Ongoing Insights
In Western and Vedic astrology
By Hank Friedman

Updated Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Table of Contents:

What we show to others

The Sun and Moon in the same element

Internal and External Aspects

The Most Transformative Transits

Transcending Reductionism in Astrology: Part Two

Transcending Reductionism in Astrology: Part One

The Second House: Ownership and Self Esteem

The Importance of the Ascendant
and Confirming your Ascendant degree

Why can Vedic astrologers rectify charts so easily?

Are you an astrological Maestro?

Are mutable signs really mutable?

The distinction between the innermost planets and the middle planets

The effects of good and bad placements: the Nakshatras

Articles Comparing Western and Vedic Astrology

Where in a chart is the "Soul's Purpose"?

What we show to others

There are two major axes in a birth chart:

First House and Seventh House


Fourth House and Tenth House

Who we really are, as I've mentioned elsewhere, is shown by the First House and the Fourth House.

By way of brief summary, we identify with the First House, it's ruler, occupants, and sign; and it represents our body, our appearance, what we project upon the world, and how we approach life.

For example, a person with a Fire sign on the Ascendant (unless other chart factors negate this) will approach life as an adventure, Water risings as a place to approach carefully and to deeply connect with others, Air Ascendants as a very interesting show to watch, and Earth Ascendants as a place to accomplish things and create security.

The Fourth House, on the other hand, reveals our deeper needs, our defensive patterns, and our mental/emotional habits.

[For more on the Fourth House, see this article.]

On the other hand, both the Seventh House and the Tenth House are "away" from us.

While the Fourth House shows our "private face" that only those close to us get to see, the Tenth House shows our "public face" that we show the world, our clients, and our acquaintances.

Some societies, like the Japanese, have a very clear cultural understanding of the differences between our public and private faces, while others ignore this major principle.

Similarly, while the First House represents "who we believe that we are", the Seventh House (it's lord, occupants, sign) indicates what we see as our role and nature with our closest friends and partners.

The Sun and Moon in the same element

I was recently looking at the difference between people who have the Sun and Moon in different elements vs those who have the Lights in the same element.

Obviously, there are both advantages and disadvantages to both placements.

In general, those with the Sun and Moon in the same element:

Can experience an internal flow that is very easy and natural.

Utilize their elemental energies very fluidly.

And have little internal conflict about their nature.

However, this is often "too much of a good thing" too:

They tend to "go overboard" in the direction of the element:

In Air, they can be too detached, or scattered, or superficial, or theoretical.

In Fire, they can be too angry, dominating, blinded by and baised by their beliefs, and headstrong.

In Water, they can be overly reactive, touchy, lost in emotion, with their thinking and perceptions muddied by their feelings.

In Earth, they can be too goal and work oriented, demanding of themselves and others, and rigid and perfectionistic.

Internal and External Aspects

When one looks at the aspect lines in a chart, it is easy to see that some of the aspect lines span distances greater than others, but most people haven't considered what that means in terms of the internal vs external expression of the aspect.

To put it simply, aspects that are over 90 degrees tend to be expressed externally, i.e. in relationship to other people and life circumstances, and aspects less than 90 degrees tend to manifest internally, i.e. within the person.

External Aspects

The Opposition: This is the easiest one to understand: People who are opposed to another person, a company, or other life circumstances and issues. Early on in my practice (i.e. over 40 years ago), I had a client whose chart was filled with oppositions, and all he could talk about was his anger at his bosses and the organization he worked for. He didn't see his contribution to the issues that he had, at all.

When I thought of the question, "What famous person probably has important oppositions?", I immediately thought of Ralph Nader. He crusaded for many causes, and was very oriented towards outer issues. Sure enough, his chart has twice as many oppositions as an average chart, including Sun applying opposite Neptune, Moon applying opposite both Saturn (ruler of his chart) and the Node, and Jupiter opposite Uranus.

The Sesquiquadrate: The aspect of anxiety. Here the person is likely to worry about either external events (what if I lose my job?) or relationships, or about fears they carry that are projected upon the outer world and people.

The Trine: This one may come as a surprise to you. Many times people with a lot of trines just coast in life. A way of looking at trines: the person receives from others and life (easily flowing boons) and becomes less self-reliant and motivated as a result. (It is external challenges and chosen goals that a person sets for themselves that allow their trines to express themselves fully.)

The Middle Ground

The Square: This is the only aspect that is at the halfway point, and therefore can manifest both externally and internally, i.e. between oneself and life (other people and the world), and also internally as conflicts within oneself. Squares are the most energetic and challenging and alive of all aspects.

The person with many squares can feel that life is both very challenging and unrelenting, and/or be very motivated to achieve a lot by harnessing all of the energies that squares provide (the latter is more likely to happen if the planets involved also receive trines or sextiles).

But without the softening effect of harmonious aspects, squares can create both inner and outer conflicts and tensions that need to be addressed, as well as manifest as impactful life events.

Internal Aspects

The Semi-Square: This is a prime example of internal issues. The person with lots of semisquares many not get in conflict with others (especially if they're female) but will instead either internalize the tension (not so good for health or communication/resolution) or act out in passive aggressive and indirect ways e.g. revenge by not-doing, or by sabotaging situations, often unconsciously.

The Sextile: One of the reasons that sextiles are much harder to manifest in ones life than trines is because inner work must be done to bridge signs that are in differing elements (fire-air or water-earth). In addition, however, the internality of sextiles leads one to only gain skills and benefits, and utilize their valuable perceptiveness, by working to develop the dialog between parts and to overcome the passivity that sextiles can bring.

Smaller aspects: The 1/16th and the semi-sextile are even more deeply buried within a person, and therefore can take even longer to reach consciousness and become expressed and/or resolved.

The Ultimate Internal Aspect

In the same way that the opposition is the ultimate external aspect, the conjunction is the ultimate internal aspect.

In fact, it has been said that when the Sun is very close to another planet, it's hard for the person to see beyond themselves in that area of life.

The subjectivity of the conjunction, in other words, is greater than with any other aspect. But this can be both very good and/or a real issue. The blindness of subjectivity is obvious, but another possibility is to deeply integrate both planets' gifts together, creating a powerful synergy. While this is less common, it nevertheless does occur if the planets involved are not too disparate.

(By disparate I mean of very different natures, like the Sun and Saturn, versus the similar natures of Mars and the Sun, or of Venus and the Moon.)

And of course Vedic astrology uses planetary wars, i.e. when two of the "true planets" (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) are within a degree of each other, it causes deep inner conflict and possible wounding, which also highlights the challenge that close conjunctions present.

In summary, conjunctions can represent deep internal challenges to integrate divergent energies, or a blind spot in the psyche where a person is too self-referential, or a rare opportunity to bring a profoundly impactful united front towards life.


Therefore, those with many external aspects need to see what they're projecting upon the world and others, and own their part in the interaction, while those with many internal aspects need to dive into inner exploration and see what needs to be developed or resolved.

The Most Transformative Transits

Part One: Combined Outer Transits

While most astrologers already understand that the transits by Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto have the deepest and most far-reaching effects, and that the transits by Saturn are often the most palpable, the question remains: what are the most transformative transiting events?

This month I've been having two major transits to my Saturn:

Please note in the above chart that there is both a trine and a sesquiquadrate (square and a half) to my Saturn.

When a natal planet is being transited only by a hard aspect, the impact can be quite strong but not as easy to work with or utilize for change. But when a major trine is happening to the same planet at the same time, then much deeper transformation becomes more achievable.

The principle is: Look for time periods when a natal point is receiving both a trine and a hard aspect from the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and/or Pluto) at the same time, within a one degree orb.

However, since this month has been so incredibly deep, and since I know the structure of my chart very well, I decided to look at the sky with even more scrutiny.

Part Two: 16th harmonic aspects

When I was born, Saturn and Mars were almost exactly 1/16th of the sky apart. This uncommonly used aspect is nevertheless quite potent when within a one degree orb, and can indicate core issues buried deep in a person's chart, life, and psyche.

When I added 1/16th transiting aspects to the biwheel, it revealed a truly stunning picture of deep change:

Not only did Mars become a part of the picture, but so did my Sun-Uranus conjunction!

And my Mars-Saturn 1/16th aspect is definitely triggered!

The second principle is: Look at charts for 16th harmonic aspects within one degree as they are very sensitive places indicating deep inner dynamics. And then pay attention to hard aspect transits to any points that have 16th harmonic aspects.

If you want to add 16th harmonic aspects to your software, use one degree orb and these degrees:

22 degrees 30 minutes
67 degrees 30 minutes
112 degrees 30 minutes
157 degrees 30 minutes

And remember to also use all of the hard aspects: oppositions, squares, semisquares, and sesquiquadrates, as these are all very significant when made by transiting Outer Planets.

Transcending Reductionism in Astrology: Part Two

Let's explore the expansion of the meanings of Jupiter in two charts, one Western and one Vedic:

Kathy Bates

The famous actress Kathy Bates has Jupiter focal at the bottom of her Western chart in its own sign and as the handle of a bucket chart, and therefore is both prominent and quite strong.

As one might expect, many Jupiterian themes are prominent in her chart including:

1. Early Successes. At a time in history when most actresses who were successful were glamorous, Ms.Bates found fame and fortune based upon her excellent acting skills, not her image.

2. She has played Jupiterian roles, expressing kindness, wisdom, ethics, strength, and supportiveness in Harry's Law, Primary Colors, etc.

3. She has taken a heroic role as a Health Heroes "Game Changer" for her leadership in raising awareness about chronic lymphatic disease.

(One of the primary makers of lymph pumps, ironically, is Jupiter Medical Equipment!)

4. Jupiter is a spiritual planet, and Ms.Bates is a member of the United Methodist Church. She has crusaded for social justice, including women's rights.

Oprah Winfrey

Jupiter in Ms.Winfrey's chart is not only Lagnesa (Ruler of the Ascendant) and strong (Retrograde), but also the planet forming her most important yogas.

In other words, Jupiter more than any other planet shows her profound rise in life. Among the yogas that Jupiter participates in are:

Gaja Kesari (Moon and Jupiter in angles to each other)

Raja Yoga (Jupiter as L4 opposite Mars as L5)

Spiritual Raja Yoga (Jupiter as L1 opposite Mars as L5)

Ms.Winfrey embodies Jupiterian themes in so many ways:

Her profound generosity, charity, and philanthropy.

Her spirituality and idealism and humanitarian nature.

The good fortune that has showered upon her life and those that she's touched.

She is exceptionally wise and give excellent counsel.


The two examples above show how Jupiter expresses itself in many different ways in a person's life, and therefore how important it is to not limit Jupiter, or any planet, to only a few themes.

Transcending Reductionism in Astrology
Part One

I was just reading a new Vedic astrology book that reminded me of a common failing among beginning to intermediate astrologers, namely reducing planets or houses (or other chart components) to single themes (or too few themes).

There are astrologers, for example, who see Jupiter as just good, or lucky, or protective, or -- in the new book -- the North Node (Rahu) as representing desires.

[Note: Planets have natural as well as temporal significations. This article focuses on natural significations. If you want to learn more about temporal significations, you can read my article on The Temporal Status of Planets as benefics and malefics.]

But each chart point or part has many, many intrinsic meanings, both positive and negative, which can all manifest in the same chart.

And the art of the mature astrologer is in being able to ascertain accurately which meanings are likely to manifest in the person and their life, and when.

For example

Jupiter -- even just in its natural significations -- can mean:

Fat, extravagant, gluttonous, excessive, and exaggerative


Wise, spiritual, steady, tolerant, and kind


Over-idealistic, over-optimistic, over-generous, and over-expressive


Full of themselves, know-it-all, over-confident, and blindly zealous


Charismatic, successful, lucky, and wealthy


Philosophical, theoretical, speculative, and imaginative


Heroic, mentoring, Guru, and Pioneering.


Inspired, foretelling, anticipating, and envisioning

And I haven't even covered all that Jupiter can represent. E.g. in Vedic astrology, Jupiter also represents children and elder siblings.

In order to tease out which of Jupiter's many meanings will manifest in a person's life, one looks at the meanings of the houses it occupies and rules, the planets that aspect it -- all of the factors that impinge upon and modify the expression of Jupiter, eliciting some of its attributes instead of others.

I wrote this to provide a taste for the diversity of meanings that each planet has, and to encourage you, my readers, to be truly comprehensive or panoramic in your thinking about and explicating each of the planets, houses, etc.

The Second House: Ownership and Self Esteem

I was called to pick up my favorite Vedic Classical book, Phaladeepika, today and happened to open to the shloka about the meanings of the second house.

(For those more familiar with Western astrology, the Vedic meanings of the houses definitely have overlaps with Western astrological meanings but often add themes not found in the West.)

For example, in Jyotish the Second House indicates all vocal communication, as opposed to written, (Western astrology assigns both types to the Third House).

The Vedic Second House meanings include Punditry (expertise in a particular subject or field), family life -- especially as a child, mathematics, and ownership.

But self esteem is more of a Second House meaning in Western astrology.

When I read the word "ownership" in Phaladeepika, something clicked.

Of course, the ordinary meaning of ownership is owning possessions, but perhaps the word can be applied in a broader sense.

As you might know, I have been a practicing psychic for 47 years. (Please don't contact me for a reading as my practice is completely full and I'm not taking on any new clients for the foreseeable future).

But it was only a few years ago that my Guides -- the Angels that I channel -- informed me that they used my psychic gifts to read people. This was quite a surprise to me because for 40+ years I thought that they read people directly.

I asked them "why are you revealing this to me now?". And they replied, "Because it won't go to your head, and by owning your own psychic gifts, they will deepen considerably". And that's what has happened.

What does this have to do with the Second House? That there is a very strong link between owning ones gifts and having self esteem (both Second House significations).

And recognizing the ways that we are all unique, and have mastery, and that by owning our gifts more deeply, they will flourish.

The Importance of the Ascendant
and Confirming your Ascendant degree

I recently had an amazing day filled with deep psychological breakthroughs, and, as an astrologer, wondered, "What transits were happening that day"?

Much to my surprise, I had no transits by Saturn through Pluto, and no planet-to-planet transits at all!

But what I did have were three transits to my Ascendant: Sun trine Ascendant, Mars sextile Ascendant, and Jupiter opposite Ascendant.

This reminded me that transits to the Ascendant are paramount. In the olden days forty years ago, many astrologers dismissed the Ascendant as simply your "persona" -- how the world saw you or a superficial layer of your personality.

Even then I knew that this was a mistake. With the rise (in the West) of both Traditional Astrology (Mediaeval and Hellistic) and Vedic astrology, the truth that the Ascendant is the most important point in the chart has revived.

The Ascendant, and its Ruler, are YOU. More than any other point or planet in the chart.

No wonder this convergence of three planet upon the Ascendant, with a clear field of no other transits, was so incredibly transforming.

So how does one confirm ones Ascendant position?

Just as I have several times.

Paying careful attention to when transiting planets aspect the Ascendant, especially when they conjunct or oppose the Ascendant.

Since Mars conjuncts or opposes the Ascendant every year, that's the easiest one to track. Jupiter does so every six years, and Saturn every 15 years or so.

Watch the weeks before and after the planet is about to enter one degree before the Ascendant and note when you start feeling the planet's energies strongly. That will let you know if your Rising Sign is exactly what you think it is, or a degree or more off.

I encourage everyone to do this, as it will empower you to trust your chart more.

p.s. For those who don't know what to watch for:

When Mars impacts your Ascendant, you might experience more energy, sexuality, speediness, or anger.

Jupiter can incline you to feel more open, generous, spiritual, trusting, or stable.

Saturn can lead you to feeling more anxious, depleted, distrustful, judgmental (of yourself or others), or isolated.

Why can Vedic astrologers rectify charts so easily?

During the years when I was exclusively a Western astrologer, I had several calls to rectify client's charts.

I chose to undertake some rectification jobs, and spent many hours on each -- and had to have a deep understanding of astrology -- in order to determine an accurate birth time. I was successful, as borne out by information later discovered, but the work was incredibly laborious.

And that's why most Western astrologers don't rectify charts. (And by the way, astrology software cannot rectify charts, only advanced Western astrologers can.)

So when I dove into learning Jyotish, I was surprised to discover that Vedic astrology is perfectly designed for routine chart rectification, and most Jyotishis can and do rectify charts easily and frequently.

Why is rectification so simple in Jyotish? Let's start by understanding that Vedic astrology began thousands of years ago when timepieces were scarce and also quite inaccurate.

Vedic astrology developed with structures and procedures to be able to easily determine which birth time works for a person.

As shown in this animation:

The Whole Sign House system pioneered in Vedic astrology compensates for imprecise birth times because charts only change every two hours or so. Therefore, if you have a birth time with a possible time range of three hours, you only have to look at two natal charts to see which fits.

(Note: Western astrology also used Whole Sign Houses until the Tropical Zodiac drifted from the Sidereal Zodiac and Whole Sign Houses stopped working.)

To narrow down birth times even more, Vedic astrology has a set of harmonic charts called Amsha, Vargas, or Divisional charts that change more quickly, e.g. the marriage sub-chart, called the Navamsha, changes every 8 minutes.

There are many sub-charts (Amshas) each indicating the flow of a specific life theme such as siblings, parents, career, home, health, deaths, education, vehicles, ethics, spirituality, or vitality.

And so the Jyotishi can explore each divisional chart and compare them to how each of these life areas have panned out for the person whose birth time is in question, and thereby arrive at a relatively precise birth time.

E.g. if someone is happily married, the Navamsha should show that marriage is favorable vs a Navamsha indicating that the person never got married or has been divorced.

Are you an Astrological Maestro?

One of my pet peeves has been with students of astrology who can't wait to add as many extra points into their charts as they can.

But I was reflecting upon it today, acknowledging that different astrological factors speak to each astrologer, and so extra points can be inordinately valuable and effective in the hands of specific practitioners, as can different predictive methods, etc.

So what is a good way of thinking about this?

I came up with a musical analogy:

A preeminent conductor can work with a very large orchestra, hearing every instrument -- all at the same time!

They know when to emphasize the horn section, when to quiet down the drums, and when to change the tempo.

However, it takes years and years of hard work for a conductor become a master, a maestro.

And that is where my issue lies.

Learning has many stages:

Being introduced to and deepening ones understanding of the vocabulary. As in learning a foreign language, we need to learn the basic vocabulary before tackling a larger one.

Then beginning to understand the "parts of speech", I.e. how words are to be positioned in relationship with each other.

Next, learning grammar. Seeing how to combine words correctly to communicate effectively.

At this point, when all of the above are "under your belt" (fully digested and automatic), then creativity, inspiration, and magic begins to happen.

And so with astrology, "parts of speech" would include planets, signs, houses, aspects, etc.

I invite everyone to enjoy every step of the journey. To retrace their steps to gain even more depth (beginners mind), and to be happy to discover where they are too narrow or even wrong in their use of "language".

A juggler starts with three balls, and only later can work with bowling pins, more objects, etc.

And so do we.

Are Mutable Signs really Mutable?

I was also reflecting today on mutability and realized that while people with many planets in mutable signs can be adaptable in the moment, it would be a big mistake to think that they are open to making deep changes.

In other words, the very receptivitity and changeability on the surface can mislead us into thinking that there's a core flexibility, where there is not!

I recognize that for deep change, one needs Cardinality to initiate it, and Fixity to consolidate it.

So don't be surprised if many mutable-predominant people make major changes much less often than you might expect.

The distinction between the innermost planets and the middle planets

This week I tripped on a large backup power unit and fell.

I quickly realized that Mars was at work because the fall was due to my haste and impulsive movement.

And yes, I had transiting Mars opposing my natal Moon within a degree, applying.

This led me to reflect on the fact that in Vedic astrology, every planet influences planets in the same sign and in opposite signs, but only Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have additional special aspects.

And that these three planets, which are the only visible planets beyond the Earth, are significantly more potent in their effects than the innermost ones, e.g. by transit.

It's almost as if they are "outside of our skin" and therefore are more compelling.

I think that this is a very useful distinction, because I have certainly felt Mars transits much more than any of the transits by the innermost planets.

The effects of good and bad placements: the Nakshatras

I am continually struck by how a planet in a Nakshatra that's well placed manifests the positive qualities of a Nakshatra, while if poorly placed, manifests the negative qualities of the Nakshatra.

Of course, one could say that about other attributes besides Nakshatra placement, but it's very conspicuous there.

A couple of examples:

In Donald Trump's chart, his Moon is in Jyestha, both debilitated and eclipsed (conjunct Ketu, the South Node) and aspected by Mars.

Among the more shadowy aspect of Jyestha are being manipulative, having a false public face, fierce dominance, and not letting go and moving on or admitting defeat.

While those with positive Jyestha placements don't manifest these qualities at all, Trump certainly has.

Another example is Ashlesha. While many people with important placements in Ashlesha feel a bit different from others, only truly poor placements can create deep feelings of alienation.

And writing this led to another important insight: If the chart as a whole is either very positive or very challenged, then, to some extent, all of the Nakshatra placements are uplifted or made poor, respectively.

Take Arnold Schwartzenegger. His Saturn is not only in Ashlesha, but also combust, leading us to expect him to have very powerful Nakshatra-related issues.

(And for most people, the Nakshatra occupied by Saturn already has some challenges via Saturn.)

But his chart is so positive, with so many yogas, two benefics aspecting the Ascendant and Ascendant Lord, and the Ascendant lord is doubly strong and benefic too, that his Saturn in Ashlesha just doesn't cause major problems in his life.

(Upon close inspection, Saturn and Venus also form a lovely Raja Yoga together too).

Nevertheless, all placements do manifest, and Saturn in Arnold's chart (as 9th lord) represented his father, who was, according to Wikipedia, a man who doubted that he fathered Arnold, was very strict and punished him corporally, and had no patience or receptivity towards Arnold.

But Arnold's deeply positive makeup enabled him to rise above his early traumas.

Articles comparing Western and Vedic astrology

A website visitor mentioned that she had read my article comparing Western and Vedic astrology.

I realized that I've written many articles on this topic, and decided to list several of them here, in case others want to delve into the differences between the two astrologies:

A Journey into Vedic Astrology

The Differences between Western & Vedic Astrology

Blending Astrologies: East and West

The Houses of the Horoscope: A Vedic Viewpoint

Ending the War between the Astrologers

Approaching Jyotish

Bridge of Skies

The Vedic Signs

Paramount Considerations in Chart Interpretation

Vedic Astrology: A Time-based System

The Applicability of the Signs in Western and Vedic Astrology

The Most Important Significators of Life Themes

How I got into Vedic Astrology
and Do They -- Western and Vedic Astrologies -- Blend?

Where in a chart is the "Soul's Purpose"?

I received an email asking this question.

My response was:

"Naïve astrologers think that the nodes are the markers of soul destiny, but in both Western and Vedic charts, everything in the chart contributes to and reflects the soul lessons, purposes, and the destinies of the incarnation."

In Western astrology, every strong aspect, focal planets, predominances, and other noteworthy uniquenesses all indicate a person's specific life themes, as do so many other chart configurations.

Similarly, in Jyotish, the yogas, reinforced and convergent themes, and influences on the Lagna and Lagnesa are only of few of the many factors pointing to a person's unique destiny.

It is vital for astrologers not to have "tunnel vision" or over-simplify by focusing only on one or two chart factors. Every chart is one-of-a-kind, never to be repeated, and therefore each moment (and each birth) has its own individual attributes.

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