Siding With Sidereal

The nature of existence is movement.cloud chamber Look at “atom smashers” for example. Huh? No, really. In these contraptions, scientists send beams of particles at each other at speeds close to that of light. When the beams collide, it’s time to see what comes out of that. Well, in this process, particles are actually smashed into existence, so to speak. And what these particles do, during their sometimes extremely brief manifestation, is whirl and twirl, as in the cloud chamber picture at right. It’s the dance of existence.

As above, so below. As with the small, so with the large (a bad paraphrase and maybe not perfectly accurate at the quantum level, but cut me some slack here). The heavens are in constant movement, like a large clockwork; that is, like when clockwork had gears. The Earth itself is engaged in several kinds of movement – rotation, revolution, and precession to name three. Precession is the one where the Earth’s axis moves like a child’s top, tracing a slow 26,000 year circle in the heavens. One noticeable consequence of this is that the pole stars change over time. Polaris is the north star now, but it won’t be in a few thousand years; nor was it a few thousand years ago. Another thing that happens is that, from the viewpoint of the Earth, the Sun slowly moves “backwards” through the constellations of the zodiac at the rate of one degree approximately every 72 years.

This also means, of course, that the position of the Sun on the first day of Spring (the equinox, March equinox 221) also precesses backwards. Here is where Tropical and Sidereal astrology diverge. In Tropical astrology, which is the typical system used in the West, the first day of Spring is the first day of Aries. Period. Every year. Unchanging. But everything is in motion, remember? In reality, on the first day of Spring, the Sun is now still in the sign of Pisces (the fish). That is, if you were to look at the Sun (which you wouldn’t do without adequate eye protection), and could block its brightness, you would see the stars of the constellation Pisces surrounding it. I’ll save you the trouble, and the wait, by giving you a picture (at left), which I constructed using the apps SkyView and Skitch. Ain’t technology wonderful?

In Sidereal astrology, like Asterian or Jyotish, precession is taken into account. So, someone born on March 21 is not an Aries, but a Pisces (and in a few hundred years, someone born on March 21 will be an Aquarius!). In fact, Aries doesn’t start in these systems until the Sun actually enters that constellation, on April 13 this year. What it boils down to is that most people who have thought themselves to be a Taurus are actually an Aries (e.g., me). Same for the other signs. For instance, most who thought they were born in Virgo were born when the Sun was actually in Leo. Furthermore, an approach like Asterian has a system of 27 signs (each one of length 13 degrees, 20 minutes of arc) that overlays the 12 usual solar signs. This fine tunes the system even more, such that there are three types of Aries, etc. Some of the 27 signs cross the boundary between two solar signs. In those cases, there are two types of some of the 27 signs. It’s not quite so confusing as it sounds at first. stars coverIt actually makes more sense than a Tropical approach, since it reflects the reality of the heavens.

I’ve become a convert. After examining the Sidereal description of my personality, it became obvious which approach “nails” it better. I even wrote about it here, and have co-authored a book, entitled 27 Stars: Discovering Your True Self With Asterian Astrology. Without a doubt, I’m siding with sidereal. Examine this approach, and see if it doesn’t make lots of sense to you, too.

Horsin’ Around With Astrology

I’ve always felt that I was an Aries. But being born on a cusp day, I noticed from early on that, half the time, popular astrological reckonings placed me in Aries and that, the other half of the time, I was placed in Taurus. As a youngster I found that pretty confusing, but something deep inside me said, “Aries. Yup, definitely Aries.” That is, until about 30 years ago, when I had my first professional astrology reading. “There’s no such thing as a cusp baby,” I was told. “You’re either an Aries or a Taurus, and you, sir, are a Taurus.” By almost half a degree, I learned. So, I tried on my Taurean persona and got it to fit. Stubborn and loyal? You bet. Also, I had Sagittarius rising, which is why, as I explained to my wife, I always need to sit on the aisle.

I had a Jyotish reading (Indian astrology) some years later, but it was by a very muddled practitioner and the reading didn’t make much sense. All I gleaned from it was that it was different, but it was not clear how it was different. Thankfully, that situation has been resolved by an astrologer/researcher named Jade Sol Luna, who traced the Indian approach back to its roots – in Greek thinking, no less. You see, when Alexander the Great did his thing of trying to conquer the known world, he stalled out in India. Fortunately, however, Alexander’s astrologers had come with him and they left their stamp on the Indian brand of astrology.

The Greek influence was subsumed under the Jyotish stars, until recently. Now, Asterian astrology dissects the entwined approaches to make a system that is accessible to Western minds. Turns out that I am an Aries after all. I knew it!

You see, astrology as it is reckoned in the West uses a tropical approach. In other words, it is linked to the seasons. What it comes down to is that the first day of Spring, March 21st, is the first day of Aries. So, according to popular, Western astrology, the Sun enters Aries on March 21st. Always. Well, that was true a couple thousand years ago, but not anymore. Nowadays, the Sun as seen from Earth is still in Pisces on March 21st. This is due to the precession of the equinoxes, a wobble that the Earth has in its rotation. For those unfamiliar with the term “precession,” here’s an explanatory link.

What this means astronomically, and astrologically, is that from Earth, the Sun is slowly moving backwards through the constellations of the zodiac. Failure by the West to correct for this means that the true position of the Sun (and all the planets) as viewed from Earth is more than 23 degrees different from the positions stated by Western astrology. That means that most people who think they are a given sign in Western astrology were actually born when the Sun was in the previous sign as viewed from Earth. Asterian and Jyotish approaches take this wobble into account and cast charts accordingly. This is called a sidereal approach to astrology.

It gets even more subtle. Within the twelve familiar signs are 27 others. That means that there are colorations of each of the main signs, which introduces another layer of specificity. So in my case, not only am I an Aries (the ram), but I am also Dioscuri (these are the horse gods), the animal of that sign being a horse. And guess what? The Dioscuri are loyal but can be stubborn, too. Also, the horse yearns for freedom and open spaces, so the aisle seat thing still applies as well, somewhat to my wife’s chagrin.

I’m still adjusting to this new horse suit, but the fit feels pretty good. This new-but-not-so-new system of astrology bears a serious look-see. My Asterian astrology reading was easy to understand and mind-blowingly accurate. I feel as if I’ve come to a new appreciation of who I am. Very exciting.

See you around the stables, or out on the range.

Tarot Reading – The Significator

Before talking about the reading itself, let’s discuss the very important concept of the significator. The person asking the question of the cards (this person is also known as the querent) is represented by one of the sixteen court cards of the deck. The determination is based on the querent’s gender, age, and astrological Sun sign.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Gender/Age
    • Male: King (older) or Knight (younger)
    • Female: Queen (older) or Page (younger)
  • Sun sign
    • Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius): Wands
    • Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces): Cups
    • Air signs (Libra, Aquarius, Gemini): Swords
    • Earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo): Pentacles

For example, I am an older male born under an Earth sign. Therefore, my significator would be the King of Pentacles. On the other hand, a teenage girl born under the sign of Pisces would have the Page of Cups as her significator.

Admittedly, the age breakdown is a little slippery. I use the “younger” card if the querent is under the age of 30, unless that person has children, in which case I tend to use the “older” card. Of course, a very young, or somewhat immature, person with a child will be signified by the “younger” card. This is my rule of thumb. Other readers may be a bit different on the issue. What is important is that the reader is clear about what significator should be used.

The significator is, um, significant because it is the determiner of which cards are read during each stage. At the start of every stage of a reading, the significator is located. The number of cards to be used, as indicated by the stage, are the ones following the significator in the deck.

Cards can also be used to signify other individuals important to the querent, such as one’s mate. The rules for determining that person’s significator are generally the same as those used for the querent. This is not a hard and fast rule, regarding those other than the querent, but it is a handy thing for the reader to keep in mind.

The next five posts will concern themselves with the actual stages of a reading. Stay tuned.

Planetary Forces – Pluto

The final planet to consider is Pluto. Whether it’s a planet in astronomical terms or not doesn’t matter. It’s a planet as far as astrology is concerned, and it represents a force in the human psyche, just as the Sun and the Moon are considered planets in this regard. Pluto is elemental Fire and is associated with the Tarot card Judgement (Major Arcana Key 20).

Discovered in 1930, Pluto arrived at a time of great upheaval in human history, almost as if it were announcing the depths of the Great Depression and the beginning of the period of World War II (remember, China and Japan began hostilities in 1937). Pluto has therefore become associated with change, but of a violent or upheaving type. It co-rules Scorpio, along with Mars, and is seen as a higher octave of the Red Planet.

Scorpio is one of the so-called fixed astrological signs, and it has two symbols – the scorpion and the eagle. These represent the two extremes that the Scorpionic temperament can take: vengeful or majestic, seeing far and wide. Scorpio also rules the large intestine in the body, which certainly gets rid of whatever isn’t needed, and sometimes in a violent fashion.

Pluto, elemental Fire

Pluto is also a rule breaker, psychically and physically. The planet itself is inclined to the usual orbital plane of the other planets, so it wanders outside the boundaries. Also, its orbit is such that for a couple of decades each revolution around the sun, it is closer to the sun than Neptune.

In our psyches, Pluto can bring about rapid cleansing, and asks us to die to ourselves so that we may rise anew – hence the Tarot card that shows the dead rising.

Pluto has the same note (C natural) as Mars. Look for Pluto in sweep in and really shake things up. It can seem traumatic at the time, but it often signals a growth period, as that which is outmoded dies and the new rises from that destruction.

Planetary Forces – Neptune

Moving outward, the next planet is Neptune, which is elemental Water. It is paired with the Hanged Man (Tarot major arcana Key 12).

Water is the emotional self. It is also our contact with the unconscious, both personal and collective. Neptune was discovered in 1846, after its position was predicted mathematically. Isn’t it just like emotion not to explain itself truly until rationality is put into play?

In astrology, Neptune is our dreamy side and it helps us formulate hopes and aspirations. On the negative, it can enslave us with unrealistic expectations and even addictions. It co-rules (with Jupiter) the astrological sign of Pisces, perhaps the least grounded of all signs. Its rulership of this sign gives a clue as to its ability to put us into contact with our intuitive parts. Perhaps that is why it’s considered a higher octave of the Moon.

Neptune, elemental Water

Recall that the Moon is paired with the High Priestess (the post for the Moon is here), the mistress of memory and intuitive connection. There is a decidedly feminine emphasis here; also the Hanged Man (post on the Hanged Man is here) reminds us to look beneath the surface, not to take things at face value. In other words, there more to life than what the senses tell us.

The note for Neptune and the Hanged Man is G#, because of the relationship with the High Priestess.

Here is an essential point: Rationality without emotion is cold, while emotion without reason is unfocused. It is again, no surprise, about balance. The lessons of Neptune and the Hanged Man are indispensable. They ask us to dream and to hope. Without that, life becomes meaningless and pointless. Out of Cosmic Memory comes the true sense of connection with something greater.

Let Neptune bring you to the heights of fantasy and dreams, while you keep yourself tethered to the physical. This is the formula for making dreams into reality.

Planetary Forces – Uranus

This is the first of three posts on the outer planets, those seemingly unknown to the ancients. Whether these planets were really unknown is not the issue, though. The issue is that these planets were not used in the casting of horoscopes. The explanation usually given is that these outer planets made their appearances (were discovered) at a time that was most apropos to their function in the human psyche.

In Tarot, the outer planets are given as rulers of the elements (Saturn, the outermost in the ancient planets is given as ruler of elemental Earth – compare this with my post on Saturn here).

Uranus, elemental Air

The first of the outer planets to consider is Uranus, elemental Air. It corresponds to the Fool (Major Arcana Key 0), and the Tarot suit of Swords. I have posted on the Fool here.

The element of Air is associated with quick thought and movement. There is a gregarious quality to it, and those with much Air in their temperaments are quick-thinking and sociable. However, the dark side of Air is cold, aloof, and sometimes cruel.

The Fool is often paired with the so-called transpersonal chakra, located about 18 inches above the head. It is where we commune with the rest of the human race.

Uranus is considered to be a higher octave of Mercury, another fast-moving entity. As such, it has the same note (E natural) as Mercury and the Magician. This planet (with Saturn) co-rules Aquarius, the astrological sign of humanitarianism. Its discovery in 1781 came at a time of the eruption of new thoughts and bold visions (like that upstart nation the USA), so those things are associated with this planet.

The Fool encourages us to step forward with complete hope. Uranus calls for change. Air appeals to our thinking selves. Put them all together, and one gets results.

Planetary Forces – Mercury

With our visit to Mercury, we have reached the Seventh, or Crown, Chakra. This chakra is associated with the Tarot card The Magician (Major Arcana Key 1).

The Seventh Chakra is our connection to our Higher Self, the place through which divine wisdom enters. But why Mercury for this chakra? Shouldn’t the planet be something, I don’t know, loftier? Well, there are a couple of reasons for this choice.

First off, in mythology Mercury is the messenger of the gods; you know, the guy with wings on his heels, like in the FTD logo. It seems natural to assign the planet Mercury to this chakra, then. Also, Mercury is the communications planet in astrology. Where our Mercury is in our natal chart shows how we think and communicate.

Mercury, the Seventh Chakra planet

Astronomically, Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, and the Sun is seen in many esoteric traditions as the physical manifestation of the divine in our solar system. As such, Mercury is the intercessor, in that it lies between us and that representation of the godhead. Notice in The Magician, the figure stands with one arm aloft and the other down, directing the force from the above to the below – once again, an intercessor, a messenger, and a transducer of the power from the divine.

But the associations don’t end there. The metal for Mercury is, as you may have guessed, mercury or quicksilver. This curious element is a liquid at room temperature and runs about quickly (if you’ve ever played with it, you know it forms globules and balls that shimmer and move away at a touch). Furthermore, mercury is seen in alchemy as the symbol of the superconscious, the highest source of communication. Sulfur is symbolic of our regular consciousness, while salt is the unconscious, or automatic consciousness.

Too much Mercury leads to a disorganized mind, flitting from one topic to the next, a very ungrounded situation. Too little Mercury beings a dullness of thought, and a rigidity of belief untempered by a true connection to the divine.

The note for Mercury and the Seventh Chakra is E natural. This is the beginning note of the Phrygian mode, a mode used to evoke rapid movement and quickness. It is often used in flamenco music, for example.

Mercury – communication and communion. Listen carefully and you will be able to hear the whisperings of the divine.

Planetary Forces – Moon

Next up is the Sixth (or Brow or Third Eye) Chakra. Its planet is the Moon, and it is associated with the Tarot card The High Priestess (Major Arcana Key 2).

The Sixth Chakra is our center of intuition, and a way of connecting with non-local phenomena and knowledge. This is one of the reasons for the assignment of the High Priestess with this chakra. I posted about the High Priestess here, discussing her association with intuition (the Third Eye). Her position on the Tree of Life acts as a transmitter of Divine wisdom into human nature.

However, there is also an association with memory, both individual and collective, in the

Moon, the Sixth Chakra planet

High Priestess. Where better to place this than smack-dab in the middle of your head?

The Moon is linked in astrology with emotion, and where the Moon is in our natal chart tells a good bit about how we deal with emotion. The Moon is also symbolic of the Mother energy in astrology (Saturn is the father). The sign of Cancer, which the Moon rules, is described as a maternal sign, centered around the home and nurturing.

Balance is important here as well. Too much Moon leads to an over-emotional, unfocused life; too little Moon yields an uncaring, unimaginative one.

The metal of the moon is silver, the “other” precious metal. Like gold, humans have a special affinity for this metal, and it is an even better conductor of electricity than copper. Gold and silver are also the colors of the so-called solar and lunar currents (masculine and feminine; yang and yin) of the body. Their interplay keeps us in balance. Too much (or too little) of one or the other leads to disruptions in many of our natural cycles, resulting in illness or emotional instability.

The note of the Moon is G#, placing it directly between Venus (F#) and Jupiter (A#). Thus, the three brightest non-solar objects are placed as a stellium (another astrological term) within the musical scale.

Never lose touch with the Moon of your being. It is your emotional center, your intuitive feel, and your link to Cosmic Memory.

Planetary Forces – Venus

Looking at the Fifth, or Throat, Chakra, we find the planet Venus and the Tarot card The Empress (Major Arcana Key 3). I have written about The Empress in a previous post, primarily as a symbol for the Divine Mother. Here she is associated with the gifts of the Fifth Chakra.

These gifts include the ability to speak one’s truth, and to create in a constructive way or at the highest level of our spiritual abilities. Mars (Second Chakra) is a more generative, reproductive sort of creativity. One of the tasks of the spiritual seeker is to take that Martian energy and transmute it into a power that can be used in the service of the Venus force.

The brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, Venus

Venus, the Fifth Chakra planet
is not only the planet of desire. She is the planet of beauty as well, and the Venus force seeks to bring beauty into our lives. Venus rules two signs: Taurus and Libra. Both are concerned with beauty in different ways. Taurus wants beauty in the physical world, whereas Libra wants divine justice, a beauty of the mind. Both are important, of course. A misguided Venus can be lazy, either physically or intellectually. The force can even be turned toward Mars, a reversal of the interplay needed for spiritual development. This can lead to lust, promiscuity, and a dissipation of the creative force.

The metal associated with Venus is copper. Just as copper is a great conductor of heat and electrical energy, the Venus force is a great conductor as well. Properly directed, Venus brings fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. Copper is also very malleable, just as creativity can take many forms.

The note associated with The Empress, and Venus, is F#. This is the tritone of the C major scale, which is considered a very “feminine” interval. (I have blogged elsewhere about the tritone here.) It is rumored that the Catholic Church forbade its use in music at one time, though this is disputed. However, the late composer Kay Gardner stated that, while in school, she was once required to rewrite a musical piece that depended on the tritone.

Venus is beauty and creativity. Let her shine in your life to help you reach your greatest potential.

Planetary Forces – Sun

We have reached the heart of the matter, both figuratively and literally, as we explore the fourth chakra, province of the heart and the Sun. The Tarot card of the Fourth Chakra is Key 19, The Sun.

The Sun is the center of our solar system, just as the heart chakra is the central chakra of our energy system. (For those of you who might object to the Sun being called a planet, that’s just how it is in astrology. All the planets of the solar system – including Pluto, dadgumit – as well as the Sun and the Moon are considered to be planets.)

The human heart is also aligned with the central sphere of Tiphareth on the Tree of Life. This sphere is associated with the Son on the Central Pillar so, in English at least, it is an interesting homonym.

The Sun rules Leo, the astrological sign that governs the heart and the spine (your “backbone”).

Sun, the Fourth Chakra planet
The lion is known as a courageous beast, and when we live from our heart, we find our courage. However, a Sun out of control is quite destructive (think supernova), and if we let our Sun get the better of us, egotism and arrogance result. This leaves a path of destruction in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.

The Sun’s metal is gold, and there seems to be a special affinity between that precious metal and the spirit of humans. In fact, some indigenous peoples have called gold “the blood of the Sun.” (I have posted about this in another blog here). In medieval times, alchemists tried to turn lead into gold, or so the story goes. In actuality, it was a quest for enlightenment – an attempt to transcend earthly bonds (the metal lead – remember? from Saturn?) to attain union with the Divine (by linking to Tiphareth and Christ consciousness).

Man, there are future blog topics aplenty right here in this post! I’ll get to them, I promise.

The note associated with the Sun is D natural. This comes from the assignment of notes according to color correspondences, and the Sun is paired with the color orange. (Another blog topic, for another time.) D is also the tonic for the well-known Dorian mode (here is a brief video on the Dorian mode).

Rely on your Sun for courage and identity. Let it light the way to higher consciousness for you.