Where to begin? That is always the question, isn’t it? With Astrology, like anything else in life, the answer is straight forward and obvious, you start at the beginning, except for the annoying fact that people cannot agree on where the beginning is. The issue of where to start has been muddled over for centuries among high minded intellects, their attitudes often disguised as scholarship.
To be fair this stuff can be a lot like getting a raspberry seed caught in the crown of a tooth. You might not get it the first time. And when a beginner is pressed to learn the basics of Astrology, for example, the Signs, Planets, and Houses, then this essential study can get pushed to the background. Revisiting the issue later can spark an existential crisis, of not knowing where one stands, not knowing the Truth. But the entire affair has been made unnecessarily confusing. So, as I began to wrestle this topic for myself and revisit the matter, I was reminded of what a wise man once told me. He said, “Confusion is the beginning of understanding,” and with that in mind, my hope is that you are inspired to explore the matter more deeply for yourself.
The first person to ever use a pocket-sized lunar calendar may never have imagined spaceflight, but their achievement was perhaps on par with the discovery of fire because knowing what time it was, where one stood in the cycle of the year, increased the odds of survival dramatically. This data informed other cycles coincident with animal behavior and growing seasons, so that for example, hunting and gathering became more efficient, ultimately leading to husbandry and flourishing civilizations. Flash forward, beyond the invention of the lunar calendar (c -32000 BC) and into the age of space exploration, many forms of Astrology have gripped and taken hold of the individual’s mind and spirit. Some traditions flowered more than others, and followers divided themselves up along either spiritual or material lines, becoming aspirants of one system, then another. The art has ebbed and flowed within individual consciousness to varying degrees of acceptance throughout time. But, the rhythmic patterns of growth and decline, the comings and goings of Knowledge within evolution, have probably been flooding and draining the lived experience long before recorded history, revived, and not born during the Hellenistic period, muted through the dark ages, reawakened during the Renaissance, and restored in the here and now.
Today life is moving faster, reflected in the dramatic download speeds now available as Pluto is about to enter Aquarius. For example, 6G downloads = 1 tb/s, compared to 4G downloads = 33.88 mbps; at 5G speeds it would take 384 Ages (1 Age = 2160 years) to download the data currently available on the internet. At 6G speeds you could download the entire contents of the Library of Congress in about a minute, and these changes are the least of what’s coming in the mind shattering transformations projected by research firms like International Data Corporation. In order to cope with these changes, we need to update our perception and understanding. “Where to begin,” is not up for debate because the confusion that misperception causes does not end well. The beginning can only be a singular point in time! Getting it right is as important to our survival today as it was in prehistoric times because it is even more vital that one knows where one stands on the circle…
Before the “common era,” or more specifically 396 years before the birth of the Christ, the world began a period of growth which started out much the way a cell or any earthly “body” grows and expands, ravenously accumulating energy and resources in preparation for what biologists call cytokinesis. Analogously, there was a division in the world at that time, a divide between spirit (philosophy) and matter (science). Two “daughter cells” emerged in this case, formed for the distinct purpose of thoroughly exploring their being, their raison d’être for existence, splitting off as it were from one another to meet up once, to rejoin as a new body, an integral body, of shared Knowledge in the “days” ahead; the so called mythological Golden Age.
It was around this time, before the Common Era, that the “Two Zodiacs” separated. A distinction not without a difference, because of “one” enormous argument so easily overlooked, which is that there has always only been one Zodiac. The essential point of contention between the two competing systems of Astrology, has mostly to do with where a practitioner believes “their zodiac” begins. But because there are many similarities and universal symbols shared across the expanse of the field, much of Astrology “agrees” irrespective of the approach, i.e., most Astrology “works.” Still, attempts at synthesizing the differences to my mind is a lost cause, precisely because there is no acknowledgement or awareness of the “split.” This lack of understanding is most pernicious in the creeping secularism that has invaded our institutions and habits of thought and is the root cause of the “polarization” we see in the world. This lack of understand is not merely within Astrology, it permeates much of our consciousness. The trouble appears related to an inability to trust our own instrument, our higher selves. Despite proof that our emotional intelligence periodically blows its cognitive gasket, and we end up making terrible decisions, or despite the fact that the rational mind has an equally abhorrent track record, and we continue to put our faith into the next “reasoned” or “logical” thing. Including, but not limited to building nuclear bombs that threaten to blow the world up 13 times over, we seem to be living in denial. What did Einstein say? “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Yet the modern era finds promise in mixing the “Two Zodiacs.” An alluring compromise, perhaps and what committees do. But laughable since the only thing you get when you ask a committee to design a horse is something that looks like a camel. Some practitioners understand that mixing is not “synthesis.” We cannot accept the premise of “Two Zodiacs” any more than we can accept the idea of crossing a cat with a dog.
Hast thou no poison mixed?Shakespeare
The collapse of this false divide is past due. Our attention is drawn to the debunked Aryan Invasion Theory of India. Let’s call the conspiracy out for what it is, a racist, xenophobic machination of an elite class against the identity of a people. Nothing new under the Sun because a similar divide is alive and well in the United States, but is being challenged by the #TruthBeTold campaign. This movement works to course correct American structural and systemic racism against minorities through Critical Race Theory, with the goal to re-educate against previously measured and toxic indoctrinations so endemic in our schools and institutions, Ignorance not that dissimilar from AIT. We are at a “new beginning” most definitely. A new age has finally arrived, and our task is to SEE the Truth, that All is One. Knowledge, that Astrology has always contained deep within her sacred bosom. But the disintegration of the binary still lingers, we breathe its dust and still stumble on the rubble. Science for example, has been weaponized in a sense to control the masses, and still deceives seekers in ways that makes it hard for pedestrians to “trust the science.” India is a case in point, but we do not have to look back 2,000 years to when the “split” occurred. Even today, Prime Minister Modi intentionally suppressed data earlier this year in order to “look good” and improve the odds of a successful reelection campaign, costing hundreds of thousands of lives in the process.
“Science is being used as a political weapon to forward the government narrative rather than help people.”Dr. Anup Agarwal
[quoted in the NYTimes, September 14, 2021]
These types of observations are not to vilify science, but to point out the divide, the misuse and misapplication of power, misplaced by the incapacity to see the inseparability of creation from the Divine, a fundamental presupposition held by this astrologer. Stepping back, we are indeed beginning to SEE, and science is catching up to our premise, that ALL is One. The Human Genome Project for example, refutes the question of our racial differences and instead finds that, “All human beings are 99.9 percent identical in their genetic makeup.”1 And yet the divide, even though we are in the Age of Unity, widens. In the U.S. we have vaxxer’s and anti-vaxxers, Red vs Blue, Conservative vs. Liberal, Right to Life vs Choice, etc.
The disagreements raging in regard to the differences between systems of Astrology are only in the minds of astrologers. One astrologer needs to prove that their ‘belief’ is the correct one, that their partial view is the whole view. The astrologer doesn’t realize they are holding only one small piece of the sacred art, or if they do acknowledge that they only hold a fragmentary partial view then they believe that since what they possess “works,” therefore, at least for today, it is better than what some other astrologer is holding. Astrologers, like anyone else, tend to covet whatever is in their possession. “We see therefore that the Greeks, and their highly scholastic and ‘scientific’ approach to higher knowledge, present us with the foundations of a split that would become more accentuated during the Renaissance.”2 The Renaissance itself, a revival of all things Greek, in philosophy, language, and art, and not unlike today, where we see something of a hysteria in the efforts to excavate old archeological fragments from the ruins, and dig up new perspectives on everything from stoicism for example, to Astrology. I’ve written elsewhere that these movements, like populism, are nostalgic workouts of the psyche. Important, but only in the sense of completing some unfinished business of some sort, to clean up old worn-out biases, or clarify distortions that perpetuate Ignorance preventing us from moving forward at the new pace required. It is very important to understand why this seemingly innocuous issue is so relevant to our times and how much is at stake. But each individual will need to see this for themselves.
Tropical Astrology has been practiced primarily in the West and is sometimes referred to as Western Astrology. We can say that Tropical Astrology closely aligns to the natural cycles of Earth based on the Earth’s relationship to the Sun and Moon. It takes the Earth one year to travel around the Sun, and we see that the year is naturally calibrated into three-month segments, portions of time, each representing one of four seasons; each season determined by the relationship of the Earth’s position to the Sun. Importantly, the change of seasons are experienced as a change in ‘energy’ that occurs no matter where we happen to be standing on Earth, and the reoccurrence of these changes are marked at the same points in time each year on our calendars, at the equinoxes and solstices: Spring (Vernal Equinox), Fall (Fall Equinox), Summer (Summer Solstice), and Winter (Winter Solstice). The Tropical Zodiac always begins on the Spring Equinox at 0 Aries, in March.
So far, this is all very straight forward, lessons we learned in grade school, and engrained in our minds through experience year after year. Most people understand the concept of seasons pretty well. In other words, there isn’t much here that will get caught in your teeth. Especially in the northern latitudes, where people ‘experience’ the change of seasons in a physical way, and where the change has always happened, “on time.”
The Alignment of the Solstices and Equinoxes with the Zodiac at the start of each Season are identified at specific points along the ecliptic,3 or the path of the Earth’s journey around the Sun. These points do not move! They are not determinative relative to the stars because they always occur at the same point in time, along the circle as a function of Time. Still, the Truth can be disconcerting to an observer standing on Earth, since the Sun does indeed appear to move. And the backdrop of stars begins to shift slowly as well, imperceptibly slow, moving at only 1 degree every 72 years. This movement is called the Precession of the Equinox and refers to how the rotational axis of the Earth points to different markers called pole stars depending on the “age” and orientation of this alignment. Imagine the axis of the Earth’s rotation (spinning like a top, with a wobble) tracing a small circle that projects out to the stars. The angular radius of this circle is 23.5 degrees, a figure corresponding to the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn discussed above, and that correlate to the angle of the Earth’s tilt on its axis. This angular radius is known as the obliquity of the ecliptic.
Ptolemy cites Hipparchus (190-120 B.C.) as the discoverer of the Precession of the Equinox in the Almagest, stating that Hipparchus noticed a geometric “displacement” of the autumnal equinoctial point while observing the star Spica during an eclipse.3 An amazing accomplishment given the time period, and astronomical devices at hand to guide the naked eye, plus a few notes scribbled on parchment from Timocharis, and others who lived roughly 200 to 350 years earlier. Although his observations of the Sun and Moon were brilliant, he also seeded confusion between the pattern of seasons, the measure of the Tropical Year, our measure of time, with the measure of the Sidereal Year, our measure of space.
Occidental astrologers could ignore the ensuing protestations picked up by ancient astronomers who pursued the “Time Space Monster,” hunted like so many mediaeval basilisks, because the solstice was coincident with the zodiac at the turn of the common era. But the idea of separation grew as the “displacement” widened, and was especially promoted by al-Bīrūnī the 10th century scholar that claimed not only to have invented so called Arabic Parts,4 but also claimed authorship of what we know in the West as the Mansions of the Moon, the division of the circle by 27 based on the mean motion of the Moon, approximately 13.20 degrees per day; these Lunar Stations are significant in astrology, essentially they are the Indian Nakshatras.5
One problem with al-Bīrūnī’s authorship is that it misrepresents the main source of the translations, taken from Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita, and where he writes his own version of the interpretations 500 years after the originals were written. The erroneous claim he makes is that the ancient text argued that the solstices were separate from the zodiac, when scholars have pointed out correctly that no such argument was ever made in the original text. al-Bīrūnī appears to have appropriated Hipparchus’ work, in an excellent example of perhaps “straining at a gnat to swallow a camel.” Intentional or not, his “mistake” was compounded by his misunderstanding multiplied by a misinterpretation of the sacred text.
Thea covers the waterfront on this issue in her series called The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline.6 Describing history that reverberates with counter scholarship from before al-Bīrūnī up through to the present day, and other authors no doubt beside al-Bīrūnī who passionately argue their case; a demonstration of how easily the camel went down with the mere suggestion that the solstice was separate from the zodiac. Although such a “separation” never occurred because the solstice and zodiac are in fact inseparable. However, during a 1000-year span of time between 500 BCE to 500 CE the argument for a “split” tainted perception, and the discourse that ensued amplified division, even though the arguments could not hold water (Pisces pun intended). This period represents the “core” of Thea’s argument, that fragmentary flashes of inspiration, or pieces of the Whole View, were taken apart and presented as evidence, then passed as fact. Like a fish breaking the surface of the water, catching a glimpse and glimmer of the Sun’s rays before, kerplunk, dropping back into the deep dark sink below the surface of things, this perception will not last. The temporary “light” of the mind served only to blind the seeker, reducing their capacity to “see” to that of a spelunker in a dark cave highlighted by a few footnotes.
I can add very little to this debate that hasn’t already been said. My powers of original thought7 are more in keeping with style than form and substance. I will leave the heavier lifting to scholars and keepers of the Knowledge. However, guided by the dispassionate view of a Seer, and some data the so-called empirical sect appear to be lacking, my effort here was simply to edify for myself and a few likeminded students a better understanding of why we do what we do. al-Bīrūnī translated the Brihat Samhita and carried it back to Persia, but this critical text was written long after the crucial split between philosophy and science; after the separation of spirit from matter already occurred. The daughters were already out of the house and on their way in the world.
Today we see the astronomical pattern on the chart above that illustrates the seasonal movement when we plot the degree of declination8 of the Sun over the span of a year measured against the angle of right ascension.9 A sine wave forms. Both measures together help describe the location of any point in space. Here the graph marks distinct “turns” that coincide with the calendar at extreme points of declination, these are the solstice points, a recurrence every June and December, irrespective of where the backdrop of the stars happens to be. Hipparchus and Ptolemy presented the world with extraordinary measures of the Sun and Moon, improved by al-Bīrūnī in his time, and later refined by Copernicus. But the Vedas were already finely tuned according to the harmony of the cosmos. The Brihat Samhita, one of the scripts identified by the narrative in defense of Jyotish, supporting a contemporary view that is a distortion of Astrology, never stated that the solstice was separate from the zodiac, but siderealists deny this. The significance of this denial has implications elsewhere since this distorted way of looking at life is echoed in almost every aspect of living that currently plagues the world from the deeply personal divide among gender identity, sexual differences and racial issues, to the socioeconomic and geopolitical spheres as well.
All this is to say, that this is where I stand. I start here! With the Tropical Zodiac!
2. Norelli-Bachelet, P. (2020). The Gnostic Circle: A Synthesis in the Harmonies of the Cosmos. White Falcon Publishing. p. 43
4. Brennan, C. (2017). Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune (First Edition). Amor Fati Publications. P. 511 (Maybe a typo. Chris refers to al-Bīrūnī as a 12th century author when in fact he lived 2 centuries earlier. This is an important omission about al-Bīrūnī.
5. Critical Degrees are established by the Moon’s average daily motion (13 degrees) through the zodiac beginning with the Aries Point at 0 degree Aries: 0 degrees, 13 degrees, 26 degrees Cardinal Signs; 9 degrees and 21 degrees Fixed Signs; 4 degrees and 17 degrees Mutable Signs. When the Moon comes to a Critical Degree in a Horary Chart matters escalate to a critical point, crisis, or trauma.
8. Declination is one of two angles that help astronomers locate any point in space. The best way to think of declination is to think of it as a projection of Earth’s latitude, while the other angle, the “Hour” angle, is the projection of longitude.
9. Right Ascension is a time-based coordinate, and angular measure like the “Hour” angle, related to the rotation of the Earth, and differs from longitude which is a static measure demarcating imaginary vertical lines on the globe, converging at the poles. The two main lines are the Prime Meridian 0 degrees and the International Date Line 180 degrees