Moon in Magha, the Star of the Great and Mighty


Today’s Moon House

Today the Moon enters the Nakshatra of Magha, anchored by the bright star Regulus near the head of Leo. Magha is ruled by Ketu, the shadow cast by the Moon as its South Pole crosses the ecliptic. Leo is ruled by the Sun, the source of all visible planetary light as well as the center of gravity for the planets. Sun is the birthplace of the elements that allowed life to form on earth, the sustainer of life by its heat, and the likely future destroyer of the earth due to the predictable expansion of the solar body as its nuclear fuel exhausts in a few billion years.

In the Sun we see the Vedic trinity of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), and Shiva (destroyer) and as such the Sun naturally both by its physical and energetic presence plays a central role in our lives and draws our attention to it on a regular basis.

Under the influence of Ketu and Moon the beginnings of transcendence may occur. Ketu’s shadow eclipses the light of reality as it hides the energetic presence of the giver of life. This influence can leave the mind grasping for material purchase, seeking hand and footholds in the darkness of groundless feeling and strong emotion. If we use Ketu’s power to release, to move beyond material grasping, we gain freedom to create a new relationship with ourselves and others.

As with all energetic influences the exercise of free will is permitted and will, to a great extent, determine consequences (karma) of every action. Under Magha, especially as we kickoff the holiday shopping season in the USA, the pursuit of materialism may lead to impulsive or poor choices that damage relationships or finances for the year to come. Succumbing to the strong feelings of need brings out the demonic aspect of Magha and leads to actions more resembling an ill-mannered courtier or petty tyrant than a giver and sustainer of life.

Magha’s shakti (power) is the ability to leave the body, as in death or certain conditions of meditation, and sleep. Working with this energy is the source of rituals of mourning, which fulfills the desire to have more time with those who have gone ahead into the next realm. This desire to commune with our ancestors brought about the practice of genealogy, rituals commemorative of those who preceded us, and in Leo also reminds us that both the mighty and meek are subject to the passage of time and the inevitable end of our life in the body.

Our eternal energy will shed this life and continue in other forms, other realms, a consequence shaped by the quality of our choices here and now.

If you are standing in line, shopping online, dealing with the many possible frustrations attending the busy, time-crowded season, it is incumbent on you to pause. Look around you and see the diffuse sunlight that fills the day, illuminates the moon and all the planets, and creates and sustains life. Ketu’s shadow, while ever present, cannot alter the reality that exists whether we see it or not. Our actions and reactions can and do change the moment.

Ketu is an invitation to look both forwards and backwards in time—to remember those who have left this realm into another form of being, to mourn them and look ahead to our own crossing of that threshold as an invitation into a realm of greater freedom because of the wisdom of this life’s experiences. Having done that, focus on the present, on what you are doing and how it relates to the care of both yourself and others.

Living a life where mourning is a ritual that both clears sorrow and makes room for good can increase the freedom to dance in the light for everyone, to form our personal system of orbiting planets around the life-sustaining energy of creation that we all share. We co-create the world, aided by sunlight and all living things. We are each a center of light and gravity, built on the genes and actions of our ancestors. To honor their gift of life by our actions and reactions brings more light and life to the world.

A final, sobering thought—COVID 19 arrived under a strong Ketu influence. We are all still learning to mourn and live with it and its effects. Until we learn the lesson that we are all part of the same system of cause and effect, action and reaction, and work together for a greater good than mere material comfort, expect the virus to continue disrupting our lives in significant ways. Today’s new variant out of South Africa reflects the reality of the moment.

Moon in Ashlesha

Today the Moon is found in the Nakshatra Ashlesha, 9th of the 27 Lunar houses. Contained entirely within the constellation Cancer and ruled by the planet Mercury, this powerful Nakshatra is an aspect of the Vedic Nagas, the deity Serpas with the shakti or power to inject enemies with poison.

If we put aside our innate fear of snakes we discover that the presence of Ashlesha’s energy is both empowering and positive for achieving good results from our actions.

Foremost, Ashlesha is associated with Dharma, the first of the four aims of life leading to ultimate freedom. Dharma is simply the path of least resistance in aligning with the highest goals of consciousness—gaining freedom from all restriction and making connection with all of creation—and Ashlesha used toward positive actions even in relation to difficult situations is a great ally.

The constellation Cancer is ruled by the Moon, representing the mind, emotions, and nourishment. Mercury, Ashlesha’s ruling planet, also has strong associations with the mind, intellect, ability to collect and organize information, speed, curiosity, and in combination with the Moon can stimulate creative intuition and have a hypnotic focus.

The eyes of the serpent, penetrating, able to freeze its target and to see deep within to the energetic center, and to gather that energy in its coils in order to prevail in nearly any conflict are a combination that make Ashlesha both respected and feared,

The ability to beguile, a tendency to lie if it serves an end, to suffer nervous disorders, and to misuse the psychic wisdom of the Nagas are the traps for those who avail themselves of Ashlesha energy without awareness of Dharma’s desire for the highest good.

One of the most important habits to develop when invoking Ashlesha energy is one of gratitude toward the target so that the coils wrap the energy of the moment in love, using poison only for the defense of higher purposes. Mindful awareness, intellect with kindness, and recognition that an enraged serpent is also a danger to its own existence can turn the shakti of Ashlesha toward the creation of a more positive outcome in all situations.

There are inevitable moments in life when we face conflict and find ourselves coiled and ready to strike at the next provocation. Developing the habit of gratitude, not just today but always, allows us to feel the strength of the serpent’s power and project it through intellectual and creative focus without the need of a poisonous bite.

Pushya, Today’s Moon House

Today’s Moon House

Today the Moon entered the Nakshatra of Pushya, also known a the nourishing star. Contained within the constellation Cancer, Pushya carries some of the most nourishing energies in the Vedic Zodiac.

In the Rig Veda this Nakshatra was known as Tishya, the celestial archer. Many stories from the Vedas celebrate archers as the protectors and nourishers of all life. Pushya’s shakti or power is the ability to harness spiritual energy. Through a combination of worshipful sacrifice on behalf of the people, Pushya desires to light the splendor of the spiritual light within all.

The result of the achievement of this desire is the creation of spiritual energy, the soul sustaining fire of existence.

As we in the USA gather with friends and loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday, Pushya serves as a reminder that we, all of us, are the people created by the condensation of the energy of creation, because of positive, protective nourishment from our parents, families, communities, and our own actions.

Whether you are with your loved ones or missing them, the light of the heart can warm you and keep you safe as the sacrifices of those who protect and feed us, both people and all other living beings, fill our thoughts and tables.

Pushya as part of Cancer is in the Moon’s home sign, and the Moon is the planetary significator for mother in all forms. May we all be thankful for those who nourish and care for us throughout our lives and offer the acquired spiritual energy gathered in Pushya to illuminate the hearts of those suffering a lack of sustenance.

Remember that matter is condensed energy so we are not simply offering thoughts in our desire. By illuminating the energy of spirit, the heart opens and we are able to share our material “matter” as well.

Pushya’s element is water, and the plant is the sacred fig or Bodhi tree. Some of these trees live over 2500 years! When we give water to plants or food to people we are perpetuating the light of life. Pushya is excellent energy for the start of a new season of giving and togetherness.

More on Pushya next month when the Moon again enters this nourishing protector.

My Path to Vedic Astrology

How I became a Metaphysical Practitioner

One of my earliest readings from a professional astrologer was at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1997. At the time, I was mid-career as a retail manager, working 60-80 hours a week, raising a family, and trying to understand the practical, material world of science, jobs, things, and status that defined my physical being in contrast to the invisible, inner worlds of magic, religion, metaphysics, and spirituality. That first reading, delivered with sensitivity, empathy, and openness to my concerns and rationalist paradigms offered glimpses into a way of integrating two seemingly opposite ways of looking at life.

Fast forward 20 years to the summer of 2017. Still working in management, I used my free time for writing and studies in esoteric and metaphysical practices, struggling to resolve what looked like an irreconcilable conflict between the rational world my body lived in and the deeper reality my head and heart were seeking. For my birthday, my wife gifted me with a reading from a Vedic Astrologer. The profound message from that experience was that I had entered a period where I would experience far more than two ways of seeing the world, but that I would gain the certain knowledge from it that there was only one reality and that one of the gifts of human consciousness was the ability to see that reality from multiple perspectives. It was a life-altering insight. I began to  understand that what modern physics had been saying—energy and matter are interchangeable, indestructible, and eternal—offered a means of reconciliation between the life of the body and mind (matter) and the energetic force behind it (call it soul, spirit, atman, consciousness). There was no conflict between the life of the spirit and the life of the body. There was simply more than one way to view it. The trap was the illusion that there was a separation between energy and matter.

Extending that idea to all of life, it didn’t take long to realize that meditation, yoga, astrology, and most intuitive practices that didn’t lend themselves to quantitative scientific examination were nonetheless present and appeared to precede the incarnation of matter into energetic forms. Human consciousness, as both physicists and mystics have written, is the lens through which the awake and aware universe is able to experience life as an individual. All of the traditional and non-traditional or metaphysical practices in their original forms were individuals seeking a path back to that place of whole consciousness.

This was all interesting, but it didn’t really help me meet any job performance goals or help my children get better grades or the thousand and one other concerns of life in the “real world.” But it put me on a path, one that took me deep into studies of the Vedic Science of Light, also called Jyotish or Vedic Astrology. I had some background in Western (Hellenic) astrology, but it never quite hit the mark when it came to the details of mundane existence. Through deeper, formalized studies of Ayurvedic Astrology, attending conferences, and through studying my own charts as well as hundreds of others, I came to see that Planets, Signs, and Houses, when viewed through a 5,000 year-old practice that began at the foot of the Himalayas long before the Persian, Egyptian, or Greek Civilizations emerged, had evolved and developed as a means of seeing forces of subtle energy in relation to matter that could serve as a highly accurate and effective mapping tool for empowering individual lives.

I completed Dr. David Frawley’s 300-hour course through the American Vedic Institute and began doing readings for clients in 2020. Having seen approximately 200 clients in the past 20 months and sharing, discussing, and strategizing over how the information in their individual charts can better equip them for making choices that align with the strengths and challenges found therein, and having them echo many of my own feelings of relief, empowerment, and comprehension of the usefulness and power of the practice, I am seeking a way to work with more individuals and groups seeking to live richer, more empowered, less stress-filled lives.

Letting in Light

Standing on a cliff at Big Sur and overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a still, clear, and moonless night in 2016 tears streamed from my eyes. I could not tell where the earth ended and the sky began. Every visible star and planet and the wide, sweep of the Milky Way glittered from a black background both above and below as far as I could see. Whether my tears arose from awestruck terror, elation, or some more subtle power, I felt something moving both within and without. Energy, a property of matter enabling movement, that’s the simple definition for both my thoughts and feelings. My body, a material object, emitted energy as thought and feeling, sensation and emotion, movement both internally and externally. Why? I did not know, and so began a meditative process that continues to the present day as I began to peel back the great onion of why.

If energy is a property of matter, then where does matter come from? The great physicists of the 20th Century theorized on the relationships between mass, light, gravity, and the fabric of space-time. These theories shared the word “relativity,” a word with the same root as relationship: the English root relate formed from the Latin roots re, meaning “again,” and ferre, meaning “to bear” as in a burden. It is interesting to note that ferre is also the root for iron and suffering. Ferre comes from a the Latin lucem ferre, a term that means “bringer of or bearer of light.” Cycling back to our physics theories, if energy is a property of matter then it must be distinguishable from matter. It is, of course, when separated it expresses itself as light, heat, and motion as long as energy is present.

In the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein described a relationship between energy and mass using the speed of light to express the amount of energy potential within a given quantity of mass. So, what is mass? It is a measure of matter, and matter is any object that occupies space. It sounds like mass and matter are two ways of expressing the same thing. This still doesn’t tell me where matter comes from. One group of scientists holds to a theory that mass is frozen energy and energy is moving mass. This means mass occupies space and is defined by the space it occupies as shape, size, and weight. Energy is measured as velocity, showing the movement of an object through space by speed and direction. So if we know where an object is then we are describing it as mass or matter. If we know the speed and direction, as seen in movement across the electro-magnetic spectrum which includes light, heat, and sound, then we are describing energy. And if we do this in relation to a single object, then we are talking about the same thing. Energy and Mass in relation to the speed of light cannot exist independently of one another.

But are they the same thing? We all understand how mass converts to energy. A very simple example is to strike a match. The friction of striking the match creates heat that causes a bit of phosphorous to change from a solid to a gas which generates more heat. The burning phosphorous ignites a sulfur core and the heat from that burns the matchstick, which is generally made of wood or paraffin-coated cardboard. A flame is produced, which is energy as heat, light, and movement of matter as it breaks down into carbon and other elements. Now the big question: Can this process occur in reverse?

When attempting to convert matter back into energy, Einstein’s formula suggests it might be a bigger job than releasing it. Think of the potential energy in an object as being like a coiled spring. An object with a mass of one kilogram (2.2 lbs.) multiplied by the speed of light squared (approximately 300 million meters per second squared or nearly 671 million miles per hour squared). Squaring these equals 90,000,000,000,000,000 meters per second or 4,502,410, 000,000,000,000 miles per hour of energy. Not only is energy abstract (given it is an expression of the movement of mass), but in the classic formulation it produces a number that is beyond my ability to imagine. We know it is a lot because the mass used to produce the first atom bombs came out of a quantity of matter about the size of two grapefruits, slammed together with enough force to destabilize their atoms and release the energy within, to allow the spring to uncoil. It was enough to level and incinerate a city. However, my question is, can mass be created out of energy, can we put the match back together?

In 1997, a team of physicists at Stanford University used a particle accelerator to dump enough energy to power the United States for a tiny fraction of a second onto an area less than one billionth of a square centimeter.

It worked. Two billion photons, which have no mass, in a stream from a megawatt laser collided head on with a stream of electrons, which have almost no mass, to near light speed in the two-mile long particle accelerator. The electrons hit the photons with such force that some of the photons were knocked backwards into other photons and clumped together sufficiently to form a measurable mass consisting of one electron and one positron. A positron has the same mass and charge as an electron, therefore the collision of nearly massless electrons with massless photons produced mass double that of the colliding electron. Literally, something was produced from nothing.

The ability for energy to produce mass and mass to release energy suggest that they are indeed the same thing enabling the theoretical conclusion that neither produces the other, it is simply a change of form. Mathematically, we can restate Einstein’s formula by defining the speed of light as “c” and saying c=1. If we plug that into E=Mc2 we get E=M x (1 x 1). Work that out and it ultimately becomes E=M, or energy equals mass.

Having the basic understanding that according to the best scientific theories we presently have energy and mass are equivalent, representing the same object in either a state of rest as mass or motion as energy, is the foundation of understanding karma and the wisdom of the ancient Rishis, scholars from the distant past who through close observation of the relative behavior of all visible matter developed the practices of Vedic Astrology. They called it Jyotish, the science of light. Upon seeing the night sky at Big Sur on that night in 2016, I began to understand the idea that everything relates to everything else and by closely studying one part we can understand all of the rest. Remember the Latin lucem ferre, the bringer of bearer of light and the origin of the word relativity, as well as iron, suffering, and relationship.

Jyotish will help those who are ready and willing to see how the light of the stars, the motions of the planets, and the cycles of the universe are all connected to the individual as an expression of energy and matter across time and space, from infinity to infinity.

Here’s a brief link explaining the conversion of energy to matter as Einstein theorized it:

Five W’s and an H

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.

You are welcome here. Thank you for visiting.