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Voice of the Sacred

lets translate the sacred language of the stars



There's a massive confusion right now in online astrology communities regarding why the zodiac signs don't align with the real sky constellations, and whether the tropical zodiac or the sidereal one is closer to the truth.


The debate has always been between the tropical style of calculating the zodiac signs vs the vedic (sidereal) style, but nowadays with the popularisation of the "real sky" apps where we can easily see the constellations and the position of the planets in real time, things got even more complicated.


Let's take it from the beginning.


This is how the Zodiac Wheel looks like based on Tropical astrology:



As you can see, the zodiac signs are 12 equal segments, each 30° (12 x 30 = 360° full circle).

These segments are the ecliptic (Sun's apparent path on the visible sky) divided into 12 parts.


We are used to seeing the zodiac signs illustrated as a constellation, so when we open a software or an app that shows the constellations in real time, it is very confusing.

They don't match up.


Let's see how the real sky looks like:


The purple line represents the ecliptic - Sun's apparent path through the constellations.

Right now we are in Taurus Season (Sun in Taurus) but in the real sky the Sun is in Aries constellation - the reason why everyone is confused.

( software: Solar System Scope)


I've circled every zodiacal constellation so we can clearly see their position relative to the ecliptic.

Some constellations are huge, others are small, Aries doesn't even touch the ecliptic, Scorpio barely has a small corner on it, and there's the constellation Ophiuchus dipping its toe into the ecliptic.


If we were to create a zodiac wheel based on the real sky, this is how it would look like:



This chart is based on the assumption that

the constellations themselves represent the zodiac signs.


The constellations are extremely different in shape and size, they have never been considered the true indicators of the zodiac signs, not even 5000 years ago. Every single practice of astrology across all centuries (whether it was in Babylonia, Egypt, India or Greece) used the zodiac signs as 12 equal segments. They've never been of various sizes, as the real constellations show.


The Signs are theoretical segments.

You cannot spot them with the naked eye.

You need to calculate them.



The zodiac signs were created to represent combinations of energies (polarities, elements, rhythms, 4 elements x 3 modalities = 12 combinations), they are based on Sacred Geometry, there's a solid harmony between them, every sign's meaning depends on its position in the system, they're not independent. The zodiac signs are a way for us to understand the Spirit, it's a system used to describe the Spirit and see how it affects us.


Astrologers placed this system on the sky, dividing Sun's journey into 12 segments.




The order and position of the Signs is calculated based on the exact moment of the equinox.

(called First point of aries)



Sun's position on the ecliptic in the moment of the Spring equinox (around 21st March) represents the beginning of the first zodiac sign segment, and from there on all the other signs are calculated.


Spring equinox (equal night/day) = Aries (fire)

Summer solstice (longest day) = Cancer (water)

Autumn equinox (equal night/day) = Libra (air)

Winter solstice (longest night) = Capricorn (earth)

The zodiac signs in any astrological system are independent of the physical constellations.

Their sizes do not depend on the constellations' sizes.

Their position does not depend on the constellations' position.


 

So the question is:

Why are the Signs named after the constellations?


 

I will let an expert answer this:


“The zodiac is not visible to the eye. Rather, the Babylonians invented a mathematical construction, which they then divided into twelve parts of 30 degrees each. They named each section after the constellation most prominent in it.”

- Ancient historian, Assyriologist, astrophysicist: Mathieu Ossendrijver heads a research group at the Institute for the History of Knowledge in the Ancient World


"The zodiac signs are exact 30-degree segments of the zodiac circle, which is a mathematical model and by convention begins at 0 degrees Aries. These “signs” derive their names from the constellations (groups of stars) which were prominent along the path of the Sun when the zodiac was invented. Constellations are not signs, and signs are not constellations."

- Anthony Louis, Astrologer


 




In the 3rd millennium BCE (earliest evidence of astrology), the Babylonians used the constellations sitting in the background of the ecliptic to name the zodiac segments.

The universe is constantly expanding. The stars are not fixed, the constellations change their shape + our Earth has a tilt that is slowly rotating, making us see the stars from different angles.

5000 years ago the constellations were sitting close to the zodiac segment named after them. Now they don't anymore.


Does this mean that the zodiac segments moved as well, following the constellations?
No.

The constellations were used only to name the signs.

They could use any other names (from nature, from Gods/Goddesses, mythology etc), but at that time it was easier to name them after the constellations, it allowed them to identify the sign's approximate position based on the constellations. The Babylonians didn't know the stars are not fixed, and did not predict that this will cause so many problems 5000 years in the future.


"In the mind of the Ancient Egyptian or Greek philosopher, the crystalline heaven above (Zodiac Wheel) is more real (than the constellations) because it doesn’t move. It’s less material, less impermanent, and physically stationed closest to the Divine Progenitor, who is the realest of the real." - Matthew Lawrence Kenney, Astrologer.

This means:

→ the position of the constellations is not reliable to identify the zodiac signs

→ when you look at a sky map, you see only the stars,  you cannot see the zodiac signs

→ signs cannot be added to the system (moreover, not based on the stars)

→ there is no Ophiuchus in the zodiac wheel




The Zodiac Wheel and the Constellations Wheel are two completely different things. The Constellations Wheel has never been used in any astrology practice so far, the constellations don't have any assigned meaning.


This doesn't mean they are completely meaningless (I'd personally love to see astrologers study how the constellations influence us, separately of the signs), but it does mean that it's completely incorrect to replace the Zodiac Wheel with the Constellations Wheel.


If you want to work with the constellations, you'd need to find their true meaning, independent of the one from the Zodiac Wheel (Egyptian fixed stars could be a good inspiration, as well as the Vedic nakshatras).



 

Tropical Vs Sidereal


Now that we've clarified why the real sky is not a reliable indicator of the zodiac signs (and never was), let's dive into the second problem: the difference between the tropical zodiac and the sidereal zodiac.


In the first graphic you can see the Sidereal Zodiac Wheel.

In the second graphic the Tropical Zodiac Wheel.


None of them are the "real sky" because in both cases the signs are 12 equal segments (while the constellations are of various sizes), but they don't agree on the position of the segments.




The Tropical Zodiac Wheel is fixed.

The beginning of the Zodiac (Sun's position during the S.Equinox) is always the beginning of Aries (point 0).


The Sidereal Zodiac Wheel is not fixed.

The beginning of the Zodiac (Sun's position during the S.Equinox) is always changing.



 


Why don't they agree on where the Zodiac Wheel starts?

Because they use different methods to calculate it.



Tropical astrology


In Tropical Astrology the signs are calculated strictly through the relationship between Sun-Earth.



The signs represent 12 stages of Earth's path around the Sun.

When the day is equal to the night, the Zodiac Wheel starts.


This is how the Babylonians determined the beginning of the Zodiac. Unless the Equinox is going to be in a different month, the signs do not move.


So are Western astrologers using an outdated Zodiac Wheel from the times of the Babylonians?

Well, the Equinox is still in March, so nothing is outdated. They've never used the constellations as indicators of the real position of signs. Nothing changed since then about the relationship between Sun/Earth.


In summary

→ the Tropical Zodiac Wheel was created and named by the Babylonians

→ it is independent of the stars and constellations

→ it is dependent on the Equinoxes and Solstices



 


Sidereal astrology


The Sidereal Zodiac is used in Vedic Astrology (in India), which historically did not use the Zodiac Signs created by the Babylonians. What Vedic Astrology used was a system based on the Nakshatras, 27 segments dividing the ecliptic (27 "signs"), and their Nakshatras were calculated based on the positions of the stars.


With the evolution of the communication between the western and eastern world, the systems got mixed. Jyotish astrologers use the names/symbols of Western Astrology (they had different sanskrit names for the planets/signs etc) and Western Astrologers use methods from Vedic Astrology.


The Jyotish astrologers calculated the beginning of the Babylonian Zodiac Wheel based on the position of a fixed star, Ayanamsha.


"In sum, the only way that Indian astrologers incorporate constellations is to start the beginning of their zodiac with the placement of a fixed star. Moreover, there's lots of disagreement about which star to choose - and the different ayanamshas can vary up to 9 degrees. Each Ayanamsha could, in a way, be its own unique zodiac."- Matthew Lawrence Kenney, Astrologer.

That star, Ayanamsha, was aligned with the Spring Equinox around the first century AD. The two Zodiac Wheels were one and the same at that time. But as we know, the stars are not fixed, they move, and so a distance started to grow between the two systems.


Green = the Sidereal Zodiac

Orange = the Tropical Zodiac

23 degree difference, they grow apart approx. 1 degree every 71 years.



In order to calculate where the Zodiac Wheel begins, the Jyotish astrologers take into consideration this "movement of the stars" - which exists because of the Precession of the Equinoxes (click here to read more about this).


"The Earth wobbles in space like an out-of-balance top. Each full wobble takes about 25,765 years. Because of the slow change in our orientation to the stars, the position of the Sun on the first the day of spring (the vernal equinox) slowly shifts westward around the sky (constellations). That is why we refer to the effect as the precession of the equinox. The rate of the shift is 1 day every 71 years." - Western Washington University

*There is also a debate between Jyotish astrologers about which system is the correct one, since it is not completely clear from the Vedas. Many consider that the texts talk about two different zodiac wheels - one based on the equinox (a tropical, solar zodiac / the 12 signs) and one based on the fixed stars (a sidereal, lunar zodiac / the 27 nakshatras). (read more here)



In summary

→ the Sidereal Zodiac Wheel is a combination of Vedic astrology and the Babylonian Zodiac

→ it is dependent on one star (not constellations), called Ayanamsha

Ayanamsha moves 1 degree every 71 years because of the Precession of the Equinoxes, and so the Sidereal Wheel moves as well


 


So which system is the correct one?

The one which calculates the Zodiac Wheel based on the Equinox?

Or the one which calculates the Zodiac Wheel based on Ayanamsha?


This no one can tell you. There is no answer.


Around the first century AD when the two system were roughly aligned, there was much unclarity about which way of calculating the zodiac is the right one (because astronomers were unsure whether the stars are moving or not - they couldn’t live long enough to witness it). 


Hellenistic astrologers used both systems, Jyotish astrologers had the Vedic tradition of the Nakshatras which were calculated based on the position of the stars, so they implemented Sidereal, then Ptolemy clarified that western astrology uses the Tropical system

and here we are now, 2000 years later, still confused. 


 

My own practice is Western Astrology using the Tropical Zodiac, and I'm very interested in learning traditional Vedic Astrology as a separate system, unrelated to the Western Astrology.


My personal opinion is that the West has messed up the original Vedic tradition, it has influenced it too much, and Jyotish astrologers nowadays practice a mixture of Babylonian + Vedic astrology (and unfortunately India has a history of giving up their traditions in favor of something western, mostly because of colonialism).


Vedic astrology as it has been revealed to Bhrigu (one of the seven rishis, the seven wise sages who delivered the knowledge recorded in the Vedas) is not the one practiced today. This is the reason why the Sidereal Zodiac doesn't inspire me to use it - it's a mixture of two ancient traditions. I'd prefer to dive into the original Vedic astrology as it was before the influences of the West, and treat it as a separate system.

+the ancient texts suggest that the rishis were using the Tropical Wheel (read here and click here and click here)


I don't feel it's either/or. I feel both of them have something unique and powerful to give us. But not when we mix them together to create a 3rd thing (which is the sidereal wheel, a Babylonian system filtered through the Vedic style of calculation).


Today we have some weird groups of astrologers:


Following a traditional system:

  • Western astrologers who use the Tropical BabylonianWheel

  • Jyotish (Vedic) astrologers who use the traditional Vedic system


Mixing up the two traditional systems:

  • Western astrologers who use the Sidereal Wheel

  • Jyotish (Vedic) astrologers who use the Sidereal Wheel

  • Jyotish (Vedic) astrologers who use the Tropical Wheel


Inventing a new system:

  • Western astrologers (?) who use the real constellations (true sky)


*I've added a (?) to the last category because most people I've seen talking about it are teenagers playing with the sky map app.


I'm constantly seeing astrologers switching sides, talking about how they found "the real one", then change again because "this is the real real one". I'm constantly seeing people who think Sidereal is the real sky and people who think the constellations are the signs. I'm constantly seeing people fighting, attacking each other, claiming they have the truth when they barely understand how astrology works or what's the history of the system they use.


And it pains me to see all of this.

There's a lot of ignorance, lack of knowledge, and aggression.


I am starting to believe that we are manipulated to fight each other in order to slowly break astrology's power. "Divide and conquer". As long as we are confused and caught in the drama of "which system is real" we will never join forces to use all the knowledge available.


My hope is that this article gives you the background needed to understand the logic behind all astrological systems, and inspires you to choose one with clarity.


 

If you enjoy the way I explain Astrology and you're interested to learn traditional western Astrology, I invite you to join the Astral Initiation Membership 💙 CLICK HERE.

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9 Comments


the way you explain this it becomes pretty clear to me that the tropical zodiac is entirely man made & made up and has nothing to do with „as above so below“ though? isn‘t your slogan also „let’s translate the language of the stars“ ? what stars are we talking about then if not the actual constellations?

I see the sacred geometry part in the tropical wheel but what kind of substance does it have if its not actually reflected in the sky? Really don’t understand where it goes beyond theory.

If you want to learn more about true sidereal western thats not just teenagers playing around with the sky, check out mastering the zodiac and sitora yusufi

<3

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Diana Sab
Diana Sab
Apr 30
Replying to

Ahh, my mistake. Yes, the true sky astrology has been popularized by teenagers on tiktok who don't have any background of knowledge, haven't seen yet a real astrologer working with it. I'll study the ones you recommended 🙏🏻

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👏🏻✨🌟💫 thank you for clearing the vision

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You have such a gift for explaining things Diana. I tried to watch videos on this when I first got into astrology- now it finally makes sense! Part of me wants to get into Sidereal because I like the idea of being Scorpio Rising (and people think I must have a lot of Scorpio which I don’t - although it’s my Sun in my unconscious chart)…but I think I’ll stick with tropical :)

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Diana Sab
Diana Sab
Apr 27
Replying to

Check your Unconscious chart!


People tell me too that I give Scorpio vibes + I resonate with the sign a lot, yet there's none in my birth chart. Then I found out I have a Scorpio Sun + Mercury in my Unconscious chart (the chart of my body's DNA).

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Very insightful because I resonate with Tropical more but I feel like when you want to really learn astrology there is such a push on Sidereal. They make it seem like tropical is more pop culture and sidereal is for the more serious truth seeker. Thank you for this clarity.

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Diana Sab
Diana Sab
Apr 27
Replying to

I've noticed that too!


Many people don't actually study how astrology functions. They just hear somewhere that Sidereal is "the real sky", they believe it, and start pressuring everyone to do the same because it's "more real".


I'm all for those who want to study Vedic astrology and use Sidereal, but unfortunately most people have no idea where it is from nor how it is calculated.

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May this knowledge bring you home,

to your spirit and to your inner wisdom.

Aho

- Diana

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