The Horror

An astrological sceptic describes the new zodiac

Words: Max Dylan Lazarus | Illustrations: Caitie Weare

I don’t know if you people have noticed, but everything has changed for the worse over the past few months. There are the big disasters like Trump in America, terror in Europe, corruption at home and DC film adaptations at the cinemas, along with the more serious omens of the apocalypse like new MTN summer adverts, the exhausting mileage of Harambe memes, and the noticeably diminishing quantities of chips included in Nandos side dishes (No potato is worth R40, YOU MONSTERS). So why is all this happening? Why is Fortuna’s wheel turning towards pain, unluck and despair? The answer, of course, lies in astrology.

For every person used to sitting down for breakfast and checking their horoscope in the paper, things went off course recently with NASA’s sensationalist announcement that the traditional zodiac was carelessly miscalculated by ancient scholars, and that the correct calendar would have to include a 13th zodiac sign, the mysterious Ophiuchus. Naturally, despite this being a thing that’s been known forever, chaos ensued, but thankfully I’m here to steer the ship through these stormy seas. All the horoscope dates have adjusted to accommodate for the 13th sign, and for many this might seem very scary. Let me ease your anxiety by explaining what the new signs mean (in a totally general, vague, inaccurate way, like horoscopes are meant to be.)

Capricorn: Jan 20 - Feb 16

Capricorns used to have it easy – no one cares what their horoscope is when one’s birthday falls over the holiday period and there’s actual life to be lived. Now, Capricorn will forever be the star sign associated with returning to work and starting school again (as if being a goat-fish hybrid wasn’t bad enough). Having previously been a Capricorn, I can assure you that it’s an awful constellation that only promises misery and disappointment. Enjoy, losers.

Aquarius: Feb 16 - March 11

The good news: You have a song about you. The bad news: literally no one knows when the dawning of the age of Aquarius actually is. No one. No one knew for sure before the maths went wrong, and less people have a clue now. If I had to guess, I’d wager that we’re currently in the age of Cancer. From constantly being on our mobiles my dad says. This age is effin abysmal.

Pisces: March 11 - April 18

“Oh fishy, fishy, fishy fish – that went… wherever I… did go.” In Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, there’s a cut scene where the troupe bizarrely and unnervingly ask the audience to find a missing fish. Viewed in isolation, it plays like a self-indulgent, quasi-philosophical UCT art school graduation film. But lessons can be found in meaningless nonsense if it’s late enough, enough whiskey has been drunk, and the blog deadline is urgent enough. The Pythons showed incredible prescience in making this poignant and powerful statement about the trauma former Pisces are currently feeling. Tremendous. Sad.

Aries: April 18 - May 13

I’ve got no qualms with Aries: there’s nothing fancy or complicated about the sign. It looks over at capricorn, sees a goat, and decides “I want to be a sheep”; totally aspirational. It’s symbol, a fancy squiggly V shape, is basically a sassy downward-pointing arrow, making it a hilarious tramp stamp. Also, take note: it’s a fire sign. This has no actual significance, other than the fact that now horoscopes will describe you as being fiery and feisty, and you might want to consider taking up poi as a hobby.

Taurus: May 13 - June 21

No one has ever been proud to be a Taurean. It’s a totally underwhelming period in the calendar (highlights include Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and half of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month) and has a symbol more readily associated with energy drink adventure sports than a horoscope. If this is your new identity, just give it up: do a Hogwarts house quiz on Pottermore and embrace that as your new arbitrary identifier. You underwhelming Ravenclaw you.

Gemini: June 21 - July 20

Did you know that the two twins representing Gemini are called Castor and Pollux? In Greek mythology, these two twins had different fathers, the former’s being the king of Sparta, and the latter’s being Zeus (who pretended to be a swan to sleep with their mother, Leda). They both hatched from eggs, and when Castor (who was mortal) died, Pollux (who was simply divine), asked the gods to share his immortality with his brother. Anyway – yours is the sign of fraternity, unpredictability, duality, identity difficulties, and the fast-growing pro swan-love movement.

Cancer: July 20 - Aug 10

The word Cancer is literally latin for crab, but in my head it will always first and foremost be the thing that killed Susan Sarandon in Stepmom and left me crying at the Musgrave Centre cinema. This might be the only star sign where the people formerly associated with it are celebrating getting new identities. There really is nothing great to shout about when it comes to being a Cancer – trust me, I looked. The warmest, most fuzziest attribute I could find about Cancer on Wikipedia is that “Places that Cancer is associated with are the sea, rivers, brooks, wells, wash-houses, marsh grounds, and trenches.” Awful.

Leo: Aug 10 - Sept 16

“Sure he deserved an Oscar, but for The Revenant? Really?” Haha, a good joke, please feel free to tell it to your friends. Leo is based on the myth of the Nemean lion, a creature with a hide that couldn’t be pierced – this impenetrable attribute is one that you should embrace when showing off your new Leo symbol tattoo. Seriously, look at the symbol – it looks like a drunk medical student tried to draw some ovaries and got distracted halfway.

Virgo: Sept 16 - Oct 30

Fun fact: Virgo is the second-largest constellation in the solar system. I genuinely can’t think of anything interesting to say about this one, so let’s consult Wikipedia. “Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin maiden with heavy association with wheat.” So basically, if this is you now, you should basically get used to never having sex and being judged for your love of sandwiches. I’m king of the Virgos.

Libra: Oct 30 - Nov 23

When some people see Libra, they see a sense of balance, judgement and harmony. I look at it and see the only inanimate object in a horoscope of kickass animals and mythological demigods. Your friends are impenetrable lions and centaur versions of Katniss, you are effectively a Monopoly piece. And a shit one at that.

Scorpio: Nov 23 - Nov 29

What a zodiac sign: it’s easily the best one out there. You have a yellow ninja outfit and a skull for a face, and you can breathe fire, and you yell “Get over here” while stabbing people with your chain spear thing. All this and you get Al Pacino to play you in a brilliant film based on your life, where you get shot in the face while investigating police corruption in New York in the 1970s. What a zodiac sign: 10/10.

Ophiuchus: Nov 29 - Dec 17

So this is the new guy in town. First question: how do you even pronounce this thing? Why give it such a complicated name? I get that it features the Serpens constellation, and as such is represented by a man and a snake, like if the final scene from Chamber of Secrets starred a celestial Jake the Snake Roberts – but i’ll tell you, I’ve looked at the shape made by these stars, and they could have easily avoided the unpronounceable Ophiuchus and just called it Sideways-Guava. I deserve a seat at the naming committee.

Sagittarius: Dec 17 - Jan 20

We end with Sagittarius, the sexy combination of Seabiscuit, Mister Tumnus and Legolas. While some may look at it and see a rejected Magic: The Gathering card, I see a character with chronic spine issues, and the sweet respite of Christmas holidays. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, does it? Because if you genuinely believe that your own life and actions, of which you have full autonomy over, are dictated in any way by the suns and stars of distant galaxies and universes, then it really doesn’t matter what you’re represented as. Whether you’re a crab or a goat or a zucchini in a sock, it doesn’t make a difference, and you’re not going to fall in love or encounter any wealth anytime soon.