Determining the planet that represents a theme in a chart
by Hank Friedman
In using astrology to help people navigate their lives, an astrologer must ascertain which factors pertain to the relevant issue(s).
In general, an astrologer looks at the house that signifies that issue, and the planetary significator of the issue also. For example, both the 7th house and Venus signify ones spouse, and so an astrologer would examine both to answer questions about relationship.
However, a more in-depth look at what factors to consider will enable us to become even more accurate and effective in our assessments.
Vedic astrology, in particular, has many factors to consider, including sub-charts (also called amsha, divisional, or varga charts), yogas (i.e. planets in mutual relationship with each other), and dashas (planetary cycles activating specific planets in the chart).
There are several planets to consider as candidates for representing a specific life theme in a birth chart.
1. The occupant(s) of the house signifying the theme.
2. The ruler of that house*.
3. The significator of the theme.
4. Planets aspecting the house.
And to a lesser degree:
5. Planets aspecting the ruler of the house.
6. Planets aspecting the significator of the theme.
And to a still lesser degree:
7. The Jaimini karaka of the theme (if there is one).
8. (Possibly) the ruler of the Ascendant of the sub-chart representing the theme (if there is one).
9. Yogas involving any of the planets in the top three above.
10. Dasas of the planets signified above.
11. Major transits affecting any of the planets in the top three above.
And... All of the above.
* (Some Vedic astrologers would use Shri Pati house cusp rulers instead of Rasi (Whole Sign) house rulers. There are times when I have found these also to be very relevant and illuminating.)
In reality, any specific life theme will be represented by all of the factors listed above. That's why there are pluses and minuses within all life themes. Rarely is anything (or any person in our lives) absolutely positive or absolutely negative.
In some cases, however, one or two planets will largely govern and reflect a life theme. E.g. if a house is both empty and unaspected, then its lord gains much more importance in reflecting the life themes represented by that house. Or if the significator of a life theme either occupies, aspects or rules the house representing that theme, the significator becomes the predominate spokesperson for the theme.
In my chart, for example, my 9th house is empty and is only aspected by its ruler, Mars. Therefore, my 9th house ruler represents all of the 9th house themes more than any other planets.
[Important Note: In Vedic astrology, as taught to me by my phenomenal Jyotish Guru Hart de Fouw -- all praise to him -- the 9th house and not the 10th house signifies Father.]
As reviewed in the last paragraph, my Father is represented primarily by Mars, which is the Raja Yoga Karaka for Leo Ascendant Charts, and he was seen by my family as a hero, brilliant, and simply wonderful. Unfortunately, Ketu -- a prime indicator of loss -- is very close to Mars, and represented his sudden death when I was only 5 months old. The planet representing my Father, Mars, is both weak by sign, and only aspected by a powerful malefic.
Another factor very important to consider is the relative strength of each of the planets involved. The strongest planet usually predominates in influence, but the weakest factor, especially if it is involved in the theme in more than one way, is also very important to take into account. In other words, the most positive and most negative factors are usually the most significant describers of the life theme.
Again using my chart, Venus is the strongest planet influencing my 10th house, as well as doubly influencing the 10th by both ruling and occupying it. Since Venus is itself a strong benefic benefitting the 10th house themes, and the strongest planet aspecting the 10th house is the benefic Moon (which has Dig Bala and is Bright, makes it strong even though it is in its sign of debilitation), my career themes have been very positive. From an early age, I knew what my career would be, have found it to be completely fulfilling, and have developed longstanding respect from my clients. Given that all factors must be taken into account, the aspect of Saturn on my 10th house also manifested in my career, e.g. it represented the fluctuations in my client load.
Here is a more complex example:
Here's Julia Roberts' natal and D-12 chart. The topic will be her Father.
#1. The occupant of her 9th house is Saturn. It being a retrograde (i.e. strong) malefic planet bodes ill for the Father as it afflicts the 9th house (which represents Father).
#2. The ruler of the 9th house is Jupiter (but since it has no aspect on the 9th house, it has much less influence on the themes of Father than it would have if it did aspect the 9th house). Nevertheless, Jupiter is with benefics and portends well for Father.
#3. The universal significator for Father is the Sun, which in her chart is debilitated and therefore indicates a weakness in the Father. This is a poor position for the Sun. Being the lord of a neutral, but also maraka-sthana (death inducing) 2nd house is relevant too, as we will see.
#4. The 9th house is also aspected by Mars, a malefic and the enemy of the 9th house's occupant Saturn. Mars and Saturn mutually aspect each other, and it is as if they are locked in an adversarial wrestling match.
#5. Jupiter, the 9th lord, is aspected by two benefics, Venus and a very weak (dark and waning) Moon. There are astrologers who would consider this Moon, by virtue of its darkness and waning nature, to actually be a weak malefic, but I consider this to be a negligible consideration at best. (Note: Many Vedic astrologers see Rahu and Ketu as aspecting planets, and they would count the potent and detrimental aspect of Rahu on Jupiter as an important factor. There have been times when the only way I have been able to make sense of charts I've been examining has been by using these nodal aspects.)
#6. The Sun is with the very malefic Ketu, as well as the weak malefic Mercury. (Mercury becomes a malefic in this chart due to being aspected by malefic Ketu and by no benefics.). Ketu's presence in the same house harms the Sun (and Father) significantly.
#7. The Jaimini karaka for Father in her chart also happens to be the Sun, so everything said about the Sun in #3 and #6 above become doubly relevant.
#8. The D-12 chart signifies parents, and the ruler of the D-12 chart's ascendant is again the Sun, which therefore becomes an even more relevant significator of Father. (Note: the Iyer principle is that the ruler of any D-chart's ascendant signifies the person.)
#9. Saturn -- the 9th house occupant -- forms no major yogas, but its strength gives some meaning to its minor yoga with Mars (the 7th lord mutually aspecting the 5th lord). (Note: what makes this a minor yoga is that lordship of the 7th house is a mixed blessing as it is both a maraka house and the least important of the angular houses.)
Jupiter -- the ruler of the 9th house -- forms a Raja Yoga with the Moon (9th lord with 1st lord) but it is of minor importance because neither planet is strong. Jupiter forms both a Raja Yoga and a Dhana Yoga with Venus (9th lord with 4th lord, 9th lord with 11th lord) and these are more potent because of the strength Venus gets from being in a Parivartana yoga (see the next sentence).
The Sun -- the significator of Father -- exchanges signs with Venus, forming a Parivartana yoga that gives both of them more strength, and also acts as a Dhana yoga (lord of the 2nd exchanging with lord of the 11th).
The presence of these yogas in her chart (with chart factors signifying her Father) show her Father's success; he was an actor and ran a theater school.
#10. Julia was born into the Ketu dasha. Since her Ketu's placement in her chart (in the 4th house and with the Sun) are indicators of loss in the home life, it is no wonder that her early years were marked by strife and by her parents' divorce. In fact, during the period when her parents were breaking up, she first ran the Bhukti (sub-cycle) of the 9th lord, and then the Bhukti of the only planet in the 9th house. (In other words, problems concerning Father were inevitable.)
#11. As soon as I looked at Julia Robert's chart I noticed the impending Total Solar Eclipse. The Moon reached the position of the Sun and Ketu, causing the eclipse, four days after she was born. This is a major transit relevant to her life and to this theme, since the eclipse of the Sun represents the eclipse of her Father.
The synthesis of all of this is not as complicated as it might seem.
First a review.
The relevant planets are:
Saturn -- occupant of the 9th house
Jupiter -- the lord of the 9th house
the Sun -- 3x significator of Father (fixed karaka, Jaimini karaka, lord of the D-12 ascendant)
The planets aspecting Jupiter, the Sun, and Saturn add coloration but are not to be considered as primary influences.
Of these three planets, Saturn has both the most direct influence on the 9th house and is the strongest of the three planets, due to its retrogradation.
Saturn is a temporal malefic, indicating that it will bring difficulties to the houses it occupies and aspects, because it is the ruler of the 7th (Maraka) and 8th houses. It also only receives the aspect of a malefic, and is a natural malefic itself.
Therefore, it is no wonder that she lost her Father twice by the time she was nine years old. The first time was at age 4, when her Mother divorced her Father and she was not allowed to live with him, even though she was much closer to him than her. Then at age nine, her Father died of cancer, one of the greatest losses in her life.
That he would be removed from her life is further indicated by the aforementioned eclipse of the triply significant Sun, soon after her birth and during the dasa of the eclipsing Ketu. If the Sun had been aspected by a strong Jupiter, the benefic nature of Jupiter might have forestalled the tragedy indicated by the eclipse. The fact that the Sun is also in its weakest sign also was relevant here.
That her Father was her favorite is probably indicated by Jupiter's being in the same house as two benefics (especially since one of them is lord of the 1st house i.e. the planet that represented Julia herself), Jupiter's participation in the Raja Yoga with Venus supports the reality that her father was actually more than just a wonderful parent, he was her inspiration to become an actress.
This type of in-depth analysis might seem a bit too intensive to perform on a routine basis, but this approach highlights very important methods of ascertaining the relevant factors in evaluating life themes.
I hope it has been of value for you.
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