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Tropical or sidereal zodiac
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Miguel



Joined: 31 Dec 2017
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Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:15 pm    Post subject: Tropical or sidereal zodiac Reply with quote

Most western astrologers use the Tropical zodiac, while most astrologers in India prefer the Sidereal version. Are they both uncritically following something they don't understand?

After reading Fagan and Gansten on the Sidereal Zodiac I became a convert. How can tropical astrologers be so negligent and dishonest to use a zodiac that doesn't correspond to the constellations? Why would they use a zodiac that only aligns with the seasons on the Mediterranean?

However, after carefully pondering the arguments in favor of the Tropical zodiac, now I am of the opinion the Sideral zodiac is a misunderstanding of astrology. Astrology has always been used in relation to the seasons and weather, so trying to disentangle both, like in sidereal astrology is a mistake.

Some astrologers are of the opinion both are right because astrology is entirely subjective. I prefer the view that only one can be right because it should be defined on rational principles.

The tropical zodiac is superior because it's aligned with the seasons, while the constellations were just used as an appropiate sky marker. Now that they have moved, the meaning of the signs is fixed for all time.

It doesn't need to be adjusted periodically, like it happens with the sideral ayanamsa. And the meanings of the signs don't have to be constantly changed to coincide with the seasons.

Ptolemy said if the zodiac was changed, the meanings of the signs had too. Cyril Fagan confirmed this, but he never provided the new definitions for them or a guide on how to establish them.

Nobody has ever produced a formal model to give meaning to the zodiac signs independent of the weather. Therefore sidereal astrology is a misunderstanding.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miguel, please see this article:

http://users.snowcrest.net/sunrise/aatriplicities2013.htm
"Ancient Triplicities: Key to the Sidereal Zodiac"
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WooWoo



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Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me this one of the Great Questions, along with Helio verses Geo.

In terms of clarity I feel Vedic Astrologers are far superior to their Western Cousins.

Next you should know that much is made of Dashas in Vedic. These are subdivisions of the Zodiac, about a Moon's daily travel in size.

www.astrobix.com offer some very good charts. Compare your Western Astrological Analysis with theirs.

I think you'll find the Answers aren't too different.

SPOOKY.

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Arvind



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Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Tropical or sidereal zodiac Reply with quote

Miguel wrote:

The tropical zodiac is superior because it's aligned with the seasons, while the constellations were just used as an appropiate sky marker. Now that they have moved, the meaning of the signs is fixed for all time.

It doesn't need to be adjusted periodically, like it happens with the sideral ayanamsa. And the meanings of the signs don't have to be constantly changed to coincide with the seasons.

Miguel,
True, the tropical starting point does not need to be annually adjusted as the tropical zodiac begins where the ecliptic and equator intersect at the northern vernal, or spring equinox. This is the Sun's equatorial ascending node. This point defines 0 degrees tropical Aries and can be defined extremely accurately and is the point of reference for most astronomical work.

The Sun's equatorial ascending node by definition is that which is ascending when viewed from the northern hemisphere. Even in the southern hemisphere it is still called the ascending node, although in actual fact it has become the descending node.

Follow?

The whole symmetry of this means that to select only the ascending node as the starting point of the zodiac, is not right or reasonable.
It is clear that there are two "starting points" to the tropical zodiac and both are therefore equally valid. The failure of many to clearly comprehend this most basic of points keeps generating a lot of barren theorizing.

Best Regards,
~A.
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Arvind



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Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Tropical or sidereal zodiac Reply with quote

Miguel wrote:

The tropical zodiac is superior because it's aligned with the seasons, while the constellations were just used as an appropiate sky marker. Now that they have moved, the meaning of the signs is fixed for all time.

This is an open letter to a PM I received, it is not necessarily aimed at Miguel.

As an aside... You might want to read Dane Rudhyar's Pulse of Life, a work on the 12 phases of human experience through the signs, where he presents a telling correlation between the course of human life starting at the spring equinox. Long out of print but available online, just Google it. Tropical or siderealist, it's a good read.

The zodiac as a circle and by definition has no beginning or end. Tropical or sidereal, any starting point is arbitrary.

My point: The aligning of the seasons of the tropical zodiac is entirely subjective.

The start of the tropical zodiac at the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring and the start of life is an elegant association... but, however compelling the symbolism of the seasons and life cycle by tying the start of the tropical zodiac to the vernal equinox, it simply fails for those living in the southern hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed. (Unless you believe in a flat earth.)

What to do then for our southern colleagues to save the tropical zodiac? Astrologers in the southern hemisphere could just simply reverse the signs so that Aries starts with their spring.
But... If they do that, then what about those that live on the equator?
I guess their predicaments in that case are beyond comprehension.

I will restate here my comment from my first post...
"The whole symmetry of this means that to select only the ascending node as the starting point of the zodiac, is not right or reasonable.
It is clear that there are two "starting points" to the tropical zodiac and both are therefore equally valid. The failure of many to clearly comprehend this most basic of points keeps generating a lot of barren theorizing."

The seasonal argument and the symbolic fitting of life to the zodiac and its 12 signs is disputable due to the number of convincing reasoning's that can be made for each of the cardinal points as a starting point for the tropical zodiac.

Another point, if you follow Fagan, the original zodiacal signs of antiquity were named by the Egyptians and started with Taurus rising after sunset in October, and therefore midwinter coincided with Cancer.

Best Regards,
~A.
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Miguel



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Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Therese, I will read your article. Arvind, thanks for the follow up. Do you mean there are two different ways to calculate the tropical zodiac and that it's all subjective?

It's true the tropical zodiac fails for those living around the equator, but then what's the solution? Sidereal?

Sidereal zodicacs were also defined by the weather, at least the meaning of the signs. I think it's a mirage to think we can do sideral astrology today when there is such a wide divergence between what the signs mean and their relation with the seasons.
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miguel

There is a lot on this topic, but on this forum and on other forums and in books and papers.

My own view is that both sidereal and tropical astrology have valuable insights to offer, mostly because sidereal and tropical astrologers have valuable insights to offer. I realise that's uncomfortable as we really would feel it was more logical if we just said one was right and one was wrong, but whilst all that may sound nice in theory, in reality I've seen astrologers do exceptional things with both sidereal and tropical. Someone said that this reminded them of the geo vs helio centric debates, for me it's more like the traditional vs modern debates or else the which house system to use debates. I am of the opinion that regadless of your technique or your tradition or your zodiac, astrologers who have been honing their craft for at least some time will have something insightful and valuable to offer their clients.

As for the more theoretical answers, I don't think it's too smart to tie the zodiac, imaginarily, to the seasons too tightly. For a start, the solstice is the 21 June, and so if we were to link this to light, we shoudl really have Gemini as ruled by the Moon, and Cancer by the Sun, so as to better reflect the order of the planets along the solstice axes. We don't do that. That said, that the signs correspond, even loosely, with the seasons is a nice addition to me, but it's not the most important thing.

I think if you study the history of the develoment of the zodiac in more detail it becomes obvious that both sidereal, seasonal, agricultural, timekeeping and navigational demands coallesce onto a tradition of mapping images in the sky and dividing up the sky in various ways. However before we had 12 signs we had quite a few more and even when we did have 12 and they were finally made equal divisions irrespective of the arc of the constellation they were modelling, they nevertheless measured them sidereally. However some of what they were measuring sidereally was abstracted and some wereactually seasonal phenomena. Also within the tropical zodiac there are sidereal considerations, chiefly via the fixed stars, but they 'glide' through the zodiac signs, even though many of their significations were built up precisely because of the sign they're found in.

The end result, for me at least, is that there are ways to imagine the zodiac as being divided up into 12 equal sections which makes a case for sidereal astrology and ways which make a case for tropical astrology.

I think a better barometer of good astrology though will never be found by examining what house system the astrologer uses, what zodiac they employ or what techniques they prefer - perhaps you need to just find which zodiac is meaningful to you and then see where you get to.
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Miguel



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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Paul. Good insight. I think you are right astrologers should folllow what seems right for them and see where it takes them. For now, tropical seem to make sense for me, but I might consider sidereal later.

You are right tropical astrologers use some sidereal considerations on their use of fixed stars. I see a problem there philosophically.

Regarding fixed stars in tropical astrology, here are my views:

The way most people use the fixed stars in tropical astrology is wrong. This way they are not truly fixed, but they need to be corrected for precession. In other words they are moving. I believe they should be tied to the signs for ever, to be truly fixed.

But as you say, it's possible there are not fixed rules in astrology. I don't know yet.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miguel wrote:
Quote:
The way most people use the fixed stars in tropical astrology is wrong. This way they are not truly fixed, but they need to be corrected for precession. In other words they are moving. I believe they should be tied to the signs for ever, to be truly fixed.

Miguel, the fixed stars are only fixed in a sidereal zodiac. That is, the frame of reference is the sky rather than a shifting vernal point. It all depends on your reference point. If your reference is the sky, then the tropical zodiac is moving. A sidereal zodiac is fixed against the stars.

As David Roell wrote in "Astrology Under Our Feet," inherently the tropical zodiac must be related to the earth, and has no particular relationship to the sky. The tropical zodiac is "fixed" only in relationship to the vernal point, but this point MOVES along the ecliptic in relation to the sky and stars. It's all in the definition you are using as a reference point.

This point has been discussed and rehashed so many times! You can't adjust the stars to always remain in the same place in the tropical zodiac. That is a contradiction in logic.

It's true that there are a number of "sidereal" zodiacs. But the only ayanamsa that has received exhaustive research is referred to as the Lahiri ayanamsa, researched across various cultures by the Indian government. This ayanamsa is about a degree from the Fagan-Allen (so-called "Babylonian") zodiac, and aligns very closely with degrees in Babylonian and Hellenisitic birth charts.

So the quibble about a starting point of a sidereal zodiac is now not very important, as research can be centered within only one zodiacal degree (the difference between the Lahiri/Krishnamurti and Fagan-Allen ayanamsas). The Krishnamurti ayanamsa is less than 6 minutes from Lahiri, so for general research purposes it is essentially the same ayanamsa. The Krishnamurti ayanamsa is 59 minutes removed from Fagan-Allen.
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Miguel



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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Miguel, the fixed stars are only fixed in a sidereal zodiac.


So it doesn't make sense to talk about fixed stars in a tropical context.


Quote:
You can't adjust the stars to always remain in the same place in the tropical zodiac. That is a contradiction in logic.


Why not? It has been done with the zodiac signs by Ptolemy, while the Arabs did it with the arabic moon mansions. Why not with the fixed stars?
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Therese wrote:
You can't adjust the stars to always remain in the same place in the tropical zodiac. That is a contradiction in logic.

Miguel wrote:
Why not? It has been done with the zodiac signs by Ptolemy, while the Arabs did it with the arabic moon mansions. Why not with the fixed stars?

I'm not sure why you mention Ptolemy because in his lifetime the tropical and sidereal zodiacs were so closely aligned that a difference in the longitudes of stars would generally not have been considered.

So let's take the lunar mansions of the Arabs. What are the lunar mansions? Each mansion has always been identified with the stars within its boundaries, correct? So I'm wondering what reference you are using that states that the stars within each Arabic mansion are the same as they were in Ptolemy's time?

The standard reference in Tropical astrology for the Arabic mansions has been Vivian E. Robson's The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology. In this book the Arabic mansions are discussed on page 70 to 76 (Samual Weiser, 1972). (Facsimile published in 2005 by Astrology Classics) Let's take the second Arabic mansion Al Dabaran, whose marking star is Aldabaran, alpha Taurus. We know from the translations of ancient texts that Aldabaran was located at approximately 15 degrees of the sign of Taurus (both tropical and sidereal as a distinction between them was not generally made).

Robson lists the longitudes of stars for 1920. At that time in the Arabic mansion of Al Dabaran (The follower), the star Aldabaran was located in tropical Gemini at 8 deg 40 minutes. Aldebaran remains in the sign of Taurus only in a sidereal zodiac.

The 16th Arabic Mansion: Al Kalb, the Heart (of the Scorpion) In 1920 as the tropical zodiac precessed the Scorpion's heart was then located in 8 deg Sagittarius 39. (Sidereally at approximately 15 Scorpio) Similarly most of the stars that marked the Arabic mansions have moved out of their original tropical signs from earlier centuries and into the following tropical signs. Actually the stars have not moved at all, but the tropical signs have moved along the ecliptic with precession and the vernal point.

Perhaps you are saying that although the vernal equinox is now in an entirely different location in relation to the stars than in Ptolemy's time, that the influence of each mansion remains the same?? On page 69 Robson states:

All the early series of mansions began with the star Alcyone, and presumably were fixed when that star marked the vernal equinox. But since then the starting point has been changed and in each case now lies in Aries, the 1st mansion being the 27th in the lists given here. Used in this way they form a subsidiary series of constellations, each of which probably exercises a specific influence upon the bodies falling within its boundaries.
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miguel the fixed stars are fixed in the sense that their relative positions to other stars remains the same, more or less - in other words unlike planets they don't move.

Now we can use fixed stats in any zodiac or indeed without a zodiac. But if you want the fixed stars to remain in relative position to your zodiac then your zodiac must also be fixed relative to the stars - the sidereal zodiac.

But many tropical astrologers use the fixed stars and simply update their relative positions over time.

The tropical zodiac is the fusion or boundary between an earthly axis, the equator, with a celestial one, the ecliptic. The sidereal zodiac is entirely a celestial division. For some, this fact may preference to some to one zodiac based on this.

Therese cites Roell who claims the tropical zodiac has no real relationship to the sky but as you may recognise already this is absurd as half its calculation is derived from the sky and half from the earth.

The key to understanding the difference between the zodiacs is that the stars stay more or less fixed whilst the earth itself and all it's citizens rotate like a slow spinning top so that the observed sky around the earth appears to move around us and we feel we're not moving. If you feel some power emanates from the actual physical stars or else that the patterns the stars make symbolise or synchronise to something you may well be a sidereal zodiac apologist at heart, if instead you think the patterns in the sky aren't causing any influence or else were memory aids where patterns were projected onto the stars rather than vice versa and are more concerned with the relationship with the earth and the rest of the solar system you may well be a tropical apologist at heart.

Probably many of us are a touch of both and it's not uncommon to see sidereal astrologers apply seasonal signification to their signs and tropical astrologers to bring in the stellar via fixed stars.

Some things however are astronomically stellar or tropical however. A good example is antiscia points or signs of long and short ascension all of which are based on the ecliptics relationship to the equator, just like the tropical zodiac, so need to be regularly updated with the sidereal zodiac to account for precession. Another is the fixed stars which are only fixed within the sidereal zodiac and need to be updated in tropical to account for precession.

Sometimes it can seem a difficult topic to get into via theory. I remember however a tropical astrologer looking at my Scorpio rising and nailing it in a way that felt meaningful to me and then shocked when a sidereal astrologer approached my sidereal libra rising and seemed to nail that as well.

To reiterate what I said before, good astrology will more likely be found from good astrologers irrespective of what zodiac they use.
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Miguel



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Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Paul and Therese.

Responding to Therese:

Quote:
I'm not sure why you mention Ptolemy because in his lifetime the tropical and sidereal zodiacs were so closely aligned that a difference in the longitudes of stars would generally not have been considered.


Ptolemy was the second astronomer to understand the precession of the equinoxes since Hipparchus and he is also the creator of the western school of tropical astrology. Most western astrologers today follow his lead.


Quote:
So let's take the lunar mansions of the Arabs. What are the lunar mansions? Each mansion has always been identified with the stars within its boundaries, correct? So I'm wondering what reference you are using that states that the stars within each Arabic mansion are the same as they were in Ptolemy's time?


Al Biruni has this to say about the Arabic mansions:

"The Arabs, being illiterate people could not recognize the Lunar [Mansions] except by fixed marks, visible to the eye. Therefore they marked the [Mansions] by those fixed stars which lie within them." Chronology of the Ancient Nations, Sachau trans. at 336.

"...the Arabs attribute all meteorological changes to the influence of the rising and setting of the stars, in consequence of their ignorance of physical sciences, thinking that all changes of the kind depend on the bodies of their stars and their rising, not upon certain portions of the celestial globe [ie the Zodiac] and the Sun's marching therein..." Chronology of the Ancient Nations, Sachau trans. at 336-337.

"...the nature of pecularities which are attributed to the first [Mansion]...are peculiar to the first part of Aries and never leave this place, although the star (or stars which form the Lunar [Mansion]) may leave it. In a similar way all that is peculiar to Aries does not move away from the place of Aries, although the constellation of Aries does move away." Chronology of the Ancient Nations Sachau, trans. at 338.

Source: The Mansions of the Moon in Astrology & Magic
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miguel wrote:
Quote:
Al Biruni has this to say about the Arabic mansions:

"The Arabs, being illiterate people could not recognize the Lunar [Mansions] except by fixed marks, visible to the eye. Therefore they marked the [Mansions] by those fixed stars which lie within them." Chronology of the Ancient Nations, Sachau trans. at 336.

"...the Arabs attribute all meteorological changes to the influence of the rising and setting of the stars, in consequence of their ignorance of physical sciences, thinking that all changes of the kind depend on the bodies of their stars and their rising, not upon certain portions of the celestial globe [ie the Zodiac] and the Sun's marching therein..." Chronology of the Ancient Nations, Sachau trans. at 336-337.

"...the nature of pecularities which are attributed to the first [Mansion]...are peculiar to the first part of Aries and never leave this place, although the star (or stars which form the Lunar [Mansion]) may leave it. In a similar way all that is peculiar to Aries does not move away from the place of Aries, although the constellation of Aries does move away." Chronology of the Ancient Nations Sachau, trans. at 338.

Source: The Mansions of the Moon in Astrology & Magic

Miguel, I wasn't familiar with that particular work of Al-biruni which you quoted from Christopher Warnock's Lunar Mansion site. So I was immediately curious about the quotes since they appear to contradict what Al-biruni wrote in The Book of Instruction in the Elements of Astrology. My question was which of these two books was written first?

I found the answer here: https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Al-biruni
in an article by Robert Zoller. Chronology was completed in the year 1000 when Al-biruni was 27 years old. Instruction was completed 29 years later in 1029. In this later book there are several pages covering the lunar mansions which include detailed descriptions of the stars in each mansion.

Al-biruni does say, however, that the mansions begin with the Sun at the vernal equinox. He doesn't explain the contradiction between this tropical starting point and the star groups in the mansions. There is nothing here about magic or interpretation as on Warnock's site. Apparently between 1000 and 1029 Al-biruni intensively studied astrology. In Instruction Al-biruni states:

Quote:
164. (....) Just as the signs are called after the constellations, so the mansions are called after the fixed stars in which the moon is stationed for the night. They begin as in the case of the sun at the vernal equinox. (p 81)

1. al-sharatain, (two signals), the first mansion is marked by two bright stars on the horns....of Aries; they are disposed in a north and south line, the apparent distance between them, about a fathom, being the same as that between the southern one and a third smaller star. also called the butters.

2. al-butain, three stars from the tail of Aries disposed in a triangle. Diminutive of bain, belly because smaller than bain (....No. twenty eight)

165. How to Know the Mansions
Al-thureiyah [spelling?], the Pleiades, is the most noticeable and the best known of all the mansions of the moon; it is therefore a convenient starting point for their study. (p. 85)

This is a text typed on a manual typewriter, and I'm not sure of "bain." It's difficult to decipher some of the letters in the text. Anyway, the point being that in Al-biruni's Instruction the mansions were closely identified with stars within their boundaries. The layers of magical concepts and interpretation came after Al-biruni's time, and were very popular in the Renaissance.

Christopher Warnock fully supports the mansions in the tropical zodiac. Since I use India's 27 system of mansions, I haven't studied their development from the time of Al-biruni. I don't know when or by whom the various levels of interpretation were introduced, and I don't know if the western mansions borrowed from India's nakshatras. But we do know that Al-biruni mentioned only the stars within each mansion without layers of interpretation and magical properties.

So can we really say that the (meanings?) of the western lunar mansions have "precessed" along with the tropical zodiac, as you mentioned in an earlier post, Miguel?
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Miguel



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Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Therese, your comments are insightful. Indeed there seems to be a contradiction in the way Al Biruni defines the moon mansions.

However, just like the tropical zodiac signs are defined after the constellations, so too the tropical moon mansions can be defined after the stars that are part of it. So there is no need to think the meaning has precessed with their movement.

In fact, it could be said the precessed stars and their constellations have lost all meaning since they have become dislodged from the seasons.


I will quote again from Al Biruni to confirm this:

"...the nature of pecularities which are attributed to the first [Mansion]...are peculiar to the first part of Aries and never leave this place, although the star (or stars which form the Lunar [Mansion]) may leave it. In a similar way all that is peculiar to Aries does not move away from the place of Aries, although the constellation of Aries does move away." Chronology of the Ancient Nations Sachau, trans. at 338.
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