The Thirteenth Sign ⛎

1970 was a big year.

The first episode of soap opera All My Children was broadcast. Black Sabbath‘s eponymous debut album was released.  The Beatles split up.

Apollo 13 was launched.The first Glastonbury Festival was held.  Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both joined the 27 Club in death. I was born, which important fact I think is too often overlooked what with all the other action going on.

A NASA report explaining there has always been a 13th constellation sneakily hanging out behind the sun, and possibly therefore a 13th zodiac sign, was circulated.This was the thing that made a lot of people lose their sh*t, and clickbait headlines occasionally surface around this time of year to prolong the drama.

Discovering a new constellation is one thing, but many believed the existence of the constellation (and the news that the earth’s altered axis means the constellations are not in the same place they were 3,000 years ago) also altered their astrological signs.

People who had previously identified as Sagittarius or Scorpio suddenly had to come to terms with potentially falling under the sign of Ophiuchus, The Serpent-Bearer.


It breaks down as this:

  • Capricorn: Jan. 20 – Feb. 16
  • Aquarius: Feb. 16 – March 11
  • Pisces: March 11 – April 18
  • Aries: April 18 – May 13
  • Taurus: May 13 – June 21
  • Gemini: June 21 – July 20
  • Cancer: July 20 – Aug. 10
  • Leo: Aug. 10 – Sept. 16
  • Virgo: Sept. 16 – Oct. 30
  • Libra: Oct. 30 – Nov. 23
  • Scorpio: Nov. 23 – Nov. 29
  • Ophiuchus: Nov. 29 – Dec. 17
  • Sagittarius: Dec. 17 – Jan. 20

As exciting and terrifying as this all sounds – and it IS thrilling to find a mysterious stranger in our midst wielding a serpent – in fact everybody can just wind their necks back in, because a 12-sign zodiac is based on dividing the path the sun follows through the year into 12 equal parts rather than on the star constellation boundaries. This is the classic Sun Sign system, people!

That is, astrological signs do not correspond to the constellations which are their namesakes.

There is still debate about Ophiuchus’ status as an official sign of the zodiac,  although it is usually considered to be a pseudo-member.The constellation itself has in fact been known of since Early Times and has long been studied for astrological purposes.

If you were born within November 29th and December 17th, and you have always felt that your main character traits include being secretive, mystical and sexually magnetic while experiencing a lot of jealous, possessive emotions, while you foster talent for healing, empathy and interpreting dreams…. maybe you’re not a scorpion or an archer. Maybe you’re a snake-bearer.

Regardless, this seems an auspicious time of year to make and drink a Sssssnake cocktail. It’s a real winter warmer.



1 small slice peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons black treacle simple syrup

1 shot sake – I used Cherry Blossom sake

1/2 shot pepper vodka, ideally Absolut Peppar, although you can infuse your own with fresh chili peppers for more heat.

1/2 shot Cointreau

1/2 shot of orange juice

Muddle ginger and syrup and leave overnight. Add other ingredients and shake well. Fill 2 short glasses with crushed ice, and strain liquid into the glasses.

Alternatively, halve the amount of ice and top up the glasses with Cava for a Sparkling Sssssnake.

Garnish with a spiral snake of orange or lemon peel.


“Ophiuchus holds apart the serpent which with its mighty spirals and twisted body encircles his own, so that he may untie its knots and back that winds in loops. But, bending its supple neck, the serpent looks back and returns: and the other’s hands slide over the loosened coils. The struggle will last forever, since they wage it on level terms with equal powers”.

“He renders the forms of snakes innocuous to those born under him. They will receive snakes into the folds of their flowing robes, and will exchange kisses with these poisonous monsters and suffer no harm”.

Marcus Manilius: The Astronomica (approx. 10AD)


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