The Mystery of the Zodiac
by Ernst Wilhelm www.vedic-astrology.net
The path of the Sun, which is known as the ecliptic is dividedinto twelve divisions of thirty degrees each. The common Sanskrit word for one of these divisions is a Rasi. Rasi means “a group, aquantity, a mass, etc.” In the context of astrology, as well as inmathematics, it refers to the quantity of 30 degrees of an arc, whichposses the colorful names of the twelve signs of the Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius,Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
Rasis and the Zodiac are generally considered to be a very simple aspect of astrology, with little room for mystery. However,the world is divided in its interpretation of exactly how to calculatea Rasi. The Greeks, Persians, Egyptians and the modern world of Europe along with its offspring in the Americas consider a Rasi tobe a thirty degree arc of the ecliptic as measured from the VernalEquinox (the position of the Sun as it crosses the equator on thefirst day of spring). This is known as the Tropical Zodiac. The EastIndians, on the other hand, consider a Rasi to likewise be a thirty degree arc of the ecliptic, but as measured from some fixed point of the starry heavens. This is known as the Sidereal Zodiac. Thisdifference in thought is a serious handicap to astrology as a science. While some astrologers have the tolerance to accept both views asthere being “many paths,” and “more ways than one to skin a cat,”the astrologer with a critical and scientific mind will appreciate theneed for the definitions of astrology to be accurately defined andthere being precise and scientific methods of astrological practice which are replicable and worth following as compared to sloppy methods which are no better than imaginative guesswork. Thoughthe intuitive astrologer can have skilled and enviable “guesswork,”his use of astrology does not fulfill the scientific requirements of replicability and techniques that can be passed down to students.