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Skyscript Astrology Forum

Rudolf Steiner and the Zodiac
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Therese Hamilton

Joined: 22 Feb 2011
Posts: 1779
Location: California, USA

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Martin for your notes on a correct Sanskrit translation. Always appreciated by those of us who have not studied Sanskrit!

Lazarus wrote:
The fullest and most convincing treatment of the Tropical Zodiac in terms of why the signs manifest the qualities they do manifest would be (to me at least) found in Dane Rudhyar's text The Pulse of Life, in which everything is understood from a profound cyclical point of view...

The only problem is that no test has shown there really are psychological qualities connected to the 12 signs in either zodiac. The Pulse of Life: One of the standard texts way back in the 1960s and 70s when I was still using the tropical zodiac. The book is still gaining age in the tropical section of my book shelves. But I will add that sign traits which some of us believe we observe cannot be tested by any known method at present.

The latest bad news for the interpretation of signs is the encyclopedic massive Tests of Astrology by Dean, et al. (Amsterdam: AinO Publications, 2016, 500 pages, not for the faint of heart) The good news is that we can all agree on planetary traits which are well supported by research and the day-to-day experience of astrologers.

Skipping through the long text page without paragraph breaks which my aging eyes cannot read without copying the text into a word processor and breaking it into smaller paragraph bites-- (It's possible to edit posts in order to break text into smaller paragraphs for easy reading.)

On a final note I will say that I prefer the Tropical zodiac for the simple reason that I get the seasonal influence while reading a chart.

I would guess that you don't live in the Southern hemisphere? (But there is a many-page topic on this subject in another section of Skyscript.)
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Pierre Touchard

Joined: 24 Jul 2015
Posts: 61

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:

Pier wrote:
This very interesting quote of R. Steiner that you unearthed echoes something quite significant which is written right into Parasara, his Hora Shastra, in his chapter about the Rasis, or Signs. I ve been commenting this passage heavily in my astro classes :

Chapter 4, 1.2

"The Imperceptible Vishnu, Janardana, is the Figure of Time, Kalarupa, whose limbs become unconscious as the Rasis, beginning from the Ram etc"

This is the Ernst Wilhelm translation which has the added benefit of pointing out that the limbs of Vishnu become unconscious as the Rasis. (Which is not in the Sharma or Santhanam translations.)

There is a very good reason for this point not being present in the Sharma or Santhanam translations, namely, that it is not there in the Sanskrit text to begin with. The phrase mistranslated by Ernst Wilhelm is undoubtedly निबोध त्वं nibodha tvaṃ, which does not mean 'unconscious': it means 'know thou' (in the imperative, that is, a command -- brought out, incidentally, in the Sharma translation).

If the above is representative of Ernst Wilhelm's level of Sanskrit learning, I'd recommend staying clear of his translations.

Hi Martin (and thanks Therese for pointing out your post)

Thanks for clarifying that point. I had a discussion with Therese a few months ago on that word "Nibhoda" in the Parasara text, as she was the first to realize there was something amiss in the Ernst Wilhelm translation. She felt that the signs do not have this unconscious nature as Ernst W writes.

I had asked Ernst Wilhelm on his forum to clarify his choice of translation for that word. He merely said "Nibhoda" meant "unconscious". I was nonplussed by that. I looked it up on several dictionary on the web and it did not seem to mean unconscious, but not being a sanskrit expert I had to let it go.

Its nice that you are refering that passage. So now we have your sanskrit knowledge to appraise the view of Rasis in Parasara. So the Sharma translation simply says that

"O Brahmin, Know that the zodiacal signs starting from Aries are the limbs to the indescribable Vishnu, the Eternal Time, the Time personified, Janardana."

There is also in that Sloka a discussion on Ahoratra in that Sharma text thats also intriguing. He equates Hora to the 12 Rasis, held as it were between night and day since Hora forms the middle of the word Ahoratra, with perhaps a hint that Time is revealed from the 12 signs (if I m not stretching things here).

Lastly, this idea of Ernst W that signs were unconscious, hence "passive" was related to his notion that the planets were the active element in his view. So that opposition passive signs, active planets, is now totally repelled by your translation, Martin.

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Martin Gansten

Joined: 05 Jul 2008
Posts: 1412
Location: Malm÷, Sweden

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pier wrote:
I had asked Ernst Wilhelm on his forum to clarify his choice of translation for that word. He merely said "Nibhoda" meant "unconscious". I was nonplussed by that. I looked it up on several dictionary on the web and it did not seem to mean unconscious, but not being a sanskrit expert I had to let it go.

I'm glad I didn't offend you. No, nibodha (it's the second syllable that is aspirated) doesn't mean 'unconscious'; it is not, in fact, an adjective at all (and even if it had been, the form ending in -a wouldn't agree with either of the nouns it would have to qualify, so there is no room for differing interpretations here). I should think that EW probably mixed up the prefixes ni- and nir- (the latter of which may function as a negation) -- but then again, nir- would not be a possible variant here for metrical reasons. I don't know how much exposure he has had to Sanskrit, but it looks very much like the sort of multiple mistake a first-year student might make.

I'll give a very literal translation of the two verses in question for the purpose of comparison:

ahorātrasya pūrvāntyalopād dhorāvaśiṣyate |
By the omission of the first and last [syllable] of ahorātra [nycthemeron], horā remains.

tasya vij˝ānamātreṇa jātakarmaphalaṃ vadet ||
By the mere knowledge of that, one may describe the results of the actions [karmaphala, i.e., the destiny] of the native.

yad avyaktātmako viṣṇuḥ kālarūpo janārdanaḥ |
For Viṣṇu Janārdana, who by nature is unmanifest, takes the form of time.

tasyāṅgāni nibodha tvaṃ kramān meṣādirāśayaḥ ||
Know thou that his limbs in order are the signs beginning with Aries.

The first half-verse is concerned with constructing a Sanskrit etymology for what is in reality a Greek loanword (ὥρα).
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Joined: 10 Dec 2014
Posts: 88

Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Correct I do not live on the Southern side of the equator and this is something I have struggled with for a while. Rudhyar once suggested switching the signs 180 dgrs for those who live below it but I do not believe this is necessary any longer. The explanation I currently subscribe to is a rather odd one I'll admit but it makes sense in my mind for the time being. Because some 90% of people on this planet (probably not an exact figure by any means) live north of the equator and because western culture has been exported to nearly all corners of the globe in such a way that most modern countries have been westernized in some manner I do believe that the northern hemisphere seasonal influence in some mysterious manner extends itself even to the southern hemisphere. This is my current theory and I do not believe I am alone in this kind of thinking.

As for the idea that the sign traits cannot be tested by any known method I would say that I myself am highly skeptical of the veracity of statistical research, especially when it comes to human psychology and to the subject of consciousness in general. I don't think astrology or human beings need to be stuffed into some kind of box wherein they can be labeled and understood by a set of conceptualizations stemming from this or that school of thought. In observing people day to day I have found that I can often times pinpoint certain sign/planetary influences in their chart very accurately. Perhaps this is not so scientific, but it is empirical (a term that most people misunderstand) and yields good results in my own experience. I do believe that a birth chart is actually a very superficial key to psychological analysis and that we get far more by talking with and observing the person who's chart we are reading. Certainly their physical gestures, the way their eyes or hands move while they speak on a certain subject, the shape of their face of their hands/palm etc. give us much more to work with whether we consciously realize it or not. I know of no really good psychological astrologer who can get everything from the chart because I don't know of really any situations where there wasn't some level of interaction with the client while or before reading their chart. The chart is a guide and nothing more. We are not dealing with literal energies of signs and planets here. We are dealing with conceptualizations of these energies. Any mental construct is many times removed from the reality of the matter that it represents. The testing of traits we observe lies in our own work with astrology and with people. Astrology works if it can give guidance and insight into a person's life or situation etc. not if the signs and planets match up with the person in the manner we think or expect them to. One has to test the various perspectives and techniques of any form of divination and any form of astrology for themselves. If good results are achieved in one's own work then this is really all that matters (although everyone has a different idea of what constitutes good or successful work).
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Joined: 30 May 2017
Posts: 4

Posted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The distinction between sidereal natal astrology, and a tropical branch for mundane affairs, sounds very interesting.

But I tend to think that nations have a soul, as hinted by the biblic locution of the Angels of the Nations ? Incidentally, the word "nation" is directly connected to the word "genethliac" (in latin). If we stay with Steiner's intuition, it may be interesting to revive the ptolemaic division of Universal and Genethliac astrologies. The first being interested in natural phenomena (without soul) and the latter in human (with soul) affairs (individual of collective).

Natural astrology would employ a tropical zodiac, consistent with the absence of birth time to anchor the chart, to forecast anything related to earth cycles. May it be the origin of the association between Signs and aristotelician Qualities (hot, wet, dry, cold) ? The method of interpretation may be quite specific, close to the spirit of almanacs.
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Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two bits of information, mainly related to Therese's interest in Steiner, and her idea that the sidereal zodiac may underlie the qualities of the tropical one :

1┬░ In relation to his christology, Steiner would have asserted the coincidence of the zodiacs in 333 AD (unfortunately I cannot find the precise reference presently). It gives an ayanamsha lying roughly between Lahiri and Raman. The closer theoretical construction to it, according to me, is to take the Galactic-equator / Ecliptic intersection as Mid-Mula = 6┬░40 Sagittarius. There may be other ways to accommodate - I have recently wondered whether the lengthening of the nakshatras and their reordering to fit the zodiac (Krittika becoming third) may account for a 1┬░ "fuzz".

2┬░ Robert Schmidt emphasizes that for Ptolemy, the signs were essentially defined by Gender and Quadruplicity, not Triplicity (although Valens would definitely include them). For Ptolemy, Triplicity was an accidental quality related to the stars. It means that, in all logic, you need to judge elemental qualities according to the sidereal zodiac. Notice how consistent this is with biodynamic agriculture, for whom Elemental Qualities are likely to be paramount.
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