What's Your Sign?
Western (Tropical) Sun Signs Vedic (Sidereal, Indian) Sun Signs
March 21 – April 19 (Aries) Apr 14 - May 14 (Aries)
April 20 - May 20 (Taurus) May 15 - Jun 14 (Taurus)
May 21 - Jun 20 (Gemini) Jun 15 - Jul 15 (Gemini)
Jun 21 - Jul 22 (Cancer) Jul 16 - Aug 16 (Cancer)
July 23 - Aug 22 (Leo) Aug 17 - Sep 16 (Leo)
Aug 23 – Sept 22 (Virgo) Sep 17 - Oct 16 (Virgo)
Sept 23 - Oct 22 (Libra) Oct 17 - Nov 15 (Libra)
Oct 23 - Nov 21 (Scorpio) Nov-16- Dec 15 (Scorpio)
Nov 22 - Dec 21 (Sagittarius) Dec 16 - Jan 13 (Sagittarius)
Dec 22 – Jan 19 (Capricorn) Jan 14 – Feb 12 (Capricorn)
Jan 20 - Feb 18 (Aquarius) Feb 13 - Mar 13 (Aquarius)
Feb 19 - Mar 20 (Pisces) Mar 14 - Apr 13 (Pisces)
The Western astrology that I first learned uses the tropical system. This zodiac is centered around the movement of the Sun and coincides with the seasons: the sign of Aries is associated with spring (March 21 – April 19), Cancer coincides with the start of summer (June 21 – July 22), Libra is assigned to the fall season (September 23 – October 22), and the sign of Capricorn ends the year during winter (December 22 – January 19).
Vedic astrology uses the sidereal system. The dates of the zodiacal signs correspond to the actual location of the constellation in which the Sun is situated in the sky. The Earth rotates on a tilted axis, and with the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon the equatorial area bulges, causing the tilted axis to wobble during its revolution around the Sun, similar to the fanning out of a skater’s skirt as she spins.
To illustrate this, imagine your head is the Earth and tilt it to the right to simulate the angulation of Earth’s axis. Sit on a chair that swivels and spin around in a circle. It’s hard to keep your head at the same slant because of the centrifugal force, the acceleration that acts outwardly away from the center of rotation. With the sway of your head, the direction of your gaze is changed slightly, even though your head has the same slant.
This is similar to what happens to Earth because of the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon on the equator. This wobble or precession doesn’t change Earth’s tilt, but the orientation changes. Every 26,000 years, the direction that the Earth’s rotational axis points to in the sky makes one complete revolution, a circle, so that the axis does not point exactly in the same direction, shifting the view of the sky.
The sidereal calendar system takes into account this wobble, such that the Sun is viewed in the constellation of Aries from April 14 – May 14, in Cancer from July 16 – August 16, in Libra from October 17 – November 15, and in Capricorn from January 14 – February 12.
I likened the differences between these two interpretations, between the Western (tropical) and Vedic (sidereal) systems, as similar to the medical subspecialties’ point of view of the body. In general, neurologists treat the electrical system of the body. The cardiologist is concerned with heart function. The gastroenterologist makes sure that the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and excrete waste products functions normally. My physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty deals with optimizing the function of muscles and nerves to improve quality of life. The physicians in the subspecialties place their emphasis on different organs but are aware that the function of all the tissues is interrelated. No organ functions in isolation. Together they comprise the human body, with each specialty having a specific point of view.
Whether viewed from a Western tropical or Vedic sidereal point of view, the science regarding the planets, the constellations, and the characteristics assigned to them are similar in both Western and Vedic astrology. Regardless of whether tropical or sidereal astrology is used, the planets, Sun, and Moon have the same positions relative to each other in the sky. The subtleties in interpretation reflect differences in the mythology and traditions of the culture from which the system originated. I was still the same person no matter which system described me.