Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The biggest problem with the zodiac

The zodiac and the path of the sun.
Given the fact that sooner or later in the upcoming series of astrology posts, my dislike of Sidereal Astrology will come up, we just as well address the issue right up front.

According to Francis King, Samuel MacGregor Mathers came up with an idea that the true initiated zodiac began with the star Regulus. Some experts have insisted that King made up this fact. Personally, I do not care--others in the late Victorian era were also saying this (more or less), so we know that the idea was in the water before Mathers (allegedly) instructed Adepts that this was the initiated truth.

Now, some initiates of Golden Dawn have picked up the idea and poked at it to see if it works. Some say that it does; others say that it doesn't.

The upcoming series of posts concerns the Tropical Zodiac (the Sidereal gets at best a few mentions). Personally, I trained with the Tropical Zodiac; the Order that I was originally initiated in used the Tropical Zodiac. I have more experience using the Tropical Zodiac.

And I have a little problem with pretty much all forms of Sidereal use.

The claim for Sidereal Astrology (and magic, for that matter) is that it focuses on the actual position of the planets and constellations as they really exist in the sky. But more often than not, if you actually compare actual sky charts with the results, you learn that it is more or less lip-service.

Go ahead, look at these pictures of the constellations. Are you absolutely sure where one sign begins and other ends? And if you are--do the Zodiac Signs end up with equal areas of influence and space?

Any system that picks a point and then divides the ecliptic into twelve equal signs from there is not truly playing full attention to where things actually are. And it gets even more interesting when one starts to track how past generations viewed the constellations (for instance, Libra was originally a part of Scorpio).

I am sorry, but I believe that the Zodiac Signs were originally names for the twelve equal sections of the ecliptic arc--later a set of constellations were named after these sections. Yes, this makes me a bad Golden Dawn Adept--a non-believer in the greatness of all things Mathers. But it means that I can practice Tropical Astrology in a Golden Dawn context. (By the way, from a standard Tropcial chart, I can point out where the constellations and planets are--I do not need a Sidereal chart for that, nor does any other properly trained astrologer or magician.)

And if you do not think that it makes a difference (I presume that you actually believe that magic and astrology work...if not, why are you reading this?), just consider that in one system of astrology, I have a Virgo Sun, a Cancer Ascendant, a Moon in Scorpio, and my Mercury in Leo; in the other system, I would be a Leo Sun, a Gemini rising sign, with my Moon in Libra, and Mercury in Virgo. My friends will instantly spot the problem with one of these versions, as will a few of my critics.

As for Mathers, I suspect that he embraced the idea of the Regulus marking the start of the Zodiac (with Leo being the first sign of the Zodiac) because it allowed him to have a Sun in a Fire sign (Sagittarius, instead of Capricorn), and it allowed him to claim that everyone outside of the Order of the Hermetic Students of the Golden Dawn were doing astrology wrong. And Mathers liked being the smartest person in the room.

Aries to Leo along the ecliptic.
Leo to Scorpio, plus Ophiuchus.
Scorpio to Pisces.


Scott Stenwick said...

If you study Renaissance astrology, it becomes very clear that the way the system was practiced up until the modern era did exactly as you suggest - it treated the constellations for markers indicating twelve equal sections of the ecliptic. Up until 1800 or so, the entire Western astrological system was whole sign, equal house - that is, each sign (that is, twelfth of the ecliptic) represents the house.

So, for example, the first house starts at the beginning of the sign in which your ascendant falls, not at the ascendant marker itself. If your ascendant is, say, Cancer (mine), everything in Cancer is in the first house even if it precedes the ascendant. The chart then proceeds from there with each house represented by the subsequent sign. This method makes some remarkable predictions, better in my opinion than all of the modern techniques that try to fuss around with different house systems and so forth.

J.C. said...

I am in agreement with your views on the subject. I actually started drawing zodiac signs according to what stars are in the modern regions of those parts of the night sky. Perhaps I'll finish it up this week and share it on my blog, if I have the time.

Bambina said...

Hi! I am really interested in practicing astrology in Golden Dawn/ Hermetic context. I am really not a fan of sidereal either.. which house system do you use, and do you know which one was used in Mathers' times? If you do have any book-suggestions on these topics I'd be a really happy fellow! :)