Thoughts on Ophiuchus - The 13th Sign
Ophiuchus is known as the serpent bearer- and in the constellation you can see a man holding a serpent from head to tail. The serpent, along with the number 13, both have ties to the ancient goddess who has been demonized and removed from and/or demoted in human consciousness. The serpent is also connected to Kundalini- a potent manifestation of the goddess involving an energy that once awakened starts the process of spiritual evolution at a rapid pace (watch out for awakening kundalini before you are ready- your life will fall to pieces before your very eyes!). Ophiuchus is a sign associated with healing, magic, and the goddess- aspects of life that are not given their due respect in many areas of the world. It is interesting that the potential 13th sign governs things that are often degraded, demoted or distastefully looked upon. Perhaps the reason the sign was left out was because it governed things the patriarchy has tried to get rid of for ages?
Physically the zodiac as western astrology knows it is off. When looked at literally western astrology does not account for the change in the position of constellations (aka the precision of the equinoxes). Western Astrology is based on seasons which comprise of signs- 12 signs which are divided evenly into 30 degrees for each sign. I was born on June 24th and my sun is 3 Cancer- but literally the sun when I was born was approximately 23 degrees earlier than that in the sign of Gemini. So in western astrology I am a cancer, but in sidereal (aka Vedic) I am a Gemini. Sidereal may seem to be more accurate since it accounts for the change of position in the constellations over time- but actually the constellations don't divide themselves evenly. Virgo, for example, is way bigger than 30 degrees. So if you were trying to account for things literally we'd have to divvy up the signs differently. There would be no easy division process where each sign had an equal slice of the zodiac wheel. (For more specific info go here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac and scroll down to 'table of dates' to see a table that shows the actual solar stay for each sign)
As for Ophiuchus- the entire constellation of Ophiuchus does not fall into the zodiac wheel. So many astrologers say that it is not included because only a small portion of it falls there (literally the foot of the man holding the serpent). But the international astronomical union recognizes Ophiuchus as being within the boundaries of the zodiac constellations that lines the ecliptic- so technically Ophiuchus is the 13th sign. So for the approximate dates of November 30th to December 18th- the Sun is literally and actually transiting the sign of Ophiuchus (Ophiuchus lies between Scorpio and Sagittarius). Incidentally when you look at things literally the sign that is the smallest is Scorpio- which the sun only transits for 8.4 days!
So back to the argument of a 13th sign. In my perspective on things the different kinds of astrology are like different languages. There is Western, Sidereal/Vedic, Chinese, Mayan, human design and more- just as there are many languages in the world. Languages are a means to communicate. I might prefer French to German or I may know nothing of Latin- but it doesn't mean French is better or Latin is invalid. They all work if you learn how to speak them and have people to speak them with! In the same vein I see the 13th sign version of astrology as another way of looking at the heavens and interpreting what is going on down here. I have seen Ophiuchus used in ways that totally resonates for me. I have also seen Western work, Sidereal, Mayan, human design, Chinese and more! To me it's about picking which 'language' you want to speak and then speaking it. I don't agree that using 13 signs is WRONG- but I also don't agree that only 12 signs is RIGHT. It's all about what resonates and what you are drawn to.
For me the symbolism of a hidden 13th sign connected to the goddess, Kundalini, magic and healing is quite compelling. But heck- my midheaven (and the great attractor- for you astrology people who know what that is) is in Ophiuchus. So is my new daughter's sun sign :)
So those are my thoughts on the 13th sign. I love things that are hidden, occult and esoteric- so I am drawn to Ophiuchus. And maybe it's been hidden because we weren't ready for the wisdom Ophiuchus has for us collectively- but now people are taking notice because we are. But because it is not easy to cast a literal chart when things aren't easily divisible by 12 I don't read for it currently in my writing or in my consultations. But that may change in the future- who knows?