Ophiuchus (oh-fee-YOU-cuss) has become one of the greatest astrological disagreements in the last decade, sparking major debates between long-practicing astrologists and budding stargazers alike. Most Zodiac enthusiasts have one of two attitudes regarding this dreaded 13th sign – admirable championship for Ophiuchus or flat-out disgust that someone would even propose the existence of another sign. Which leads me to beg the question, is Ophiuchus an astrological bastard or is Ophiuchus another valid (if recently discovered) sign?
Adding Fuel to the Fire: Discovering Ophiuchus
Astronomer Parke Kunkle kicked off the debate when announcing that there was a 13th constellation that the sun moves through, therefore a new Zodiac sign! Sounds super exciting, right? Unfortunately, this constellation was discovered about 3,000 years ago – sorry, Kunkle. However, NASA chose to go about this (extremely old) “discovery” by mistakenly referring to this constellation as the “13th Zodiac sign” instead of just a constellation.
Alrighty astro-geeks, are you confused yet? Don’t be. Our traditional 12 Zodiac signs are associated with constellations and do pass through the sun, just like Ophiuchus. The problematic difference between the 12 signs and the bastardized 13th sign is rooted in the history of Western (a.k.a. Tropical) astrology. When Ptolemy, a Greek mathematician/astronomer/astrologer, created Western astrology, the constellations that represented the original 12 signs shifted. So, the constellation itself doesn’t determine whether it is a Zodiac sign (sorry, Ophiuchus!). Western astrology utilizes “artificial” constellations, which means that the signs are loosely tied to the constellations thanks to the 30-degree segments that separates each constellation/sign. Then, the Zodiac seasons are dictated by the Sun’s path through the 30-degree segments. The Sun’s path is also based on our vantage point on the Earth, hence the “artificial” constellations. So, although the celestial bodies may shift, the path/seasons/signs stay the same. In other words, the constellations and actual Zodiac signs are not one in the same.
With this in mind, NASA would have a leg to stand on IF Western astrology were actually tied to the constellations. But keep in mind that other types of astrology may recognize Ophiuchus. Sidereal/Vedic astrology ties the signs to the actual placements of the constellations, so Ophiuchus may still be utilized in this type of astrology. It’s important to note that Sidereal/Vedic astrology is more commonly practiced in Eastern civilizations. Vedic astrology is particularly popular within the Indian community. However, it should be noted that even in Sidereal/Vedic astrology, Ophiuchus is still regarded with skepticism and may be left out of horoscopes and natal chart readings.
Constellational astrology, a new subset of astrology, follows NASA’s Zodiac sign dates and does readily recognized Ophiuchus. It should also be noted that Constellational astrology is not widely recognized or practiced by esteemed astrologers.
Sorry, astronomers (and Ophiuchus), astrologers seem to be in favor of keeping the original 12 signs!
Ophiuchus in a Nutshell
If you believe in it/practice it, Ophiuchus season starts on November 30 and ends on December 18, cutting into both traditionally known Scorpio and Sagittarius seasons. Ophiuchus is represented as the Serpent Bearer constellation, a.k.a. a Serpentarius sign. Ophiuchus is characterized as a healer, knowledgeable, jealous, possessive, sexually magnetic, secretive, humourous, and has an explosive temper. If Ophiuchus kind of sounds like the lovechild of a Scorpio and a Sagittarius, then it’s because it is. After all, Ophiuchus cuts into both Scorpio and Sagittarius seasons, so it would make sense that Ophiuchus carries traits from both signs.
Each traditional sign has a polar opposite (a.k.a. “sister sign”), a house, modality, planet(s), and element assigned to it. Ophiuchus does not have a sister sign, so polarity is lost. Ophiuchus has not been assigned an element or modality, so these significant traits are lost as well. Instead of a planet, Ophiuchus is ruled by the planetoid Chiron. Chiron orbits between Saturn and Uranus, and in astrology, Chiron is known as the “Wounded Healer”, which represents our most personal wounds and how we choose to heal said wounds, hence the healing aspects associated with Ophiuchus.
Ophiuchus is associated with the 13th house, which rules unity and healing. Under the 13th house, unity can be compromised or achieved through impulsivity, wisdom, luck, cleverness, jealousy, and sexual/intellectual magnetism. The 13th house primarily dictates the area of life known as “healing” and refers to healing the Zodiac of diseases/violence/negativity.
Without an element, modality, or sister sign, the order of the original 12 is extremely disrupted. Plus, Ophiuchus is ruled by the comet Chiron, so Chiron will not have a major influence or role, like the Sun or Moon does, in a natal chart. Regarding a natal chart, Ophiuchus placements may seem vague due to the loss of information associated with an element, modality, and planet(s). Synastry and relationships between celestial aspects and signs may also be vaguer to interpretation. Arguably, the 6th house, 10th house, 11th house, 12th house, and even 8th house already encompass all aspects of the 13th house. So, it seems as though Ophiuchus has a minor, quite unimportant role to play as a “full” Zodiac sign.
Is Ophiuchus Valid?
The validity and astrological inclusion of Ophiuchus would depend on your own interpretation. If you practice Constellational astrology, then you would most definitely incorporate Ophiuchus. As for Sidereal/Vedic astrology, you have the option of including Ophiuchus as Sidereal/Vedic astrology ties the signs to the actual placement of the constellations. If you believe that Ophiuchus is valid, regardless of your type of astrology, you can include it.
Personally, I do not recognize Ophiuchus as I practice traditional Western/Tropical astrology. When questioned over Ophiuchus, I remind my conversational partner(s) that Ophiuchus is just a constellation discovered by NASA, and is not a Zodiac sign recognized by the astrology community. I’d also like to remind others that Ophiuchus has been around for 3,000+ years (as long as any other type of astrology) and has not been included for that entire length of time. Furthermore, astronomy and astrology are totally different fields of thought just as are the signs and constellations.
As for those who do include Ophiuchus in their celestial practice, good luck. Just be aware that those who practice the traditional Western/Tropical and Sidereal/Vedic astrology may heavily critique your use of Ophiuchus. You should also be aware that many well-known horoscope/astrology apps, natal chart calculators, and astrologers may not incorporate Ophiuchus in readings. As long as you feel confident in your practice and inclusion of the 13th sign, then that’s all that matters!
Whenever in doubt over Ophiuchus, just always remember that the signs and constellations are not the same thing.
~ As above, so below.