THE QUESTION OF THE ZODIACS?
The tropical signs or the sidereal constellations?
All stars are focuses of spirit. They all consume Hydrogen and emit forces and generate fields constantly. These forces are the primary formative forces of our Universe. Our Sun is our local World spirit. It therefore is and indicates our source of life. When it is placed in a birth chart it becomes an image of the internalised spirit (Level 1 in BD Decoded) of the individual as apart from all the other stars of the Galaxy which stay as the Cosmic or collective sphere of spirit (Level 6).
So what is the difference between the signs of the zodiac and the constellations of the zodiac.
Tropical Zodiac - The Signs
Firstly it may help if we gain an understanding of the nature of these zodiacs. The zodiac commonly talked about and seen in modern western Astrological publications is called the Tropical Zodiac. This is based on a 30 degree division of the SUN'S path , along the Ecliptic. Being a Sun based phenomena it is therefore a solar system based reality. If we wished to become finicky we could say it is placed between the Earth and Mars which is where we imagine the Sun to be rotating around the Earth.
The division of this zodiac , begins each year when the Sun crosses the vernal equinox point of the Northern hemisphere. This occurs around the 21st of March each year. This point becomes the first degree of the sign of Aries. The ecliptic is then divided into twelve equal divisions of 30 degrees each. These twelve signs have the same names as those given to the constellations. These are named Aries , Taurus Gemini etc. The important point here is that this 'signal' tropical zodiac is set in relation to the Suns yearly movement, as seen from the Earth, in relation to the seasons of the northern hemisphere.
So this is again an apparent reality. Based more in archetypal law than on any Astronomical realities.
The only astronomical fact we can find is that it is based on the apparent movement of the Sun past a Spring equinox point. In reality this is the Earth moving past the equinox with the Sun.
So we are , using the Sun as the focus, not the constellations and then dividing its path into twelve archetypal divisions.
The Two Zodiacs.
The Sidereal Zodiac - The Constellations.
The sidereal zodiac is an astronomical reality and is based on the visible stars of the heavens. The constellations used in this zodiac, are those the Sun and the planets move in front of during their revolutions.
As we are existing on the surface of the Earth and therefore the subjective centres of our universe, both these Zodiacs are Earth centred in orientation. Therefore it appears the Sun moves around the Earth and not the reverse. The stars within the constellations only have a slight movement of their own, however this is minimal and will not be considered in this discussion.
There are at least three different divisions of the sidereal Zodiac. The origin and division of each is well described by Robert Powell in his book "The Sidereal Zodiac". There are two based on the 30 degree division of the 360 degree arc, along which the zodiac is placed, with the difference occurring according to their beginning point.
The other is the unequal division of the heavens used in the Planting and Sowing Calendar of the BD organisations. These constellation divisions are astronomically correct and are therefore of varying sizes. Therefore the passages of the planets through the different constellations take varying amounts of time. This unequal division of the Sidereal zodiac is based on the work of Elizabeth Vreede in the 1920s and more recently on practical agricultural experiences of Maria Thun and Agnes Fyfe. The divisions of this Zodiac remain constant with the Sun and the planets moving through it.
The Vernal equinox of the Sun has no influence on the beginning or ordering of the constellations. It is the vernal equinox which moves in front of the constellations and has been used for centuries are the great marker of the ages and human evolution. The vernal equinox, according to the unequal division of the constellations, occurs at 6 degrees in the constellation of Pisces at the present period. Due to the phenomena of the precession of the equinoxes the vernal point is slowly moving backwards towards the constellation of Aquarius at the rate of 1' every 72 years. Using this system the Age of Aquarius is therefore not due to really start for another 432 years. Other divisions of the constellations put the Vernal Point at 4 degrees Pisces and hence the Age of Aquarius is slightly closer.
The connotation of all this
We must appreciate the massive Astronomical differences between the Sidereal and Tropical zodiacs. The sidereal is based on a twelve fold division of the Galaxy - the constellations.
While the tropical - the signs - is a twelvefold division of the Solar system. The beginning of this division is based on a seasonal consideration of the northern hemisphere of the Earth.
Hence the Constellations are a Cosmic Spirit based phenomena while the Signs are a World Spirit based phenomena being based on the Sun and the Earth. Essentially occurring within the Astral sphere.
Approximately 2000 years ago ( 215 AD> ) around the time of the incarnation,of the Christ the tropical and the sidereal zodiacs both started at the same point in the sky at 0 degree of the constellation of Aries.
Alexander the Great in 331BC introduced to the Greeks the idea of the Ecliptic based Zodiac he found in Babylon. Hipparchus promoted its use in the 2nd century BC and was ridiculed. Leaving it to Ptolemy (200AD) to be the one to officially institute the Tropical Zodiac as a valid Astrological model. He luckily lived at the time the vernal equinox was exactly at 0' Aries. Generally prior to this period it was the Sidereal Zodiac in use. The early astronomers of the Chaeldean and Babylonian cultures developed their knowledge around the constellations. The stars Alderbaren and Antares where used to mark the middle of the constellations of Taurus and Scorpio respectively and from here a 30 degree division was made.
Christ appeared in the middle of this period. Rudolf Steiner illustrates clearly that the appearance of Christ marks an intensification and central point for humans developing as a spiritually independent ego conscious beings. As this continues we can expect to evolve to the level of creative angelic beings at the end of this present period of Earth evolution. (see BD Decoded) Prior to the Christ's initiation, man relied strongly on the guidance and assistance of the various levels of spiritual beings. This can be seen in the Myths and legends of early civilisations of our planet. In the Indian scriptures the spiritual beings came and went from the Earth with ease. Their presence was part of the common reality to all the inhabitants at the time. As Mankind began to incarnate onto the Earth more firmly, he began to loose contact with the Gods and by the Egyptian period he was trying to develop methods of preserving this knowledge for later Mankind. The Egyptian- Chaldean culture marks the last period of direct spiritual communication.
The battle of Troy ( 1500BC ) also contains many images suggesting a time the Humans were awakening to an individual life separate from the Gods. After Troy fell the Greek gods retreated more and more away from the humans. It can be surmised that the Humans had finally had enough and expelled the Gods. A study of the immediate history following Troy reveals there was no winners in Troy. Classical Greece self destructed into chaos immediately following Troy and when it came together again 100 years later we see the rise of Hellenistic Greece with the development of rationalism and human control. In subsequent cultures the study, of Man and the physical Earth becomes more important.
RS points out the Christ was a being of the "Sun sphere" and that the development of Man as a spiritually independently connected being was an activity connected intimately to the Christ as messenger from this sphere. The Sun, being the life producing star of our system is seen as an image of pure internalised spirit. On the chart this is Level 1, the point where all existence merges into the spirit.
At the crucifixion the Christ connected with the Earth in such a manner as to be considered the spirit of the Earth. Here the macrocosmic internalised spirit sphere connects with the Earth. In turn so individual humans can incarnate the spirit consciously, thus having a direct personal connection with "All that is".
The Christ as the messenger of this sphere encourages us to find a direct relationship with the Godhead, a relationship that goes beyond all class, race or financial barriers. We are all worthy of the spirit. Indeed the incarnation of the spirit will lead to the awakening of our individuality and objective consciousness, with positive and negative influences, depending on the morality of the individual.
It is interesting to note that the Sun oriented tropical zodiac began to appear around this time. As the Human has continued on their path of individuality it has increased in importance especially for Western cultures, ( to the point very few people, even in 'educated circles' know the difference ) where the Ego incarnation has been the greatest.
The development of the Ego in the Human is a quality or spiritual member that is unique to the Human and something they do not share with the plants and animals . The plants and animals have an Ego impulse, however this works on a group rather than on an individual level. It does not incarnate but remains outside the physical form of these kingdoms. This leaves the plants and animals in a direct spiritual connection with the environment and their larger environment the Cosmos. Their Ego influence continues to stream to them from the Fixed Stars directly. Humans by developing their Ego consciousness loosens their connection to the immediate cosmic environment. By internalising the Fixed Star influences we have the potential to become liberated from many of the direct impacts of the Fixed Stars. Thus using the constellations as a background for the birth chart would connect us more to our pre-Egoic, less individualised state of consciousness.
On a unconscious physical level the constellations still have a strong impact on Humans. Current Indian astrologers still use them to good effect. On the objective conscious level though, we do now have a greater potential to make individual decisions over these influences. On a gross level the manifestation of genetic engineering highlights how the archetypal forces sourced from the Fixed Stars can now be consciously manipulated to our ends on Earth.
Cosmic rhythms and movements remain in an archetypal form within man. If our freedom of will is not recognised consciously the cosmic events still have a strong influence on Human destiny. Elizabeth Vreede points out in her Astronomical letters that the Human journey through the spiritual world is under the influences of the constellations until one incarnates on Earth when the Human again comes under the influence of the Tropical Zodiac.
The Earth is the only sphere where Humans can work through past karma and develop further on the present path of spiritual growth. During the journey between death and rebirth the Human is free of the Earth and its destiny and once again is a cosmic being. This allows one to come in direct contact with the spiritual hierarchies and the cosmos. This places the Human in clear connection with the Sidereal zodiac during this period. Since the Christ's appearance on Earth, the destiny of Humans has been more strongly connected to the Sun and the spiritual beings of that sphere. The Human however must now ascend to them, rather than them to us, as the Christ did.
So hence when dealing with Human destiny in the course of our existence on the Earth, it is appropriate during this period of "Ego consciousness", we use the Sun oriented tropical zodiac. Not only is the Signs Sun based, they are based also on the subjective reality as the seasons of the northern hemisphere. A very Earth orientating reference. Strengthening the fact the Signs relate to life on Earth. Hence the Tropical signs indicate the incarnated spirits life on Earth.
The Human is striving for the point of guiding our own destiny and is therefore freeing ourselves of the direct cosmic impulses. It has been my experience, during 20 years of Astrological consulting, that the tropical zodiac ( and a further division, the houses ) indicate clearly the karmic events and growth stages an individual must experience while on the Earth. The constellational chart indicates a picture of the macrocosmic collective spiritcan be used to assess the more unconscious destiny of the individual.
Using this thesis then, the constellations are best employed when working on the spheres of life strongly connected with the cosmos, without any suggestion of free will. We have seen how Plants are embedded in the body of the cosmos. They embody an Etheric body with their Astral and Ego aspects still external. As such the planets and fixed stars act directly as these 'organs' of the plant kingdom, so their movements affect plants in a direct manner.
The Human on the other hand is in the process of internalising the Ego, and in doing so can exercise a degree of liberation from the exact movements of the cosmos. In so doing we have the opportunity to become an individualised microcosmic double of the macrocosmic universe.
Further questions need to be asked - What about the Southern Hemisphere? Will the signs activity be different? Should we use a Zodiac beginning with Libra and ending with Virgo in the Southern hemisphere?
These are big questions. One justification for retaining the Northern hemisphere equinoctial beginning for the zodiac is that the Earth is polarised magnetically. We do have a magnetic north focus and hence a universal beginning point.
The zodiac however is so arbitrary and so Earth bound it does stand to reason that we are able to develop a southern hemisphere zodiac if we wish. It is only one small step along an already extremely abstract road. Many discussions have be had amongst southern Astrologers with a general opinion being current that Libra does act as a spring , assertive sign with many 'Aries" qualities here in the south. Go ahead see if you can reinterpret the sign for the south beginning with Libra.