In episode 117 astrologer Kenneth Bowser joins the show to talk about the modern movement to revive the use of the sidereal zodiac in western astrology.
During the course of the show we discuss the sidereal origins of the zodiac, the revival of its usage in the west through the work of the 20th century astrologer Cyril Fagan, and some of the debates surrounding its relationship with the tropical zodiac.
Ken is the author of a book on this topic titled An Introduction to Western Sidereal Astrology, and you can find out more information about his work on his website:
Below you will find the show notes with an outline of some of the main points of the discussion, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast at the bottom of the page.
Live Stream of Next Forecast Episode
Before the episode outline, one piece of podcast-related news:
We are going to do a live stream of the recording of the next forecast episode this Thursday, July 27, starting at 3:30 PM Mountain Time (Denver time).
This will be a live episode that we are going to stream through Facebook as we are recording it. The stream will appear as a post on my personal Facebook page around 3:30 that day once we start the recording. Here is the link to my Facebook page:
If you want to watch the stream through Facebook then you can just pull up my Facebook page that day and then you should be able to see the post once it is up. You may want to add me as a friend or “follow” my page as well, as it is not clear if that will make any difference in terms of being able to see my public post of the stream once I put it on my timeline.
Show Notes and Episode Outline
- Earlier this month I interviewed Vedic astrologer Vic DiCara, who advocates the use of the tropical zodiac in Indian astrology.
- Argues that this was originally what was intended in the earliest texts, and that it works better in practice.
- As a point of contrast, I wanted to interview a western astrologer who advocates the use of the sidereal zodiac.
- I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce my audience to western sidereal astrology.
- There was also a previous discussion on the podcast about the difference between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs.
- Kenneth is the author of the book An Introduction to Western Sidereal Astrology.
- One of if not the most prominent proponent of this school in recent times.
- Ken’s background and how he got involved in this.
- Spent two years as a tropical astrologer, but then switched to sidereal
- The revival of western sidereal astrology in modern times.
- How did the modern sidereal movement develop in modern times?
- Cyril Fagan (1896-1970) and his work
- Born in Dublin, Ireland, and died in Tucson, AZ.
- Revived the use of the sidereal zodiac in the west in the 20th century.
- Started studies with tropical in 1916, but switched in 1944.
- Concluded that zodiac was originally sidereal, and Greek changed it.
- Wrote a number of books and articles.
- Zodiacs Old and New (1950)
- Symbolism of the Constellations (1962)
- Astrological Origins (1971)
- Wrote column in American Astrology magazine from 1953 on.
- Known to have had kind of a fiery temperament.
- What are the best arguments for using the sidereal zodiac in the western tradition?
- The origins of the zodiac in the constellations.
- Discussion about the Mesopotamian tradition.
- Timeline of when the zodiac first started being used
- Originally used 18 constellations that fall on the ecliptic.
- 12 standard + Auriga, Orion, Perseus, Pleides, and Pisces split in half.
- Zodiac standardized to 12 signs of 30 degrees each around 5th century BCE.
- Academics often say that this was purely for measurements or convenience.
- Started producing ephemerides around this time.
- Natal astrology developed by 410 BCE.
- Hipparchus and the discovery of precession in the 2nd century BCE.
- The rate of precession around 1 degree every 72 years.
- The difference between the sidereal and tropical zodiac.
- How far out of alignment are they at this point?
- Ken says about 25 degrees, using the Fagan/Allan ayanamsha.
- When were the qualities associated with the zodiacal signs first developed?
- Is it clear what the conceptual premise was for these qualities?
- What makes Western Sidereal Astrology unique?
- Is it essentially modern astrology but with the sidereal zodiac?
- When did the western tradition go tropical, and was this a mistake?
- Discussion about Ptolemy’s work in the 2nd century.
- Discussion about the ayanamsha issue.
- How do we know what point to start the zodiac from?
- Western Siderealists generally use the Fagan/Allan ayanamsha.
- Lahiri is used by most Indian astrologers.
- Possible issue: the zodiac as an idealized division.
- The constellations themselves vary in size.
- Earlier this month Vic DiCara argued that even the sidereal zodiac is not necessarily aligned with the constellations. What is the response to this critique?
- The origins of the exaltations.
- The exaltations were thought to be Mesopotamian since the early 20th century.
- In Hellenistic texts there were specific exaltation degrees.
- Fagan found a year where the planets rose/set on or near these degrees sidereally, in 786 BCE.
- He speculated that it coincided with the founding of a temple to Mercury.
- Question from Chris: How much of western astrology originated the Mespotamian vs. the Hellenistic tradition?
- Part of the siderealist logic is that since the zodiac originated in Mesopotamia it should remain sidereal.
- Is it necessarily true that all of the qualities we associate with the signs originated in the Mesopotamian tradition when the zodiac was sidereal?
- Or were some only developed later when the tropical zodiac was already in use?
- The issue of Ophiuchus.
- If the zodiac is based on the constellations that fall on the ecliptic, why shouldn’t Ophiuchus be used?
- Ken argues that Ophiuchus is essentially already used or taken into account in the qualities of the co-rising constellation Scorpio.
Listen to This Episode
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