Monday, 31 January 2011

What Sign are you? Has it all changed?

There has been a lot of media hype lately about how the signs are actually inaccurate due to the ongoing shift in the earth's axis and the subsequent progression of the equinoxes. 

What astrologers call the zodiac is a band around the sky about 18° wide, centered on the ecliptic, in which the Sun, Moon, and planets move. 


The band is divided into 12 signs of the zodiac, each 30° long, that were named by the ancient Greeks after the constellations that used to occupy these positions; "zodiac" means "circle of animals," and only Libra is inanimate. Over the past 2,000 years,  precession has moved the constellations eastward by over 30° so that they no longer coincide with the old signs. 


 The following response was posted by 'Starjack' in the comments section of the above article: 

"Every now and then some astronomers dig out the Precession of the Equinox and write some piece as if astrologers never heard of it, usually to the effect of, “Hey, your astrological sign got moved, you gotta get it changed!”


Astrologers have known about this for millennia. Seriously, millennia. 

Aristarchus of Samos noticed it back in 280 BCE. What happens is that due to a wobble in the Earth’s orbit our relationship to the zodiacal constellations is in a constant shift. Our main point of reference here is what we call the Equinoctal Point, that is the point on the zodiac where the Sun is at the second of the spring equinox -- typically on March 21, but with leap years and depending on what time zone you’re in it could be the 20th. That particular point has been sliding backwards at such a slow rate that it makes a full cycle every 26,000 years. About 2,000 years ago that point was at the beginning of the sign of Aries, and a funny thing happened…



But first… for the many years before that astrologers had been noticing planetary motion and developed the system of signs. As with any developing body of knowledge they would slowly revise their descriptions of the signs as changes became evident. And the nature of the signs would change over the years to match the shift in stellar positions. 

Actually some astrologers still do that. They are called “sidereal astrologers” and siderealism is practiced rather little in the West, but it’s very big in India where the system is called Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology. In the west we generally prefer the “Tropical Zodiac”  "

(Personal note: There is a practice in the West called 'Karmic Astrology " which uses the Vedic system and therefore the exact (and ever changing) constellations...and I am familiar with this approach.  I personally decided it was just too complicated to study two separate systems, and as the Tropical system works well I stayed with that.)


"Behind the “Tropical Zodiac” is the idea that the Zodiac of Signs is different from the Zodiac of Constellations. Building on Aristarchus’ discovery of the Precession, Hellenic astrologers figured that we are dealing with a system of interacting planets, the Moon and Sun. 

The stars are markers that drift, but our main points of reference are not directly the stars. They are the equinoxes (both spring and vernal) and the solstices which altogether make the four cardinal points of the zodiac which in turn determine the signs. The stars help us locate those points which define the SIGNS of the Zodiac which remain constant in relation to the equinox point. The CONSTELLATIONS do move about and we take that into consideration when locating planets.



This may be a bitter disappointment to people who don’t like their signs and thought they had a chance to change them. No sign is better or worse than any other. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. A better approach would be to find a good astrologer who can tell you what your sun sign and the rest of your chart really are good for."

Posted by ‘Starjack’ 

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Hamlet Act 1 scene 5


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