Sidereal charts are primarily used by Vedic astrologers (Hindu, Jyotish). Vedic astrology is a highly sophisticated and complex discipline that originated from the Vedas, the Hindu holy books, specifically the Reg Veda, the oldest of the sacred texts of Hinduism. With its ties to ancient Vedic scriptures, it's believed that Vedic astrology is an essential source of profound ancient knowledge.
Traditional Sidereal Natal Chart Basics
If you're familiar with your Tropical natal chart, your first encounter with the Sidereal chart could be disconcerting. The traditional Sidereal Natal chart is a square divided into 12 smaller squares, which represent both the houses and the signs.
Sidereal Houses, Signs, and Planets
The three essential tools for casting a Sidereal chart are the houses, the planetary placements, and the signs. Sanskrit names are used for the houses, signs, planets, and other components of a Sidereal chart.
Houses are known as the Bhavas in Vedic Astrology. The Vedic houses are counted from the Sidereal sign rising on the Ascendant. As an example, in a chart with Aquarius rising, the entire sign of Aquarius would be the first house, while Pisces would encompass the whole of the second house and Aries the third, etc.
The Twelve Bhavas
Each of the 12 Bhavas can represent hundreds of things. They can, however, be divided into four general classifications and four trinities.
- The first, tenth, seventh, and fourth house are Cardinal. They are known as the Kendra (focus) and are the four houses in the center of a Sidereal chart.
- The second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh are Fixed. These houses are material or cash related.
- The third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth are known as the Cadent. They decrease, diminish, or cost.
The Four Trinities
The four trinities relate to the for elements, fire, earth, air and water, and their corresponding signs.
Trinity of Dharma
Houses 1, 5. And 9 indicates integrity and life purpose. These houses relate to the Fire signs of Aries (1), Leo (5), and Sagittarius (9).
- 1st house is Tana: body, self, birth, appearance
- The 5th house is Sut: heart, children, lovers, recreation, accumulated Karma.
- The 9th house is Dharma: religion, luck, higher learning, the higher mind, guru
Trinity of Wealth
Houses 2, 6, and 10 represent wealth, livelihood, and security needs. They relate to Earth sign of Taurus (2), Virgo (6) and Capricorn (10)
- The 2nd house is Dahna: possessions, inheritance, comfort
- The 6th house is Shatru: food, servants, health
- The 10th house is Karma: honor, fame, social standing
Trinity of Relationships
Houses 3, 7, and 11 represent Kama or relationships and the pursuit of pleasure. They relate to Air signs of Gemini (3), Libra (7), and Aquarius (11).
- The 3rd house is Sahaja: communications, siblings, sharing of information, hard work
- The 7th house is Patni: business marriage, partnerships.
- The 11th house is called Aaya: gains, income, friends, close associates
Trinity of Moksha
Houses 4, 8, and 12 represent Moksha or enlightenment and the final liberation of the soul. They relate to Water signs of Cancer (4), Scorpio (8), and Pisces (12).
- The 4th house is Griha: home, property, old age, luxury, comfort
- The 8th house is Mrtiyu: suffering, imprisonment, obstacles, sex, death, regeneration
- The 12th house is Vyaya: expenses, losses, suffering, self-undoing.
The Nine Planets
Planets in Hindu Astrology are called Grahas. There are nine planets used in a Sidereal chart. They include:
- Sun: Surya or Ravi
- Moon: Chandra Sandu
- Mars: Mangal or Kuja
- Mercury: Buddha or Budh
- Jupiter: Guru or Brhaspathi
- Venus: Shukra or Sikuru
- Saturn: Shani or Senasuru
- Northern Lunar Node: Rahu
- Southern Lunar Node: Ketu
The Twelve Signs
Vedic astrology has the same twelve 30° signs as western astrology. They are called Rasis. The 12 houses and the 12 Rasis occupy the same 30° space and are inseparable in a Sidereal chart. The sign where the Moon is placed is called Rashi. The sign of the first house is called Lagna. Perhaps the most important use of the signs (Rasis) in a Sidereal chart is their role as the ruling planet or Lord of the Rasi.
- Aries, Mesha Rasi, is ruled by Mars
- Taurus, Vrishaba Rasi, is ruled by Venus
- Gemini, the Mithuna Rasi, is ruled by Mercury
- Cancer, the Kark Rasi, is ruled by the Moon
- Leo, the Simha Rasi, is ruled by the Sun
- Virgo, the Kanya Rasi, is ruled by Mercury with Rahu as co-ruler
- Libra, the Tula Rasi, is ruled by Venus
- Scorpio, the Vrischika Rasi, is ruled by Mars with Ketu as co-ruler
- Sagittarius, the Dhanur Rasi, is ruled by Jupiter
- Capricorn, the Makara Rasi, is ruled by Saturn
- Aquarius, the Kumbha Rasi, is ruled by Saturn with Rahu as co-ruler
- Pisces, the Meena Rasi, is ruled by Jupiter
Glyph and Symbols
Sidereal and Tropical western astrology us the same symbols and glyphs for the signs and planets. However, you may also find the names of the planets abbreviated in a Sidereal chart.
- AS = Ascendant, 1st house
- MO = Moon
- SU = Sun
- ME = Mercury
- VE = Venus
- MA = Mars
- JP = Jupiter
- SA = Saturn
- Ra = Rahu
- Ke = Ketu
Beyond the Basics
Vedic astrology is a highly sophisticated discipline that goes beyond the basic natal chart. Several of its complexities are explained below.
Nakshatras and the Stars
In addition to the division of the12 signs and houses, Sidereal astrology divides the 360° ecliptic into 27 Nakshatras (Lunar Mansions), each 13°20'. Each of these is divided into four padas of 3° 20' each. The 27 Nakshatras are the signs of a lunar-based zodiac. The Nakshatras show the Moon's orbit around the Earth against the backdrop of the stars. The Nakshatras and their padas bring additional insight into the nature of the astrological influence of the constellations and stars.
Vedic astrologers can use up to 15 (sometimes more) divisional charts, all of which are derived from the main chart. Each one gives a more in-depth insight into a particular area of a person's life. The most used division charts are:
- The Hora chart is related to wealth.
- The Drekkana chart relates to brothers and sisters and to your courage, motivation, and the ability to achieve your goals and ambitions.
- The Dwadamsha chart provides insight into your parents, ancestral heritage, and past life karma.
- The Trimsamsa chart is used to understand health issues.
The Navamsha Chart
The Navamsha chart is the most important of the divisional charts and is often considered just as important as a natal chart. This chart gives additional information about long term relationships and is also used to determine whether the indications in the natal chart are going to manifest with difficulty or ease. Some astrologers say the Navamsha is the horoscope of the soul, while the natal chart or Rashi, represent to more mundane and outer conditions of life.
Planetary Yogas are unique to Vedic astrology. Yogas are a union or combination of certain planets. There are hundreds of Yogas mentioned in classical Sanskrit texts. The study of Yogas often gives insight into important details of an individual's character or circumstances that might otherwise not be explained.
Vimshotari Dasha is used extensively in predictive astrology. It's calculated from the position of the Moon at the time of birth. Each planet covers a different time cycle that varies from six years (the Sun) to twenty years (Venus). These planetary cycles are sub-divided into nine smaller planetary cycles. When the birth time is accurate, then these sub-cycles can be divided into nine shorter planetary time periods. The Vimshotari Dasha cycle of planets covers 120 years and provides hundreds of planetary combinations that assist predictive interpretations, especially when used in conjunction with planetary transits.
Sidereal astrologers focus on an individual's Karma and soul nature, as well as predicting events and prescribing remedial remedies. Throughout Sidereal astrology's history, Upayas (remedies to counteract issues in the chart) have been prescribed. Sidereal astrologers often recommend specific forms of charity, chants, meditations, ceremonies, talismans, and gemstones to help to balance your chart.
Sidereal Birth Chart vs. a Tropical Birth Chart
Vedic (Jyotish) astrologers use the Sidereal zodiac. Western astrologers use the tropical zodiac. This means your Sun, Moon, and other placements are very likely to have different astrological sign placements in each zodiac.
The Sidereal Zodiac
The sidereal (star) zodiac begins its yearly cycle when the Sun aligns with the constellation of Aries and divides the ecliptic into 12 equal signs (Rasis) of 30° degrees each. In the Sidereal zodiac, the Sun currently enters Aries on April 14th.
The Tropical Zodiac
The Tropical Zodiac, defined by the changing of Earth's seasons, begins with Aries on the Vernal equinox, then like the Sidereal zodiac divides the zodiac into 12 signs of 30° each. In the tropical zodiac, the Sun always enters Aries on about March 21st.
Precession of the Equinoxes
Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the Sidereal zodiac changes each year slightly, while the Tropical zodiac does not. Currently, the longitudinal difference (Ayanamsha) between the two zodiacs is about 24°. As an example, a planet at 14° Aries in a Tropical natal chart is around 20° Pisces in a Sidereal chart.
Sidereal Birth Chart and Tropical Birth Chart Example
For comparison, below are the Sidereal and Tropical natal charts for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey.
Gordon Ramsey's Sidereal chart
Ramsey's Sidereal Chart shows:
- 0° 46' Gemini Rising
- Sun at 22° Libra
- Moon at 0° 01' Virgo
- Mars at 22° Leo
- Mercury at 9° Scorpio
- Jupiter at 10° Cancer
- Venus at 22° Libra
- Saturn at 29° Aquarius
- Rahu at 22° Aries
- Ketu at 22° Libra
Gordon Ramsey's Tropical Chart
Ramsey's Tropical birth chart shows:
- 24° Gemini Rising
- Sun at 15° Scorpio
- Moon at 23° Virgo
- Mars at 15° Virgo
- Mercury at 2° Sagittarius
- Jupiter at 4° Leo
- Venus at 15° Scorpio
- Saturn at 23° Pisces
- North Node at 16° Taurus
- South Node at 16° Scorpio
Calculate Your Sidereal Natal Chart
Which is Better?
Which is better and more accurate, Sidereal or Tropical? This is a topic of much contention and debate in the astrological community. Some believe the answer depends on the culture that has conditioned your thinking. Others say it depends on which is the most compatible with your world view. Some Sidereal astrologers incorporate the Tropical zodiac in their work and vice versa. In the future, most astrologers are likely to see both systems as complementary and will use both to gain a more comprehensive picture of the human condition.
Indeed, the charts look different, the sign placements may be different, the language is different, and the basic approach to interpretation is different, but they present no fundamental contradictions.
Neither system believes fate is deterministic, and both can provide guidance that can alter the way you think and act and change your life for the better. However, in the end, astrology, like apples, provides a variety of tastes, textures, and uses, but both are only as good and accurate as the expertise, knowledge, experience, and honesty of the astrologer.
Reading a Sidereal Birth Chart
Knowing the components of a Sidereal natal chart is just the beginning. From there you'll need to understand what each means and then knit them together in an understandable way. Honing your skills in both Sidereal and Tropical astrology takes dedication, study and hours and hours of practice reading charts.