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Skyscript Astrology Forum

Hellenistic use of the Sidereal Zodiac
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Phil



Joined: 07 Jan 2012
Posts: 51

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would follow Martin’s question about defining terms. What exactly is a “zodiac” here? I’d humbly suggest it includes two things: geometric definitions of sectors of the sky, and also the inherent properties of those sectors. The first component, astronomic measurement, certainly can be discussed very precisely when described with respect to a stellar reference frame, and it would be very surprising if in ancient times this convenient method were not used. Yet this is just one half of the equation, and a zodiac it does not make: even in Valens’ Anthology, Book I, we see the zodiac signs qualitatively defined and described by seasonal phenomena. The fact that here we have two variables in defining a “zodiac”, not just one, leaves plenty of room for harmony within the astrological community. And on this thread.

“I come in peace…”

Please consider: there is definitely a problem if two people take the same equation, say with 100 variables, and change one and only one of those variables, and expect the equation to still hold. They will then of necessity argue about who has “the right” equation. This is why this whole debate is likely irreconcilable – if the only variable we attribute to a “zodiac” is its ayanamsa. However, if the variable that represents symbolism within the zodiac is also changed, then simply changing the ayanamsa could be compensated for by this second altered variable. I note that in the time-honored Vedic system, entire sets of variables are likely different than in western tropical astrology. Many cultural/symbolic parameters are certainly different, and I'd imagine there are many technical differences too. I have to think that using a sidereal measurement technique here is certainly more than compensated for by these other different parameters. It’s easy to see why western tropical methods and Vedic methods both thrived for millennia, side by side, while doing things differently. It is because they do things differently enough, that the exact same result is achieved, just through different paths!

On a smaller scale, I've heard one prominent proponent of the "western sidereal" school of thought discuss similar variability between his and “western tropical” interpretations of the quality of the signs. This alone could make two different ayanamsas both do just fine. But throw in the unique set of technical emphases in the modern “mainstream sidereal” school, and now we have plenty of room for two different ways of doing things to get to the same result.

So I guess my modest experience and research points me to answer Paul with “Yes, Valens used a tropical and a sidereal zodiac. And so should we.”

Phil
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
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Location: vancouver island

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi phil,
nice post. thanks!
it agrees with my own thinking.. they are 2 different reference points and both equally valid..
james
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lihin



Joined: 14 Dec 2009
Posts: 470
Location: Mount Kailash

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:52 am    Post subject: Active detachment Reply with quote

Good morning,

It is indeed usually quite difficult to detach oneself, even if one might wish to, from the myriad layers of conceptualisation inherent even in the basic patterns of languages.

If we make an attempt in the realm of astronomy-astrology, we might recall that there are only a few fixed stars at 'centre stage' of planetary movement - near the ecliptic, a band of about 16 degrees width - of light comparable with the errant or moving stars. Hermès at his weakest has an apparently visual magnitude of about 5.7, thus at times, even when not obscured by Hélios, scarcely visible to naked human sight. In heavy light pollution experienced by vast portions of the worldwide human pandemic living in large towns and cities, objects weaker than 2 to 3 are often invisible.

If we accept Arès as a benchmark of the wandering stars with a minimum apparently magnitude reaching 1.8 (the others except Hermès are brighter), the list of fixed stars as bright or brighter within the ecliptic band is, by order of brightness with current location in tropical degrees:

Aldebaran (69)
Spica (204)
Antares (249)
Pollux (113)
Regulus (150)
El Nath (82)

Alhena (99) has an apparent magnitude of 1.9, Nunki (282), 2.0.

One may notice that these fixed stars are not evenly distributed along the zodiac and that their very names presume accumulated layers of 'meaning' encoded in at least two languages (Arabic and Latin), one Semitic, the other Indo-European.

Best regards,

lihin
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I feared from the outset, this thread has gone far off-topic and seems in immediate danger of deteriorating into yet another tropical/sidereal debate. I would ask everyone to remember Paul's stated intention with the thread:

Paul wrote:
I am just trying to ascertain what arguments if any are given for why Valens may be using a tropical [zodiac], however, I am not trying to get a definitive answer. Just better understand why anyone would think it's not sidereal. I am not interested in judging whether those arguments are 'valid' or not, just to hear them to understand them, as it would seem very obvious to me that it is indeed a sidereal one being used.

If you have nothing to say that is relevant to this purpose, please do not post on this thread, or I shall have to start deleting posts. I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but I really don't want another fruitless debate here. Anyone interested in that sort of thing can find more than enough of it on Skyscript by searching the archives. Paul's question seems far more interesting and worthwhile.
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This degenerates into a tropical sidereal debate because the debate itself is not well defined.

Take precession as zero.

What elements in chart calculation at that time would define the chart as sidereal and what would call it tropical.
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
As I feared from the outset, this thread has gone far off-topic and seems in immediate danger of deteriorating into yet another tropical/sidereal debate. I would ask everyone to remember Paul's stated intention with the thread


Thank you Martin. Please remove whatever you feel strays from the topic. I may do the same, if you're okay with that, though as this is your forum I prefer if it is done by you, not least because you are a sidereal astrologer yourself.

I just want to say that nobody needs to defend their zodiac preferences in any forum, but just as similarly nobody needs to argue for others being inferior. If at any time anyone feels compelled to post in defence of their zodiac preferences re-read my initial intention. I am not interested in judging the arguments one way or another, just in hearing about them because it seems obvious to me that Valens is using a sidereal zodiac.
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
Martin Gansten wrote:
As I feared from the outset, this thread has gone far off-topic and seems in immediate danger of deteriorating into yet another tropical/sidereal debate. I would ask everyone to remember Paul's stated intention with the thread


Thank you Martin. Please remove whatever you feel strays from the topic. I may do the same, if you're okay with that, though as this is your forum I prefer if it is done by you, not least because you are a sidereal astrologer yourself.

I just want to say that nobody needs to defend their zodiac preferences in any forum, but just as similarly nobody needs to argue for others being inferior. If at any time anyone feels compelled to post in defence of their zodiac preferences re-read my initial intention. I am not interested in judging the arguments one way or another, just in hearing about them because it seems obvious to me that Valens is using a sidereal zodiac.



But that is where the problem lies.

If you could list why it is obvious to you that Valens is using a sidereal zodiac then this would not be a pre-supposition and invoke another pre-supposition.

PD
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey wrote:

But that is where the problem lies.

If you could list why it is obvious to you that Valens is using a sidereal zodiac then this would not be a pre-supposition and invoke another pre-supposition.

PD


Pankajdubey

I encourage you to read all my posts on this thread as I think I address all your concerns and have clarified what I am asking for and why I believe Valens uses a sidereal zodiac. However I am not so interested in promoting my understanding as my interest isn't in what I believe (which I already know) but in what this controversy is.

If you look to my second post on this thread you see I give one example, the most obvious one I can think of, for why I understand Valens to be measuring signs sidereally.
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought there was more than one example.

I think that the crux lies with his use of the word equinox.


Quote:
Aries is the house of Mars, a masculine sign, tropic, terrestrial, governing, fiery, free, upward-trending,
semi-vocal, noble, changeable, procuratorial, public, civic, with few offspring, servile, the Midheaven of the
universe and the cause of rank, two-toned (since the sun and the moon make white lichen). It is also
unaspected and ecliptic.


Quote:
/6P/ Aries is by nature watery, with thunder and hail. From its first degree to the equinox, it is
stormy, full of hail, windy, destructive. The middle degrees up to 15° are mild <and> of animals.


He has used conflicting descriptions of Aries here.


Valens uses it with reference to Aries:

Aries to equinox in sign description.But also adds Aries as MC of the universe.
Libra as an equinoctial sign.Also the IC of the universe.
Rest of the descriptions are as if he is explaining the sign concept to someone familiar with the star concept.


Quote:
2 <A> As mentioned, as a whole Libra is tropic and
changeable.
By part it is as follows: its first and second decans are temperate, the third rainy. Its northern
parts are windy, the southern moist/dry text? and disease–ridden. ....


He follows the rule of describing the sign as a whole then parts of it in chunks of varying degrees, not all in relation to position of stars or all in position of terms.

for cancer

Quote:
It is the house of the moon, feminine, solstitial, the Ascendant to the universe, slavish, downwardtrending,
mute, watery, noble,..


What we definitely know that Valens has used signs to describe the points of universe and described how the stars of the universe fit in that divison and that he has used sign differently than we use now.

Are there any other sidereal references that you can think of ?

All we can say that the whole seasons fuss was not so much important to him as there wasn't much of a discernable difference to him.
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pankaj: do you mean that phrases like 'ascendant/midheaven of the universe', etc, suggest a relation to the seasons, or do I misunderstand you? Valens is without doubt referring to the Thema Mundi or 'nativity of the world', which has Cancer rising and Aries culminating.
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey wrote:
I think that the crux lies with his use of the word equinox.


Okay, what do you think he is implying by equinox if not the equinox itself?


Quote:
He has used conflicting descriptions of Aries here.


Can you be more specific. I didn't see what was conflicting, nor how this informs us about what definition we should use for 'equinox'? Valens is saying that from 0 degrees to the equinoctial degree there is a specific quality to the sign - this implies, obviously, that 0 Aries does not coincide with the equinox itself. In other words, that the equinox is somewhere within what Valens is describing as Aries, and this makes it a sidereal zodiac.

Quote:
Aries to equinox in sign description.But also adds Aries as MC of the universe.
Libra as an equinoctial sign.Also the IC of the universe.
Rest of the descriptions are as if he is explaining the sign concept to someone familiar with the star concept.


But this is comparing apples and pears. Aries is the MC of the universe regardless of any zodiac employed because Aries is at the MC of the Thema Mundi. Calling it an equinoctial sign is to acknowledge the equinox falls within it, but there's nothing conflicting about that at all.


Quote:

He follows the rule of describing the sign as a whole then parts of it in chunks of varying degrees, not all in relation to position of stars or all in position of terms.


Maybe not, but he never defines his segments by tropical logic at all. Or would you disagree? He is dividing the signs in several ways, particularly by decan, but also by defining where applicable where the equinox is. In what sense might that NOT be a sidereal zodiac he is using then?

In the example of Libra he's simply acknowledging that the sign takes on the quality of the fact that the equinox is placed in it. Clearly Valens is not saying that the equinox spans 30 degrees. So saying the whole sign is tropical is simply acknowledging the sign takes on the qualities of the fact that the equinox is contained within it.

Quote:
Are there any other sidereal references that you can think of ?


Well I'm not sure why these ones aren't enough. In his descriptions of the signs, he goes on to tell us how to find them, what stars are contained within it and what constellations rise with Aries. These are all sidereal matters are they not? They are intended to allow an astrologer to discover the rising (particularly) and setting of the signs by way of acknowledging the constellations which surround and 'touch' the signs. Whilst this may be true of a tropical sign as well, it is much more in keeping with the premise behing sidereal astrology.

Rather than look for more and more sidereal hints, I think we should first ask if there are any reasons to think he's using tropical. I don't think there are, and I think the quote I gave is the best one for demonstrating that.

Quote:
All we can say that the whole seasons fuss was not so much important to him as there wasn't much of a discernable difference to him.


Erm, right, but wouldn't this strengthen the notion of a sidereal zodiac?

I guess I'm still curious if you're seeing something explicitly or implicitly tropical in all these quotes? I don't see anything other than a sidereal measurement with an acknowledgement that the meaning of those sidereal references can partake of the quality of what is found within it, particularly if an equinox is. But that doesn't mean he's not measuring these things sidereally.
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Btw I am aware of the points made by some who are more knowledgeable on the astronomical side of things regarding whether particular authors such as Valens used Babylonian Ascensional times (referred to normally as System A).

I am not trying to establish what muddling Valens did of the sidereal and tropical logic - just to discover what he (intentionally) was trying to use. Whether or not he accidentally used some computations that were tropical is not of as much interest to me as much as whether Valens was actually making sidereal measurements and thinking that the equinoxes did not initialise his zodiac.
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Phil



Joined: 07 Jan 2012
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul what do you think the nature of Aries will be, say, 2,000 years from now? In your estimation, what do you think Valens would say about it were he writing in the year 4,000 CE?
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thai is what I said in my post.
what would you take as implicitly tropical evidence.That is what you have to define otherwise it will be difficult for it not to degenerate into tropical vs sidereal debate.

If you don"t find that evidence then you have your answer: )
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey wrote:
Thai is what I said in my post.
what would you take as implicitly tropical evidence.That is what you have to define otherwise it will be difficult for it not to degenerate into tropical vs sidereal debate.

If you don"t find that evidence then you have your answer: )


I consider the tropical zodiac one which begins at the vernal equinox, and, for the purposes of this discussion, everything else as sidereal. That pretty much sums up my stance from when I answered this earlier in the thread.

Phil wrote:
Paul what do you think the nature of Aries will be, say, 2,000 years from now? In your estimation, what do you think Valens would say about it were he writing in the year 4,000 CE?


Hi Phil

That's an interesting question but one outside the scope of what I'm looking for at the moment. I'm not so much interested in what Valens might think in this situation, or that situation, in this year, or in that year. I'm interested in what he actually did use, how he actually did measure in his own time.

I am also not looking to examine how the nature of a sign may change. All of these things drive at the heart of tropical v sidereal arguments which I'm at pains at avoid here.
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