The who, what, where, when, why, and how of this site
At Home in the Universe
I’m Stephen Russell, Vedic Astrologer and student of Dr. David Frawley, available to assist you with a range of services based on the ancient practice of Jyotisha Vedanga or Vedic Astrology.
Jyotish originated more than 5000 years ago on the foothills of the Himalayas in northwest India. There, on the banks of the Saraswati River, rose a civilization that would transmit to the world Jyotish, Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, and other Vedic Sciences. From the earliest iterations of the ancient Rishis to the present day, the practice of reading the energetic movement of matter and the concurrent events, possibilities, and challenges represented by the patterns formed has benefited countless generations of seekers toward expanded consciousness and transcendent wisdom.
I first became aware of Jyotish — sometimes called Vedic Astrology — in 2017 when my wife gifted me with a birthday reading from a Jyotishi. The information proved unexpectedly helpful as I faced significant changes and challenges in my physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual state. Seeing the benefits almost at once, I undertook to learn how to read the patterns and movement in my Vedic Chart for myself. Eventually, I met others who had an interest in personal improvement and were willing to learn and grow with me. Some are students, some practitioners, the majority are simply people interested in getting the most out of themselves and the time of their lives.
I began studying Dr. David Frawley’s Ayurvedic Astrology course through the American Institute of Vedic Studies in early 2018 and received my certificate of successful completion in July 2020. I retired from a long career in management in September 2018 and now spend my time learning and consulting as a Vedic Astrologer, teaching an online literature course, and continuing to explore the connections between living energy and matter. I believe my goal is the same as that of the universe, to move and grow toward a state of balance, unity, expanded consciousness, and ultimate freedom. For individuals seeking to make sense of this many-faceted cosmos wherein all life is found, Jyotisha Vedanga, the science of light, exists as an extraordinary helpmate.
This site operates as a point of contact for those seeking to better understand their own lives, their place in space and time, and the opportunities, benefits, challenges, and lessons of experience and awareness from this lifetime and beyond. Here are links to the paid services I offer, access to free information about Jyotish via this blog, and soon to come a library of both free and paid resources for those interested in becoming Jyotish practitioners both for themselves and others.
Like most wisdom, the learning never ends in the Vedic Sciences. The discoveries of the past fifty centuries are really just restatements of the source and substance of creation, growth, depletion, and renewal. Availing ourselves of this wisdom allows us to do our part in the endless cycle of life as we seek freedom through understanding and aligning with the twin forces of karma and dharma.
Bhagavad Gita Background from the Mahabharata Epic
1. The Kauravas are the blind king Dhritarashtra and his 100 sons.
2. The Pandavas are Dhritarashtra’s younger brother Pandu and his five sons.
3. Seeking to possess all of the ancestral property, formerly shared between them, the Kauravas challenged the Panduvas to a rigged game of dice. The eldest Pandava brother accepted the challenge, not knowing the game was rigged.
4. After losing the Pandavas were exiled to the forest for 12 years and then required to return but remain incognito for an additional year or face another thirteen year period of the same. Only by completing the cycle successfully could they reclaim their inheritance.
5. At the end of the cycle, the Pandavas sent Lord Krishna to the Kauravas to reclaim their birthright.
6. The eldest Kauravas son, Duryodhana, insulted Krishna and declared he would not give up so much as a needle-point of ground unless the Pandavas took it by force.
7. Krishna and Pandava brother Arjuna went to Duryodhana to try and negotiate a peaceful settlement. When it became apparent war was inevitable, Krishna proposed that he would grant one side a superior army and the other would have him as a counselor and observer, but in no way would he fight on either side.
8. Giving both sides time to consider his offer he fell asleep.
9. When he awoke, arrogant Duryodhana had taken a position on his level, standing before the great Lord, so Krishna would see him first, hoping to be given first choice—he wanted the superior army.
10. Arjuna was prostate several steps below Krishna’s resting place in obeisance. Krishna ignored Duryodhana and offered Arjuna the first choice. To Duryodhana’s delight Arjuna immediately asked for Krishna as counselor to the Pandavas, giving the superior army to the Kauravas.
11. The battle was to take place on the holy plain of Kurukshetra. The Pandavas would be led by Dhristaduyumna, brother-in-law of Arjuna (and in a strange incestuous twist, of all five Pandava brothers), a ferocious warrior trained in combat by the leader of the Kauravas, grand sire of the Kuru family, Bhishmacharya.
12. On the eve of the battle, the great sage Vyasa (author of the Vedas and father of Dhritarashtra in some texts) came to blind Dhritarashtra and offered to restore his sight that he might witness the fighting, a war that seemed heavily weighted toward the vastly superior numbers of Kauruvas, including all 100 brothers. Dhritarashtra declined, saying he would prefer to hear news as it progressed.
13. Vyasa gave Dhritarashtra’s charioteer and chief adviser Sanjaya the gift of Divine sight, that he might report events at Kurukshetra to his blind master while the king remained safely in his palace.
14. For ten days the battle raged with the Kauravas killing one hundred thousand Pandava warriors before Bhishmacharya was killed and … I’ll save the outcome for later as it is in the Mahabharata that the actual fighting unfolds.
15. After the tenth day, Dhritarashtra summoned Sanjaya for news from the battlefield. Sanjaya’s report makes up the 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita.
Outline of this Section to be presented in 3 Lessons.
Two different ways of calculating the Zodiac – Tropical and Sidereal / Understanding the relationship between Astronomical Maps and Astrological Birth Charts as moments in time and space.
Creating birth charts – Required information and decisions to consider for beginners / The effect of using date, time and place of birth; effects of an inaccurate birth time; methods of clarifying an official birth time; options for a reading when the birth time has been lost.
The BIG 3 in both the North and South Indian systems / A metaphor for understanding the role, prioritization, and differences between Signs, Houses, and Planets / Why we might choose one system over another.
LESSON ONE – TWO ZODIACS BASED ON METHOD OF CALCULATION
The above image is an antique Planisphere or map of the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the night sky centered on the poles. Modern planispheres have rotating disks that extend outside of the starfield and allow the user to set the date and time in order to establish which direction to look in order to see any specific object. These maps have been used by skywatchers for centuries and modern versions exist as apps that we can carry on our mobile devices. Planispheres are primarily used for identifying constellations, bright stars, and sometimes distant galaxies as well as our own Milky Way. Generally, the printed versions do not have planetary placements but the digital forms often have the whole vault of the sky represented in real time including all of the known planets.
An astrological chart is another form of sky map, focused on the ecliptic, the path the sun travels each year, as viewed from the location of the person or event whose chart we are looking at. The placement of all twelve sun signs, including those hidden below the horizon along with the planets, sun, moon, and the two eclipse points will be indicated. In addition, mathematical points that have special meanings in astrology may also be indicated on the astrological chart.
The birth chart, then, is a symbolic representation of the twelve sun signs in relation to the planets according to the date, time, and place of birth. It is not meant for navigational purposes and is only partially useful for star or planet gazing. Astronomically, it could serve as a rough calendar based on placements of the sun and moon and here we find the first significant difference between the Vedic and Western System.
The images above represent two ways of laying out the Zodiac, the twelve constellations the Sun travels through in a year along the yellow oval called the ecliptic. The upper graphic is the Sidereal Zodiac. It is what is used in Vedic Astrology. The blue oval represents the earth’s equator extended outward to where it intersects the ecliptic at two points on opposite sides of the Zodiac. Sidereal calculation takes account of the known wobble in the earth’s axis of rotation that causes the equatorial intersections to move backward through the Zodiac in a cycle of 24,000 to 26,000 years. This happens because the equator is always at 90 degrees to the polar axis so the wobble (like a top slowing down) changes the intersection point of the equator by one degree approximately every 72 years.
The lower graphic is the Tropical Zodiac as calculated by Greek astronomers approximately 2000 years ago. Although the Greeks probably knew of the wobble in the earth’s axis they did not take it into account in setting up Western Astrology. Consequently, the equator’s intersection point is always said to be at zero degrees of Aries on one side of the Zodiac and zero degrees of Libra on the opposite. These points are the Equinoxes, where the Sun’s crossing puts it directly over the equator at the beginning of Spring and Fall in the Northern Hemisphere (with the seasons reversed in the Southern sky). For this reason, Western Astrology, as established by the Greeks always states that the Sun enters Aries on the first day of Spring and Libra on the first day of fall.
In truth, based on the slow rotation of the wobble, the Sun currently enters Aries on April 15 or 16 each year and Libra on October 15 or 16. The equinoxes still happen in March and September but the Sun is actually just shy of 6 degrees Pisces on the first day of Spring and 6 degrees of Virgo on the first day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere. This accounts for the 24 degrees of backward movement since the time of the Greeks. Vedic astronomers were aware of this wobble and figured it into all of their calculations centuries and possibly millennia before the Greek Zodiac appeared.
Sidereal astrology uses the actual placement of stars and planets against the constellations rather than basing their locations on a location that was accurate 2000 years ago. For this reason, five out of six people have their Sun Sign in the preceding one from what is commonly presented in Western horoscopes. This is not meant as an indictment of the accuracy of Western Astrology. Just as the placements are calculated differently so too are the meanings attributed to the planets and signs in the Western school different. Both systems work for studying astrology in their own way. However, understanding that unless you were born between approximately the 15th and 21st day of the month following what you identify as your Western Sun Sign, the Sun was actually in the one preceding it in the Vedic system.
To give an example. I was born on the 11th day of June, with my Sun in Gemini according to Western Tropical Astrology. But the Sun actually is located in Taurus in my Vedic chart and that is actually where it was on the day I was born. It didn’t enter Gemini until about three and one-third-days after my birth.
Unlike a Planisphere, which shows the whole map of the sky and uses rotating outer disks to establish directions (East, North, South, and West) based on date, time, and place, a birth chart will show the locations of planets based either on the tropical or sidereal zodiac. Placing planets within constellations, birth charts take into account the latitude and longitude of the birthplace. This makes a person’s birth chart unique. Many charts can look similar or even the same but precise measurement in degrees, minutes, and seconds (all measures of distance in celestial navigation) reveals the differences. In Vedic astrology, these minute measurements, based on the exact location of celestial objects relative to the Zodiac and ecliptic, make a crucial difference in differentiating individuals as we work with the chart and reports generated from them. This will be explained in future lessons.
To end this lesson, the image below shows two birth charts for AA Founder Bill Wilson, one a Vedic Sidereal chart in the North Indian style and the other a chart calculated using Tropical methodology. Note the difference in the Sun’s placement as indicated by the red arrow.
In the Vedic chart (blue) the Sun is at 11 deg 26 min of Scorpio. In the Western chart (circular) it moves to 3 deg 51 min of Sagittarius, a difference of 22 deg 25 minutes.
This difference between the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiac is called the Ayanamsha and increases each year by 48-52 arc seconds due to the wobble in the earth’s axis. As of 2010 the Ayanamsha was 24 degrees, putting the Sun’s actual location at 6 degrees of Pisces on Spring Equinox. Please keep in mind it is not just the Sun moving. The entire system of planets must relocate based on the Ayanamsha. Planets in high western degrees (24 and above) will remain in the same sign. Those below the degree of change will fall backwards.
If you received a birth chart from me, please look at the placement of the Sun for comparison. Did your sign change from the one you commonly identify with? If so, consider what that might mean for understanding your life. There is no right or wrong answer here, but when a paradigm is affected by new information, our sense of who we are based on that paradigm is generally altered. I know that for me moving from Gemini to Taurus, even if I didn’t fully understand the meaning at the time, initiated a major shift in my thinking.
Gemini operates from a language based approach to life. This means it is words that create meaning and engagement for Gemini. Taurus is slower to attach to a life experience, needing time to think through what is being presented and examine it from a practical standpoint. Gemini is flexible and often impulsive, using words to fill out gaps created by its quick intellectual grasp of new material. Taurus compares new experiences to the rules it believes govern life. Until it sees a practical fit, it remains thoughtful rather than engaged in action.
Feel free to discuss your thoughts on this lesson in the comments.
When I established this page in 2021, one of my goals was to empower readers with fundamentals of Vedic Astrology so they could begin to use the principles in their lives. Keeping in mind that Jyotisha Vedanga (Sanskrit for the Science of Light, the original form of this practice) began as an attempt to manage reality through the creation of a calendar, I believe that anyone willing to suspend their disbelief for a year can learn enough to receive benefits of relating planetary movement to quality of life. The benefits accrue through a combination of personal experience aligned with concurrent planetary positions of the past applied to present and possible future situations.
To give an example: Most of us have likely experienced a situation at home, school, or work like the following. You have an important deadline to meet with a high quality standard attached to it. This might be an assignment in school, a project or task on the job, or a responsibility at home requiring preparation, planning, and skillful execution. Something happens that interferes with proper preparation and suddenly the deadline is upon us. We do our best but are certain that our efforts are doomed to failure. Yet, for reasons we cannot explain, the outcome exceeds the most outlandish expectations we ever had despite our not doing what all would agree was essential work. Conversely, in a similar situation we prepare to the nth degree and complete the activity on or ahead of time at a level of quality we are confident will earn all of the merit we attached to the project. But, again inexplicably, the results are mediocre or worse, a complete failure.
Situations like this and the subtle energies that underpin them are exactly what metaphysical practices are designed for. Concurrences and coincidences when they repeat predictably even with no physical cause or so-called “hard evidence” have an unmistakeable ring of truth once we let go of our learned skepticism.
I didn’t accept this the first time or even the five hundredth time I heard and witnessed such things, but over time I have come to realize that “Who, What, Where, and When” of any experience concurrent with any repeated pattern in the metaphysical world are likely to be subject to energetic causes that are beyond our capabilities to measure or even to understand. The “Why and How” remain out of reach except as myth, legend, or metaphysical conclusion. Nonetheless, as Aristotle once noted in his essay on Concurrence and Coincidence, “Just because we don’t understand the mechanism operating in such matters doesn’t make them any less real, especially when we directly experience them.”
A fisherman in ancient India didn’t need to know that the tides were the result of gravitational effects involving the Sun and Moon. The “supernatural” story of a form of incomprehensible power inhabiting or acting on the waters and causing them to rise and fall in a predictable patterns was more than sufficient for the boats to launch and return with the tides, making the journey to and from the fishing ground more efficient. Understanding the concurrence of Solar position and Moon placement was sufficient to generate effective time tables regardless of the operating mechanism.
To that end, I am going to use most of my future blog posts to lay out what I hope will be an interesting and informative foundation for anyone interested in learning the basics of Jyotisha Vedanga (Vedic Astrology) to a degree sufficient to understand its usefulness for one’s own life. I will also be happy to provide a basic birth chart for anyone interested in applying the lessons to their own life. The chart will be provided at no charge. Participants will be able to post questions about their chart as it relates to each lesson and I will answer as many as time permits provided that they are related to the lesson and I have your permission to share the question and answer publicly on this blog, my social media pages dedicated to Jyotish, and as examples in future lectures or postings I may create as part of my professional practice. I will conceal all personal informtion as to your name and birth data (full date, time, and place) but will need to be able to put up the chart, the question, and my answer.
Private consultations about individual charts will be provided for a fee upon request. The only thing I am providing for free is a basic Vedic birth chart.
By the time a year of lessons are completed participants should know the basics of reading both North and South Indian Charts, differences between Vedic and Western astrology, how to track the movement of planets against their birth chart, and a variety of techniques for applying the data they collect on their personal charts to their individual lives.
One of the most important roles I have as a professional astrologer is to empower each person to become their own practitioner at a basic level, that is, to understand the tools you came into life with as represented by the signs, the power sources for operating those tools via the planets, and the affects produced by choosing different tools and power sources in relation to the timing of life lessons, opportunities, and challenging situations.
Many of us have said at least once that we wished humans were born with an operating manual. By learning to read the Vedic birth chart over time, you might come to believe, as I have, that such a manual exists written large in the movements of planets, the sun, moon, and eclipse points against the background of fixed stars.
Stay tuned for the first lesson, “Elements of a Vedic Astrology Chart,” coming soon. If you want your free birth chart to use for your own learning experience, email me directly at email@example.com. You will receive a response from me within 5 business days.
On this Thanksgiving holiday my prayer is for an awareness of how miraculous life is and how important each of us are to the collective continuity of the processes that support all of Life.
As I write this a stellium of planets (Venus, Mercury, Moon, and Sun) are in Scorpio. That brings the Source and sustenance of life, the Sun, into the sign of gathering all energies available to us and holding it until the inherent wisdom unfolds the best use of each energetic element. Scorpio acts strategically, constantly assessing the moment against past experiences in order to conserve its strength for times when strong action will have the greatest positive impact on the overall Life process. Actions of gratitude for Life and the lives we are privileged to be near are strongly supported today.
Of the other three planets in Scorpio, Venus wins the “planetary war” with Mercury bringing discernment, a sense of authenticity, desire for comfort, joy, and pleasures of association with loved ones. Mercury, curious and impulsive, slows enough under Sun/Venus influence to bring out its idealism and enthusiasm for life. This infectious and youthful joy is perfect for celebrating with those we love.
Moon is still depleted but in a day or two will gather strength to brighten toward the December full Moon in a couple of weeks. Saturday May be a better day to get out into the early holiday bustle compared to Friday.
There is a full Mars and Jupiter aspect on Scorpio. Mars is retrograde in Taurus, linking it to Venus (Ruler of Taurus) to help us take practical action. Consider needs versus wants and especially needs of others over personal desires to use Mars’s enormous retrograde strength for good karma.
Jupiter in its own transformative sign of Pisces brings unlimited possibilities for expansion but needs help understanding the difference between aspirations that are fantasies and those with imminent possibilities for manifesting. One area that is always available to grow and bring transcendent healing is through kindness toward others and ourselves.
I’m thankful today for all who have followed these postings this past year, and for the many among you who have allowed me to read your Vedic charts and share the gifts of Life as seen in the nature we are all part of.
Happy Thanksgiving to all the living beings everywhere.
A typical response to retrograde Mars (MarsRx) might be something like the title of this post.
In our culture many people associate retrograde planets with expansion and increase of life’s mundane hardships.
Mercury retrograde gets the credit or blame for mechanical and communication incidents. When disruptions to the technological side of existence leave us tongue-tied as we hit CTRL-ALT-DEL on our frozen devices over-and-over some sympathetic onlooker cheers us with, “Well, you know, Mercury retrograde. Shame, really.”
And there’s nothing like a VenusRx to bring up old injuries of the heart, making truth and trust bleed as scabs and scars get swept away in the long memories of our traumatized histories. “I don’t care if it’s been fourteen years. I still feel so violated.”
Jupiter’s Rx progressions often teach us what too much of a good thing really feels like, while Saturn in Rx patiently squeezes every drop of moisture from the foundations of our selfishness and externalized excuses for not behaving more kindly and patiently toward one another and ourselves.
But for purely dramatic force acting suddenly, with all the subtlety of a Roman Legion marching on hapless defenders of untenable positions, MarsRx lights up the sky like no other planet. And yes, Mars just went retrograde on October 30, 2022.
Start the countdown, because in the USA it’s election season followed by the year-end holidays in a cultural moment that is anything but calm. Mars Rx continues until January 12, 2023 and for the unaware it might be a wild ride.
For those who follow the sky and understand the concurrent effects (note I said concurrent, not causal!) it’s a great opportunity to find the practical in the curious, the higher organization contained in chaos, and a level of creative intelligence that can fire up the engines of strategic, conscious action in protective waves that allow for stabilization of fault lines in the mind and body even as the whole planet sometimes feels like it is breaking apart.
The real opportunity in facing retrograde energy is to understand who is really responsible for the moment-by-moment events in our lives. Hint: it isn’t any external force, not even planets.
Retrograde planets when seen from the earth appear to slow in their passage across the background of constellations before stopping and reversing course for a period of time. Then a second slowing and stopping, another reversal, and the resumption of forward motion. The visible effect is of the planet passing over the same part of the constellations three times before continuing onward.
The effect is to intensify and concentrate the subtle energies over a specific set of activities (based on the house of an individual birth chart) as well as a broader effect on the natural houses of the signs the planet rules.
An example may help:
For an individual with an Aries ascendant Mars rules both the first and 8th houses. These are the houses of the self in the body as it incarnates and acts in the world (1st house), and the realization we will one day leave our body behind (8th house of mortality, mystery, and deep research). Because 1 and 8 are the natural order of the Mars-ruled signs the energy generated by Mars’s actual retrograde location (presently in Gemini where it stirs up curiosity, rapid intellectual understanding, flexibility, as well as possible boredom, mischief, and impulsive behavior involving aggression, anger, and even violence) the effects are most strongly felt in the 1st and 8th for Aries ascendant individuals.
I’ll cover effects for the remaining ascendants in subsequent posts as well as effects from the placement of the Sun and Moon. My real purpose here is to explain retrograde effects as temporary, and more importantly that even though things do get stirred up for a time these are still very subtle energies and therefore, for the most part deliver results that may be modified, strengthened or diminished by our individual response to them.
The greatest misunderstanding regarding modern people and their relationship to the planets is thinking planets are all powerful, especially when difficulties can be blamed fully on them rather than the truth: the difficulties are usually the result of our choices, our responses to subtleties we are either ignorant of or deny entirely. We always have responsibility for our lives even if it is only the ability to respond to situations as they occur. And it is usually the response that carries the greatest weight in measuring the effects of not only Retrograde but ALL planetary movement.
The key to responding under strong retrograde influences (MarsRx in Gemini and eventually Taurus beginning in the midpoint between a solar and lunar eclipse and under a waxing Moon is strong) is to be conscious of how we feel moment by moment so that our actions are choices made in full awareness of the possible consequences, and to act toward positive outcomes of kindness, compassion, and with full recognition that all of us are doing the best we can with what we know.
“Om, Ayeem, Hreem, Shreem, Kleem Mangalaya, Om Namaha!”
This post is a little late owing to added one-on-one work I committed too. I hope you find it useful.
Although links to seasonal changes are more often associated with the Western Tropical Zodiac (owing to its alignment with the seasons rather than the actual placement of Sun, Moon, and Planets in the signs), the Sidereal Zodiac (used by astronomers, NASA, and the sages of Ancient India in Vedic Astrology) offers insights based on the effects of these placements at the start of the season. See link for details on Tropical vs. Sidereal: https://jyotishamerica.com/2022/03/22/sidereal-or-tropical-the-two-solar-zodiacs/
Reading the moment if the autumnal equinox affords an opportunity with the seasonal change to align ourselves with positive forces awakened by the moment as follows.
The Chart of the 2022 Equinox – 6:04 PM, Thursday, 9/22/2022 Tucson, AZ
Ascendant – Pisces, to see and believe, mutable water sign, negative pole of Jupiter. Marks the ability to see the past and the gains and losses experienced; to integrate those experiences with both what our senses tell us outwardly and what our feelings, imagination, and intuition tell us from within; to see the possibilities for the future not just in this realm but throughout the known and unknown worlds that may exist only as tiny seeds at the back of our conscious awareness.
Jupiter – Retrograde in Pisces. The planet of expansion, abundance, and fun; the great guru; the keeper of the professions (medicine, law, higher education, government, and bestower of boons in all areas of life. In his aspect of Brihaspati Jupiter rules Thursday and is the wise counselor to the powerful and influential.
Hamsa Mahapurusha Yoga — Clearer complexion, skin with a golden luster, sweet and gentle speech. A strong foundation built upon preservation of water. Virtue arising from sating the thirst for knowledge rather than acting impulsively based on the opinions of others. Doing good to others that might lead to new and lasting relationships. This work prepares the ground for a life of physical and material comfort, fun, and expansiveness of the mind.
Take a class, perform some community service, tend to the needs of the body – Ayurvedic or other cleanse, think before speaking and speak only that which is relevant and known to be true from your own experience.
Moon – in 6th house Leo, the fixed fire sign, positive pole ruled by the Sun, has the ability to organize creative activity that sustains life, connects to purpose, reputation, and the exercise of power. Located in the 6th house of health, healing, and service to others.
Moon represents the mind, intellect, emotions, empathy, imagination, and illusion.
Leo is a great friend to the Moon in this placement, reducing the negative physical aspects related to health by cooling them. This is a period for taking time to reflect on one’s thoughts and feelings, to sift them in a way that eliminates fictions we tell ourselves for our own aggrandizement, abandoning futile efforts to reach selfish goals that only reflect our desire to be seen and praised based on circumstances of social status without considering negative consequences or the temporary nature of all achievements.
Be of service or available to serve whenever in the presence of others. Understand that feelings need to be expressed, not repressed, that they represent energy looking for an outlet and will find it eventually no matter how much we resist. Find healthy, creative activities that stretch us and require focus in order to create as clear a channel as possible. Engaging in this as part of a diverse group on this day is especially healing and will have long term positive effects over time.
Suggestion, October is breast cancer awareness month. With the Moon’s connection to Mother and feminine creativity, nourishment, and heartfelt intelligence find a way to be involved in promoting wellness for Women, mothers, and children, particularly in underserved communities. The conjunction with Venus in this house creates cleverness in buying and selling, weaving and gifting of clothing, strength to discover underlying truths in conflicts, and appreciation of poets, florists, and anyone who is working to help us breath clearer air.
Sun—in 7th house, Virgo, mutable earth sign, negative pole of Mercury. Points to the self, to our personal power, the source of all life in the solar system and the sustainer of the same, the only true, natural light source from which all others arise. Sun gives us the power to organize center ourselves and command attention. Located in the 7th house the focus is on relationship both in society and those we are closest to in life both at home and work. This is the house of the life partner.
Sun is the body, the soul, the self, the search for meaning and truth, creative stability, and increasing wisdom through lived experience with eyes wide open.
Virgo is the gardener of the Zodiac. Connected to the earth, it seeks to purify it in order that life can flourish. Detail oriented, intelligent, and flexible, it meets obstacles with patience and persistence and is deeply rooted. Connected to the nervous system and the source of digestive fire that sustains life, Virgo relates to the connection between emotion, nutrition, digestion, and health.
The Sun is conjunct retrograde Mercury in this chart. Mercury is the most curious of planets, highly intelligent and able to intellectually grasp every new idea it encounters. Easily bored, it needs focus and purpose. The self-control imposed by the Sun is valuable and the detail and discipline of Virgo bring Mercury’s impulsiveness under control. Mercury forms a Bhadra Mahapurusha Yoga in this chart. Physical strength and excellent health. A good season for growing an impressive beard. Walking, especially in nature (forest, park, or by water). Think before speaking but then speak sweetly and confidently. Virtue, stability of mind, and judicious behavior that considers consequences will bring better results than impulsive actions no matter how obvious they might appear. Taking some form of pilgrimage in this season further activates the positive qualities.
Undergo a guided cleanse or intermittent fast if you are healthy. Eat locally, preferably fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. Walk in nature as often as possible for twenty to thirty minutes. Be present for those you are in close relationships with. We all share the same air, water, and light. Seeing this through the eyes of others will help curb actions that are potentially destructive. Listen, hear the deeper meanings conveyed by language through thought, assessing the real from the imagined constantly. Pay attention to body language, both yours and that of others. Be open to diverse ideas even if they frighten you. Try to consider every significant action and its consequences as far forward in time as you are able. By understanding the most and least beneficial outcomes to life overall you can refine your choices and gain more security and serenity during this period.
Significant Lunar Constellations
Moon in Magha, the Star of Power. Moon in this placement seeks to gather resources for future work in life. It gives the power to “leave the body” and visit the realm of our ancestors. It is a time to address repressed grief and loss, to express gratitude for the lives that came before and led to ours, and it is a grounding force for accepting that the energy that when the work is done it (we) return back to energy until the next time the unique qualities we bring into the world are needed again.
Sun in Uttara Phalghuni, the Star of Patronage, the one that seeks prosperity through the marriage partnership, working together as equals, this Star seeks the freedom that comes from finding unity with another as the path that leads to all. We are of the same genetic makeup, the same body formation, the same inner capability as Wise Humans (Homo Sapiens) have been for 250,000 years. Joined here by curious Mercury and discerning Venus.
Jupiter in Uttara Bhadrapadha, the Warrior Star. Jupiter here seeks to have a sensory experience as a body living in the world. The transformative power of Pisces combines with the persistence and patience of Saturn (UB Ruler) to favor activities that bring stability to those areas of the world we have influence over. Building a strong foundation of healthy thoughts, positive and empowering speech, and constructive actions unifies all the parts of our being in order to express every part of ourselves toward our maximum potential.
Maraka planets (death-causing) align in potentially fatal ways hundreds of times over the course of a lifetime of 33,000 days. But in the hundreds of posthumous charts I have studied, people pass on only when Maraka influence dominates the chart.
Queen Elizabeth II returned to her ancestors today under some of the strongest Maraka influences I have observed.
The Maraka planets are the rulers of the 2nd and 7th houses, planets placed in those houses at birth, and the rulers and planets of houses of length of life, the 3rd and 8th.
In The Queen’s chart these are as follows:
2nd ruler — Saturn
7th ruler — Mercury
3rd ruler — Saturn
8th ruler — Moon
Planets in 2nd — Mars, Jupiter
Planets in 3rd — Venus
Planets in 7th — Rahu
Planets in 8th — Moon
These planets activate by transit (passing through a house), Dasha/Bhukti (the 120 year Vimshottari cycle of activity), and some aspects (places of influence in relation to other planets.
At her death:
-a strong, retrograde Saturn in transit over her 2nd house with a full aspect on the 8th and the natal moon
-the Moon is conjunct Saturn in the second house with the same full aspect
-Jupiter is the strongest Dasha planet at this time and is in the sign of transition (Pisces), conjunct natal Mercury and in mutual aspect with present-day Mercury in Virgo (sign of health and the one of earth in transition)
-Jupiter also aspects natal Moon in the 8th and natal Saturn in the 12th house of grief and loss
-Dasha/Bhukti activity in descending order and duration is symmetrical and all Maraka planets (Jupiter, Rahu, Mercury, Rahu, Jupiter)
-Venus is in transit and combust (overwhelmed) by the Sun in the 9th house letting spirit/consciousness ascend from the material to the energetic realm.
It’s an overwhelming number, but also one dominated by the great benefic Jupiter and invoking the planet of comfort Venus.
I don’t believe Maraka planets can or should be used to predict time of death as they form potentially fatal patterns several times each year. Usually our own actions keep us safe. However, seeing them in retrospect helps me to take comfort in the overall justice of karmic cause and effect and the importance of consciously striving to act with kindness for the betterment of all living things,
This is the second post in a series. Reviewing the key takeaways from Part One:
Our culture touts goals as an important path to success.
Goals are inherently time bound, they have a deadline.
Achievement of a goal detached from Purpose is the source of much dissatisfaction in modern societies.
Once a goal is achieved a new goal must be sought.
A Purpose connects us to a cause greater than ourselves.
Purpose is large enough to break the bonds of time.
Purpose relates to the highest and best use of our talents and abilities in the service of others.
Purpose is an expression of Dharma, the eternal and immutable laws that sustain Creation and allow for the advancement of Consciousness.
By way of example, the desire to become a neurosurgeon in order to make a lot of money is a goal. But for a talented and ambitious individual, pursuing such a career for the lifestyle alone, without some higher purpose, ultimately can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, professional burnout, and at some point an existential questioning of whether the grueling years of study, internship, and practice, the toll on family life, the competition for prestige and promotion,etc. are really giving satisfaction and fulfillment. Country club memberships, travel, fancy cars, lavish homes, and other trappings of “success” come to feel empty for a variety of reasons. “Is this all there is?” becomes the plea of a spirit drained of life.
Contrast this with a young person who witnesses the suffering of a near and dear one due to traumatic brain injury and resolves to find a way to help others suffering through similar experiences. This is the beginning of a purpose, and goals related to it soon emerge as a series of steps that develop skills to bring that drive to fruition. Knowing that traumatic brain injury will likely always be part of society means endless opportunities to pursue the purpose.
This person rolls out of bed propelled by a desire to serve others and every successful step along the way represents an accomplishment, a goal, that immediately reveals the next step. Get an undergraduate degree, be accepted into a medical school, post-grad work in the specialty of neurosurgery, internship, a position at a hospital, serving patients, training younger doctors, perhaps developing new and better procedures, all arise naturally from the purpose of easing the suffering of others.
The same could be said for the child of a broken home who goes into family law to help future generations of children and their parents through the pain and drama of divorce. Or the auto mechanic who had an opportunity at a young age to learn the satisfaction of having a mechanically sound vehicle and all the freedom it could afford it’s owner. Or the student interested in history who during a college year overseas sees the suffering of people in autocratically ruled nations and enters the political arena afterwards to preserve and expand freedom in their homeland.
The only rules for finding your Purpose are that it makes use of your greatest talents and abilities, it is something that fills you with passion and enthusiasm because it involves activities you love participating in, and it serves some need greater than your own. So, how do you find it, assuming you don’t know what it is?
First, make a list, preferably on index cards or separate pages of a small notebook, of your talents, abilities, skills, and capabilities. No need for modesty here. No one but you will see this list so really brag on yourself. Try to get 50-100 items. If you have trouble thinking of that many ask a trusted friend or other acquaintance to help you without telling them why. Say you’re working on saving the world by bettering yourself and want to list what you have to bring to the table.
Next, make a similar list of activities you enjoy. Think about the kind of things you would cause you to gladly get up early, stay up late, and keep doing nearly all the time if you had the means. Again, try to list 50-100 of these.
Once your lists are complete spend time with them everyday really thinking about them. Your goal is to imagine each item on the first list as a permanent part of your life connected in some manner to the things on the second list in order to find 3-5 items on each list that you can embrace for as long as you live. This will take some time and effort, perhaps three to six weeks of daily work with ongoing adjustments for several months.
When you get the lists pared down, think about how doing what you are best at in conjunction with what you most love could serve some higher cause.
Maybe you are excellent at understanding new technology, sketching designs of futuristic inventions, and building Lego models – the more complex the better. Perhaps you love playing video games, cosplay, and creating YouTube videos. What sort of Purpose might emerge from these combinations? Architect, teacher, inventor, documentary filmmaker, futurist are all possible sources of purpose from this list.
Try this one: You are excellent at expressing your emotions and feeling those of others, you have the patience to sit with a distressed friend for hours, you have a way with domestic animals. Your favorite activities include socializing with and meeting new people, outdoor hiking and cycling, and singing karaoke on the weekends. What might be a higher calling that incorporates these items. Service animal trainer or provider is one possibility.
If you found it difficult to craft a purpose from the above lists don’t be surprised or disappointed. The lists aren’t your own. Only by doing your work, finding your talents, and expressing your favorite activities will you stoke the fire of your own ambition. But once you do, and your Purpose is revealed by it, you’re on your way to a life of fulfillment and the creation of a legacy of achievement that will endure long after your body passes from this world.
In the next installment, I’ll show you how Vedic Astrology can reveal Dharma and Purpose for a person, organization, and nation. Until then, have fun working on your lists and finding your pathway to self-fulfilling consciousness growth.
In my practice I frequently ask clients if they have a defined purpose for their life. It’s an important question to answer fully for yourself, but one that is contrary to what our culture often teaches.
Our culture teaches Goals. If you don’t have goals you are often judged as lacking ambition, or worse. And not just any goals will do. Culture wants “SMART Goals”: Specific Measurable Actionable Realistic Timely goals. That’s the stuff of success, of achievement, and it’s expected that we all have success and achievement on Culture’s terms.
Two difficulties immediately arise from this:
First, pulling goals out of the ether over and over takes either a lot of imagination or a willingness to surrender much of your agency, will and freedom to others (boss, family, church, corporate, the media).
This can seem fun and fulfilling for a time, sometimes. We do enjoy pursuing common ends as a group, or most of us do. But ultimately when someone or something outside of you takes over your choices it eventually grows tiresome, inauthentic, and increasingly distanced from who you really are.
The second problem with goals formed this way is the T in SMART. Time bound means when the goal ends, you’re back at zero, searching for or waiting for the next goal to be delivered. And if you are ambitious, the next goal has to be bigger, hairier, and more audacious than the previous one.
This might work for awhile, but eventually either our imagination or energy is exhausted and the existential crisis sets in. This is the scourge of the worker in post-modern society. Feeling exploited, exhausted, and increasingly less authentic, less valuable, and less alive.
The solution might be a simple as finding your purpose. In the yogic philosophy, it is the equivalent of discovering your Dharma—the highest and best expression of your talents and preferred activities and aligning your life with them for the betterment of a cause greater than yourself.
To paraphrase C. G. Jung, knowing who you are makes deciding what to do easy. Why? Because a purpose is not bound by time, being inherently expansive enough to sustain a lifetime of effort. Einstein’s pursuit of a unified field theory inspired him and generations of followers. C.G. Jung’s decision to abandon medicine in pursuit of the deeper wisdom of the Self and its integration produced a new way of living for millions and infused nearly every field of human inquiry with wisdom.
Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa, Georgia O’Keefe, Gloria Steinem, Amelia Earhart, and Toni Morrison all strayed from culture’s defined path, found their higher purpose, and raised the bar of consciousness of human potential for generations.
When you know your purpose, your dharma, your goals evolve organically from it. You know what to do next. You leave ground zero behind forever.
The practices of meditation, yoga, Ayurvedic nutrition and health, and having a detailed Vedic astrology reading along with actively applying a process I will share in my next post are tools to help anyone find a deeper meaning, more connected way of living, and the means to fulfillment that both expands and transcends the treadmill of culturally defined goals.