Wait, I’m a….fish?

Published 9:17 am Thursday, January 20, 2011

Since the beginning of mankind, we have relied on the stars for many things.

The night sky has navigated sailors through treacherous waters, inspired humans to study mathematics and sciences and told us aspects of our personality and mapped out our destiny.

While the constellations have been replaced by advancements (i.e. GPS, computers); the practice of astrology still exists.

I’ll admit I ritually look for my zodiac sign, Aries, in the back of a magazine. What do the stars hold for me this month? It’s all there at my beckoning hand, in a simple, neat paragraph.

Typically I don’t believe what I read, but it’s nice to have some perspective on life, and sometimes it renders a laugh. For me it’s a whimsical activity, similar to being an eight-year-old and plucking the pedals off a daisy to see if “He loves me” or “Loves me not.”

Furthermore, I believe most people like the idea of associating themselves with their Zodiac sign. I suppose there’s a sense of pride and even comfort in being a fiery Sagittarius or a dependable Taurus. Having a bad day? Just blame it on your star sign and the personality traits it burdens you with.

Of course that instinctual feeling of knowing one’s Zodiac sign was suddenly ripped out from under many people’s feet last week.

It all started when a Minneapolis, Minn. astrologer suggested the movement in the Earth’s axis had shifted the stars’ alignment about a month, all thanks to that pesky little moon of ours. Hence, the Zodiac constellations had shifted as well, even creating a 13th sign, Ophiuchus.

I was none too happy about the idea of going from a ram to a fish. To me the ram is a tad more glamorous with its strong posture and horns than a scaly, slimy and completely defenseless creature that is the fish. My apologies to all the Pieces out there.

As you can imagine, the notion of changing Zodiac signs had many people seeing stars and caused many people to rethink that tattoo from spring break.

In the end, all the horoscope anxiety was for naught as many media outlets reported westerners’ signs had not changed at all. In fact, astrology follows two systems, the Eastern Vedic astrology philosophy and the Western Zodiac system.  According to the New York Daily News, about 3,000 years ago, when astrology began, the 12 star signs were aligned to the different periods of the year, and both systems had the same starting point for each of the signs.

Western astrology is based on our relationship to the Sun. It is calculated on the position of the Sun’s rays to the tropics, and the signs are fixed to the seasons.

The zodiac starts in the sign of Aries at the beginning of spring, or the vernal equinox—at the end of March in the Northern Hemisphere—when the Sun crosses directly over the Earth’s equator. Therefore, those who follow this system do not have a Zodiac change.

Eastern astrology, on the other hand, is based on our relationship to the stars and their position. The Earth has moved enough to allow another constellation into the mix.   Thank the sun, I’m not a fish.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.