Friday, January 14, 2011

Ophiuchus-13th Zodiac Sign

interpreter of dreams, vivid premonitions,
attracts good luck and fruitful blessings,
serpent holder, lofty ideals,
a seeker of peace and harmony,
doctor of medicine or science, natural-pathic,
adds, increases, joins, or gathers together
poetical, inventive nature, expanding qualities,
seeks higher education and wisdom,
overseer, supervisor of work,
fame - either grand, or completely misunderstood,
longevity, aspirations of healing the ills of man,
architect, builder, reaches for the stars, figuratively and literally,
tax assessor, or levys taxes,
astrological talents, intuitive,
large family indicated, but apt to be separated from them when young,
the number twelve holds great significance,
foresight and good fortune to benefit from hard times,
has secret enemies in family or close associations,
many jealous of this subject,
notable father, apple of father's eye when young,
high position in life expected [depending on aspects] highest fame and legend comes after death
feelings of granular, wise, genius mentality,
likes to wear clothing of vibrant colors, and plaids in particular,
receives the favor of those in authority

The 13 Zodiac Signs

Capricorn: Jan. 20 - Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 - March 11
Pisces: March 11- April 18
Aries: April 18- May 13
Taurus: May 13- June 21
Gemini: June 21- July 20
Cancer: July 20- Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10- Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16- Oct. 30 
Libra: Oct. 30- Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23- Nov. 29
Nov. 29- Dec. 17 
Sagittarius: Dec. 17- Jan. 20

Thanks to Earth's wobble, astrological signs are, well, bunk. (Or even more bunk than you might expect.) Astrological signs are determined by the position of the sun relative to certain constellations on a person's day of birth. The problem is, the positions were determined more than 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, the stars have shifted in the night sky so much that horoscope signs are nearly a month off.

The 13th Sign: Ophiuchus
Everyone knows there are 12 signs in the zodiac, right? Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer,
Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces.


Ophiuchus is the serpent bearer or serpent holder otherwise known as Asklepios
(sometimes written as Asclepius, Aesclepius or Aesculapius). The story goes that
Asklepios was the first doctor. The beginning of his medical mastery came about when
he was visiting a friend and a snake entered the room. Asklepios killed it, but then
another snake entered carrying an herb in its mouth and immediately revived the first
snake with it. Asklepios took the herb and thus began his medical career. He became
more masterful with this and other herbs, able to bring people back from death, such as
Hippolytus (by ‘gluing him back together’).
Hades was not thrilled about losing all those souls and perhaps being out of a job, so he
talked to his brother Zeus. Eventually, he argued, all mankind would be immortal, which
should only be a privilege of the gods. Zeus agreed with him and struck Asklepios dead
with a thunderbolt. He honored Asklepios’ talent, though, by placing him in the stars. We
humans have honored him as well, in our well known symbol of medicine, the rod of
Asclepius (right), which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Caduceus (another
story entirely; see further reading links below).
It is unclear to me how the name Ophiuchus is actually the Greek story of Asklepios, but
the most logical source I found seemed to indicate that Ophiuchus was sort of like his
nickname, because Ophiuchus comes from two Greek words meaning “serpent” and


The constellation of Ophiuchus lies between Scorpio and Sagittarius, or rather, sort of on
top of Scorpio. As the sun seems to dance across our sky, we can trace it’s path every
year. That path is called the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun. In figure 2 you can see
the line of the ecliptic and some of the constellations lined up around it. The ecliptic is
the white line running roughly horizontally, curving through the whole image. The stars
of Ophiuchus are circled in red; the stars of Scorpius in blue. You can see that really both
share the same space in the sky, with only a tip crossing the line of the ecliptic, it’s just
that Scorpius hangs below and Ophiuchus above. In most artistic drawings of each
constellation, Ophiuchus and Scorpius overlap, with Ophiuchus’ foot on Scorpius’ back.

The 13th Sign

If Ophiuchus was considered the 13th sign of the zodiac, it would take up most of the
period of time each year that now belongs to the sign of Scorpio, about the first 20-24
days. So is Ophiuchus really the 13th sign? I guess the question is, what defines a sign?
I’m not sure that there was an original, definite, and unarguable criteria, but the logical
idea seems to be that the sun passes through the constellations that correspond to the

By that definition, Ophiuchus certainly seems to be a sign. It appears to have only a toe
(or rather, a leg, to be more specific) hanging over the actual ecliptic: 5 stars of the
constellation Ophiuchus are below the ecliptic; the rest are above. Scorpio seems to have
only a few stars crossing the ecliptic as well. The main measurement seems to be whether
or not the sun passes through it, and the sun passes through both Ophiuchus and then
So what do I say to those people that think the exclusion of Ophiuchus in astrology is
20 years of experience with astrology have taught me that it is a fluid and changing
system, full of offshoots and misinterpretations and reinterpretations, and students of
each offshoot bang their pulpit at the other. New students are often frustrated by the
vastness of it all, even feeling betrayed when they discover that sometimes the best
answer to a question is “whatever works for you.” Why are there so many different ways
of dividing the astrological houses? Why are the signs and the constellations no longer in
alignment? What about all these new asteroids? What about this 13th sign?
It may not be as confusing and contradictory as it seems. I find that if we get caught up in
the rules, we can find ourselves in a never-ending maze of contradictions. But if we are
seeking meaning, we will often find the same truth at the end of many different paths. My
astrological reading experience has taught me that a chart will repeat itself. If there is an
important truth in there, the chart will communicate it several different ways, almost as if
it’s trying to make sure you don’t miss it’s essence. I believe that this Scorpius vs.
Ophiuchus issue is the same principle.
Some people have said that many of the Ophiuchus sign traits have been mistakenly
assigned to Scorpio. I can see that. Ophiuchus, from the stories in mythology, would
seem to indicate the ability to come back from death into life, to heal. The myth of
Scorpius says that it was the scorpion that was sent to kill Orion. So Scorpio, from the
stories in mythology, would seem to indicate death. Death and Life. That is the modern
interpretation of the sign Scorpio. Scorpio represents the transformative process of dying
and living again in a new state. It’s a snake shedding it’s skin or a phoenix rising from the

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