Today I got a question from a client of mine who has been experimenting with Vedic astrology. He was wondering about his sun sign because in the Vedic system of astrology, he's a Leo, but in Western astrology, he's a Virgo. He said he was really identifying with the creativity of Leo and feeling stifled by Virgo. He was unsure of which sign he really is and asked me which one was "real".
I really welcome this kind of question. It really opens the door to think about what astrology really is and what it can do beyond simplistic categorization of personality traits. It's an elegant system, but it is by no means as tidy as we'd like to think. Many people who are against or ambivalent about astrology balk at it because they can't believe that life can be reduced to 12 boxes–and they're right.
But even in more complex astrology, there is still the great mystery of life and its meaning. Astrology, like many other tools used to try and divine meaning and truth (psychology and other sciences are among them, not just tools of the so-called 'new age'), is not about definites, but about the act itself: sitting in the question and using a tool to focus one's attention on the question often yields results, even if that tools is simply two hands folded in prayer, to any god you like.
So here's what I told my client. What would you have said?
First of all, it makes sense that you'd identify with Leo to some extent. Leo is firey and you have two very strong elements in fire: Sagittarius rising and Sagittarius south node in the first house (possibly the most firey of all influences in your chart). Also, you have Venus in Leo. So there are plenty of factors in your western chart to 'explain' the identification with Leo.Second, you might be going through something personal right now that wants to embody what you think Leo represents. Just for speculation, I could imagine that if someone was feeling thwarted or stifled for reasons they are unsure of or aren't sure what to do about, then identifying with a symbol that seems to mean more freedom and creativity would certainly give them hope, "true" or not.This would be less of an astrological right or wrong thing as much as what symbols, metaphors, and archetypes speak to you, inside and outside of astrology. Astrology doesn't 'make you', it's just labels, and it can be useful because understanding the labels sometimes helps you understand more about what's inside. So if you don't want to be a Virgo because you don't like the sign, in a way you can't just change the label and make it true, yet in another way, the label doesn't actually matter anyway in a sense that it's what's inside that matters – the label is only to aid in deciphering the inside. "Mislabeling" something wouldn't change what it is, only the perception of what it is.And third, perhaps the Vedic system as metaphor and philosophy just makes more sense to you. There are plenty of people form whom that's true (try almost ALL of India at least!) That's a big question that astrologers can't really agree on an answer to amongst themselves anyway. Some astrologers have tried to reconcile it by saying Vedic seems more true for fateful, event-based questions and Western for personality/psychology. Some choose sides. For me, I honestly (and not just to be politically correct, but sincerely) think whatever tool you use, western astrology, vedic astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, dice, tea leaves, phrenology, throwing the bones, runes, or any other silly thing is merely just a tool through which to 'scry', to divine meaning. So they are all 'real' to me, so long as as they are used skillfully and with clear intent. So, this, in a way, is a discomforting answer if you're looking for definition or certainty. But it's an answer that permits a lot of personal experimentation and freedom.One more thing: astrology is truly only as good as its interpreter. Each sign and planet have a spectrum of traits and that spectrum is wide. Many people, for example, will think that their sign doesn't fit them at all, when really it's not the sign that's flawed, it's the narrow and sometimes poor interpretations of fallible humans trying to dumb down a vast archetype into 20 'key'words or less. Hence everyone thinking that Scorpios are all about sex, and Virgos are always critical and all Cancers think about is having babies. Pop astrology and the true art of astrology are frighteningly far apart.
Whatever the reason for questioning one's astrological 'label', you are the final word on you.
Incidentally, a very interesting book was written a few years back called Under One Sky, in which several different astrologers employing different astrological interpretation techniques analyzed the same chart. Quite interesting!