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The Readjustment of the Zodiac, In the Name of Love

In today's New York Times there is a great love story about a man who was told by a tarot reader that his true love would be a Sagittarian. But it was not until he fell in love iwth a Capricorn that he learned something about the rotating eath axis and the zodiac. Read on and have a Happy Valentine's Day.


The Stars Realign. Do We?


THE tarot cards had long predicted that Matthew Foster was destined to fall in love with a Sagittarius. Then in 2009 he met Ben Mattson, a man he liked very much but who was a Capricorn.

“At first I thought, Oh, well, Ben is not the one I thought I was waiting for,” said Mr. Foster, 36, a playwright and theater director in Minneapolis. “But yet, we were still very compatible.”

For 15 years, he said, every tarot reader had produced the Knight of Wands, “meaning that the person I was supposed to hook up with was a Sagittarius.”

“It didn’t make too much sense,” Mr. Foster added.

Yet the fault, it seems, may not have been in him or Mr. Mattson but in the stars, or rather the alignment of the stars long used by astrologers. In December, Parke Kunkle, an astronomy professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, noted that the moon’s gravitational orbit had, over time, shifted the direction of Earth’s axis — meaning the North Pole was now aimed at a different part of the night sky, changing the signs of the zodiac.

Though the professor had merely reiterated basic astronomy, it was news to many people. His remarks in The Star Tribune of Minneapolis spun the zodiac like a roulette wheel. In a twinkle — and in time for Valentine’s Day — Mr. Mattson, 31, became the Sagittarius that Mr. Foster had been promised.

“Now it makes more sense,” Mr. Foster said. “Our relationship feels a lot more fated.”

Mr. Mattson, a student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, noted that “a Sagittarius likes new beginnings.” In that spirit, he plans to move in with Mr. Foster in April. “All this changing-zodiac stuff is a nice thing to have happened to us,” he said.

Mr. Foster is happy about that. He is not happy, however, that he is now a Capricorn instead of an Aquarius. Not least because of the tattoo of the Water Bearer on his left forearm.

“Capricorns are supposed to have business acumen, but I can’t even balance my checkbook,” he said. “And as for my Aquarius tattoo, well, that’s still a bit of a problem because every day when I look at it, I feel like I’m living a lie.”

Professor Kunkle did not return telephone messages last week. (His office voice-mail greeting said it was “likely I will not return your call, but go enjoy the sky.”)

But in an interview with The Associated Press in January, he said that astronomers had known of the shift in Earth’s axis as long ago as 130 B.C., so the “new” zodiac is actually very, very old.

Old or not, many find it hard to part with a sign. Gloria Ponziano of Sarasota, Fla., who is dating a man named Doug Smith, said she would be spending Valentine’s Day with “Doug the Gemini, not Doug the Taurus,” despite what the rearranged zodiac suggests.

“Geminis love to communicate and love to please, and that’s my Doug, he loves to please me,” said Ms. Ponziano, 57, who owns a Web site, Morethanfitness.com, that focuses on mental and physical health. “A Taurus can be very inflexible, not always able to communicate well and unable to make up their mind, so Doug is certainly no Taurus.”

Asked what she and Mr. Smith, a 49-year-old Web site designer, were doing for Valentine’s Day, Ms. Ponziano hesitated for a moment. “If we’re doing something, he hasn’t told me about it yet,” she said.

Just like, say, a Taurus?

“Oh, no,” Ms. Ponziano said, laughing. “He’s a Gemini, I don’t care what the new zodiac says.”

Neither does Maria-Elena Grant, 54, an interior decorator who lives in West Milford Township, N.J., with her husband, Charlie Grant, 65, whom she knew and loved for years as a Libra. Suddenly, she found herself married to a Virgo.

“My husband is such a Libra because Libras weigh everything they say, every decision they make,” Mrs. Grant said. “Now, Charlie is a loving man, so he definitely has some Virgo in him, but he’s a Libra all the way.”

Mrs. Grant, who had always thought of herself as a Pisces, didn’t think much of her new status, either. “I’m not so happy now to find out that I’m an Aquarius,” she said. “After all of these years, it’s tough to give up your sign. Pisces are very mellow and analytical, like me, and anyone who is an Aquarius is more of a spitfire- type personality. If I wasn’t so analytical, I don’t think I would have accomplished my academic goals. I don’t think I would have earned a degree in chemistry and math, and an M.B.A.”

She paused. “Now there I go sounding like a Libra.”

Kathy Biehl, a lawyer and astrologer in Jefferson Township, N.J., said Earth’s wobbly orbit was a problem for astrologers as far back as 1,800 years ago. Some of them at the time devised a new zodiac based on the seasons and the relationship between the sun and Earth.

“This so-called new information about the Earth’s wobble has nothing to do with how Western astrology works,” Ms. Biehl said. “The Western zodiac does not use the constellations,” she insisted. “And as a result, no one’s astrological sign has changed.” But don’t tell that to Mr. Foster. “My Sagittarius was always in the cards,” he said.