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Slow Global Warming

IT'S THE SAME ZODIAC AS 2,500 YEARS AGO

by Gary Brand - written February 10, 2011,
published in the March 2011 edition of Echo* newspaper
Three Zodiacs and the Zodiac Constellations The innermost wheel depicts the Tropical Zodiac, the signs of which are based upon the four "tropical points," the equinoxes and solstices.  The arrow points to the Spring or Vernal Equinox, the beginning of the Tropical Zodiac.  The four tropical points are also called the "cardinal points" because they constitute the beginning of the four cardinal signs, shown in the inner wheel as 0° Aries, 0° Cancer, 0° Libra, and 0° Capricorn.  Each sign in the Tropical Zodiac is 30 degrees.  The middle wheel is the so-called "Astronomical Zodiac" and contains the names of the constellations of stars with the same names as the signs of the Tropical Zodiac.  The lines that separate them roughly correspond to the figures of the constellations depicted in the outermost wheel.  The constellations with the same names as the signs of the Tropical Zodiac are not each 30 degrees in length and vary widely (note how small Cancer is and how long Virgo is).  The outmost wheel, in addition to containing depictions of the constellations of the Astronomical Zodiac, is divided into 12 segments of 30 degrees each, which constitutes the "Sidereal Zodiac."  In some cases (Taurus and Scorpio) the demarcations of the signs of this zodiac correspond well with the astronomical boundaries of the constellations with the same names.  However, the constellations of Leo, Virgo, and Pisces do not fit within the 30 degree sign boundaries of these Sidereal Zodiac signs and the constellations of Cancer and Libra are much smaller than 30 degrees.

Constellations 1700s Depiction This is a 1700s depiction of the constellations of the heavens.  Note that they are almost all living creatures.  Although nearly impossible to read without magnification, the names and demarcations of the signs of the Tropical Zodiac are around the outmost edge of the circle.

Constellations 1700s Depiction Aries Taurus Inset This is an inset of the 1700s depiction of the constellations of the heavens shown above.  The Spring or Vernal Equinox is shown in the bottom left corner as the beginning of the sign of Aries in the Tropical Zodiac.  The sign of Aries is marked off in 10 degree segments in the outermost edge of the circle.  Yet, the constellation of Pisces (the fish to the immediate left of the ram) encroaches into most of the tropical sign of Aries and the constellation of Aries, shown as a ram lying down and facing backwards, is mostly in the band of sky assigned to the tropical sign of Taurus (labeled as "Tavrvs" at center right).  This displacement of the signs of the Tropical Zodiac from the constellations with the same names, is called "Precession of the Equinoxes" and is the reason that the Tropical Zodiac is also called the "Moving Zodiac."  However, this movement of the signs of the Tropical Zodiac against the backdrop of the constellations of stars is imperceptible to us mere mortals because it retrogresses (moves backwards in the order of the signs of the zodiac) at the rate of 1 degree every 72 years!

Ophiuchus in Zodiac Band This is a depiction of the signs of Capricorn and Sagittarius in the Tropical Zodiac.  The constellation of Sagittarius (labeled "SG") is in the band of the sky defined as the sign of Capricorn and the constellations of Ophiuchus and Scorpio (labeled "SC") are in the band of the sky defined as the sign of Sagittarius.  The alternating black and white line in the center is the ecliptic - the projection of the Earth's orbit onto the sky.  Both of the signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn are divided into thirds by vertical lines.  These thirds are called "faces" by traditional astrologers and decanates or decans by modern astrologers.
By the time you read this, the “non-story” that appeared in the media during January 2011 (at a slow time for real news) will be “old news” but I heard enough comments and received enough questions (including from my wife) to warrant this article.  The “non-story” to which I refer is the claim by some astronomers that astrologers ignore the fact that there are more than 12 constellations in the band of the sky defined as the zodiac.  Although the boundaries given by astronomers to the constellation of Ophiuchus cross the ecliptic, the center of the zodiac (see the diagram at bottom left), the number of constellations in the zodiac is irrelevant and unrelated to the signs of the zodiac used by astrologers.  The reason that such critics and the reporters who parrot them misunderstand this concept is because the signs of the zodiac are not and never have been the same as the constellations that bear the same names!  Unfortunately, this non-story about how astrologers need to “change the zodiac” surfaces every few years, I think to irritate astrologers and to try to discredit the science of astrology in the eyes of the public.  Yes, astrology fits the definition of a science.

The reason I feel compelled to respond to this non-story is illustrated by a brief conversation I recently had with a client.  I sent her the recording I made of our session (via a new electronic venue I am using) and called to verify that she received it.  During this conversation, she asked me if the recent “change in the zodiac” that she had read about altered what I told her during her appointment.  I reassured her that the non-story in the press was based upon completely misconstrued concepts.  She was relieved because she was concerned (before talking to me) that my analysis had been invalidated by the omission of other zodiacal constellations.

The “Tropical Zodiac,” used by about 85% of U.S. astrologers (including myself), has nothing to do with the stars or the constellations in the band of the sky we call the zodiac (a band of eight degrees on both sides of the ecliptic, the earth's orbit projected onto the sky).  Therefore, if astronomers want to claim that this band in the sky contains 13 constellations or 16, their number has no relevance to the Tropical Zodiac whatsoever!  The four “cardinal signs” of the Tropical Zodiac are defined as astronomical events we call the two equinoxes and the two solstices.  The definition of the beginning of the sign of Aries in the Tropical Zodiac is the moment the Sun crosses the Earth's equator directly overhead, going from the southern to the northern hemisphere (in the northern hemisphere this event is called the spring equinox).  Conversely, the definition of the beginning of the sign of Libra in the Tropical Zodiac is the moment the Sun crosses the Earth's equator directly overhead, going from the northern to the southern hemisphere (in the northern hemisphere this event is called the fall equinox).  The definition of the beginning of the sign of Cancer in the Tropical Zodiac is the moment the Sun reaches the northernmost position directly overhead, called the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.  This position of the Sun corresponds to a circle on the Earth that we label by the astrological name, the “Tropic of Cancer.”  At this time of year, the Earth's north polar axis leans toward the Sun.  Conversely, the beginning of the sign of Capricorn in the Tropical Zodiac is the moment the Sun reaches its southernmost position directly overhead.  In the northern hemisphere we call this event the winter solstice and it corresponds to a circle on the Earth that we label by the astrological name, the “Tropic of Capricorn.”  The other signs of the Tropical Zodiac are 30 degree segments of the zodiacal band between the equinoxes and the solstices.

The above definitions of the Tropical Zodiac are based upon astronomical events and are completely independent of and unrelated to the stars or the constellations.  Instead, they are a function of the overhead position of the Sun in Earth's sky and the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the Sun as the Earth moves around its orbit.  So comparing the constellations of the stars with the signs of the Tropical Zodiac is like comparing apples with oranges – they are both fruits but they are otherwise unrelated to each other.  Herein lies the source of confusion by those who have never studied astrology and who unscientifically criticize it – the signs of the zodiac have the same names as the constellations in the zodiac.  The fact that the sign of Pisces does not align with the constellation of Pisces in the sky is irrelevant to the practice of tropical astrology.

There is another zodiac, called the “Sidereal Zodiac,” but its definition is also unrelated to the constellations of stars with the same names as the zodiac signs.  Sidereal means determined by or from the stars so this zodiac is related to one of the constellations in the band of the zodiac – Aries.  This zodiac is used by about 15% of U.S. astrologers but it is almost exclusively used by astrologers in India (called eastern astrologers).  However, the definition of this zodiac is unrelated to the number or size of the constellations of stars found in the band of the zodiac (tropical or sidereal).  The sign of Aries in the Sidereal Zodiac is defined as beginning at a point in the constellation of Aries and each of the 12 signs of this zodiac are demarcated as 30 degree segments measured from this point.

In conclusion, most astrologers today use the same Tropical Zodiac introduced by the Hellenistic Greeks 2,500 years ago and those who criticize astrology without first examining it are in the same category with the people who conducted the Inquisition (condemnation based upon prejudice, not investigation).
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*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida
850-656-5758


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