Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.
My love for Helen was not meant to be. The stars were not aligned -- meaning the zodiac signs were not compatible. At least that was what she told me when she broke up with me nearly two decades ago.
I was floored. A relationship that appeared to be a perfect match was actually a farce, thanks to divine intervention of the astrological kind. I never saw this coming nor had I ever considered that such trivial matters were actually taken seriously by others.
I was a novice lover, then. But the sting of losing out to “the formation or alignment of the stars” is something that is still perplexing as it was when she gave me the bad news. It’s also left me with a nagging question: are the zodiac signs really that powerful to decide the fate of couples?
Finding the perfect love is a quest many star-crossed lovers have sought over the years. Some believe it's found in biology, while others claim it’s a matter of psychology. And then, there is another popular belief that it "is written in the stars."
The Zodiac vs. Constellation
Although the zodiac signs have been the topic of myths, fortune-telling, and pseudo-science, these celestial patterns have been used at times in astronomy.
Astronomers tend to use a series of patterns known as constellations to help them map the universe. In all there's 88 constellations and several unofficial ones, including the Greco-Roman Zodiac signs, are commonly used in horoscopes.
The International Astronomical Union came up with the 88 constellations in 1922. However, much of it was added to an existing list that came from the Roman philosopher Ptolemy during the 2nd century A.D. and from the Babylonians of the 4th century B.C.
Many of these constellations share the names and location in the sky as the zodiac signs. Understandably, that is as far as the zodiac signs will be used in Astronomy. The magical or divine qualities will be a part of astrology.
Matching intimate partners is merely one thing that zodiac signs are accredited for doing. They have been used for many things including the revelation of one’s fortune, characteristics, or fate.
In respect, they are naturally occurring stars and planets with varying luminosity that appear to follow a particular pattern. These patterns tend to change each month. In most cases, the zodiac will consist of 12 patterns per year (In ancient Chinese traditions it’s a pattern or symbol every seven years) It doesn’t matter that some of these stars and planet are probably light years away from one another. The eyes of the earth-bound observer immediately picks up on the bright or colored ones in the night sky and connect them in ways to create a depiction of a person, animal, monster, or god/ deity.
Being monthly patterns in the sky is only part of what the zodiac signs are. They also serve to signify one’s birth month. And, in many respects, represents the individual’s personality as well as his or her compatibility with others.
Although everyone has a zodiac sign, many don’t know what they reveal about themselves. Interestingly, there are “experts” out there who seem to know how to interpret these signs.
Those who are considered experts in reading the signs have written their interpretations in what are known as horoscopes. According to eHow.com, horoscopes are usually charts, diagrams or graphs that represent the position of celestial bodies during the date of one’s birth. This, of course, contains the zodiac signs and their interpretation of them.
While horoscopes sound like ancient mysticism (which it is), they are still extremely popular. Horoscopes can be found in books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, social media, and other Internet sites (this includes Yahoo News). They’ve also been incorporated in dating sites such as Match.Com.
Its popularity is simple: they can be personal and they tend to be very positive. Most of all, many people use them as guides for making daily decisions. This includes compatibility with one another.
As mentioned, dating sites such as Match.Com has an advice article dedicated to zodiac signs. However, it’s not part of its screening system. Instead, it appears to be written in a rather entertaining, yet informative way (or, possibly, it is to dispense good advice about relationship through the guise of a horoscope article).
Still, many people searching for their significant other have used it. And it has been a popular tool for centuries. The theory behind this use of the zodiac sign is that some people born under a certain sign will get along – or not get along – with somebody with a different sign.
Here’s an example:
• I’m a Pisces, and according to the horoscopes I’ve read online, I am compatible
with Virgos, Cancers, or Scorpios.
Compatibility in most cases means that I will have a successful romantic relationship with any woman born under these signs. Helen was a Capricorn, if I recall. I believe one site claimed that Pisces and Capricorns were not compatible. Then again, many sites do not list “incompatible signs.”
If the last sentence I wrote seems vague, then you’ve may have caught on to something about horoscopes. Many of them have different interpretations. And to add to the problem (outside of the compatibility part) they seem to tell you what you want to read about yourself with directly addressing you in specific terms.
One site states that I am “warm and compassionate” while another states that I am “sensitive to other people’s needs.”
“Wow,” I thought to myself, when I read this about Pisces, “they must really know me.”
Other sites made other positive attributes such as “emotionally strong”, a “born leader” or “an inspiration.” With such attributes, I should have no problem attracting people that I’m supposed to be compatible with.
But, the compatibility description gets murky. Again, they use positive words to describe the most likely person you’d end up with.
Sure, I like to be with someone who is witty and playful and has a lot of empathy. Does that mean that person will automatically fall in love with me? Many of these sites use the phrase “tend to” as a way to not give a definite answer to that lingering question.
Also, as mentioned, the compatibility description was different in most sites. One site indicated that I should be with someone matching Helen's sign. Another didn’t. The best I can surmise from this is that Helen read the one that claimed that Pisces and Capricorns shouldn’t date.
In other words, our relationship was doomed by another mythological entity called fate.
Compatibility is complex and unpredictable. It can occur randomly between two people who just met each other, or it may happen between friends. Most often, there's something present between the two that mends them together. And that something can be almost anything, with or without compatible zodiac signs.
If anything, horoscopes and all that goes with them offer some form of comfort for individuals who wonder if they chose the right person to fall in love with. It also gives the impression that a couples’ compatibility was destiny as predicted by the “reading of the stars.”
It is preposterous, but some people take it seriously, as my former girlfriend did so many years ago.
And that something can be almost anything, with or without compatible zodiac signs
However, before I dismiss these silly zodiac signs, there is yet another story of love that needs to be discussed. There is one other person who has placed some credence on them.
My wife asked me about the material I printed off the computer when doing research for this article.
"Well, don't worry," she said to me. “I already checked ours. We’re compatible.”
I will just leave it at that.
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October 24- November 22
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Sea Goat (or Goar-horned)
December 22-January 20
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February 20-March 20
© 2014 Dean Traylor