The difference between Vedic and Western astrology

A major difference between Vedic and Western astrology: the zodiac systems

TM writes:

I am a bit confused since according to the Vedic Astrology (from India) the Saturn enters Leo only in the July of 2007 and that at present it is in Cancer for past two years which ends in July 2007.

I know the basics that the Vedic astrology depends on the moon signs while the changes that you mentioned above are based on sun signs. but what I don’t follow is that the planets and their movement through the signs shouldn’t that be the same according to both these systems?


The difference between Vedic and Western astrology is bigger than you think! There are actually two zodiacs, tropical and sidereal. (say: “sigh DEER e-ul,” kinda rhymes with ethereal.) Western astrologers use the tropical zodiac. Vedic astrologers use the sidereal. (Western sidereal astrology is a thing, but the majority of western astrologers use the tropical zodiac.)

The difference between the tropical and sidereal zodiac

  • The 12 zodiac signs are the same in both zodiacs.
  • The tropical (Western) zodiac is based on the seasons.
  • The sidereal (Vedic) zodiac is based on the stars and constellations.

Robert Hand explains the difference in his book Horoscope Symbols:

“There are two ways of measuring the progress of a planet through the zodiac. One is to use the so-called sidereal zodiac, which is a measure of a planet’s relation to the background of the fixed stars. The other is to use the so-called tropical zodiac, which is a measure of a planet’s relation to the point in the sky where the Sun is on the first day of Spring. This point, known as the vernal equinox, or 0° Aries of the tropical zodiac, moves clockwise or backward in the zodiac in relation to the fixed stars at the rate of about 1° every 72 years.”

The tropical and sidereal zodiacs used to be the same (about 2000 years ago). The constellations used to align with the seasons, but they no longer do. Because of a phenomenon called precession of the equinoxes, the “starting line” of the tropical zodiac has shifted back almost an entire sign. This is why Saturn is still in Cancer according to Vedic astrology (using the constellation-based sidereal zodiac) but has been in Leo for a while in Western astrology (using the season-based tropical zodiac).

That’s not the only difference between Vedic and Western astrology. Vedic is a completely different system– it’s not just about the zodiac signs. The methods and goals of a Vedic reading are also very different.

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