Every five years or so, there is an astrological panic on my social media walls. This year, a blog shared by George Takei stating that NASA has redefined our zodiac signs caused this panic to resurface... 

"OMG, I'm not a Virgo anymore?"
"But I don't FEEL like a Scorpio!"
"Yay! I always wanted to be an Aquarius!"
"Oh, screw that. I am still a Sagittarius."
"See? Astrology is fake!" 
"You mean I was never a Leo??" 
And now...
"NASA changed my zodiac sign!!"




"I'm just here to ruin the fun! (Insert evil laugh)."

Let me clear something up: NASA did not change your zodiac sign!

The biggest misconception in Western Astrology is that your astrological "sign" and the "constellation" it is named after are the same thing.

They are not.

There are, and have always been, two Zodiacs:The Tropical Zodiac and the Sidereal Zodiac.

Western Astrology follows the great Astronomer Ptolemy, and uses the Tropical Zodiac, which divides the sky up into Seasons. 


Ptolemy (Mathematician, Astronomer, Astrologer, Poet): "I am an Earthling. The Tropical Zodiac Rules." (drops mic)

Therefore, regardless of where the constellations in the sky are, the first day of the "sign" (or energy) of Aries always falls on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Cancer will always fall on the Summer Solstice, the first day of Libra always falls on the Autumnal Equinox, and the first day of Capricorn always falls on the first day of the Winter Solstice.  The remaining astrological signs, or the "sub-seasons"  in between, are fixed.

In contrast, the Sidereal Zodiac divides up the sky according to the constellations (which, as it turns out, are ever moving and changing and not as "constant" as they were named).  This type of Zodiac is most often used in Vedic Astrology, which is associated with the Hindu religion. 


"Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu: May all beings everywhere be happy and free:
(Even the ones that don't live on the planet Earth and are getting ready to reincarnate)."


 
Of course, there is much debate about which Zodiac is more accurate when interpreting our experiences of life here on Earth.

The Tropical Zodiac is based on the flow of seasons and how the energies of light and dark (i.e. longer days in the summer, longer nights in the winter, etc.) may affect us. It is based on the the position of the Earth in reference to the Sun and other planets, not the constellations.

Therefore, one might say that the Tropical Zodiac used in Western Astrology is more "Earth-Centric", or Geocentric, in describing our experiences with the flow of energy here on the planet Earth. 


Whereas, Vedic Astrology, based on the constellations.  It integrates more concepts of karma and reincarnation, and things beyond the planet Earth.



It is worth noting that Western Astrology (Tropical Zodiac/season-based) has integrated some of the concepts of Vedic Astrology (Sidereal Zodaic/constellation-based) into its practice.  For instance, many western astrologers use the North and South nodes of the moon when doing an astrological reading.  The nodes, also called Ketu and Rahu, are a concept used in Vedic/Sidereal/Constellation-based Astrology to describe the energy of past lives and future karma.




Vedic Astrology Chart: Based on Constellations (top)  Western Astrology Chart: Based on Seasons (bottom)


So, there is no need to cover up your astrological tattoo!  No need to have an identity crisis.  George Takei is still an Aries according to Ptolemy, and you are still the same zodiac sign you have always identified with!




No need to cover up your tattoos! You're still the same sign!!!
Left: The constellation of Sagittarius.  Right: The Sign of Sagittarius.


Regardless of how you view Astrology or which zodiac you use, the energies of the Universe are not meant to control us, confuse us or define us.   They are only meant to be used as a guide, to ask ourselves how we can be the best versions of ourselves.