How I See Vedic Astrology as Different to Western Astrology
Table of Contents
By Olivera S.
Have you ever wondered why do people have similar questions when it comes to the basics of astrology?
Am I Pisces or Aquarius?
One astrologer has told me my Sun is placed in this sign, and the astrology program shows my Sun is in the next sign.
Should I wear this or that precious stone? And many more…
This is why you should learn what the differences between the two main astrology systems are.
The name “astrology” means the study of the celestial bodies (astro – star and logos – the principle of reasoning and judgment), and in ancient days, astrology was considered as true science; astronomy was its essential part.
Many of the well-known names in astronomy, physics, and mathematics were, of course, excellent astrologers, too.
How Many Schools of Astrology are there?
In general terms, astrology can be divided into two main systems which are known as the Western or tropical, and the eastern or Vedic astrology.
Western astrology has its roots in Egypt, the Middle East, and today’s territory of Iran, but it’s believed that it originated in the ancient Sumer.
On the other side, Vedic or sidereal astrology emerged in India, thousands of years ago. And more likely, earlier than that.
Besides those two main systems, there is also the Chinese style of astrology, and some mezzo or South Americans styles which are not so common and could be interesting to reconstruct because they have not been practised for the past few centuries, at least not in the public sense.
In any case, astrology/astronomy could serve as one of the crucial arguments about the false history we are teaching our children, having in mind that the “prehistoric” archeology is full of evidence how our “underdeveloped” ancestors were almost obsessed and directed toward celestial calculations, and therefore, they had created huge objects designed for star tracking.
Whether the astrology was given to us by the gods, God’s angels, or simply by the aliens who created us, there is something very important in its core which is reminding us all the time, that we are made from the elements of the stars, and we are moving simultaneously interacting with the whole Universe.
Western and Vedic Astrology Perspective of the Sky
When it comes to the terms Western and Vedic astrology, two very important terms stand before any other discussion about the differences between those two schools. And those terms are “tropical” and “sidereal”.
Tropical or Western astrology deals with the “tropical” positions of the main celestial bodies which means with their projection onto the Earth’s surface.
The main point of the tropical system is the “vernal equinox” or the Aries ingress point, which is the starting point of the Zodiac wheel when the Sun enters the first degree of Aries as it crosses over the equator moving into the northern hemisphere.
And this event occurs usually on March 21. when the length of the day and night are equal, and it’s marking the beginning of the spring and therefore, the beginning of the new cycle.
The other, autumnal equinox point happens on September 2.
We also have two solstices, the summer solstice when the day is the longest, happening on June 21, and the winter solstice happening on 21 December when the night is the longest. Those four seasonal points are the starting points for the signs of Aries (spring equinox), Cancer (summer solstice), Libra (fall equinox), and Capricorn (winter solstice).
And those four points are four cornerstones on which the Western or tropical chart is being drawn and analyzed.
However, the Sun could be crossing over the equator on the first day of spring, but if you ask any astronomer what is going on in the sky and where is the Sun currently located, this person will surely answer that the Sun is still in the sign of Pisces. So, why is that?
Vedic or eastern school of astrology considers only the sidereal position of celestial bodies and this means that the Vedic system uses the precession of the equinoxes and that the new cycle of the year begins when the Sun aligns with the fixed star in the constellation of Aries. And this is why the sidereal Zodiac is known as the Fixed Zodiac, too.
To put it in simple terms, Western or tropical astrology calculates with the projections of Sun, Moon, and planets onto the Earth’s surface, while the sidereal or Vedic astrology calculates the positions of those same bodies onto the heaven’s surface or the celestial surface.
The historical or mythological background of both systems in astrology
Both astrology schools use the Zodiac wheel constituting twelve signs and those signs have the same meaning. Roughly speaking, Aries represents the “self”, the head, or the ego, then Taurus shows direct incomes, face, and the neck, Gemini is about the communication, siblings, lungs, and hands, and so on. Of course, Vedic astrology can use the Hindu names for those signs and this is why you should know their names:
Aries – Mesha
Taurus – Vrishaba
Gemini – Mithuna
Cancer – Karka
Leo – Simha
Virgo – Kanya
Libra – Thula
Scorpio – Vrischika
Sagittarius – Dhanu
Capricorn – Makar
,Aquarius – Khumba
Pisces – Meena.
Today, more and more of Vedic astrologers use to name the Zodiac signs by their Western names, but if you hear them using the traditional Vedic words, you will know that those words mean the same and carry the same traits.
When it comes to the archetypal background, the Western school uses Greek mythology the most, simply because it corresponds perfectly with the minds of the Western people. All those stories about life and death, victory and defeat, decisions and suspicion, reasoning, and instincts can be found in the waste ocean of interactions between Greek gods. And on the other side, Vedic astrology does the same by using the immense source of events related to the Hindu gods.
And while the Western school relies on and compares the Greek mythology with the current events, looking at the constellations, the Vedic astrology emphasizes “nakshatras” or the Moon stations, dividing the sky into 27 (with one more “hidden”) areas.
Planets and chart construction
When it comes to the Sun, Moon, and planets they have the same meaning in both systems, but it could be useful to learn their names. Planets are called the grahas and Sun is Surya, Moon – Chandra, Mercury – Budh, Venus – Shukra, Mars – Mangal, Jupiter – Guru, and Saturn – Shani. Those are known as the “traditional” celestial bodies, and beside them, there are also the North Node of the Moon – Rahu and the South Node of the Moon – Ketu, the intersecting points of the Moon’s and Sun’s paths.
The so-called newly discovered planets are being used in both schools, and Uranus is predicted by some ancient Vedic astrologers to be found and used in this art in our age by the name of Prajapati, while Neptune is named Varuna, although modern astrologers use their Western names too. Pluto is used too, but not so commonly.
Vedic and Western astrology differ the most when it comes to chart construction. A Western chart is circular and house division doesn’t have to be equal according to the used house systems (Porphyry, Koch, Placidus…), therefore someone might have the Ascendant placed by the end of Pisces and the whole first house can extend from Pisces to Aries, for example, while the Vedic chart has the “one house equals one sign” rule. The same person can have the Ascendant or Lagna at the end of Pisces and have the first house placed just in the sign of Pisces.
For this kind of reasoning, it really doesn’t matter whether the rising line or Ascendant is at the beginning, the middle, or the end of the sign. In terms of Vedic astrology, this is not the diving line, but the highest point of the particular house and its belonging sign too.
The Western chart is circular and Vedic is rectangular with again, two styles of representing the same chart, the south, and the north Indian style. And while it can be confusing for the beginners, experienced astrologers can easily switch to any chart presentation and at least, get a rough understanding. This is like driving different types of cars. It can be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s perfectly achievable.
Planetary aspects and periods
And while the Western astrology estimates the planetary periods for all people to be the same, so young children are going through the phase of Mercury, while the elderly are under the Saturn’s main influence, Vedic astrology uses complicated calculations and makes the strict distinction between personal great planetary periods – maha dashas, and smaller sub-periods (antardashas, pratya antardashas…).
Also, Western astrology uses planetary transits to predict events, while Vedic astrology uses calculative or divisional charts derived from the natal chart of the person. And the most popular of them all is D9 or Navamsha chart, but you can surely consult the higher divisions extending to D144 chart.
And the last difference between those two systems is seen through aspect structures because the Western astrology uses the trigonometry postulates and the 5 main planetary aspects (including some “higher” aspects as well, but not so widely popular), seeing the sky as the heavenly music which is weaker or stronger as the bodies move, while Vedic astrology has some strict traditional rules.
For instance, the transiting Venus can currently make a beneficial aspect like trine with your natal Sun, but for the Vedic astrology, this doesn’t exist because Venus is not able to create the trine or the “fifth aspect” at all. Another example, for Western astrology, Mercury can be placed by the beginning of one sign, while Venus is at its end. And this is not considered as the conjunction because those two bodies are far away and their orbs of influence don’t mix. At the same time, through the eyes of the Vedic astrology, this is the clear conjunction, simply because those two planets are in the same sign.
Again, for astrology beginners, those differences might be very confusing, but in time they will surely become easy to understand and useful for various purposes.