©2-11-10 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
In the last week, I’ve heard from two earnest astrology students who needed an explanation of why the most commonly used zodiac signs (the tropical zodiac) do not match the positions of the constellations in the sky (the sidereal zodiac). It was causing them to doubt their belief in astrology.
I wrestled with that question early in my own studies, and perhaps you did too. And I came up with an answer that satisfied me and might help students like these as well. Drum roll, please. ….
My answer is this: IT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE THE CONSTELLATIONS DON’T REPRESENT ANYTHING REAL. They’re just ancient attempts at drawing a map of the belt of space that surrounds our solar system—and rather primitive attempts at that.
All an astrology chart really is is a crude map of planets in our solar system at birth, displayed against the background of distant stars. In Brazil, the term for your astrology chart is a mapa. Dictionary.com defines a map as:
“a representation, usually on a flat surface, of the features of an area of the earth or a portion of the heavens, showing them in their respective forms, sizes, and relationships.”
Maps change when our concepts change. In the past 30 years, we’ve seen many examples of dramatic changes in maps due to political upheavals. The features of the actual area of the earth cartographers are trying to portray don’t change just because the before and after maps look different.
Look at these before and after maps of the former Soviet Union. The national boundaries are very different, but the land masses themselves are exactly the same. The maps are just man-made attempts to represent that area of the globe. Above is what it looked like before and below is what the maps show today.
Do we cease to believe in the existence of geographic features like the Ural Mountains or the Steppes just because the two maps look different? Is this land mass that takes up the majority of the Asian continent any less real because two generations of cartographers portrayed it differently?
Cave Man Constellations—Why on Earth Do We Care?
One past life reader told me about a lifetime during the caveman era when I was an astrologer.
The night a child was born, we’d hold a ceremony and create a big map of the heavens in our camp grounds with poles arranged in a circle. The map would be transferred to an animal hide and given to the parents as a keepsake and for reference throughout life.
I have zero idea whether that’s true or not, though I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve been an astrologer. Right from the start, it all seemed so familiar, like I was finally coming home.
But it’s plausible that early man—as soon as dinosaurs no longer represented a threat—would venture out of the caves at night , be stunned by the heavens above, and try to make sense of them.
Native peoples all over the globe throughout history have created zodiacs of their own. They were trying to map out the same belt of space around the solar system, but they came up with different interpretations of what the starry constellations represent.
One tribe might see a particular group of stars as representing a lion, one living on another continent might view it as a bear. Both are trying to describe ferocious qualities. Different map, same qualities. Am I the only one that feels those stars look like nothing at all–that only by a vast stretch of the imagination can you see a lion or a fish or a virgin?
My Final Answer about the Tropical vs. Sidereal Maps of the Zodiac
Here’s what I wrote about this question in the chapter, “Questions Newbies Ask” in my ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers” available at Moon Maven Publications.
“The 0° Aries point is the beginning of the zodiac and the spring equinox. Since ancient times when the astrologer/astronomers first mapped out the zodiac, this point has very slowly moved backwards in the sky through the constellations. It is currently some 23° behind where Aries begins in the traditional or “tropical” zodiac and actually falls near the beginning of the constellation Pisces now. This rather glaring discrepancy is only one of the reasons science considers us morons, but it is a major one.
“Why are most astrologers undisturbed by the mismatch between the tropical and the sidereal zodiac? I can only say for myself that the tropical signs consistently fit the psychology of the individual. In my earliest days as a student, I had my chart interpreted by a sidereal astrologer and found that tropical and sidereal Cancer were very different, as were other signs important in my chart. I decided to stick with the tropical zodiac, and I, my students, clients and readers for the past 40 years seem to find it very accurate.
“Every astrological author is entitled to go gaga in print at least once, so here’s my theory on the tropical/sidereal problem.
I believe that there are twelve distinct regions in space–electromagnetic fields or whatever–in the planets’ orbit around the sun and that the “climate” of those regions is equivalent to the tropical signs. The constellations that were a backdrop to those twelve regions became named for the qualities of the signs.
“So, for instance, the old astrologer/astronomers noticed that when the Sun and other planets were passing through the region now called Leo, they took on lion-like qualities. They looked at the bunch of stars there and claimed it looked like a lion.
“At any rate, the constellations changed position as the equinox precessed, but the regions in that belt around the solar system did not, and the regions are what determine the qualities of planets passing through them. That’s my theory, and I’d be much obliged if you didn’t confuse me with the facts!”
What about you, readers? How have you resolved the differences between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs in your own mind? Tell us in the comment section.
More Posts that Students might enjoy:
- Spotlight on Leo—a Tale of three Queens
- Clients Say the Darndest Things!
- 10 Things You May not Know about Uranus
- 6 Things You May Not Know about Pluto
- 7 Secrets You May not Know about the 12th House
- 2010 Eclipses–How do They Affect You?
- Using the Daily Moon Sign to your Advantage
- How To Use The Moon For A Daily Emotional Weather Report
- Download a chapter on the houses here: AGSA ch13-houses
- Download a chart blank here: Blank chart with house meanings.
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Art Credits: Like most posts on this site, the art here came from Clipart.com. I just tweaked it mercilessly to suit my own devious purposes.