Sidereal or Tropical Zodiac? - The Debate Continues

[The following exposition by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet [a.k.a. Thea] on the true measure of the Zodiac is taken from Aeon Centre of Cosmology's Forum. As of this posting, this forum discussion is still active. LINK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL DISCUSSION.]

[For] a number of years there has been an on-going debate as to which ‘zodiac’ is the true one and should be followed for calendrical considerations.

... I consider the tropical zodiacal computations to be the only means to capture the body of higher knowledge the zodiac contains, and which has been a means to keep the perennial knowledge available to humankind across the millennia. Having stated that, for me the only important point to highlight is the zodiac itself, with its hieroglyphs and animal symbols that are modified between cultures, as for example has been the case with Makar/Capricorn. Then, to create a calendar that allows us to apply that knowledge for an entire civilisation, as has been done across the ages and for all societies, we need to have the accurate ZERO POINT. That is, when do we set the zodiacal wheel in motion; without the correct starting point no knowledge will come forth from this sacred wheel. And please note that this sacred script is primarily for initiatic purposes, as it was in all the ancient civilisations, the Vedic included, where it was described as the Journey of the Aryan. Predictive usage was secondary. However, we cannot deny that astrology based on this script can produce fine results as a tool for prediction, but that was not the reason for its preservation over the millennia; lamentably in India astrology has descended only to the level of a predictive art, devoid of higher knowledge and purpose.

As in all things on this blessed planet, we turn to then Sun for illumination – be this the physical Sun to which Hindus send forth praises on a daily basis at dawn; or be it the inner, subtle Sun, upholder of the outer phenomenon. The Sun is seen to move along the ecliptic (the plane on which the planets travel in their respective orbits around the Sun) and is a harmony that is unchanging.

This ecliptic plane is balanced on the four Cardinal Points which we experience on Earth as East (corresponding to Aries, the first zodiacal sign), the second as South (Cancer), then West (Libra), and finally North (Capricorn/Makar). According to the Rig Veda this ‘one wheel’ is stable and unchanging (‘it shakes not in the least’):

    Twelve spokes, one wheel, navels three.
    Who can comprehend this?
    On it are placed together
    Three hundred and sixty like pegs.
    They shake not in the least.

    (Rig Veda 1.164.48)

These four pillars are wisely incorporated in every Hindu temple when the Vastu Purush is laid out as the foundation plan at the start of construction: the orientation is to those very Cardinal Points. It is the same in the Great Pyramid at Giza, with an orientation that is astonishingly accurate. Therefore we can well assume that wisemen and women across the ages were as aware of the unshakable four pillars, on which our Earth Time finds its balance, as the ancient Rishis were. All pagan civilisations followed the same process: the calendar devised by the wise for the society always ‘followed’ the Sun. It started with the first sign Aries at the first Cardinal Point, the equinox on 21-22 March each year, with no variation. This balance on the four pillars translates itself into the four seasons. With accuracy in this single item, the 365 days of the year would find their place in the Harmony....

Getting back to the Vedic verse quoted above, the next important item is mention of ‘one wheel’. This is truly the single-most important clue the Veda provides for seekers across the ages, but ‘Who can understand this?’ the Rishi wisely asks. That single (‘one’) circle – the ecliptic divided into 12 ‘spokes’ with 360 ‘pegs’, is unchanging (‘they shake not in the least’). It is the KNOWLEDGE background for the entire science of Jyotish ­ or rather the ART, I would say. This has been proven time and again; but in the course of this debate we can bring to the public the proof I can provide to substantiate the statement. For this is the issue here: we want proof for everything that is stated. By this I mean an application in higher knowledge of what is sustained. In other words, the statement must be able to show results of its application in a body of knowledge based on that special sacred Language – it is the background Language that has been with us since time immemorial.

.... I need to point out that Nirayani astrologers base their calculation of the Zero Point ON THE WRONG CIRCLE. You use the sidereal with its constellations composed of Fixed Stars many light years away from Earth. According to your claim that zodiac ‘has shifted’ its Zero Point, for which a rectification is required both for the calendar and all matters astrological. But the true one and only zodiac is the 12-part division of the ecliptic plane, marked off by the four pillars of Earth Time, the equinoxes and solstices. That outer distant circle is the invention of astronomers when astronomy became a separate discipline from astrology. The heavens speak to us in the language of the zodiac symbols. Otherwise we have what the astronomers have given us: a meaningless dark void; they fill it by projecting the zodiac onto those distant stars and imaginatively designing the zodiacal symbols therein – which is a totally inconsequential exercise since those animal symbols do not cover a neat 30 degrees, as the Rig Veda prescribes. Any sincere seeker knows this. Yet to accommodate this misconception, Nirayanis have resorted to using predominantly the Nakshatras instead of the Sun sign of an individual at birth, though the Nakshatras do not contain a body of higher knowledge as the tropical wheel does. It all becomes a meaningless exercise. And this is what we are told has reached us from the Rishis! This debate will prove otherwise.

More explicitly, Nakshatras are an important element in zodiacal lore, not restricted to India. They arise not out of a fictitious sidereal zodiac divided into segments of 30 degrees, a wholly arbitrary application, it needs to be added. They are fundamental divisions of that ‘one circle’ of the Veda, based on the mean motion of the Moon – i.e. 13.20 degrees are counted, starting with the correct Aries/March equinox and moving forward throughout the entire circle adding segments of 13.20 along the way. This addition process, lunar in essence, results in what is appropriately called the Mansions of the Moon; I believe it was Al Biruni who found them in India and now bear his name. Whatever their usefulness in locating which planet may have greater significance in an individual’s horoscope when found on one of these 13.20 ‘critical’ degrees, with remarkable precision I might add, the original Nakshatras, or Mansions of the Moon, never displace the greater ‘one circle’ of the zodiacal 12, as is presently the case in India. These are always secondary divisions within that One Wheel. Various enlightened methods of dividing the Circle has been India’s contribution to the sacred art of Astrology.

There is the question of the lack of accuracy in the sidereal sphere. Not only is it because of the distance involved which compounds the error tat is translated on Earth in perhaps hundreds of years, the fact is the Nirayana system is entirely speculative. The equinoxes and solstices, our fixed and unchanging pillars of Earth time, are not speculative. Nor do they require the wisdom of any pundit or scientist to help us navigate through the labyrinth of cosmic harmonies with the required accuracy. This is the domain of the mystic, the sage, the seer. Year in and year out the tropical zodiac commences on the equinox of 21-22 March; no guessing is required, no rectification as in the Nirayana system. We are blessed with an arrangement that eliminates speculation and consequent error; because the sidereal sphere does not have equinoxes and solstices, there is no absolute Zero Point (the four Cardinal Points indicated in the diagram below). Being practical people the ancients would never have accepted to fall into the black hole of speculation in such a vital part of the civilization’s collective expression. Indeed, thankfully India did adopt the universal calendar (which you erroneously call Christian) for official use, leaving Hindus to engage endlessly in trying to come to terms with the lack of that vital Zero (point) – and, ironically, it was India’s sages (not scientists) who gave the concept of Zero to the world.

In all pagan societies whose calendars were based on the true knowledge, the year always started with the March equinox (in India according to the Nirayana system it starts 23 days after the equinox based on the irrational and speculative ‘rectification’ – where none is required), and the months therefore were named accordingly. For example, March comes from Mars, ruler of that first sign Aries. Moving on from that point we have September from the Latin that is derived from the word meaning seven, or the 7th month from that equinox – and indeed it marks entry into the 7th zodiacal sign, Libra; then the 8th and October with entry into the 8th sign Scorpio, again from the Latin for 8, the 9th in November, the 10th in December, and so on. This is what we find in the Veda as well: the month of the Victory is the 10th, or December/January counted from that same March equinox, like in all ancient civilisations.

The first diagram below illustrates the difference between the constellations and the Tropical Zodiac. The second is a depiction of the Precession of the Equinoxes.

They employ the outer circle of stars (sidereal) which is light years away from Earth and ‘shifts’ wildly with each astrologer and astronomer giving their own calculations for the ‘rectified’ zero staring point (ayanamsha) of the wheel. We all know that the constellational sphere is used as the backdrop to measure the passage of the astrological ages of thousands of years (see The Map of 12 Manifestations) via the Precession of the Equinoxes; but never for casting the individual’s horoscope or for ritual timings within our Earth year of a mere 365 days. But the Precession too is basically an Earth measure because it is the equinoctial plane that traces a line across the heavens. However, this is not determined by the sidereal sphere but rather that ecliptic plane where the Sun’s family of planets travels in precise orbits. The zodiac is projected out there for the purpose – i.e. the very same circle divided into 12 of 30 degrees each, not the irrational constellations astronomers have made up of the zodiacal images imaginatively designed on the basis of the fixed stars and bearing no empirical truth: they are the result of astronomers seeking a tangible item, something that they can see and therefore measure – even if that measure be entirely inaccurate; it makes no different to the astronomer as he thrusts himself into a domain reserved for the sage; the intervention of astronomers has only created huge confusion where there need be none.

To be more precise, in conclusion it is virtually impossible to determine the correct Zero Point in that sphere; this is secret and sacred Knowledge that comes through in a special initiation. It is, above all, revealed by the appearance of Vishnu’s Avatars. Without that knowledge, accuracy cannot come; for this reason there are so many ayanamshas (zero points of the wheel). Even a slight variation, given the enormous distance over which we are measuring can mean centuries in Earth time.

14 May 2015


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