Namaste! The basic concepts are quite simple, really, but the following description may gain as well as suffer from the simplicity contained therein. In astrology we are concerned with the observation of the positions of certain bodies and points of significance in space in relation to the Earth, as well as to each other, and with the correspondences between these relative positions and the events which occur on Earth and elsewhere. To make the necessary observations and to translate them into terms of correspondence with events occurring on earth, both physical and subtle, our ancient sages evolved a rational procedure that is based on five main factors: 1. The Zodiac - A fixed background to which all cosmic bodies are referred. This circular band is divided into 12 equal parts called Rashi(s) each measuring 30 degrees in angular extent. 2. The Nakshatr(as) - These are also called asterisms, and are subdivisions of the fixed background or Zodiac into smaller equal parts marked by the fixed stars. The so-called fixed stars themselves move too, but their motion with respect to the planets is very small. Today, most astrologers use 27 Nakshatr(as). 3. The Solar System - the Sun, the Moon and the planets which, like the Earth, comprise our own solar system. The motions of these bodies from point to point within the fixed background and in relation to the Earth. In what is known as heliocentric astrology, these positions are observed in relation to the Sun as the center. 4. The Houses - Visualized divisions in space, radiating out vertically from any particular point on Earth's surface, and marking out divisions of space, traversed by this point during each twenty-four hours, as the Earth turns on its own axis. By "vertical" is meant that the demarcation lines are perpendicular to a linear plane that is tangential to the curved surface of the earth at the point under consideration. 5. Time - Any given moment at which an event occurs, and other moments of significance. 1. The Zodiac In order to determine the planetary and other positions accurately, we use the fixed background called Zodiac as a plane of reference. This zodiacal belt, with the earth as its center in geocentric astrology, is divided into twelve equal sections by lines radiating outwards from the earth at angles 30 degrees apart. These twelve equal sections or divisions of the Zodiac are named and numbered as follows: Division Vedic or Hindu Western Number Terminology Terminology 1 Maysh(a) Aries 2 Vrishabh(a) Taurus Note: The a's within 3 Mithun(a) Gemini parentheses are 4 Kark(a) Cancer pronounced only 5 Singh(a) Leo subtly. 6 Kanya Virgo 7 Tula Libra 8 Vrishchik(a) Scorpio 9 Dhanush Sagittarius 10 Makar(a) Capricorn 11 Kumbh(a) Aquarius 12 Meen(a) Pisces The zodiacal band is in the same plane as the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun all the way around. In one sense, therefore, the Zodiac is the ecliptic extended limitlessly into space. We now arrive at the first great difference between Western astrology as derived from the Egyptians through the Greeks and Romans, and Jyotishi, Vedic astrology -- an original science the records of which are continuous and unmixed with other cultures. This involves the determination of the first, starting point of the circular Zodiac, or the first degree of Mesh(a) or Aries. The original Zodiac as created by the ancient sage-scientists corresponded with the constellations or groups of those fixed stars that are found approximately 30 degrees apart in a belt which appears to encircle the Earth at the ecliptic. Originally, the first degree of Mesh(a) or Aries coincided with some fixed star within the constellation Mesh(a). Vedic astrologers have always used this fixed zodiac and still do. Western Tropical astrologers, on the other hand, use the Vernal Equinoctial Point as the first degree of Aries and this results in a Zodiac which continuously changes position with respect to the stars, due to what is known as the precession of the equinoxes. Today in 1997, this value is about 23 degrees, 49 minutes. Since this point of difference is vital, it is necessary to understand the reasons for this difference and to explain what is meant by precession of the equinoxes. The Earth has four separate and distinct motions. It rotates like a top around its own axis, making a complete rotation every twenty-four hours approximately. It travels in a path or orbit, nearly elliptical in shape, around the Sun, traversing this path in approximately a year. Thirdly, the Earth is tilted at an angle of approximately 23 degrees and at this angle revolves slowly as a top does when coming to rest, tracing as it does so, the figure of an inverted cone whose apex is the South Pole and and whose circular base is traced out by the North Pole. The Earth completes this cycle in approximately 25,870 years. This motion is also called the wobble of the spinning Earth caused by the forces produced by the Sun and the Moon. The fourth type of motion is the motion through the cosmos of our entire solar system and of the galaxy containing it, etc. Let us consider this motion later. It follows that if the Earth were not tilted, the Sun would appear to remain at the Equator at all times, that is, if the imaginary line connecting our North and South planes were perpendicular to the plane containing our orbit around the Sun. But, since the Earth is tilted with respect to this plane, the Sun each year appears to move back and forth across the equator from one hemisphere to the other. The point in its journey northwards where the Sun crosses the celestial equator is called the Vernal Equinox. It occurs about March 21 each year. The celestial equator is the projection of the Earth's equator into the sky and is parallel to the daily east-to-west paths of the stars as they appear to wheel around the celestial poles. The point at which, on its return journey southwards, the Sun crosses the equator again is called the Autumnal Equinox and occurs about September 23 each year. If the Earth, although tilted, did not slowly revolve, its axis describing the cone-shaped figure like a spinning top coming to rest, the Equinoctial Points described above would remain in the same position with reference to the fixed points in the cosmos each year. However, it is due to this motion that the Equinoctial Points change position in reference to fixed points in the cosmos at the rate of approximately 50.25 angular seconds per year. Despite this fact, Western Tropical astrologers continue to use the Vernal Equinox as the first degree of Aries Now, the ancient sage-scientists recorded their observations and the rules of the correspondence between planetary positions and events on earth for thousands of years based on a fixed Zodiac. It follows then, that if one uses a moving Zodiac with respect to the fixed background, then the rules of interpretation must also remain in a state of flux, experimentation and much debate and discussion. Indeed, this is very true of the state of affairs in the system which, for only a little over 1700 years has used a moving Zodiac. The ability of event prediction suffers the most. It is true that every 25,870 years or so the Vernal Equinox will coincide with the fixed star in the constellation Aries which originally marked the beginning of Aries. The last time this phenomenon occurred was about the year 240 CE. Since then, the Vernal Equinox has retrograded away more than 23 degrees. This is why Vedic, Chinese, African and Arab astrologers -- more than 90% of the world's astrologers -- continue to use the relatively-fixed Zodiac that will nearly always be the same with respect to the stars, on the basis of which the hundreds of thousands of rules of horoscope interpretation are based. At the time the fixed Zodiac was adopted for astrological purposes, it had been observed that each of the twelve sections that divided the cosmos into segments or zones of 30 degrees each, indicated certain definite characteristics peculiar to each section. These properties were decisively identified with the particular section of the sky in which they were observed and each segment of the Zodiac thus was eventually distinguished and described by the specific conditions observed to exist in it. The characteristics assigned to the segments of the cosmos are as true today as they were thousands of years ago. That these properties and conditions, unique to each segment of the skies mapped out by fixed stars, should move around with the changing position of that arbitrary point in the cosmos called the Vernal Equinox is illogical and unscientific to the point of absurdity. The error, however, was a natural one and originated with Ptolemy. It is a trap into which modern astrologers fell because they followed the lead of modern astronomers in using the equinoctial points in defining the Zodiac and its divisions. Of course, as has been explained these points are continually moving in relation to the fixed celestial points. The rules of astrological interpretation have been written for thousands of years with respect to the fixed celestial points. But, modern astronomers redefined their constellations about sixty years ago. The International Astronomical Union redrew the boundaries in skies, adding a constellation which they named Ophiuchus. This is the result of their recent revision. The table below lists the dates when the Sun is in the newly defined astronomical constellations of the Zodiac. The dates fluctuate by a day from year to year: *------------* *-------------* Constellations Dates *------------* *-------------* Capriconus Jan 19 - Feb 15 Aquarius Feb 16 - Mar 11 Pisces Mar 12 - Apr 18 Aries Apr 19 - May 13 Taurus May 14 - Jun 19 Gemini Jun 20 - Jul 20 Cancer Jul 21 - Aug 9 Leo Aug 10 - Sep 15 Virgo Sep 16 - Oct 30 Libra Oct 31 - Nov 22 Scorpius Nov 23 - Nov 29 Ophiuchus Nov 30 - Dec 17 Sagittarius Dec 18 - Jan 18 *--------------------------------* In the days of Ptolemy, the Equinoctial Points had once again almost completed another precessional cycle and were indeed approximately aligned with the fixed points in the constellations from which they were originally derived. Hence, the confusion arose which has resulted in perpetuating an astrological error among a small minority of astrologers, namely Tropical astrologers. The Zodiac, therefore, is used first as a plane of reference to facilitate the description of te positions of celestial bodies in such a way that their relationships among themselves can be determined. Secondly, the Zodiac is used to divide the skies into zones of apparently specific indications. To repeat, each of these divisions extends through an arc of 30 degrees; twelve segments therefore completing the 360 degrees of a complete circle. If a planet or star be situated, say, halfway between th beginning of Aries and the beginning of the next segment Taurus, then the position of that planet or star will be described as being fifteen degrees of Aries. If the planet be situated one-third of the distance between the beginning of Gemini and the beginning of cancer, this position will be designated as ten degrees of Gemini. Positions of planets are described in this manner in degrees, minutes and seconds of the segment in which they are located. Each segment is called a Rashi. One could call it a constellation also, except that the modern astronomers have redefined their constellations just sixty years ago and this can cause the same confusion as would be caused by calling these segments "signs" since Tropical astrologers started using "signs" just about 1700 years ago to describe the zones in the moving Zodiac. 2. The Nakshtr(as), or Asterisms Ancient astronomers observed that numerous changes occurred with the 30-degree zones, or Rashi(s), mapped out by the Zodiac. They found it necessary to sub-divide each of the twelves sections of the Zodiac. Using the belt of fixed stars which encircle the earth as markers, the divided the zodiacal background into 27 segments, the boundary of each being marked by a particular fixed star located near the zodiacal belt. These segments are known as the Nakshatr(as) or Asterisms. They begin at the same point in the Rashi of Mesh(a). or Aries, which marks the beginning of the Zodiac, and since each extends over an arc of 13 degrees, 20 minutes, all 27 of them make up the full circle of 360 degrees. Each Nakshatr(a) is further sub-divided into quarters of equal arc. These quarters are called Pada(s). This way, we have now discussed total of 108 divisions superimposing the 12 Rashi divisions. The names of the twenty-seven Nakshatr(as) are: 1 Ashwini 10 Maagh(a) 19 Mool(a) 2 Bharani 11 Poorv(a) Phalguni 20 Poorv(a) Ashadh(a) 3 Krittik(a) 12 Uttar(a) Phalguni 21 Uttar(a) Ashadh(a) 4 Rohini 13 Hasta 22 Shravan(a) 5 Mrigashir(a) 14 Chaitr(a) 23 Dhanisht(a) 6 Ardra 15 Swati 24 Shatabhish(a) 7 Punarvasu 16 Vaishakh(a) 25 Poorv(a) Bhadrapad(a) 8 Paushya 17 Anuradha 26 Uttar(a) Bhadrapad(a) 9 Ashlesh(a) 18 Jyeshth(a) 27 Revati The 27 Nakshatr(as) are divisions of 13 degrees, 20 minutes each and each quarter, Pad(a), of a Nakshatr(a) is therefore 3 degrees, 20 minutes of arc. The angular measurements may be written as 3d20m0s, where d, m and s stand for degrees, minutes and seconds, respectively. We will learn in later lessons that it is necessary to sub- divide the 3d20m quarters into still-smaller divisions as finer properties and characteristics of the star groups are illuminated in the discussion. Jai Maharaj Jyotishi, Vedic Astrologer email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org http://members.tripod.com/~Jyotishi Om Shanti
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