What is the right Zodiac to use for astrological work?

by Hank Friedman

The most remarkable and truly stunning truth about the various approaches to astrology -- e.g. Modern Western, Vedic, Hellenistic, Cosmobiology, Chinese, Mayan, etc. -- is that they all work.

The reason that each system works is actually quite simple: the approach was developed over many years with its own set of rules and principles, which were borne out during its development.

There is an excellent analogy that applies here: medicine.

Even though each medical approach is working on the same human body, acupuncture uses points and meridians and other approaches (e.g. moxibustion) that are found nowhere else. Chiropractic looks at the spine and nervous system, and their influence on all other systems, also in a way that is totally unique. Only homeopathy uses such extremely minimal "doses" of substances, even toxic ones, with great effectiveness.

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But in order to learn and to use an particular school of astrology, one must understand that each is a self-contained system that has little to do with any other systems, and that combining parts or approaches of one astrology with another is a recipe for disaster.

In his profound paper, Dr. Andrew Foss shows clearly, for example, why using the Tropical Zodiac in Vedic astrology is a big mistake.

(Please also note that some schools of astrology, most notably Mayan and Chinese, don't use any Zodiac at all!)

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But the fact that both Western and Vedic astrologies use the same names for the signs is very confusing, dissonant, and upsetting for some people.

They feel that there must be one right Zodiac.

But let's look a bit closer:

The Sidereal Zodiac is based upon the actual constellations in the sky, and that's where the signs got their names. That might feel like a really compelling argument.

But the physical reality is not matched by the actual use of Sidereal signs, even in Jyotish. As every astronomer knows, some constellations are much larger than others -- e.g. the constellation Virgo is about twice the width of the constellation Libra -- yet Vedic astrology (like Western astrology) makes each sign equally 30 degrees wide.

The Tropical Zodiac is defined by the four seasons. The Sun crossing the Equator going North (for those in the Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of the sign Aries. And a division of equally sized signs in the Tropical Zodiac makes sense, just like the 12 months are (roughly) equal in length.

(But, as aforementioned, the Tropical Zodiac has nothing to do with the actual stars in the sky.)

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To put it another way, different frames of reference all have value. So if you want to measure a planet's placement from the backdrop of the stars, as the ancient Vedic astrologers did, study Jyotish and use the Sidereal Zodiac.

But if you want to measure a planet's placement in accordance with the very-much-felt seasonal changes on the Earth, study Modern Western astrology and use the Tropical Zodiac.

As I've mentioned many times before on this website (e.g. here and here and here and here), the use of the signs is quite different in each approach.

To this day, even after many years of deeply studying and practicing Vedic astrology, I still completely rely upon Western Astrology and its Tropical Zodiac with great results and incredible accuracy for determining a person's psychological makeup, compatibility with others, and for the calculation of transits (and their psychological and concrete effects).

And I thoroughly embrace Jyotish and its Sidereal Zodiac for evaluating the mundane facts about a person's life (do they have children, how much success in career, how many partners, etc.), and spiritual and karmic themes, and how every area of life unfolds using the incredibly rich and potent predictive cycles called Vimshottari Dasas (and the Iyer divisional chart methodology).

I have explored all of these themes more fully in my milestone article, "Ending the War between the Astrologers", indicating why one must not invalidate systems other than ones own, nor muddy the waters irreparably by making a mishmash of different approaches.

I hope that this article helps you to understand that each astrological approach, and the Zodiac they've used all along, are a perfect marriage, and work splendidly.



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