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The Basics of Astrology
Sidereal or Tropical Astrology?
Introduction: Astrology, a Mirror of the Heavens
For millennia, astrology has guided entire civilizations in their decisions, whether personal, political, or spiritual. But like any ancient human discipline, astrology is not free from nuances, divisions, and debates.
One of the oldest and most persistent of these debates concerns the difference between sidereal astrology and tropical astrology.
Sidereal Astrology: Stars as a Compass
Sidereal astrology traces its origins to ancient Indian astrological systems and takes as its reference the current zodiac constellations.
It utilizes the position of the stars, meaning the sidereal Sun sign might differ from the tropical Sun sign depending on the birth date, due to the phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes. Hence, in sidereal, it's possible to be born under the sign of Aries, whereas in tropical astrology, one would be a Taurus, and so on.
At first glance, this approach could be considered more "real" because it corresponds to what we currently see in the night sky. But is this really an advantage? Only if we admit that by "real" we mean basing ourselves on the constellations. This would suggest that zodiacal influences aren't caused by the declinations of the Sun, the Moon, and solar system planets, but come from distant stars grouped together arbitrarily.
This is perhaps an assumption even more arbitrary than the tropical approach.
Over time, the precession of the equinoxes causes the sidereal zodiac to drift in relation to the tropical zodiac, which can be confusing for those trying to understand their sign.
Furthermore, sidereal astrologers do not all agree on the ayanamsa (the distance between the vernal point and 0° of the Aries constellation) and the exact moment when these two points coincided, with variations between sources sometimes spanning five centuries.
In other words, for the same birth, depending on the parameter chosen, the sidereal theme is not the same. This is particularly problematic, analogous to, for example, the different positions (true or mean) of the black moon and lunar nodes on a sky map.
Modern Tropical Astrology: Aligned with the Seasons, Aligned with Life
Tropical astrology, which could be dubbed "modern" although it has rather ancient roots, is based on Earth's seasons and not the current constellations.
It takes the spring equinox as its reference point, a time when nature rejuvenates. It is thus more in sync with Earth's natural rhythms. So, no matter where the stars are actually situated, the Aries sign will always start around March 21st, regardless of the birthdate, be it today or hundreds of years ago.
This method offers stability and consistency since it's rooted in our planet's natural cycles. By aligning with the seasons, it's inherently connected to our life experiences.
Each season brings its unique energies and challenges, which tropical astrology beautifully captures.
Purists feel it doesn't mirror the "true" position of the stars. Once more, this is a matter of arbitrary convention.
The Evolution of Astrology: Why the Tropical Approach Takes the Lead
While sidereal astrology is seen as more astronomically accurate (accuracy not being a validity argument but just a remark concerning context), tropical is intimately tied to our human experience on Earth.
Seasons have direct implications on our lives, moods, and cycles. Tropical astrology mirrors this dance between Earth and the Sun.
Astrology isn't merely about the position of the stars but the interpretation of these planetary positions. While sidereal focuses on the cosmos, tropical looks toward the Earth.
While sidereal astrology may seem to offer a more accurate stellar map, tropical provides a soul map, resonating with the experience of earthly life.
Conclusion: Tropical Astrology, an Informed Choice, but Not the Only One
So, sidereal or tropical astrology? Which one to choose? Each system has its merits and even though we have our preference, one cannot deny certain outcomes in the sidereal approach. They are arguably less sharp and relevant than in the tropical - from our perspective and experience - but everyone is entitled to their discipline.
In the context of our current lives, geared towards the human experience and the quest for a deeper understanding of oneself in relation to the universe, tropical astrology provides a more suitable framework. Tropical astrology is somewhat a compass to navigate the ever-changing sea of our lives.
It's up to everyone to have their own experience, to compare interpretations from both approaches concerning character analysis, couple compatibilities, and planetary climates experienced over time.
Furthermore, at this moment, there's no known mechanism by which distant objects like planets could directly influence our personality or fate. Only experience, the tangible observation that the natal chart "works", justifies the use of astrology. Just because there's no known physical cause today, doesn't mean this discipline should be discarded.
Through practice, everyone must decide for themselves and form their own opinion, choosing the approach – sidereal or tropical – that suits them best. Of course, skeptics or the impatient might opt for neither.