revised February 2020
How I got into Vedic Astrology
Like most Western astrologers in the early nineties, I was very excited by Project Hindsight, the delving by Robert Schmidt and Robert Hand into astrology's early Western roots. The "Robs", as they were sometimes called, began recovering astrological approaches that had been lost for hundreds of years.
I'll never forget Rob Hand's lecture on Sect at the UAC '95 conference, when he introduced the ancient Greek ideas of accidental dignity, i.e. the Moon, Mars, and Venus were stronger for a person born during the night, and the Sun, Saturn, and Jupiter for a birth during daylight. So many astrologers attended the lecture that they had to move its location to larger rooms twice!
But what turned out to be the most important influence upon me, at the conference, was an offhand remark by Diana K. Rosenberg. In her lecture on fixed stars, she casually said, "Of course, with the planet in Tropical Gemini and Sidereal Taurus, there will be a blend of both signs energies."
Until she said that, I had resisted Hindu Astrology like the plague. I had brief contacts, like picking up a classical text and opening it to a section that said, "you will die of cholera" or talking to a Siderealist who had discarded houses as a methodology. But in general couldn't believe that Hindu astrologers, for example, considered me a Gemini Sun or Scorpio Moon, when my Tropical positions fit me so well.
The statement by Ms. Rosenberg opened my mind. Subsequently, I attended the first Project Hindsight conference in West Virginia, where they offered -- in addition to the classes on classical Greek philosophy and astrology -- lectures by Vedic astrology teachers.
As I listened to Dennis Harness lecture on Vedic planetary mythology, I realized that instead of studying the fragmentary documents of a discontinuous Western tradition, I should be studying the astrology of India, which hasn't suffered any suppression or interrruption, and has been practiced for thousands of years.
In order to do so, I realized that I needed to "compartmentalize my brain." I had to keep all that I had learned and mastered in Western astrology separate from what I was learning about Vedic astrology -- or it would get just too confusing. For the first three years of intensive study, that's what I did -- kept the two astrologies strictly separate.
Only after becoming more facile with Vedic astrology could I then begin to see how each astrology complemented and informed the other, a process that continues to be more and more enriching.
I strongly suggest to any reader that it is nigh impossible to learn both astrologies at once. Really master one of them -- Western or Vedic -- for many years before you attempt to study the other. Even with over twenty years of study and practice as a professional Western astrologer, learning Vedic was a challenging task for me.
But definitely worth it.
Do They -- Western and Vedic Astrologies -- Blend?
As I started to discuss, in the April 2000 issue of this newsletter, there are certainly places where blending of the two astrologies is both logical and fruitful for even intermediate astrologers. (In that issue, I pointed out that people with the Sun in Scorpio in both zodiacs were more "scorpionic" (intense, fixed, emotional) than those who were a blend of Sidereal Libra and Tropical Scorpio.)
Have you ever noticed the great difference between most (Tropical/Western sign) Tauruses vs. Libras? Supposedly, they are both Venusians, since Venus rules both signs, but in actuality, I find that their Sidereal sign has a very marked influence.
Most Taureans I've met are neither thick nor slow (which you might expect from fixed Earth) because the Sidereal Aries influence makes them very active and quick. They can also be much more "Martian" than the Libras, because of this.
The Libras, on the other hand, due to the Sidereal Virgo influence, are often not only more "mental" -- i.e. analytical -- than you'd think of a Venusian, but are also much more fussy, finicky, critical, and even on occasion prudish than you'd ever dream of a sensual Venusian.
Of course, in both cases, we're talking about people with planets in the first 23 degrees of Taurus or Libra, as people with later degree Venus signs are Venusian both Tropically and Sidereally (depending, of course, on the ayanamsha you use).
I also want to state that it is very useful to look for house congruencies and the lack thereof between the two systems. In other words, if a person has the Sun (or Moon) in the 10th house in both systems, then there is a greater emphasis on that house and its themes. But if the Sun were to be in the 9th Vedically and the 10th by Western methods, then each would have to be interpreted separately.
(Incidentally, I use the Equal House system for my Western charts. In my decades of practicing astrology and meeting astrologers, over 90% of the astrologers that I have met who have actually tested different house systems -- instead of just following their teacher's advice -- also use the Equal House system. And of course, like the vast majority of Vedic astrologers, I use Whole Sign houses for Jyotish.)
The degree of congruency between both zodiacs by sign placement is also very useful to note. If a person has most of their planets in the same signs in both Vedic and Western charts, then they are more solid and consistent internally. They know who they are.
If only one planet, or the ascendant, stays in the same sign in both zodiacs, it becomes further strengthened, and the "keystone" of the chart -- i.e. what bridges two different sides of themselves.
If no planets nor the ascendant stay in the same sign in both zodiacs, the person may indeed have trouble integrating the different aspects of themselves, e.g. find it hard to integrate their outer life with their inner life.
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