Myths about Astrology: #3 – “The Constellations aren’t Really There”
As far as myths about astrology go, this one requires a little more knowledge to get into adequately.
You see, there are two major ‘zodiacs’ in use: the Sidereal zodiac and the Tropical zodiac.
“What’s the difference?” you ask. I’m glad you asked.
The Sidereal Zodiac and its implications
The Sidereal zodiac is based on the actual position of the stars. This is the position of the constellations from which the signs of the zodiac were originally derived, thousands of years ago. For this zodiac, the constellations ARE the exact points of reference. Always were, always will be.
Vedic astrology, widely used in India, uses this zodiac. The only problem with the Sidereal zodiac is that the stars are not in the same position at the same time every year. There is a very gradual shift. Over about 26,000 years, the constellations move through 360 degrees. At the moment they are about 21 degrees out of sync with the other zodiac. This means (if you want to switch to this system) that if you thought you were a Sagittarian you are highly likely to be a Scorpio instead. In effect, whatever sign you are, you are most likely the one before. (Unless you were born in the last 8 days of that sign.) How does that sit with you?
The Tropical Zodiac and its implications
The Tropical zodiac is based on the position of the Sun relative to an absolute reference point of zero degrees Aries on the spring equinox on March 21. (That’s the northern hemisphere’s spring equinox.) This means the Tropical zodiac is aligned with the annual cycle of the seasons, and hence the major influence of life on earth. Nothing affects our life more, on an annual basis, than the cycle of the seasons.
In effect, we are using the earth’s seasonal alignments – the shortest and longest days of the year, the same markers used by our ancestors to align such structures as Stonehenge to the cosmos – as our frame of reference.
The Zodiac is Your choice
So, if you want to believe in an astrology that uses the positions of the stars to define the annual cycle, then you have one choice: Vedic or Indian astrology.
That’s OK, but then you should be on a different website. Not this one.
The Tropical zodiac is aligned with the cycle of change evident in the cycle of the seasons. From the growth of new life in spring, to the heat of summer, to the gathering in of the harvest in the autumn/fall, to the time of survival through the cold winter. If you want to work with this alignment, you are in the right place.
Since astrology is used to study human life and activity, it seems appropriate to reference this alignment of the zodiac with the annual cycle.
A Philosophical Perspective
The astrology we practice uses a person-centred approach to the horoscope. This comes from an earth-centred experience of life, as part of the annual life cycles on the earth. Its frame of reference is the Tropical zodiac.
We believe the most empowering use of astrology is through seeing a horoscope as representing an individual’s experience. Your horoscope explains something about how you see and experience the world.
Astrology can do more than help us define who we are. I believe it can serve us best as a tool to explore who we really are. To deepen our self-understanding. And to add dimensions to our experience of our own life by increasing our awareness of ourselves and each other.
© Rainer Rollfink, 2011, revised and updated 2014