When you think of astrology, what comes to mind? Astrology (from the Greek words astron, meaning star and logos, meaning study) is actually a very general term used to describe the study and interpretation of celestial movements. It means different things to different people. The planets, sun, moon and stars have a huge impact on our daily lives, and all forms of astrology look at their movements, analyze them and explain how they’re relevant to our lives in one way or another.
What you might not know, though, is that there are a lot of different types of astrology—almost 80, to be exact! And what type of astrology each astrologer chooses to use is based on a range of reasons—from where they live to their religious beliefs and beyond. The end goal of them all, however, is to look at the way the celestial bodies are behaving, and use them to interpret and find meaning in our lives.
- Western Astrology
- Vedic Astrology
Western astrology is one of the oldest forms of astrology, dating back to Mesopotamia. During this time period, people first started to first notice and make the connection between earthly events and what was happening in the sky. The first Western zodiac was developed based on the concept of natal astrology around the 5th century BC. It is defined by the belief that one’s destiny is based on the position of the planets at the moment of their birth. Gradually the ancient practice moved from its origins in Mesopotamia to Egypt and the rest of the world, where further developments continued to occur. When it arrived in ancient Greece around the 6th century BC, it coincided with the entrance of the first Greek philosophers and became intertwined with the rise of Greek mythology.
Modern Western astrology is probably the most popular and widely used branch in Western countries today. It’s based on sun signs, which are calculated by using a person’s date, time, and place of birth. This information yields the exact position of the sun (and other planets) at that specific moment in time.
There are 12 sun signs and each zodiac sign represent one of 12 personality types and a corresponding set of talents and challenges. Each zodiac sign is represented by its own unique symbol, or glyph. The 12 zodiac signs each correspond to an astrological house (Aries, to the 1st House, Taurus to the 2nd House, etc.) and are each ruled by a planet.
In Western astrology the signs are divided into four elements: fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn), air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). They’re also organzed into three qualities: cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) and mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces).
Vedic astrology, also known as Hindu or Indian astrology, is similar to Western with a few important differences. While both systems use zodiac signs, planets and houses, in Vedic the rising sign replaces the sun sign. The rising sign reveals what planet was ascending on the Eastern horizon at the moment of birth.
Another major difference between the two systems is how the zodiac itself is determined. In Western astrology the Zodiac is based on the seasons, whereas in Vedic astrology the zodiac is based on the actual constellations in the sky (called the Sidereal Zodiac). While the two were in alignment at one point thousands of yeas ago, they are currently almost one whole sign out of alignment today. Western astrology is based on the seasons, equinoxes, and solstices, where as Vedic astrology refers back to the actual sky in real time. Two differing methods, but neither is considered “wrong.”
Another way Vedic astrology differs from Western astrology is its limited use of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Since they aren’t visible to the naked eye, they aren’t used as prevalently. The planets in Vedic astrology are each directly related to energizing factors that are connected to yoga, Ayurveda (the Hindu practice of total body balance) and other metaphysical Indian disciplines.
In addition to the 12 zodiac signs, the Vedic zodiac is divided into 27 Nakshatras (distant stars/constellations that are each 13.2 degrees). This is incredibly different than Western astrology. These Nakshatras mark the transit of the moon around the earth each day and have several attributes. The main attribute being the Janma (birth star), which indicates where the moon was placed at the time of one’s birth.
What Different Branches of Astrology Are There?
- Horary Astrology
- Medical Astrology
Horary astrology is a form of ancient astrology that aims at answering a question by casting a chart for the exact time at which the question is asked. It is then interpreted by an astrologer. While the answer might be a simple yes or no, Horary astrology is generally more detailed and complex. It can provide insights like the motives of the person asking the question (known as the querent), the motives of other people involved in the situation, and the various options available to remedy the situation.
This school of astrology uses its own specific system (the house system is called Regiomontanus). The houses and planetary aspects are the main focus. The person asking the question is represented by the ascendant (the ruler of the sign of the first house) in the reading. In Horary astrology the planetary rulers of the houses in question are top priority. The planetary aspects to the house cusps are also more important than in other branches.
For example, a Horary chart is read by first assigning the thing that’s being asked about (the quesited) to a certain house in the chart. Someone asking about their career would be assigned to the 10th house, since this house rules careers, ambition and and success. The house cusp of the 10th house will be in a certain zodiac sign, for this example let’s say Taurus. Since Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus, Venus is considered the significator of the (subject in question). And Venus’ place in the horoscope (and its aspects, etc.) will give clues about the question being asked.
It’s important to note that Horary astrology is used for serious inquiries only (not for entertainment purposes). While it’s helpful in figuring out broad situations and general answers, it shouldn’t be relied on for smaller-scale inquiries.
Traditional Medical astrology is a branch of practice that aims to help diagnose ailments, illnesses and diseases by using the elements, signs, houses and planets, in many cases in a preventative capacity. The hope/purpose of predictive Medical astrology is that it can be used to diagnose a disease before the symptoms present themselves, therefore leading to a positive final outcome. Because Medical astrology is a complex system that requires a great deal of time and thought in order to treat someone effectively, however, it’s one of the more difficult astrological methods to use accurately.
When used properly, however, Medical astrology can be extremely helpful in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of health issues. By using the four elements (fire = yellow choler which is hot/dry, air = blood which is hot/moist, earth = black choler which is cold/dry and water = phlegm which is cold/moist) as building blocks to pinpoint imbalances in the body, Medical astrology aims to find those imbalances (for example too much fire indicates that our body is too hot and too dry, too much earth means we’re too cold and too dry, and so on) and offer suggestions on how to restore harmony and equilibrium.
A horary chart is one method that can be used in Medical astrology, which is cast based on when someone’s symptoms first appeared. A Medical astrologer can use elemental imbalances in conjunction with connecting the signs/houses with the body part they represent to configure aspecting planets and what they represent in that specific chart. The results can be very helpful when trying to pinpoint certain medical conditions resulting from those specific symptoms.
A medical astrologer can also use a person’s birth chart to determine which types of imbalances they might suffer in their lifetime. The four elements of Medical astrology can be used in conjunction with the planetary placements in a birth chart to get a more accurate outlook regarding potential/chronic problems with specific body parts, severity/duration of illnesses, probable outcome, and remedies/suggestions to cure various medical issues/problems.