Friday, 14 January 2011

The Zodiac in relation to the Cosmos: Ophiucus, the 13th sign & the difference between the Western & Eastern Astrology

Various articles, such as this one sent to me by facebook friend, Jode (thank you x), are circulating the internet, and confusing people about which sign of the zodiac they are. Worry not! This is an ancient old issue that re-surfaces from time to time and is the result of a malcomprehension of different astrological systems, as well as someone (usually a mainstream journalist and his or her editor) not being able to take on board how there are many rules, guides and paths to the same cosmic understanding of self in relation to the cosmos. There are also many different kinds of people on planet Earth; thus we have different schools of astrology: Tropical Western, Vedic Eastern, Chinese (Animal signs based upon the movement of Jupiter), Hellenistic Astrology, Siamese Astrology, Muslim Astrology, Tibetan Astrology etc (many more). And, in its own way, each of these disciplines is valid.

So in reply to this recent reassertion that you are not the sign you think you are (when you are!), and that there is a 13th sign of the zodiac, I ask you to bear with me, particularly if you are new to astrology, as there is a lot of information here to wrap one's head around - especially if you are going to take on a debunker at a dinner party!

Primarily, it is most important to know that our Western astrological system is time-based upon the seasons, which means that at Spring Equinox we put 0 degrees Aries as the starting point of our Zodiac. This is called 'The Tropical Zodiac' and most everyone in the Western world uses this (because after 5000+ years we know it works for us!). And besides, and here I shall let you into a little known fact, the most important Tibetan Mandala for World Peace, the KALACHAKRA mandala (KALA = TIME, CHAKRA = WHEEL) is actually based upon this seasonal system for Sun, Moon and Earth.  From Tibetan point of view, this tropical zodiac, which starts at 0Aries - the first day of Spring - has greater relevance in being able to attain natural harmony.

Another astrological system is Eastern Vedic, space-based, by looking at the constellations, also called 'Sidereal' or Joytish. Joytish astrology adjusts to a phenomena, which happens because of the Earth's gyroscopic roation, called 'the precession of equinoxes'. This movement of Earth (Sun & Moon) in connection to the precession of equinoxes takes a little study (as it involves a 26,000 year cycle), and is why a person's Sun and planet signs often move backwards when comparing Western Astrology to Eastern astrology (i.e. from ARies to Pisces); Due to the sign coming on the eastern horizon at the Spring equinox now being 7ish Pisces, it is the Sidereal star backdrop, yet we in the West - because our zodiac is seasonal, call this Spring point of equal-day, equal-night, '0 degree Aries': the Vernal Equinox.  The difference between these degrees, between zodiacs 'Tropical' and 'Sidereal', has a technical term, the 'ayanamsa'. The ayanamsa is the placement of the Sidereal constellation roughly 23 degrees of separation with the Seasonal sign. There was a time when sidereal and tropical, astronomy and astrology, all aligned, two thousand-ish years ago.  At that time a greater cycle, approx 26,000 years (which always goes backwards) called 'The Great Year', with phases of approximately 2000 years for each sign marking the passage of the Sun's rising at Spring Equinox. The sign of the two fishes, Pisces, coincided with the birth of Jesus, thus the sign of the Fish proliferated, as Vesica Pisces, and as a symbol of Christianity, invoking the tone of a collective sign to rise at Spring Equinox for the next two thousand years. Now we are leaving a 2000-year Age of Pisces, to enter the Age of Aquarius (which is a whole other subject in itself).  The Precession of Equinoxes is an enormous and complex subject, one which also involves the all-important eclipses and seriously cosmic turning- points.  if you are still with me, then well done!

So let's move look now at another astrological phenomena which people often misunderstand: Ophiuchus, a constellation between Scorpio and Sagittarius. Just for the record:  We never lost the 13th sign of Ophiuchus! We have always known about it (and others), but we (the astrological Greeks and Europeans) chose not to include it in our celestial equator, aka 'the ecliptic', around which the Sun turns through the zodiac. There are various myths surrounding Ophiuchus, who holds the snake (kundalini shakti). My favourite is associated with the healing vibration of Asclepius, who taught both Chiron and Hippocrates, the latter being the father of modern medicine. Astronomcially speaking, Ophiuchus just happens to put his foot in between Scorpio and Sagittarius, at the same time the tail of his snake also touches the ecliptic. 'The ecliptic' is an 8 degree band in the sky, and the celestial belt from which we measure time, our seasons, as well as the passage of the Sun, Moon and planets. This belt is neatly divided into 12; and while we say that they are 30 degrees each = 360 of a circle, some signs are smaller or bigger than others, but still measured as 30 degrees. This time-based system is symbolically 'ideal', full of beauty, myth and meaning, as opposed to being rigidly scientifically accurate only in measurement. Even the Indian Vedic space-based system also uses an idealised 30 degree measurement of the sign. (Please note that Western astrology can also incorporate a Sidereal system: by integrating ‘Fixed Stars’ into the natal chart, with 'Stars' that aspect natal planets, meaning can be more precise).

This is a mega astrology lesson. & I realise it is not soundbite friendly. If you have grasped this basic difference between two of the most used astrological systems in the world, I will be very happy because both are useful, but for different reasons! :)

And if you have any questions or comments then please ask or share. Thank you! _/\_


Hanah said...

Good morning Laura,
I write to say that I follow your blog through Facebook and also on the list of my favorites, and to tell you that I translated a post of his article on my blog. Because it is more than enlightening, given the lack of information that people have in relation to astrology.
Peace and Good
Light and Love

Hanah / Rachel

Zodiac Heaven said...

Hi Hanah, Glad you found it helpful. This issue finds its way to the mainstream every once in a while! As I say I am happy to share my blog, as long as I receive due credit.
Are we friends on facebook? And could you plz direct me to your blog? lots of love Laura :)

Hanah said...

Hi Laura,
my name is Raquel Nascimento (Hanah) Facebook

My Blog is

my nick is Hanah

Many Blesses

Richard said...

G'morning Laura...
I love 'stretching' the limits of status quo. Nicely done...see you on Fb... love to you and yours, Richard :-)