Astrolabe, almanac, horoscope

Few of our patron constellations are visible from where we live these days, GPS guides our sailors, and farmers’ almanacs are curios, not meteorology on when to expect the last hard frost in the spring. But we still know our horoscopes, and find ourselves identifying with the personae of our star signs. The thing is, we each have two. Maybe you brushed off the 13th zodiac sign when it resurfaced in popular culture a year or so ago, but the 13th lunar month of the occasional solar year has a long history in Oriental astrology, and like a 13th month the alternative zodiac redresses a square peg round hole dilemma our calendars handle with leap years. Indian astrologers use 13 signs to track the movement of the constellations with more accuracy than tropical astrology, which is slowly but inexorably confounded by the precession of the equinoxes. The trade-off is that in Indian astrology, the first sign, Aries, doesn’t coincide perfectly with the vernal equinox. So you could say each system has its strength and weaknesses, giving each of us two destinies to keep in mind.

My signs are surprisingly similar to each other, but Russell Crowe has an interesting pair. Born on April 7, he is both Aries and Pisces, part impetuous leader and part empathic artist. Hence the powers of persuasion that brought Cinderella Man to life on the silver screen, and the gift for interpreting a part that has earned him three Oscar nominations and one win, so far. He can be headstrong on the set, but to me he comes across as a remarkably gentle character despite his physical strength and gusto. Would the picture be complete without both signs? Check out your other sign if you haven’t already.

Trivia questions for fans: What constellations did Nash describe to Alicia in A Beautiful Mind?

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