I was introduced to Vedic astrology in India in 1992. Up until then, I was only familiar with Western astrology based upon the tropical zodiac, whereas Vedic astrology is based upon the sidereal zodiac. To explain:
The Ecliptic marks the path of the Sun in the sky as the Earth makes it's orbit. The zodiac represents 12 constellations through which the Ecliptic passes. The Ecliptic is divided into 12 signs each 30 degrees wide along the Ecliptic longitudinal line.
The tropical zodiac places the start of the Ecliptic where it intersects with the Celestial Equator marking the Spring Equinox. The tropical zodiac treats the Spring Equinox intersect as 0 degrees Aries, and since the Equinoxes move a fraction of a degree every year, necessitating adding a day to the calendar every leap year, the position of 0 degrees Aries is always moving backwards along the Ecliptic.
The sidereal zodiac, however, is based upon the fixed position of the constellations themselves. The Spring Equinox occurs at around 6 degrees Pisces according to the sidereal zodiac in 2020 -- a 24 degree difference with the sidereal zodiac, almost a full sign difference.
The sidereal zodiac places the Sun and the planets at fixed positions in the constellations. When a planet is said to be in a constellation, it is in fact within that constellation, not 24 degrees away.
So the first thing we notice about Vedic astrology is that our Vedic Sun sign is often not the same as the Western Sun sign. The Sun enters Aries on April 13th, whereas Western astrology marks March 21 as the first day of Aries -- which is in fact when the Sun is in the constellation of Pisces.
The next difference between Vedic and Western astrology is the placement and sizes of the houses. Vedic astrology uses fixed house sizes of 30 degrees, equal to the signs - each house consists of the whole sign. Western astrology casts the houses differently with varying sizes and across sign boundaries.
Vedic astrology places a great deal of emphasis on the placement of the Moon and rising stars. The zodiac is divided into 27 lunar mansions across the 12 signs. The stars located in each lunar mansion are called nakshatras which means 'stars' in Sanskrit. The Moon visits a new lunar mansion each day. Each nakshatra is divided further into 4 parts, making a total of 108 padas in the zodiac. Each sign is made up of 9 padas, which are the foundations of each of the signs and their meanings. For example, the star Regulus, known as the 'heart of the lion' is the first nakshatra in the sign of Leo -- called Magha in Sanskrit. Western astrology places Regulus in Virgo, which demonstrates the gradual separation of the tropical and sidereal zodiacs, as at one time Regulus was in Leo in the tropical zodiac.
The planets are always moving along the Ecliptic, and Vedic astrology pays close attention to the angles they form with each other and with their fixed positions at the time of birth. The transits of the planets are analyzed with respect to the natal Moon position and the rising signs called the ascendent.
Interpreting the relationship between the transiting planets and the natal planet positions is at the very heart of Vedic astrology. I have been developing these traditional processes and tools so that we can quickly perform the necessary calculations and animate the transits with the opportunity to build up a comprehensive database of traditional interpretations made by contemporary astrology.
We will be focusing on the Lunar aspects of Vedic astrology with an emphasis on the Lunascope (as well as the Horoscope). ;-)
We hope to stimulate enlightening discussion and help those studying Vedic astrology connect with others in the field. More social media functionality will be introduced in the coming months.
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