Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Horoscope Hoax

It all began with the summer solstice. I was born in the daylight of June 21, the day the sun ruled the sky for the longest time. I grew up in the belief that my birthdate falls under the House of Gemini. I read the papers and I found my birthdate marking the posterior limits of Gemini. The day immediately after that, it was the turn of Cancer, the crab, to rule the sky.

When I have read enough papers, I was startled one day to find out that my birthdate has fallen under Cancer and that the day before that marked the end of Gemini. The summer solstice, this time, turned out to mark the ascension of the crab. I was positively mirthed and convinced that such was simply an error on the side of the newspapers, probably the typesetters, not that I had any idea of what typesetters really are back then. True enough and as I had expected, a year later, I believed the newspaper had admitted their error and reassigned my day under Gemini.

However, as I came across other circulation materials and, with the discovery of the Internet, web pages, I found varying limits on the twelve houses of the Celestial Zodiac. Some ended and started the reign of a sign with the dates 21 & 22, respectively. Others used 22 & 23, 20 & 21, and even as far as 19 & 20 or 23 & 24. While this would normally not pose a problem, it is quite a conundrum to people born on those dates.

So many people take their Celestial Zodiac signs for granted. "Who, me? I'm a Virgo." "Oh, I'm a Libra." "Hi, I'm a Leo. Rrrr." Meanwhile, people born on those boundary days get asked, "So, what's your sign?" and those who are aware of it would often stammer, "I'm Gemini-Cancer," or "I think I'm either Libra or Scorpio." Other people who don't know any better would simply answer off the top of their heads, "I'm a Pisces," only to be met with a hard rebuttal along the lines of, "Weren't you born on March 22? You're an Aries," or worse, "No. You're wrong. You're an Aries."

At first, I attributed such abberations on the 21st day of the month. After all, I knew that the soltices and equinoxes, also known as the Four Lesser Sabbats, fall on the 21st day of their respective months. It is not too illogical to assume that the Zodiac has been mindlessly set with these dates defining a quarter of a year. They probably chopped each quarter into convenient bite-sized months 'coz having just four signs of the zodiac was simply too boring. Then, when they were done slicing time, they looked up into the sky during each division and said, "You know, Moe, that group of stars sure look like the number sixty-nine." "Really now, Larry? I think those stars look more like a couple in the sixty-nine position." "That's odd," someone named Curly would probably say. "I thought I saw two fishes." Voila! The constellation of Pisces was assigned to the group of unfortunate, ambiguous stars.

Eventually, people began asking, "So when does the Celestial sign of Pisces rule?" and these would simply answer, "Oh, from February 21 to March 21." And Aries? "Oh from March 21 to April 21." Now, different people, occultists and astrologers alike, began making their own convenient zodiac mechanisms just so a person doesn't get two Zodiac signs while others have only one. It is, after all, not healthy to be greedy.

Of course, such a trifle tale did not, by any means, diminish my frustration everytime someone asks, "Eh? How is it possible for you to have two star-signs?" When I stepped into college, I had access, with the help of the University's libraries, to a wider range of reading materials compared to the limited, " systematized and orderly" knowledge stored in the high school library. Unlike the time I was enrolled in the Catholic high school, I now had access to books that could very well be considered heretic, paranormal or just plain weird. From these books, I was enlightened that a person's celestial zodiac is not really determined by dates or such, rather, it is defined by the constellation, or house, if you will, the sun is in at the time of birth.

Things began to get dull for a while for, with no means to travel back in time just to observe the skies at the moment of my birth, I had given up and was generally content in lording over people the fact that I did have two star-signs. I could never be sure which one I belonged to. When GoogleEarth was released, I could remember sighing, "Oh! That's pretty handy. Now if only they also had GoogleSky..."

I didn't get GoogleSky, which is probably a good thing because the name sounds so atrocious, in my humbled opinion, but I did find out that an encyclopedia software we've had for years now also carried numerous additional interactive features. Among these was a sky map, which, as you can probably infer from the name, maps the skies and the celestial bodies contained within it. Furthermore, it also had options to views the sky from different parts of the world and from different points in time. This is the starfield simulator I have long been looking for!

Great was my disappointement when I adjusted the starfield date and time to that of my birth, only to discover the sun in Taurus, approaching Gemini. I shrugged my shoulders and assumed it was an error on the part of the computer, considering the fact that simulations have limits too and I probably happened to push beyond it by giving a date twenty years back. I tried simulating the sky at the present year giving the same date and much was my chagrin to discover the same shit. I simply heaved a sigh back then and, assuming the zodiac was just a bit out of alignment, I'm probably Gemini.

This morning, I came upon another book on Astrology, one of my least-favored topics when it comes to the paranormal. Halfway through an hour of yawning and stifling yawns, I came across an interesting tidbit, "Celestial signs generally shift about one degree everyday." It sure did make sense, after all, I have been acquainted with the fact that the moon gets delayed about eight minutes everyday. "The celestial zodiac itself shifts by one degree every 72 years." Big deal, so the sky was not as static as we once thought. I think Galileo already proved that. "The earliest horoscopes were in existence as far back as 114 B.C."

Let's see, it's been 2000 years since some guy named Christ was born, the time indicated was at least a hundred years back. That gives at least 2100 years between today and the earliest definition of a horoscope. Dividing that figure by 70 years, for easier computation, and we come up with a deviation of at least 30 degrees. Fact: each house of the Zodiac occupies a 30-degree arc of the celestial sphere about the equator. In other words, the Zodiac back then has been moved up by one house! (and a fraction of it). Thus, it should have been nowhere near surprising to find my sun on Taurus, nearing the border between that and Gemini.

Then again, I could be very well wrong to believe a starfield simulator. What better way to verify such abberations than to look up at the sky at midnight? If all goes well, I should be seeing, directly above me, the constellation of Aquarius; the sun has been in Leo for quite some time now. Unfortunately, the hypothetical midnight anti-sun has just recently left Sagittarius and entered Capricorn. The sun is crossing the stars of Taurus only in the time defined for Gemini.

Of course! It does makes sense. It is perfectly reasonable and does not really defy the law of physics in a most spectacular manner. What is surprising, though, is the fact that we are still using the aged system! We often hear from "expert" and "certified" astrologers especially during auspicious dates like the Gregorian and Oriental New Year. We are acquainted with fortunetellers diving the future of "Capricorn" or "Aquarius" with as much air of authority as the dirtiest gasbag in the government. We sometimes read our horoscopes saying, "Today is your lucky day!", "Your lucky numbers are..." and the worst "Your lucky color for the day/week/month is..." Do these guys actually look at the sky? Or do they simply use aged models that say, "Oh, by this date, the sign of Leo will probably be here and Aquarius, over there."

We've been fooled, ladies and gentlemen. I could only wonder now why nobody has ever called attention to this before? Seriously still, I am irked by the possible answer to the question, "Do these astrologers really look at the stars?" I was about to add "...or is the glitter of being paid or captured on TV just so overwhelming?" but that would simply be too much.

Oh well, at least I can shrug my shoulders in apathy now. My innate distrust of astrology has not been in vain.

Time given, time taken,
time present and time past,
time delayed and time stolen;
space collapsed really fast.

1 comment:

mbacarra said...

"Really now, Larry? I think those stars look more like a couple in the sixty-nine position." hehehe :)

moreover, the thing about predictions in newspapers is that they're too specific to encompass the entire spectrum of the zodiacs. if it says that you'll be lucky on that day, then might as well not take any chances of buying a lotto ticket since, most of your co-zodiacs are probably doing the same thing. what more if you won it? you'll find out that you're sharing the prize with someone else. bummer. hehe. but the point is, the prediction should be more of a general one to address a greater amount of readers (whether or not they believe it).

the last time i read a tabloid distributed for free, the prediction said, "you'll be bugged by someone today. don't get too carried away, or you'll end up in a fight." imagine how much paranoia it would give someone who reads and follows the predictions. hehehe. that's why i've boiled it down to entertainment purposes, and not a basis for my well-being for a day.

that's why i felt this explanation of yours matched my curiousity as to why i feel that i can relate more to a description of a taurian rather than that of a gemini, although i must admit there are certain qualities that i feel like i'm more of the latter. and if what you've said is true, then this explains all, given that i was born on the latter part of the sign, makes me inherit part of the qualities of the next sign.