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Is Ophiuchus our 13th star sign?

This article is from my monthly column in Supernal Magazine, November/December 2022 edition

drawing of Ophiuchus constellation
That the constellation of Ophiuchus touches the elliptic — the path that the sun appears to take through the sky - is not in question. Whether we should widely use it in astrology is what's up for debate.

Snakes and spiders aren’t generally too welcome in our lives, nor widely embraced as the ambassadors of two constellations – Ophiuchus and Arachne - that contend to be a 13th star sign.


In the New Earth now due in a galactic cycle of evolution, perhaps they’ll find more acceptance as we transcend the venomous side of the poison-antidote duality they can represent.


In a recent blog we looked at the merits of spidery Arachne as a potential 13th sign, and now we turn our attention to Ophiuchus (oh-few-kuss), meaning ‘serpent bearer’ in Greek.


Ophiuchus is a constellation of stars situated behind the sun from 30 November to 18 December and the zodiacal terrain between 29° Scorpio and 24° Sagittarius.


It’s actually more than one constellation, as it’s considered together with the Serpens constellation.

Serpens is made up of disconnected parts of a snake (Serpens Caput, representing the serpent’s head, and Serpens Cauda, the serpent’s tail), with the serpent bearer or charmer in the middle.


The snake halves represent duality - poison and antidote, life and death, feminine and masculine, or any other expression of opposites. The serpent bearer has the ability to unify these dualities.


Unifying the serpent signifies the awakening of the healing and spiritual power that lies within our sexual energy, which is creativity expressed through separating then re-unifying the poles of creation. It isn’t necessarily about physical sex - it is about creation.


Lamb-loving lions

While in duality, snakes (and spiders) can be dangerous. Any fear of them may go beyond physical threat to subconsciously connect to the fall of humanity, as the serpent in the Garden of Eden signified for Adam and Eve.


It’s commonly held that in a unified Heaven on Earth realm, however, all creatures live peacefully in unity without predator or prey.


Such references include the words in Isaiah 11:6–7 in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament of the Christian Bible: "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them."


We could add “the snake and spider will poison no more”.


Such a realm sounds unnatural and unlikely, but if we draw the evolutionary lens out on a galactic scale it’s easier to contemplate the possibility.


Ophiuchan qualities


Ophiuchus may have first been known under another name in Babylon, or prior in the days of Sumer, or maybe further back. It hasn’t been widely used in astrology for thousands of years, and many suspect its alchemising qualities saw it removed as we entered a structured masculine-dominated era.


The imagery for Ophiuchus shows a man holding a serpent, but perhaps it was originally a woman. When you consider the higher meaning, the gender doesn’t matter.


The qualities of Ophiuchus as a potential sign are currently not well defined, with little consensus as to its element (fire, water, earth, air), modality (cardinal, fixed or mutable), ruling planet, or even whether it’s masculine or feminine, although most consider it feminine.


The personality traits are also as yet unclear, but apparently combine Scorpio and Sagittarius energy, making people born in the date range sensitively insightful and boldly expansive as curious seekers of wisdom and knowledge.


Does it belong?

The constellation of Ophiuchus certainly touches our ecliptic belt, but at present, it’s rarely used in astrology. There’s little software available to calculate charts using a 13 sign system.


Whether or not it can be used as a zodiac sign depends on which of the two main astrological approaches you use—tropical or sidereal. Because of the way Western or tropical astrology is set up, it cannot include Ophiuchus as a sign, but Eastern or sidereal astrology can.


Western astrology does not account for the Precession of the Equinoxes, which shows the change in the position of constellations due to astrophysical parameters that vary over time.


Rather, Western astrology is based on the seasons on Earth and uses 12 zodiacal signs (named after the constellations), divided evenly into 30 degrees each on the ecliptic belt. It cannot accommodate a 13th sign, so if you’re basing your star sign on Western astrology, it remains the same, regardless of the existence of the constellation of Ophiuchus.


I suspect that from now on, as many enter a New Earth era with balanced feminine and masculine energy, Ophiuchus will become more accepted and active in the conscious and unconscious collective.


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