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Reconciliation of the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiac
Part II of IV
by Vic DiCara
Editor's Note from Pat Lantz: This is part two of a wonderful four part series in which Astrologer Vic Di Cara reconciles the two zodiacs, sharing with his readers some forgotten knowledge that will give all astrologers, both Eastern and Western, much to ponder about both the "sidereal zodiac" and the "tropical zodiac". Click here for Part I.
Is the Twelvefold Sidereal Zodiac Original and Correct?
Those who feel that the sidereal starting point of the zodiac is original say that ancient peoples looked up at the stars in the sky, drew pictures up there by stringing together the patterns, and assigned mythology and meaning to the divisions created by those connections. They say that this mythologically informed “connect‐the‐dots” is the origin of astrology and of all the meaning of the twelve zodiac signs.
But I have two big questions:
1. How can the imagery of the constellations be the source of all its meaning when they are just vague dots that don’t really look anything like the animals and creatures they are supposed to be? It is not reasonable to ask me to believe that the dots of light in the sky create the rich meaning of the twelve signs.
2. If the stars themselves are the source of meaning for original zodiac, then the stars themselves should define the borders of the twelve areas of meaning. Why then is the sidereal zodiac not a division of some number of unequal signs?
Thus I do not find the siderealist’s argument compelling.
Is the Twelvefold Tropical Zodiac Original and Correct?
It is logical and reasonable that the clockwork interplay of Sun, Moon and the Earth is the origin of the borders and rich meanings of the twelve zodiac divisions. Symbols like rams and crabs and scorpions came later, devised as mnemonic and communicative aids for the rich meaning already extant in the divisions. Creatively tracing those pictures among the vague stars came much later, probably right around 2,000 years ago.
The zodiac has inherent meaning, and the symbolism is just an aid to express that meaning in an intuitive manner. Each zodiac sign derives meaning from four constituents:
The planet who creates and tends it (“ruler”)
The elemental material it is created from (“element”)
The attitude it expresses itself with (“mode”)
Its “natural order” in the zodiac.
The tropical system rationally explains all these. This is a serious mark of superiority over the sidereal system which asks us to believe that the meanings of the zodiac divisions arise from the imaginations of ancient star‐gazers.
I will now attempt to express the rational tropical explanations for the four constituents of meaning in each sign.
Planetary Rulers Based on Relationship to the Sun
The planet which “rules” a sign is the active principle which transforms the latent energy of the primordial sign into something organized and meaningful – in just the same way as people go into wilderness and transform its resources into civilization. What logic determines which planet rules which sign? It is based on the relationship of the planets to the Sun.
The Sun and the Moon are the kings of the sky – they own the whole thing: i.e. their polyrhythmic interplay of 12:1 defines the zodiac as having twelve equal portions. These two kings take possession of the two portions that appealed to them most, due to their elemental and modal affinity. The Sun takes the fifth portion, Leo; the Moon the fourth, Cancer. They then place the remaining ten divisions in the care of the five real planets.
Mercury is the closest to the Sun, so it gets the two divisions closest to the Sun and Moon: Gemini, which directly borders the Moon’s Cancer, and Virgo, which directly borders the Sun’s Leo. Venus is the next closest to the Sun, so gets the next closest zodiac divisions: Taurus (bordering Gemini) and Libra (bordering Virgo). The Earth is not an astrological planet, it is the foundation and stage of astrology, so the next closest planet to the Sun after Venus is Mars. Mars thus gets the next closest divisions: Aires (bordering Taurus) and Scorpio (bordering Libra). Then Jupiter gets Pisces (bordering Aries) and Sagittarius (bordering Scorpio). Finally Saturn, the furthest planet, gets the signs furthest away: Aquarius (bordering Pisces) and Capricorn (bordering Sagittarius).
The main source of meaning in the signs – the planetary ruler – is thus a Sun‐based logic. This suggests that the Sun based starting point for the zodiac is the original twelvefold zodiac. The sun‐based starting point is the vernal‐equinox, which defines the tropical zodiac.
Elemental Nature Based on the Relationship of the Sun and Earth
If the ruling planet is the “person” who creates a culture and civilization out of wild raw materials, the elemental nature of the sign is the raw material itself. What logic decides what element exists in which sign? Logic based on the relation of the Sun to the Earth.
First we must consider the meaning of the Earth’s four cardinal directions, which is derived due to the Sun’s association with those directions.
* The Sun rises in the East. Thus the East is our source of light. It is therefore the direction of dharma – morality which illuminates the correct path and punishes those who willfully stray. The element of dharma and the east is fire, which both illuminates and punishes.
* The Sun sets in the West. Evening comes and we stop working and begin to relax and enjoy. The West is therefore the direction of kāma – enjoyment, pleasure and sensation. The element of kāma and the west is ever‐fresh are unrestrained air.
* The Sun rises overhead to high noon in the South. (1) During the bright daytime we work and earn our bread. Therefore it is the direction of artha – accumulation of prosperity and status. The element of artha and the South is practical, stable, and fertile earth.
* The Sun disappears in the midnight darkness of the North, which is therefore the direction of going deep within and withdrawing from common affairs. The North is thus the direction of mokṣa – self‐realization. The element of mokṣa and the North is reflective, deep and contemplative water.
Next we must consider how the directions pertain to the signs. Tropical Aries is the vernal equinox, the “sunrise” of the year. It is therefore the East. Aries is similar to the first house, the location of the sunrise in the east, by the principle of “natural order.” So by that reckoning too Aries is east. The seventh house is the West, so is the seventh sign Libra. It is also the autumnal equinox, which is “sunset” of the year. The tenth house, high‐noon, is the South, so is the tenth sign Capricorn. The fourth house is the North, so is the fourth sign Cancer (2).
Since Aries is the East it is fire.
Since Libra is the West it is air.
Since Capricorn is the South it is earth.
Since Cancer is the North it is water.
What about the rest of the signs?
Stand in the northern hemisphere and watch the Sun through the course of a day. At sunrise you must face east; at noon you face south; at sunset, west; and, if you could see the Sun below the earth at midnight you would be turned northward. Thus the Sun’s motion around the Earth proceeds in this order: east, south, west, north.
The elements of the zodiac proceed from Aries in the same order. Aries east, Taurus south, Gemini west, Cancer north, and so on. East (Aries) is fire. South (Taurus) is earth. West (Gemini) is air. North (Cancer) is water. Continue this pattern through all twelve divisions and you have a perfect map of the elements of the signs.
The twelvefold zodiac divisions derive their elemental meaning relative to the Sun’s interaction with the Earth. This is another strong point favoring the conclusion that a twelvefold zodiac anchored to a point defined by the Sun’s relationship to the Earth (the tropical zodiac anchored to the vernal equinox, for example) is the original zodiac, the origin of all the meaning therein?
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About the Author
Victor Damien DiCara practices astrology based on very ancient principles ("Vedic") but does it with a very modern frame of mind.
Initiated into Vedic spiritual culture in 1992 (in India), Vic was awarded the symbolic thread of the brahmin in 1994. This award signified aptitude in the role of a councilor, philosopher and guide. While living as a celibate yogi in an ashram for 8 years, he studied Vedic philosophy and the culture of Vedic astrology and began offering astrological consultation to the public in 2007. (Vic's astrological autobiography)
Vic has written and published in over a dozen magazines, has published textbooks for his courses on astrology and is currently putting the finishing touches on a full length book.
To find out more about Victor DiCara, visit his Website, Authentic Astrology, Blog or join him on
Reading with Victor DiCara
1) The correlation of the South to overhead phenomena such as noon, the 10th house and the 10th sign Capricorn is confusing to most people because we generally feel that South is “down,” not “up.” Similarly the correlation of the North to underground phenomena like midnight, the 4th house and the 4th sign cancer is confusing because we usually feel like North is “up,” not “down.” To alleviate this confusion, recognize that humanity mainly exists in the northern hemisphere. From there, to look at the Sun at high‐noon you must always face south! Therefore the South is connected with high‐noon, and the 10 th house and sign. Thus the tropic of Capricorn is the southern tropic.
Similarly, if you were to follow the Sun’s path to midnight, standing in the northern hemisphere, you would be facing North. Thus the North represents midnight, and the 4th house and sign. And that is why the tropic of Cancer is the northern tropic.
2) See footnote 1