Fake news, astrology edition

TWH –It’s a given in some Pagan circles that at least a basic understanding of astrology is common knowledge. Given the incredible diversity represented within the intersecting Pagan and polytheist communities, it stands to reason that there are also community members who are almost completely unaware if not outright skeptical, of its tenets. It is perhaps because of that wide variation that fake astrology news circulates under the so-called “Pagan umbrella” as easily as elsewhere. Is there now a new astrological sign in the heavens? Did that downgrade of Pluto cast doubt on the legitimacy of astrology?

Astronomy, Astrology, and Why I’m Not a Gemini

There’s been something of an upheaval among the stars recently when a Minneapolis Star Tribune article quoted astronomer Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, who said astrologers had it all wrong. That everything was off by a month, and that there was even a brand-new (yet ancient) sign added to the mix. The initial story went seriously viral, being reported by everyone from Gawker to NPR.
There’s just one problem, the astronomer wasn’t up on how modern Western astrology is actually done, causing an almost immediate backlash and rebuttal. “But before astrology fans scrape the ink from their arms because they think they’re now a Virgo instead of a Libra, they should consider this: If they adhered to the tropical zodiac – which, if they’re a Westerner, they probably did – absolutely nothing has changed for them. That’s worth rephrasing: If you considered yourself a Cancer under the tropical zodiac last week, you’re still a Cancer under the same zodiac this week. That’s because the tropical zodiac – which is fixed to seasons, and which Western astrology adheres to – differs from the sidereal zodiac – which is fixed to constellations and is followed more in the East, and is the type of zodiac to which the Star Tribune article ultimately refers.”