The difference between Vedic or Sidereal astrology and Tropical or Western astrology comes from different ecliptic coordinates. Tropical astrology uses the Spring Equinox as the point when the Sun moves into the 1st degree of the sign Aries. Therefore, you must know whether the sun sign is based on western system of astrology (western zodiac) or Indian system of astrology (Indian zodiac). Some newspapers /magazines publish horoscopes on the basis of western sun signs and some on the basis of Vedic sun signs. Reading a wrong horoscope can lead the readers to wrong paths. The complex ‘s main attraction is a planetarium based on Vedic cosmology as well as exhibitions about the Vedic arts, sciences, and culture as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam. After completion, the temple will be the biggest in the world, second to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Sri Sri Krishna Balarama Mandir, Vrindavan.
We are a rare community, us astrologers. We share acomplete language system—the astrological language. And we all lovefinding new friends who speak our astrological language. There aredialects of our language, too. Sometimes these dialects are SO distinctit may seem like we don’t share a language at all. You can seethese big dialectical differences when you compare modern westernastrology to Vedic astrology, Chinese astrology, or even when Hellenisticastrology is compared to Evolutionary astrology. As our world becomesmore diverse, as we each learn about “others,” it’simportant that we continue to be communities that respect and learn fromothers. This includes becoming familiar with different astrologicaldialects. As an astrologer who works with both Western astrology andVedic astrology I am “translating” dialects all the time.
When you work with more than one system there is a risk ofcombining rules and patterns in a willy-nilly way that becomes a bitmessy and a lot less precise. This can work, but it means tossing outmillennia of patterns that definitely work, thereby muddying the interpretive process. Not that it can’t be done: I’ve knownastrologers who put together what, in my mind, are the most bizarrecombinations and come out with valid information. I think the beauty ofour field is that we are working with a hologram of the actual UNIVERSEof meaning, and no matter where you stand to look at the hologram, it hasa fair chance of showing you the true picture.
My approach to using two systems is to keep them separate. Yes,there are techniques that bridge both systems: Graphic ephemerides andSabian symbols point to spots in the sky and defines circumstances bythat point rather than by the zodiac used. The Moon’s point is where the Moon IS, whether you call it Taurus, Aries, or McGillicudy. Andyes, there are parts to Vedic astrology that have shaped my approach toWestern astrology, but a lot of that is my early introduction to Westernastrology left out a lot of detail. When reading charts for clients, I goback and forth constantly. It’s possible this weird combination hasto do with my early exposure to Hellenistic astrology.
In the early 90’s the astrological world was blessed by thework of Robert Hand, Robert Schmidt, and Robert Zoller who dug up (almostliterally) untranslated astrological texts from the ancient world—inGreek, Latin, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew. These had never been translated into modern languages. Even the work of Hermes Trismegistus contained a lot of astrological material which was simply LEFT OUT of translations because “astrology is nonsense so why translate it.” ARHAT and Project Hindsight started publishing translations and givingseminars on what they were learning about ancient western astrology. Theproblem was, they were finding text fragments that gave long lists ofrules and then the fragment would end and no one knew what to do withpartially discovered rules. With time, they discovered many fragmentsfrom different writers that seemed to be part of a complete body ofknowledge. They worked on piecing the fragments together to reveal afull body of astrological knowledge that had been lost to us. As aresult, many current young astrologers are focused on ancient westernastrology. Yahoo daily horoscope aries.
At that time, however, I was already studying Vedic astrology. Ikept seeing vague parallels to the interpretive patterns of Vedicastrology in these ancient western fragments. Feelings were floatingaround in my body that I might well have been a Greek astrologer at thetime, sometime in 300BC-200AD, when eastern and western techniques first“met” each other, and the West was fascinated by the learningof the East and the East also learned from the West. I knew this washome territory for me, but I also knew my love was the PRACTICE ofcounseling astrology, and at that time there wasn’t enoughinformation for the ancient western stuff to be useful in practice. Withfive planets in earth signs, my system had to be useful, so myfocus would have to be on the Vedic tradition which, though ancient and in need of re-interpretation for modern western cultures, still existedintact. So I kept my ear open for the ancient rediscoveries, subscribedto the Project Hindsight translations and workshops, and practiced Vedicand Western astrology.
To see how Western astrology changes relate to changes in Vedicastrology, look at the work of the brilliant Indian astrologer, andteacher K.N. Rao. Rao has spent his astrological career testing out oldrules against current circumstances and updating out-of-time interpretations. In Rao’s astrology a certain combination no longermakes you the “owner of 10,000 elephants”. It makes you avery wealthy person. And the pattern that used to say“prostitute” is now found in the charts of many uprightactors and actresses who “sell their bodies to the public” byplaying heroes and villains on screen. So the Vedic tradition has rulesthat hold true if you take into account the culture and attitudes of thetimes. The changes have to do with updating conclusions to relate to themodern culture rather than losing whole bodies of techniques and thendiscovering fragments and figuring things out from scratch.
Western astrology has had a very different past. Western astrologyhas been lost and found innumerable times in the past 2000 years.Contributing to the confusion and astrological changes of THESE times, wenotice a funny thing happened to astrology in last 150 years. In the late1800’s Alan Leo, deciding astrology was too complex for the masses, introduced Sun Sign astrology, seeding the ubiquitous “Astrology(Sun Sign) Columns” in public newspapers and magazines today andcreating a huge rise in popularity of astrology. Before that time,astrologers were not even part of general awareness. In the first half ofthe 20th century, new astrologers centered the field with a primaryawareness of Sun signs. Works published in the early 20th century werestill using techniques which were almost entirely lost to astrologers whodiscovered the field after Alan Leo’s work.
This difference of astrological continuity is, in my opinion, thebiggest difference between western and Vedic astrology. Western astrology wasn’t concerned about turning “elephants” into “wealth” because we forgot allabout “elephants”. But each re-discovery of Western astrologyincorporates current world understandings into astrological science. Sunsign astrology came along at about the time Freud’s work enteredthe world. It was active when Carl Jung started using astrology in hisanalytical work with clients. Sun sign astrology based ALL planetarypositions on Sun sign interpretation. If you have Venus in Aries, justapply all the Sun sign Aries traits to the subject of Love and Money. Ifyou have Mars in Capricorn, just apply all the Sun sign traits ofCapricorn to Action, Energy, Anger… and so on. There’s nothinginherently incorrect about this, but it meant folks were doing astrologywithout any other techniques, therefore leaving a lot of gaps of detailsand understanding.
Thanks to Freud, Jung, Adler, Charles Tart and others, the wholefield of psychology and later transpersonal psychology seeped into andbegan filling the cracks and crevices in the incomplete Sun-signastrological system. Late 20th century astrologers found astrology to bea microscope onto the psychological and spiritual development ofindividuals. How brilliant! And this developed becauseof a lack of specific techniques.
Then astrological trends continued for another step and declaredpredictive astrology to be Wrong, both morally and practically, because“people can always transcend their astrological fate andastrologers shouldn’t make people feel they have no choices.”People using predictive astrology were now seen as fatalistic andbackward-thinking.
Obviously, there’s stuff left out here. If astrology teachesus anything, it’s that the world doesn’t work when we thinkThis OR That. It works when we see This AND That. Fate OR Free will? Rather Fate AND Free will!
People can change their fate IF they know how to handle correctlythe energy fields they find themselves in. One WILL find themselves indifficult energy situations. Free will is in what you DO there. Forinstance, most young people faced with a Pluto challenge fight it untilthe situation gets really ugly. Most people would be aided by an astrologer’s advice on how to surrender to the energies of Pluto,etc. etc. But one doesn’t NEED an astrologer to do this.
My youngest brother, David is a neurologist, with no interest in oruse for weird things like astrology. So I kept my mouth shut for years,knowing I’d otherwise be thrown out of the conversation. I did wonder when Pluto in Sag would be squaring his Gemini Sun. He was in medschool at the time. So after he was out of med school and in practice—anda bit mellowed--I asked him what happened that year. I suggested thatsomeone who had more power than he was standing in his way in a mannerthat could have damaged his career. He said there was nothing bad thathappened, but that his adviser and research director had somethingagainst ANY idea that he proposed. He knew what he wanted to do for aresearch project and knew that the advisor would oppose it just becauseDavid asked for it, so he talked with a friend. The friend was anotherstudent that the advisor just loved. David asked his friend to suggestthis would be a good idea for research but it would be an awful project…. so why don’t you get David to do it. Result: my brothergot the project he wanted! Without astrology—but he used the correct technique to overcome the Pluto problem.
Those who say we can overcome the disasters of difficult transits arecorrect, but you can’t do it without knowing something, eitherinstinctively or astrologically.
One reason I believe late 20th century western astrologers backedoff from predictions is because not all predictions are about goodthings. How do you tell someone their daughter will be in a terribleaccident in early March? How do you leave it out? My life changed whenI discovered the remedies of Vedic astrology.
One thing that changed is that instead of being afraid to tell a clientof a difficult future energy system, I can now tell them what couldhappen if they don’t do remedies and what might happen if they doremedies. The feedback from this is marvelous, and there’s nolonger the problem of seeing something bad and trying to decide whetheror not to warn someone. There are arguments that doing remedies is to putsomething other than yourself in control over your life, and that we have the power to change things ourselves and shouldn’t “give ourpower over” to remedies. Saints and wise men and women mayinstinctively adjust to difficult energy systems, but most peopledon’t fall in that category. Some of these saints and wise-persons,demonstrating how astrology doesn’t control them, have deliberatelychosen awful dates to start some enterprise that ends up being successful. I’d bet they knew systems to remedy the planetarydifficulties! Sharing remedy systems that allow a person to change theirfate allows everyday people to get a glimpse of Life on the Wise Side.
Another of the basic questions about Vedic “vs.”western astrology is about the sidereal vs. tropical zodiac. There isabout 24 degrees of difference between the two zodiacs, so 4/5’s ofany western sign will be the previous sign in Jyotish. If your westernSun is around 24 degrees or later, you’ll keep your same sun sign.People are always saying stuff like “but I’m CLEARLY an Ariesand not at all a Pisces, of all things!” The answer is that Ariesand Pisces don’t have the western personality characteristicsyou’re thinking of. These are two totally different interpretationsystems. Vedic astrologers are more interested in what HOUSE a planet isin and where is the dispositor (e.g., for the Pisces Sun, where is Jupiter? What sign? What house?) In Jyotish (Vedic astrology) the answerto what sign you are will be totally unrelated to the Sun and unrelatedto SIGNS. It will be the Nakshatra, or lunar mansion, of the Moon. AnIndian who is asked “what’s your astrological sign?”will answer with the name of the Nakshatra. The Moon has 27 lunarmansions, and these are the “signs” associated with personality characteristics. The basic interpretation system in Jyotishstarts with planetary house/sign/Nakshatra placements and withdispositors’ house/sign/Nakshatras (well, also aspects, which aredifferent, too).
And of course there’s the Fate vs Free Will question. Late20th century Western astrology stresses free will over everything, buteveryone has had certain experiences in life that definitely feel likeFate. Indian astrology offers answers to these questions, too. There aresome things that are SO strongly indicated in a chart that they are partof what is called “fixed karma”. Out of 24 ways of determining whether or not a person will have children, 23 of them, in my chart, are flat out “no” answers. One says it might happen ifI try real hard with a lot of technical help. Despite having wantedchildren for several decades and doing what I could to get pregnant, itnever happened. When I discovered this pattern in my forties I wasrelieved to be able to follow astrology without worrying about supportinga child. Other kinds of karma give more choice. And remedies can changethe situation UNLESS the Karma is fixed. (They can help emotionally evenwhen the karma IS fixed.) When you combine the contemporarypsycho-spiritual awareness of the western chart with the fate-free-willanswers of the Indian chart, one can have a much clearer idea of what ispossible and what we must prepare to accept (or, learn to love).
Modern western culture tends to suggest that we should be in charge ofeverything in our lives. Carl Jung said the key to happiness is to“love what IS”. To think we are the ultimate decider of everything in our lives is, to my mind, an inappropriate arrogance. Noneof us are autonomous. We are part of a large system in which all partsinteract and affect the others. We are all subject to outsidecircumstances. We may have decided to enter life in a difficult family,during a long-lasting war, in a land where climate change forces lifechanges, where a loved-one dies prematurely. Once that first decision ismade our freedom is in how we respond to these situations. We can own ourown power, but we can’t claim the power of the gods, or Fateitself. It’s helpful to know the difference. Seeing how theinterpretive insights of the two major astrological systems overlap andinteract adds to one’s ability to see the big picture.
So using both Western and Vedic astrology gives us both history andcontemporary views on life and how it works for us. It gives usopportunities to make the most of any situation and allows us to seeprecisely what energy systems we’re living in. In future articles we’ll cover more specific technique-related examples of how thesesystems work together.
All images: CC0 Creative Commons, via pixabay.com
First published in: www.infinityastrologicalmagazine.com, Nov/Dec 2018.
Anne Beversdorf is a practicing astrologer in Texas, with clients around the world. In her 26+ years as an astrologer she has read 18,000-20,000 charts. Anne is also the foundinglibrarian for the Alexandria iBase Project’s Astro-Cat and author of thebook Vedic Secrets to Happiness, (available on Amazon) a highlypraised book of Vedic astrological remedies reverse-engineered so anyonecan figure out what remedies to use. Anne always welcomes new clients. [email protected]; www.stariel.com
© 2018 - Anne Beversdorf - Infinity Astrological Magazine
By Alison Bodhani, Vedic Astrologer and Guest Author for Astrological Gem International
In order to understand the differences between gem prescription in Western Astrology and Vedic Astrology, one must first understand some of the key differences between the two systems. There is actually not a terrific amount of overlay between them, but to the casual observer, it can become confusing because of the one (sort of) overlay that they do share.
To understand this (sort of) overlay we must first consider a few astronomical basics. Every ancient culture spent a lot of time with the night sky. There was no electricity so the only available light after sundown, other than a fire – a dim event by today’s night baseball standards- was the vast smorgasbord of stars overhead. Today, electrical lighting means that two-thirds of the world’s population cannot see the Milky Way from home. Only a few of the brightest stars bleed through the perfusion of artificial light. It makes stars seem almost scanty, nicely spaced, a bit Zen as it were, but if one sees the night sky without this obstruction, a fecund glittering awaits, a carpet of twinkling jewels so thickly heaped, they can only have been strewn by an excessively generous hand.
In the ancient world, we spent every night with that sky, stewing in its rich meanings for a sufficient amount of time to translate some of its cosmic information into human understanding. Part of that understanding particularly equated, in many cultures, to a particular band of sky termed the zodiac. This is the band of sky that the Sun, Moon and planets appear to traverse. Like a circular race track, all planetary bodies stay within its confines. It is 16 degrees wide.
Different cultures have taken this particular band of stars and divided it up into different star groupings that correlate with particular archetypes. These groupings of stars are called constellations. They are both culturally subjective and universal and how the stars are grouped varies from culture to culture.
Herein lies the confusing overlay between Western and Vedic astrology. While the two systems are very different, both make use of twelve constellations of 30 degrees each (12×30 = 360 = a circle) whose names and images are mostly identical. When either a Western person or an Indian person identifies themselves as being born under a particular sign, they are referencing one of these twelve constellations, but what they mean by that appellation is not the same for two major reasons.
Firstly, Western astrologers usually use the tropical zodiac while Vedic astrologers usually use the sidereal zodiac. What this means is the following. While both systems are making use of the same ribbon of sky, they see its start point and end point at different places on the ribbon. In Western astrology, the starting point of the ribbon is the position of the Sun at the vernal equinox. Western astrologers term this 1 degree of Aries. However, the constellation the Sun occupies at the vernal equinox changes through time, so except for once every 26,000 years, it is not an astronomical reality that the Sun occupies 1 degree of Aries at the vernal equinox.
In Vedic astrology this change is tracked such that 1 degree of Aries remains 1 degree of Aries regardless of what constellation the Sun falls in at the vernal equinox. Right now, the Sun falls at around seven degrees of Pisces at the vernal equinox. Pisces precedes Aries. Therefore (30-23=7), planets ascribed in one constellation in Western astrology will usually occupy the preceding constellation in Vedic astrology. They will only continue to occupy the same constellation, but at a different degree, if they fall in the last seven degrees of a constellation. That is difference number one.
Secondly, it is important to remember that the Sun, Moon and planets all occupy constellations. In the Western world, when someone references their “sign” they are describing the constellation the Sun occupied at their time of birth. The Sun travels 1 degree per day. Therefore, it takes 30 days for it to pass through one constellation. A very large number of people are born in a month. In Vedic astrology, when someone references their sign, they are describing the constellation on the Eastern horizon at the moment of their birth. The Earth rotates 360 degrees in 24 hours, or about 15 degree per hour. That means the same constellation is on the Eastern horizon for about two hours, a much shorter span of time than 30 days. In the Vedic view, the Eastern horizon is where the Sun rises and the day begins. A birth is the beginning of individual being and therefore symbolically correlates to sunrise, so the constellation on the Eastern horizon most strongly represents the individual. Also, it is the fastest changing astronomical factor in a horoscope, and is, therefore, the most individual specific.
Thus, the initial seeming similarity breaks down quickly.
Now, let us turn to the subject of gemstone prescriptions. While both systems make use of gemstones, they do so in very different ways. In Western astrology, each Sun sign has a birthstone or two, but there is no great depth of meaning to which Sun sign is accorded which birthstone. This practice of assigning birthstones is quite new in Western astrology. Various scholars state that it began in Germany in the late 1500s or in Poland in the 1800s. Supposedly, the original gemstone lists, which also varied, were to be in accordance with the 12 gemstones on Aaron’s breastplate, but there is no definitive scholarly work on what gemstones were on Aaron’s breastplate to begin with. Lists of gemstones varied from place to place until a the National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas in 1912 and standardized the list. It was updated in 2013.
In Vedic astrology, gemstones occupy a much older, richer and more complex tradition. Gemstones are recognized as carrying very special, potent energies that can influence the wearer and his/her reality. Gemstones are assigned, not to constellations, but to planets. They are assigned because their inherent qualities accord with the inherent qualities of the planet in question. Both the mineral and its color represent attributes of its ruling planet. By the rules of correspondence, the gem of a planet can enhance the effect of that planet in a person’s life for good or ill.
With Vedic gem prescription, people are not divided into twelve groups with everyone in a group getting the same gemstone assigned. Rather, gemstones are prescribed on an individual basis after looking at the entire horoscope of an individual. It is understood that the right gemstone can alleviate suffering and contribute to success, prosperity and harmony while the wrong gemstone can have the opposite effect. It depends on the placement of the planets in the horoscope. Such a prescription is best done by a knowledgeable expert.