tearsI was tagged to respond to a FB post. Someone lamented that the “13th sign” meant she was no longer a Scorpio.

I realized that the ex-Scorpio‘s motivation was to create a playful discussion. Most people on the thread enjoyed disparaging astrology.

I hesitated.

Finally I responded, we astrologers have to work on clarity. When we slip into the comfort of our esoteric language, we assume everyone understands.

I used to wonder why astronomers, who are scientists, get so defensive about astrologers, who do not claim to be scientists. Good astrologers are artists, metaphysicians and symbolists.

But some people hear one profession and make it the other. Let me explain:

I’ve been to social events and a new acquaintance hears my introduction. They then talk to me about a recent astronomical event. In their mind, I’m an astronomer. I do set them straight, but I am happy to talk astronomy.

However, when an astronomer meets someone and they announce with delight what their sign is, the reaction must be different. Most astronomers know nothing about astrology, other than a history of contemptuous disdain that stemmed from The Age of Enlightenment, when the two split philosophically.

I can see why Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson have made such a fuss about astrology as “pseudo-science”.

There are astronomers who don’t find us threatening. For instance, Mike Brown at CalTech, recognizes our shared history. 

Unfortunately, sun sign columns have made astrology popular, but popularity breeds contempt.

This astrology stems from the ancient Greeks. The Greeks liked order, their architecture is proof of that. They took the concept of the zodiacal wheel and divided it into 12 equal slices of 30° each.

Bottom-line, the “sign” and the “constellation” are different things in astrology terminology.

17-century-celestial-mapWe astrologers are well aware that the constellations in the sky do not fit the geometry of equal slices in a 360° wheel.

Astrologers work with a sacred geometric model and use the mythology of the constellations to fuel our language.

We recognize that it would have been better if the ancient Greeks named those 12 pie slices something other than after the constellations in the sky. But they knew what they were doing and assumed everyone else would too. Ha!

Back to social events— usually when someone hears “astronomer” even though I said “astrologer”, they launch into their comfort zone.

When I explain my profession, they often say: “I don’t believe in astrology”.

Imagine if I said to an accountant: “I don’t believe in accounting”. Or to a physician: “I don’t believe in medicine”.

Astrology is not a belief. It’s a tool — an intricate system with many schools of interpretation.

ophiucusThis Ophiucus “discovery” used to come up about every 10 years on the printed page. Now the internet blasts it more regularly – here’s my post from 2011, after the last media fracas.

There are many branches of astrology, and you can definitely find an astrologer who researches Ophiucus. Yet in my work with clients, I stick to the geometric math.

I certainly am open to research the symbolic reason why Ophiucus keeps cropping up.

One reason has to be that we could use a good serpent-slayer in these times.

Link to Diana Rosenberg’s excellent essay on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s need to claim there should be 14 “signs”