Initially with the sidereal V’s tropical debate I thought, “They can’t BOTH be right”. A member of our old Myspace forum, Phil, said: “The reason why the signs can seem like nonsense is because we’ve lost sight of their core character.” This is very true and I think it’s because of an unconscious blending of signs with their neighbours. This is most probably due to having to accommodate this sidereal and tropical paradox.
Further reading has enlightened me as to how both these Zodiacs can be used without either being “wrong”: “….. tropical astrology lends itself more to looking at the personality-level experience of a person, while sidereal astrology lends itself to viewing the more transcendent patterns and cycles of growth occurring for the durative soul in the incarnation. This is also why sidereal astrology is more ideal for exploring the nature of soul growth for the entire collective consciousness on Earth. You might also consider the tropical system to be looking upward from the incarnate experience, as the spiritually aspiring incarnate personality; while the sidereal system is looking downward upon the incarnate person from the soul-aware level of consciousness.” – Nick Anthony Fiorenza.” From The Lunar Planner Forum.
The signs are very obvious when you first look at a chart. If you see a Stellium in Capricorn. That’s what grabs you initially. If you see an aspect pattern, that is also what you focus on. These are usually the first things that hit you when you meet a person, their magnetism and general energy. Gradually you peel the onion. You deal with the personality traits (Aspects) that come out after you have known them for a while. The aspects, angles and fixed stars are common for both systems, so they really are the heart and soul of the person.
The Tropical system is a seasonal construct, it is more connected with mundane matters. I think it would be more to do with how your nearest and dearest expect you to be on this earth. Of course those expectations that are projected on you are absorbed and you begin to behave that way. This won’t be such a big deal for most people, but stelliums in particular start to feel rather one dimensional. As someone who has tropically 4 personal planets and an MC in Aquarius, it’s hard for any Astrologer to not say how much I value my freedom, that I am incredibly humanitarian, am original, inventive etc etc.. But I got bored of hearing that, so much of my fire was missing. Until I discovered fixed stars!
For a while I toyed with the idea of using the sidereal Zodiac, which is atleast more connected to the constellations from whence it came. But it’s not perfect. There are not 12 exact 30 degs divisions over those constellations either and we are missing Ophiuchus which also falls along the ecliptic. At least acknowledging there is a sidereal Zodiac throws into question how signs should be used and how much importance to give them, but in the end I chose to discard it anyway. I found even the Siderealists couldn’t agree with where to start their Zodiac either which added yet more confusion and it got very frustrated not being on the same page as 99% of western Astrologers.
UPDATE! This article was written back in 2009. I have since changed some of my views expressed here, and will update this article when I have time. Since studying Traditional Astrology there is a lot more I could write why the Tropical Zodiac is not wrong and how both approaches can work. Essentially using the fixed stars IS bringing the sidereal zodiac into the tropical frame work. The tropical zodiac using rulerships is rich with meaning, and originally it was less about personalty and psychological traits and more about the condition of the signs ruler and its dignity. Specific character traits in my view actually come from the fixed stars, though tropical zodiac signs can give a general idea. See Zodiac Signs & National Stereotypes