Sidereal & Tropical ~ what’s the deal anyway?!

What is Sally doing? These videos are for the wrong astrology signs! 

So ~ why do the Lunar Lowdown videos talk about the Sun & Moon in different locations than you normally see online or in astrological calendars? Why are they different? What’s going ON?!


In contrast, Sidereal Astrology…

The Sidereal Zodiac looks directly at the star groupings (what we call constellations) to determine planetary locations. The Sidereal perspective lines up with general astronomy tables.

Rather than fixed to the seasons (a relationship between earth and sun), the Sidereal Zodiac is fixed to the Stars themselves (a relationship between earth, sun and cosmos) 

As our angle and position in the heavens subtly shifts over time, the Sidereal Zodiac takes this into account.

Our ancestors fully understood…

the precession of the equinoxes, and the Sidereal approach was the ‘default’, so to speak.  It was Ptolemy, a greek mathematician, and astrologer who popularized the Tropical system, around 150 AD.

To manage getting around the shift created by the precessions, Tropical astrology uses SIGNS rather than star groupings  (i.e.constellations) to tell us where Aries is, for example.

To compensate for the precessions, the Tropical zodiac has had to move the signs gradually around the wheel of the stars, always with the goal of keeping 0 Aries and spring equinox together.   This has been the process since Ptolemy’s time ~ so long that presently, in 2022, the SIGN of Aries is almost entirely upon the STAR GROUP of Pisces in our real sky.

Yes, you read that right: when Tropical astrology says the Sun is in Aries, the stars behind the Sun are almost entirely Pisces.  This continues on through the entire Tropical Zodiac, so that the SIGN of Taurus covers the STARS of Aries, etc.

Keep in mind,

both the Tropical and Sidereal paths share a common root; your Tropical understanding of the planets, the Zodiacal beings and of yourself through that Tropical lens very much remains applicable!

The Sidereal Zodiac is the next ring outwards ~

and does not declare Tropical ‘wrong’, but gifts us extended clarity of spiritual & physical perspective to add to the picture of astrology.

As best applied,

the Sidereal approach invites direct conversation with the living Stars themselves, to go beyond concepts we have about these great beings to develop actual relationships, receive direct teachings & work together for mutual benefit.

Let’s start with Tropical ~

The Tropical Zodiac is the one most folks are familiar with, particularly in the western world. The word “tropical” has its roots in “to turn” or “turning” ; a reference to the seasons, which the Tropical Zodiac is fixed to. 

Tropical is surprisingly NOT fixed to the actual constellations

like you (and everyone else) may assume it is.

Instead of looking at the constellations to shape the signs of its zodiac, Tropical astrology matches the beginning of the first sign Aries ~ with the beginning of the seasonal year ~ the Spring Equinox . Tropical astrology identifies planetary positions by signs, not actual star groupings, “in the background.”


How did this happen?

That is an interesting and somewhat mysterious story but simply put, the Tropical Zodiac ignores the “Precession of the Equinoxes.”  Wikipedia can give you some great info on this; basically this ‘going backwards’ of the Equinoxes is created by our Earth wobbling very slowly on its planetary axis, scribing a circle in the sky that changes where the axis is pointing and thus which stars are present behind the Sun on any particular day through the year. 

Bottom line:

the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs are both looking at the same sky, but using a different reference point to label that sky.  The Tropical Zodiac looks at the sun, moon and planets and names their location using signs, while the Sidereal Zodiac looks upon the same sun, moon and planets and names their location by the star groupings behind them.

It can be helpful

to think of these two systems as concentric circles, with the outer Sidereal perspective wrapped around the inner ‘seasonal’ viewpoint of the Tropical Zodiac.

We can use our Tropical chart as

as a description of our ‘denser’ personality or the ‘mask’ of this lifetime,

And understand our Sidereal chart as

as a description of the place where the breath of this world meets the cosmos.  Here, we can look to our soul intentions – the expression of our Individuality, the irreducible kernel of our being.

Still have questions?  Let’s talk about it!