In episode 60 of the podcast, astrologers Kenneth Miller and Nick Dagan Best come on the show to help me address the zodiac debate and discuss the differences between the tropical and sidereal zodiac.
Below are notes on some of the topics we discussed in the episode, followed by the link to listen to the recording of that episode of the podcast.
Outline of the episode
Here is an overview of some of the main points we focused on over the course of this episode, based on the show notes prepared before our conversation:
- There are three zodiac circles: constellation, zodiac and tropics.
- Started with the constellations along the ecliptic.
- Ecliptic is the path the planets take across the sky. Only goes through certain constellations
- In the 5th century BC The signs of the zodiac in Mesopotamia were standardized.
- Zodiac signs with 12 signs of 30 degrees each.
- The constellations themselves are uneven, but the “signs” are not.
- Later in the 2nd century we see Ptolemy firmly embracing the tropical zodiac.
- Based on solstices and equinoxes.
- More related to the seasons.
- At that time the zodiacal circles were roughly aligned so there was no problem.
- Because of the precession, they move about 1 degree every 72 years.
- Small change in life, but adds up over centuries.
- 25,772 years for a complete cycle
- Today, tropical and sidereal zodiac circles differ by about 24 degrees.
- Subtract about 24 degrees from a tropical position to maintain the sidereal position.
- A planet at 14 Aries in the tropical is about 20 fish in the sidereal.
- Who is using Tropical now?
- Tropical has been used mainly by Western astrologers since the Middle Ages.
- All sun sign pillars use the tropical zodiac.
- Who Uses Sidereal?
- Sidereal is mainly used by Indian astrologers.
- In the 20th century, some Western astrologers began to use sidereal. General now called “western sidereal astrology”.
- Takes us today where there is a debate among astrologers about what is best to use.
- This is a real technical debate that has decent pros and cons on both sides.
- It is complicated by the long traditions behind it and the tendency of astrologers to identify with their horoscope placements.
- Another issue is the use of precession as an attack vector by skeptics.
- Astrologers need to clarify this as a technical, conceptual, and practical question.
- Some questions to ask:
- Do tropical and sidereal astrologers use the zodiac in the same way?
- Do you ascribe the same properties to the characters?
- Is one approach valid and the other not?
- Or is it possible that both are valid in some way?
- Try to answer the question from a historical perspective:
- One possible way to answer this is to find out which zodiac the ancients originally wanted to use.
- The problem with the Hellenistic tradition is that they seem to have relied on both tropical and sidereal considerations.
- Ultimately, we need to get back to basics and figure out where we got each concept from: domination, modalities, gender, etc.
- There are important problems that supporters of both approaches have yet to solve:
- Tropical problems:
- If the zodiac is based on the seasons, you run into a problem as the seasons are reversed in the northern and southern hemispheres.
- This is a problem for the quality of the characters, but possibly also for the rulers.
- Either the zodiac should be turned around, or astrologers need to find a reason why the vernal equinox can serve as the starting point, which applies in both hemispheres.
- Tropical astrologers from the southern hemisphere such as Australia often report that the zodiac works as well as it is and should not be turned around. Is that true or is it questionable?
- Sidereal Problems:
- There is no generally accepted starting point for the zodiac in sidereal terms.
- Since the “signs” are idealized and do not perfectly match the constellations, it is not clear where Aries zero should be.
- The ayanamsha is the difference between the tropical and sidereal zodiac.
- Different astrologers use different fixed stars and other points to start with.
- It is a separate question whether the idealized characters should be used or whether the actual constellations of different lengths should be used.
- If the constellations then should such as Ophiuchus be included?
- Final thoughts.
- Nobody has really devised a good methodology for testing this problem.
- Astrologers often test it with the help of maps, but sometimes they use precession and historical events and other things.
- With the problems now clearly outlined, at least we can all approach with a better understanding of what we are dealing with.
A full transcript of this episode is available: transcript of episode 60 60
Listen to this episode
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