In our previous section we discussed the sidereal zodiacs, both the observational zodiac related to the constellations and the 12 signs of 30 degrees zodiac.
Let us move on the Tropical Zodiac. There are plenty of arguments for and against the use of this zodiac in modern astrological circles. Those will not be discussed here. We will address those issues further into this exploration. (But don’t worry, we’ll get to them.) For now we will consider what constitutes the Tropical Zodiac. In my mind, the Tropical Zodiac is the easiest to relate to a Yogic thought process. You will see why as we proceed through this discussion.
The Tropical Zodiac is based on the movement of the Earth to the Sun. We often say it is based on the seasons, but that is only partially true. To make that statement is following the same logic as saying the Sidereal Zodiacs in relationship to a horoscope are observational. As we have seen, sometimes the observations line up and some times they don’t.
How is it the same? Well, we can say that when the Sun is in tropical Aries, this only makes sense, because we are feeling youthful, impetuous, impulsive, full of life, or any other Aries quality that relates to Spring. These feelings are associated with Spring. This occurs in the Northern Hemisphere. When the Sun is in Tropical Aries, Spring has begun. Yet, this is not true for the Southern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere when the Sun is in Tropical Aries Autumn is beginning, which is more closely associated with a Libra energy as most people generally consider it. So we see, the system breaks down if we try to match it up with the seasons.
What then is the Tropical Zodiac really based on? Yes, it is still based on the movement of the Earth to the Sun. But if it’s not seasonally based, what is it? First let’s consider some observational facts about the Sun’s relationship to the Earth. This may seem elementary to you, (At least if you are an astrologer I hope it is!) but please see it through to the end, as then you will see how this beautifully ties into Yogic thought. Also remember, astronomy can be one of best astrological Gurus!
One of my personal reasons I enjoy the Tropical Zodiac so much is its obvious relationship to the pulse of life on this planet, which to me seems very Yogic. As you will see, I am not talking about seasons, because that would then only apply to the Northern Hemisphere. I am talking about the movement of the Earth to the Sun and how it relates to our inner life and development from a Yogic energetic standpoint. But at the end of the day, you have to make your own decisions on these things.
- The Earth revolves around the Sun.
- The Earth is tilted on its axis.
- As the Earth goes around the Sun, sometimes the Northern Hemisphere is tilted to the Sun. Sometimes the Southern Hemisphere is tilted to the Sun.
- When the Earth is at the point of its orbit where the Northern Hemisphere is tilted to the Sun the Northern Hemisphere experiences Summer. When the Sun is as close to the North Pole as its going to get, we are at the Summer Solstice, which denotes the beginning of Tropical Cancer. At this time, the Southern Hemisphere experiences Winter. In the Southern Hemisphere Tropical Cancer denotes the Winter Solstice.
- When the Earth is at the point of its orbit where the Southern Hemisphere is closer to the Sun, the Southern Hemisphere experiences Summer. When the Sun is as close to the South Pole as its going to get, the Southern Hemisphere is at the Summer Solstice, which denotes the beginning of Tropical Capricorn. At this time, the Northern Hemisphere experiences Winter. In the Northern Hemisphere Tropical Capricorn denotes the Winter Solstice.
Now you can see why some might interpret the Tropical Zodiac to be the seasonal zodiac and be “partially” correct, but only if they ignore the Southern Hemisphere, which is half the planet! As you can tell, I don’t like intellectual positions that require you ignore other obvious facts that are contrary to said position.
Here is what is actually happening astronomically as the Sun goes through the Tropical Zodiac, this is referenced from the Northern Hemisphere.
From our vantage point on Earth, here is what we see.
I have specifically stressed the word TIME in this illustration, because tropically, the idea of Aries or Capricorn is not related to a constellation as we have described, it is related to the point in time that the Sun occupies related to the Earth’s orbit. Keeping these ideas in mind, let’s consider some Yogic philosophy.
- It is considered best to die or take one’s Mahasamadhi between Tropical Capricorn and before Tropical Cancer.
- New beginnings are best attended to after the Sun enters Tropical Capricorn and before the Sun enters Tropical Cancer. This can be related to learning new skills, beginning new projects etc.
- Review or focus on improving past efforts are best attended to after the Sun enters Tropical Cancer and before the Sun enters Tropical Capricorn.
- To die or take one’s Mahasamadhi between the Sun’s motion from Tropical Cancer to Tropical Sagittarius is considered inauspicious.
- Uttarayana, which means the Northerly Course of the Sun, begins when the Sun is observed to begin moving from the Southern Hemisphere Northward. This happens at the beginning of Tropical Capricorn (Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere). This motion is observable by anyone, as the days then begin to grow longer again in the Northern Hemisphere and shorter in the Southern Hemisphere. Uttarayana indicates the ascension of life force from the Southern regions related to the underworld to the Northern regions, related to the Sattvic realm of the Devas.
Why is this so? Yogically, the crown of our head is said to represent the North Pole. The bottom of the spine represents the South Pole. The spine itself is said to represent our inner solar system/zodiac. The signs are related to the chakras. Each chakra has a positive and negative polarity. Each chakra is assigned two signs both possessing opposite polarities. Please see the following table excerpted from The Art and Science of Vedic Astrology Volume 1.
Correlation of the Planets to the Chakras
Correlation of the Zodiac Signs to the Chakras
Mythologically, it is also said that the Northern Pole is the region of the Devas, or the realm of the Gods. The Southern Pole is the region of the Asuras, or the forces of materiality, often referred to as Demons. Now, mythologically we need both forces for creation to occur, so there is no judgment made in these terms on my part. But now we can begin to see the Tropical Zodiac not seasonally, as that would only apply accurately to one hemisphere, but energetically in relationship to the movement of energy between the poles of the Earth.
We are creatures born of the Earth and invigorated by the light of the Sun and Moon. We may go more deeply into the esoteric reasons for this in a later writing, but for now, contemplate that as you understand the luminaries to be related to your being, astrologically.
As the Earth is influenced by the luminaries so are our bodies. It has been said that by living one year of stress free healthy life, we would effectively burn off a year of our accumulated karma. Why is this? During a year, the Sun’s influence is directing energy not only through our physical earth but also through our inner astral zodiac. As the Sun moves from Tropical Capricorn to Tropical Cancer, the energies of our astral body are being enlivened from the first chakra up through the sixth chakra. Then as the year progresses from Leo to Sagittarius that energy is being directed downward incrementally from the sixth chakra back to the first. This completes one rotation of energy through our spine. If we are able to live through that year, stress free and healthy, without creating more karma, our system will be cleansed of old karmas. From a Yogic Philosophical Perspective that is why we are born on Earth, or as the God’s like to call it, “the place where people die.” We are born here to experience, create, work through or exhaust our karmas. So it would make sense that the planet itself has macrocosmic mechanism related to this. That mechanism is the apparent movement of the Sun moving up to the North Pole and down to the South Pole repeatedly, circulating life force as it goes.
There are specific yogic techniques which encourage a quickening of this inner astral energy, so that in one lifetime an individual can release their accumulated karma and return awareness to an “enlightened” state of wholeness, but that is for another discussion. (For more information, you can see the book section of this website, or visit: www.youtube.com/kriyayogaonline)
Here is what this looks like:
When the Sun is moving from Tropical Capricorn to Tropical Cancer, its influence is moving most strongly from the South Pole of the planet to the North Pole. When the Sun is moving from Tropical Cancer to Tropical Capricorn, its influence is most strongly flowing from the North Pole to the South Pole. Now how does this relate to the general Yogic Philosophy from above?
- It is best to die when the awareness and energy of the body is moving towards the higher chakras. This is said to result in either enlightenment at death or a higher birth with greater wisdom and awareness. This makes sense as the higher chakras are related to higher understanding.
- Beginning projects when the energy of our being is ascending up towards the higher chakras, shows a greater capacity for sattvic inspiration in relationship to those activities.
- When our energies are moving downwards through the chakras, we are releasing old or useless things. Physically, things like elimination can occur. Mentally, reviewing our past successes and mistakes and integrating them is more natural.
- To die as our internal energy is moving downward can sometimes indicate taking future births in lesser incarnations, or it can show further involvement with material delusion.
This can be further reviewed through the qualities of the signs. For example, when the Sun is at Tropical Aries, the state of the consciousness of the planet will be one related to ascending Aries qualities. Use your knowledge of the sign qualities to see how these all relate. Now we see, you don’t have to use the half true reason of Aries creating a certain kind of personality because of the seasons, but because of the relationship of the yearly evolution of consciousness as the Sun moves through the Time of the zodiac as it is related to the chakras.
Consider Libra or Scorpio. Previously we could’ve said that the scales of Libra were preparing us to weigh our harvest, and the hole of Scorpio was preparing us for our retreat into the cold of Winter. Once again can see this would only be true for the Northern Hemisphere. Seeing the zodiac through this yogic energetic lens, none of that is necessary. The energy of the planets consciousness, which effects our being, is now descending back to the South Pole. This creates an inner effect of weighing our life and activities from the year so far (Libra) and then retreating into our Scorpionic psychological introversion to process the experience. Remember, Scorpio is the feminine or negative side of the 3rd chakra. What happens at the 3rd chakra? Both inspiration and energy to put God’s will into action (Aries) and then the capacity to digest what has been done (Scorpio), or even from a physical perspective to digest and utilize our food.
In the future, I will take the time to write out each chakra/sign correlation, but there is much more to be said about the Tropical Zodiac, and as a student of astrology I trust you can continue to contemplate how the qualities of the signs not mentioned relate to ascension and descension of the energy of the Sun through time.
Now the final thought that has occurred to me is this. This makes sense from the perspective of the movement of the Sun to the Earth, but how does this relate to the position of the Moon and other planets in the chart? This will take us back again to the understanding of astrology as a science focused on Time above all else.
If the position of Mars in Scorpio is not related to “seeing” Mars against the back drop of stars, what IS it related to? Mars’ placement is determined by where it is in reference to the Sun’s apparent path from the Earth. Let’s consider Mars. If the Sun is currently in Tropical Aries, and Mars is in Tropical Scorpio, we know it is Scorpio because if the Sun were in the same time based yearly coordinates as Mars, it would denote Scorpio. The same will be true of any other planets position in the Tropical Zodiac. In the image below you will see examples determining zodiacal positions of Mars as the Earth orbits the Sun.
In Section 1, you will see that if the Sun is in Tropical Cancer based on the position of Mars we can find it in Aries. In Section 2, with the Sun in Aries, based on the position of Mars it will be in Scorpio. In Section 3, the Sun in Libra, the position of Mars will be in Cancer. In section 4, the Sun in Capricorn, based on the degrees of difference from that point, Mars will be found in Gemini. It could be argued that this is spacially determined, and it is. However, that space is based on the foundation of the Time of year (indicated by changing signs) created by the Sun’s movement relative to Earth.
The Nakshatras or Lunar Zodiac (some could easily say the actual zodiac) will be discussed at another time. For now, we can see that the Sun and the timing of the Sun’s relationship to Earth is what creates the 12 Sign Zodiac. We can also see how this is related to yogic philosophy from our previous examples. We also see it requires zero controversy to make sense. And this is only scratching the surface.
And finally, we can consider another reference to the importance of the Sun as foundation for astrological science. In fact, considering all of this, it is easy to see why many astrological sages say they were taught this science from the Sun himself. Some might fantastically imagine this to mean a personified anthropomorphized Sun showed up to teach the sages verbally. That is not necessary. And it is my belief that sages hoped we’d have enough sense to understand what they were actually saying in their own poetic way. We can learn from a power without anthropomorphizing it. Imagine if Einstein said he learned the science of physics from Gravity himself. We would know that IS true (since study of gravity was important to his topic), and we would also know that Gravity didn’t take a person’s form and sit down with Einstien, pour him a cup of tea, and then give discourse on the matter of Physics.
Back to the point…
The planets reside throughout the Tropical Zodiac, as with the use of any Zodiac. They are residing and lording over the kingdom of the Sun and Moon, ultimately. Each planet is given rulership as a matter of delegation. This is much like, if I own a business, but I put you in charge of marketing. It’s still my business, but you have been awarded the stewardship of the portion of this business dealing with marketing. The same is true for the planets. They gain their dominion, but only through the giving of it through the power of the Sources of Life, the time created by the movement of the Sun and the Moon.
Remember, the energy moving through the zodiac signs is that of the Sun, both directly from the Sun and reflected by the Moon. The chakras each ruled by a planet, and related to a positive and negative sign, are noble stewards of the light of the Luminaries. It is still the light of the Luminaries that empower the experiences indicated by the chakras and their corresponding planets and signs. Consider why Yoga the foundation of Yoga itself is based on harmonizing the Solar and Lunar qualities of our being, and eventually reconciling them into One.
Back to Chapter 1 of Yavana Jataka we can read:
“As the Sun takes Leo because of its qualities and the Moon Cancer, so they give the remaining signs from (their own) lordships to (those of) the planets in direct and reverse order (respectively).”
The odd numbered signs are said to be the domain of the Sun. The even numbered signs ruled over by the Moon. Yet, through delegation, planets are given stewardship. Here we see, the structure of the Zodiac and astrology is related fully to the allocating of the timed movements of the Sun and Moon, and expressed through planetary cabinet. This is Time.
To determine which Zodiac is meant to be used astrologically, we only need to consider how logically, rationally and observationally each can fulfill this rule of giving sense and meaning to the movement and expression of Time. That discovery is yours alone to make.
In our next section we will review the premise of Tropical Vedic Astrology.
Now we can move on to the other topics in this series. Our future topics yet to come include:
- Previous Section – Introduction and Personal Story Part 1 (click here).
- Previous Section – Introduction and Personal Story Part 2 (click here).
- What are the Zodiacs? (click here).
- What is the Tropical Zodiac? (This Section)
- What is Tropical Vedic Astrology
- Arguments against Tropical Vedic Astrology put forth to date
- Arguments for the use of the tropical zodiac with Eastern Techniques
- The subjective difficulties in coming to an irrefutable conclusion
- What is “Vedic” Astrology?
- Are there really different kinds of astrology, like there are different kinds of chemistry or physics?
- How do the Yugas influence our understanding of Science?
- Can the Yugas be proven?
- How is a science defined? Do scientific understandings change over time?
- How is it possible for adherents of both systems to claim real life validity? They both can’t be correct, right? Or can they?
- What kind of research is needed to accurately explore zodiacal claims of greater accuracy?
Categories: Tropical Vedic Astrology