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Re: [astrology-25] Link to information about Sidereal and Tropical differences

From: Kirk K.
Sent on: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 3:33 AM

I do not understand why you keep saying that the tropical zodiac has no philosophical or astronomical basis when it is clear that it does. You state that the tropical zodiac is arbitrary, but I will show you why the sidereal zodiac is just as arbitrary, if not more so. I am not trying to defend either zodiac. I just want to illustrate the stalemate in this type of debate.

The tropical zodiac starts at the vernal equinox. This creates a fixed, inarguable position from which to start the zodiac. In fact, the tropical zodiac is the only zodiac that we can actually agree upon because of its fixed starting point. The difficulty with the sidereal zodiac lies in the question: where does Aries start? Because of the difficulty in answering this question, there is much disagreement. There are at least 10 different sidereal zodiacs in use. What makes the Fagan-Bradley ayanamsa better than the Lahiri ayanamsa is arbitrary and subject to debate.

The zodiac signs don't match up with the constellations in any of the zodiacs. Who made the decision to divide the sky into equal 30 degree segments, and what is the rationale? The constellations don't actually conform to this arbitrary division. The constellation of Virgo, for example, is so big that it takes up nearly 2 zodiac signs.

Finally, the stars within the constellations are moving relative to Earth. The constellations as we know them are slowly dissolving.

I accept that the sidereal zodiac has validity, but it is not more "correct" than the tropical zodiac. Both are arbitrary.


On Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 3:56 PM, Eric Seligson <[address removed]> wrote:
Thanks for the corrections, Kirk.

Let me clarify. I didn't mean to imply that Ptolemy believed the gods determined the seasons, but his superiors did. It was my understanding that Ptolemy bowed to political pressure in ignoring the then-non-existent anomaly of progression, especially in view of the fact he would be long dead before it made a difference. Or not. I could be wrong about his motives, but the net effect of his decision, whatever the reason, philosophically or otherwise, was to create a glitch in the system. His decision was a burgeoning error that got more pronounced with the passage of time. Was it a philosophical choice he made to ignore the progression of the equinoxes? It hardly seems a rational choice, and more like a simplification of the calculations. Ptolemy accepted a system that was correct in its day, but would lose accuracy the longer it was used into the future. I'm just saying he may have accepted the consequences of long term errors to use a system that worked well enough in the short run. What was the result of his decision? Today, we are left with a HUGE discrepancy in Tropical astrology. A mistake big enough to drive a truck through.

Sidereal (and Vedic) planetary positions can both be easily verified, by natural observability, while Tropical planets cannot. In other words, Sidereal planets can be found where they are supposed to be, by the simple device of viewing them by eye, or if necessary, by telescope. Tropical planetary positions are misleading because the planets are nowhere near where they are supposed to be. For example, if you looked for Venus in the night sky, tonight, according to a Tropical reckoning, you would not find it at 5 degress Capricorn, but 24.5 degrees before that, in 10 degrees Sagittarius, right where a Sidereal ephemeris says it should be!

If the two systems are equal from a metaphysical POV, at least the accuracy is not equal; the Sidereal system is exact, and the Tropical is not. The Tropical seems to use the degree positions in an arbitrary, non functional pattern that really has no philosophical or astronomical basis, but are purely a force of habit we have developed from nearly 2,000 years of accepting bad data. Garbage in, garbage out. As astrologers, metaphysical or not, we should at least acknowledge the error! I use the word "error" to describe the difference between the actual planet's position and the wrong information you get from Tropical. You wouldn't trust a map that was 24 degrees off, why would you use a chart that was off by that much?

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this,

On Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 1:59 PM, Kirk Kahn <[address removed]> wrote:

I must correct some of your facts. The use of the tropical system is not the result of an oversight in the case of Ptolemy. He was fully aware of precession, and he developed a fairly accurate calculation for it. In fact, many astrologers of the time were aware of precession, and there were several different methods for its calculation among his contemporaries. He consciously decided to use the tropical zodiac because he agreed with it philosophically. It had nothing to do with politics.

Further, Ptolemy did not believe that the gods had any power in determining the motion of the planets, stars, or anything else for that matter. He was an encyclopedist, a very scientific one at that. He used causality and the elements to explain the motion of the planets. This I know because I actually read the tetrabiblos and wrote a fully cited academic paper on the subject as part of my studies at Kepler college. This paper was also published to an NCGR journal in 2006.

It is impossible to say that one zodiac is correct on the basis of philosophy or mathematics. The best you can hope for is to say that you agree with one system more than the other or that you have found greater success with one over the other. If you decide to go the?philosophical?route, please make sure to get your facts right.


On Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 3:28 PM, Eric Seligson <[address removed]> wrote:
"As to the question do I spin my self-awareness story from Taurus to Aries or does the Sideral/Vedic definition of Aries read like the tropical definition of Taurus, the link above says Western/Tropical astrology is symbolic and Sideral/Vedic?is related to actual observable stars.?A vice-versa case is also made."

You would use the original generic archetype to fit the Sidereal sign. The Tropical and Sidereal systems are not two different philosophies; they are not equal entities. The Tropical system is just the result of an oversight by Ptolemy, who devised the Tropical ephemeris around 120 C.E. Back then, both Sidereal and Tropical would have been in sync. Although he probably knew that the progression of the equinoxes would throw off his figures eventually, Ptolemy chose, for political expediency, to ignore that variation. In Ptolemy's defense, in order to accept that the seasons were not going to occur in the same time every year until eternity, he would have to refute the power of the Roman gods, who, unscientifically,were thought to be the source of the movement of the stars, and not the stars themselves. As centuries past, the small error became huge, twenty four degrees, and yet we are still using this outdated, outmoded, and entirely unworkable system, still, in the modern era of Uranus and computers. Tropical astrology gains it specious veracity ONLY from the fact that we have used it for almost? 2,000 years and are afraid to change it, even though it is wrong.

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