Calculations for my readings are based on the sidereal zodiac, primarily used in Vedic astrology, and not the Tropical zodiac, used by most Western astrologers. Tropical calculations differ from sidereal calculations by 24 degrees at present, and will account for the variance in planetary positions if you are more familiar with your Western chart. The Tropical zodiac is aligned with the equinoxes and solstices, while the sidereal zodiac is aligned with the constellations.
- Gary O'Toole, Vedic Astrologer
Did you know around 86% of us were actually born under a different constellation to our star sign? The dates of the ‘star signs’ were fixed, over 2,000 years ago, when the zodiac was first devised. Then, they corresponded to the constellation of stars that appeared behind the Sun on the day you were born. But an astronomical phenomenon, known as precession, means that the constellations have drifted since then. So which stars were you actually born under?
- Dara O'Briain, BBC Presenter
86 per cent of people have a different sign than they thought is true. It is the result of a process called precession, where the Earth behaves like a spinning top, which takes 26,000 years and has at the moment moved the zodiac by about a month.
- Andrew Griffin, The Independant
SOme differences between Vedic and Western astrology
by gary O'toole
There are many differences between western and Vedic astrology but one key difference is how the tropical zodiac, used in Western astrology and the sidereal zodiac, used in Vedic astrology, actually view the stars. It is the difference in degrees between where the vernal equinox is actually placed astronomically (6 degrees Pisces at present) and tropically as viewed by most Western astrologers on March 21st, when the Sun is seen to pass through the first degree of Aries. This is because our view of this point is actually moving due to a tilt of the earth on its axis. When the earth returns to the same position each year there is a difference in our view of the fixed stars. This is known as the procession of the equinoxes. Since both the tropical and sidereal (meaning stars) zodiacs were viewed at the same position in 285 A. D. and have been moving apart at a rate of about 1 degree every 72 years, the astronomical difference between the two has now reached 24 degrees.
The longitudinal difference between them is known as Ayanamsa. This will account for the difference in planetary positions you will experience once having your Vedic astrology chart drawn up for your time of birth if you have had a Western horoscope calculated for you previously. In other words, in order to arrive at an astronomically correct chart for interpretation, you must take your western chart and move everything back by 24 degrees. This would place most planets in the previous sign, unless a planet reached the end of a sign as viewed in the tropical zodiac. This is because the zodiac is divided into 30 degree Sun signs.
Another key difference is the use of the lunar signs in Vedic astrology, in which 27 or 28 Moon signs - Nakshatras - divide the zodiac. The lunar signs have their roots in a more ancient system of interpretation and divide the zodiac up using 13 degrees and 20 minutes per sign. Each lunar sign has its own characteristics and planetary rulers, just as with the Sun signs. One thing to note is that the Sun signs are used more for the resources and physical circumstances an individual experiences, whereas the Moon signs show how the mind is functioning around those circumstances.
Divisional charts hone in on particular areas of life by dividing the natal chart. If, for example, the native wishes to look at career prospects, then it is not just the 10th house that is consulted in the natal chart, but also the 10th divisional chart. This is calculated by dividing each sign of the natal chart into 10 degree sections. Another chart is then calculated and interpreted alongside the birth chart. There are many divisional charts which are used in chart interpretation but the main chart utilized is the 9 division, known as the Navamsha chart. This chart is used to see the blessings of an individual, one of which is the spouse. These divisional charts are given more importance than western harmonic charts are given, especially the ninth division Navamsha chart which is seen as just as important as the natal chart, and is always used side-by-side with the natal chart for all interpretations. These interpretations are taken into account for all analysis, whether this is expressed to you in your consultation.
Unique to Vedic astrology is the planetary periods analysis. These show which planets are active in any given time period in a person's life. In this way a person's karma can be seen to have ripened and is ready to be eaten. These periods are known as dasas and are used in timing events. In planetary periods a certain planet will influence the life more and the planets elemental energies will become pronounced at that time. For example, if an individual is experiencing a Saturn period in life, they will display more air-type imbalances, especially if Saturn is adversely placed in the birth chart, and the individual already has an imbalance of air from birth. The foresight which Vedic astrology gives is a way of preparing for each period in life, as well as the effects of the transits of planets which bring their influence to different areas of life.
The planet which is active influences use at that time, so that we are directed to think and act in order to express our unique karma. Each planet represents a different aspect of the karma we are to experience in this lifetime, and in planetary periods the results of these are known.
Grahas (Heavenly Bodies)
The word graha means 'to grab' or 'to seize'. They are the 9 'seizers' which hold the karma we experience in life. The 9 grahas or 'heavenly bodies' used in Vedic astrology are; the luminaries (Sun and Moon), the five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) and the nodes of the Moon (Rahu and Ketu). The Sun represents the supreme soul and the Moon represents the individuated self and projected mind. The nodes of the Moon represent our Karmic axis and show the key lessons our soul is here to learn in this lifetime, the north node (Rahu) compelling us to create new Karma and the south node (Ketu) showing us where we have come from. The five planets represent the five elements and show the essence of our life experience. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus and Mercury represent the elements of space, air, fire, water and earth.
During planetary periods each 'planet' will take hold and express its nature through us, showing how we live out our individual karmas, based on the unique formation of these planets in the birth chart. In this way it can be seen that at different times in life we experience patterns which seem to repeat themselves, but in different circumstances. We feel compelled to move in certain directions at certain times in our lives. This is the influence of the planets and when we can understand their influence we can make great progress by expressing them in a way which benefits ourselves and others.
Karmas and Upaye (Actions and Remedies)
The Vedic birth chart is itself a map of an individual's karma which has fructified in this lifetime. This is known as Prarabhda Karma and is the Karma which is currently being experienced and causing reactions which creates Kriyamana Karma or the Karma which a person is currently creating; the fruits of which will be experienced in the future. Sanchita Karma is the whole storehouse of Karma which has been accumulated by the soul over many lifetimes. The Vedic birth chart shows the Karma our soul has come to live out in this incarnation, but with the knowledge of ones Karma one can remedy a situation. The awareness alone can ease any difficulty we are having with certain aspects of our life experience. Remedies are an integral part of Vedic astrology and offer an effective way of living with challenging Karma, as well as making the most of positive actions which are bearing fruit now, while creating more beneficial influences for the future.
The Outer Planets
Another key difference between Western astrology and Vedic astrology is that the Vedic system does not traditionally use the outer planets beyond Saturn; namely Uranus, Neptune and the dwarf planet Pluto. One reason for this is that they are not visible to the naked eye and were not used in classical Vedic astrology. Some modern day Vedic astrologers (myself included) do use the outer planets in their interpretations, but classically they are not used and do not fit into this approach. 'Neo-Vedic astrologers' must fit them into their analysis alongside traditional methods.
OM TAT SAT
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