Essay: Why use precession correction?
Premis: While the Sidereal Zodiac was the original zodiac in ancient times, it was virtually unknown in recent centuries until its discovery and reintroduction into modern astrology by Cyril Fagan in the mid 1900s. Despite its historical and archeological revelations, and its capability for amazing prediction, Sidereal practices came with baggage that never allowed it to become an established practice in the wider astrological community. The demise of its founders was accompanied by an inability of others, at that time, to establish a strong presence, to make a case for an alternate zodiac, to clarify the application and use of Sidereal’s many chart formats, and to simplify its seemingly complex mathematics. Except for a small group of adherents of the “western sidereal school”, this western form of Sidereal Astrology is experiencing a lingering death.
The Promise and the baggage of modern Sidereal Astrology: Fagan and his associates were able to demonstrate dazzeling predictions using precise mathematical practices and unique charting and interpretive approaches. Sidereal practics focused on the Solar Return and a number of derived charts, angular planets and partile aspects, a rigorous use of core planetary interpretations based on action-decision-reaction — all of this aiding Sidereal practicioners to make accurate assessments and predictions. Sidereal baggage, in the eyes of the Tropical community, gradually emerged. The mathematics seemed overly complex for the droves of early-studies students entering astrology at that period (before the advent of personal computers). The question of how and why one should use a Sidereal Zodiac instead of the familiar Tropical Zodiac, and how to explain two different sign-meanings claiming sway over the same segment of space was never successfully addressed or defended. With the large number of emerging methods, techniques, books and seminars it seems that “Siderealism” was just another subject lost in the rush to explore many subjects and practices.
No autopsy yet for “Sidereal” practices: Sidereal Astrology as Fagan and others practiced it may have been rejected or ignored by most of the astrological community due to confusion, to a lack of effective presentation, to having no spokesperson of national stature, to not having sufficient published material or bookstore ‘shelf space’, to any number of other valid reasons. However, none of that detracts from its accomplishments when practiced as the Siderealists practiced it. So, what happens now?
We can cast some Sidereal practices within familiar Tropical practices. We can simplify the mathematics and methodologies. We can set aside the areas and practices that Tropicalists find confusing or conflicting about Sidereal astrology.
1) Retain the use of the Tropical Zodiac as a measuring tool and ignore the use of signs in interpretation. Sounds drastic, yet it is quite effective. The key is to apply a corrective factor for Precession. The alignment of the Earth, the Sun and the sky background at birth, when applied to Solar Return charts, is the key factor in attaining stunning interpritive results. While the yearly slippage or recession of the Aries Point is quite small, about 1/72nd of a degree, its accumulated slippage for someone who is 35 years of age (for example) is about a half-degree of arc-position. It takes the Earth an additional 12 hours to move that extra distance to its ‘sidereal’ alignment past its ‘tropical’ alignment, and this results in a very different MC postion in the chart.
2) Recognize that the apparent shift in MC position and the Sun’s house position from one solar return to the next solar return marks a cycle. While technically acknowledged by Siderealists, nobody ever emphasized this MC-Solar Cycle (my terminology) as the basis for predictive work. This continuous cycle starts at birth, links every solar return charts position, and is the basis for constructing daily charts that use this cycle. In essence, we are defining the natal chart as potential, the solar return charts as opportunity and themes for the annual period, and daily charts as representing experiences.
3) Retain the focus on angularity in the charts used. Angularity has always been seen as important by any/all astrologers. The Siderealists proved this. Working only with angular planets reduces the number of factors for the astrologer to consider while focusing him/her on the planets that are most active and meaningful.
These three componets are the basis from which to commence the melding of Tropical and Sidereal practices. There is much more that needs to be folded into this exploration, but it all starts with recognizing that the fundamental strength of Cyril Fagan’s Sidereal approach was to eliminate the effects of zodiac slippage. If one insists that not much about Sidereal Astrology is worth considering, then admit that this singular factor will change almost everything about your charts that are cast in the years following your birth. By being open to “precession correction” we can start a highly useful discussion that will benefit all astrologers.
My predictive techniques are all built upon the above noted factors, plus those components of practice that extend from those basic factors. These will be presented in other essays.
Dave Monroe, December, 2009.