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Is Tropical Astrology Valid?

Updated on January 8, 2022
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Is tropical astrology valid? Or is it just an artifact of the time of Ptolemy? Is sidereal astrology the valid zodiac?

Here we will take a look at the three zodiac systems, constellations, sidereal and tropical, and then we will discuss their validity.

Constellational Zodiac

The constellational zodiac is based on the actual constellations. The boundaries for the signs are the same as the boundaries of the constellations. Therefore Virgo is much larger than Cancer, for instance. And some constellations overlap, so I'm not sure how astrology works here. The constellations are those in the ecliptic, in which the Sun, Moon, and planets move.

The constellational zodiac was probably the first system used in astrology in ancient times. Some, though few, modern astrologers use it and sometimes include Ophiuchus, which lies partway on the plane of the ecliptic.

Sidereal Zodiac

The sidereal zodiac is an idealized zodiac, divided into 12 signs of 30 degrees each. It is roughly aligned with the constellations. It is unsure exactly where the sidereal zodiac starts, as no one can agree where the signs are divided.

There are differing Ayanamsas, or calculations for 0 Aries, the start of the sidereal zodiac. Ayanamsas can differ by hundreds of years.

Tropical Zodiac

The tropical zodiac is another idealized zodiac, this time aligning with the seasons, not the constellations. In fact, the tropical zodiac has virtually no relationship to the constellations of the ecliptic.

Like the sidereal, the tropical zodiac has 12 signs of 30 degrees each. In the tropical zodiac, Aries is always the start of the spring around March 21, the vernal equinox.

So Which Zodiac is Valid?

Due to the Precession of the Equinoxes, the tropical and sidereal zodiacs differ by about one sign or 24 degrees. The tropical will keep falling back by one's sign every 2000 years or so.

They coincide once per precession. The last time they coincided was around the first or second century AD. The exact time can't be accurately calculated, as no one agrees on zero Aries.

The tropical zodiac, from my best guess, was "frozen in time" by Ptolemy, who popularized the seasonal, tropical zodiac.

Does this mean the tropical zodiac is not valid? I am unsure. Honestly, I see no reason that Aries must be in spring, or that the signs must coincide with their tropical seasons. I think it is just an artificial artifact of the zodiac being adopted at that time. I could be wrong though, and it will take more study to figure it out.

So which zodiac is valid? Do we follow the sidereal zodiac, as it is more in line with the constellations? If we did, then how often would we have to readjust it, to keep it in line with the constellations? At least every 2000 or so years for sure, for the change of the ages.

What is the Precession?

The Precession of the Equinoxes is the slow backward movement of the signs of the zodiac, as seen during the equinox before the sun rises. On the spring equinox, if you look at the sky before the sunrise, you will see a constellation of the zodiac. The constellations slowly move backward by one degree every 72 years. So in 2160 years, there will be a new sign and a New Age. Right now we are at the end of Pisces and near the beginning of Aquarius.

Each Precessional cycle, one time through the zodiac, is 25,920 years.

What's My Sign?

You may hear how your sign isn't really your sign, and there is truth to that. It just depends on whether you are going by the tropical or the sidereal zodiac. For instance, my tropical sign is Taurus, while my sidereal is Aries.

So it is really up to each individual to decide which astrology to follow. I notice that as time goes on, the less I am inclined to follow the tropical zodiac.

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