CULTURE & CHALLENGES OF MODERN ASTROLOGY
East vs. West
The separation and opposition between these two systems of astrology, the Tropical versus the Sidereal Zodiac, has been this way for centuries in both the East and the West. This hopefully will change as we enter the Age of Aquarius, which rules astrology. In the future, we should see some reconciliation and convergence between the two systems. Each system has its own merit. It’s like two sides of the same coin. How can one side consider itself better than the other?
The present debate in the astrological community between the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiacs is healthy and should continue. Only through dialogue can understanding be reached, provided it is not done in an acrimonious manner. In some respect, convergence and reconciliation between the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiacs might not be necessary or even healthy. Something might get lost or sacrificed in the process.
The widespread development and use of computers over the past two decades liberates the modern astrologer from the drudgery of arduous planetary calculations that once dominated the work of chart analysis. With the pervasive use of computers in this Century, the most complex astrological chart can be calculated within a twinkling of an eye. Astrologers in the East and the West have been afforded a new and greater opportunity today to learn both the Tropical and Sidereal systems and to employ same in their daily work more so than ever before. Yet modern astrologers in the east and west have not taken advantage of this profound, heaven sent, golden opportunity, opting instead to stick with the system of their birth and childhood heritage in perpetual and denigrating denial of the benefits and merits of the other.
A new generation of astrologers is being born today into the earth plane today that will bring fundamental change to the field. The vast majority of these astrologers were born after Uranus, which rules astrology, entered the astrological sign of Aquarius in the Tropical Zodiac on April 2, 1995 and April 11, 2001 in the Sidereal Zodiac, initiating the start of the Age of Aquarius. Many astrologers practicing today may opt to leave the field than to conform to the changes that these new astrologers shall initiate.
These new "baby" astrologers that are about 4 to 10 years old today, will so completely change and revolutionize astrology, that very little will be left that practicing today’s astrologers would recognize. These changes are more likely to be philosophical than scientific or quantitative – skills which the average individual today can easily master.
Much of the developments that are occurring in astrology in the computer fields as well as current research of ancient astrological methodologies will give tomorrow’s astrologers the tools they will need to make quantum leaps in chart analysis and interpretation.
In the future, we will come to know the outcomes of our decisions with greater accuracy far more than we do today. We will also come into greater knowledge and understanding of the role of astrology in terrestrial life on earth vis-à-vis man’s relationship to the divine and eternal cosmos within and above.
Modern astrologers in both the East and the West have held steadfast to the astrology of their birth and cultural heritage and will not venture out to understand the system of their colleagues and counterparts on the other side of the globe, primarily because:-
- they have no means of learning an alternative astrological system, which is changing rapidly as we speak;
- lack of support and strong retribution and denigration emanating from peers and colleagues who tacitly insist that most are better off practicing the system of their birth;
- there seems to be no added value, advantage or reward for doing so, and lastly
- clients do not yet demand it
All these things will change in the future.
In the West, astrology over the last two millenniums has been heavily influenced by transforming factors with which Eastern astrology had not had to contend. Primary among these are the Church in the last 2 millenniums, developments in the field of philosophy and, more recently, the field of Science since Sir Isaac Newton.
We are well aware of the Church’s reformed position that in the past served to radically, and at times brutally, destroy anything that promoted an alternative philosophical outlook or unique individual expression.
However, we are much less of aware of the role of the development of the various schools of philosophies that gave birth to the field of science and the industrial revolution which defines the modern era.
To a large extent, modern science is on outgrowth of Western thought and Baconian philosophies that has it roots in Humanism, Rationalism, Empiricism, Thomas Hobbes matter is the only reality philosophy, Patristic, Superintellectualism, Political, Moralism, Idealism, Realism and Phenomenism philosophies, which were among the schools of thoughts in the 1 st and 2 nd millenniums AD.
It is these philosophies that give us the world in which we now live by producing a consciousness that never before existed that we now call “modern” and “scientific”– one based more on self gratification and material conquest through exploitation over and above spiritual attunement though enlightenment and soul development, often referred to in the ancient world in initiation ceremonies as being “twice born.”
Western astrology, as it is taught and practiced today, whole heartedly embrace the former and rejects the later primarily because modern astrology has been cut from the source from which it sprang well over 2,000 years ago.
Reconnecting to that vital source or center (which exists firstly within one’s self) is almost impossible and must be left to future generation of astrologers, provided they come into the light of the true meaning and purpose of the field.
For example, many astrologers today view astrology as an end within itself hardly recognizing that it is merely a step along the way, which does not automatically lends itself to the highest level of spiritual development or attunement – a matter which is not of much concern to many practicing astrologers. More is clearly needed.
It is almost impossible to be born within the past 400 years and not be strongly influenced or affected by the modern way of thinking. Materialism is one of the most precious gifts and curse of mankind and the modern scientific culture that it breeds, relegated no longer to the narrow confines of Western thought and industrial societies. It has truly gone global affecting and infecting every man, woman, child and life form that exist on the planet earth, in the air and in the waters of the mighty oceans and seas.
In much of the Far East and Middle East, astrology is far more accepted as part of the culture, religion and socioeconomic structure ever since it was developed in ancient societies, but this is not so in the West. In the West, astrology is rejected and has been obliterated and purged from much of orthodox Western thought, philosophy, educational system, culture, and religion. In Western societies, Astrology is viewed with grave suspicion and considered by many prominent social leaders and scientists to be dubious, doubtful and lacking. Some go as far to call it a “pseudo science”.
Those who know better and seek its guidance, do so in secrecy to avoid ruining their public reputation.
The very science of modern culture sold to the peoples of the world as the vehicle to end all poverty, liberating man from material suffering through wealth accumulation and material possession has enslaved man’s body, soul and mind. Human suffering and poverty has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution, not decreased under reign of the present consciousness.
Dependent upon the state for laws, guidance, economic livelihood and protection, the individual and family unit has lost control over its own destiny and existence becoming a perpetual, de-humanized economic unit of production for the “system.” Community life no longer exists where the group cares for its young, individuals and the elderly as if they were their own.
What we have in today’s modern, more advanced technologically driven society is a scientifically tuned electronic prison. For those who serve the requirements and dictates of the beast is “reasonably” and statistically assured the continued pursuit of happiness through material possession. Those who don’t or can’t for whatever reasons, are cast off to the dungeons of a real prison and state sponsored legally ordained social or physical execution.
Today, the prison population is the U.S.A. is over 2 million people or 1% of its population. This was never the case in ancient cultures and societies.
Health is for those who can afford it in developed and underdeveloped societies. Economics as a modern social scientific system of rewards and distribution fail to deliver what it promises. Yet, like a worn out idol of a God that once protected us, we continue to worship the beast.
Modern science in itself is not a bad thing, neither is to be blamed. The problem is that it has been over sold to millions over the centuries as a panacea for everything in society. While science created many of the problems in the world faces today such as over population, deforestation and environmental degradation, it has made important contributions in fields such as health, transportation and communications to name a few.
Science is a tool that man uses to achieve certain goals. The problem is that no one is in charge and no one ever will be. Our problem is not science. It is the environment. It is a narrowly defined science supported by ill fated philosophies that have led us to the crisis that we face on the earth today. That crisis is self-annihilation through natural, not man made disasters, the roots of which are man made.
The first and foremost problem of the modern astrologer is not one of knowledge or technique, the superiority of the Sidereal over the Tropical system and vice versa, or any of these information and knowledge based factors. The problem is one of consciousness. The modern astrologer in both the East and the West is ill equipped to help the world because he or she is part and parcel of an inescapable consciousness that has dammed to the world to its present condition. Furthermore, the modern astrologer has been denied the tools needed over the centuries to further its craft to be able to have a stronger and more positive impact on society. How can the modern astrologer contribute to the solution of the world’s problems when all the values and foundation of indigenous cultures which held those values dear and scared have been wiped clean off the face of the earth through the progress of modernity?
The modern astrologer for the most part is ill equipped to help because he has not received help himself in the past to grow, blossom and bear fruits. In ancient times, it was the role of the spiritually attuned astrologer and initiates to provide guidance to society. Today, that role is being performed by the judicial system, philosophers and ethics committees who do not see any usefulness for traditions of the past.
In fact, even if astrologers were handed this task today, they would perhaps do more harm than good, because their development and preparation are not strong or sufficient enough to meet the demands of the day.
Knowing all these things, can we find a new way of examining a natal chart that aligns our consciousness with that of the heavens, instead of the goals, drives, ambitions and philosophies of men on earth? Until the modern astrologer transcends this problem by himself and for himself, he or she can be of little use to their clients or the world at large.
Most astrologers study to know more than the other astrologer because he or she firmly believes that the more one knows, the better able one will be to help his or her client and the world at large. At that very point of self aggrandizement and illusion, the modern astrologer is presented with a client or an astrological problem that he or she cannot solve, which paralyzes the astrologer forcing him or her to embark on a search for help outside of him or her self. Why does this happen? Again, the “evil” agent in the process is one’s own consciousness.
Western astrology has many practical problems and theoretical problems to solve.
Owing to a cultural history of suppression, regression and retardation, modern social influences limit practical astrological research and imprisons western astrological thought to that which is socially "responsible," meaning acceptable, which dampens creativity and freedom of expression in Western astrology. A major reawakening in the West is needed in order to progress Western astrology to a point where it ought to be today. But this accomplishment will not come easily without the help of astrology itself.
Astrology has not reached the heights or levels of effectiveness that it achieved in ancient times, even though many modern western astrologers believe otherwise. If astrology annihilated itself through some Osirisian rite, died and went underground for the past two thousand years in the Age of Pisces, then it is astrology and only astrology that can liberate itself when it becomes more fully reawakened in the Age of Aquarius.
Few in the field believe want to see themselves dramatically or wholly subjected to the progression and development of the consciousness of the field of which they have studied and gained mastery. Often astrologers look to the planets and the stars for answers, when the answers always lie within astrology herself. She and only she will decide when to give birth and what should be the make up, characteristics and life mission of her new born child in new millennium.
Having studied astrology for the past 3 years, since October 2003, I am struck and sadden by the low level of consciousness that some of the most highly respected and extremely bright and knowledgeable astrologers display and/or possess. Driven deeply by outward motives and objectives, their concern, like many leaders in society, is to sound important and make money. Some have no concern for those they regard as having “little value”.
The social consciousness of modern society dams to hell any man, woman or child who ignores or insults the Gods of science, economics and finance. Few, very few people in this world with noble ambition are rich or economically self-sustaining. This was not so during the Renaissance and Reformation era of Europe’s quantum social and material evolution. This forces the individual who enters the field of astrology to choose between economic survival or dire poverty, since fame, fortune and riches are not yet offered as an attraction, incentive or possibility.
Few, if any, would permit self-annihilation by opting for poverty, and if he or she did, the present world order would deny that individual every necessary resource that he or she needs to do even the most meager astrological work over an extended period of time, much less for a life time. There are no safe heavens for the study and development of astrology or the metaphysical sciences as there were in the ancient world when the society cared for those who chose a life of limitations and restrictions in order to progress social ideals. This is the very challenging, and at times hostile, social order under which astrologers’ serve, which was not the case in Ages gone by.
Then how in today’s world can astrologers develop the proper consciousness since as stated before, the present world order and consciousness serve neither the needs of the Siderealist or Tropical astrologer. No wonder the two cannot get along. Their basic and fundamental needs are not met and cannot be adequately met under the present values and structure of our modern scientific, industrial and money-making society.
Some financially disadvantaged retired astrologers who had faithfully served their profession and society in years past, plea for help and support which falls on deft ears. This would never have happened in Ages gone by.
Astrology is the art and science of the infinite reflecting the eternal nature of the cosmos on the earth plane. What this means is that there are more ways than one to examine and interpret any valid astrological chart. What’s often missing are the consciousness, tools and measures necessary to give meaning and interpretation to the chart under scrutiny. Whether the chart is in the Sidereal, Tropical, Sidereal Progressed or Tropical Composite, what is important is the astrologer’s knowledge, skill and confidence to make sense out of what he or she is reading.
To think that one can live in the East or the West and ignore the chart of the other Zodiac whether it is Tropical or Sidereal is to limit one’s own ability and imagination in a universe that is all encompassing.
In my own experience, I find that both the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs work and have value. The Tropical Zodiac relates more to the earthly, psychological, material, form versus function, consciousness and seasonal aspects of life, which fits nicely within the construct of the material and cultural values and philosophies of modern Western civilization. It should be noted that Western astrology aide and supports this materialist way of thinking, it does not take away from it. If it didn’t, it would not exist today.
Like the Sun, Tropical astrology is forceful and steady like a rock; though limited in many respects, it can be depended on. Sidereal on the other hand takes on a universal dimension and is more influenced by the stars in a particular sign of the zodiac. In many cases, when it predicts an outcome, to the visceral chagrin of Westerner astrologers, free will can do nothing to stop or prevent the event from occurring mainly because the event has been predestined or deemed necessary for that soul’s development and/or transformation or to affect the same for others.
The story of Jesus comes to mind when one of his disciples asked Jesus why was a certain man at the city’s gates born a leper; did he commit some horrible sin in a past life? The Christ responded that the man suffered in this life so that he can be healed by the “Son of Man” in order that the glory and power of heaven can be made manifest on that particular day.
In other words, the sole purpose why this man was born into this world as a “leper” was to be healed by Jesus – The Christ on that particular day. It was to fulfill the dictates of heaven. There was no other reason.
For the man’s soul, it was an honor to be incarnated as a leper. Many historical and social points of view would have viewed this man’s condition as owing to “bad karma”.
How many today, including astrologers, truly appreciates or understands the wisdom of heaven? Most don’t want it, because it might mean a depleted bank account for an extended period of time possibly lasting a life time.
And herein lays the problem of the modern astrologer versus that of the ancients. The role of the modern astrologer, financial astrology in particular, is to circumvent or prevent unfavorably financial situations from occurring by instructing the astrologically less favored client on how to navigate through turbulent financial waters, while the role of the ancient astrologer was to encourage it as a means of elevating the soul. The problem is the same, but the consciousnesses were quite different, only because of the differences in purpose expressed through their philosophies.
Faced today with the problem of the leper, the modern astrologer would search night and day to find the right planets and aspects under which the leper could be successfully healed by modern science. None, with few if any exceptions, would see it in the charts, even if it were there, that they should leave it to the will and mystery of heaven. Again, we find that consciousness is the “devil”, meaning that we find that, and only that, for which we seek.
In the Western culture and civilization, thy will, not my will, is grossly perverted, corrupted and misunderstood. It is often taken to mean going with the flow when things don't turn out as one expects them to. Not those things happen that way for a particular reason whether known or unknown. It is "that reason" that we in the West do not want to deal or contend with - often driven by a modern philosophy of "the pursuit of happiness," which invariably means more of the same.
As Alan W. Watts rightly points out in The Wisdom of Insecurity, the problem with Western thought, science and culture is that pain, suffering and death are seen as an “evil” that should be avoided at all cost, and that if one suffers for any reason it must be that one sinned in some way against a mighty and all knowing God whom one never really knows, sees in visions, dreams or physicality, or truly understands. Traditional Eastern and ancient cultures never really had this problem, which many in the West struggle to understand even at the most basic and fundamental level.
Hence, we have successfully and proudly produced a complex mechanized and electrified modern financial society and culture that is perfectly comfortably to let thousands and millions of innocent people starve to death or go without proper shelter, medicine or dignified existence, but at the drop of a hat, would spend untold millions and resources to save a dying or suffering child made in our own image or an economically impoverish, depressed and dying elderly soul afflicted by a socially induced medical condition, such as a heart attack, while at the same time sentence a socially or racially rejected, young law breaker desperately struggling for survival to prison for the rest of his or her natural life funded with tax payers resources – in which politicians in our modern society upholds and touts on television as an esteemed virtue and value in reducing crime.
The entire educational system from birth to death is designed to perpetuate this ill conceived social mystery and phenomena. It is not designed, nor is it intended to liberate man from the burden under which he places himself through his own thinking and historical undertakings, but rather to transform man thoughts, soul and mind into a proud and successful factor of the vast machinery of economic production.
Escape keys, portals and latches are given to the rich and privileged of society. The poor and uneducated continues to be dammed to a painful and miserable existence.
The modern astrologer in the east and the west, equally brain dead and brain washed like all his contemporaries, especially by television, never views the ills of society as his problem, whereas for the ancient astrologer it was his life’s work that sometimes caused early death and termination by some ignorant or lofty fool.
The Sidereal Zodiac, for the most part, relates more to the spiritual, destiny, structure, function, soul and cosmic destiny of man and life as influenced by “heaven” or the stars as opposed to solely the planets.
In choosing between the two systems, the operative phrase is that: "you get what you are searching for". If you believe that the Tropical system is best, it will work best for you. If you believe that the Sidereal system is best and no other is better, that will work for you as well. And equally so, if you believe that both have value and are necessary to give proper meaning and interpretation to the native’s chart, that will work very well for you as well.
The subject and the object are indelibly locked in an eternal interchange and marriage of desire and wish fulfillment where each has an influence on the other - a matter that Western thought has not yet brought into its philosophy and consciousness, and perhaps consciously so.
In working in one, both or either systems, some of the salient features are as follows:
When reading in the Tropical, the Sun is most important with the planets, Ascendant and Mid heaven second. When reading in the Sidereal, the Moon, signs and the stars dominate more strongly than in the Tropical.
The Tropical expresses the influence of heaven as well, but in a more physical, corporeal or psychological way. Here the Tropical is more concerned with the individual’s material existence on the earth plane, and how that experience changes or is affected by cosmic influences past, present and future.
If the focus of the Tropical is to look outward, then the focus of the Sidereal is to look inward. In this respect, both systems are important and work well when viewed from the proper perspective.
Whenever we use the Tropical Zodiac we ought to remember that we are doing Sun centered astrology. The Tropical Zodiac for the most part expresses the energies and influence of the Sun on life on planet earth. It is generative, energizing and forceful, not nurturing, caring or supportive.
If the Tropical Zodiac is Sun centered, Sun “worship” astrology, the Sidereal Zodiac is Moon centered, “Moon worship” astrology.
The expression, the indomitable Sun comes to mind. That is why the Tropical Zodiac works, and works very well indeed. The Sun is a major cosmic force and some would say the most significant stellar force governing life on planet earth.
However, without the Moon, life could never have existed on planet earth. In this regard, if the Sun is the father which provides the resources and energy to initiate, grow and generate life, then the Moon is the Mother who supports life through caring and well balanced nurtured existence.
The Sidereal, on the other hand, is more concerned with karma and soul challenges and ultimate destiny played out in physical and non-physical realms of the spiritual and earth planes in the eternal evolution of life. Changes and challenges experienced under Sidereal influence propels, retain or retards progress at the cosmic soul level more so, but not necessarily inferior to the Tropical.
In this regard, the Sidereal Zodiac expresses the energies of the cosmos and the stars in our sector of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is very important, much more important than many Western astrologers would like to admit. That is why the Moon is so important in the Sidereal system, far more important than it is in the Tropical, which places the Sun as the most important astrological influence, hence the popular term: sun sign astrology.
This also explains why so many cultures in the past adopted and still use and prefer lunar calendars over Sun based calendar systems. It is not because they were ignorant and did not understand the Sun and its role in influencing life on planet earth. It was more a question of choice. They chose the Moon because of its nurturing aspects (feminine versus masculine cultures) and also to more fully align with heaven so that its dictum of “as above, so below,” can be more easily fulfilled.
They saw the Moon as being more important to life on planet earth than the Sun, for several reasons. While there are some 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, none can produce life similar to ours save those that have a Moon like our own that can absorb, magnify and reflect the other necessary cosmic, interstellar, planetary and solar influences necessary to support and maintain life on planet earth. In this regard, our Moon is designed to be a perfect magnifier and reflector of cosmic, planetary and interstellar energies in the support of carbon based life more so than any other body in the Solar system, including the Sun.
Yes, the sperm carries the seed of life, but without the womb of the mother, it is worthless! Women hold the key to the tree of life. It is through her that we enter this earthly manifestation to find joy, bliss, hope and the pursuit of eternal life, which for many today has been transliterated to mean “happiness”.
The Church in the West played a major role in developing and propagating the use of Sun based astrology, perhaps as a way to hide the truth from those who practiced the forbidden arts. The East always thought that the Moon was more important, for the West, it was the Sun.
Balance between male and female energies is necessary to develop a functional life based system. That is why it was always thought important for man to have his mate, and the Queen, a King. They do more good for mankind when they function together as equals than when one tries to gain and maintain a sense of “superiority” over the other.
The second best reflector of cosmic, planetary and interstellar energies and influences is the Sun. Venus and Jupiter would tie for third place.
But as we stated earlier, the Sun transforms the energies it received to create something new while the Moon reflects those energies in their opposite and benign form blocking or protecting us like a mother would from harmful interstellar and solar radiation. In this sense, the Sun generates and motivates life, the Moon nurtures, supports and protects life. It is more important, in that without the Moon there can be no life on earth at all. It is well established in ancient writings and philosophy ‘that the stone that the builder refuses, shall become the head corner stone.
Psychology experiments in the 18 th Century were quickly halted when babies fed milk by an impersonal surrogate mother that provided no love died. In other words, male provides the seed to produce life, but cannot sustain it. It is the job of the womb-man.
Jupiter plays a similar role as protector but in a different way. Jupiter attracts and absorbs most of the harmful comets and cosmic interstellar rocks, dust and debris from striking the earth that could potentially wipe out civilization in an instant.
What should be noted is that the Moon, which is a satellite, not a planet, reflects almost 100% of the energies it receives back to the earth plane in its opposite form. The Sun, on the other hand, mixes the energies it receives from the depths of the solar system and cosmos with its own life giving force to imbue those planetary and interstellar influences with a new life appropriate for earthly consumption. If this were not the case, life on planet earth could not exist at all, or would take on a more acidic, violent and cosmic form.
Free will plays an important part in both systems as well, but is much easier to activate and utilize in the Tropical through desire and personal or collective will directed through the conscious mind. The philosophies of Western Thought and Science approach life from exactly this point of view.
Free will is very important in the Sidereal, but the influence must come from the heart, the unconscious or the universal or higher self, not from the conscious self or personal will, which is a much taller order to accomplish in the Sidereal system in that it literally requires that, “yea must be born again,” which for most people can easily be effected through the sprinkling of or submergence in water, consistent financial offerings and modest change in lifestyle, values and beliefs, but according to Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, is a terrifying, and in many cases, near-death experience undertaken in initiation rituals in times gone by.
In other words, what you say or what you do in terms of action, behavior or directive in the Sidereal System may not be as important as your intent and true heart desire devoid of outside or conscious influences.
If the Sidereal reflects the soul and karmic challenges and destiny of man on the earth plane expressed in corporeal and ethereal forms modified or influenced by responsive free will actions and reactions to the heavens, then the Tropical is the expression of the same as physical and intangible manifestations of realities of the same spirit.
Rebirth is possible and often occurs in both systems for those who study and use astrology to effect such within themselves, but astrology is not and should never be used as an end within itself.
For those who study or use astrology solely as a “tool” or “business” to help his or her self, as well as others to gain a favorable advantage in life, achieve health, wealth or success, without concern for the development of one’s own soul and mission in life, as well as the soul of others, the following statement is true and relevant: “for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”
Edgar Cayce had an opinion on the debate. He favored the sidereal approach.
I quote from Kirk Nelson’s book “Edgar Cayce’s - Secrets of Astrology, ” page 48:
The Edgar Cayce readings indicate, however, that the sidereal system is the one astrologers should be using:
For the Egyptian and the Persian records are quite varied. If the entity would study astrology, do not put the signs in the Egyptian calendar but in the Persian, for the Persian interpretations are more proficient than the Egyptian. This is not belittling the efforts of the entity nor of the Egyptians in those periods, but the variations in the time have been corrected by the Persians and not by the Egyptians. The Egyptians calculations are thirty degrees off. Edgar Cayce Reading #2011-3
For most astrologers are nearly thirty degrees off in their reckoning in the present. Edgar Cayce Reading #3376-2.
Copyright © December 6, 2006
First Posting: December 6, 2006; 4:00 PM EST
Latest Update: January 19, 2007: 12:45 AM EST