I hope this Mercury Retrograde phase finds you well 😅
As with all retrograde phases, this is a period that will emphasize revisiting or “looking back” on the indications of that planet. Thus, Mercury Retrograde asks us to take a closer look at the DETAILS of life—I will always remember one Mercury Retrograde phase where I received THREE parking citations in a matter of a week! most poignantly reminding me that I let some pretty important little details slip my mind… And because details must often be communicated, we will likely find ourselves reexamining what information we speak, write and gesture, as well as how we are doing it. So this also means that misunderstandings are highly commonplace during this period.
And in keeping with this time, I was inspired to get back with you on a topic that I touched upon in the previous few articles that I published this year. In those articles, I had briefly brought attention to an existing schism in the world of Astrology—a rift between the Sun Sign dates presented by Vedic Astrology and, what I call, “mainstream western astrology,” which is the astrology that gives us the Sun Sign dates as presented in most mainstream horoscopes, like the New York Times, for instance.
In this article, I will explain the source and cause of this rift, as well as discuss the implications and impact this rift is having on our world at large. Specifically, this article is dedicated to those who seek to understand the science of astrology, who seek to connect to it with as much logical clarity as our current knowhow can provide, for the information to follow is quite technical and involved. However, for anyone who is seeking to expand the depth of his connection to the universe, a general knowledge of astrology, whether approached leisurely or as an in-depth science, can most certainly be supportive in creating a more complete sense of this connection.
In mid-February’s article I stated,
The short response to this schism is that Vedic Astrology, which is the system from which I share information, is a “sidereal system,” meaning a system which is “based on the stars,” AND IN LINE WITH CURRENT ASTRONOMY, while mainstream western astrology is a “tropical system,” meaning it is a system “based on the seasons,” AND IS NOT IN LINE WITH CURRENT ASTRONOMY, for its dates have not been changed since being charted during a time before classical antiquity.
To understand these concepts more fully, we must begin by connecting deeper to the astronomy of our solar system, and the basics of movement within our universe. And as the human experience is synonymous with an experience of life as an Earthling, we take particular interest in what the planet Earth is doing, and how it is related to the cosmic web of our solar system. So to go over some fundamental attributes of our planet, there are 4 primary motions acting upon us:
- Earth’s orbit around the Sun – creating what we experience as a “year” of life
- Earth’s rate of rotation around its axis – creating what we experience as a “day”
- The tilt of Earth’s axis – creating the experience of “seasons” through a year
- The movement of Earth’s axis itself, called “Axial Precession” – creating a constantly changing backdrop of stars (this will be explained in more detail, for it is the crux of our understanding the main difference between Vedic and “mainstream western astrology”)
Most of us are familiar with the first 3 motions of the Earth, however, some of us may not be as familiar with axial precession, and especially how precession effects our Earthly experience. The Earth’s axis rotates (precesses) just as a spinning top does, and is caused by the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon on the Earth. The period of precession is about 26,000 years, meaning, the length of time it takes for the rotation of the axis to make one complete revolution is about 26,000 years, which comes to approximately 50 arc seconds per year.
In this second image, the motion depicted by the circular arrow at the top of the illustration shows the path of precession. Therefore, the North Celestial Pole will not always point towards the same starfield.
And in this next image, you can see the changing view of stars from the vantage point of the North Pole, as the Earth’s axis precesses. In a nutshell, the backdrop of stars that we see today will not be the same backdrop we see in, say, another 1000 years. However, because the rate of precession is so slow—relative to the rate of Earth’s spinning on its axis for instance—we don’t really notice the changing backdrop until a significant amount of time has elapsed. For, as I stated above, year to year, the rate is about 50 arc seconds per year, and an arc second is 1/3600 of an angular degree, thus there are 1,296,000 arc seconds in a full circle! (60 arc seconds in an arc minute, 60 arc minutes in a degree, and 360 degrees in a full circle: 60 X 60 X 360) And Vedic Astrology being a “sidereal system” indicates that it is a system that uses the most current starfield surrounding us today.
Now although this rate of precession would make it difficult to see the backdrop of stars changing from year to year, we would be able to see a noticeable difference in the background in something like 2000 years. And the reason why I repeatedly use the reference point “nearly 2000 years ago” in my articles is because the Sun Sign dates being used by mainstream western astrology were charted around the 2nd to 3rd centuries, and not having accounted for Earth’s axial precession, ARE STILL BEING USED TODAY. Now, of course, astrology is a science that has been used by ancient cultures for millennia, long before the 2nd and 3rd centuries, so why do we stick with these dates? Ahhh… now this is a very good question…
The reason for the fixation on the dates charted nearly 2000 years ago is this. During that time, humanity was experiencing a very special celestial event, and I mean, super special. For the axial precession of the Earth was moving the planet to a place where the Spring Equinox would perfectly align to the Sun coming to 0º of the Sign of Aries. And this is why the Sun Sign chart of mainstream western astrology reflects this date, declaring that Aries-Sun begins around March 21st, which is around the time of the Spring Equinox. However, as we can glean from our understanding of precession now, this was a cosmically UNIQUE event, and would never happen again, at least in exactly this same way. Because come the following year, we are now 50 arc seconds beyond 0º Aries, and every proceeding year we would add another 50 arc seconds to that placement. Additionally, due to the rotational direction of precession, we experience this 50 arc second movement backward or counterclockwise on the zodiac, so every year from that fateful 0º Aries, we have moved more and more into the constellation of PISCES. Interestingly, the references that are made in the New Testament of the Bible mentions a great deal the symbol of the fish, this is a reference to the prophecy of humanity entering the “Age of Pisces.” And this was the super special event that was being noted by astrologers of the time—the transition from the “Age of Aries” to the “Age of Pisces”—a transition into an entirely new era, ushering in a tremendous change for the planet Earth.
Today at the Spring Equinox, the Sun is at about 6º Pisces, nearly a whole sign back from 0º Aries, nearly 2000 years ago. This may provide insight into such concepts as “this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” which we will be entering in about 400 years. Again, this would mean that around the Spring Equinox 400 years from now, the Sun would be in the sign of Aquarius, rather than the sign of Pisces where it is now.
The fixation on these dates comes from a misunderstanding of the importance placed on this event, for the astrologers of the time made significant markings of this celestial phenomenon due to the gravity of this energetic shift, but NOT because this is where the Sun would be at the Spring Equinox for all time! Interpreting it as such came from our limited understanding of the cosmic movements at large, which was a contemporary error applied to reading ancient information. It does not mean that the ancient seers were off, but it does mean that we misinterpreted their data. For instance, when you read in my articles something like, “Today, on February 13th, 2020 PST, the Sun moves into the Sign of Aquarius—if you do not understand precession of the Earth’s motion, then yeah, you might think that the Sun moves into Aquarius on February 13th every year for all time! It is not that the article is in error, but that the interpretation that this would be so forever, is an error. This is also why I refer to the dates in question as being from “mainstream western astrology,” because it is not that Western Astrology is in error, instead, what I am bringing attention and clarity to, is that there has been a misinterpretation of this divine ancient knowledge. This misinterpretation is a contemporary symptom, and I am in no way discrediting the ancient roots of the knowledge itself.
And now I’ll explain why mainstream western astrology is referred to as “tropical astrology,” which is simply saying that it is a system that is connected to the seasons, and so it is also referred to as “seasonal astrology.” Nearly 2000 years ago when the ancient seers realized the momentous celestial event of the changing of an age for all humanity—going from the “Age of Aries” to the “Age of Pisces”—this event also brought the zodiacal path to a point where a cardinal (moveable) sign (this time Aries) was perfectly align to a major seasonal shift. To review, the cardinal/moveable signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, & Capricorn, and they do in fact represent the energetic quality of what a seasonal shift brings—movement! And what the moniker “Seasonal Astrology” denotes is that this astrological system is using an approach that places the cardinal signs at the main seasonal shifts: Aries with the Spring Equinox, Cancer with the Summer Solstice, Libra with the Autumnal Equinox, and Capricorn with the Winter Solstice. But understanding how axial precession constantly shifts Earth’s position against the backdrop of stars surrounding us, we can easily deduce that this placement cannot and does not remain fixed. Now some of you may be thinking, “but Aries at the Spring Equinox makes a lot of sense for its energy is that of breaking out, adventure, creating new paths, taking bold steps, rebirth.” But acknowledging this is the experience of those on the Northern Hemisphere, we might ask, “does this make sense for those in the Southern Hemisphere who are experiencing the energy of Aries in the Fall?”
This is to illustrate that Aries, or any other sign, can be experienced at all times of the year, and well, they are! for depending on which hemisphere you are on, and during what age of humanity you are living, you will experience all the seasons with a different zodiacal energy! This is because our experience of the celestial energies follows the universal principle, as Heraclitus put it, “panta rhei”—all things are in flux—everything is moving and changing all the time, nothing stands still nor remains the same, ever. To put this another way, declaring that every Spring Equinox we come to 0º Aries, would be akin to saying that the Earth’s axis does not move, and that we live a perpetual “Groundhog’s Day” every year of our life on the planet Earth—that we experience the same energetic influences at the same point of time year after year, when in fact, this is not a reality for us on this dimensional plane of existence. This simply DOES NOT happen.
The origins of astrology come from a time when astrologers and astronomers were ONE AND THE SAME. During those early days, astrologers were looking at the sky and basing their interpretations on what they were observing, well that, as well as connecting directly to source consciousness. These days, however, mainstream western astrologers seem to be basing their interpretations off information from the internet based on outdated calculations rather than connecting with the astronomy surrounding us. Here is an example:
Some years ago I visited the Maunakea Observatories on the Big Island of Hawai’i. And as the night sky darkened around us we were surrounded by the twinkling of what seemed like millions of stars. A number of field telescopes were set up along an outdoor area where visitors could view specific planets that were out that night, and a knowledgeable guide was giving us a “sky tour.” Using his laser pointer he hopped from one part of the sky dome to another pointing out different constellations, planets and galaxies. When he came to Saturn he made a comment the likes of which I’ve heard many such astronomical tour guides make before. He said, “here is Saturn in the constellation Scorpio, as you can see the star, Antares, which is the ‘crown of the Scorpion,’ although the astrologers say that Saturn is in Sagittarius right now.” (This was the location of Saturn at the time of my visit several years ago). This last part he said much like an irritated aside, which again, is a tone I’ve heard many times before. He, and many others in his field, have a clear awareness of the rift that exists between astronomy and astrology. But I believe that this tone of frustration comes from seeing that such a rift does not have to exist at all. For a little scientific background information would do the field of mainstream western astrology a world of benefit, as well as bring harmony back to the fields of science and metaphysics, with each informing the other. Additionally, what little scientific background that would be necessary for this is not complicated, it would simply require a good bit of attention and an open mind to new information. I believe this new information has much to do with why notable Vedic Astrologers such as Joni Patry and Sam Geppi have transitioned completely into the practice of the Vedic system even after having studied mainstream western astrology for an extended period of time.
And I certainly don’t mean to diminish mainstream western astrology in anyway, but I do hope to shed some light on its current state, and to pose the questions: how might this misinterpretation look to the scientific community? Could it not discredit the occult sciences at large? perhaps even dissuade some from investigating spiritual study and practice altogether?
As astrology is the occult science that interprets the movements and phenomena of our solar system relating their influence on human affairs and the natural world, it is imperative that we are interpreting the accurate data, i.e. what is actually present in the heavens around us. One recommendation for reestablishing a connection with current information of the heavens is to use astronomical databases and sidereal systems, rather than mainstream western astrological sources. Some that I use are from NASA, the Naval Observatory, and my personal favorite EarthSky.org, which provides amazing astronomical articles of the day. Through systems like Vedic Astrology we can rectify the two seeming opposing perspectives of science and spirituality, for you do not have to choose one over the other, for they are fully unified, and through their unification they are stronger than they are as separate entities. Furthermore, by updating our understanding of astrology’s intimate relationship with astronomy, it would be like liberating a part of our collective consciousness that has been stranded back in time for nearly 2000 years, that we may move forward from here much more aware and present with the world as it is now.
In a time when science is advancing to the point of being able to understand what the ancient advanced human cultures have known for millennia is exciting beyond words. However, in the transformational potential inherent in this time, we will be undergoing many growing pains as individuals as well as societally. But, of course, these growing pains will ultimately lead us to a place that is more true to who we are, and will help reveal the possibilities of where we are going. So it is my hope that my offering this information give support to us through this often awkward transitional time; that it be another example that all things are a reflection of everything else, and that as the fields of science and spirituality become harmonized once again, it be a reflection of the harmony that is being cultivated within our very selves.
To our Humanity’s Continuing Expansion,
Jane Oka Kaya Shin
The Sun Sign dates of Vedic & mainstream western astrology:
March 2020 at a Glance: