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Asclepius (also cited as Aesculapius, Asklepius, and Asklepios), the Greek God of Healing through Dreams, was the subject of an in-depth article that I penned on Dream Interpretation Using Astrology and Myth in the current (Feb/Mar 2011) issue of The Mountain Astrologer.

Greek myth tells us that because Asclepius was able to literally bring people back from the dead, he was killed by Zeus with a thunderbolt. Later, remorseful Zeus placed Asclepius in the sky as the image Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. Sandwiched in between Scorpio and Sagittarius, barely touching the ecliptic, stands a giant serpent holder…a giant man in the sky, the image of Ophiuchus.

The serpent represents the Kundalini and the double helix of the DNA. Images of serpents and bulls appear all over the ancient world (in Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, etc.) beginning around the time that Gemini and Taurus were rising and Ophiuchus was setting in the precessional scheme in the sky, a vivid demonstration of As Above So Below.  During the era when the signs of Gemini and Taurus rose at the Vernal Equinox (approximately 6,000 to 4,000 years ago), the stars of Scorpio and Sagittarius were on the western horizon, including the sign in the middle of those two: Ophiuchus. Testaments to these signs as guiding beacons are the numerous emblems carved in stones, painted on fresco walls, and left as bas-reliefs by our predecessors. Especially noteworthy is the emblem of the snake wrapped around the healing rod caduceus as the identifying cult symbol for the followers of Asclepius (Ophiuchus) at this time. And that emblem has endured through time. Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, is a descendant of Asclepius. The caduceus symbol of serpentine healing power can be seen all over the world in hospitals, healing clinics, ambulances and everywhere people go in attempts to obtain healing cures for all types of disorders and illness.


The 13th sign is somewhat obscured from view and is not typically included in the zodiac of twelve signs that astrologers generally use. This may be due to the fact that only the feet of Ophiuchus are visible from the ecliptic (see star diagram above), with the rest of his body towering above the constellations and not contained within the rest of the zodiac. In fact, one foot of Ophiuchus is smashing the Scorpion’s claws, while the other foot is where the Archer’s arrow is aimed. Nevertheless, astrologers definitely know it is there, and I for one, have been an advocate for including the interpretation of Ophiuchus in people’s charts ever since I first learned of his existence from the lectures and articles of astrologer Robert Hand, some thirty years ago. In other words, if a person’s horoscope contains many points in late Scorpio and early to mid Sagittarius, then they are indeed “born” under the influence of Ophiuchus, and the healing wisdom of Asclepius and Chiron is inherent in that person’s repertoire of opportunities, abilities, and influences in life.

Chiron the centaur, a recent addition to our solar system, orbits between Saturn and Uranus, while the rest of the centaurs’ orbits lie beyond Pluto. Due to Chiron’s unique orbit, distinct from the rest of the body of centaurs located beyond the orbit of Pluto, and because he was the god-father and mentor to Asclepius (Ophiuchus), I have come to proclaim Chiron as the ruler of the 13th sign. This Ophiuchus constellation takes up almost a half of each of the signs mentioned earlier (Scorpio and Sagittarius). A great deal of Scorpio symbolism for healing, depth, penetrating beneath the surface (including journeys to the unconscious realm), and transformation are all related to Ophiuchus. As for the symbolism of Sagittarius? The sage, the interest in philosophy, and the burning desire to know the meaning of life are also contained in the mysteries of Ophiuchus and its serpent-kundalini energy source.


Arielle Guttman and  Kenneth Johnson, Mythic Astrology: Internalizing the Planetary Powers, Llewellyn Publications, 1993-2004.

Arielle Guttman and  Kenneth Johnson, Mythic Astrology Applied: Personal Healing through the Planets, Llewellyn Publications, 2004.

Both volumes are available through Arielle’s website:

© Arielle Guttman 2011.

Thank you, Arielle, for bringing the story of Ophiuchus so clearly into our awareness.

Here are some other commentators on the current re-appearance of the 13th sign. Enjoy!

Rob Hand’s classic article, On the Invariance of the Tropical Zodiac, is an “inquiry into a fundamental problem that has to do with the tropical versus sidereal zodiac controversy”

Theodore White writes The 13th Zodiac Sign? Astrologers Ask: “Where’s the Beef?” complete with (funny) TV and YouTube clips about the “big discovery,” moving graphics showing precession, astronomers throughout history,  and the mythology of Ophiuchus.

Your Astrological Sign Isn’t Changing But It Was Fun While It Lasted includes a video clip of Rachel Maddow’s commentary about the molten core of the earth.

The Daily Beast has a report  on the story, with comments by “astrologists” Susan Miller and Rob Brezsny.

Lynn Hayes is a very clear writer and she easily explains the difference in the tropical and sidereal zodiacs in her article Your “zodiac sign” has not changed!

Here’s a video from Fox with good  graphics and a very nice presentation from astrologer Chris Taylor.

Gary Caton, in his letter to astronomers, writes: “Hey Astronomers, WAKE UP! Constellations are not Signs. Please learn some basic astrology or else leave the Signs to us.”

And, I did see a news clip of the astronomer who started the latest version of the “discovery” of the 13th sign (since removed) where he talks about his take on the media event. He’s just happy people are thinking about the sky. We couldn’t agree more.

Have a good week everyone.