The Thirteenth Zodiac Sign Ophiuchus: What Does It Mean?

If you have even a passing interest in astrology, you may have heard of the ‘thirteenth sign’. Embraced by some astrologers and debunked by others, it has certainly caused a stir in astrological circles. Whether or not it should be included in an astrological chart reading is entirely up to the individual astrologer and his/her client.

Astrology is traditionally based on the twelve signs of the zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Combined with the planets in our solar system, they create an interlocking series of meanings that help define a person’s character according to the birth chart and provide insightful information about a persons future.

What happens when the traditional view of astrology is turned upside down and another sign is added to the twelve? Enter the proposed thirteenth sign: Ophiuchus. Ophiuchus is characterized as ‘The Serpent Bearer’. This proposed thirteenth zodiac sign is far from a new discovery. This zodiac sign in the heavens has been noted by the ancients. It was described in the poetic Astronomica by Manilus, around 10 AD. The thirteenth sign has been advocated for inclusion in general astrology since the 1970s.

Why a Thirteenth Zodiac Sign?

The drive to include Ophiuchus in the zodiac is due to the fact that the Sun passes through the constellation of Ophiuchus for just over two weeks, from November 29-December 17. Detractors point out the key word is ‘constellation’. They say there are twelve signs in the zodiac, not twelve constellations. The difference is the interpretation of the signs as opposed to the nature of constellations. Each sign has its own peculiar characteristics which has been passed down since the birth of astrology, when the Sun was noted to pass through only 12 signs. Yet, each sign does have a particular constellation … and the Sun does, indeed, pass through the constellation of Ophiuchus from November 29 to December 17.

What Ophiuchus means in practical terms is that anyone born while the Sun is in this constellation can actually choose to have it incorporated into the interpretation of their birth chart. Not all astrologers will do this (or can do this). More progressive, curious astrologers with the tools to do so can design a natal chart including this mysterious thirteenth sign. Many astrologers, both advanced and novice, are very intrigued by the ‘new’ sign, and by its connotation as ‘the Serpent Bearer’.

Ophiuchus constellation astrology Mythology Behind Ophiuchus
Astrology looks to mythology to help to interpret planets and signs. Venus, goddess of love, is associated with relationships, love and beauty. Taurus is associated with stubborn bullish behavior, a love of home and family as ‘Taurus’ is Latin word for bull. Ancient Greek mythology seems to have first identified this collection of stars as Apollo struggling with the huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi. The more accepted mythology for the Ophiuchus constellation is the ancient Roman myth of Asclepius.

Ophiuchus is another name for Asclepius. Asclepius was the son of Apollo and a healer. Ophiuchus is the ancient Greek name – Asclepius is the Roman or Latin name. For the purpose of this article the name ‘Ophiuchus’ will be used in discussing the new thirteenth zodiac sign. ‘Asclepius’ will be used when we talk about the mythology behind the constellation.

It is said the Asclepius made an enemy of Hades, the God of the Underworld. Hades, bother of Zeus, persuaded Zeus to kill Asclepius with a thunderbolt. Asclepius father, Apollo was very angry with Zeus for killing his son. In an effort to appease Apollo, Asclepius was placed in the Heavens as a constellation.

Asclepius is depicted in Roman statuary as a handsome, healthy man leaning on a staff entwined with a serpent (the staff would go on to become the traditional sign of the healer). ‘Asclepius’ means ‘to cut open’, indicating that part of the myth that says his father Apollo cut him from the womb when his human mother was burned for being unfaithful to Apollo. Asclepius was then raised by Chiron, the ‘wounded healer’ of mythology, and was taught the power and mystery of the healing arts.

Asclepius excelled in the healing arts, in fact learning the greatest healing technique of all: Bringing those who died back to life. Just as Asclepius had himself evaded death when he was born so he seemed gifted to understand how to bring others back to life. This resurrection skill, however caught the attention, and anger, of Hades. If mortals could be brought back to life, Hades was denied the souls of the dead. Asclepius was usurping the realm of Hades.

A furious Hades went to Zeus to complain. Zeus, too, perceived Asclepius as challenging the gods, themselves. If Asclepius could bring back the dead, then mortals stood on the cusp of immortality. And, immortality was the soul right of the gods. Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt. Some say that Zeus was equally displeased that Asclepius brought a mortal back from the dead for gold. Zeus had no doubt this healer was a dangerous man who could deny Hades it’ souls and make mortal men nearly gods.

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In the next article on Ophiuchus Ophiuchus Traits – Is the Thirteenth Sign Here to Stay?, we will cover what are perceived as some of the traits seen in those born under the constellation of Ophiuchus (November 29 thru December 17). Many astrologers, even those who are traditionalist and likely to oppose adding a thirteenth sign, have been impressed with how often the traits attributed to those born under the Ophiuchus constellation turn out to be true. We’ll also look at why Ophiuchus is here to stay … or at least stay for a few thousand years.

If you are looking for answers about the future, a love interest or want advice on how to move forward on some important issue, then give Clairvoyant Astrologer Mona a call at 1-800-888-5523 (toll free USA and Canada). Mona is an experienced astrologer and talented clairvoyant. First time callers can receive a free 3 minute reading. You might also enjoy checking out Astrology Chat where you can chat with astrology experts online.