Precession of the Equinoxes

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Precession of the Equinoxes

Precession of the Equinoxes

The Precession of the equinoxes is a process whereby the position of the stars and constellations gradually move in relation the seasons. This means that the twelve astrology signs that once roughly aligned with the constellations of the same name, no longer do. The rate of precession is one degree every 72 years = 0.838 minutes per year, or more precisely, 50.2675 seconds per year.

The word Zodiac comes from the Greek zõdiakos (animals) kuklo (circle). It refers to the constellations of stars around the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the path that the Sun, Moon and planets take through the stars as viewed from Earth. Astronomers still refer to the zodiac as this path through the stars and constellations.

Astrologers refer to the zodiac as the 12 equal Sun signs of celestial longitude. Once upon a time, astronomy and astrology were one, and the shaman, druids, or priests simply divided up this ring of stars into varying numbers of constellations depending upon the culture. For example, in ancient Babylon the circle was divided up into 17 or 18 constellations of varying length. In ancient India, this ring of stars was divided up into 27 or 28 lunar mansions of varying length based on bright stars.

Astrology is the study of the effects that celestial objects like planets and stars have on us down here on Earth. It was always based on the spatial relationships between the planets and between the planets and the stars. That is why the original zodiacs were star based. Because some cultures evolved from a nomadic to a farming way of life, a new zodiac was developed based on seasons.

It was a calender really and was eventually divided up into 12 equal segments which is the zodiac we use today. It was developed around the 7th century BC and as an ecliptic coordinate system, it:

was a convenient celestial measuring device, unrelated to astrological activity…it was being used at that time for the recording of astronomical data, yet observation of the effects of the planets for astrological purposes continued to be related to the visible constellations. [ Heavenly Imprints, Deborah Houlding]

Measuring Device

The 12 equal segments in this calendrical measuring device were named after the twelve major constellations around the ecliptic, Aries, Taurus etc because the sort of roughly fitted in at the time. It was a very rough fit though, constellation Virgo is 46 degrees in length while constellation Cancer is only 4 degrees long across the ecliptic. Gradually the astrological meaning of the constellations was transferred to this new measuring device and the thing was given interpretive meaning.

The divisions are called sun signs, named after the constellations but now not at all related to them, purely symbolic. What we know as horoscopic astrology today is the result, and most astrology, Western and Vedic, traditional and modern, comes from this. All the rules such as elements, sign rulers, detriment etc are based on these zodiac signs, or Sun signs.

These abstract ideas were cemented in a book called Tetrabiblos by Claudius Ptolemy (Ptolemy) in the 2nd century AD. He adopted an astronomical calculation concerning the starting point of the zodiac which resulted in a fictitious moving (tropical) zodiac being popularised, which became the basis of the birth of modern Western astrology.

Now astrology shows little resemblance to it’s origins. The signs of the zodiac we use today do not relate to the constellations from which they derive their name and meaning. The idea of having 12 equal segments reflecting the influence of the stars is a nonsense. Even stars within a single constellation can have very different influences, and of course there are many more constellations to consider that are not on the ecliptic. To make things even more ridiculous, precession of the equinoxes in the last 2,000 years means the constellations are a whole sign away from the sun signs bearing their name.

Precession Astrology

Precession is the movement of the stars in relations to the ecliptic. They move forward through our tropical zodiac by about 5 minutes every 6 years, so in one lifetime, or 72 years a star will move one degree forward through the zodiac. This is because the Earth is tilted and moves around this axis every 26,000 years.

Vedic astrologers get around this problem by using the sidereal zodiac, it keeps moving with precession. It’s a patch up job which tries to resolve the problem by matching the Sun signs to the constellations of the same name. However this system is still based on the incorrect assumption that these 12 equal divisions reflect the influence of the irregularly shaped constellations. The rules of Vedic astrology are based on this. When the tropical zodiac was developed, zero degrees of Aries matched up with the first star in constellation Aries. Mesarthim, “the First Star in Aries, as at one time nearest the equinoctial point (392 BC)” [Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889, p.82.]. That star is now at 3 degrees Taurus.

Ptolemy and the Hellenistic astrologers that followed knew about precession but they chose to ignore it.

There was, perhaps, a more pertinent reason why the astrologers of the early Classical period chose to ignore this matter, one that suggests that by covering up this ‘inherent flaw’ of the zodiac, they were also obscuring a philosophical problem that had wider implications…It was tempting indeed to turn a blind eye, to let some other astrologer deal with it in some future generation when it really mattered. [Heavenly Imprints, Deborah Houlding]

It really matters now. Astronomers and skeptics can easily make astrology a laughing stock because of precession and they continually do so.

Johannes Kepler

I use the zodiac at it was originally intended, preferring to use the tropical zodiac to describe the position of the stars and planets. The degrees of the tropical zodiac are a universal way for astrologers to communicate where a planet or star is, that’s all. The interpretation comes from the relationship between the planets – the aspects, and from the influence of the fixed stars. What I’m doing is nothing new.

The great astrologer Johannes Kepler had a solution to this problem – he basically abandoned the zodiac and built his astrological system around the aspects between the planets. He thought that the zodiac itself was merely a human geometry exercise and primarily served to aid the memory of astrologers as they computed aspects in their heads. [The Zodiac: Sidereal Vs. Tropical, Bruce Scofield]

I also correct for precession to work out transits. Robert Hand, one of the most respected astrologers in the world says:

it is possible to treat the tropical zodiac as if it were moving. In other words, one should treat the natal positions of the planets as if they were fixed stars…My own experience has been that in timing an event the corrected positions are more accurate than the uncorrected ones. [Planets in Transit, Robert Hand, 2001, p.29-30.]

Nearly all astrologers continue to use the Sun signs for interpretation but it has to be understood that these interpretations are purely symbolic, not based on our relationship to the cosmos. It is similar in a way to the use of the cards by a Tarot reader, it aids the intuition to help in a reading.

Taking the meaning of the signs a step further by using rulerships and detriments, even saying someone is lacking in an element such as fire is fundamentally flawed. Astrology is based on the principle that the stars and planets have an effect on us down here, summed up by the words of Hermes Trismegistus, “As above, so below”. It is the planets moving across the backdrop of the stars which influence our lives, not the planets moving through imagined 30 degree divisions on a piece of paper.

A mistake two thousand years ago took root following the Menai massacre of 61 AD. The Druids, the most feared and revered astrologers of all time, left no writings. It’s all in the mind.

86 thoughts on “Precession of the Equinoxes

  1. Jamie, thanks for your reply. That’s interesting about the earth’s core. I found one here:

    I am starting to come around to your way of thinking on the signs, for now. Since the sun and the ascendant represent the ego it’s natural that its effect would encompass a large area, whether or not it falls within the lines. But that won’t work in 2000 years! (Of course an Aquarian would worry about that!) The same kind of thinking goes for the size of each constiillation/sign even though the stars don’t comprise the same areas. It should still be equally divided.

    So, is there a formula for birth chart that accounts for procession while maintaining equal signs?

    • YOU cannot equally divide the sky. Leo is opposite Aquarius in sign but opposite Capricorn in straight line. The pan-handle of Aquarius and the both horns of Capricorn are the same whole 30 degrees. Only the bucket extends past Capricorn. Leo the lion (horse, sheep) was created rising east, but Taurus was created setting west two horns up in the sky. Gemini was also created standing west. Others have two names, the dog is west but stand like a man Anubis in the east.

      It never has been a 30-day system because the animals were created first (Ur 2207bc not 2637bc because 2637bc was fabricated as 1200 years before 1437bc when instead it was only 600 years of 360-day (592 years) back to 2029bc as flight our of Ur in year of Monkey, tagging them as the monkey kings. The scorpion king is the name for Noah in 2040bc when he was 930 and Gilgamesh went from Uruk to Ararat to Kittim Cyprus while Mars was in Scorpio and turned in retrograde opposition. Narmer (Menes who is Narmer the Rod, or Nar the Merod) got the name when Noah died 20 years later.

      Just a guess, but the day and hour is here. Christ Mass is the crossing, precession will change from impact, and the world will choose life or death by whether they obey government martial law and stay home in Sodom.

    • There are two conflicting methods that are a full whole degree of precession from each other in 3000 years. The one of Babylon taken to Mayan is 1508 years of 365-day are 1507 seasonal due to a 12-day drift in going 48 years over 1460 years of 365 leap days. The other is the 400-year Seth cycle of Egypt known to Pope Gregory as 3 days per 400 years and so has the same 12-day drift but in 1600 years. As posted in another reply below, precession is quoted in books with data that conflicts because the algebra and geometry are not checked. This is like putting trig of 3:4:5 triangle into isosceles, too much quoting, and math extending without math-checks in figures. Math checks not as doing 2+3=5 twice to check it, but as in 5-3=2 and 5-2=3 and 3+2=5. No one is doing this in astronomy and this world is crashing rapidly.

      Some ancients took the comet disaster of exodus (England to India with all Asian residents since 1625bc out of Babylon) and took the Hebrew 857 years to 1513bc (137+720 = 720+137) and extended them 720 as in Egypt 3090-1513bc where 1577 Julian (137+720+720 = 720+720+137) = 1600 of 360-day and China (720+720) 2953-1513bc. Israel and Egypt were not the only nations making exodus as if war with God that year. The 1600 is found in Julian with Mayan 3114-1514bc and 360-day 1600 tun as 3114-1537bc (Chinese Xia Yu) to 1437bc who actually ruled 1513-1413bc.

  2. Hello my peoples! I got to this thread through the link in the comments for The Trumpster’s inauguration. Jamie I think your view on houses and signs is interesting and I have always found your insights very enlightening. Your approach to interpretation narrows the influences down to a core and concrete symbolism. I agree that houses, house rulerships and signs add multitudes of layers to interpretation that can become more ambiguous as you go. That said I have found that the equinoxes and solstices to be turning points in the flow of events (and their halfway points: 15 degrees of fixed signs). That Aries starts the new cycle at the 0 degree longitude at Vernal Equinox and continues from there in order has seemed logical regardless of the precessional advancement ( and by all accounts so do some rather gifted and experienced modern astrologers) The 30 degrees of Solar movement per sign is the time period of a lunation cycle so as hands of the clock that “space” appears to be a fit also. The archetypes and symbolism were (we presume?) empirically derived for the stars as well as the planets, signs, houses and aspects. I have personally struggled with what is the strongest and most reliable indicators in our arsenal of possible approaches and obviously you are very satisfied and successful with yours. As always thank you for the food for thought– I always gain something reading your work!

  3. your article is in a misconception error because the 50.26 seconds are not time of minutes and hours as in of 365.25 days or 8766 hours of time but rather 50.26 seconds of arc in a circle of 360 which amounts to time 20min 25 secs (time varies due to monthly and yearly wobble, and anamolistic speed, and tropical year angle to sun in that anamolistic year) and that is why instead you take how many degrees the axis itself has moved which is in seconds minutes degrees not hours and days.

    another quote… about Hipparchus sidereal as 365d 6h 10m but that would be a 37 sec arc not 46 sec arc as shown here

    46 seconds of arc per year
    full 360° circle is 1,296,000 secs of arc ÷ 28,174yrs = 46secs
    1°arc (of 3600secs) = 78.261 years
    Tropical = 365days 5hrs 55min = 365.2465278 d
    46 secs of arc = 18min 40.1242s = 0.0129644 d
    Sidereal = 365days 6hrs 13min 40.1242s = 365.2594922 d

    sidereal 525,973.6688min ÷ 18.6688 min = 28,174 tropical
    tropical 525,955min ÷ 18.6688 min = 28,173 sidereal
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    37 seconds of arc per year
    full 360° circle is 1,296,000 secs of arc ÷ 35,064.6yrs = 37secs
    1°arc (of 3600secs) = 97.4 years
    Tropical = 365days 5hrs 55min = 365.2465278 d
    ( 37 secs of arc = ) 15min = 0.0104166 d
    Sidereal = 365days 6hrs 10min = 365.2569444 d

    sidereal 525,970min ÷ 15 min = 35,064.666 tropical
    tropical 525,955min ÷ 15 min = 35,063.666 sidereal

  4. Astronomers are silly and short-sighted sometimes (maybe THAT’S why they need those huge telescopes, hmm?). Will someone please point out to them that star positions change astronomically along the equator, just as they do along the ecliptic? (By this statement I’m actually speaking of the imaginary longitude lines all the way up to the poles, of course.) In fact, stars fairly regularly hop across constellation borders that DON’T lie along the ecliptic and its zodiac signs. The right ascension figures (and to an extent declination too) of all stars change regularly, and star maps just as regularly become outdated.
    The zodiac is actually more stable in this respect because it’s tied to the (northern hemisphere’s) spring equinox.
    If anything should be changed, it should be the names of the signs – but I can’t see that happening.
    Can you?
    I’m sure someone has already mentioned this in the comments above. I haven’t read all of them yet.
    while I’m on my soapbox, I’d also like to comment on the habit of astronomers (and astrologers, too, probably) of comparing the sizes of constellations by degrees square. A degree at the equator is huge compared with a degree at the poles. In fact, right at the tip of the pole, it shrinks to zero. Don’t these people know how to calculate areas of a sphere?
    And then there’s the matter of Vedic (and some other kinds of) astrology claiming to be “sidereal” (i.e. tied to the stars). they’re actually doing exactly the same things as tropical astrology, except they choose to do it a certain number of degrees further along the ecliptic.

  5. So, how do i know my sign? If someone was born in september 22th at Libreville, Gabon, 9:30 am. Can we say he’s a virgo or a Libra? Please tell me.
    Thank you for that! And sorry for my english cause i’m a french 😉

    • Your question does not make sense. If he was born at a specific time and location, then he’s either a Virgo or Libra, born on the cusp. You can’t have one sign in one location and another birth sign if you move data to another location! It’s like saying, I was born at 23:54 in London on March 28th, but in Paris, it’s 00:54 and March 29th, therefore when was I born? March 28th or 29th? It all depends on time zone and location at time of birth and it’s unique, it doesn’t change.

  6. The Age of Pisces began when?

    At the Birth of JuliuS Caesar? 100years before the Birth of JesuS Christ?Remarkable coincidence.

    The Age of Aquarius, the beginning date I use, January 12, 1996.

    There was a remarkable comet streaking Perihelion the Sun January 12, 2007, 11 years after theNewAge chart, but not much if anything, is mentioned about this …

    Our Legionnaires of Authoritarian astrologers. Silent


    Asleep at the switch.

    Aquarius NewAge Chart, January 12, 1996. 8:34am UTC, equal houses

    Ascendant 0Aqr
    Uranus 0Aqr

    Mercury Retrograde, Venus and Mars in Aquarius

    Moon in Libra (Libra rules the 7th House)

  7. So as confusing as this is I am going to ask a straight up question. If I was born natally at 3° Gemini does this push my sun sign all the way back to 3° Cancer? I hope not, bc my rising natally is in Cancer and my EP is on this 3° Cancer position, and as per Sabian Symbol goes, it is a very hard degree and people would view that for me as well. Ugh! I’m trying to base it off of what you said about aries at 0° going to Taurus at 3°. So I guess actually it would make it 6° degrees for me then. Is this correct? Please and thank you. I am also still waiting to get some information about my natal yod. Gracias! It seems simiar to Hitlers as well as I have Venus conjunct Mars natally at a 0° orb. I didn’t realize the World saw him so beautiful. By todays standards i would sucker punch him as well as shave that disgusting worm over his upper lip. Taly ho, mate! 😉

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