The original title of this article was ‘THE ZODIAC PROBLEM or GETTING BACK TO THE BASICS’. I sent it for publication to two astrological associations’ journals, both rejected it. Judging by their replies I have come to the conclusion that they don’t want to publish something that questions ‘the validity of other astrological approaches’ – brackets because one editor explicitly stated that. I was shocked, of course, because – do we really think, and want to think, that all astrological approaches are valid? Do we want to be that complacent? Do we want to silence those whose thorough knowledge and long practice and expertise in astrology have brought them to some conclusions that could EVOLVE the whole field of astrology? In other words, are we really happy with the fact that political correctness in astrology is more important than the evolution of our art/science?
After having been rejected twice, I have decided to stop trying to persuade someone to publish this. I have also decided that the title should change to THE FORBIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT ZODIAC. Because, obviously, the truth that I am writing about in this article is forbidden, and to the detriment of astrology which is really sad. If our ancestors would build astrology on the premise that ‘a thing can be itself and not itself’, as so many astrologers of today seem to believe (at least as regards the zodiac), this field of knowledge could not have even evolved.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
In today’s cultural climate and in my experience, it is politically incorrect of an astrologer to say that any of the two zodiacs – sidereal or tropical – is true (correct, reliable) while the other is wrong (incorrect, unreliable). The consensus among the astrological intelligentsia seems to be that the tropicalists and the siderealists should respect each other’s choices and not question respective techniques. If it works for them, let them use it, is what a tropicalist is supposed to say regarding his siderealist colleagues’ ways, and vice versa. What’s more, there seem to be a growing number of those who say that ‘both zodiacs work’. Like, both are credible, useful or ‘legitimate’. Some speak of ‘different levels of interpretation’ but when asked to clarify those ‘different levels’, they reply with evasiveness. It seems that such phrases seem to be nothing but a cover-up for lack of astrological education, knowledge, and true understanding of the principles behind zodiac. I have heard someone who is supposed to be astrologically educated, say that ‘a circle is a circle, so does it really matter where it starts’? But if you say that a celestial body (or a point) is placed in Aries and is at the same time placed in Pisces, what are you actually saying? Let’s talk about this.
Both zodiacs have twelve signs and all the signs have the same meanings in both zodiacs (to be precise, the tropical zodiac and the sidereal set of zodiacs, because there are several variants of the last one, not to mention the ‘constellational zodiac’ which takes into account the constellations, not the signs) that are currently (approximately) 24 degrees apart. Same names, same meanings, same sign rulers, same qualities. I, as a western and tropical astrologer, have asked many siderealists if the characteristics of the sidereal signs differ from those of the tropical signs, and in what particular way. I have long thought that I might be missing something because it is ‘hidden’ in some old (or contemporary) Hindu texts that I can’t read. I have searched books and the net backwards and forwards for a clue, but the only answer I have received is that, no, the sidereal signs have the same meanings as the tropical ones. So, again, if an astrologer says that a celestial body (or a point) is placed in Aries and is at the same time legitimately placed in Pisces, knowing that the two signs have NOTHING in common, whereas the tropical and the sidereal signs have EVERYTHING in common, except for the starting point, what does that mean?
The possibilities, as I see them, are:
- They have absolutely no sense of logic;
- They are denying the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction. (From Glenn Perry’s excellent article The Two-Zodiac Problem.[i]: ‘Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. Put simply, a thing cannot be itself and not itself.’)
- They critically lack knowledge of the history of the formation of the signs;
- They (erroneously) think that astrology is just ‘a language of symbols’ that has nothing to do with the real world;
- They are deliberately giving a blind eye to the ‘elephant in the room’, as my colleague Glenn Perry addresses the problem in his (again) excellent above-mentioned article.
As for the last (5.), they are doing that out of political correctness, of course. They want to be nice and polite to their fellow Indian and other siderealist colleagues. But if they insist that there is or there should be ‘no problem’, do they really think that the rest of society’s intelligentsia has a reason to take astrology and astrologers seriously? Honestly, it does not. If anything, it has a reason to mock them (us).
There should be nothing easier than acknowledging the fact that the two zodiacs can’t exist side by side. What’s more, there should be nothing easier than acknowledging that the sidereal signs are a regrettable historical error that should be done away with – for the sake of wider acceptance and development of our science. Finally, there should be nothing easier than acknowledging that the zodiac signs should be reversed in the southern hemisphere. The so-called western astrology was developed in the northern hemisphere, and the zodiac circle, which is its fundamental part, has nothing to do with the stars, but everything with the Sun’s path and the seasonal changes that it creates. Aries, as the first sign, is the beginning of spring. It is not the beginning of autumn. More importantly, Aries WAS CREATED TO MARK the beginning of spring. Its basic characteristics reflect the nature of spring. They do not reflect the nature of autumn. The same goes for every subsequent sign, but natural processes and seasonal changes that back up the zodiac signs have practically disappeared from contemporary astrology, which is a shame, if you ask me, and even a huge drawback to the evolution of astrology.
WHAT ARE ZODIAC SIGNS?
Every student of astrology knows (or should know) that there are, basically, five criteria for determining the signs’ characteristics: the seasons, the quadruplicities, the elements, polarity and planetary sign rulers/exaltation rulers/almutens. None of the stars plays any role in determining the signs’ traits. For example, the fact that there are the unfortunate Pleiades with the most malevolent star Algol behind the Sun’s path when it traverses Taurus, plays no role at all in the description of Taurus. (It should be noted here that while the influence of the stars is undisputable, they are a separate category and do not pertain to the quality of the signs as the 30-degree segments of the ecliptic.) This fact alone should tell us that the space beyond the Sun’s path, as regards the definitions of the signs, simply doesn’t matter – except for the geometrical calculations that it provides. But zodiac is primarily a time circle, not a space circle. Time has quality, reflected by life on Earth that constantly changes (is being altered or restructured) by the paths of the Sun, the Moon and the planets which define the ever-changing nature of time. Essentially, zodiac signs are not spatial segments but are particular vibrations of the solar/lunar/planetary forces that create and modulate LIFE – animate and inanimate – on planet Earth. Weather, vegetation, animals, humans, bodies, emotions, politics, trends… All depend on the variations of the solar force which is at the centre of our system and regulates the forces of the Moon and the planets. Aries, for example, is basically not a 30-degrees segment of the sky (or should not be viewed as such) but is everything that the Sun/Moon/planets/points create while passing through it. According to Robert Schmidt[ii], the most appropriate translation of the word zoidion (zodiac sign) would be ‘animate’ (as a noun). In his lucid, inspirational examination of the word, he says: ‘Zoidion – What could be more fundamental to astrology than the signs of the zodiac? Yet ‘sign’ is an impossible translation for the Greek word zoidion. This Greek word is the diminutive form of zoion, which has two basic meanings: a living thing, and a picture or image (though not necessarily the picture of an animal.’ He then goes on to explain how this highly equivocal word could mean many things, like ‘soul’s quickening of matter’ or ‘simulating life by motion’. Any way we look at it, there obviously was more ‘life’ in the original conception of zodiac signs than it is today. By neglecting the fact that life happens here on planet Earth, not in the heavens or in our imaginations, we are denying astrology its basic premise – namely that life on Earth is a reflection of cosmic laws.
When introducing zodiac to beginners, I say to them: ‘The zodiac or zodiac signs are not stars. The zodiac signs would exist without a single star in the sky, except for our Sun. For the zodiac is the annual path of the Sun (ecliptic), divided first into four parts that are defined by the four solar turning points in the course of a year, these being both equinoxes and both solstices. (Turning points because the Sun, when arriving at those points, either changes direction, as seen from Earth, or crosses the Equator which makes for a change in the length of day/night). Each of the four solar turning points introduces one of the four so-called cardinal signs, namely Aries (spring equinox), Cancer (summer solstice), Libra (autumn equinox), and Capricorn (winter solstice). Each of the four quarters is further divided into three equal parts, giving 12 zodiac signs. Each comprises exactly 30 arc degrees. The four cardinal signs are followed by the four fixed signs, so named because the Sun traverses them midway between one and the next season. With the start of a new season, the Sun’s course is set, and nature’s course is, consequently, set, steady, or ‘fixed’. Next come the ‘mutable’ or ‘changeable’ signs, so named because nature is then slowly preparing to change, due to the forthcoming change of the day/night ratio that is the consequence of the Sun’s change of course (summer and winter solstice) or the change of its hemisphere (spring and fall equinox). The Sun’s yearly journey has always been the basis for the zodiacal signs’ characteristics.’ (For further elucidation on the formation of the signs, according to the Sun’s yearly rhythm, please see the above-mentioned Glenn Perry’s article, and my article The Birth of the Zodiac.[iii])
We should also note that both ‘givers of life’, the Sun and the Moon, and Jupiter, the greater benefic and an ancient significator of fertility and growth, are all exalted in the signs of spring/summer which are supportive of life, whereas both malefics are exalted in autumn/winter signs which are inimical to life. Venus, on the other hand, is exalted in the last winter sign, Pisces, but that sign holds the most promise to life due to its watery and nurturing quality that precedes early spring.
PICTURE: The yearly Sun’s path in declination and zodiac signs in the northern hemisphere.
It should be clear and indisputable that Aries can’t start on the 14 April, or in July or October or whatever time (ie. tropical sign) the ‘sidereal Aries’ would eventually reach in the course of precession. Aries can only start on the 21 March when the day and night are equal with days starting to get longer than nights, and it can only do so in the northern hemisphere where our astrology and zodiac originate. The so-called ‘western astrology’ of which zodiacal signs are the basic building block, did not originate in Australia, New Zealand or South America, and not even in India, although this country lies in the northern hemisphere. Our western astrology forefathers did not busy themselves with how the Sun’s and the Moon’s and planetary paths marked the time and coincided with events in the regions where those astrologers didn’t live. Their research was focused on their own territories.
Yes, that elephant is huge indeed! But why not start talking to him? Let us now see how the signs received their names.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ZODIAC SIGNS’ NAMES
The zodiac signs’ names clearly depict the astronomical facts related to the Sun’s path, not those related to the stars’ positions. Regretfully, there still are astrologers who say that the zodiacal signs’ creatures can be seen in the night sky, in the form of the constellations bearing their names. When the organizer of a conference that I spoke at recently, vigorously supported this view, at the dinner that was generously paid by him (or his organization), I couldn’t hide my amusement, saying that his imagination had run wild. I tried to politely explain why I thought he was wrong, but he didn’t listen. He punished me by not video recording my lecture, as he did with all the rest. I was politically incorrect, yes. I had ‘deserved’ punishment, as I did in other instances when (and where) I openly disqualified the claims that sidereal signs have any value, or that our zodiac also ‘works’ in the southern hemisphere, but this doesn’t really matter because, to me, a greater virtue than political correctness is being honest to myself and to my field of knowledge that I have been diligently pursuing for three decades.
Let’s face some facts. The names of the constellations that are supposed to have later become signs (which is debatable because in all probability our ancients did not think of the two groups as separate) were not chosen at random. For every month that the Sun spent passing through a certain section of the sky, our astrological forefathers sought out the name of an animal (or object) that they thought most vividly described the process in nature at that time. In other words, their criterion was life on Earth, not fanciful figures in the starry sky. According to historical sources, the naming of the signs and fixing of their cusps was carried out in several phases, by a process that is practically impossible to summarize in a few sentences. We should know, however, that the Babylonians began to use the zodiac as a time belt, divided into 12 equal parts, between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, although the beginnings (zero degrees) of the four cardinal signs were back then not yet equated with the beginnings of the four seasons, as they are today and as they already were in the first centuries AD, that is in the period when the signs’ characteristics began to be ascertained and categorized.
The earliest part of spring when the weather warms up and days start getting longer than nights, when the seeds germinate, the buds sprout and leaves start to grow, was in the eyes of the ancient astrologers associated with a ram – an animal that has always embodied courage, boldness, self-initiative and independence. Rams (and sheep) were also the first animals that our predecessors let out into the fields when the spring began. They decided that the section of the sky that the Sun traversed during that time should be called the Ram/Aries. (Sumerians, predecessors to Babylonians, named it ‘Field Dweller’ or ‘the Agrarian Worker’, which also alludes to the fact that work on the fields – plowing, sowing, and planting – began at that time of the year.). The second part of the spring, when the plants get stronger by hungrily drawing nourishment from the soil, was called the Bull/Taurus – after the vigorous, powerful, sturdy animal that almost incessantly feeds on grass and symbolizes fertility. The symbolism is appropriate also because the Sun at that time persistently rises over the equator, lengthening the days slowly but surely. The third part of the spring is when the Sun approaches the highest point above the equator (summer solstice), from where it will begin to slowly descend to reach the same declination as it had during the rising period. This ‘duality’ might be the reason why that part of the sky was called the Twins/Gemini, although the official explanation is that the constellation was so named because of the two big stars Castor and Pollux that were situated behind the Sun’s path at that time, and which they called ‘the celestial twins’ due to their proximity to each other. Whatever the true reason, there is the fact that the duality of the sign is clearly reflected in the late springs’ process of blooming when flowers develop stamens and pistils, representing duality (male/female distinction) out of which new life can be born. The first summer sign’s name the Crab/Cancer is logical because the Sun then begins to descend from the highest northern declinations, starting with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. We know that crabs move backwards! Then comes the Lion/Leo – the time of the year when nature is at its fullest and most opulent. Leo is the symbol of excellence, power, pride, and authority, just like the middle part of the summer when trees are full of delicious fruits and the whole of nature is at its warmest and ‘wealthiest’. Next comes the third and last summer sign, Virgo, in the ancient Babylonian scriptures called ‘furrow’. Of course, the end of the summer calls for the harvesting of the crop! The Virgin, holding a wheatear in her hands is definitely a very eloquent symbol for this part of the year.
On the autumn equinox, day and night are equal in length – just like perfectly balanced scales. By now, the Sun had made half of its yearly cycle, so the Scales/Libra is a very appropriate name for this ‘constellation’ – but by now we already know that we speak of the natural yearly cycle and not of the starry firmament! Next came Scorpio – a dangerous, poisonous animal that in extreme danger is likely to commit suicide. It symbolically corresponds to mid-autumn when cold, poisonous winds start blowing, leaves are falling off and nature is dying. Scorpio is inimical to life! Then came Sagittarius, originally a ‘centaur’, also called ‘defender’ and ‘soldier’. Just like Gemini, which lies opposite to it in the time circle, it is a double-bodied sign. In the course of Sagittarius, the Sun reaches the winter solstice, the lowest point in the sky, from whence it starts to rise again, albeit in the opposite direction. Sagittarius, therefore, is a double-bodied sign for a reason! The creature obviously is a fighter and a traveller. During its first part, there was still some (wild and windy) way to go until the longest night, while during its second part, the new, upward cycle began, comparable to a set off on a long, ‘inspirational’ journey. Capricorn starts at the winter solstice when the night is at its longest and day at its shortest, but from then on, with the ascent of the Sun towards the equator, each day would be longer than the night. The mountain goat (Capricorn) is the animal that can climb highest; this symbolism corresponds to the Sun that from now on has to climb all the way to the highest northern declination (Tropic of Cancer) again. The Water-Bearer/Aquarius corresponds to mid-winter that used to have the strongest rainfall in the ancient Mesopotamian and Mediterranean climates, and the symbolism – a young man pouring water from a large vessel down on Earth, is indeed very clear. When the Sun traverses the segment of the sky called The Fish/Pisces, winter is already taking leave but the earth is soaked with water that enables the dormant seeds to swell and prepare for the coming spring. This sign is double-bodied, too: one fish looks back towards the winter while the other looks forward towards the spring. The equator is an important dividing line.
SIGNS AND SEASONS AND SIGN RULERS
The old astrologers, creators of western astrology, hardly ever forgot to mention that the nature of the signs is dependent/based on the seasons. Hephaistio of Thebes, the Greek astrologer from the 4th century C.E., wrote: ‘They (the ancients, AN) made the beginning be from the spring section Aries, because life begins anew, as it were, when the Sun passes from the southern to the northern hemisphere to which our inhabited world is subordinated, and because at that time the buds of the plants are produced and the swelling up of all our domestic animals takes place.’[iv] Paulus Alexandrinus, a Roman author from the 4th century C.E., writes in his Introductory Matters[v]: ‘The beginning of the zodiacal circle is Aries: masculine, equinoctial, tropical, spring… … The second zoidion is Taurus: feminine, solid, spring…‘. And so on. He completes the introduction of every three signs belonging to one season, with the following statements: ‘(Reg. the spring signs, AN): In this tri-zoidion interval, which is called air, the change of the spring season is completed. … (Reg. the summer signs, AN): In this tri-zoidion interval, which is called fire, the change of the summer season is completed. … (Reg. the autumnal signs, AN): In this tri-zoidion interval, which is called earth, the change of the fall season is completed. … (Reg. the winter signs, AN): In this tri-zoidion interval, which is called water, the change of the winter season is completed.’ Although the discussion of the elements is a whole new level that is not the subject of this article, it should be noted that Paulus (as all the other ancient astrologers) sees the zodiac as a circle of time, reflected in the natural transformation of elements from air (drying up the winter moisture) to fire (heating up the dry air) through earth (cooling down the heated air) back to water (moistening the cold earth) – the classification which led later astrologers to creating human ‘temperaments’.
Then, of course, there’s the question of sign rulers. Leo is ruled by the Sun because it is the central summer sign. This was clear to all ancient astrologers! Guido Bonatti, the most celebrated Italian astrologer of the 13th century, for example, writes: ‘And Leo is a masculine sign, fiery (namely hot and dry), and when the Sun is in it, then it is the culmination of summer and the full degree of the increase of heat. And no other sign is so close to the nature of the Sun as Leo is: because even though Aries and Sagittarius are fiery signs, still the strength of the Sun’s heat is not so openly apparent (nor his light so clear, nor so fine) as it is in Leo.’[vi] Later on in his Treatise 2, when elucidating the Saturn’s rulership over Capricorn and Aquarius, he writes: ‘And likewise, Capricorn and Aquarius are domiciles of darkness, so that when the Sun is in them, the air is more obscure and more removed from purity, and particularly when he is in Aquarius, because then it is the culmination and extreme of winter’s cold.’[vii]. William Lilly, the most celebrated Renaissance astrologer, continues in this tradition (together with his contemporaries, of course), clearly categorizing zodiacal signs according to the seasons: ‘The signs are again divided by many ways: as first, into four quadrants or quarters, answering to the four seasons of the year.’[viii] He continues to say that the vernal or spring quarter is sanguine, hot and moist; the summer quarter is choleric, hot and dry; the autumnal quarter is melancholic, cold and dry while the winter quarter is phlegmatic, cold and moist. These categories have served as basis for establishing human temperament to this day. Note that Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, the author of the highly acclaimed book Temperament: Astrology’s Forgotten Key[ix], demonstrates her technique by 21 case examples, but not a single chart belongs to somebody born in the southern hemisphere. Wonder why?!
THE BASIC QUESTION: WHAT IS BEHIND, HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?
Although the signs’ characteristics draw heavily on the nature’s course, as dictated by the Sun’s yearly journey and as observed by the creators of the zodiac, there has been a marked tendency in contemporary astrology to play down, ignore or even totally omit this criterion. By ‘contemporary’ I’m thinking of a period of at least several last decades, although this trend obviously started about a century ago, at the time when astrology made a triumphant come-back, notably by Alan Leo who is often referred to as ‘the father of modern astrology’. By his skillfully written, user-friendly astrology ‘cookbooks’, he has done a major work in the astrology’s revival, but his spiritual approach to astrology has taken its toll on astrology as a natural science. If astrologers were not led astray by beliefs such as ‘stars only incline, they do not compel’, modern astrology would be – or could be – a far more advanced field of knowledge as it is today. This is, of course, only my humble, but honest and firm opinion. Instead of preaching that ‘hey, we’re not fatalistic’, we should focus on that part of astrology which can be proven. If we are honest, we must agree that astrology has never proven the existence of free will. It has only proven the existence of cosmic laws that transpire through life on Earth, animate and inanimate. Does weather have free will, for example? It appears that modern astrologers have stopped trying to predict weather, because they believe that ‘stars do not compel’ and this is somehow difficult to squeeze into the weather prediction because weather, obviously, does not have free will. But as astrologer, I research ‘fate’, not free will. In other words, I research the laws behind what is known or what appears as ‘free will’. As soon as we stop being scientific in our approach, we start being vague and ‘spiritual’ which is to me, as an astrologer, only another word for gullible.
But the path to the truth might be easier than it seems. We should keep asking ourselves: What is behind? How does astrology work? How do zodiac signs ‘work’? Let us say that you are looking at a chart with Mars in Taurus. Taurus is where the Sun is between 21 April and 20 May. We know that Taurus is the second spring sign (green grass, warmth, feeding; the promise of growth, comfort and acquisition; strong senses and sensuality), fixed (steady, reliable, slow, stubborn – as in the middle of the spring season), of earth (practical, factual, down-to-earth) and negative (re-active). When Mars is in Taurus, the Sun can be anywhere, so what do you do with the qualities of ‘mid-spring’ then? How can Mars show the qualities of ‘mid-spring’ when it is winter, with the Sun in Capricorn, for example? In other words, how can Mars behave in the manner of the Sun when it traverses its (Mars’) current sign? And, to give another example, how can the Moon show the ‘winter quality’ when it is in Aquarius, for example (cool, serious, observing, detached, social-conscious etc.) while the Sun is in the summer sign of Cancer (nature in all its opulence; warm, prolific, nurturing, caring, eager, dynamic, emotionally sensitive, family and home-oriented, deeply personal etc.)? Each planet works on its own level, of course, but in every moment, they work in unison. If we accept the idea that seasonal qualities are at the base of the signs’ energy levels (and this idea is a historical fact, as explained in previous paragraphs), we should also accept the idea that many seasonal qualities can be brought together in one chart, and, consequently, be expressed through one person, one animal, one event, one chart – an in one and the same moment of time. Alas, how can that be? Do we have the answer?
Good questions are a prerequisite to good answers. Do we have them? Our next question should be: Does space have memory? Does the Sun imbue those twelve segments of the sky with particular kinds of vibrations that are then ‘picked up’ by the Moon and the planets? Obviously, of course, those segments cannot be ‘fixed upon the firmament’ because space as such is not the primary criterion. This can only be time, as designated by the Sun, and the quality of time in the southern hemisphere is exactly opposite to that in the northern hemisphere! Therefore, it would be more logical to think of the signs as particular vibrations in space, the quality of which depends on their angular distances from the four Sun’s turning (cardinal) points. But acknowledging the fact that the northern summer solstice is the southern winter solstice, for example, can only result in the realization that the qualities (characteristics) of the zodiac signs in the southern hemisphere are exactly opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.
THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE PROBLEM
The first problem is that there seems to be little or no problem at all! Although the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere and therefore the signs should be reversed too[x], the vast majority of southern astrologers seem perfectly happy with ‘our’ zodiac signs, and, as far as I know, only a tiny minority have been questioning them. The reasons are manifold. The main reason seems to be that contemporary astrologers simply lack critical thinking, because they have lost touch with astrology’s basics. The second reason is that it is very easy to be fooled by one’s own chart if you have no real grasp of the true nature of signs. For example, I have a friend, born in South Africa, who is an actress. Her ascendant is in Aquarius but when reversed, it’s Leo. Now, which of the two signs is more related to the stage or the ‘centre of attention’ that actors crave? It’s Leo, of course, but if you are as liberal with the signs’ characteristics as a large majority of contemporary astrologers seem to be, you can easily think that it would be Aquarius. Besides, all pairs of signs belong to the same polarity (positive or negative) and to the same quadruplicity (cardinal, fixed or mutable), so that the real test can only be done by means of true understanding of the seasonal qualities of the signs, and by scrutinizing the rulers of the angles, especially the ascendant. The ascendant ruler (or almuten of the ascendant) is the most personal planet and also the most important when it comes to delineating one’s general vitality, manners and ‘destiny’, based on the energy potential of that planet. That actress’s ascendant ruler in the reversed chart is the Sun which is placed in her 5th (of theatre and film and sports etc.) and she is also an avid tennis player (her Sun in the reversed Sagittarius, the sign often associated with tennis and golf and similar ‘noble’ sports) whereas her other hobby is astrology – also a much more Sagittarian than Geminian hobby. Whereas in her ‘northern’ chart, her ascendant ruler would be Saturn, placed in the 6th in Cancer. Not her at all!
Another acquaintance, born in one of the African States, is a (northern) Capricorn and claims that, by all means, her Sun is in Capricorn, because she is a businesswoman, and a (financially) successful one by that. She couldn’t possibly be a Cancer, she said to me. Really? Looking at her reversed chart, her ascendant falls in Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter which is placed in the 2nd house in Capricorn, applying by retrograde motion to trine Saturn (Jupiter’s dispositor) on the cusp of her 10th house. This is obviously a very apt signature for a financially successful businesswoman! Certainly much more so than her ‘northern’ chart where her ascendant would be placed in Gemini, with Mercury in the 8th house, separating from a sextile with the 10th house Saturn. Now, you must have some real understanding of how planets work to appreciate the difference between applying (building, constructive) versus separating (void) aspects. Besides, you must understand that the 8th house is the house of loss whereas the 2nd is the house of gain. (Not so obvious to a modern astrologer to whom both houses are just vaguely ‘financial’, or not even that, if they’re those psychological types to whom the 2nd house is just ‘values’ whereas the 8th house is ‘transformation’. I hope that you understand that it is not possible to judge a chart properly if you’re avoiding real life facts!). Those who profit by the 8th house in the career field do so by ‘joint’ finances, co-investments, banks, insurance business/es, inheritance, accounting, therapeutic work etc. Not this woman! Besides, her temperament is ‘jovial’ (‘of Jupiter’), she loves to travel and does so as much as she can. Also, does everybody understand the meaning of the Sun? The Sun is where your pride is. This woman’s pride is her family (Cancer). Not just the usual pride that everybody has in their family – it’s a very obvious, exaggerated pride. And so on. Her chart is just one of the many ‘southern’ charts that have convinced me that the southern signs should be reversed.
I know that I’m swimming against the tide here, and I’m well aware of the fact that the ‘proofs’ like the ones above are delicate. Something that shows as a Libra Sun can actually be an expression of an aspect linking the ascendant or the Moon with Venus, for example. Everything in a chart works in unison, therefore it takes a really educated and experienced astrologer to ‘dissect’ and delineate it properly.
The other two techniques by which the system of the reversed signs can be efficiently tested are horary astrology and the secondary progressed Moon. As the admin of a Facebook group Horary Astrology group, I have seen many ‘southern’ horaries giving excellent results by using the reversed sign system. This is actually where my research on that system had originally started, and my fascination with them led me to deeper research. Whereas the secondary progressed Moon is a wonderful tool, leading one through the 28-years cycle which is a fascinating expression of one’s journey through the four ‘inner seasons’, those being a delicate but clearly discernible reflection of a yearly cycle in nature. We, humans, are part of nature!
But it’s not that I was not bothered by the ‘southern signs inconsistency’, if I may call it so, earlier. Years ago, I attended a lecture by a notable Australian astrologer. I requested her opinion on why would our tropical signs, based on the northern hemisphere seasons, also work in the southern hemisphere? She said that it might be the genes that our ancestors had carried to the southern hemisphere in those past centuries, and they’re still showing in today’s crowd. I thanked her, but… Genes? What appeared a highbrow and intelligent statement at first, seemed nonsense at second thought, because, taking apart man from nature is the same gross mistake as taking apart astrology from astronomy. In other words, the crowd that brought the genes to the southern hemisphere, could not bring there our northern weather too, could it? Better not speak of the genes if we want to understand the true nature of our reality! That which is crucial is behind all nature, animate and inanimate.
Do we have grounds to rethink our astrological principles, and finally arrive at a point where some controversies could disappear, because there would be no more reason for them to exist? These are the questions that we, contemporary astrologers, should be asking ourselves. Astrology is, and has always been, a science that studies the interconnectedness of life on Earth (animate and inanimate) and the movements of celestial bodies. This doesn’t concern only spatial, but also – and possibly predominantly – temporal relations. After all, space and time are connected. They are one. Science cannot deny this, and astrology has some real grounds to prove it.
[ii] Paulus Alexandrinus, Introductory Matters, Translator’s Preface by Robert Schmidt, Greek Track Volume I, The Golden Hind Press, p. ix-xi
[iv] Hephaistio of Thebes, Apotelesmatic, Book I, Project Hindsight, Greek Track Volume VI, The Golden Hind Press, p. 3
[v] Paulus Alexandrinus, Introductory Matters, Project Hindsight, Greek Track Volume I, The Golden Hind Press, p. 1
[vi] Guido Bonatus, Bonatti on Basic Astrology, The Cazimi Press, 2010, p. 51
[viii] William Lilly, Christian Astrology, Originally Published 1647, Regulus 3rd edition 1985, p. 87
[ix] Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, Temperament: Astrology’s Forgotten Key, The Wessex Astrologer, 2005
[x] This technique implies that you reverse all the signs but retain their rulers and all the other essential dignities. For example, a planet in Taurus (ruled by Venus) becomes a planet in Scorpio (ruled by Mars).