Tropical Zodiac vs Sidereal Zodiac?

Tropical zodiac vs Sidereal zodiac, which one should astrologers use?

tropical vs sidereal - a dual wheel comparing each zodiac

First and foremost, it’s a personal choice. As with most techniques, I am a proponent of each person using what works for them. Essentially, however, I think the choice between the Tropical zodiac and Sidereal zodiac is a philosophical choice, rather than a technical choice between which one is more mathematically accurate.

Many articles detail the technical differences between the tropical zodiac and the sidereal zodiacs, as well as why astrologers would use one or the other. That is not the purpose of this essay. Here, The Art of Vedic Astrology: Sidereal vs. Tropical, you can read a simple explanation on the technical differences between the two zodiacs. Read here (Martin Gansten Traditional Astrologer: Tropical and sidereal) about the historical divergence of the two zodiacs in western astrology. Here, I intend to touch on the philosophical differences between the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs.

The zodiac is primarily a language of symbols. It is the attribution of meaning to clusters of stars, constellations, in the sky. More specifically, the meaning is attributed, in both the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs, to 30 degree divisions of space beginning and ending at a specific point, not the actual constellations which are uneven in size.

From what is the symbolism of the zodiac derived? The answer to that question is complex.

In modern astrology the Tropical zodiac’s symbolism is a mixture of Northern Hemisphere seasonal correlations (Aries = Spring) and loose connections between the names of the planets and Greek and Roman mythology (ie. Mars, god of war). There are also some significations that come from the symbolism of the animals or objects attribute to be revealed in the constellations. So, Taurus the Bull is stubborn and willful.

The meaning attributed to and associated with signs of the Tropical zodiac seems to be more of reverse engineering. The physical experience of the seasons is attributed to the sign and planet. However in the sidereal zodiac, and especially traditionally, the symbolism of the signs comes primarily from the nature of the planets that rule each sign. In Hellenistic terms, this means the system of essential dignities and debilities.

This is not meant to be a conversation about traditional versus modern astrology; however, it is relevant since the sidereal zodiac in modern times is, with rare exception, almost exclusively used by Vedic astrologers who maintain a fairly unbroken history of astrological practice. A major philosophical difference then, is that the Tropical zodiac reflects the earliest homogenization of a western culture, an attempt at normalizing astrological time.

To be clear, one kind of zodiacal symbolism is readily experienced in the physical sense, that being Tropical. And the other, Sidereal, can be observed as a phenomenon of time in space.

The phenomenon of precession – which defines the fundamental difference between how the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs are calculated – reflects the subjective nature of time. Tropical is convenient and orderly in a way the normalizes, or standardizes time, forsaking the shifting nature of time within the context of space for something more subjective to our experience on Earth, something more ‘universal’.

The subjective nature of time is apparent with the Sidereal, but hidden with Tropical. In Sidereal the Aries point, beginning of the zodiac, moves as the stars in our solar system move against the backdrop of the Milky Way Galaxy, thus subtly shifting where the zodiac begins as each hour, day, and year passes. But in Tropical, the Aries point remains fixed, tethered to the intimate relationship between the Earth’s rotation around the sun.

The primary function of the zodiac is as a language of symbols. The zodiac is not measuring anything tangible. Words are symbols to represent concepts. They are used in place of actual objects, to communicate their meaning or purpose. But the words are not the objects themselves. And they could never  The same can be said of the signs of the zodiac. The zodiac is not the thing; the zodiac is the symbol that helps to communicate the thing.

Astrologer Samuel Reynolds of unlockastrology.com, and co-founder of the International Society of Black Astrologers, sees the divergence of the two zodiacs as a cultural issue. Here is an excerpt from a conversation we had on the subject.

To touch on your question, I want to be clear that I look at the divergence of the two Zodiacs a little differently. I think the divergence is more a cultural issue, and I think it’s the divergence in the cultures that has led to the longevity of the distinctions between the sidereal and tropical Zodiacs. I think the Zodiac is largely an invention or mnemonic for the seasons as that link suggests. That’s what has made more sense to me. However, it’s the a posteriori re-reading of the history of different cultures at the point of drifting between the two Zodiacs that make us see an intellectual distinction that, again, came after the fact.

India actually became more of an insular containment field of astrology for centuries after the Greeks left. They ended up merging much of their own indigenous astrology with Hellenistic. The focus on the constellations goes along with a long standing tradition of Indians to be concerned with the whole. The subjective nature of West is on the individual, as that is the prime achievement of the West. There’s no such ultimate intention in Indian history. The individual is part of a collective, a constellation of being.

In this sense, sidereal astrology is situational, starting with the premise that an individual is coalesced into something larger than herself. In the big picture, this is accurate. However, if I’m focused on a more self-contained, isolated sense of self as my identity, then the tropical speaks to me.

So, what zodiac do you use? Is there a philosophical reason that you choose one or the other? I’d love to hear your answers. Tweet me! @PeoplesOracle

Guide: How to Create Your Sidereal Birth Chart

This is a guide on how to create your sidereal birth chart.

Introduction

Most astrologers use the Tropical zodiac. Since I use the Sidereal zodiac (Lahiri ayanamsa), I’ve gotten a lot of requests from my friends on Twitter (@PeoplesOracle) about how to create their chart this way. If you have never created your birth chart, you can use this guide to see your chart in Tropical as well.

Find a gallery of images with screenshots of the steps at the end of this post.

This guide helps you to create your sidereal birth chart.

Steps to Create Your Sidereal Birth

Step #1 – Go to Astro.com – Visit Astro.com and clink the link in the upper right hand corner to either log in or to create your account.

Step #2 – If you are a new user to Astro.com, click “Create a free registered user profile” at the bottom of the welcome screen. If you already have an account, login and skip to Step #6.

Step # 3 – Enter your information in the registration form in order to create an account. You will have to click “OK” twice.

Step #4 – Once you have clicked “OK” twice, the next screen will allow you to edit your account settings and add your birth data. Go to the bottom of the User profile overview screen and click “Add new Astro data”.

Step #5 – Enter your birth data on the Birth Data Entry Page. Click “continue”.

Step #6 – Hover over, or click “Free Horoscopes” on the menu bar toward the top of the page. Click “Extended Chart Selection“.

Step #7 – Here are the settings you will use to create your sidereal birth chart:

1. Methods: Please select a chart type – Natal Chart Wheel
2. Options: House System – whole signs [This step is optional]
3. Ayanamsha: Hindu/Lahiri
4. Click “Click here to show the chart”

Here are screenshots of the steps listed above showing how to create your sidereal birth chart:

What Purpose Does Your Spirituality Serve?


This post is from a thread of tweets I posted to Twitter on Saturday. You can see the original tweet thread here.

If your spirituality serves only as a means to escape or transcend your financial circumstances, or bring you a mate, you’re doing it wrong

— The People’s Oracle (@PeoplesOracle) December 20, 2016

The People's OracleOur spirituality is how we attribute meaning to our experiences and purpose to our lives. Yet it’s often disabling. If your spirituality serves only as a means to escape or transcend your financial circumstances, or bring you a mate, you’re doing it wrong.

The convergence of American individualism, capitalism, and high literacy rates have destroyed the mysticism of spirituality. I don’t mean that folks should want more or to be stable. When folks get caught up in prosperity doctrines, Christian, New Age (The Secret) and otherwise, they tend to overlook the real factors that contribute to their station in life. For me, much of that we don’t have control over.

We don’t have control over the circumstances we’re born into, nor the time period and political climate into which we are born. Yet we do have control over how we respond. Believing “wealth comes to me easily and effortlessly” ain’t gonna stop Donald Trump and his cronies from further robbing this country blind. Yet, many of our personal mandates and entitlement to comfort and wealth surely makes us believe so.

There is real work to be done to dismantle oppressive systems that create a caste system in the USA. The wealth & stability you create as your personal legacy is temporal if you don’t dismantle the system that had you poor in the first place. That means it’s about more than you and your secret to manifestation.

The wealth & stability you create as your personal legacy is temporal if you don’t dismantle the system that had you poor in the first place

— The People’s Oracle (@PeoplesOracle) December 20, 2016

There is no secret to manifestation. It’s nepotism, systemic oppression, racism, and misogyny in the USA. If you want to manifest abundance in your life, develop inner resistance to those oppressive systems. Then begin the work of tearing that sucker down!

Your resistance to abundance is your insistence upon overlooking the system that keeps you in your birth caste. It’s kept black folks in less resourced schools, poorer neighborhoods, and consistently disenfranchised them of their right vote.

You don’t have a poverty mindset. You live in a country where the government uses poverty as a weapon against social advancement. The worst part is you believe that it’s your fault. That you’ve done something wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. There are folks who have not made the best of what was given to them. And that is a sin in it’s own right. But for most of us, we’ve naively believed in meritocracy when we really live in a nepotistic state.

You don’t have a poverty mindset. You live in a country where the government uses poverty as a weapon against social advancement.

— The People’s Oracle (@PeoplesOracle) December 20, 2016

The Winter Solstice 2016

We are now getting to be in the darkest time of the year. The Sun just barely rises, laying low near the southern part of the sky. Our bodies slow down, conserving energy. We can spend more time in dream land.

At the winter solstice, the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky until it begins is ascent north on the 3rd day. This is the story of Christ. The story of spirit indwelling the material world. Christ, the Sun of God, died and rose on the third day.

The Devil card in the #Tarot correlates to the Saturn ruled sign of #Capricorn. It highlights the dichotomy of the material and the immaterial worlds. We are spirit dwelling in flesh, navigating the limitations of embodiment. At this time, we are admonished to remember our truer nature.

So, during the next few days as the sun lays low, we need to do the same. I’m calling the time of the #WinterSolstice the time to literally stay low, and build. Think of this dark time like being in the womb. Ideas gestate and begin to take form as you visualize their full potential.

The sun moves fastest between now and the Spring Equinox. Once spring comes the real work of sowing and tilling, watering and growing begins.

What can you now lay to rest and release with the dying of the Winter Solstice Sun?

What, then, will you build between now and the Spring Equinox?

Meditate on these questions. Spend time writing down what you want to build on the ground you are now clearing in your life. Winter Solstice is foundation building time. Spring Equinox is when you begin to build above the ground. But start from the bottom now.