The Zodiac and the truth behind astrology


“Astrology is one of the most ancient sciences, held in high esteem of old, by the wise and the great. Formerly, no prince would make war or peace, nor any general fight in battle, in short, no important affair was undertaken without first consulting an astrologer.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Ever so often Astrology is presented with an opportunity to explain herself and thus improve on her wisdom and service to humankind. Such occasions, alas, usually happen when her system of symbolism is under attack, usually from people who have no knowledge of Astrology and who base their dismissive notions on popular culture and misunderstandings instead of serious consideration. 

In the last few days, I received many alarmed emails asking me about the recent internet craze concerning the shattering “new discoveries” that the signs have shifted due to a “wobble” in the Earth’s axis and that there is a new 13th sign called Ophiuchus.

Let me address some of these concerns and assure you that whatever your sign was before 2011 is still the same and if you thought you could get an upgrade to a “nicer” sign, you are out of luck 🙁 

1 – Astrology is based on the seasons and the relationships between the planets (called aspects) and NOT what sign is located behind the Sun when you were born.

The signs of the Zodiac are merely symbols and metaphors that divide the year into 12 different and equal “seasons”. This partition is based on the proportions of day and night or light and darkness experienced throughout the year. Aries always begins on the first day of spring (aka the Spring Equinox), when the day and night are equal and the amount of light is growing. Libra, on the other hand, always begins on the Fall Equinox, when the day and night are also equal, but the amount of light is receding.

Astrology postulates, regardless of what constellation occupies the Equinox, that people born in the spring will exhibit characteristics such as high energy and optimism. They will be the kind of people who spring into action, the same way that nature buds into life after its long winter slumber.

A new study, published by the Nature Neuroscience Journal, found links between the season of birth and personality. It is proven that people born in the winter, i.e. Capricorns, are more at risk to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), schizophrenia and depression. In Astrology, Capricorn, beginning on the longest night of the year, is associated with suffering, difficulties and pessimism. To quote the author of the paper, Professor Douglas McMahon, “Our biological clocks measure the day’s length and change our behavior according to the seasons.” 

2 – When Astrology was developed by the Babylonians, the constellation of Aries happened to be located right behind the sign Aries during the Spring Equinox.

Astrology was developed in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, as a cosmic clock, most likely to help early farmers trace the seasons. In fact, the reason why we have seasons to begin with is because of the Earth’s 23 degree tilt, which is also connected to its wobble. The idea is simple: one should plant in Spring, party in Summer, harvest in Fall, and be careful with provisions in Winter.

The first zodiac sign, Aries, begins on March 21st, the Spring Equinox.  Of course there is no real Ram out there in the skies. The ancient wise women and men of the time chose a Ram to symbolize Aries because it is a great metaphor for the initiation of spring, the leader of the flock. When the refuters of Astrology claim that people born in Aries should be called Pisces, they are misunderstanding the symbolism of Astrology. It’s like saying New York City should be called “York” because by now it is hundreds of years old. However, when it was founded it was new, and it symbolized a modern place full of possibilities. Aries was located behind the Equinox, on March 21st 2000-4000 years ago, when Astrology was “founded”. That is why we still call this period of time Aries.   

3 – Astrologers and Astronomers have known about the issues presented in the “Astrology refuting hoax” for thousands of years and CHOSE NOT to include a 13th constellation.

There is nothing new about the 13th constellation or the shift in the signs. The ancient Greeks, who were the first to cast astrological “Natal Charts,” were quite aware of these two issues. In fact, Claudius Ptolemy wrote extensively about the 13th sign and the procession of the equinox in the 2nd century AD. As you can see, there is nothing new under the Sun.

Ophiuchus, the so called 13th sign, was not adopted into Astrology because the Sun barely touches the constellation during its path through the Zodiac. It also doesn’t fit into the Babylonians’ sexagesimal system that is based on 60 and 12. That is why we have 60 minutes in an hour and two sets of 12 hours in a day. That is also the reason behind the decision to have 12 signs in the Zodiac and not 13.

With all due respect, most of the people who rebuke Astrology have little knowledge about the ancient art. Intellectual giants the like of Johannes Kepler (considered by many the father of modern astronomy), Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Carl Jung, Benjamin Franklin and Sir Isaac Newton all knew about these two anomalies in Astrology. However, they continued to practice, study and develop astrological theories that resulted in amazing predictions and insights. (http://cosmicnavigator.com/blog/gahl-sasson/Astrology/Astrology-rocks-some-historical-magic)

Astrologers for centuries have incorporated the earth wobble in their understanding of the connection between the heavenly bodies and life on earth. Ever heard about “The Age of Aquarius?” The reason why we have these ages and why they move backward (Age of Aquarius follows the Age of Pisces) is because of the wobble of the earth.  So to claim astrologers had not known about this phenomenon or chose to ignore it is simply ridiculous.

4 – Astrology is a system of symbols and metaphors designed to help us connect to the universe, just like the words and metaphors found in the various spiritual texts from around the world.

Many people claim that Astrology has no scientific backing and therefore cannot provide “real” help to humanity. I was stunned to see that this assertion regarding Astrology, came from the Christian Science Monitor, a news organization owned by a church.

But wait, there is no scientific proof of the resurrection of Christ, and yet the teaching of Jesus can still inspire love and compassion. There is no archeological proof of the Exodus and yet millions live and die by the teaching of Moses. There is no evidence to support Muhammad’s nightly flight on a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem. However, the holiest shrine for Islam, the Dome of the Rock, was built to commemorate that event on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Help and healing can be provided by systems that have no scientific proof, and have been for hundreds of years. I am not saying that these events did not happen. I am just noting that there is NO scientific proof that they did. However, the power of these systems of belief is undeniable.
Handled in the right way, Astrology can help guide us to a better future. Over the last 15 years I have personally experienced Astrology prove herself again and again in remarkable ways with clients of all ages, races, nationalities, and genders. I can only hope that she will do for you, what she has done for me and thousands of my clients. 

“Obviously Astrology has much to offer psychology, but what the latter can offer its elder sister is less evident.”
  —C.G Jung

Gahl E. Sasson teaches Astrology, Mythology and Kabbalah worldwide. His books A Wish Can Change Your Life (endorsed by HH the 14th Dalai Lama) and Cosmic Navigator, have been translated worldwide.  www.CosmicNavigator.com

Limmud L.A. in the Works


When attorney Shep Rosenman attended the interdenominational, interdisciplinary, cultural/experiential/academic Limmud conference in New York, what surprised him most was how much he was able to step out of his comfort zone.

“I would normally not take a class called ‘Do Jews Believe in Astrology.’ It’s not really my bailiwick, nor is ‘Facing an Abusing God, a Theology of Protest.’ But those were two of the most moving classes I took,” Rosenman said.

Rosenman and a handful of other community leaders are trying to bring Limmud to L.A.

Founded in England more than 25 years ago, Limmud conferences have been spreading across the globe in the past 10 years, reaching New York two years ago. In three- to four-day conferences, Jews of all denominations, interests and backgrounds gather for classes, concerts, prayers, art workshops, food and a cohesive Jewish experience.

Rosenman said about 25 people are involved in an effort to have a Limmud L.A. conference during President’s Weekend 2008. Working groups have been formed, and venues, teachers and funding are all being sought.

Rosenman hopes the varied offerings and experiences can serve as a galvanizing force for L.A.’s fragmented Jewry.

“Limmud represents a real opportunity for people who don’t otherwise mingle in their learning or social circles, or in their shared passion for Jewish art, music or culture, to be in a safe environment together,” Rosenman said. “Some beautiful stuff has the potential to gestate and grow us into a community that is much less fractured.”

To learn more or get involved, call Shep Rosenman at (310) 867-3640 or visit www.limmud-la.org.

Women and the Machzor

What did women have to do with developing the High Holiday prayers? That is the topic to be explored at Netivot Women’s Torah Study Institute’s Elul Seminar on Sunday, Sept. 17 at Beth Jacob congregation in Beverly Hills. Netivot offers a full schedule of text-based classes for women throughout the year, including classes in prophets, the weekly portion and Gemara. A highly successful mother-daughter bat mitzvah class will begin again in January. For more information, visit www.netivot.org.


Kadima Students Reach Out to Israel Over Summer

Even before school started, the students and families of Kadima Hebrew Academy in West Hills were supporting the victims of war in Israel. Kadima’s seventh-graders were especially affected by the war, as a peer at the Teva School, Kadima’s sister school in Tel Aviv, lost her brother during the fighting in Lebanon. Kadima’s preschool director, Hana Livni, who was in Israel at the time, paid a condolence call to the family and brought them gifts from Kadima.
During the summer, students wrote letters offering moral support to Israeli soldiers, and urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to continue supporting Israel. Kadima parents and trustees Shawn and Dorit Evenhaim paid for the relocation costs of 30 Israeli families to move from their homes in the north to the safer southern areas.

For information visit www.kadimaacademy.org.


Tooting Their Horns

Weizmann Day School in Pasadena opens school every year by inviting faculty and students, past and present, to gather to blow the shofar, an event repeated every morning throughout Rosh Hashanah. With less than 50 students and 14 teachers, the small school has made its mark. Historically over 60 percent of its students have achieved standardized test scores at or above the 97th percentile nationally. Weizmann recently received the city of Pasadena’s Model of Unity Award, presented to the school for the 2005 Daniel Pearl Harmony for Humanity Concert, which brought Weizmann students together with Muslim and Christian students from Pasadena’s New Horizon and St. Marks schools.

For information, visit www.weizmann.net.


New Faces

Sam Edelman, a scholar in Holocaust education, is the new dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Judaism.

Edelman spent 27 years at Cal State University at Chico, where he was a professor of rhetoric and communication studies as well as Jewish and Holocaust studies. He was the founder and director of the program in Modern Jewish and Israel Studies. Edelman will remain in his position as the co-director, with his wife, Carol, of the state of California Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance. For information, visit www.uj.edu or www.csuchico.edu/mjs/center.


New Faces II

Jenna Rubin, a 15-year Jewish education veteran, is the new director of religious education at B’nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester.

“My mission is for our students to develop to their full potential as both Jews and human beings. We’ll focus on nurturing each student’s self-identity, cultivating each student’s place within the community, and developing each student’s relationship with God,” Rubin said.

For information visit www.BnaiTikvahCongregation.org.


New Jew Principal Goes To Harvard

Ellen Howard, principal of New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, was one of 10 day school principals from around the country sponsored by the AviChai Foundation to attend a summer seminar for educators at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Participants in “Leadership: An Evolving Vision” combined rigorous study with writing, reflection and peer interaction, identifying priorities and sharing ideas and solutions.

“We learned how to enhance the quality of the school experience for everyone — students, teachers, and administrators alike,” Howard said.

For more information on New Community Jewish High School, visit www.ncjhs.org.