What’s the Difference Between Sidereal and Tropical Astrology?

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The mystical world of astrology is pretty fun. Whether you’re a convert to astrology or a sceptic, you must admit that it’s quite interesting to see the world through the eyes of this method. Depending on your astrological knowledge, chances are your know the basics of the star signs, but did you know that there are a number of different types of astrology? Until recently, neither did we!

According to Horoscope.com, there are over 80 branches of astrology in usage, which is pretty wild! Two of the most common branches of astrology use two different zodiacs. Western astrology favours the Tropical zodiac, while Vedic astrology uses the Sidereal zodiac. Who knew there were multiple zodiacs as well? Not us.

What is the Tropical zodiac?

Created by the Greeks and Babylonians nearly 3,000 years ago, Western astrology believes the Sun is the centre of the solar system and according to Keen.com, thinks the relationship of Earth to the sun is an extremely important one. “It’s the Tropical Zodiac that actually measures the closeness of the Sun to the Earth’s tropics — the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.”

The 12 star signs included in the Tropical zodiac are based on the position of constellations in relation to Earth, with these constellations being named according to Greek mythology. With one sign applied to each month of the year, those born under the sign are said to inherit certain traits connected to that particular zodiac.

“There are four elements identified in the Western system and each astrological sign is associated with one of them,” said Keen.com. “Water signs are compelled by emotion, earth signs are practical, fire signs are spontaneous, and air signs are cerebral.”

What is the Sidereal zodiac?

Commonly known as Indian or Hindu astrology, Vedic astrology was created by astrologer David Frawley and is concerned with karma, which can play a role in your current life depending on a past life. According to Keen.com, the planets are considered “karmas of the soul” and are extremely important in Vedic astrology as they can “offer assistance when it comes to balancing karmic movement, including alleviating suffering and helping one through a difficult time so that growth can occur”.

Vedic astrology uses the Sidereal zodiac, with Sidereal meaning “pertaining to the stars”. This system is based on the connection the planets have with the constellation of zodiac signs. Unlike Western astrology, the Vedic system doesn’t believe the relationship between the Earth and the Sun is “accurate when it comes to measuring the signs. This is because of the precession of equinoxes, which basically means that every 72 years, the signs must move backward one day to remain in the proper astronomical position.”

The People’s Oracle describes the differences in these two systems as follows: “One kind of zodiacal symbolism is readily experienced in the physical sense, that being Tropical. And the other, Sidereal, can be observed as a phenomenon of time in space.”

Which zodiac system should I use?

Well, that’s largely down to you. The key difference between these is the position of the zodiac so you can receive different predictions depending on which system you’re using. While the Tropical signs are relative to the Sun and its position, Sidereal is mapped to fixed stars.

Each system has its positives, so it really comes down to what you feel works best for you. If you’ve grown up exposed to Western astrology and are familiar with how the zodiac works in this system, as well as the meanings of each sign, then this might be more suited to you.

If you’ve used the Sidereal zodiac your whole life and you resonate with its practices, which, according to Keen.com, can “incorporate medication, gemstones, affirmations, yoga, and ayurvedic medicine based on a specific planet that’s associated with it”, then continue on with this.

Either way, if you’re interested in astrology (be it Western or Vedic), there is a plethora of information available about these two systems online. Here you can get a better understanding of how each system works and how you can use astrology in your own life.

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