ruling relationships), which is in Virgo. As a result, this placement implies that my relationships tend to enact patterns more associated with Virgo than Libra. I also have masculine planets of Mars and Jupiter in Cancer, which can be read as an attraction to the highly introverted, loyal types of men. And my antecedent is in Sagittarius, which can indicate the best type of friend to balance my energies. So the charting function of the Zodiac is not merely based on your Sun sign. As most viral news goes, it’s been boiled down to one talking point.

Now, whether or not you “believe” in the Zodiac is an entirely different story. I think it’s fun to see what’s going on up there in the skies - and generalizations about personality from those observations are also fun. Can people create self-fulfilling prophesies for themselves from the Zodiac? Sure. You have to take it with a grain of salt. People are complicated amalgamations of influences throughout their lives, and the Zodiac isn’t going to “predict” someone to a T. At the same time, I don’t think that everything is coincidence in some cases. There are things in this world that science is not able to explain. If there’s anything I do believe with absolute certainty, it’s that there will always be more to know and discover about our universe and ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there Stranger! I thought this was interesting as well. I really enjoy being a scorpio...:) I better check that out!
    Hope you are doing well. Sorry I have been MIA!