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Sidereal vs Tropical
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
Posts: 1379
Location: California, USA

Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Up until the 1990s there wasn’t a lot of choice for students who wanted to study astrology. There was the modern tropical system that mainly emphasized psychology, and then there was far away India where astrologers used the sidereal zodiac. In the mid 20th century Cyril Fagan discovered that the sidereal zodiac was used in the early days of horoscopic astrology. But this discovery didn’t draw much attention from the majority of astrologers, who continued using the tropical zodiac.

Then in the 1990s everything changed. Astrologer-scholars began translating early texts from the Hellenistic and Medieval periods (Robert Schmidt, Robert Hand, James Holden, Benjamin Dykes and others), and a new version of astrology appeared that basically turned modern tropical astrology upside down. The situation today is so complex that students can’t really make a decision on what to study without a grounding in the history of astrology. This is why Kepler College has spent its entire first year for students on astrological history.

There is a really excellent little book by Benjamin Dykes that clearly sets out the difference between modern tropical astrology and early western traditional astrology. Traditional Astrology for Today: An Introduction (Cazimi Press, 2011). This isn’t a “tropical or sidereal” book because that distinction hadn’t appeared in the early days of horoscopic astrology’s origin. But since India’s astrology is very close in many ways to ancient western astrology, this book gives a clear understanding of the difference in philosophy and approach between the tropical (modern) and sidereal (ancient and contemporary Indian).

The Fagan school is in an island by itself, as it rejects much of ancient western as well as modern Indian astrology. Some of Fagan's historical studies which were groundbreaking in the last century are now outdated and replaced by modern research discoveries. But older astrologers who use Fagan's ayanamsa haven't kept up on new historical discoveries and are still quoting Fagan's "Egyptian" notes.

Katy, I wouldn’t choose a mentor just yet. I’d do some reading first to get a picture of he choices astrology offers us today. It’s certainly too early to choose a sidereal ayanamsa or to be locked into a single astrologer’s point of view. No book, including Benjamin Dykes’ excellent book is perfect. It takes many years to mentally weed out what works for an astrologer in practice and what needs to be discarded. So my advice to students is "Question everything!"

I’ve been considering what sources might be the easiest and best in order to grasp sidereal fundamentals. Of course there is a huge selection for any astrologer who wants to study the tropical system.

As for Gleadow's quote, it simply means that there are not two zodiacs running along the ecliptic, but only one set of influences. We can measure those influences any way we like, but only the label for each section of the ecliptic changes. You will find by studying that the sidereal signs match the ruling planets better than the tropical. Start with Taurus on my web site.

Well, my two cents. I’m always happy to answer questions. Katy, thanks for listening (or reading!).
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Katy Strong



Joined: 03 Apr 2019
Posts: 14

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your response again, Therese. I’ve been aware of the translation work being done but glad you pointed out Ben Dykes book; I will look it up. I’ve been reading up quite a bit on the history over the last year but needed more recommendations for specific unbiased sources going back to late antiquity. By the way, my second teacher was a traditional/medieval expert Smile

As for Ayanamsas, I’m less worried about that as the differences are small, right? I would think that just comes down to experimenting and judging for oneself. Reading between the lines of your message, it looks like you’re hesitant to recommend KB due to not putting stock into the newer translations?

For me, my main concern right now, is do I believe in astrology at all anymore? I can’t abide two different zodiacs. I understand what you mean about the essential nature of the person being the same whatever the label. But the labels have to mean something and Taurus and Aries are very different. I spent the first 15 years of astrology believing I was a Taurus Sun and then as time passed, I could see, I have none of the determined fixed ness of the bull. I am a prolific starter of projects and finisher of almost zero.

I see how you have blended the meanings of Gemini and Taurus to coincide with the seasonal descriptions. I was born in Australia and so perhaps I, more than my northern hemisphere friends, am more aware of how describing the signs in terms of the seasons they occur only applies to a smaller fraction of the planet (once you include the equatorial areas).

I lean away from any kind of heavily spiritual/esoteric interpretations and prefer a more precise analysis, so perhaps a more practical, mathematical approach suits me best? (Virgo moon rising Leery )

It’s all rather a bit in flux at the moment, I’m afraid. I’m planning on having a consultation with KB in due course which I will assess as to its applicability.

My own chart has been rather quiet the last few years, but I have t.Uranus conjoining my n.Sun in 2 years time and if the earth doesn’t rock for me during that year, then I’m done 🤨
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petosiris



Joined: 08 Oct 2017
Posts: 141

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I was born in Australia and so perhaps I, more than my northern hemisphere friends, am more aware of how describing the signs in terms of the seasons they occur only applies to a smaller fraction of the planet (once you include the equatorial areas).


Australia does have seasons, and they are reversed. A reversal of the only zodiac that is aligned with them, is therefore logical.
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
Posts: 519
Location: Switzerland

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Katy,

I was "raised" as a tropical astrologer and I always found this system satisfactory both in theory and practice, so I never seriously looked into using a sidereal frame of reference.

That said, I do include fixed stars in more thorough delineations, especially if they form conjunctions with planets in Natal. I consistently find them to add insight to a reading. "As above, so below."

I understand that some of the traits attributed to the signs by the ancients were based on the influence of prominent stars in a sign/constellation, and Sidereal will still capture that aspect (no pun intended) today, whereas Tropical will not.

Supposedly you could even successfully attribute meanings to constellations in toto, though, because (like it or not) astrology is simply a system of symbolic analogies.

At any rate, the fixed star correspondences are something I would look at if I was in your place.
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Katy Strong



Joined: 03 Apr 2019
Posts: 14

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:

Australia does have seasons, and they are reversed. A reversal of the only zodiac that is aligned with them, is therefore logical.


I’ve heard this theory before and I’m afraid it does not jive for me. What about the plethora of countries around the equator? Which zodiac would they use? I think you’d have a hard time convincing all the astrologers in the Southern Hemisphere to flip their zodiac. And where is the cut-off latitudinally? It’s a nice thing to have the signs fit neatly into the seasons but it doesn’t really work all around the globe too well...
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petosiris



Joined: 08 Oct 2017
Posts: 141

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I’ve heard this theory before and I’m afraid it does not jive for me. What about the plethora of countries around the equator? Which zodiac would they use? I think you’d have a hard time convincing all the astrologers in the Southern Hemisphere to flip their zodiac. And where is the cut-off latitudinally? It’s a nice thing to have the signs fit neatly into the seasons but it doesn’t really work all around the globe too well...


You make the cut-off at the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The countries just below them use the zodiac of the respective hemisphere, they just employ their powers proportionally (say 90% near the tropics, and 25-50% near the middle). You don't use any zodiac at the Equator, just as someone should not use risings and settings at the poles (and again, proportionally therefrom until the arctics), you use the remaining powers of astrology accordingly.

In the seasons, we have one of the viable causal mechanisms for astrology. In mythology, we have only gibberish. I was using your argument for sidereal astrology until few months ago, though I figured out this way with Ptolemy and reason. It is too obvious that the origin of all ''dignities'' is from the Northern Hemisphere temperate seasons. The argument that we should use them conveniently with an arbitrary frame of reference does not jive for me either, be it sidereal or common tropical.
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
Posts: 1379
Location: California, USA

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katy wrote:
Quote:
By the way, my second teacher was a traditional/medieval expert.

Then you may already be familiar with the differences between traditional and modern tropical astrology. But the Dykes book is a really good text to have in one’s library. I really like the book, and I’ve been studying astrology since the 1960s.

Quote:
As for Ayanamsas, I’m less worried about that as the differences are small, right? I would think that just comes down to experimenting and judging for oneself. Reading between the lines of your message, it looks like you’re hesitant to recommend KB due to not putting stock into the newer translations?

The ayanamsa can be important depending on how you plan to use it. If you pay attention to the first and final degrees of signs, an important key is the ayanamsa. If you use divisional charts such as the navamsa (ninth harmonic chart), the ayanamsa is critical. For ingress charts (the entrance of the Sun or planets into a new sign, the ayanamsa is also an important key. Come to think of it, the ayanamsa is critical for just about everything. Planets at the end or beginning of signs will change signs between Fagan and Lahiri/Krishnamurti.

Ken would give you a clear picture of the technicalities of the western sidereal system. My reservations would be his dogmatic approach to the ayanamsa and a very personal approach to interpretation. (But maybe we all have that!)

Quote:
For me, my main concern right now, is do I believe in astrology at all anymore? I can’t abide two different zodiacs. I understand what you mean about the essential nature of the person being the same whatever the label. But the labels have to mean something and Taurus and Aries are very different.

The ruling planets, exaltations, debilitated planets and triplicity lords are different. For example, tropical Gemini is seen as rather volatile and changeable. These traits are connected to Mercury. But all through astrological history the Moon (exalted in Taurus) has been linked to change, flux and variation. Same traits, different explanation for those traits. (If Mercury is so changeable, why is tropical Virgo so "fixed," sometimes called brittle? Well, astrologers are wanting to find a new ruler for Tropical Virgo--that is, sidereal Leo.) Classical astrology often saw exalted planets as co-rulers of signs. Likewise signs were said to express traits of their triplicity lords.

Quote:
I spent the first 15 years of astrology believing I was a Taurus Sun and then as time passed, I could see, I have none of the determined fixedness of the bull. I am a prolific starter of projects and finisher of almost zero.

Unless your Sun is in the final degrees of Taurus, your Sun would be in sidereal Aries, a "movable" sign. But there may be other natal planets that overshadow the Sun.

Quote:
I see how you have blended the meanings of Gemini and Taurus to coincide with the seasonal descriptions.

I didn’t mean to do that. I meant to refer to the type of ENERGY for new growth, and the symbol of the bull for spring. (The bull isn't "fixed.") Thus the energy of tropical Gemini is “spring-like.” This type of “seasonal” interpretation doesn’t carry through to the other signs. It’s just tropical Gemini/sidereal Taurus and lively rather nervous type energy.

Quote:
I lean away from any kind of heavily spiritual/esoteric interpretations and prefer a more precise analysis, so perhaps a more practical, mathematical approach suits me best? (Virgo moon rising Leery )

I have a lot of sidereal Virgo in my chart. I’m with you there. But sometimes myths help explain sign traits. But there's no need to use myth if it doesn't speak to you.

Quote:
It’s all rather a bit in flux at the moment..

I don’t blame you. I’m still in flux astrologically after (is it 50??) years of study. But I’m firmly convinced of the sidereal zodiac. I could even agree with the early western siderealists that all along we’ve just been seeing the sidereal signs, but giving them the wrong names.

Quote:
I’m planning on having a consultation with KB in due course which I will assess as to its applicability.

My own chart has been rather quiet the last few years, but I have t.Uranus conjoining my n.Sun in 2 years time and if the earth doesn’t rock for me during that year, then I’m done

Would you like to share your chart?
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Katy Strong



Joined: 03 Apr 2019
Posts: 14

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
It is too obvious that the origin of all ''dignities'' is from the Northern Hemisphere temperate seasons. The argument that we should use them conveniently with an arbitrary frame of reference does not jive for me either, be it sidereal or common tropical.


Can you expound on this, please?
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Katy Strong



Joined: 03 Apr 2019
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Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Therese,

Oh I like the myths, just not when interpretations get too “woo-woo”. I like practical explanations. And the myths demonstrate the zodiacal stories well.

And I’m firmly in favour of sidereal over tropical.

Happy to share my Chart:

3 May 1974
Brisbane, Australia
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petosiris



Joined: 08 Oct 2017
Posts: 141

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katy Strong wrote:
petosiris wrote:
It is too obvious that the origin of all ''dignities'' is from the Northern Hemisphere temperate seasons. The argument that we should use them conveniently with an arbitrary frame of reference does not jive for me either, be it sidereal or common tropical.


Can you expound on this, please?


I've sent you a pm, but do you think that the exaltation of the Sun in Aries is unconnected to the spring equinox?

Suppose we argue that the constellation is the reason, as its Martial influence would make the Sun have greater heat.

But the reality is that the Sun's ingress into tropical ''Aries'' (and ''Libra'' in the south) causes the increase of daylight, and with it, heat, while the ingress of the Sun into sidereal Aries does nothing similar. I feel that to ignore the preceding in favour of the latter is unnatural. For an explanation of other dignities see - penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/1B*.html#17


Last edited by petosiris on Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 3421
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris,

the link you provide in the above post takes me to bill thayer's web site... once there, it doesn't seem easy to find the info you mention in your post.. there is no search feature either... can you link directly to the page where thayer discusses this? thanks..
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petosiris



Joined: 08 Oct 2017
Posts: 141

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

james_m wrote:
petosiris,

the link you provide in the above post takes me to bill thayer's web site... once there, it doesn't seem easy to find the info you mention in your post.. there is no search feature either... can you link directly to the page where thayer discusses this? thanks..


James, for some reason the link to the Tetrabiblos does not work here (since it leaves the last few letters out of the link), just copy-paste penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/1B*.html#17 in your browser.

(I am well aware that most other astrologers used a sidereal zodiac at that time, my point stands regardless of whether the equinox was thought within the sign rather than the beginning of it.)


Last edited by petosiris on Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Katy Strong



Joined: 03 Apr 2019
Posts: 14

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
....do you think that the exaltation of the Sun in Aries is unconnected to the spring equinox?

Suppose we argue that the constellation is the reason, as its Martial influence would make the Sun have greater heat.

But the reality is that the Sun's ingress into tropical ''Aries'' (and ''Libra'' in the south) causes the increase of daylight, and with it, heat, while the ingress of the Sun into sidereal Aries does nothing similar. I feel that to ignore the preceding in favour of the latter is unnatural. For an explanation of other dignities see -


I was never taught the dignities in relation to seasonal changes... and I’m ok with that. They make good sense to me the way I was taught.
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james_m



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Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks petosiris - it worked the 2nd time... fwiw, the way he outlines the exaltations is the way i have always thought of it... however, as katy notes - it is not how many others have internalized these ideas..
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AJ



Joined: 01 Nov 2018
Posts: 185

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
...do you think that the exaltation of the Sun in Aries is unconnected to the spring equinox?

Suppose we argue that the constellation is the reason, as its Martial influence would make the Sun have greater heat.

But the reality is that the Sun's ingress into tropical ''Aries'' (and ''Libra'' in the south) causes the increase of daylight, and with it, heat, while the ingress of the Sun into sidereal Aries does nothing similar. I feel that to ignore the preceding in favour of the latter is unnatural. For an explanation of other dignities see - penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/1B*.html#17


I'm not wanting to reopen any debate on tropical vs sidereal but aren't you really cherry picking here?

I know your point is that to Ptolemy relates exaltation to the seasons and this explains the preeminence of the tropical zodiac and the example of the Sun in Aries fits the argument, but what about hot and dry Mars in cold Capricorn?

I quote from the webpage above, "Mars, which by nature is fiery and becomes all the more so in Capricorn because in it he is farthest south, naturally received Capricorn as his exaltation,...

The logic here is really flawed. How could a hot and dry planet become more so in a cold sign if the hot Sun is only enhanced by a hot and fiery sign like Aries?
Perhaps Capricorns coldness makes Mars a lukewarm influence by limiting Mars' power? This sounds more like a debilitation than an exaltation to me.

How is Mars' exaltation related to the seasons then? It's a reverse logic of the Sun in Aries.

Exaltation fails as verification of the tropical or sidereal zodiac.

My point is that there are anomalies in every argument that makes it almost impossible to explain with any consistency the "correct" zodiac from ancient sources. It's all point and counterpoint.
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