Ophiuchus: The Serpent-bearer of Astrology

Image: Ophiuchus (astrology) Astrology has fascinated humans for centuries. The study of heavenly bodies and their influence on our lives has brought about numerous traditions, systems, and branches. But have you ever heard of Ophiuchus,...

Ophiuchus (astrology) Image: Ophiuchus (astrology)

Astrology has fascinated humans for centuries. The study of heavenly bodies and their influence on our lives has brought about numerous traditions, systems, and branches. But have you ever heard of Ophiuchus, the Serpent-bearer? This intriguing figure has sometimes been proposed as the 13th astrological sign, alongside the familiar 12 signs of the tropical zodiac. Let's take a closer look at the history and significance of Ophiuchus in astrology.

Unveiling Ophiuchus

The constellation of Ophiuchus, as defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), lies behind the Sun from November 29 to December 18. It was in 1970 that the idea of a 14-sign zodiac, including Ophiuchus, gained traction. This concept was introduced by Steven Schmidt, who suggested it alongside another sign, Cetus. The notion of a 13-sign zodiac was further popularized by Walter Berg and Mark Yazaki in 1995, particularly in Japan, where Ophiuchus is known as "Hebitsukai-za" or "The Serpent Bearer."

However, it is important to note that in mainstream astrology, both sidereal and tropical, the zodiac is based on dividing the ecliptic into 12 equal parts. This division is not aligned with the IAU's constellation boundaries, and the constellations themselves do not directly correspond to the astrological signs. This is especially true in the tropical system, where the divisions are fixed relative to the equinox, moving in relation to the constellations.

A Historical Perspective

In the astrological poem by Marcus Manilius, Ophiuchus is described as a constellation with a serpent winding in loops. The poem signifies the perpetual struggle between the serpent and another figure. Additionally, it suggests that those born under Ophiuchus have an affinity for snakes and possess protection against poisons. In fact, the association between Ophiuchus and healers or physicians has been established by the 4th century astrologer known as Anonymous of 379.

These historical references, combined with the IAU constellation boundaries, have led to suggestions of "13 astrological signs" due to the Sun's position in Ophiuchus between November 30 and December 18. Steven Schmidt, in his book "Astrology 14," proposed the inclusion of Ophiuchus from December 6 to December 31, along with the addition of Cetus as a new sign. Walter Berg further explored this idea in his book "The 13 Signs of the Zodiac."

The Ongoing Debate

In January 2011, astronomer Parke Kunkle reignited the discussion around Ophiuchus when he mentioned it as the 13th zodiac sign. This statement garnered attention in the popular press, sparking debates and curiosity among astrology enthusiasts worldwide.

While the 12-sign zodiac remains widely accepted and practiced, the concept of Ophiuchus continues to captivate the imagination of those on a quest for deeper astrological insights and interpretations.

In a Nutshell

Ophiuchus, the Serpent-bearer, is an enigmatic figure in astrology. Whether you consider it as the 13th sign or stick to the traditional 12 signs, the study of astrology offers endless avenues of exploration. So, delve into this fascinating realm and unlock the mysteries of the stars and their influence on our lives.

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