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Modern Jyotish: The Element Error
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 6:06 pm    Post subject: Modern Jyotish: The Element Error Reply with quote

Modern Jyotish: The Element Error

I’m posting this under Sidereal Astrology rather than Indian Astrology because it’s become common to think of sign triplicities in any sidereal system as having elemental traits similar to those in tropical astrology. Study of India’s classical texts reveals that the cardinal directions (north, east, south and west) were assigned to sign triplicities but nowhere are elements noted as connected to sign triplicities.

Against all reason, the belief persists today that sidereal signs are duplicates of their tropical cousins. If tropical Aries is impatient and aggressive, then sidereal Aries must be the same. If tropical Taurus is stable and stubborn, then those traits are transferred to sidereal Taurus. This belief has come about largely due to contemporary Jyotish astrologers attaching tropical astrology’s four “elements” (so-called fire, earth, air and water) and their associated meanings to India’s sidereal signs.

Often sign descriptions in contemporary Jyotish books sound as if they were copied from tropical texts of the 20thcentury. To make matters worse, the four elemental triplicities have become attached to houses of the horoscope. Thus the so-called “water” houses are now called “Moksha” (liberation) houses due to their association with Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, water signs in the tropical zodiac.

Researching texts in the 20th century it appears that this element error very likely began with Indian’s most famous astrologer, B.V. Raman. In his earliest days Raman studied western astrology and compared it to what he knew of India’s astrology. As his family was poor, Raman was not yet able to study most of India’s classic texts. He had the good fortune, however, to receive as gifts some books on western astrology. Raman writes that he finally rejected western astrology in 1941. (Autobiography of a Vedic Astrologer, 1996, p. 69). Prior to that time however, he had already authored books which included the four (western) elements in descriptions of zodiac signs.

I have two Jyotish textbooks in my library by modern India authors who relied on classical texts: Gopesh Kumar Ojha’s Predictive Astrology of the Hindus (1972) and M. Ramakrishna Bhat’s Fundamentals of Astrology (1967). Following classical texts, these books make no mention of elements related to signs of the zodiac. Neither does western author and Sanskrit scholar Ph.D. Valerie J. Roebuck’s carefully researched text on India’s astrology, The Circle of Stars (1992). Valerie Roebuck notes that India assigned the cardinal points to the triplicities, but elements were traditionally assigned to the planets.

(The fact that the modern Brihat Parshara Hora Shastra includes elements in the description of zodiac signs betrays modern interpolations in the text, if not the entire text having less than ancient sources.)

This element error in Jyotish has resulted in incorrect traits being assigned to sidereal triplicities in modern Jyotish texts being authored since at least the early 1990s. This is largely the source of the irrational belief that sidereal signs have the same traits and quality of energy as tropical signs of the same name, though they lie in different areas of the ecliptic.

Even Kenneth Bowser in his Introduction of Western Sidereal Astrology (American Federation of Astrologers, 2012) mentions the elements in relation to zodiac signs. (Some Fagan school sidereal astrologers reject the association of elements with signs.) As I’ve written elsewhere, we get a more accurate picture of the sidereal zodiac if we forsake that are called tropical elemental properties and instead assign Aristotle’s four qualities (hot, cold wet and dry) as well as Hellenistic triplicity lords to signs of the zodiac.
http://users.snowcrest.net/sunrise/aatriplicities2013.htm
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Last edited by Therese Hamilton on Thu May 17, 2018 5:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Pierre Touchard



Joined: 24 Jul 2015
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Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Therese

I am reproducing notes from Chandrashekhar, the editor to a translation of Lomasha Samhita done by Veneet Kumar. Now I think he is mixing concepts here, but I still want to show this as it may have a bearing on confusing situation with elements being ascribed to signs. In particular, this may be seen in relation to yogas using water (and other elements) signs. Note that Lomasha in the text follows the usual western scheme.

Chandrashekhars Comments:
It should be noted that allotment of elements to rashi differs in different
astrological texts, hence the difference between the elements allotted to Rashis in Lomasha Samhita and BPHS. Some are of the opinion that beginning from Aries they are of the order Fire, Earth, Air and Water, in a cyclical fashion till it ends on Pisces being of water element (Parashara). Others opine that it is Fire, Air, Earth and Water that is the correct order. I am personally of the opinion that the elements are as follows: Aries-Fire, Taurus-Earth, Gemini-Earth (Rudrabhatta's opinion) Cancer-Water, Leo-Fire, Virgo-Earth, Libra-Earth, Scorpio-Earth and fire, Sagittarius-Fire, Capricorn-first half-Earth and second half-Water, Aquarius-Air and Pisces-Water.
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petosiris



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Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Water-Pourer and the Goat-Horned One are watery signs according to Hellenistic astrologers, while the Scorpion is wholly terrestrial creature.

In practice, for example, both Ptolemy and Valens mention naval matters with Saturn, while Palchus uses Aquarius as a very watery sign in his delineation of the missing ship katarche. They mostly associated the triplicities with winds. I think some of those authors (Dorotheus, Manilius, Thrasyllus, Palchus and the aforementioned) were probably aware of this scheme, but preferred the literal shapes of the signs. When Dorotheus says watery sign, he means Cancer, Capricorn, Aquarius or Pisces compared to terrestrial, quadrupedal or human signs, which are also derived from the images.

Ptolemy does not mention elements either, even though he uses Aristotelean cosmology. The question is how useful those qualities are abstractly (concerning Hellenistic astrology), if they are simply contradictory with the images themselves. They are also contradictory to the seasonal scheme in the tropical zodiac I may note (July is not a cold month).
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pier wrote:
Quote:
I am reproducing notes from Chandrashekhar, the editor to a translation of Lomasha Samhita done by Veneet Kumar.

I had not heard anything about a "Lomasha Samhita" before it appeared on the Saptarishis Astrology web site. It hasn't been included in India's classic texts through the centuries. What do we know of its history? (I am always skeptical of new translations of texts, not heard of before.)
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Pierre Touchard



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Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Therese Hamilton"]Pier wrote:
Quote:
I am reproducing notes from Chandrashekhar, the editor to a translation of Lomasha Samhita
What do we know of its history? (I am always skeptical of new translations of texts, not heard of before.)


Things are not static. Some text pop up. In the middle Age some texts were gone. So ? It happened to Parasara too.

He is one of the 18 Sages known to have taught astrology in ancient Lore. In the west we have not easy access to the extended links between astrology, Puranas, Ayurveda, Vedas etc.

Saptarishi for awhile received many manuscripts from people willing to grant access to them for translation or research.

Lomasha Samhita reads a bit like BPHS, with variants. It is told in the story telling style with philosophical overtones.
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Pierre Touchard



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Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
The Water-Pourer and the Goat-Horned One are watery signs according to Hellenistic astrologers, while the Scorpion is wholly terrestrial creature.
When Dorotheus says watery sign, he means Cancer, Capricorn, Aquarius or Pisces compared to terrestrial, quadrupedal or human signs, which are also derived from the images.
Ptolemy does not mention elements either, even though he uses Aristotelean cosmology. The question is how useful those qualities are abstractly (concerning Hellenistic astrology), if they are simply contradictory with the images themselves. They are also contradictory to the seasonal scheme in the tropical zodiac I may note (July is not a cold month).


Thanks Petosiris, I also think this is a fruitful diresction to see it this way. This symbolism of quadrupeds, human, terrestrial etc is not discussed. There might be reasons for it.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petosiris wrote:
Quote:
They [Hellenistic astrologers] mostly associated the triplicities with winds. I think some of those authors (Dorotheus, Manilius, Thrasyllus, Palchus and the aforementioned) were probably aware of this scheme, but preferred the literal shapes of the signs.

So who do we hold accountable (and when) for tropical triplicities becaming associated with the labels fire, earth air and water? These labels aren't even the correct opposites for Aristotle's elements which place fire opposite water and air opposite earth. We know there has been an exchange of ideas between the west and India through the centuries, but India never adopted those labels for their zodiac signs.
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Pierre Touchard



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Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes the triplicities come from the winds, which are the directions, north south east west, where planets are associated with the signs having similar directions. SO winds link planets with signs this way. Its in Ptolemy.
The steps add details, were 15 deg steps, being the half directions.
So north and then north west is the next step. Triplicities are built on this.

But it does seem that Therese is right that the 4 elements got jumbled from Aristotle and the qualities, and slapped onto the triplicities. Perhaps Therese you can restate your view of the qualities.

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Petosiris wrote:
Quote:
They [Hellenistic astrologers] mostly associated the triplicities with winds. I think some of those authors (Dorotheus, Manilius, Thrasyllus, Palchus and the aforementioned) were probably aware of this scheme, but preferred the literal shapes of the signs.

So who do we hold accountable (and when) for tropical triplicities becaming associated with the labels fire, earth air and water? These labels aren't even the correct opposites for Aristotle's elements which place fire opposite water and air opposite earth. We know there has been an exchange of ideas between the west and India through the centuries, but India never adopted those labels for their zodiac signs.
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petosiris



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Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Petosiris wrote:
Quote:
They [Hellenistic astrologers] mostly associated the triplicities with winds. I think some of those authors (Dorotheus, Manilius, Thrasyllus, Palchus and the aforementioned) were probably aware of this scheme, but preferred the literal shapes of the signs.

So who do we hold accountable (and when) for tropical triplicities becaming associated with the labels fire, earth air and water? These labels aren't even the correct opposites for Aristotle's elements which place fire opposite water and air opposite earth. We know there has been an exchange of ideas between the west and India through the centuries, but India never adopted those labels for their zodiac signs.


Some astrologers like Chris Brennan, Robert Hand and others suggest Stoic, not Aristotelean conceptualization where dry earth is opposite moist water and cold air is opposite hot fire. Vettius Valens is the first source that mentions the elements with the triplicities, although he speaks of it as if others have been doing that for some time.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petosiris wrote:
Quote:
Some astrologers like Chris Brennan, Robert Hand and others suggest Stoic, not Aristotelean conceptualization where dry earth is opposite moist water and cold air is opposite hot fire. Vettius Valens is the first source that mentions the elements with the triplicities, although he speaks of it as if others have been doing that for some time.

My question was when fire, earth, air and water became associated with tropical signs following Hellenisitic times. We know Valens was a Stoic, but Aristotlean thought quickly took over. It does happen that Aristotle's hot, cold, wet (moist) and dry fit the sidereal zodiac nicely,

http://users.snowcrest.net/sunrise/aatriplicities2013.htm

but my question involves the introduction of the modern assignment of "elements" to the tropical zodiac. Valerie Roebuck states that the classification of fire, earth, air and water in western astrology is "not very ancient" and "developed probably in the late Medieval or Renaissance period as part of the medical theory of the four humours," but I was under the impression that the tropical assignment was earlier than that?

Valerie J. Roebuck, The Circle of Stars, Vega, 2002, p. 27.
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petosiris



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Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
It does happen that Aristotle's hot, cold, wet (moist) and dry fit the sidereal zodiac nicely


If you mean the triplicity elements whether Stoic or Aristotelean, I disagree with regards to literal properties, and I think the Hellenistic astrologers disagreed with it because of sidereal logic - of the images clearly Virgo is winged, Scorpio is terrestrial, Capricorn and Aquarius moist.

And if someone says the elements are meant only in some highly abstract sense, I ask what is the need for those confusing terms if one can just say that the watery trigon is prolific (because fishes, crabs and scorpions are prolific creatures) that the fiery trigon is royal (because the ram, the lion and and the are independent and active creatures/beings), that the airy trigon is clever (because the twins, the scales and the water pourer are human with Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter as triplicity rulers) and that the earthy trigon is enduring (because the bull, the maiden and the goat-horned one are enduring and stable creatures).

The royal and prolific properties can be traced to Hellenistic astrology, the rest are clear from their imagery. Thus I propose the following appellations:
Royal Trigon
Enduring Trigon
Clever Trigon
Prolific Trigon

If one disagrees with regards to some property, that is fine, he can always change with another, but if he does not mean water with the scorpion, he does not need to call it watery.

Quote:
Thanks Petosiris, I also think this is a fruitful diresction to see it this way. This symbolism of quadrupeds, human, terrestrial etc is not discussed. There might be reasons for it.


I've encountered it a few times in Indian literature. It was common to both traditions. Sidereal imagery is rarely discussed with Hellenistic astrology, but I say it comprises the large majority of the properties of the signs, including quadruplicities.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat May 19, 2018 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petosirsis, did you take the time to read the article on the link I posted?

And to stay on topic we're trying to discover the origin date of the assignment of the modern fire, earth, air and water to signs in the tropical zodiac. But if you're specializing primarily in Hellenistic astrology, then you wouldn't have that information.
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petosiris



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Posted: Sat May 19, 2018 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Petosirsis, did you take the time to read the article on the link I posted?

And to stay on topic we're trying to discover the origin date of the assignment of the modern fire, earth, air and water to signs in the tropical zodiac. But if you're specializing primarily in Hellenistic astrology, then you wouldn't have that information.


Your OP contains the following information:

Quote:
Even Kenneth Bowser in his Introduction of Western Sidereal Astrology (American Federation of Astrologers, 2012) mentions the elements in relation to zodiac signs. (Some Fagan school sidereal astrologers reject the association of elements with signs.) As I’ve written elsewhere, we get a more accurate picture of the sidereal zodiac if we forsake that are called tropical elemental properties and instead assign Aristotle’s four qualities (hot, cold wet and dry) as well as Hellenistic triplicity lords to signs of the zodiac.
http://users.snowcrest.net/sunrise/aatriplicities2013.htm


I was discussing that part. I am confused whether you are trying to trace the inclusion of the qualities in 20th century Indian astrology or medieval western astrology. I was offering my opinion on these qualities that differ from your opinion that they are working with the sidereal zodiac.

The inclusion of the element properties depends on the elements, just changing their names means you are still led by elemental logic. But you are of the opinion that the tropical zodiac has empirical validity and the sidereal zodiac changes with it, but not many would agree with that statement. The two might be related.

Scorpio is not a wet sign. Moisture is indicative of the element water. Scorpio is a terrestrial creature as Aries and ruled by burning and drying Mars. Scorpions can't swim and in the environment the ancient astrologers were living, they are mostly encountered in extreme dry desert conditions.
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Pierre Touchard



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Posted: Sat May 19, 2018 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese, ask Ben Dykes, he may have that information. This presumably comes after Ptolemy, who doesnt use the 4 elements in his sign classification, to the best of my knowledge.
I lost my Hephaistio so I cant look there. Petosiris might know if he used the 4 elements, he was from about 380 AD.

[quote="And to stay on topic we're trying to discover the origin date of the assignment of the modern fire, earth, air and water to signs in the tropical zodiac. [/quote]
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petosiris



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Posted: Sat May 19, 2018 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pier wrote:
Therese, ask Ben Dykes, he may have that information. This presumably comes after Ptolemy, who doesnt use the 4 elements in his sign classification, to the best of my knowledge.
I lost my Hephaistio so I cant look there. Petosiris might know if he used the 4 elements, he was from about 380 AD.


Yes, Hephaistio is one of the few Hellenistic authors who does ascribe the four elements to the signs. He in fact uses them very literally, he says that if you make a foundation of a city near an eclipse in the trigon of Cancer (watery), the city will be harmed by water, in fiery, from fire.

Valens, Hephaistio, Firmicus Maternus and Rhetorius are the ones I know who attribute the elements to the signs. Authors who mention triplicities, but do not assign the four classical elements or their properties to them include the summary of Thrasyllus, Manilius, Dorotheus, Manetho, Ptolemy, Paulus, Porphyry and Olympiodorus. They usually assign winds and directions to them instead. The practice of grouping three signs into winds and specific cardinal direction is from the Babylonians.
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