“What’s with this discrepancy??” is a question I get from my clients a lot, and to answer it we first need to understand that there is more than one way to calculate astrology.
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).
Today, because of the procession of the vernal equinox (ayanāṃśa, in Sanskrit), Aries no longer lines up with the vernal equinox. In fact, at this point there is a ~24 degree difference (which is almost one whole sign!) between the two. This creates the discrepancy between the two calculations that we experience each month.
In the following video you can see the projected procession of the vernal equinox over the next few thousand years. Please note that in this video, the Aries symbol is meant to represent the vernal equinox on Earth. In summary, 0 degrees Aries will not line up with the vernal equinox again for another 24,000 years.
In contrast, 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).
This is why you can take an app like SkyView and confirm what Vedic Astrologers are saying about the positions of the various planets: you can actually see them in their positions within the constellations in the sky.
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!
The issue I have with western astrology is that – like most things ‘western’ – it is presented as ‘normal,’ while other contributions are diminished/marginalized. I didn’t even know there was another way to calculate astrology until the last few years of my work.
In this time, I have come to notice that Western astrology for me also has a distinct flavour of western imperialism:
- It only takes seriously the perspective of the sky from Earth (anthropocentric), rather than taking seriously the perspective of the sky from the sky.
- It is conservative, not shifting to accommodate the procession of the equinox over time.
- Readings focus on the Sun Sign, which heavily prioritizes action/doing, and only one aspect (sign) of a person. This is contrasted by the room in Vedic Astrology that is left for the receptivity associated with other planets, as well as the nuance/depth that can come from including information regarding the other eleven signs in someone’s chart.
You can watch this following video if you’d like a more in-depth comparison of Vedic and Western astrology.
The following video is another in-depth presentation (and wonderful resource!) discussing the importance of studying Vedic Astrology.
Here are some highlights from this presentation as they correspond to what I offer my clients:
- Vedic Astrology, known as Jyotiṣa – the science of light – is described in the Vedas (Ancient Scriptures of Knowledge).
- It is a path to self-knowledge that helps you to understand who you are; the light of knowledge dispels ignorance.
- The Inner Light – which you learn to recognize – gives you the opportunity to look deeper within your consciousness, to be in touch with your real Self.
- Jyotiṣa assists in the understanding of the fruits of your karma (detrimental and helpful), what you bring into this life, and how to deal with the predisposed issues of life. This is revealed through your Birth Chart.
- Every person is – in their nature – perfect and pure. However, this is obscured by the planets at birth as well as the planets that influence one’s daily experience. You can understand your karma through the language of planets.
- Karma is the action and reaction of both past and present lives. All unaddressed actions/reactions need to be reconciled. When we don’t practice reconciliation, we get caught up in the illusion of life and produce more karma. Only when all karma has been reconciled does the cycle of reincarnation cease.
- You have the opportunity to exercise choice through right action in order to influence your future. You can improve your life and sort out situations; you should not be stuck in your past karma.
- This is not about just destiny; it is about understanding your destiny so that you can do something about it.
- The key to a happy life is understanding how to deal with the karma that you are born with.
- The planets (graha-s) left on their own are grasping you. The knowledge of Jyotiṣa allows you to take responsibility and bring your karmic experience within the control of your practice.
- This life is very precious; we are doing things so that we can develop and improve ourselves.
So, long story short, I work with Vedic astrology in all From The Hearth offerings because it creates an opportunity to practice Yoga based on themes that are alive in all of us according to the living sky.
Which calculation do you want to work with?
That is up to you!
With love and in practice,