An introduction to western sidereal astrology pdf

Until the advent of individual astrology, which appeared later in the first millennium B. There are books devoted entirely to the astrological advice given to Assyrian and Babylonian kings. The essential thing is that the Babylonians had long recognized the intrinsic natures of the planets. Accordingly, great spending and building projects were undertaken when Jupiter was exalted in Cancer; they made war when Mars was dignified in Aries; they negotiated political matters when Mercury was exalted in Virgo; they were fearful of famine when Saturn was ill-disposed.

They understood the intrinsic natures of the sidereal signs and the planets. If that isnt astrology, I dont know what is. Q: Then when does tropical astrology appear? The oldest Greek horoscope that has survived is the coronation of Antiochus I of Commagene from 62 B. I dont know quite what to make of it because Jupiter was portrayed in Leo in this inscription and frieze monument but it was well into Cancer for that date, both tropically and sidereally. There is a tropical horoscope mentioned in a literary source, not an original text, from 72 B.

Im not aware of anything tropical thats older.

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Its noteworthy that the date when you can begin talking about tropical astrology based on actual horoscopes is as recent as this. People are constantly talking about the enormous antiquity of astrology as though there were evidence for it right and left. But there isnt all that much material until late antiquity, and then after the fall of Rome, theres almost no astrology in the West until the 11th and 12th centuries.


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Q: How did tropical astrology come to take precedence in the West? Thats a big question and requires a little preliminary explanation. Its crucial to note that the equinox rotates through all the constellations over the course of 25, years. Taurus was in the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox when Egypt became established as a regional power in the third millennium B. Aries appeared in the vernal equinox during the first and second millennia B.

Pisces has appeared in the equinox for most of the last two thousand years and when the Age of Aquarius begins centuries from now, that constellation will rise at the time of the vernal equinox. The astrological ages are sidereal phenomena. They have nothing whatever to do with the tropical zodiac. That fact dethrones Aries as the permanent resident at the doorstep of the vernal equinox; furthermore, the duration of the seasons is constantly changing, and finally, since in the Southern Hemisphere, March 21st is the autumnal equinox, the seasonal rationale for the tropical zodiac breaks down completely.

Thats at the crux of the tropical-sidereal controversy. The siderealists maintain that its a mistake to define the zodiac in terms of the seasons. Its also essential to note that once every 25, years tropical and sidereal reckoning coincide. That happened in A. Consider that Ptolemys dates are conjectured to be A. At the time of his likely death the difference between tropical and sidereal reckoning was less than a degree which nobody can eyeball without a reference star nearby. So for practical purposes, tropical and sidereal reckoning were the same during Ptolemys time.

And at the time of the equinox you couldnt tell without instruments whether 0, 1 or 2 degrees of Aries rose with the sun because the suns glare washes out the stars near it. My point is that a little more than a generation after the death of Ptolemy, tropical and sidereal reckoning were exactly the same and had been nearly so for more than a century, and were for yet another hundred years, very close. Ptolemy was writing about what you could see if you turned your head from a horoscope to the sky in his own day. The rate of precession is one degree per seventy-one and two thirds years.

So in a modern lifetime you can only see a difference of one degree in the displacement of the sky with respect to the spring equinox. But the Romans have a dismal record of observations after Ptolemyalmost surely nothing that would allow somebody to say between Ptolemys death circa A.

Only an assiduous observer with instruments and three hundred-year old records could note that.

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I havent heard that anybody brought up the matter. You have to remember too that literacy was at a low level during that time. By the end of the fifth century, literacy was common only among the clergywho disparaged astrologyand for most of them probably not beyond the modest level of craftsmans literacyand that was in Latin.

Ptolemy wrote in Greek. Ptolemys Almagest wasnt even translated into Latin until So who was reading the Almagest, or the Syntaxis and Tetrabiblos before the Arabs began calling them al magesti from the Greek superlative, , greatest? Not many Romans, I think, even among the few literati of the day, and almost certainly no western provincials. Astrology barely survived in the Byzantine world. It was all but extinct in the West but fared better in the Islamic world.

Astrology requires literacy, numeracy, some technical skill and especially experience. Those people were at a premium in the West. Taking note of the difference between tropical and sidereal was a totally unreasonable expectation of the handful of people who were barely hanging on to the new Ptolemaic tradition, much less the older, original form of the art. The tropical zodiac took over because Ptolemys Almagest was the last major technical work in a western vernacular revered in the Latin West and Byzantium before a cultural implosion of staggering proportions made the West a backwater for six hundred years.

The only institution that survived the Dark Ages was the Catholic Church which strongly discouraged rational inquiry. There was almost no law or federal authority beyond the strongest sword arm and what is important to us as astrologers, there is almost no evidence of astrology, and or celestial observations until the very minor Carolingian Renaissance in the late 8th and early 9th centuries. At the end of the 10th century when twenty degrees of sidereal Pisces was rising at the time of the vernal equinox, only the Arabs had enough astrological skill to note it; but still two thirds of each tropical sign were in the constellations of the same name.

Yet by the time of, say, the Restoration in England in , ten degrees of sidereal Pisces rose at the spring equinox; only a third of each tropical sign was in the constellation of the same name by then, and now five Pisces rises with the Northern Hemisphere spring equinox. One sixth of the territory of the signs of Ptolemys day are still in the tropical signs. When the Age of Aquarius begins everything will be thirty degrees out of sync with Ptolemys era.

The vernal equinox equals Aries maxim gained currency in the Hellenistic World when that condition was near to being right in Hipparchus time and it was firmly entrenched by Ptolemys lifetime when it was all but exactly true. Then the lights went out in the West and astrology with it. When the lights came back on with the revival of learning in the 11th, and especially, the 12th centuries, the western authority people turned to was Ptolemy because he wrote in Greek. Westerners, who were slowly becoming literate again, were inclined to learn Latin and Greek above all other languages after their.

Akkadian, the language of the Babylonians, though its similar to Hebrew and Arabic, had become a dead language, perhaps completely unknown in the West of A. Babylon was replaced as a regional capital during the Seleucid Period in the 3rd century B. The last Babylonian almanac to which a date can be attached is from A. However, a large number of horoscopes have been uncovered from a former Greek colony in Egypt over the past several years.

They are written in Greek on papyrus and are almost uniformly sidereal. They span the first through the sixth centuries A. In sum, there was a three-fold assault on the sidereal zodiactwo of which came from the Greeksthat supplanted it in the West when tropical and sidereal reckoning coincided at the end of the Age of Aries: first, a mistaken notion of the geometry of the solar system, that is, the acceptance of a geocentric or earth-centered universe; second, the conviction that the earth has no motion of its ownno rotation, revolution, precession or nutation; thirdly, the catastrophe of the Dark Ages, which hamstrung the Western intelligentsia.

The tropical zodiac became institutionalized when Rome was at her height and remained undisturbed as the medieval darkness settled over Europe. The curtain didnt come down instantly but illiteracy accelerated it. Once the Dark Age was fully upon us in the West, the matter of tropical versus sidereal couldnt be argued until sufficient time had elapsed centuries for western observers to note visually that the zero degree of sidereal Aries no longer rose with the equinox.

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The reason is that the level of astronomical sophistication during the medieval period was so abysmally low that nobody was in a position to contest Ptolemy. I think its quite noteworthy that Ptolemys work wasnt critically evaluated in the West until the fifteenth century by Johannes Muller, better known to astrologers as Regiomontanus. In a nutshell, thats how the tropical zodiac gained ascendancy in the West. Q: How does the actual practice of tropical astrology differ from western sidereal astrology? They are not radically different except insofar as the zodiac issue places them poles apart.

Siderealists use aspects, houses and planets just like the tropicalists, although the western siderealists tend to use houses, derived houses and house rulers much less. Western siderealists also pay close attention to individual stars. They are very aspect oriented and especially appreciate that aspects exist in more than one coordinate system. Some tropicalists do this too, but a siderealist is more likely by training to take into account aspects in the prime vertical and equatorial system as readily as aspects in ecliptic coordinates.

Its gospel among siderealists that planets get power from their elevation in the horoscope, propinquity to the angles, closeness of their aspect relationships and especially by their dignities. In addition to these, siderealists use transits, primary directions, secondary progressions and solar and lunar returns as their main tools.

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Its important as well, to note that the anglesthe ascendant and mid-heaven positions of solar and lunar returnsare not the same in tropical and sidereal returns. Even tropical astrologers agree that sidereal solar returns are superb timing devices. Thats why many tropical advocates use precession corrected solar returns. Q: Some people say sidereal astrology is best for the timing of events but that tropical astrology better describes trait characteristics.

Do you agree? No, I strongly disagree.

The Tale of Two Zodiacs by Freedom Cole

My view, and Im sure I speak for the western sidereal community on this, is that you cant have it both ways. The matter is basic: if you have competing propositions, its possible for one to be right and the other wrong, or they can both be wrong but they cant both be right. There is no question but that sidereal astrology is very effective for events because it disposes of the timing problems associated with precession. The problem is how to make somebody like Dick Cheney, our current vice president, into both a sidereal Capricorn, and a tropical Aquarian.


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Can he be seen as liberal, bohemian, egalitarian, humanitarian, counter-culture oriented or a rebel? I dont see it. Its like saying that someone could simultaneously be primarily liberal and primarily conservative or simultaneously primarily emotional and primarily intellectual.