This week, the Internet went mildly crazy for a few minutes when people suddenly started discovering that their astrological sign might not have been what they previously thought. My favourite line in the linked article is “…the Minneapolis Star Tribute published an article, stating that our horoscopes are wrong,” to which my first thought was, “Well, duh.” This all comes about because when Ptolemy accidentally invented contemporary astrology, almost two millenia ago, he never specified whether his system should be based on the calendar year, or on the actual relative positions of the stars. While the calendar year has pretty much remained the same since Ptolemy’s time, our solar system has rotationally drifted slightly relative to the rest of the galaxy, and so the constellations aren’t quite in line with the calendar any more.
In theory, at least, if we were to plot a sun sign by the stars (as is practiced in some Eastern astrology) rather than by the calendar (as is practiced in most Western astrology), that’d make me not a Capricorn, as you might expect, but a Sagittarius.
I had a friend, once, who attached a not-inconsiderable amount of importance to her horoscope. However, she had a strange approach to the subject. I remember one particular morning when she got up and read her horoscope in the newspaper. She didn’t like what she read, and decided that it must therefore be wrong, and instead looked up the one on Teletext instead. Still unsatisfied, she eventually looked up her horoscope on the web, and – finally finding a fortune that she was happy to accept as hers – accepted it.
Thankfully, there’s no cause for concern for me, because I’m an Aquarius. I was born a Capricorn, but I never really felt comfortable as one, so I had my star sign changed to one that I felt suited me better. I have a certificate and everything, printed on an old inkjet printer and folded up in a drawer ever since. Once or twice, people have tried to tell me that it doesn’t work; that you can’t just “change” your star sign simply because you want it to be different. When this happens, I simply point out that my bit of paper is just as official, as believable, and as scientific as astrology is in the first place. And despite the (disputed) idea that our star signs might all have changed, as has flooded Facebook, my scrap of paper still says “Aquarius” on it, as relevant today as it always has been!