What Element Is Ophiuchus? The 13th Zodiac Sign's Category Is Still Up To Interpretation

It's been a week for learning everything you know is a lie. First came the revelation that logically, there should be 13 signs in the zodiac, and mere days later, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt broke up. I can't do anything about your devastated faith in love, but let's distract ourselves from the pain with the question everyone is asking: What element is Ophiuchus, the 13th zodiac sign?

In case you missed it, the last week has seen renewed interest in Ophiuchus, a constellation which some say should be added to the zodiac. The idea isn't anything new — back in 2011, comments from an astronomer sparked a similar astrological controversy — but this time around, many are pointing to a NASA page (designed to explain the history of ancient astronomy to children) to support the addition of Ophiuchus. Back when the ancient Babylonians were developing the zodiac, they left out the constellation so that there would be 12 signs for 12 calendar months. "They divided the zodiac into 12 equal parts. ... But even according to the Babylonians' own ancient stories, there were 13 constellations in the zodiac," reads the NASA Space Place page. Ergo, some claim that Ophiuchus has a rightful place in the zodiac calendar — although not everyone agrees.

As if that wasn't shocking enough, the Earth's axis has also tilted slightly since Babylonian times, so technically, the entire astrological calendar is a little off.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, NASA hasn't appreciated being the source of astrological controversy. A spokesperson for the organization recently clarified to Gizmodo, "We didn’t change any Zodiac signs, we just did the math."

However, this isn't the first time Ophiuchus has caught the attention of astrologers, and it won't be the last. In fact, sidereal astrology sometimes includes the constellation in its calculations. So while Ophiuchus probably won't be part of the Tropical Zodiac anytime soon, it's not going anywhere — you might as well learn all about it for fun.

This brings me to the original question: What element is Ophiuchus? In general, zodiac signs fall into four elements: Earth, air, water, and fire. The categories are fairly intuitive: Temperamental signs like Aries are fire signs; empathetic signs like Cancer are water; animated signs like Gemini are air; stable signs like Taurus are earth. Unfortunately, nobody appears to have officially categorized Ophiuchus, but we do know its personality traits. Represented by a snake handler, Ophiuchus is a healer with an interest in education and enlightenment. They're mysterious, ambitious, and tend to make good impressions on authority figures, but that doesn't mean they're totally grounded. Tali Edut of the Astrotwins explained to Refinery 29 that Ophiuchus people are also "dream interpreters, passionate and jealous."

Because nobody has given it an official element, Ophiuchus' categorization is up to you — I'd say it sounds like a fire sign, but the decision is up to individual interpretation. So if you're a newly christened Ophiuchus, congrats! Your sign sounds pretty alluring, even though it has its weaknesses just like everyone else.

Now that's settled, the focus of your identity crisis can shift back to the Jolie-Pitt split, because love is dead.


Images: Giphy (2),