Thinking Out Loud

January 17, 2011

Realignment of Horoscope Signs Changes Everything For Followers

At risk of repeating myself, I don’t believe in astrology, but then again, us Geminis are naturally skeptical. [add rim shot here]

But for those who do, the signs they are a-changing.  And if you were born November 29th to December 17th, you’re now a Ophiuchus.  A what?  (Click the image at right for a look at the revised calendar)

I’ve written here before about how astrology is very much a religion, a faith system requiring as much faith as any other.  It’s also a unique faith group that gets free daily newspaper space in about every daily in the western world. But what do followers of that religion do when they wake up one morning and open their newspaper only to find out that their religion has undergone a transformation?

It would be like being a follower of The Worldwide Church of God only to wake up and find that the leader has recanted his beliefs.  Oh wait, that did happen when Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. began moving the group toward more evangelical beliefs.

It would be like being a devout Catholic who regularly prays the three sets of mysteries of the rosary only to wake up one morning and find that there are now four sets of mysteries.  Oh wait, that did happen when Pope John Paul introduced the Luminous Mysteries.

But before Evangelicals get too smug, it would also be like being told you can’t play sports on Sunday only to be told that it’s now permissible and in fact, there’s a volleyball game in the church gym coming up this Sunday afternoon.  Or grow up believing that women can’t preach or be church elders, only to find yourself in a church today where the majority of the church board right now is actually female, one of whom preached last week.

But I’m getting off topic.  And I don’t need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is the same; yesterday, today and forever. The fundamentals of Christianity are unchanged. (And I’d equally expect someone to comment that fundamentals of astrology are unchanged, too.)

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune (motto: Hyphens are our middle name) reports three types of reactions to the changes:

Defiance: “Dude, I’m a Leo and always will be a Leo, no matter where the sun is on August 5th. Besides, this very expensive tattoo on my right shoulder tells me so.”

Consternation: “Darn it, the whole time I thought I was an introvert, now to find out that I’m an extrovert. I’m going to need awhile to unravel my life.”

Delight: “Upgrade from Cancer to Gemini. Woo!”

The changes are based on an earlier article the newspaper published:

In the article, [Parke] Kunkle affirmed that since the Babylonian zodiac periods were established millennia ago, the moon’s gravitational pull has made the Earth “wobble” around its axis in a process called precession. That has created about a one-month bump in the stars’ alignment, meaning that “when [astrologers] say that the sun is in ­Pisces, it’s really not in Pisces,” said Kunkle, who teaches astronomy courses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

And then there’s that entirely new star sign.

By the reckoning of Kunkle and other astronomers, astrologers are not only a month off in their zodiac signs, but they are neglecting a 13th constellation, Ophiuchus (Ooh-FEE-yew-kus) the Serpent Bearer, for those born from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17.

According to myth, Ophiuchus became a healer when he killed a snake and another appeared with an herb in his mouth that revived the dead one.

“The sun has been going through Ophiuchus for thousands of years,” said Kunkle, who says that his sign is “vegetarian.”

Linda Zlotnick, an astrologer for 32 years in St. Paul, said she and fellow astrologers have long known of the issue raised by Kunkle, but that the most commonly used zodiac — tropical — isn’t affected by it

So is Kunkle simply starting a sect, splinter-group, or dare I say ‘cult’ among devotees of the daily horoscope?

Time to call in the experts for the last word on this:

A spokeswoman for the American Federation of Astrologers, Shelley Ackerman, said she’d been swamped with e-mails from worried clients. She advises them not to overreact.

“This doesn’t change your chart at all. I’m not about to use it,” she said. “Every few years, a story like this comes out and scares the living daylights out of everyone, but it’ll go away as quickly as it came.”

That should make one demographic happy — people with zodiac tattoos.

So has your “faith” ever been shaken by major announcements by leaders?  For my daily Christian readers, what are the dealbreakers for you?  Creation/evolution?  Women’s role?  Bible versions?  Rapture/end-times? Worship music styles?  Got a story to tell?

Read more at the Star-Tribune at this story from January 14th

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