In episode 117, astrologer Kenneth Bowser joins the show to talk about the modern movement seeking to revive the use of the zodiac sign in Western astrology.
As the show progresses, we discuss the sidereal origins of the zodiac, the revival of its use in the West through the work of 20th century astrologer Cyril Fagan, and some of the debates surrounding its relationship with the tropical zodiac.
Ken is the author of a book on the subject called An Introduction to Western Star Astrology. You can find more information about his work on his website:
Below is the show notes outlining some of the main points of the discussion, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast at the bottom of the page.
Live stream of the next forecast episode
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View notes and episode summary
- Earlier this month I interviewed Vic DiCara, a Vedic astrologer who advocates the use of the tropical zodiac in Indian astrology.
- Argues that this was originally what was intended in the earliest texts and that it works better in practice.
- As a contrast, I wanted to interview a western astrologer who advocates the use of the zodiac sign.
- Kenneth is the author of the book An Introduction to Western Star Astrology.
- One of the most famous proponents of this school lately.
- Ken’s background and how he got there.
- Spent two years as a tropical astrologer but then switched to sidereal
- The revival of western star astrology in modern times.
- How has the modern star movement developed in modern times?
- Cyril Fagan (1896-1970) and his work
- Born in Dublin, Ireland and died in Tucson, AZ.
- Revived the use of the zodiac sign in the west in the 20th century.
- Started tropical studies in 1916 but switched in 1944.
- Conclusion that the zodiac was originally sidereal and the Greeks changed it.
- Wrote a number of books and articles.
- Zodiac old and new (1950)
- Symbolism of the constellations (1962)
- Astrological origins (1971)
- Wrote column in American astrology Magazine from 1953.
- Known for having had a fiery temper.
- What are the best arguments for using the zodiac sign in the Western tradition?
- The origins of the zodiac in the constellations.
- Discussion of the Mesopotamian tradition.
- Timeline of when the zodiac was first used
- Originally 18 constellations falling on the ecliptic were used.
- 12 standard + Auriga, Orion, Perseus, Pleides and Pisces divided in half.
- Zodiac standardized to 12 signs of 30 degrees each around the 5th century BC.
- Academics often say this was for measurement or convenience only.
- Started producing ephemeris around this time.
- Natal astrology from 410 BC. Developed.
- Hipparchus and the discovery of precession in the 2nd century BC
- The precession rate is 1 degree every 72 years.
- The difference between the star and the tropical zodiac.
- How far are they out of alignment at this point?
- Ken says about 25 degrees with the Fagan / Allan Ayanamsha.
- When were the traits associated with the signs of the zodiac first developed?
- Is it clear what the conceptual requirement for these properties was?
- What Makes Western Star Astrology Unique?
- Is it essentially modern astrology, but with the zodiac sign?
- When did the western tradition become tropical and was that a mistake?
- Discussion of Ptolemy’s work in the 2nd century.
- Discussion of the ayanamsha problem.
- How do we know from what point to start the zodiac?
- Western constellations generally use the Fagan / Allan Ayanamsha.
- Lahiri is used by most of the Indian astrologers.
- Possible problem: the zodiac as an idealized division.
- The constellations themselves vary in size.
- Earlier this month, Vic DiCara argued that even the zodiac signs don’t necessarily match the constellations. What is the reaction to this criticism?
- The origins of the increases.
- The elevations have been considered Mesopotamian since the early 20th century.
- In Hellenistic texts there were certain degrees of exaltation.
- Fagan found 786 BC. A year in which the planets sidereally rose / sank to or near these degrees.
- He speculated that this coincided with the establishment of a temple for Mercury.
- Question from Chris: How much of western astrology has the Mespotamian vs. the Hellenistic tradition spawned?
- Part of the siderealistic logic is that since the zodiac originated in Mesopotamia, it should remain sidereal.
- Is it necessarily true that all of the characteristics we associate with the signs come from the Mesopotamian tradition when the zodiac was sidereal?
- Or were some developed later, when the tropical zodiac was already in use?
- The output of Ophiuchus.
- If the zodiac is based on the constellations falling on the ecliptic, why shouldn’t Ophiuchus be used?
- Ken argues that Ophiuchus is essentially already used or taken into account in the qualities of the ascending constellation Scorpio.
Check out this episode
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