Astrological Musings

(I’ll write more on Libra later or tomorrow).

The Sun entered Libra just before midnight EST last night, marking the Autumnal Equinox. As written in my earlier post, the Equinox this year follows just hours after the New Moon Eclipse, the second New Moon in Virgo. In the tropical zodiac system, Libra is the cardinal turning point for the fall season, and zero degrees Libra corresponds to the Autumnal Equinox.

The tropical system which is used in Western astrology is based on the zero point of Aries being at the vernal equinox and the zero point of Libra at the autumnal equinox, an event which occurred during the Age of Aries which was approximately 1700 BC to 310 AD, the birth of Western astrology. According to the Astrologisk Museum, it was Pharoah Rameses II that first fixed the cardinal points of the zodiac to the turning points of the seasons. In 700 BC Babylonian priests divided the four cardinal sections into the twelve houses that we know today. In 420 BC the zodiac signs received the Greek names that we use today. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great helped to spread astrological knowledge from Egypt and Babylon throughout the middle east and established the famed Alexandrian Library in Egypt which became the center of astrological study.

Although astronomers had understood the Precession concept for generations, early astrologers used the sidereal zodiac which defines the zero point of Aries as the point where the Sun actually enters the sign of Aries. However, because of the Precession of the Equinoxes the Sun is not actually at zero degrees Aries at the time of the Equinox. The ancient Greek astronomers Hipparchus and Ptolemy, being aware of the fact that over time the Sun’s entry into Aries would no longer mark the cardinal point of the Equinox, advised the use of the tropical system which connected zero Aries to the Equinox.

The question of whether to use an astrological system that is based on the cardinal points of Aries and Libra corresponding to the Equinoxes, which we call “Tropical,” or a system based upon the cardinal points corresponding to their actual placement in the sky, which we call “Sidereal,” is a thorny one. In my early career I experimented with the sidereal zodiac and found it to be very ineffective in revealing psychological complexes in the personality, and this is the likely reason that the sidereal zodiac is not commonly used in Western astrology.

Vedic astrology from India does use the sidereal zodiac, but the signs of the zodiac are secondary to the dasa systems that are used for prediction. I confess to knowing very little about Vedic astrology, having found it quite complicated enough, thank you, to learn the Western form. But it does appear that the use of the sidereal zodiac rather than the tropical in Vedic astrology is a minor point compared to some of the other major differences.

So in our Tropical system, today is the first day of Libra AND the autumnal equinox, when the day and night are of equal lengths. Perhaps this is the reason Libra is known as the scales – the sign of balance between dark and light.

Next: Happy Birthday Libra!

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