Jan 11

Ophiuchus, the 13th Sign

The Constellation of Ophiuchus

Asklepius, 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 Feb/Mar 2011 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.  Greek myth tells us that because Asklepius was able to literally bring people back from the dead, he was killed by Zeus with a thunderbolt.  Later, remorseful Zeus placed Asklepius 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. And of course, serpent symbolism can be found all over the ancient world as a complement or consort to the Age of Taurus motifs liberally shown in places where the bulls and the horns of bulls are seen, and snakes are also present. During the era that the signs of Gemini and Taurus rose (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: 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 Asklepius (Ophiuchus) at this time. And, that emblem has endured through time.  A descendant of Asklepius is Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, and the caduceus symbol of serpentine healing power can be seen all over the world in hospitals, healing clinics, ambulances and everywhere people go to attempt to obtain healing cures for all types of disorders and illness.

The 13th sign is somewhat obscured from view and is not generally included in the zodiac of twelve signs that astrologers generally use. This may be due to the fact that visible from the ecliptic are only the feet of Ophiuchus (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 Asklepius and Chiron is inherent in that person’s repertoire of opportunities, abilities and influences in life.

Because Chiron the centaur is a recent addition to our solar system, located in an altogether different sector than the rest of the body of centaurs which are located beyond the orbit of Pluto, and because he was the god-father and mentor to Asklepius (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 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.

References to Ophiuchus, Asklepius and the 13th sign can be found in:  Guttman, Arielle and Johnson, Kenneth: Mythic Astrology: Internalizing the Planetary Powers (1993-2004) and Mythic Astrology Applied: Personal Healing through the Planets (2004) both published by Llewellyn Publications, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

© Arielle Guttman 2011. Both volumes are available through Arielle’s website: