My friend Wez almost ruined the zodiac for me.
The day after I showed him my zodiac soap, Wez reminded me of a controversial event from three years earlier.
In 2016, NASA revealed that the cosmos had shifted. and our sky looks different than it did three thousand years ago.
You know, when the zodiac was first developed and all that.
After “doing the math,” NASA included a long-forgotten sign that didn’t make the original cut and shifted some of the zodiac dates to make a point about why astrology doesn’t matter.
News outlets took this a step further and created twelve entirely new date-ranges for the amended zodiac.
Even though I had JUST purchased bergamot-scented Capricorn soap, it appeared my TRUE sign was Sagittarius.
In some ways, I welcomed this shift; I had never felt much like a Capricorn.
If this new star sign could better explain my personality, then I would gladly be a Sagittarius.
Only, as it turned out, the reports I’d read on the zodiac shift weren’t exactly…correct.
The Perils of Misinterpretation
The hubbub started over a blog post meant to show kids the difference between astrology and astronomy.
In the post, NASA included the cosmic shift in a list of differences between astronomy (science) and astrology (not science.)
NASA left out that Western astrology follows the Tropical Zodiac (a static system based on the seasons) rather than constellations.
In fact, the association between the signs and their corresponding constellations is pretty loose to begin with, making wearing my lovely Scorpio constellation necklace somewhat pointless.
Good job, y’all.
Frustrated by this confusing turn of events, I turned my wrath to the misnamed “thirteenth star sign” Ophiuchus.
The Trouble With Ophiucus
Thanks to Fruits Basket, I was already familiar with the concept of a rejected thirteenth zodiac sign. (Hi, Kyo.)
Learning about a REAL-LIFE zodiac reject – who was NOT a hot, broody rehead – did not inspire the same enthusiasm in me.
In case you needed more reasons to disregard Ophiuchus:
- He’s represented by a man RIPPING A SNAKE IN HALF. Tell me this doesn’t like a perfect mascot for the Proud Boys.
- I’ve seen this sign’s personality described as half-Sagittarius, half-Capricorn. This, more than anything else, feels like cheating.
“BREAKING NEWS: WE DISCOVERED A NEW SIGN AND HE’S A COMPOSITE OF TWO EXISTING SIGNS.”
- The shifted zodiac dates only gave Scorpio a week. I disapprove.
- Ophiuchus is one of 88 constellations to cross the sun’s path, 76 of which (Ophiuchus included) have nothing to do with the zodiac in the first place.
I felt pretty safe forgetting Snake Wrangler Jake entirely.
That said, I still had no idea what all of this had to do with my personality.
My History with the Zodiac
If you didn’t already know, I am OBSESSED with personality.
I have explored every personality system that exists and once tried CREATING MY OWN. (I don’t want to talk about it.)
I’ve even dabbled in DISC, that test nobody cares about.
Growing up religious, I quashed any interest in the zodiac for fear of God’s wrath.
I started to familiarize myself with the zodiac by setting aside the more mystical aspects and approaching it as a personality system.
I found I identify with fire signs (and, as noted in the intro, briefly believed I’d been born a Sagittarius), frequently score on “Guess Your Zodiac” tests as an air sign (usually Aquarius), have a birthday that corresponds with an earth sign (Capricorn), and have a moon in a water sign (Scorpio).
With too much conflicting information and not enough insight, I made a spreadsheet to sort things out.
My Very Qualitative, Highly Organized Research
Qualitative is just a fancy word for “backed up by experience instead of repeatable tests.”
“That’s not real science,” said all the other Comm Studies majors in my graduating class, to which I say I AM A PHENOMENOLOGIST AND I SHALL PROCEED HOWEVER I SEE FIT.
To determine my “true” zodiac sign, I couldn’t very well run an experiment and I didn’t want to go around interviewing people, so I made a chart that contained a cross-section of 25 salient traits from my personality.
Why 25? I needed enough traits to capture the broad strokes of my temperament without being too generic or inventorying every single one of my behaviors.
(Also, I originally chose 24 [a multiple of 12], but added another trait at the last minute.)
I tried to be as specific as possible in the words I chose, reading through definitions to find the exact right synonym and excising duplicates.
Once finished, I populated 25 rows with my selected personality traits.
At the top of the chart, I grouped the signs by their elements: all fire signs together, all earth signs together, etc.
With the chart formatted, I started researching the signs themselves.
Most of my sources were non-academic. My main source was the zodiac page and the individual profiles written by Aliza Kelly Faragher on Allure.com. I then cross-referenced the information provided with other astrology sites.
Because I am interpreting interpretations, any associations I made between the traits and the signs were highly subjective.
Traits relevant to a specific sign have been marked with an X.
At the bottom, I totaled how many traits each sign shared with my personality.
The closest match was Scorpio (68% match), followed by Sagittarius (60% match) and Aquarius (56% match.)
Capricorn, my sun sign, only scored 9/25 (36% match.)
I admit these results are highly biased.
Because I was more familiar with Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Aquarius at the outset, I could have unintentionally favored these outcomes.
In choosing only 25 somewhat-arbitrary traits, I might have left out additional traits that would have balanced out the results.
I also could have misinterpreted the profiles I read; perhaps my personality corresponds closest with Virgo and I overlooked salient similarities.
Something I found after even further research: traits by themselves do not give an accurate picture of a sign’s personality. My personality corresponds with Sagittarius EXCEPT with regards to flightiness and inability to commit, the sign’s most cited qualities. In actuality, I am SUPER responsible and committed, two traits that better describe a Capricorn.
Finally, not all traits are created equal; some of the traits I chose could have more bearing on my personality than others, which is not currently reflected in the above chart.
I KNEW I wasn’t a Capricorn!
Though parts of Capricorn’s profile resonate with me, I’ve never seen myself as a stubborn, rule-oriented, ambitious person. (I ask that relatives say nothing at this time.)
I don’t really feel like an adrenaline-seeking, commitment-phobic Sagittarius either (relatives: zip it), but this sign at least accounts for my wittiness and exhibitionism, traits the other signs often lack.
As I hinted at in the research portion, I may have been primed to pick Scorpio from the start: my favorite author is a Scorpio, my favorite character is a Scorpio, and the Scorpio candle I just bought smells like my favorite flower (and who wouldn’t want to smell like “vindictive violets?”)
Maybe my connection to Scorpio is more aspirational than anything else. (I strive to be a Bad Bitch but settle for Testy Marshmallow.)
However, if I can use the zodiac to explain my penchant for black and other macabre proclivities, then BY GUM I WILL.
I don’t know quite what to make of Aquarius. I share more than a few traits with the sign (which would explain why I almost always score Aquarius or air sign on zodiac quizzes.)
This result would also explain why I attract so many air signs into my life, despite our wildly different worldviews and energy levels.
My final thoughts? Honestly, who knows.
There are plenty of possible conclusions here.
1. Astrology is useless
In 2016, I took the cosmic shift to mean that astrology was a crock.
These days, I’m hesitant to throw the whole enterprise out.
So it’s not a perfect system. What is?
(Don’t say science.)
2. We should all forget Ophiuchus and move on with our lives
I am perfectly willing to ignore Ophiuchus.
No one asked for a charismatic snake wrangler.
3. There are many ways to interpret astrology
I wish it was as simple as, “BOOM! CAPRICORN! DONE!”
That, sadly, does not work for me.
I still don’t understand how astrology applies to my life (if at all.)
I could just pick a sign that works for me and call it a day.
Nothing is stopping me from doing that….aside from a huge fear of disapproval.
(I did consider going rogue and calling Ophiuchus my star sign, but my hatred for the ancient snake-wrangler won out.)
4. Moon sign matters more than sun sign
…at least some of the time.
The 2016 “shift” prompted a friend of mine to decide that she preferred moon signs to sun signs for their accuracy.
She made a decent case: as an Aquarius moon, she took on new causes, avoided emotions, treated set schedules as suggestions (if that), and rebelled against orders in any capacity.
(An example of that last one:
Me: “I don’t want to watch that movie. Let’s watching something else.”
Her: *immediately presses play*)
Am I saying you shouldn’t befriend air signs?
My moon is in Scorpio.
I would love to identify as a Scorpio and call it a day…but I’m too afraid of what the astrology buffs will say.
Again, I fear disapproval SO MUCH.
5. Astrology should be held lightly
As with many systems, it is possible to take a good idea too far.
For myself, perhaps I would do better to stick to generalities over specifics.
Or, perhaps I should use the zodiac as an excuse to buy personalized soap and adorable star-themed jewelry that in no way corresponds with the Tropical Zodiac.
In that case….I AM A SCORPIO.
SMELL MY VINDICTIVE VIOLETS AND DESPAIR.