Sidereal or Tropical, That is the Question

With the Sun, Moon and Ascendant, Mercury and Chiron in Capricorn, it’s fair to say that I have a very strong Saturn. I also have these planets in the 12th house and an extremely tight T Square to an apex Neptune. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus are all in Water signs. So you could say I am of a very particularly astrological type, or perhaps 2 types, an amalgam of Saturn and Neptune.

About 30 years ago these two factors in my chart came together as Neptune transitted my Sun. This was when I first met the man I call my teacher. He was 76 at the time, a true Zen Master.

As Neptune and then Uranus transitted my Sun, I spent three years in retreat with him absorbing as much as I could from his presence.

He was a Sun Pisces ( exactly conjunct my Mars ) and Moon Capricorn ( conjunct my own ). A man of very few words, a dry sense of humour and a dismissive attitude to the ephemeral nature of the fashions of modern life and its tendency to worship appearance over content, one of his favourite sayings was ” whatever it is I’m against it “.

This is an approach that I have found very useful. In fact it has become my default position which I apply even to astrology.

It means that I will only accept something if it is proven to work in practice.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful the theory or how engaging the philosophy, if it doesn’t work, I’m ” against it “.

40 years of astrological research have proved without doubt the effect of the 10 planets by sign, house and aspect and transits of the slower moving 5 of that group.

There are a large number of techniques employed by many astrologers that have not been proven to me so I do not use them.

These include minor aspects, midpoints, asteroids, harmonics, fixed stars, solar returns, tertiary progressions, composite charts, ingress charts.

There have been some techniques that have been proved to me to work despite my initial scepticism and I will even use them occasionally. These are the Moons Nodes, Chiron, Inconjunctions and Secondary Progressions ( only of the Sun and Moon ).

But the rest, no. I have read many articles about these techniques with grand sounding explanations as to why they are a must and examples of their efficacy in the charts of famous people. But I have yet to be convinced that the behaviour of these people cannot be perfectly well explained by the 10 planets and their interrelationships.

So for now I’m against them. Not as a fixed position, I would be happy to be proved wrong but until that happens, they will not make an appearance on these pages.

Of course most people would regard this as an essentially very narrow and typically Capricorn way of looking at a subject as infinitely vast as astrology. And they would be right.

I’m not against other people using them, I find it interesting to read other astrologers’ experiments with these methods. My only reservation is that the more options we give ourselves with our astrological palettes, the less meaningful our deductions and predictions are because we are bound to find the thing we are looking for somewhere.

For example, in the chart of someone who has been frequently married and divorced, we may decide that this should be a Venus / Uranus connection. There may be no link by sign or major aspect, but if we explore harmonics, minor aspects and midpoints far enough we are sure to find one. But does that mean we have come up with a meaningful link ? Using the same number of possibilities a credible link between Venus and all the other planets would have been established as well.

So using these methods may have the effect of watering down our findings. But they don’t completely undermine the essential link between the planets and human psychology.

There is however, one major astrological approach that does just this. This is the use of the Sidereal Zodiac in the judgement of the psychology of what we might call ” western ” people.

It is important to note that I am not criticising Vedic astrology as a system. Vedic has both a tradition and an accuracy in the prediction of events that Western astrology would kill for. It also has a level of respect in India that has not been seen here for 500 years.

Compared to the Western system, Vedic does not have such a strong focus on individual psychology. It is more centered around specific events and fortunes, the question of whether one thing or another will happen. It is perhaps more fatalistic, but in that sense is probably merely reflecting the culture that it belongs to.

What most of us call Western Astrology today is essentially a system that has taken hold over the last century. Obviously astrology was used widely in the west before that and many would say that it was far more accurate in the hands of people like William Lilly than in any of his modern counterparts.

Western Astrology today has a far greater emphasis on the individual ego, again an reflection of the culture that it belongs to. We still have clients wanting to know what will happen to them, but they are also far more likely to ask the question ” what am I like ” and ” how does my character fit in with these other people “.

Western Astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac. This is not based on the position of the constellations in the heavens apart from the fact that we use their names. It is based on the apparent movement of the Sun across the Earth. A Tropical Zodiac year begins on March 21st when the Sun’s path crosses the Equator. The actual constellation that is behind the Sun is not relevant.

The Sidereal Zodiac claims to be a truer representation of what is actually happening. The Sun is considered to be in the sign of the constellation that is behind it, regardless of its position overhead of the Earth.

There was a time when these two Zodiacs coincided in about 290 AD but owing to the Precession of the Equinoxes they are moving further and further away from each other at a rate of about 1.4 degrees per century. Currently they are about 24 degrees apart. If we wait long enough they will be 180 degrees apart.

The character of the signs in Western Astrology owes most of its symbolism to the occurrences in nature in the northern hemisphere when the Sun is in those signs. No global apology is made for this as what we know of as Western Astrology is largely practiced in Europe and North America.

Therefore Leo is the warmest character simply because when the Sun goes through it, we have the warmest weather of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Aquarius is the coolest for exactly the same reason.

Libra is the sign most interested in maintaining a balanced, even, cooperative approach to life because it starts at the time of the year when the hours of day and night are even.

Aries is all about assertive, pioneering, starting energy because the life force is bursting through at the beginning of this sign during Spring in the northern hemisphere.

And so on and so forth.

The seasons do not wait another 24 days for the Sidereal Zodiac to catch up.

In 10,000 years time the hottest time of the year in the northern hemisphere will still be the last 10 days of July and first two thirds of August.  And the character of people born in that time will still be essentially Leonine, despite the fact that the Sidereal Zodiac would probably insist they were Capricorns.

This is the problem. The Sidereal Zodiac seems to apply perfectly well in India as part of the Vedic system. It does not and in my opinion, should not do crossover to the West.

As it stands 80% of people’s sign placements in Tropical change when the Sidereal Zodiac is used. But perhaps the most difficult aspect of this is that they change to the preceding sign. So therefore Taureans become Ariens, Geminis become Taureans and so on.

This is very disconcerting particularly because each sign in astrology is so different to the preceding one. In fact the Zodiac is arranged precisely for this purpose. Each sign is a reaction to the perceived excesses of the previous one.

Virgoan humility and work behind the scenes supporting the underdog is a reaction to the Leo idea of leadership, and effortless superiority.

Gemini movement and adaptability is a reaction to the more fixed and inert qualities of Taurus, and so on and so forth.

So Siderealists claim that the most essential thing in Western Astrology, the individual’s character is completely the opposite to the one they actually have, to the one which actually fits all of the natural conditions of the northern hemisphere.

And they claim this because they are sticking to something that worked 1700 years ago and will probably do so again in another 24,000 years time.

For Capricorn Research, either something works or it doesn’t. Tropical and Sidereal can’t both be right. If they are that makes a complete nonsense of astrology and all the sceptics would be right to dismiss it out of hand.

Astrologers are generally quite broad minded people. They understand that everyone is different and dealing with their own themes. So we accept that some people use Placidus house system and other use Equal House or a Whole Sign house method. Some people swear by asteroids and others don’t like them. Some are traditionalists and some are modern. But then it is acknowledged that even the most obscure methods used by others don’t undermine the very fabric of our own subject.

But this is exactly what Sidereal does. You might believe you’re a Virgo but you are in fact a Leo. Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus in Aries ? No you’re wrong, you have a stellium in Pisces. You are in fact the complete opposite character to the one you’ve believed yourself to be ever since you first picked up an astrology book. It makes a nonsense of everything we work with.

For me, the use of Sidereal for westerners makes no sense at all, and I don’t understand how other astrologers can live alongside it. Perhaps its because I have a relatively simple chart with a lot of consistency.

In the Tropical Zodiac I have the Sun, Moon, Mercury in Capricorn, Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Pisces. Siderealists will tell me I actually have them in Sagittarius, Libra and Aquarius. It would be hard to imagine a more opposite character.

I have had many online discussions with advocates of Sidereal who purport to tell me that I am not who I think I am, in fact I am very much the opposite and that I should take the opportunity to get in touch with my real Sagittarian self. As a professional therapist with forty years experience in fields of self awareness, I am constantly amazed at the arrogance of some of these people who are quite content to point out that I don’t know myself at all and that they, who have merely read a few tweets I have made, are quite certain that I am something else altogether.

My challenge to any Siderealist is to prove to me with examples of famous western people’s charts that their Zodiac works better than Tropical. I have yet to be given any examples that do this.

But I have to warn anyone attempting this challenge that its going to be a difficult one. It may take them until the end of the Great Year itself.

As a triple Capricorn, once my mind is made up, I’m pretty much impossible to shift. So as for Sidereal, I’m ” against it “.



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