The Sidereal Zodiac

It is common for people to ask, “What's your sign?” Most people understand this to mean the zodiacal sign that the Sun was passing through at the time of their birth. With a rudimentary astronomical understanding, the zodiac appears to be a band of sky filled with constellations of stars, which falls in the background of planets as they move through the heavens. We then look up in the sky, find the Sun on the person's day of birth, find out what constellation of stars falls in the background of the Sun, and that's the Sun sign.

Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac, which is not based on the observable positions of the stars. The signs of the tropical zodiac have come to correspond to completely different constellations of  fixed stars. Because the signs of the tropical zodiac are based upon the equinoxes, not upon fixed stars, the beginning of the tropical zodiac is always the first degree of Aries, which is always identical with the vernal equinox, and not with any specific stars. The orientation of the equinoxes to the stars changes over time according to the precession of the Earth on its axis.

This phenomenon, a change in the tilt of the Earth, causes the point of the Earth relative to the fixed stars to move backwards in the zodiac. In essence, the tropical zodiac is based on the orientation of the changing positions of the earth, and does not consider the fixed position of the stars. The tropical zodiac remains identical with the seasonal points. The sidereal  zodiac, however, calculates the precession into its positions. Its signs are identical with the fixed stars. What happens in a birth chart is the Sun's position moves back twenty-three degrees, usually to the previous sign. If your Sun was in Gemini in a Western calculation, it lands in Taurus in a Vedic calculation. 

Sidereal astrology can be called cosmic astrology as its signs are the stellar constellations. Besides the light from our own sun, we also receive light from the center of the galaxy, the galactic Sun or galactic center. Much of this light of this greater sun, however is not in visible frequencies.

The planets and their astral light

Jyotish reads the karmas of individuals, families, institutions and nations less by the physical luminosity of the planets and stars and more by the astral light that shines from the astral forms of these celestial bodies.

Their most important influence upon us comes in fact from their astral gravity, a force that, although material, is made from a form of matter that is far less dense than that which makes up physical bodies. Planets grasp our awareness, thus called “grahas”, and help us to perceive different versions of reality. The planets are the agents of karma. They drive you to be present in particular places at those precise moments when you will experience the reactions to your previously performed actions. Your karmas determine which graha influences you at any given moment. Your horoscope is a map of your karma drawn to the specifications of the nine planets. Jyotish proposes that it is often possible to figure out something about how a persons life is going to proceed by examining the planet patterns that appeared in the sky at the time of birth.

Karmas: not all are set in cosmic cement

Only in extreme cases is fate utterly fate. Dridha Karma indicates severe karmic extremity, for good or ill. Dridha Karma is karma that is fixed, so fixed that it seems fated, meaning that it is highly unlikely to change even should a person try earnestly to change it.  If you have fallen into a swiftly flowing river, you can probably get out of it if you have fallen into it near its verge, as the current is usually weak near the riverbank. If you find yourself a little further, in the current, you might have to swim harder, or grab hold of a rock or branch. Get to far into the river and you may not be able to swim your way out. Dridha Karma represents the main current of a violent, turbulent karmic river, created of course by your previous actions.

Conversely, Dridha Karma for good results in your life may cause success to pursue you. Some people, with little or no endeavor, win the lottery, sometimes twice!

Adridha Karma is unfixed which indicates increased free will available. Adridha Karma is sometimes described as “New Age” karma. You make a decision to change, act upon it, and change occurs. A new karmic pattern develops because the old pattern was so weak that it could  not resist your determination to modify it. Of course, even in such a situation, you will still bear the responsibility for your decision, good or bad. And even if it is a good decision, you will still have to work to make it happen.

Dridha Karma and Adridha Karma: fate and free will. In between these poles is Dridha-Adridha Karma, which is fixed but not fixed. The bricks have been laid, but the mortar has not yet dried, so with the help of a good crowbar and some elbow grease, the wall can be remade or can come down. This karma that is set but not yet set in stone invites the use of upaya or astrological remedies.

Upayas are not for everyone, as they do require patience and gumption to perform. Upayas that do work, do so because they disconnect us from the graha whose archetypal pattern of influence we have taken on. When karmas are fixed, grahas possess us most efficiently and are most difficult to disconnect from. In such cases, they act through us most comprehensively, we thinking that we are the doers when it is they who are actually doing. Even in those dark hours when your karmas are most dridha, your best course of action is to stay calm and keep moving forward, for you never know when some opportunity to wriggle out of the grahas grasp might present itself.

Upayas can be suggested to both decrease a planet's influence, and also to increase another's beneficial influences or rays of light.