Why is Vedic astrology one sign behind western astrology? Part 2

The Sun in the Fish constellation.
Image Description: A picture of the night sky with the fish constellation highlighted. At the edge of the constellation are the Sun and Mercury.

In this screenshot taken with the SkyView Lite App on March 30 at 9:45pm UTC -7, the Sun is visibly in the fish constellation.

Meanwhile, according to the tropical theory of the zodiac, Pisces season ended on March 19.

“What’s with this discrepancy??” is a question I get from my clients a lot, and is one that I answered back in November, which you can read here.

Since then, I have updated my answer. This is that story.

 

Back in November I was prepping the content for my reclaim. program which – at that point – I planned to launch on the new year (January 2, the first New Moon after the southern solstice). 

reclaim. is a program where we learn how to practice yoga (moral philosophy), and then apply that practice with inspiration from relatively superficial astronomical and astrological themes, namely, (1) the positions of the planets at any given time, and (2) symbology associated with the planets, zodiac signs and houses.

(I say ‘superficial,’ but this is PLENTY of symbolism to work with!)

You can read more about the program and sign up here! 👇

I have only studied astrology through personal experience (not in any kind of certification setting), and I noticed as I started prepping the curriculum that I didn’t understand any of the symbology I was working with. I could memorize it, sure, but I didn’t understand why Saturn was associated with death, or why the solstices/equinoxes are important, or why the elements are associated with particular signs.

Integrity is very important to me, so when I realized this gap in understanding I became determined to remedy it. That being said, I thought it would be a quick few days of research because, after all, I wasn’t planning on doing any sort of calculations, forecasting, or chart readings; all I wanted to do was to be able to look up at the sky and draw some high-level inspiration for yoga practice.

So the first question that I typed into Google was, “Why is Aries fiery?”

As it turns out.. it was not a quick few days after all.

 

To sum it up, after months of research, to-date I have been unable to find an explanation outside of belief for the elemental symbology of the sidereal theory of the zodiac. 

Side Note: if you have this information and are willing to share it, I would very much appreciate being pointed in it’s direction! I am researching without a foundation, so I very well could be looking in the wrong places.

In the research process, I did however come across Vedic astrologers who were using the tropical zodiac, who could offer an explanation for it’s symbology, not only the elemental attributions, but also the planetary rulerships and modal inspirations.

 

You can watch this video for more information about symbology associated with the tropical theory of the zodiac.

 

This account of the symbology falls apart when we move from the tropical theory of the zodiac to the sidereal theory of the zodiac, because the sidereal theory doesn’t take into account the precession of the equinox.

Ironically, this was my argument for why I wasn’t using the tropical theory back in November. In Part 1 of this blog post series, I repeated other people’s words as follows, 

Western (horoscopic) astrology does not follow the living sky. 2000 years ago, western astrologers made the decision to tie the beginning of their tropical zodiac (0 degrees Aries) to the vernal equinox. This made sense at the time because the two actually did line up. However, in making this decision, they divorced astrology from astronomy, and created an Earth-centered zodiac (known as the Sayana Cakra in Vedic Astrology).

 

When I read this statement now (words that I heard from others, believed, then shared with you), I realize the flaws. 

(1) By ‘living sky,’ it seems that I needed the word ‘Aries’ to be associated with the ram constellation, or else the sky is dead or fake or false. (?) At this point I don’t really understand what I was trying to say; I think it just sounded cool to me at the time.

(2) When the theory of tying 0 degrees Aries to the northern-course equinox was proposed, astrology was not ‘divorced from astronomy.’ (This was another phrase that sounded cool to me.) Astronomy is the study of celestial objects. Rather, this proposal created a new theory about where the zodiac should start. Up to that time, the starting point had always been tied to the stars. This new theory instead proposed the starting point be tied to the northern-course equinox.

(3) I’m confused by my critique of an earth-centered zodiac when I was practicing an approach to astrology that took solstices and equinoxes seriously. If I was truly using the sidereal zodiac, then those earth-based events wouldn’t really matter, right? I don’t see why they would, but I could be missing something. Beyond that and perhaps even more basic though, is that it seems I cannot practice astrology without being earth-centered, because I am ON EARTH. Therefore, the sun is only in front of the fish constellation today from where I am ON EARTH.

 

I also said,

…Vedic Astrology remains true to the living sky/astronomy by using a fixed star as its point of reference for its Nirayana Cakra (also known as the sidereal zodiac).

To suggest that tying 0 degrees Aries to a star is an indication of remaining true to astronomy is a stretch. After all, tying 0 degrees Aries to an intersection between earth’s equatorial plane and the ecliptic seems just as ‘true’ to astronomy, though in a different expression.

 

The following video is long, but I received so much value out of it and would recommend it to anyone who is curious about some intersections of astronomy and astrology!

 

Going back to the blog post, I then move on to critique the western tradition of thought. Granted: I am so over the western tradition of thought. In my experience, it is harmful and absurd and needs to be severely deprioritized.

That being said, what I did in this case was I tied the tropical zodiac to western astrology – which is unreasonable – and then I tied western astrology to the western tradition of thought. It was a leap, and it didn’t age well. This quote in particular stands out to me:

[Western astrology] is conservative, not shifting to accommodate the procession of the equinox over time.

As it turns out, it is actually the sidereal theory that is conservative and unable to accommodate the procession of the equinox over time, not the tropical one.

 

Long story short, my whole argument only makes sense if (1) I think astronomy is only about stars, and (2) I think the word ‘Aries’ needs to apply to the constellation of the ram. Because then, when I look up at the sky and I see the moon by the ram called Aries.. yes! The moon is in Aries. 

But what’s in a name?

I am eager to work with the SYMBOLISM.

 

So, I will conclude this blog post like I did in Part 1:

It is important to note that neither method of calculation is ‘right’ or ‘wrong;’ they are both contributions to astrology as a science and as long as we are clear about what calculations we are using and why we are using them, then all is well!

Which calculation do you want to work with? That is up to you!

 

Because I need to be able to understand what I share with people (and let’s face it, I am a layperson who is only fluent in English and can’t sift through source texts with any kind of immediacy), at this point I have transitioned towards using the tropical theory of the zodiac for inspiration in all of the sessions that I offer.

In my continued research, if new reasons come to light that support the sidereal theory of the zodiac, I very well may switch back! This is the beauty of life: we get to live, learn and change our minds.

 

All of this being said, it would be great to have you in one of the upcoming sessions! The program that has inspired all of this research and transition – reclaim. – opened on the equinox, and sessions will begin on the first Moonday (😉) after the New Moon. There are nine more intake dates for this program this year as there are nine more New Moons, so if you have missed Aries season, please consider joining us in one of our upcoming cycles!

 

And if you have found this post interesting, please consider sharing it with your network by clicking one of the icons below!

 

In love and practice, happy dark moon,

Tara

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Why is Vedic astrology one sign behind western astrology? Part 2 – the one person revolution