Very Superstitious

Once upon a time there were only 12 signs to the zodiac...

[don’t let the stars get in your eyes]
In the western world, astrology is based on the sun moving through 12 signs of the zodiac.  This is an ancient tradition, preceding the modern Gregorian calendar (adopted in 1582), so it’s already hard to believe that a particular sign has a particular set of dates associated with it.

In fact, it’s notoriously difficult to divvy up the calendar into months because months are based on days and days are based on the Earth’s rotation and there aren’t a whole number of days in a single trip around the sun (or what normal people call a “year”).  We try to fix this by having leap years every so often with an extra day.  In fact, the months are sort of based on the phases of the moon, only there aren’t a whole number of complete phase changes of the moon in a single trip around the sun either!

It’s like God didn’t believe in easy division.  (Intelligent design?   You gotta be kidding me!)

The Hebrews, with their lunar calendar, tried to fix this by having leap years every so often with an extra month.  Yep, some years would have 12 months and some would have 13.  This is probably the reason why the words “lunar” and “lunacy” come from the same root.

Our ancestors had to turn 8 lunar phases into 30 days of the month. But 8 didn't go into 30. And it still doesn't even with our modern technology. Damn.

Despite these problems of keeping track of a vast celestial clock that many people can’t even follow (about 20% of people in the west think that the sun orbits the Earth), astrologers have linked the times when the sun passes through the zodiac constellations to specific dates of the year.  Now that wouldn’t be bad, except astrology holds an individual’s personality traits to these zodiac signs and the signs are associated with specific dates, and, as we just saw, the dates tend to change on a year-to-year basis to make sure there is some average link to the astronomical (not astrological) patterns we use to keep time.

What did that mean?  In the past, it meant if you were near a boundary between two zodiac constellations, you weren’t really one or another.  It would depend on what year you were born since the days would shift in a cycle of roughly four (remember, every 4 years is a leap year, except for certain cockamamie exceptions).  And that makes Chinese astrology — based only on the number of trips around the sun — a bit more reasonable, at least as far as unproven superstition goes.

Anyway, today it was announced there are really 13 signs to the zodiac… much like every few years there are 13 months to a lunar calendar.

Confused yet?  I know I am.

Now they are trying to cram in 13 signs where there were originally 12.  It means they (the great “they’) had to redefine the original 12 periods making them all a bit smaller (about 12/13 of their original size) which means that you are probably not the sign you thought you were.  And here’s the real kicker:  because the zodiac sign you were born under predicts your personality traits, you now probably don’t have the personality you thought you had.

That’s a bother.  It means I’m probably not the right match with my girlfriend who chose me specifically for astrological compatibility.

Come to think of it, she didn’t seem like herself today.

Then again, neither did I.

There are people who will tell you that the new zodiac won’t change anything but don’t you believe it.  I mean, these people claim there are two lunar zodiacs.

Two???  TWO???  TWO???

Which lunar zodiac was I supposed to pick?  Did I pick the right one?

If I wanted to get this deep in my understanding of the universe, I would have become a scientist.  Astrology is supposed to make everything easier; I don’t need this confusion.

And one confusion begets another.  What if I were born in China?  What about daylight savings time?  And we haven’t even talked about how Pluto not being a planet anymore affects all this!

I’m a man without a sign.  I’m beginning to feel as if I don’t know myself anymore.  Now I’ve got a real headache.  I’m taking a stand: Even though I put no stock in astrology, I’m not giving up my sign.  I’m just too superstitious to change it.

Besides, isn’t 13 an unlucky number?

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4 thoughts on “Very Superstitious

  1. Cockamamie (“every 4 years is a leap year, except for certain cockamamie exceptions”)? I think you need to go easy on the calendar of Gregory XIII. (You can criticize Gregory for other things.) The error in the length of the year in the Julian calendar was very close to 3 days every 4 centuries, so it makes sense to make the change to having no leap year in 3 of 4 years divisible by 100. That’s a good solution to the problem of wanting an integral number of days in a year while trying to keep in synch with the sun. The error in the Gregorian calendar is small. In fact, it is comparable to the error due to the slowing of the Earth’s rotation rate.

    Of course astrology is crap, whether Western, Chinese, or Mayan.

    • The slowing of the Earth’s rotation? Did you really have to add another variable to our celestial time clock? Next you are going to want to talk about the Earth’s rotational precession and the fact that the stars are in relative motion to each other (thus changing the constellations altogether).

      What’s an honest astrologer to do?

      I’m going to climb back into my safe wormhole.

  2. I remain the same in either zodiac so I don’t care a fig about the rest of you.
    I’m utterly secure in who I am.

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