The Equal Sign Solar Zodiacs: Eastern and Western



Definition: [Zodiacs] The signs or constellations the Sun 'passes through' each year. These signs/constellations give us a way of marking the changing position of the Sun as seen from Earth.

Zodiac Wars: The Solar Zodiac generates a lot of controversy amongst we astrologers for several reasons:

(1) There is More than One Equal-Sign Solar Zodiac: There are two main types of equal-sign solar zodiac. The one used by most Western astrologers, the Tropical Zodiac, and the one used by Eastern astrologers, the Sidereal or Vedic Zodiac. To further complicate the picture, some Western astrologers also use a Sidereal Zodiac, the Fagan-Bradley version, which is not quite the same as the standard Eastern Zodiac.

(2) What is the Difference between these Solar Zodiacs?: There's only one difference: where they begin. Whilst the Tropical Zodiac begins with Aries on March the 21st the Sidereal Zodiacs currently start with Aries about a month later. This makes a huge difference as under one zodiac you may have a Sun-Sign of Aries and under the other Pisces!  And all the other signs also disagree in the same way between the two Zodiacs!

(3) Uh? How Can Aries be in Two Places in the Sky at Once?: It can't. The Sidereal Zodiac Aries roughly corresponds to where Aries is in the sky. The Tropical Zodiac sign of Aries roughly corresponds to where Pisces is in the sky. So if you were born on March 21st the Sun was to be found against the constellation Pisces as viewed from Earth when you were being born. We say the Sun is 'in Pisces' on the Vernal Equinox, March 21st, which is why this is the Age of Pisces. The Sun continues to transit Pisces until 18th April in the Real Solar Zodiac.

(4) So Which is True?: Obviously only one of them can be true: you can't be a Sun-Sign Pisces and Sun-Sign Aries simultaneously. I have to say that that if the choice was between the two equal-sign zodiacs then the sky would get my vote and I would have to go with the Sidereal Zodiac. That would make me in a minority amongst Western Astrologers, but the heavens have to have the last word.

However... actually neither of them is true, because even the Sidereal Zodiac does not accurately represent the real heavens above. It is a useful simplification invented by the Ancient Babylonians, who didn't have the advantage of our computers to track the positions of the Sun and planets. The Sidereal Zodiac is itself inaccurate in two ways:

Firstly: there are in fact thirteen signs in the Real Solar Zodiac. The 10th sign is Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer.

Secondly, the signs don't have the same length, Scorpius for example is only seven days long.

(5) So What do Most Western [Tropical] Astrologers Say?: We generally say that there is a confusion here between a sign and a constellation. We say that they are not the same thing. In that case the next question is: so what exactly is a sign if we take it away from the stars? Answer: I have no idea... you would have to ask a Tropical Astrologer.

Further Information: The term Solar Zodiac can be a bit misleading. "Solar" here implies the "movement" of the Sun, in other words the Ecliptic path of the Sun as seen from Earth and the constellations/signs seen along that path which the Sun transits.

In reality, the Sun doesn't move, the Earth orbits the Sun. Therefore, the Zodiac Wheels described by the term Solar Zodiac are geocircumspectus. This means that they describe the dates of when heavenly bodies are seen against constellations only from the view point of Earth. From a different planet in the solar system, in a different place along a different orbit around the Sun, the Sun and planets would be in different 'positions', i.e. they would be seen against different constellations in comparison with the view of those planets from the Earth.

Examples: Follow this link if you would like to see examples of Sidereal and Tropical zodiac wheels for the example of Prince William's horoscopes. The heliocircumspectus charts also show how the planet positions would look from the view point of the Sun against the two wheel types.

The Zodiac and Astrology:

01:  What is a Zodiac? What are Zodiac Wheels?
02:  Galactic Zodiac
03:  Real Solar Zodiac and Zodiac Charts
04:  Tropical Zodiac
05:  Sidereal Zodiac [Vedic Zodiac]
06:  Comparison of Tropical and Sidereal Solar Zodiacs
07:  Examples of Tropical and Sidereal Zodiac Wheels for Prince William's Horoscope
08:  Planetary Zodiac
09:  Lunar Zodiac and Lunar Mansions
10:  Chinese Zodiac
11:  Celtic Zodiac
12:  The Non-Zodiac Stars and Constellations

© Dr Shepherd Simpson, Astrological Historian


Historical Astrology

See the new Astrological Index for the meaning of other astrological words and phrases

Galactic Zodiac