Wednesday, November 28, 2012


"Jesus was born years earlier than thought".......I understand that this was, actually, relatively old news, but brought back to light by none other than The Pope in a new book.
"The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC."
I read the above linked article from The Telegraph, along with part of the 90 page comment thread. What kept buzzing around in my mind, and what I've still not established to my satisfaction is: what about astrology? What about the dates used in astrological ephemerides since... for ever? Is the year astrologers think of as 2012 really 2019 or 2014, 2016?

I know that the dating style of BC (Before Christ) and AD (Year of Our Lord) are now mostly replaced by BCE and CE (Before/Common Era/Christian Era), but the dates themselves do not change. Calendar changes resulting from Julian to Gregorian calculation encountered by astrologers when dealing with natal charts of persons born before certain points in the 16th/17th/18th centuries necessitate adjustment of the information contained in astro-ephemerides in common use. Properly, such dates when quoted are noted as being OS or NS (Old Style or New Style).

I've Google searched this. I can find only astrological material discussing any possible conjunction which might have accounted for the brightness of that exceptionally brilliant star allegedly seen by shepherds and The Wise Men; but could find nothing pertaining to my particular query.

So where do we stand as regards this current conundrum? For instance, what about the now famous Mayan end-of-cycle date falling on 21 December 2012 - has that actual time been and gone when we weren't even looking? Was The Year 2000 really the millennium? Does it matter?

Can anyone straighten out the multiple kinks in my brain on this, please? Am I missing something crucial? Is this something akin to searching for one's spectacles when already wearing 'em? I must be missing something really basic, or astrologers would be talking about this issue non-stop, and they're not - as far as I have been able to determine.


mike said...

You pose a question that has an ambiguous answer, Twilight! One cannot compare distinctly different calendars without knowing how each calendar is calculated, and there has to be a reference point in both. Einstein had it right with his "it's all relative to the observed and the observer" view.

This website provides a very scientific explanation of our most modern calculation of time measurement to determine a "day":

A wiki article regarding calendar reform, historical to present:

A calendar converter with some interesting details for each type of calendar:

Regarding Mayan calendar and 12-21-12:
Mark Van Stone comments that the Mayan calendar is still in use by timekeepers in the highlands of Guatemala, so can be extrapolated to the Gregorian calendar, but the date is probably 12-23-12.

An interesting note is that the Gregorian calendar is cyclical and has a greater error than the Mayan calendar, which is linear time keeping.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Thanks for this. I believe I've puzzled over some of those links already, though, and come up empty! I do understand the Julian/Gregorian transition fairly clearly, that's about all, at least in context of astrology - which is my main query.

My main concern, probably a bit blurred in my post, is regarding the date reference points used in astrology - western astrology, which are taken from an ephemeris.

There has to have been a "year zero" used.

Wiki's page on that and mentioning astronomer's calculations:

Whereas our individual years are set, broadly, by the progress of seasons, the progress and positions of the outer planets: Pluto,Neptune, Uranus depend more on longer spans of time, calculated from a "start point", "year zero", If that "start point" were found to have been mistakenly chosen, and needed to be adjusted by, say 7 of our years, wouldn't that send many calculations in astrology out of kilter?

We take, for example the year 1950,
as being a given number of years from, in our western case, the birth of Christ. If Christ were born 7 years earlier, our ephemeris, if calculated from a year zero not accounting for any discrepancy in the birth year of Christ, must not be accurate.

Maybe there isn't an answer. It's all arbitrary, I guess, and can only be so because we don't know when the true year zero really was (minus Christ's birth) - when our outer planets first began their transits.

That being so, aren't we expecting a lot from astrology if we expect precise prediction, or any prediction other than a broad brushed one?

What about personality traits then?
These rely on the inner planets, less doubt, other than when the slow-moving outers are brought in.

Some astrologer, somewhere, must surely have considered this and come up with a solution?

mike said...

You mention astrological points from an ephemeris...this is calculating a chart using sidereal time. To calculate the chart, local birth time is converted to GMT to sidereal time, then the ST is again corrected for that particular year of birth. A sidereal year = 365.256 days and is the time it takes the Earth to make one revolution around the sun relative to a fixed star. A tropical year is the Earth's movement from 0Aries back to 0Aries, or about twenty minutes less than a sidereal year. A sidereal year will add about one day every 72 years, due to precession of the equinoxes.

Calculating a chart, the corrected sidereal time is looked-up in the Table of Houses to determine the Asc and MC. I use the Rosicrucian's Table of Houses (actually, I use software now!), which is corrected for Tropical-based astrology.

Bottom line, since I'm calculating using sidereal time, everything remains constant over time, regardless what decade or century, ASSUMING THAT I'M USING THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR. This is also why the sun's entry into another sign is not fixed by exact fluctuates back-and-forth depending on the year, but is always within a two day span. We have 365 days/yr for three years, then we have a 366 day year called leap year.

The position of the Earth relative to the Sun by sidereal time allows for any other celestial object to be known and position calculated with accuracy, simply by observing them with a telescope and delineating each object relative to the constellations.

As for JCs birthday:
"This is illustrated by the adoption of the birth of Christ as the initial epoch of the Christian calendar. This epoch was established by the sixth-century scholar Dionysius Exiguus, who was compiling a table of dates of Easter. An existing table covered the nineteen-year period denoted 228-247, where years were counted from the beginning of the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Dionysius continued the table for a nineteen-year period, which he designated Anni Domini Nostri Jesu Christi 532-550. Thus, Dionysius' Anno Domini 532 is equivalent to Anno Diocletian 248. In this way a correspondence was established between the new Christian Era and an existing system associated with historical records. What Dionysius did not do is establish an accurate date for the birth of Christ. Although scholars generally believe that Christ was born some years before A.D. 1, the historical evidence is too sketchy to allow a definitive dating."

I think you are "over-thinking" this! Have a glass of vino...

Twilight said...

mike ~~~ (wiping sweat from brow)..
Phew. I've only ever used astrology software to calculate charts, and an ephemeris to look up bits and pieces of information as to future positions of planets. I'd probably be a lot less of a doofus if I'd ever drawn a natal chart from scratch myself, but my mathematical ability is such that I was turned off from that, and therefore didn't get as far into astrology as I'd have liked, much earlier in life.

Anyway....let's see....yes, sidereal time can't be argued with.
I get that - it's calculated by the position of stars vis a vis Earth...but the number we put on the segment of time we're dealing with CAN be argued with - there are numerous types of calendars both now and throughout history.

So our current calendar years are numbered and labelled via a modification of a previous numbering system counted from the beginning of Diocletian's reign in Rome. Hmmmm. But, but...

I AM overthinking it, for sure, Mike - but once I get started......

I wish I could just identify the nub of what's bugging me

....the planetary placements we use are correct by "star time" (I'll call it). That's good! The labels we put on segments of time are not that important and have been meddled with throughout history more than once and there are several variations on our system, even now.


What we do not and cannot know is at what point in the cycles of outer planets we are now, or how many previous cycles had completed before someone looked through the first telescope and found the first outer planet. Or before Diocletian's lot started labelling yearly dates. Astronomers are aware of at least two cycles of Pluto (I think) within our calendar, so can calculate backwards for presumed earlier ones.

I will stop there......I promise!

Thanks for acting as a kind of cats' scratching post for me on this.

James Higham said...

No, Twilight, it's 2008 recycled - seems like it.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ In some ways, I guess it does.

I've just finished reading Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End", a line from the last pages struck home in view of this post:

"time is more complex than your science ever imagined"...spoken by a being of another race.

Maybe we're in "a tight fold".

Wisewebwoman said...

It seems to me, T, and not to be flip or anything that another "clock" should be used for astro-time and other methods ignored? Does this make sense?

mike (again) said...

OK, Twilight...fess up...which of these activities have you been up to?

0 A.D., a free, open-source, cross-platform real-time strategy game.
In the film The Beach, Leonardo DiCaprio's character is, during his mental instability, crazed about the term Year 0.
Year Zero is a theatrical play that highlights the everyday struggles of a Cambodian-American family.
The fictitious theologian Franz Bibfeldt's most famous work relates to the year 0: a 1927 dissertation submission to the University of Worms entitled "The Problem of the Year 0".
Germany, Year Zero is a 1948 film directed by Roberto Rossellini set in post-WWII Germany.
Tokyo Year Zero is a novel by English author David Peace set in post-WWII Tokyo which depicts the occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers.
The 1985 film Back to the Future shows the date December 25 0000 on the time circuits display of the DeLorean time machine as a joke and example of choice for witnessing the birth of Christ.
"Year Zero" is an album by the industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails, and is a concept album and Alternate Reality Game based on a post-apocalyptic earth.

mike (again) said...

P.S. Whether one uses paper and pencil or astrological software, the result is almost the same...actually, software is more precise. I LOVE my frees my time to directly address and study the astrology. I've had so many questions about astrological variations over the years that software makes so easy to examine, compare, and find answers for myself.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ It does make sense, WWW, and in fact the astrological ephemeris is a kind of clock, or calendar but in book form; or the astro chart for each day and each hour can be seen - for example at this site "Current Astro Weather",ma

or via any astrology software.

Twilight said...

mike ~~~ WOW!! None of the above - I promise! But I might, now you've mentioned them!!

The matter of when it all began has bothered me for a long time.
See this post from 2009, for instance: "In the Beginning - When?"

I love my software too - though I certainly do not put it to use to its full extent. But I do think it would have been of benefit to have experienced the actual mechanics of calculating & drawing a chart.

Trish said...

We have been able to discern with modern astronomical tools where the planets are for a few hundred years. The ephemerides are correct. What "year" we are in, is based on common agreement. Who the heck cares when Jesus was born? It's 2012 because we say it is!

Twilight said...

Trish ~~ While I admire your certainty, I cannot share it.

I don't care when Jesus was born, or even if he ever WAS born - that aspect of my query was mentioned because our dating system relies on the date Jesus was allegedly it does have my mind anyway.

Common agreement as to where we are in the vastness of time is convenient - but unlikely to be anywhere near accurate. But as it's all we have we'll make do - for now.