The Keystones in Astrology

by Hank Friedman

As I mentioned three times earlier on this website, in using both Vedic and Western astrology in my practice, I've paid special attention to planets, and the Ascendant, when they stay in the same sign in both Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs. I call a point with this feature a keystone.

Introduction to the Zodiacs

For those just beginning, it is important to know that Western astrologers use the Tropical Zodiac, where the 12 signs are defined by where the Sun is at each of the Seasons. The place in the sky where the Sun is when it crosses the Equator going North (the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere) is defined as 0 degrees of the sign Aries, while when the Sun is furthest North (I.e. on the first day of Summer) indicates the beginning of the sign Cancer, etc.

Vedic astrologers, on the other hand, place the twelve signs by using the actual stars themselves. The most frequently relied upon star is called Spica, which indicates the beginning of the sign Libra. Astrology software calls this the Lahiri ayanamsha (or the Chitra-paksha ayanamsha).

[Years ago, one night during the period when I was deeply exploring with which ayanamsha to use, I had a mystical vision. I was looking at the midnight sky on the first Sidereal day of Aries, and saw a star shining brightly overhead. I realized it was Spica and after waking up found that the Lahiri ayanamsha was based upon this very star. Much later, I found out that at a very large conclave in India, all of the top Jyotishis determined that Lahiri was the most accurate ayanamsha, too.]

In about 285 A.D., the two Zodiacs coincided. Because of the Earth's wobble, the Equinoxes precess, and so two Zodiacs began to diverge from each other. The Seasons subsequently happen when the Sun resides in earlier places over time. For example, on the first day of Spring, the Sun is now traversing the constellation of Pisces, while still considered starting the Tropical sign of Aries.

The Use of the Zodiacs

In my extensive experience with Zodiacs, I find that they both work, for different purposes.

While these are only my views, and I have no wish to impose them on any one else, I've found that:

The Tropical Zodiac indicates:

The Temperament and Psychodynamics, and therefore is most useful for psychological and physiological astrology, including assessing compatibility between people.

The Sidereal Zodiac indicates:

The strength or weakness of planets by sign (E.g. I only assess a planet as strong by being in its own sign in the Sidereal Zodiac.)

Sign rulerships. Remembering that all ancient astrologies only used the planets the Sun through Saturn, Vedic astrology has made much, much more use of sign rulerships than Western astrology, where they are often even ignored, in large part because rulerships are more accurately reckoned using the Sidereal Zodiac.

The Keystones

Some charts have no points in the same signs in both Zodiacs, because the difference between the Zodiacs is now about 24 degrees, so if all of the points in a chart are 22 degrees or lower, then no keystones will exist.

As a result, all of the points will be blends of two signs, the Tropical sign and the one before it. I've found this to be very evident in my work with people. Aside from my oft-quoted difference between Scorpio-Libras and Scorpio-Scorpios, every sign shows the same blending.

For example, Barack Obama is much less dominant than most pure Leos because his Sun moves back into Cancer Sidereally.

But when a planet is in the same sign in both Zodiacs, then the qualities of its sign come through loud and strong.

Donald Trump is an excellent example of a person with powerful Keystone points.

First of all, his Mars is rising in Leo in both charts, and his relentlessness, showmanship, and perseverance are noteworthy.

But what is perhaps the most important keystone of all, in any chart, is when the Ascendant is keystone. That means that all of the house rulerships are identical in both Zodiacs (assuming that either Equal Houses or Whole Sign Houses are being used).

And Trump has the Ascendant in Leo in both Zodiacs too. Making the star Regulus -- the king --rise in his chart, I.e. King Donald, who expects everyone to kowtow to him.

I invite you to calculate birth charts using both the Tropical Zodiac and the Sidereal Zodiac (using the Lahiri ayanamsha) and note which points stay in the same signs, and pay special attention to them.

Their congruent placement gives the purest expression of the sign they're in, and they will be greatly affected by the position of the planet ruling that sign, too.

Again, by way of example, the Sun rules the Ascendant and Mars in Leo, and in Mr. Trump's chart, what is most noteworthy about the Sun is that it is conjunct the North Node, called Rahu in Vedic astrology.

A person having Rahu closely conjunct the Sun may have booms and busts, as he did, have a very inflated view of themselves, have difficulty listening to others, and be capable of great self-deception too. While this conjunction give tremendous drive for success, it also often leaves the native unsatisfied and wanting more.

And so the keystone position of both the Ascendant and Mars made Mr.Trump particularly sensitive to the influence of the North Node/Rahu.

Again, the value of noting the keystones in the chart is great. And I encourage you to do so.

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