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Zodiac Zodiac
Western Astrology

Western astrology

Western astrology is the system of astrology most popular in Western countries. Western astrology originated in Mesopotamia during the 2nd millennium BC, from where it spread to much of the world. After spreading to Egypt, where further developments occurred, it then arrived into Greek or Hellenistic culture, where the Greek astronomer and astrologer Ptolemy in his work Tetrabiblos laid the foundations of the Western tradition. Western astrology is largely horoscopic, that is, it is largely based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment in time, such as a person's birth, in which various cosmic bodies are said to have an influence. In modern Western sun sign astrology, only the location of the Sun is considered.

The zodiac is the belt or band of constellations through which the Sun, Moon, and planets move on their journey across the sky. Astrologers noted these constellations and so attached a particular significance to them. Over time they developed the system of twelve signs of the zodiac, based on twelve of the constellations they considered to be particularly important. Most western astrologers use the tropical zodiac beginning with the sign of Aries at the Northern hemisphere Vernal Equinox always on or around March 21 of each year. Due to a phenomenon called precession of the equinoxes (where the Earth's axis slowly rotates like a spinning top in a 25,700 year cycle), there is a slow shift in the correspondence between Earth's seasons (and calendar) and the constellations of the zodiac. For this reason some Western astrologers use the Sidereal zodiac which still uses the actual star positions.

The Twelve Signs

                    Sign

                  Dates


Aries

(The Ram)

March 21 to April 20.


Taurus

(The Bull)

April 21 to May 20.


Gemini

(The Twins)

May 21 to June 20.


Cancer

(The Crab)

June 21 to July 21.


Leo

(The Lion)

July 22 to August 22.


Virgo

(The Virgin)

August 23 to September 22.


Libra

(The Scale)

September 23 to October 22.


Scorpio

(The Scorpion)

October 23 to November 21.


Sagittarius

(The Archer)

November 22 to December 21.


Capricorn

(The Sea-goat)

December 22 to January 20.


Aquarius

(The Water Bearer)

January 21 to February 19.


Pisces

(The Fish)

February 20 to March 20.

Zodiac sign for an individual depends on the placement of planets and the ascendant in that sign. If a person has nothing placed in a particular sign, that sign will play no active role in their personality. On the other hand a person with, for example, both the sun and moon in Cancer, will strongly display the characteristics of that sign in their make up. 

Star Signs or Sun-Signs Characteristics:

ARIES - Assertiveness, Urgency, Energy, Candidness, Selfishness, Enthusiasm

TAURUS - Patience, Possessiveness, Reliability, Self-Indulgence, Persistence, Warmth

GEMINI - Communication, Versatility, Restlessness, Wit, Intelligence, Cleverness

CANCER - Sensitivity, Emotion, Protectiveness, Moodiness, Imagination, Affection

LEO - Generosity, Expansiveness, Affection, Dominance, Creativity, Impression

VIRGO - Analysis, Criticism, Modesty, Meticulousness, Intelligence, Selectivity

LIBRA - Charm, Easygoing Tendency, Diplomacy, Sociability, Gullibility, Resentfulness

SCORPIO - Passion, Intensity, Intuition, Attractiveness, Jealousy, Compulsiveness

SAGITTARIUS - Philosophical Tendency, Optimism, Intelligence, Exploration, Tactlessness

CAPRICORN - Prudence, Manipulation, Practicality, Ambition, Discipline

AQUARIUS - Independence, Humaneness, Innovation, Honesty, Invention, Aloofness

PISCES - Sensitivity, Imagination, Pensiveness, Kindness, Intuition, Indecisiveness

Animal Signs: 

RAT - Charm, Aggressiveness, Restlessness

OX - Loyalty, Consistency, Diligence

TIGER - Courage, Power

RABBIT - Delicacy, Kindness, Popularity

DRAGON - Strength, Power, Energy

SNAKE - Wisdom, Diplomacy

HORSE - Ardor, Productivity

SHEEP - Artistry, Gentleness

MONKEY - Fantasy, Merriness

ROOSTER - Frankness, Enthusiasm

DOG - Compassion, Loyalty, Duty

PIG - Sincerity, Generosity, Chivalry

The Chinese Zodiac and the Western Zodiac share many similarities yet their differences are quite substantial. Like each Chinese Zodiac sign has a Western counterpart, for example the Chinese Zodiac sign Tiger has similar characteristics to the Western Zodiac sign Aquarius while the Chinese Zodiac sign Pig is actually quite different than its Western counterpart Scorpio.

The reason behind the differences in Zodiac signs is based on how the astrologers make their calculations. Chinese astrologers base their calculations on the moon and its cycles, that is, on the lunar year. Western astrologers base theirs on the solar year. Thus, Western signs are called sun signs. In Western astrology the month sign while in Chinese astrology it is the year sign. Chinese astrology also has month signs. Chinese months are not named (just numbered) and use the same names as year signs. So, there is such a thing as a Wood Sheep year and a Wood Sheep month.

Western signs are usually designated by one word, for example, Aquarius, and change from month to month. Chinese signs are designated by two Chinese characters and change from year to year. One character designates the year’s element and the other its animal sign, for example, Earth Tiger.

The Chinese have used both decimal based calendars as in the West as well as a twelve year based calendar. The two are both used simultaneously by Chinese astrologers, thus resulting in the compound signs.

Actually, Chinese astrology has four signs, one for the year, the month, the day and the hour of birth. In texts these are often referred to as the four pillars. This may sound different, but even here there is a similarity with Western astrology. That system, for example, uses hour signs as well, calling them ascendants.

Chinese Astrological signs are based on the year of your birth. Western or occidental signs are based on the month you were born. Chinese signs have animal names. Western signs have celestial names. They run through all 12 months from Aries in the very beginning of the system to Pisces at the end.

Vedic vs Western Astrology

The first thing to notice when you compare a Western and Vedic chart is that the Vedic chart looks very different. Western chart is round shape whereas the Vedic chart is square. If you are familiar with Western astrology, upon careful examination, the Vedic chart will appear to have planets aligned with the wrong constellations (signs). A natal chart [or a birth chart] reading reveals the differing sign and house changes of planets in the Vedic chart.

For example, suppose, according to Western astrology, your Sun sign is in Capricorn. In the Vedic system, it could be in Sagittarius. Your rising sign and the other planets might also be in unfamiliar signs. However, this does not mean that Vedic astrology is inaccurate. It simply calculates a horoscope differently. The interpretations are most often more precise than in Western astrology.

Western astrology emphasizes the psychological nature of the individual, but lacks reliability for predicting future cycles and events. Although Vedic astrology also defines a person’s psychological nature, it gives more focus to understanding when certain events are likely to take place.

Vedic astrology gives a better view of a person’s karmic tendencies when such tendencies are likely to manifest for that person.

The times of life events are shown through a detailed system of planetary time cycles, called “dashas.” There is no corresponding method in Western astrology. Western astrologers, who make a study of it, often find themselves converting to Vedic astrology because of its greater scope, depth and accuracy for predicting the future.

Astronomical Differences between Western and Vedic Astrology

The basic difference between the two systems is that the Vedic zodiac is Sidereal and the Western is Tropical. In Sidereal astrology, the zodiac is aligned with 27 constellations, or fixed star groups. Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, aligns with the first constellation, called Aswini. In the tropical zodiac, the point in space when the Sun crosses the earth’s equator is the beginning point of the zodiac, or Aries.

The earth’s equator shifts backward through the signs of the zodiac at the rate of about 51″ of longitude per year. This is called “precession of the equinoxes.” Because of this phenomenon, the theoretical Aries of the western zodiac drifts further and further from the Aries used by Vedic astrologers — at the rate of about 1 degree every 72 years.

The tropical (Western), and the Vedic Aries were on the same zodiacal plane around 285 AD. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, at present, there is approximately a 23 degree difference. Thus all of the planets in a Vedic horoscope, including the rising sign, will be about 23 zodiacal degrees earlier than they would be in a Western chart.

Western astrology is historically based on Ptolemy's Tetrabibls(2nd century AD), which in turn was a continuation of Hellenistic and ultimately Babylonian traditions.

Western astrology is largely horoscopic, that is, it is a form of divination based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person's birth, in which various cosmic bodies are said to have an influence. Astrology in western popular culture is often reduced to sun sign astrology, which considers only the individual's date of birth (i.e. the "position of the Sun" at that date).

Since the mid 20th century, there have been a number of suggestions for reforming traditional western astrology, notably consideration of planets beyond Saturn discovered in the modern period, or new forms of sidereal astrology and introduction of additional signs (a 14-sign zodiac, or a 13-sign zodiac). Such suggestions however have been of limited influence.

Classical planets

These are the seven heavenly bodies known to the ancients and are believed to represent the seven basic drives in every individual (the sun and moon, also known as 'the lights', are included in this assessment alongside the planets). Astrologers call Mercury, Venus and Mars the 'personal planets', as they represent the most immediate drives. The 'lights' symbolize respectively the existential and sensitive fundamentals of the individuality.

 

Sun: Ruler of the zodiac sign Leo.

Moon: Ruler of the zodiac sign Cancer.

Mercury: Ruler of the zodiac sign Gemini and Virgo.

Venus: Ruler of the zodiac signs Libra and Taurus.

Mars: Classical ruler of the zodiac signs Aries and Scorpio.

Jupiter: Classical ruler of the zodiac sign Sagittarius and Pisces.

Saturn: Classical ruler of the zodiac sign Capricorn and Aquarius.

The Moon's nodes

Also important in astrology are the moon's nodes. The nodes are where the moon's path crosses the ecliptic. The North, or Ascending Node marks the place where the moon crosses from South to North (or ascends), while the South, or Descending Node marks where the moon crosses from North to South (or descends). While lunar nodes are not considered by Western astrologers to be as important a factor as each of the planets, they are thought to mark sensitive areas that are worth taking into account.

North or ascending. Also the ruler of Pathways and Choices.

South or descending. Also the ruler of Karma and the Past.

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