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Is There Actually A 13th Zodiac Sign?

A few years ago there was a lot of buzz about a new, thirteenth sign of the Zodiac. Not only this, but that the date ranges for the twelve well known signs have also changed, we were told. Really serious Astrology enthusiasts started to panic that for their entire lives they have believed themselves to be a specific sign, read their daily predictions, checked their compatibility with potential romantic partners, etc… only to find that they are a completely different sign!

Astrologers rushed to alleviate the fears of their clients, column readers and twitter followers that nothing has changed. Keep calm and carry on with the original, traditional system. News articles cropped up debunking the 13th Sign, many stating that all of this has been known for centuries and that everything has been accounted for by the Astrology community by consensus.

What is the real Truth? Did someone drag up old and irrelevant information to try and stir the pot? An astrological troll looking for negative attention? Or is there really a 13th Sign that mainstream Astrologers don’t want us to know about? The truth is that there are indeed 13 constellations of the Zodiac. However, it is important to distinguish between a Sign and a Constellation.

First of all, what is the Zodiac? It is the belt of stars that the sun moves across, as viewed from Earth, in the course of the year. Put another way, if you look at the rising sun every morning and draw an imaginary line between yourself and the sun, but then continue the line out further, this line will be pointing at one of the constellations of the Zodiac. There are many other constellations, but only 13 of them are part of the Zodiac belt.

The “Constellations” are the actual stars that you can observe in the sky. A “Sign” of the Zodiac is a more subtle concept but it is related to the constellations. The twelve signs that we are all familiar with were devised by ancient Babylonian priests around 3000 years ago. The Babylonians had spent generations observing the movement and configuration of the stars and planets (considered “wandering stars”) along with the sun and moon. They built observatories and kept records of this and correlated different significant events with the changes that they observed. They learned to predict how the stars were going to move and developed increasingly accurate progressions.

They eventually codified these findings into the system that has come down to us as Astrology. One of the decisions they made was to align their findings more closely with the prevalent religious theology at the time. Having 12 equal “Signs” fit better than 13 irregular constellations, so they fudged the numbers.

So are there actually a 13th Zodiac Sign or not? Yes, there is! But it is new. The Constellation of the Zodiac has been known for Aeons, but only recently have pioneering Astrologers started recognizing a 13th Sign, called Ophiuchus. These same Astrologers are using an uneven division between these thirteen signs, to match exactly with the observed constellations. So in this new Astrology, what is your New Sign, or the actual constellation on the horizon that the sun rose in on the day you were born? For me, I used to be a Capricorn but my New Sign is Sagittarius! To be honest, I feel that both work for me. Your results may vary and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter! The new dates are shown below, give or take a day or two. If you are very close to the transition date, you are said to be born “on the cusp” and partake of qualities of both signs:

Aquarius: Feb. 16 – March 11
Pisces: March 11- April 18
Aries: April 18- May 13
Taurus: May 13- June 21
Gemini: June 21- July 20
Cancer: July 20- Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10- Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16- Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30- Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23- Nov. 29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29- Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17- Jan. 20
Capricorn: Jan. 20 – Feb. 16

P.S. How does this relate to Tarot? 12 of the Major Arcana cards are representations of the 12 traditional signs of the Zodiac. Should we add another card for Ophiuchus?

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The Numberless Card – The Fool

The Fool in the Tarot is one of the 22 Major Arcana cards. Today the standard is to number The Fool zero and place it at the front of the sequence but that wasn’t always the case. For example, many of the classic decks use Roman Numerals which has no symbol for the number zero. It simply went unnumbered. Its position in the deck was once considered more flexible as well. It was common to put The Fool at the front or the back of the set but it has also been placed second from last, perhaps just to emphasize that it can go anywhere. We can even consider that The Fool can easily be placed between any of the cards. This could indicate the function of messenger or go-between.
It is interesting that the root symbol of this card is the element of Air. Considering the fact that the Major Arcana only has three element cards (Water, Fire and Air – No Earth) I think this points to the concept that these three are the principal elements and that combined they form Earth, a derivative element. This concept comes out Hermetic Alchemy, where they also substitute the names of the elements for alchemical Salt, Sulphur and Mercury. That being said, elemental Air is the equivalent to the principle element of alchemical Mercury. Mercury of course was the messenger of the gods in Roman mythology.
The Fool seems to not only travel the Major Arcana but apparently can also be found in a standard deck of playing cards, in the guise of The Joker. Considering that standard playing cards are built along the same basic lines as the Minor Arcana of the Tarot, could we not also make the leap to say that The Fool can travel anywhere in the deck it pleases? In its variant as The Joker, it gives more the impression of the Trickster. Examples of this can be seen in the mythological characters of Loki, Prometheus and Lucifer. This also gives us an association with “Mercurial” figures.
We can also consider the concept of The Fool’s Journey. This interprets the sequence of the Major Arcana cards to be the journey The Fool goes through. More than half of the Major Arcana cards represent signs of the Zodiac. If we think of a journey through the entire zodiac, our final destination is right back where we started. The difference is that we have changed in the process and are not the same as when we started. This leads us to the connection with the quintessential Hero’s Quest as discussed by mythologist Joseph Campbell. You start the journey as the Fool (naive, curious, ambitious and foolhardy) and transform into the Hero through the various experiences and trials.
Various architects of Tarot decks have been compelled to change the sequence of the 22 cards in the Major Arcana. I have to wonder if they were trying to alter the path taken by The Fool. Changing the sequence can even change the final destination. This is very interesting to me as most of the decks and today’s standard sequence have been designed by practitioners of Right Hand Path spirituality. Perhaps there is a more appropriate sequence for those on a Left Hand Path. What are some of the cards that you think could represent the climax of the Left Hand Path? Would this climax be at the end of the deck? If not, which card would be at the end? I would love to discuss these things with you! Please leave a comment with your thoughts on these questions or anything else related to the ideas explored in this article or the accompanying video.