What an Astrologer Wants You To Know About the So-Called 13th Zodiac Sign

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Every few years, the internet loses its veritable mind over the questionable existence of a 13th zodiac sign, sandwiched between Sagittarius and Scorpio: Ophiuchus. And when that news cycle happens, it's usually under a headline specifying that with the addition of Ophiuchus in the zodiac wheel, the 12-sign zodiac calendar is thrown off, rendering everyone’s accepted zodiac sign is a lie. But is Ophiuchus even a real zodiac sign? Or is it just the astrological equivalent of trying to make "fetch" happen?

To be sure, Ophiuchus is real in the sense that it is a constellation, and it's one of the largest constellations not traditionally associated with a zodiac sign. NASA recently explained that the Babylonians who created the zodiac knew Ophiuchus was a thing, but they didn't incorporate it into the zodiac because they only wanted 12 constellations that would align with the 12 calendar months. And as Stephanie Gailing, astrologer and author of The Complete Book of Dreams points out, not all constellations are considered zodiac signs.

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"While there are cases of astrologers using Ophiuchus, the current system of astrology that is commonly used—featuring the 12 signs—existing for millennia has been shown to have validity and work," says Gailing. "It’s an elegant system that has shown itself to offer elegant insights throughout history."

While Ophiuchus continues to show year after year, confusing the masses, Gailing says, there are very rare instances when astrologers acknowledge Ophiuchus. Perhaps one of the earliest advocates of Ophiuchus was Steven Schmidt, who wrote Astrology 14: Your New Sun Sign in 1970, proposing that there are 14 zodiac signs (the audacity).

Despite those dissenters, there's indeed a general quorum saying the wheel is a clean dozen signs, so we might as well investigate how Ophiuchus would fit in as an astrological archetype.

Ophiucus personality traits to understand

The symbol for Ophiucus is a man clutching a serpent, ready to screw up everyone’s horoscope. Here’s how: Those whose birthday fall under the so-called 13th zodiac sign are born between November 29 and December 17. The sign that proceeds it is supposed to be Scorpio, and the sign after it is Sagittarius. That means that theoretically, it would move most people's star sign to the one that comes before it. (I know, I know, I clutch my pearls thinking of being a headstrong Aries after living as a slow-moving Taurus for 30 years.)

As far as the specific personality traits of Ophiucus, it's a similar cosmic blend as someone born on the cusp of Sagittarius and Scorpio.

As far as the specific personality traits of Ophiucus, though, it's a similar cosmic blend as someone born on the cusp of Sagittarius and Scorpio. Like Sagittarius, this person has a go-with-the-flow nature, a curious and inquisitive mind, and a pleasant sense of humor. Like Scorpio, they may be sexually alluring, deeply passionate, and driven. They would have some of the negative traits of each sign too, being jealous and secretive (Scorpio) and restless (Sag), with a fiery temper.

As for compatibility for Ophiucus, someone born under this sign would likely get along with the water signs, including neighbor Scorpio, moody Cancer, and especially spiritually inclined Pisces. They would also be pals with Aries and Libra.

Famous Ophiucuses would include the likes of Britney Spears, Tyra Banks, Judd Apatow, Bette Midler, Jay Z, and Taylor Swift. But generally, Ophiucus isn’t drawn to entertainment careers. As Gailing points out, the would-be sign is associated with Asclepius, the father of medicine and founder of the Greek dream temples. As such, Ophiuchus would be a natural fit in healer roles, whether that’s a medical doctor or a therapist.

All of it begs the question, though, whether there's any astrological validity to Ophiuchus at all? Well, Gailing points to a 2011 interview with astronomer (not astrologer) Parke Kunkle in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, which introduced this concept of Ophiuchus as a 13th sign. While the big news flurry occurred on January 14, Gailing points out it's related to an interview occurring January 10. That winter, there was a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Pisces, exact on January 3, but "hitting off" the morning of January 10. What does that mean?

"Jupiter is expansive, makes everything larger, and inspires us to search for meaning," says Gailing. "Uranus is the planet of the shake-up, inspiring breakdowns and breakthroughs that often upends systems. What great timing—a large shake-up and renegade perspectives emerging, throwing a monkey wrench into the traditional ways that we viewed astrology." She adds that this all occurred in Pisces, "the sign that embodies the numinous and collective unity, but with its boundary-blurring impact can yield haze, confusion, and sometimes disillusionment."

So there are astrological reasons why Ophiuchus might’ve circled back into our collective consciousness back then. But when it comes to taking a seat at the zodiac wheel, the constellation just can’t sit with us.

Originally published on October 1, 2018. Updated on March 12, 2021 with additional reporting by Tehrene Firman.

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