In a previous article we talked about the Platonic Year and how it represents the relationship between the Sidereal Zodiac and the Tropical Zodiac. In this article we are going to add another one to our considerations, for a total of Three Zodiacs. We are also going to see how they relate to each other, highlighting a beautiful symmetry in the relationship between the three of them.
This post is part of a series of articles. Please note that the spirit of this series is to give the different Zodiacs a context. My intention is not to de-legitimize one astrological approach over another. In other words, I’m not saying that you should use one Zodiac—such as the Sidereal for example—rather than the Tropical. On the contrary, we want to abandon any one-sided approach on this matter.
So please consider this article as a contribution, an impulse that goes in the direction of integrating Astrology with an Anthroposophical understanding of the Cosmos.
The Three Zodiacs
At the end of our previous article we presented the following schema. We want to start from there, so check it out if you want to know more about the rationale behind it:
- The Spiritual World corresponds to the Sidereal Zodiac
- The Soul World corresponds to the Tropical Zodiac
- The Physical World corresponds to a third specific Zodiac
So what’s this Third Zodiac? And why would it correspond to the Physical World? With Willi Sucher—pioneer of Astrosophy—I am going to refer to the Astrological Houses as a Third Zodiac (you can check out his book Cosmic Christianity available here for free).
Now, this is not something that we can give for granted. If we want to refer to the Houses as a Third Zodiac we should have a plausible reason for doing so.
If you are not familiar with the Houses they are a subdivision of the sky into 12 parts. In a chart, these parts represent twelve different areas of our life. They are numbered from 1 to 12, and their significations are very grounded. In fact they represent practical things such as family, health, children, marriage, career and so on.
House meanings are out of the scope of this article. However as you can see from the list above, they are all deeply rooted in our daily life. This is why we want to refer to them as the Zodiac of the Physical World.
Nevertheless, we should be cautious about doing this. As far as I know, there’s no such strong correlation between the Zodiac and the Houses explicitly pointed out in the astrological tradition. If you know any ancient author who made this association, please leave a comment below. However, even without having strong clues we can still count on two things:
- Zodiac Signs were also called Celestial Houses, whereas the actual houses were called Terrestrial Houses. This shows a plausible connection between the two, especially because they are exactly twelve;
- Even though there’s no evidence that shows House significations to directly derive from the Zodiac, we can clearly see them to perfectly match. Taurus for example (Nature and natural resources) corresponds perfectly to the Second House (money and natural skills). The same applies to the other houses as well.
Most of modern astrologers recognize these sign-house correspondences today, since they are very easy to spot. This because the same concepts can be found in both signs and houses, although expressed in different ways. From a platonic perspective, we could say that we can find the same Archetype of the Zodiac living at different levels of manifestation.
- The Archetype of the Zodiac manifests itself in
- the Spiritual World as the Sidereal Zodiac;
- the Soul World as the Tropical Zodiac;
- the Physical World as the Houses.
In this regard we can say that the threefold nature of the cosmos—given by Spirit, Soul and Body—finds its expression in both the human being and the Zodiac, making the latter the foundational Archetype of the whole Solar System.
Now that we outlined the Three Zodiacs, we can ask ourselves: how do they relate to each other? In our previous article we’d been talking about the relationship between the Sidereal Zodiac and the Tropical Zodiac. We have also seen the Platonic Year as a result of their interaction.
Can we find a similar relationship between the Tropical Zodiac and the Astrological Houses? Not only the answer is affirmative, but we can even recognize the same relationship expressed by the Platonic Year itself.
the Platonic Year and the Solar Year
This is definitely the most fascinating discovery that I’ve made, deepening the relationship between the Three Zodiacs. As we know from Steiner’s indications, during the Platonic Year the Vernal Point (0° Tropical Aries) slides progressively from one Sidereal Constellation to the previous one.
For example, now the Vernal Point is aligned with the constellation of Pisces (or as we say, Sidereal Pisces). Over time, it will gradually align more and more with the constellation of Aquarius, the previous one according to the zodiacal sequence. This is basically a Platonic Month (2160 years) as the twelfth part of the Platonic Year (25920 years).
The same thing happens with the Tropical Zodiac in regards to the Astrological Houses. In the picture above you can see the three zodiacs, displayed from the highest (Sidereal, in the Spiritual World) to the lowest (houses, in the Physical World). As you can see between the Sidereal (green) and the Tropical (orange) we can find the Platonic Year. It represents their relationship.
In similar fashion we find between the Tropical (orange) and the Houses (green) the Solar Year. Why? Because as the Platonic Year is an expression of the relationship between the Sidereal and the Tropical, the Solar Year can be viewed as the relationship between the Tropical Zodiac and the Astrological Houses.
To better understand this, let’s take a look at the picture below.
Here we can see the Three Zodiacs aligned: the Sidereal (blue), the Tropical (orange) and the Houses (green). Usually the Houses are labeled just with numbers, but since we are looking at them as a third zodiac we are using numbered signs glyphs instead.
In the picture above there are two red arrows. You should be already familiar with the external arrow, labeled with 0° Tropical Aries. We used it here to understand how the Sidereal (blue) shifts backwards respect to the Tropical (orange). Now, the same thing happens between the Tropical (orange) and the Houses (green), using the internal arrow labeled ASC (Ascendant) as the indicator.
The difference is that for the Platonic Year we took the Sun reaching the Spring Equinox (0° Tropical Aries) as the reference point. Whereas in the Solar Year we’re going to take the Sun reaching the Ascendant (ASC) as our reference point.
Why do we take the Ascendant? Because as the Vernal Point corresponds to the beginning of the Tropical Zodiac, the Ascendant corresponds to the beginning of the Astrological Houses. In both cases we are taking as a reference the position of the Sun hitting the very beginning of the underlying Zodiac.
We can also note that the Sun hits the Ascendant every day at dawn, which is the perfect point of balance between day and night. This has a clear analogy with the Spring Equinox, the moment of the year when day time and night time are equal. So if the Platonic Year is the time needed to complete a cycle on the Sidereal, and the Solar Year to complete a cycle on the Tropical, every day the Sun completes a cycle around the Houses (see picture “Three Zodiacs Hierarchy”).
Now, if we take the Sun reaching the Ascendant as our reference point, the Tropical Zodiac and the Houses shift respect to each other as well. But instead of doing it backwards, they do it forward. This can be understood if we take a closer look at the Platonic Month and the Solar Month.
the Platonic Month and the Solar Month
A Platonic Month is the twelfth part of a Platonic Year. It equals to 2160 years (= 25920 / 12). As we know every Platonic Month the Sun sitting on the Vernal Point aligns with the previous Sidereal Constellation, or in another terms the Tropical Zodiac shifts backwards by one sign.
The same thing happens with the Solar Month, but following the opposite direction. Every Solar Month, the Sun on the Ascendant is going to align to the following Tropical Sign, or in another terms the Zodiac of the Houses is going to shift forward by one sign.
As you can see above, the only difference is that while the Platonic Year makes the Tropical to shift backwards, the Solar Year makes the Houses to shift forward. In my opinion, these reversal in directions has important spiritual meanings concerning the experience of the human soul through the Soul World.
As we know from Steiner’s indications, on its journey through this world the Soul experiences everything as if it was going backwards in time. And we also know that the Spiritual World comes towards us from the future. This considerations go out of the scope of this article, but for now let’s just keep in mind that this inversion is anything but random.
A final observation concerns the yearly and daily paths of the Sun. Starting from the Vernal Point (beginning of the Tropical Zodiac), in one year (a whole Tropical cycle) the Sun goes through all the constellations of the Sidereal Zodiac, moving forward. Eventually, it returns to the Vernal Point. The same happens at the lower level.
Starting from the Ascendant (beginning of the Astrological Houses), in one day (a whole House cycle) the Sun goes through all the Astrological Houses, but moving backwards. It then gets back to the Ascendant. As you can see in this case as well we have the same relationship between the Zodiacs, with the only difference of having them sliding in opposing directions.
When the basic structure of the Three Zodiacs is set, and their relationship understood, we can connect them to the Anthroposophical worldview very easily. In the following articles we are going to deepen the matter, talking about the Spiritual Hierarchies in relation to the planetary spheres. We are also going to better understand why the Tropical Zodiac is completely “created” by the movement of the planets, that find their center on the Sun itself.
Thanks for reading, as always if you enjoyed this article please subscribe to the Astronomicon Newsletter with the bar at the top of the website to receive weekly updates and not to miss the follow up articles on the Three Zodiacs. Thanks again and have a great week.
I consider myself a free researcher in western spiritual disciplines, in particular Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and the Neoplatonic Hermetic tradition. I have a three-year training in Astrology at the CIDA delegation of Trieste, the Italian Center for Astrological Disciplines. I graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of Trieste.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate the clarity of your thinking and description here, so much to ponder now.
thank you very much!
Definitiva a lógica. Eu sempre usei as casas como campos de experiência terrestre na presente encarnação. A relação com o sideral e tropical corrobora a ideia de que as casas são o reflexo do sideral mediados pela alma, da mesma forma que o Eu terreno é reflexo. Por ora eu mantenho sua ideia dos três como realidade. Muito grato!
Graças à você! :)
Thank you for this article.
Comes to mind, that these three levels may well correspond to the application to the Zodiac of the three “points of view” that Rudolf Steiner calls “tones”, and which he describes in “Human and Cosmic Thought” (GA 151), Lecture 3 :
These three tones are :
— Theism (Sun – as a fixed star)
— Intuitionism (Moon – Rudolf Steiner doesn’t qualify further, but we may have to consider this Moon “as a satellite” rather than as a planet ?)
— Naturalism (Earth)
I must precise that this ordering is not explicitly given by Rudolf Steiner. To me it seems fitting to the trichotomy : spirit-soul-body.
The Sun as fixed star seems to match nicely with the sidereal aspect of the zodiac. The Moon, which is the only moving body here, tallies well with the moving and time-like aspect of the tropical zodiac. And the Earth is indeed the only frame of reference for the houses.
So a correspondance between the tones and your sidereal-tropical-topical ordering seems possible —— NB : topical = topos = house.
In other words, they are another set of symbols (other than your saturn-sun-earth) to represent the three perspectives on the Dodecalogos. They are not contradictory as long as we don’t cling to their formal character.
I would also suggest that these three zodiacs are related to the three categories : Space (sidereal), Time (tropical) and Eternity (house system).
The link between Eternity and the houses is not obvious, but we must recognize that an infinity of house systems exist on Earth at the same time — each one being related to our location on the globe. So that, astronomically speaking, the house system of the Earth as a whole is not spatial, but is rather a “simultaneity of space systems”, a pure mathematical division without any material reference — whereas the mathematical division of the sidereal zodiac has a material starting point (subject to debate), and the mathematical division of the seasons in anchored in the drifting of the vernal point along the stars.
What are your thoughts about this hypothesis ?
I am probably wrong on this one, because the relation of the stars to Space is probably more an “ideal” one than a real one. A “pure space” which is none other than Eternity ?
In my opinion it’s always useful to have a “pivot” when we start building a rationale on Steiner’s indications on a matter.
In human and cosmic thought Zodiac signs and planets are used as a system to grasp the spiritual reality at the foundation of a philosophic theory of knowledge (gnoseology). The structure of the three Zodiac introduced in this article instead, is based on the structure of the Three Worlds. We can use both systems, but always taking our “pivot” as a reference point. So I wouldn’t personally mix the two.
Concerning houses: the Placidus system is based on a regular division of the local sphere based on temporal hours: take the daylight time and divide it equally by 12 and you get a temporal hour (it’s longer in summer and shorter in winter). A Placidus house measures 2 temporal hours (always). Please note that they depend on latitudine and season. For us nowadays this seems abstract but back in the days mankind could feel which hour was.
In general houses can be equal or quadrant based (each quadrant can then be divided by space, such in Porphyry, OR time, such in Placidus).
In Anthroposophy, when we use space and time as categories, we generally refer to Ancient Saturn (when time was created) and Ancient Sun (when space was created). So in my opinion Eternity is closer to Saturn-Chronos, god of Time, and Time to to the Sun sphere (Days and Seasons), and I would take the Moon-Earth sphere as Space (3 dimensional existence).
Hope this answer to your comments! Thanks for sharing :)