Planetary Dignity and the Zodiac Debate
Perhaps the single most challenging difference to deal with when seeking to reconcile Western and Vedic astrology is the Zodiac Question: Tropical or Sidereal? If this issue was not in the way, it would make the two systems almost indistinguishable, at least as far as basic core principles go. Both these great streams of astrological tradition are custodians of the very same original ancient method of horoscopic astrology.
This all too often contentious zodiac debate naturally, and to a degree appropriately, tends to veer off into the realm of history, and speculation regarding what the ancients were thinking when they ‘invented’ the zodiac. Proponents of both sides of the argument might quote the works of august authorities to vindicate their views, and there’s indeed much to consider there; but we can debate endlessly about whether stars or equinoxes should be the anchor points of the zodiac, without truly resolving anything. There is only so much we can gain from seeking a solution to this great astrological riddle through this means.
Robert Hand discussed the Zodiac question in an article entitled ‘On the Invariance of the Tropical Zodiac‘. This was his concluding statement (1):
‘I believe we have to regard the tropical-sidereal controversy as yet another example of a historical pseudoproblem created by anachronistically projecting a modern problem with modern points of view back onto the ancients. It was not a problem with which the ancients were seriously concerned. Given the limits of their computational accuracy, both systems would have given them the same results. This is a question that we have to solve for ourselves. An appeal to history will not work.’
Right, so how do we solve this riddle, if for a moment we set aside the usual ‘appeal to history‘ and abstract metaphysical theories about why Solstices and Equinoxes might be more appropriate as reference points for locating the zodiac than Fixed Stars in their Zodiacal Constellations?
I suggest we should test it by comparing as objectively as possible the outcomes and conclusions arrived at using the core rules and principles of horoscopic astrology held in common by both systems.
One of the commonly held tenets of Western and Vedic astrology are the primary rules relating to planetary dignity according to zodiac sign placement, albeit that there are some differences in the finer details of the less primary features of the principle. Most outstandingly, all agree that planets are very well placed when located in their own signs, as well as in their exaltation signs. Planets are likewise universally considered particularly weak or awkwardly placed in the signs opposite their exaltation signs. All of these highly specific placements are identical in both systems; but, in practice, the substantial and steadily increasing misalignment between the location of the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs results in these very same rules of horoscopic interpretation yielding radically different outcomes upon actual application.
In fact, in some instances the conversion from one zodiac to another results in a given planet being very powerfully placed in one zodiac, but very weakly placed in the other. For example, more often than not Venus in Tropical Libra will become Venus in Virgo in terms of the Sidereal Zodiac. Mars in Tropical Taurus (where Western astrologers consider Mars to be in its Detriment, and whereas Jyotish would consider Mars to have very meagre dignity), will tend to be potently placed in Sidereal Aries. One would think that if there’s anything to this planetary dignity scheme, such cases should be quite telling, since they would invite very different readings of the respective planet’s strength.
What follows is a collection of necessarily concise comparative studies using some well known and often studied charts, along with a few lesser known ones, to illustrate that the Sidereal Zodiac is more consistently accurate and useful in this particular matter of planetary dignity, than is the Tropical. In fact, I would say that the way planetary dignity started to really work when applying the Sidereal Zodiac was one of the key reasons I became convinced of it’s value.
What I hope to offer a glimpse of here are the kinds of observations that resulted in me, slowly but surely, becoming an astrological ‘Siderealist’.
Who could dispute that someone like Adolf Hitler is someone we’d want to understand, right? Every fledgling astrologer before long delves into this chart expectantly, hoping to find answers to the enigma of this individual’s extraordinary impact on the course of history. Villain he was indeed, but a very great one, as villains go. He demonstrated leadership and resolve that galvanized the resources of a browbeaten nation into dynamic and focussed activity. It requires an extraordinary strength of a kind to achieve that.
An instant look at his Sidereal/Whole House chart reveals that the planets of rulership, leadership, authority, combativeness and forcefulness of character, the Sun and Mars, are at maximum strength, being located in Sidereal Aries, where they both flourish. By comparison Tropical Taurus does little for the dignity of these key angular planets in Hitler’s chart. When Mars is located in its own or exaltation sign, whilst also being in an angular house, it creates Ruchaka Yoga; an ancient Jyotish aphorism (1) describes such a person as ‘powerful and arrogant‘ and ‘the leader of an army‘. I would assert that if Western Tropical astrologers were to be absolutely honest, they would have found Hitler’s chart a lot easier to read if this was how it read for them. So I submit this first piece of evidence to court of astrological reason: #HitlerWasAnAries
As far as sign based planetary dignity goes, if you were an astrologer interpreting Hitler’s chart at the time of his relatively humble birth, Sun and Mars in Aries would have helped you instantly in the right direction. I think you would have struggled to tell the real story otherwise.
Then there’s the fact that the sweet and kindly benefic planet Venus gains great strength in Tropical Taurus, but is far less dignified in the Sidereal map, where it falls in Aries. For contrast, Monhandas Gandhi, curiously enough, in many respects the anithesis of Hitler, shares the same dynamic Cardinal Sidereal Libra Ascendant, as well as a charismatic Venus-Mars Conjunction, but in the 1st House (as opposed to Hitler’s in the 7th), where peace-making Venus in her own sign, by Sidereal sign placement, trumps Mars.
The Tropical astrologer might point out that the Moon and Jupiter, in Tropical Capricorn, could be a better fit than Sidereal Sagittarius since both those planets are in Capricorn in decidedly weak positions, and in both instances it could be said that material ambition thwarts or taints the native’s sensitivity to the needs of others. There’s a fair point there, as far as that symbolism goes, but, the far greater dignity gained by the Sun and Mars in Sidereal Aries (as opposed to Tropical Taurus), and on top of that the fact that there is in the Sidereal picture, generally, a far greater emphasis on the excitable Fire element (as opposed to Earth in the Tropical picture), leads me to favour overall the Sidereal chart for Hitler. This Elemental emphasis is all the more clear cut by the fact that the Sun and Moon are both located in either Earth or Fire, depending on your choice of zodiac. Fire inflames! It stimulates, it’s very lively, and it is the Element that can inspire! Hitler had that power, to inspire fervour in others. Fire gives charisma and expressiveness, and these were among Hitler’s most outstanding characteristics.
It’s furthermore worth adding that Jupiter, for the Libra Ascendant specifically, is always lord of the 3rd and 6th Houses, both ‘dusthanas’ or ‘grief producing houses’, and Jupiter’s occupation of Sidereal Sagittarius strengthens both these less than wonderful houses, and as such it does nothing to tame the boldness, dynamism and contentiousness inherent in the 3rd and 6th Houses. The 3rd House in Jyotish rules most of the same matters in life as Western astrology does, but beyond this Jyotish makes more explicit the restless, adventurous, courageous and assertive attributes of the 3rd House.
In Jyotish Mars is the general significator (Bhava Karaka) for the 3rd House, as well as the 6th House. In Hitler’s Sidereal chart the 3rd House is greatly empowered by containing its own lord, along with the 10th lord (Moon), but beyond that it is further empowered by the strength of Mars, the 3rd House significator, which is angular and in its own Sidereal sign. Performing arts is a common association in Jyotish with the 3rd House (an idea that should be perfectly palatable to Western astrologers), and Hitler no doubt owed much of his personal charisma, his effective communication, and his capacity for ideological theatrics, to his powerful 3rd House. Although no planet occupies Hitler’s 6th House, the sign based strength of its lord (Jupiter), along with the fact that its ‘karaka’ or significator, Mars, is so strong (own sign, angular house), gives Hitler many benefits of the 6th House, such as the ability to prevail over enemies and competitors, and simply to capacity to work relentlessly.
Now, another formidable warrior who pounded his opponents into submission was Muhammad Ali. As with Hitler, Mars in his Tropical chart is located in Taurus, and on that account would certainly not have raised your expectations of glorious feats of heroic prowess. The Tropical chart’s Mars does not shine saying ‘I’m the strong one here’. Even if you use Tropical signs with Whole Houses, Mars indeed gains prominence in the 10th, but his sign based dignity is pretty flat and unimpressive.
Imagine you were tasked with reading his chart for his momma at the time of his relatively modest birth? Would you see more than simply the idea (Mars in the 9th or 10th in Taurus) that he may be a fighter of some kind in his career? Would you discern that he would really kick ass? Like ‘No mum, I mean, he’ll be famous, even very famous and powerful, I’m tellin’ you mum, nobody can beat this guy‘.
Sidereal Mars in Aries in the 10th immediately points to an elevation in social status, since the lord of the 10th becomes so potently dignified, and it tells you exactly how- through fighting! The most famous boxer ever.- would you like him to have a debilitated or dignified Mars when you read a chart? Wouldn’t it be easier to read it from Mars in Aries? He was, with a Ruchaka Yoga comparable to Hitler’s, similarly ‘powerful and arrogant‘ and he was likewise, to quote the Jyotish aphorism alluded to in Hitler’s case, inclined to perform ‘many daring deeds‘, and tended also to ‘emerge victorious in all his attempts‘.
Saturn in Aries can translate very literally as ‘brain disease’, or ‘brain damage’, and Muhammad Ali was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s conspicuously close to the beginning of his 19 year Saturn Dasha. Having two malefics, Mars and Saturn (the two karakas or signifcators for the 6th House of disease) in Aries, compounded the danger to his head and brain.
A dignified or exalted malefic is not your mommy, and he might hurt you (or even others through you), but he may yet preserve you better than will a debilitated malefic, and he will give you some mettle with which to conquer adversity and turn it into strength.
Planets in their own or exaltation signs can manifest as attributes and circumstances of an exalted kind. They manifest opulently. Planets in their own or exaltation signs bring about a full and relatively refined manifestation of their inherent nature. It follows that simply finding a large number of planets in their own or exaltation signs will result in exalted attributes of character, or exalted, refined and opulent circumstances in the outer world. Let’s consider for a moment the chart of JP Morgan. One of the most wealthy, and in his day, influential of men to walk this earth.
His Sun is exalted in Aries, whichever zodiac you choose to use, so we’re all on the same page there- he was bold, confident and assertive- but for the rest it is the Sidereal chart that would have led the blindfolded astrologer, tasked with reading that chart without any prior knowledge of the native’s life history or social status, to be struck at once by the large number of planets in their signs of exaltation. Venus shifts from Aries to Pisces, Saturn from Scorpio to Libra, and Jupiter from Leo to Cancer. This multiplicity of exalted placements (including among them the Ascendant ruler) should be enough to inform an astrologer instantly that this person would be quite exceptional, and that they would most likely be very successful in worldly terms, without needing to resort to obscurer rules and principles and convoluted astrological reasoning, which is otherwise required to astrologically explain in retrospect this man’s extraordinary opulence and achievements. It is nowhere near as clear in the Tropical chart, if we are to focus on planetary dignity.
His wealth and influence was so great that on more than one occasion he forced the President of the United States to negotiate with him, on his terms, in exchange for his assistance in times of national financial crisis. He collected art and historical artifacts on a grand scale and in doing so founded several important museums. He enjoyed the absolute finest of everything this world could afford in terms of material resources and temporal pleasures, but of course his life was not perfect, as we can see in his debilitated Mars, which more often that not will take its pound of flesh.
Mars is located in Sidereal Cancer (Leo in the Tropical chart), in the 6th House. His health was not always sound, and he suffered many bouts of illness; and his nose was quite disfigured by rosacea. More to the point, the Moon, as the dispositor of this ill disposed Mars, is located in his 7th House. He did in fact meet his first wife soon after beginning the 7 years of Mars Dasha- but she died from bronchial disease not long into their marriage.
Mars when in Sidereal Cancer often manifests as tragic loss of life, and it is not uncommonly implicated in chest illness or injury. I have seen this tragic face of Mars in Sidereal Cancer many times: warriors make an absolute mess in the nursery.
For example, Paul Mc Cartney, with Tropical Mars in Leo, but Sidereal Cancer, lost his wife Linda to breast Cancer, after years of battling the disease, the entire ordeal unfolding during the 7 year period of his Mars Mahadasha, between 1992 and 1999.
Nicholas Culpeper, the famous astrologer physician, was born with Mars in Sidereal Cancer in the 8th House. His father died 13 days before he was born (note, also, the debilitation of both Sun and Saturn in Culpeper’s Sidereal chart), and curiously enough, at the time of his birth he was in the Mars subperiod of the Moon Mahadasha. His mother died of breast cancer, and he himself was not only shot and severely wounded in the chest, he eventually died of tuberculosis.
He lost a would be spouse tragically early in his life- see, as with JP Morgan, the dispositor of his debilitated Mars is in the 7th House:
‘He fell in love with a beautiful heiress and they planned to elope. On the night of their rendezvous, there was a severe thunderstorm and while driving to their meeting place, his lover’s coach was struck by lightning and she died instantly.’ – Culpeper’s astrodatabank bio (astro.com)
As another example, a client of mine with Mars in Sidereal Cancer (but Tropical Leo) in the 1st House, witnessed her husband being killed by a stampeding elephant, soon after beginning Mars Dasha.
In the course of searching for specific patterns in charts for a book I’m brewing, I made the accidental discovery that two similarly notorious suicide cult leaders, Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite, who went about their evil business quite separately, just happened to be born within a few days of each other in May 1931.
Both had Mars in Tropical Leo, but Sidereal Cancer. These men both caused much wanton loss of life. Furthermore, Jupiter in the charts of these two fiends was exalted in Tropical Cancer (really?) which shifts to Sidereal Gemini, where western astrologers would consider Jupiter to be in ‘Detriment’. Sounds better!
Both had Jupiter ruled Sidereal Ascending Signs, located in an angular house, pointing to their ‘preacher’ roles, with Jupiter substantially diminished in dignity through the Sidereal lens. That said, Jupiter in Gemini is arguably perfectly capable of coming across as convincingly learned and erudite regarding the scriptures, but it may be more verbiage and Mercurial trickery than wisdom.
Let’s consider Venus in Virgo for a moment, the sign in which Venus falls. Although Venus in Virgo may seem like a description of sexual prudishness and modesty, in practice it is often implicated in cases of sexual excess, sometimes alternating with periods of repression or sexual and sensual austerity. Debilitated planets seem to go to extremes.
Looking at the chart of Bill Clinton through the Sidereal rather than the Tropical lens would immediately invite you to consider themes of sexual impropriety, since Venus is debilitated in the sign Virgo, in the 1st House. Despite being otherwise popular and well liked, he will never be able to shake off the stigma of being a philanderer.
A debilitated planet in the 1st House will damage your reputation, and here it is Venus, clearly showing what the cause of that blemish will be. I will concede, however, that Mars in Libra in the 1st House, and the proximity of Venus and Mars to each other, may have led a Tropical astrologer to a comparable conclusion, but note the reference to his Dasha periods below when we look at the chart of Chuck Berry. It makes for a useful comparison.
Having been amply convinced of this sexually intemperate idiosyncrasy of Venus in Virgo through observation over the years, I once remarked to a new client with Venus in Sidereal Virgo in the 8th House that there could be an element of this ‘sexual impropriety’ in her destiny, and I added that this was likely to be more apparent than usual around the age of 24-25 (when, according to a Jyotish principle, Venus ‘matures’ in every chart). She then acknowledged that for that particular year of her life, and only for that year, she was a prostitute.
Chuck Berry had Venus in Sidereal Virgo in the 12th House, as lord of the 1st House, and he was no stranger to sexual scandal. Apart from his many extramarital affairs, ‘in 1962, he was sentenced to three years (and served 22 months) for taking a 14-year-old prostitute across state lines..‘. – Chuck Berry’s astrodatabank bio.
Interestingly, and as a point of vindication of my suggestion that it was indeed Chuck’s debilitated Venus as work here, please note that he was in 1962 in the Venus sub-period of his Mercury Mahadasha- these two planets being in Mutual Reception in his Sidereal chart, linking the 1st and 12th Houses, pointing to a loss of stature and a loss of freedom, sin and shame. Likewise, Bill Clinton began his controversial affair with Monica Lewinsky (Venus in Virgo easily translates as ‘love of the servant’) in 1996, while in the Venus sub-period of his Jupiter Mahadasha, which ran from April 1995 to December 1997.
Another striking case of Sidereal charts pointing clearly to a person’s capacity to rise to the greatest heights of fame, power and influence through a multiplicity of highly dignified planets, is Condoleezza Rice; the efficient, refined and dignified U.S. Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor to George W. Bush.
Mars shifts from Tropical Aquarius, and in which he gains meager glory, if any, to Sidereal Capricorn, where Mars is at his most exalted. Moreover, this Mars is located in the 1st House, so she embodies it! As with Hitler, who’s Mars was likewise in a powerful sign while also being in an angular house, she was ‘the leader of army‘ (inasmuch as she was a key national security strategist), and a dynamic and impressive personality. Consider for a moment that neither her race nor her gender, in American white man’s politics, would have helped her much. It would have been her own sheer determination, skill, and strength of character that enabled her to rise to such great heights.
Saturn, the Ascendant lord, is exalted in Sidereal Libra in the 10th House; its dispositor, Venus, is in her own sign (so the lord of the 10th is in the 10th powerfully strengthening that house, as with Muhammad Ali). It is thereby clearly shown that she would achieve a level of social recognition and authority well above that of her parental home. The Tropical chart does not makes this point with nearly as much clarity as does the Sidereal. It is a fact that the Tropical chart would show Mutual Reception between the 1st and 10th lords, and absolutely, that points to ambition, but the zodiacal dignity of these planets is much weaker. Planetary dignity, in the Sidereal picture, marks this chart at a glance as one of an exceptional person from whom great things could be expected on the basis of it containing four Maha Purusha Yogas‘: Mars, Saturn, Venus and Jupiter are all either in their own or exaltation signs, while in an Angular house (Kendra). It bears remembering that amoung these are the lords of the 1st and 10th.
Would you expect her to have broody Tropical Moon in Cancer, or clever, literate and articulate Moon in Gemini? I think the answer is obvious if you know just a bit about her academic life and achievements prior to the high office she was ultimately called to.
Vincent van Gogh, the brilliant, passionate, but often tormented and distraught painter, has Venus in Pisces and Jupiter in Sagittarius, whichever zodiac you use. No argument. There was nobility, beauty and refinement in his soul, and it was manifest in his art, and his love for art. He was for a time an ardent preacher (Mars is Square Jupiter, while in a Jupiter ruled sign). But where does all his angst and trauma come from?
Note that the Moon, located in Tropical Sagittarius, is debilitated in Sidereal Scorpio (and located in the 6th House). This is in itself a description of emotional and mental impetuousness. Moon in Scorpio is stormy, irritable and often dissatisfied (compare the Tropical/Sidereal Moon signs of Donald Trump, Saddam Hussein, and the cranky and cantankerous chess champion, Garry Kasparov).
In van Gogh’s chart Saturn (in Tropical Taurus) is located in Sidereal Aries, and this is yet another signature of frustration, dejection and failure in some realm or other. Saturn in Aries tends to be self isolating and self-thwarting (consider that van Gogh mutiliated himself by cutting off the lobe of his left ear in a fit of despair and ultimately committed suicide). His debilitated Saturn being in the 11th House (which is a house of financial gains in Jyotish) specifically makes sense of his desperate financial struggles. He somehow just couldn’t earn money, despite producing work of great quality, and he was dependant for his livelihood on the generosity of his younger brother Theo. Sure, Saturn in Tropical Taurus might translate as ‘money problems’, but this is shown as clearly by Saturn in the 11th House, and what’s more, Saturn in Aries reveals this inferiority complex, I’m tempted to call it; this person craving recognition and even a role of leadership, but yet being ‘stuck’ and disgruntled.
The examples I’ve used thus far have placed the focus on planets located in their very best and worst places, according to the schema of rulership, exaltation and debilitation shared by Western and Vedic astrology. I would like now to present another case focussing initially on more general zodiacal symbolism. See below the chart of Nikola Tesla, inventor and mechanical genius extraordinaire.
His Tropical chart gives a Taurus Ascendant, with Venus, the Ascendant Ruler, in the domesticated sign Cancer, close to the IC. His Tropical Sun is likewise in Cancer, with his Moon in ‘romantic’ Libra. Compare this to a pioneering and independent Aries Ascendant, with Mars as Ascendant Ruler in the 6th House in Virgo.
The entire stellium of planets in Tropical Cancer is located in Sidereal Gemini, and his Moon shifts from Tropical Libra, to Virgo (with Mars). Therefore, Mercury in the Sidereal chart becomes exceedingly powerful by occupying its own sign Gemini, while also being lord of both the Sun and Moon signs. If you know about the life and temperament of Nikola Tesla, little more needs to be said. His intelligence, his knowledge and his efficiency were his outstanding characteristics- whereas home making was not at all his forte. (3)
The Sidereal chart helps the Ascendant Ruler do exactly what you would want it to- Mars in Virgo in the 6th House guides you directly to perfectly accurate symbolism regarding what the person is all about and where they direct their energy. Furthermore the man was a distinctly Mercurial ‘tinkerer’, obsessed with creating efficient machines. Clever, curious and industrious in the extreme, his health suffered from overwork. He never married.
From the biographical notes on Tesla in astro.com’s astrodatabank:
‘Beginning his studies in physics and mathematics at Graz Polytechnic, he then took philosophy at the University of Prague. After finishing the studies at the Polytechnic Institute, doing two years of study in one, working 19 hours a day and sleeping only two, he suffered a complete nervous breakdown.’
Where are all the Taurus/Cancer/Libra stories?
Jupiter is located in Sidereal Pisces (Tropical Aries) in the 12th House from the Ascendant, gaining substantial dignity by sign there, if not prominence and protection by house. But, counted from the Sun or Moon (Surya Lagna and Chandra Lagna respectfully) this Jupiter in its own sign is in an angular house, being in the 10th from the Sun and 7th from the Moon. This contributed to his dignified bearing, his wide erudition, and much of the recognition he gained for his historic contributions to our collective knowledge. The Mahapurusha Yoga for Jupiter (formed when Jupiter is in its own or exaltation sign, while also being located in an angular house), is called Hamsa Yoga. Hamsa means goose, or swan; a bird said to be able to separate milk from water, representing the highest type of discernment (see also the Sidereal charts of Nicholas Culpeper, and Rudolf Steiner). There was I believe at least a hint of this empowered Jupiter influence manifested in Tesla’s life and character. It would not have been formed at all with Jupiter in Tropical Aries (though I’ll grant that Jupiter in Aries may be a symbol of something like ‘pioneering knowledge’, but it is not a particularly prominent planet by regular house position or house rulership). Indeed, thorough comparison can become very nuanced; I’m trying to give at least a nod here and there to the devil’s advocate.
Another intellectual giant, with more than a little dose of Sidereal Gemini (Tropical Cancer) in his chart, was Albert Einstein.
I present his chart as an example of what could at first appear to be something of a conundrum for a Siderealist making wind about planetary dignity. In Einstein’s chart Mercury is located in Tropical Aries, and Sidereal Pisces. What’s up with this debilitated Mercury, you may ask; wasn’t he supposed to be a genius? The matter is complicated somewhat by Mercury being Conjunct Saturn (another placement that in itself challenges narrow views on planetary symbolism- and not unlike Mercury in Pisces I would say, it can make for the deepest of thinkers, or the dumbest of fools).
This is quite a subtle point, but in my understanding, planets in their debilitation signs are in a sense no less ‘special’ than exalted planets. There’s an awkward situation to deal with, indeed, with debilitated placements; but in Jyotish language, such a planet ‘sees’, or by opposition aspect, reflects off, its exaltation sign. There are seeds of the the exaltation placement’s greatness within it, but certain inherent weaknesses have to be overcome.
For example, Mercury in Pisces could conceivably enable one to understand the most subtle and elusive cosmic abstractions, but without an integration of the precision and efficiency of articulate Virgo, it will translate as unintelligible, whimsical nonsense. Consider for a moment that though everyone nods in agreement that they know that Einstein was a genius of sorts and that he came up with ‘e=mc2’; what do you really know about that abstract physics? It’s absolute Greek to most of us, and requires a range, subtlety and complexity of thought that most of us lack. Is it really more of a Mercury in Aries business, this very abstract and obscure mathematics that Einstein laboured over? I think not. It is in fact far easier to read from Mercury in Pisces. Consider that he was prone to very philosophical and even spiritual musings. I can work with Mercury in Pisces for Einsten for these reasons, and it is in fact a good example of a person developing and mastering the latent gifts of debilitated planets.
Is it not also fair to say that Gemini as an Ascendant is a great way to begin thinking about Einstein, compared to Cancer? Apart from the obvious intellectual symbolism, it places the Ascendant lord in the 10th House, and thereby hints at the possibility of fame and recognition, an indication which is in the Sidereal chart greatly bolstered by the Mutual Reception (or Parivartana Yoga) of the 9th and 10th Lords- not to speak of an exalted Venus sharing the 10th with Mercury.
There are many other cases I’d love to add, but of course we can cover only so much ground here. I’d like to conclude with a musing on the possible relationship between the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs. Although I have come to favour the Sidereal Zodiac for analysing sign based horoscopic symbolism, including in particular planetary dignity by sign placement in particular, I don’t believe that the Tropical Zodiac is a complete error of astrological judgement.
I believe that the places where the Equinoxes and Solstices occur are indeed points of vital potency, or sensitivity, through which planetary energies are channeled into outer and observable manifestation. For example, the fact that the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred on the very day that Uranus entered Tropical Aries (or rather, crossed the point the Sun occupies at the Northern Hemisphere’s Vernal Equinox), and other similar observations, have led me to believe that the first degree of the Tropical Cardinal Signs do in fact act as important beacons, and could reasonably be used as reference points of something like ‘signs’, or ‘houses’. Whenever I’m most struck by the apparent aptness of a planet’s Tropical Zodiac position, it tends to be in the context of Mundane Astrology.
The following Tweet was a recent attempt to capture a way of looking at the relationship between the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs that currently makes sense to me.
When we refer to ‘the Great Year’ and ‘the Age of Pisces’ or the ‘Age of Aquarius’, if there is any truth and validity in this idea, we are in a sense making 0 degrees Tropical Aries (or the Sun’s location at the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox) the Ascendant, the ‘horoscope‘ or hour marker of the complete precession cycle of nearly 26 000 years. Seen this way, the Tropical signs are essentially Houses projected from the Equinox, which seems a very fair and reasonable idea to me. Seen as the ‘angles‘ of a ‘world horoscope’, the first degree of the Cardinal Cross of the Tropical Zodiac would have a similar quality to the Ascendant-Descendant MC-IC cross of a regular western style chart, and for this reason planets located there are particularly potent and able to find externalized expression. For this reason it doesn’t surprise me to find significant mundane events coinciding with planets located at these cardinal degrees. The Sidereal signs, rooted in the stellar constellations, and fairly precisely anchored by certain Fixed Stars (specifically Spica, Antares and Aldebaran) are less ‘mundane’ and perhaps more aptly called ‘Zodiac Signs’ than is the case with the Tropical zodiac. It is interesting that this tradition of ‘the Great Year’ that divides the precession cycle into zodiacal periods references the Equinox in relation to the Sidereal or Constellational zodiac. If the Sidereal zodiac is indeed an obsolete ‘vestigial organ’ as one rather audacious Western astrologer has recently asserted, it would make this astrological notion of ‘zodiacal ages’ utter nonsense.
I would not have bothered seeking some way of resolving the apparent ‘zodiac problem’ if the Sidereal zodiac had not proven itself to me again and again in my daily astrological practice. It has made Planetary Dignity a far more applicable and reliable concept than it used to be. Theories aside, I’m interested in what works.
(1) From Phaladipika by the astrologer Mantreswara
(2) Light on Life, an introduction to the astrology of India, by Hart de Fouw and Robert
Svoboda. Pg. 238
(3) Compare the chart of Buckminister Fuller, with Sun and Mercury in Tropical Cancer and
Sidereal Gemini, and with Moon in Tropical Pisces but Sidereal Aquarius. ‘Labeled both a
crackpot and a genius, he was awarded nearly 40 honorary degrees from universities in the
U.S. and the UK and was the author of 20 books, including his perhaps best-known work,
“Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,” 1970.’ (https://www.astro.com/astrodatabank/