Sarah De La Mer ;-)

13 Astrology Signs? Really?

The Orphiuchus Panic…something and nothing?


You would have had to be hiding under a rock in the last while to miss the recent controversy stirred up by American astronomer Parke Kunkle. 

Apparently, according to this well informed member of the Minnesota planetarium society our well known twelve Zodiac signs are completely out of sync and the sun is not in Pisces when we say it is. Astronomers also argue that we should be using an additional thirteenth zodiac sign named Orphiuchus.

The Orphiuchus ‘scandal’ has caused a major storm in the States and an identity crisis amongst body art fanaticists who now of course have the wrong zodiac sign tattooed on their butts. Not to mention all the relationships which must now go back to the drawing board for a review of the compatibility ratio…

Of course, I jest. But this is not to deny that Mr Kunkle has caused quite a panic if not a major identity crisis amongst a large percentage of americans who take their zodiac status very seriously indeed.

So what is the truth of the matter?

The reality is yes, there IS a second form of astrology called Sidereal astrology. It is largely practised by eastern and mystical cultures although some astrologers here in the west do also take it into account.

I personally use the Sidereal system to more fully understand a person’s spirituality and karmic evolution. If you are big into past lives and karmic astrology this might be the system you would use.

In the west though we mainly use the Tropical form of astrology. This was established by the ancient Babylonians who discarded the use of Orphiuchus and decided to stick with the twelve zodiac signs that we know today.

So what of this ‘new’ discovery the constellation of Orphiuchus?

To be honest the spin put on this story is grossly misleading. Orphiuchus is most definitely NOT a new discovery. It was amongst the 48 constellations recognised by Ptolemy (AD 90 to AD 168); and of course the Babylonians must have been aware of it in order to discard its use astrologically.

It is also very misleading to imply that western astrologers are not aware of the Sidereal system and how it works. They most definitely are. But the reality is it was discarded by the Tropical system for a reason. It does not really work in a mathematically precise way and it does not facilitate the intricate natal charts which are drawn up under the western system.

We are all individuals born in a specific time and place. These details can be interpreted to create your personal natal chart which is unique to you and which reflects the very specific planetary alignments at the time you were born. None of this has changed with this recent news.

The learned astronomer’s ‘discovery’ is in fact nothing new. There have always been two astrology systems in use. Some astrologers use the Tropical system, some use the Sidereal system and other like myself take both into account.

I know it sounds initially confusing, but the systems are not in fact contradictory. The Sidereal system with the thirteen zodiac signs has been used in the east for centuries. For us in the west is quite a useful tool which enables us to better understand our soul purpose, life’s mission and spirituality. It does not however change the personality traits we have been born with. Nor does it have to give us an identity crisis about our zodiac sign.

Tropical astrology is the study of the twelve constallations in relation to the solar system; whereas Sidereal astrology looks at the constellations in relation to a changeable galaxy.

It is obvious that the scientific mind of the astronomer will prefer the system which produces an apparently more accurate picture of the heavens. However the premise of the scientists is also misleading. Astrology is not a purely visual or observational science like astronomy.

In its way Tropical astrology is very mathematically precise and technical and it is certainly not invalidated by the astronomical world view. But it is also an art form which utilizes intuition and which has a spiritual application. Astronomy and astrology appear to still be worlds apart on some points.

The Tropical system divides the twelve zodiac signs into equal 30 degree segments which are then designed to link us directly to the earth’s seasonal patterns. Here in the west we use the system which connects the zodiac signs with the fixed seasons and the equinoxes during Aries and Libra time.

It makes sense. We are creatures who live out our lives on terra firma; so the astrological readings which make the most practical sense to our lives here on earth are those created under the Tropical system that we all know here in the west.

It is of course obvious that the sun does not now align with the constellations in the same way it did millenia ago. This is common sense and any one with even a basic astronomical knowledge would realise this. Also the astronomical year is in fact 365.24 days not the precise 365 days we allot the yearly calendar. The astronomers also rightly remind us that the sun does not remain for a neat calendar month in each of the zodiac signs; eg) The sun is only in Virgo for two weeks of the year; and in Leo for a whole month.

Sidereal astrology takes all these factors into account and it honours the changeability of the galaxy, of which western astrologers are of course also aware.


So where is Orphiuchus to be found?

Orphiuchus is to be found north west of the Milky Way between the southern part of Scorpio in the west and Sagittarius in the east. It is very closely linked to scorpio actually. Orphiuchus is the serpent bearer and is a water sign just like scorpio which is very linked to transformative healing. So you can actually begin to see why the ancients may have amalgamated the two.

The myths attached to Orphiuchus tell of the healer Asclepius who was zapped by Zeus’s lightening bolt in a jealous rage. Zeus did however concede that Ascelpius had done a good job and he decided to honour his works of healing with the constellation which is apparently giving us such a headache today!

The introduction of Orphiuchus into the zodiac system knocks most of us back to the star sign previous to the one that we think we are. It also gives scorpio a very raw deal indeed, allocating only seven days to this usually potent zodiac player.

For example, I was born on 26th August and always wanted to be a Leo when younger like my two best friends rather than boring Virgo. I even brought the Leo zodiac ring much to my friends’ disgust. Well, according to the astronomers a Leo is exactly what I am; so isn’t that great; my instinct was right!

Under this Sidereal system of astrology Capricorn runs from January 20th to February 16th; Aquarius from February 16th to March 11th; Pisces from March 11th to April 18th; Aries from April 18th to May 13th; Taurus from May 13th to June 21st; Gemini from June 21st to July 20th; Cancer July 20th to August 10th; Leo from August 10th to September 16th; Virgo from September 16th to October 30th; Libra from October 30th to November 23rd; Scorpio from November 23rd to November 29th; Orphiuchus from November 29th to December 17th and Sagittarius from December 17th to January 20th.

It makes for uncomfortable reading in a way doesn’t it? And also I bet you will find it does not really ring completely true.

My personal conclusion is that these dates are useful in the context of a full reading which is based mainly on your Tropical zodiac sign. The additional information provided by the mystical Sidereal system is useful if you want to understand yourself on a deeper level still. The reality is though so many of us do not. So my best advice is to stick to the tried and tested.

There really is no need to consider this ancient news a major spanner in the works. You can confidentially continue to read your star sign in the paper without panicking about its validity. Having said that I have had a few clients over the years who deliberately read the sign before theirs as well as their own as a matter of instinct. There is definitely a recognised relationship between your sign and the sign preceedings yours. This is fairly well known and is not suddenly validated or invalidated on the whim of an astronomer seeking additional kudos.

By the way I am sure Kunkle is aware that in 2005 Kepler identified a superbubble within the constellation of Orphiuchus. So he will also be aware that this constellation shows strong indications of being on the brink of a supernova explosion!


Now that really would blow his theory right out of the water would it not?


My attempt to explain the Orphiuchus *scandal* on the Radio



 Copyright Sarah Delamere Hurding