Debunking the Myths and Misconceptions of Astrology, Part 1

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What is a cusp sign? Why is Aquarius an air sign? And what on earth is the 13th zodiac sign? We're busting astrology myths today.

There are so many assumptions about astrology. Some of them are incorrect, some are confusing, and some of them are just plain silly. Read on to find out what modern-day astrologers think of sun signs, cusp signs, and the 13th zodiac sign.

Astrology Is Not Newfangled Malarkey

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Astrology often gets roped into the hippie-dippie New-Age movement and interestingly enough we have 1980’s conservative politics to blame for that. Spurred on by the fear that her husband would die in an assassination attempt, Nancy Reagan employed the services of the astrologer Joan Quigley to ease her mind. Quigley’s astrological predictions controlled their personal and professional lives for a good chunk of Reagan’s presidency. 

When this news became public, the first lady was ridiculed and the practice of astrology was written off as a joke and a contemporary pseudo-science. Due to the bad press, many people have forgotten that astrology was an ancient and revered practice dating back to the Babylonians. 

In the absence of more thorough scientific practices, astrology was used by many cultures throughout the centuries. It was used to predict the outcomes of agriculture, economic trends, and the reigns of monarchs. This practice was utilized by pagan, Islamic, and Christian cultures alike, and was even used by scientists and doctors at the time. Today, it may be seen as a new-age practice, but for centuries it was seen as a science. 

Now I will not claim that astrology is an exact science. I would personally rather follow the advice of Neil Degrasse Tyson than Joan Quigley. But I will say that astrology, coupled with therapy, is a wonderful practice and a good first step for anyone who is seeking self-reflection and attempting shadow work. 

Your Sun Sign Is Not Your Only “Sign”

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I am a proud Aries. I like my adventurous personality and I like that I am fiercely loyal to my friends. Some other people whom I have met do not like that I am an Aries. Or rather, they don’t believe that I am an Aries. They say things like “but you’re too nice to be an Aries,” or “wow, I never would have guessed because I usually don’t like Aries.” First of all, rude! Don’t say things like that. Second of all, I probably embody traits of other zodiac signs just as we all embody traits of different signs because our sun signs are not our only signs!

So many people only identify themselves by their sun signs and they completely forget that they have other placements in their birth charts. Their sun signs represent their energy and vitality, but their moon signs represent their emotions and inner self. The reason people tell me that I’m “too nice,” to be an Aries, is probably because my ascendant is in empathetic Pisces. Our ascendant signs represent first impressions and the vibe that we initially give off, so I come across as a Pisces when people first meet me. 

I always appreciate it when people introduce themselves with their “Big Three,” meaning their sun, moon, and ascendant signs, rather than with just their sun sign. You can look up your other placements on websites like this one. And while you’re looking up your Big Three, take a look at your Mercury, Mars, and Venus signs. They represent your communicative skills, your passion, and your romantic proclivities respectively. 

Not Everyone Acknowledges the Existence of Cusp Signs

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Are you a late January Capricorn, but you have always felt like an Aquarius? Are you a late April Taurus, but you exhibit some Aries tendencies? If so, then you may have been called a cusp baby at some point in your life. Cusp babies, or cusp signs, have become a real point of contention in the astrology community. Some people are vehemently against the idea, while some people are more open to it. 

Astrologers who do not acknowledge the existence of cusp signs argue that the reason that some people born on the cusp may feel like the neighbor sign is that they have that sign somewhere else in their birth charts. I can buy into this rationale because for a long time I believed I had Pisces tendencies due to the fact that I was born so close to the cusp, when it turned out I was a Pisces ascendant the whole time.

However, there are cases like that of Dolly Parton. Her birthday is right on the cusp between Capricorn and Aquarius, but her chart puts her sun sign in Capricorn. She is the quintessential Capricorn with her charismatic nature and her keen business sense. But her rebelliousness and humanitarian efforts speak more to an Aquarian side, even though she has no Aquarius in her birth chart. 

So what is the final say in the cusp sign debate? Well, here’s the thing. You are never going to convince someone who is happy with their cusp identity that they are not a cusp baby. And you are never going to convince birth chart sticklers that cusp signs are real things. So I say we should all just agree to disagree. 

Aquarius Is Not a Water Sign

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I know what you are thinking. How can Aquarius, the water-bearer, not be a water sign? Well, here’s why. The zodiac elements cycle between fire, earth, air, and water, respectively. The pattern does not break and there are never two zodiac elements back-to-back. Aquarius falls into the air placement of the elemental pattern, but that is not the only reason it is associated with air. 

Aquarius is considered an air sign rather than a water sign because they ruled by their intelligence and their independence rather than their emotions. That is not to say that Aquarians are not emotional. They are just governed more by their thoughts and ideas rather than their feelings.

But why would a sign symbolized by a water-bearer not be a water sign? Well, the symbols have no bearing on what element they are. Scorpio is a water sign even though Scorpions are mostly associated with the desert. The fact that Pisces the fish and Cancer the crab are water signs is just a happy coincidence.

Ophiuchus Is Not a Proper Zodiac Sign

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Ophiuchus is commonly referred to as the 13th sign. Its season is from November 30 to December 18 and it is symbolized as The Snake Bearer. It is governed by the planetoid Chiron and it is considered to be a fire sign. Or rather it would be a fire sign if it was an actual zodiac sign.

Every few years or so, an article makes its rounds on social media claiming that a “new” sign was “discovered” and now all of our birth signs have to change. Here’s the thing. Ophiuchus is not a new sign because it has been around for centuries. And modern-day western astrologers never added it to the zodiac rotation.

So I am about to drop a bombshell on all of you. The western zodiac signs have not been perfectly exact for centuries. The universe is expanding and the stars are always moving and the sun is not always going to be the exact constellation that we think it is based on western astrology. Now to be clear, the sun does pass through 13 constellations rather than 12. But modern-day western astrologers keep the number at 12 to correlate to the 12 months of the year. 

Since western astrology is not an exact science, astrologers are not obligated to add Ophiuchus into the rotation. They see Ophiuchus as one of the many constellations in the sky rather than an actual zodiac sign. Now I understand that the revelation that western astrology is not exact may come as a shock or disappointment to some of you. If you would prefer a more exact practice I recommend Vedic astrology. It is really interesting to read about.  

So as you can see, there are many misconceptions about astrology — far more than I’ve covered here. But I hope this article helped to clear some of them up. Stay tuned for part two of this series, where we’ll continue to explore the myths and mysteries surrounding this ancient practice.

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