I can’t decide who has made me angrier, NASA or a bunch of dead Babylonians.
As long as I can remember, my astrological sign is Taurus. I am a Taurus. That explains why I’m bull-headed and stubborn. I’ve never really believed in astrology, at least not as much as Nancy Reagan did. Now that Nancy’s dead, I don’t know anyone who really believes it. Or will admit to it.
But we all know our sign. It’s part of who we are. Some of us read our horoscopes every day. Some read them in this very newspaper. When I was young, a hippy chick cast my natal chart and fifteen hand-written pages and a bunch of dippy drawings and charts later, it turns out I am a double Taurus because my moon is in Taurus too. Or maybe my rising sign. One or the other. So I’m pretty invested in the whole Taurus thing. As I said, it’s part of who I am, like left-handed or brown-eyed.
But now, lo these many years later, I find out it has all been a horrible lie. NASA announced on Space Place, their kid-friendly website, that the ancient Babylonians who invented astrology lied to me. Well, they lied to everybody who has ever lived in the last 3,000 years but I am taking it very personally.
Turns out there are actually 13 constellations in the zodiac and since the Babylonians already had a calendar with 12 months, they just threw one of them out. So now because those idiots couldn’t spare a clay tablet to correct their mistake because it screwed with their branding, I have to break it to my daughter that she’s not a Sagittarius, she’s an Ophiuchus. How can I tell her that when I can’t even pronounce it?
And it’s not just the poor old Sagittarius’s that got messed with. Those sneaky Babylonians randomly stuck each sign into one of the months on their goofy little calendar even though the sun doesn’t stay exactly a month in each sign. They were just making stuff up.
So here we have a case of ancient wisdom that is not only inaccurate but intentionally so, based on outright lies. Imagine that. If enough people believe it for long enough, it must be true. Which is why so many of these silly things from the Bronze age are still with us.
Then NASA stuck their nose in it. Don’t they have enough to do, what with flying to Mars and stuff? Why not take some time to debunk astrology as pseudo-science and throw in a little factual information about the earth wobbling and the sky shifting just to confuse things further?
Only it didn’t really come off that way. By the time they put all the zodiac symbols on the webpage and drew a chart that included the long-forgotten Ophiuchus, it looked more like they were updating astrology rather than debunking it.
It didn’t take long for “modern” astrologers to get involved, as if that’s not a contradiction in terms. They were the ones who put out the new charts that stripped me of my Taurus status and reassigned me to Aries. Which didn’t make me happy.
It made a lot of people unhappy and they’re taking it out on NASA. Now NASA is getting all defensive and saying they didn’t change our zodiac signs, they just did the math. Well, that’s not good enough NASA. Ever hear of “You break it. You bought it.” Well, you broke astrology so now you own it. I don’t think that’s what they had in mind at all.
Just among people I know, emotions are running surprisingly high. People are taking it hard that they may not actually be the sign they have always identified with. Most are still grappling with the first few stages of grief, spinning their wheels in denial and anger.
My friend Tara has zoomed straight to acceptance with just a soupçon of denial. She says she is a Scorpio in her heart and in her soul, and not even NASA can tell her otherwise. Tara is now proudly identifying as trans-zodiac. I suspect she is not alone.
Identity is such a funny thing. Even though I don’t have a great deal of faith that the movements of a bunch of stars gazillions of miles away affect my personality and my future, being a Taurus is part of my identity. But I can’t help but think about that cute Gemini back in 1977 who wanted nothing more to do with me after finding out I was a Taurus. Would she have felt differently if I had known then I was an Aries? Now I’ll never know.
This morning when I checked my horoscope, I automatically looked at Taurus as I always have done. I’m supposed to “Play it cool financially.” That’s not very helpful. In my financial situation, I can hardly play it any other way.
Then, I remembered that I’m an Aries now so I checked that. “Confusion might surround you once more.”
It seems we have a winner. Denial may run deep but not that deep.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.