If you’re checking your birth chart on align27 and notice that some planets are in different zodiac signs than you expected, don’t worry! This might be because you’re more familiar with the Western astrological system, whereas align27 uses Vedic, or Indian astrology.

So, what’s the difference between these two systems?

Essentially, Western Astrology is based on the tropical zodiac, which aligns with the Earth’s seasons, while Vedic astrology uses the sidereal zodiac, which aligns with the constellations as seen from Earth.

Both systems view the Sun’s apparent path through the zodiac along the ecliptic—the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. However, they divide the 360-degree ecliptic into the twelve zodiac signs differently.

While this isn’t about which system is “better” or “more accurate,” understanding these differences is crucial as they can significantly influence the interpretation of your chart.

What is the Tropical zodiac (Western)?

The tropical zodiac is aligned with the seasons, starting each year with the spring equinox when the Sun is said to enter Aries, marking the beginning of the zodiac. However, this system doesn’t match the actual star constellations because of the Precession of the Equinoxes—a gradual shift in Earth’s tilt. As a result, when the tropical zodiac indicates the Sun is in Aries, it is actually still in Pisces. Essentially, the tropical zodiac is based on Earth’s relationship with the Sun, not the fixed star positions.

What is the Sidereal zodiac (Vedic)?

The sidereal zodiac is based on the actual positions of the constellations in the sky, as observed astronomically. This system accounts for the Precession of the Equinoxes—a slow wobble in Earth’s rotation that causes the fixed stars to shift backward by approximately one degree every 72 years. Over about 25,000 years, this motion completes a full cycle through the zodiac. Unlike the tropical zodiac, the sidereal zodiac adjusts for this shift, aligning the planetary positions more closely with the current constellations.

Do the two systems align?

While the tropical and sidereal zodiacs were once aligned—about 2000 years ago—they have since drifted apart, creating a discrepancy of about 23 to 24 degrees between them. This shift can lead to significant differences in how birth charts are interpreted, which explains why the same planets may appear under different zodiac signs in these two systems of astrology.

To account for this ongoing shift, the sidereal system employs a corrective factor known as the ayanamsa (‘ayana’ meaning ‘movement’ and ‘amsa’ meaning ‘component’ in Sanskrit). This adjustment ensures that the astrological signs continue to align closely with their corresponding constellations, maintaining accuracy in astrological readings over time.

What are the other main differences between Western and Vedic astrology?

Deeper Analysis for Astrological Influences
Drawing from the astronomical references found in the Vedas, Vedic (sidereal) astrology is likely the foundational form of astrology from which other systems developed. This is supported by the fact that sidereal astrology relies on the observable zodiac, which maintains a direct connection with astronomy, unlike the tropical zodiac, which is based on an abstract system.

In addition, the Vedic system goes deeping in its astrological framework by dividing the sky into 27 Nakshatras, or lunar mansions, in addition to the traditional twelve zodiac signs. Each Nakshatra has its unique characteristics, symbols, and ruling deity, providing a more nuanced and detailed perspective when analyzing a birth chart. This layered approach allows for a deeper understanding of an individual’s astrological influences.

The Oldest Ancient Roots
Beyond the distinctions in zodiac systems, one of the biggest differences between Eastern and Western astrology lies in their spiritual lineage. Vedic astrology, or Jyotish, which means ‘science of light,’ is deeply rooted in the wisdom of ancient Rishis or Seers who revealed this wisdom over 5000 years ago. Jyotish traces its origins to the teachings of the great sage, Parashara Shakti, grandson of the legendary sage Vasishta. His teachings are encapsulated in the ‘Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra,’ a cornerstone text that continues to guide the practice of Vedic astrology to this day.

Focus on Moon & Ascendant Versus the Sun
In Western astrology, the emphasis is placed on the Sun’s position in a birth chart. Vedic astrology centers more around the Moon, with significant importance also given to the Lagna or Ascendant, which requires an exact birth time for accurate calculation.

Whilst the western Sun-based system is recognised for its ability to understand the psychological characteristics and personality of a person, the Moon-based Vedic approach delves deeper into our inner essence, offering insights into the soul’s journey. It aids in understanding our spiritual evolution and guiding us toward self-realization.

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