Blending Astrologies: East and West

by Hank Friedman

Blending Vedic and Western Astrologies -- Revisited

[Note: I explored some of these themes in a few previous articles, two of which you can read here and here.]

[I would have never advanced in Jyotish without the superlative teachings and presence of my Jyotish Guru Hart de Fouw.]

One of my readers questioned whether "mix and match isn't possible" between Western and Vedic.

I pointed out, "if you take a cohesive and self-congruent method and throw in other factors, some degree of obscuration and dilution is likely."

I should know. I practice both Western and Vedic astrologies, and yes, have even taught a workshop many years ago on using Vedic principles in your Western astrological practice.

So I'm NOT saying that cross-pollination is inevitably bad, just that before any such transfer can take place without damaging the recipient, the practitioner better have a true mastery of both."

What did I mean by "a mastery of both"?

I meant that one cannot start mixing the systems together without deep study, for years, of each one first.

And, as I know all too well, while one can develop mastery of Western astrology without a teacher present; one cannot do so with Jyotish.

(In Jyotish, one has to learn how to work with the myriad contradictions and influences. There are so many more factors to take into account when evaluating a Vedic chart than in a Western one.)


How I Blend Western and Vedic Astrology

After careful study, I've come to trust the following "cross-pollinations" between Western and Vedic astrological approaches:

1. In natal analysis, bringing to Western astrology the Vedic assessment of planetary strengths. Dig Bala, Vargottama, and Dignity are all assessed in the Vedic chart and then these strengths and weaknesses are applied to the planets in the Western chart. For example, if someone has Jupiter in Capricorn (weak) in their Western chart but Jupiter in Sagittarius (strong) in the Vedic chart, then that Jupiter is seen, even in the Western chart, as strong.)

2, In natal analysis, bringing to the Vedic chart some of the principles of planetary strength known to Western astrology, particularly the strength of the bucket handle planet (one planet alone in half the chart, as a focal point), and the strength of planets conjunct, square, or opposed the Ascendant (within 5 degrees).

3. In natal analysis, as mentioned in many places on this website, (e.g. here and here) the Vedic understanding of house meanings is much richer than the more thematic and limited meanings given in Western astrology.

The Vedic house meanings do transfer to Western astrology, and I highly recommend using them.

4. In predictive analysis, looking at the planetary transits using Western orbs (I.e. one degree applying and separating) and Western aspects (the Ptolemaic aspects plus the semi- and ses-squares) to the Vedic chart.

5. In predictive analysis, using Vedic house rulers in the interpretation of Western transits.

As those of you who have studied my articles already know, I use house rulers as reckoned in the Vedic chart (Whole Sign Houses and Sidereal Zodiac) instead of in the Western chart.

Each house ruler represents the themes of the house as much or more than the house occupants (and definitely more than the significators.)

E.g. The lord of the 7th house in the Vedic chart is the primary indicator of spouse unless the significator, Venus, is in the 7th house (or in the First House aspecting the 7th house).

(This topic is explored in depth in this article.)

And so, for example, Western transits to the Vedic 7th lord will affect your spouse and your relationship more than most other transits.

6. In predictive analysis, looking at Dasha effects in the Western chart. The Vimshottari Dasha system accurately indicates what planets are activated during each period of a person's life. One can look at the Western chart, not just the Vedic one, for insights about what themes and patterns will be energized during each Dasha and Bhukti.

7. In compatibility analysis. I use the Western chart, and especially the Tropical signs, to reveal a person's psychological nature. Therefore, I find using the interaspects between two Western charts as the best assessment tool for compatibility. Nevertheless, Vedic astrology also provides much value in synastry, particularly indicating a person's ability to commit, the characteristics of the partner, etc.

In other words, in this case, I allow both approaches to increase the accuracy and depth of the understanding of the interaction between the partners.


What Not to Blend

There are several Western astrological approaches that should never be transferred to Vedic work:

1. The Tropical Zodiac. One of the most foundational principles of Vedic astrology is the use of the Sidereal Zodiac.

Vedic astrology is much more observationally based than Western astrology, and the Nakshatras, for example, are specific star clusters, as are the Vedic signs.

To try to do Vedic astrology using the Tropical Zodiac undermines everything about Jyotish. Only those astrologers who are not part of a Vedic lineage are promoting this approach.

2. Western Dignities. As I've said elsewhere, the strength of planets by sign is much more accurately assessed using the Sidereal Zodiac and not the Tropical Zodiac. (For years as a Western astrologer ignorant of Jyotish, I kept wondering why the Western assessment of planetary strength by sign -- e.g. a planet in its own sign being strong -- never seemed to work very well.).

In addition, most Western astrologers consider a planet to be weak if it occupies the sign opposite the one it rules (e.g. the Moon in Capricorn, opposite Cancer, the sign it rules.).

This is also a mistake because in both Traditional Western Astrology (aka Hellenistic) and in Jyotish, a planet in the sign opposite the sign it rules aspects the house it rules, and therefore strengthens that house, and reinforces its role as the significator of the (opposite/ruled) house's themes.

In the example that I gave, if the Moon is in Capricorn in the 4th house, for example, it aspects the 10th house (Cancer) and therefore both strengthens the career and becomes the primary significator of career, too.

3. Whole Sign Houses. At the first Project Hindsight conference, Rob Hand asked the audience "who has tested the Whole Sign House system with Modern Western astrology". I was the only person who had done so. In all of my testing, Whole Sign Houses, which work superbly in Jyotish (and should be the primary house system used in Vedic analysis), simply add quite a bit of inaccuracy and distortion to Western chart analysis.

The reasons why the Whole Sign Houses were used in Hellenistic times is twofold: First, in this method, the chart doesn't change at all for two hour time periods, and so it compensates for inaccurate birth times (in an era when time-keeping was not very advanced). Secondly, the separation between the two Zodiacs was very little (only two degrees difference) in Hellenistic times, so it didn't matter much which Zodiac was used.

4. Aspects. The aspects used in Western astrology should not be used in Vedic work. Jyotish has its own set of aspects that work very well.

5. Sign Meanings. I've frequently encountered Western astrologers who get involved in Vedic astrology bringing Western sign interpretations into their Jyotish practice. This is a big mistake. As I said in my Mountain Astrologer article, The Vedic Signs, signs have very different meanings and attributes in Jyotish, and blending Western meanings with Eastern ones just muddies the waters.


An Example of Blending Western and Vedic Astrology

The Chart of Donald Trump

There has never been a president in recent history as controversial as Donald Trump. And as one astrologer friend recently told me, his chart "keeps on giving", I.e. it is an excellent example of so many important chart themes.

But while I may do a more thorough delineation of his chart in the future, this is the place where I'm showing how to blend Jyotish with Western, so that will be my focus.

1 Blending Signs.

I have often been asked if Tropical and Sidereal signs can be blended effectively, and how to do so.

My first exposure to this approach was introduced to me by the late Fixed Star master Diana K. Rosenberg. In one of her lectures, she said, in a completely off-handed way, "because the person has Tropical Gemini and Sidereal Taurus, they will be a blend of both."

Her very nonchalance was eye-opening, and allowed me to entertain the possibility of doing such blendings artfully.


Sidebar: Example of a Vedic truth that Western astrologers are blind to

It is important to remember the central principle, "We can't see what we don't look for.".

The perfect example of this is that Western astrologers consider all sextiles equal, and meaning "a gentle enhancement of or cooperation between planets."

But Vedic teaches, quite importantly, that the forward sextile of Saturn is a full aspect, as strong as the opposition, conjunction, or square by Saturn. And once one begins to test this out, it turns out to be completely true, even in Western natal charting and transit evaluations.

In fact, it is the forward sextile of transiting Saturn to Paul Newman's natal Saturn that is the fundamental predictive factor for his son's death.

How important is was not to miss that.


Blending Signs --continued

If we look at Trump's chart, in point of fact his Sun is in Gemini Tropically and in Taurus Sidereally. And the blending of these two signs definitely describes his behavior. On the one hand, he's changeable, impressionable, and superficial, and on the other hand, is incredibly stubborn, conservative, and materialistic.

His Mars rising and Ascendant, on the other hand, both illustrate my "keystone" principle. As I introduced years ago, if a point or planet is in the same sign in both Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs, then it deeply embodies the sign it is in. He exemplifies this Mars in his never giving up, his bullying, and his temper.

No one would dispute that Trump acts like a king, in fact an entitled, dominant, and fierce king. And since Mars gets more fiery both when it is rising (which makes it very strong) and when it's in a Fire sign, no wonder even his signature is so intense, jagged, and quickly written.

We can blend the Moon signs too. Trump's Tropical Moon in Sagittarius is clearly displayed by his impulsive and over-the-top comments, and his unrealistic, ungrounded, and hyperbolic plans, as well as his ability to enthrall, entertain, and inspire his fans.

Yet we can also see his Sidereal Scorpio at work too. He can be intense, ruthless, and secretive, as well as have a powerful influence over others. It's no wonder, for example, that he keeps his tax returns private, no matter how much pressure is applied to him.


The Nodes

As I've also said elsewhere on this website, Jyotishis have been using the Moon's Nodes (which they call Rahu and Ketu for the North and South nodes respectively) for thousands of years longer than Western astrologers, and so have a much deeper understanding of them than the very simplistic (and often erroneous) Western astrological view that the North Node is good and represents the future, and that the South Node is bad and indicates the past.

In fact, the entire raison d'etre for the nodes (I.e. the reason why the nodes were calculated at all) was to predict eclipses.

Both nodes cause eclipses, not just (or primarily) the South node. And traditionally, one of the Lights being eclipsed was an ominous event.

In Trump's chart, who is born less than 4 hours before a Total Lunar Eclipse, his mother (the Moon) was eclipsed while his father (the Sun) completely dominated over the family.


When Planets Tilt Negatively

I brought up the nodes, however, for a very different reason.

First of all, I need to remind the reader that compassion is paramount for an astrologer. The nodes represent "shadow planets" that cannot be controlled without great effort and self work. And so I see Trump as a very challenged person, not a bad one. "There but for fortune go you or I." Who's to say that we would do better than him with his chart?

And although I've used negative languaging to describe some of his attributes, above, I clearly see that he is "at the effect" of his planets (which are called, in Vedic astrology, grahas or seizers -- they seize hold of you), I.e. he is not at choice. His planets "tilt negatively" because they are powerful malefics (e.g the Mars rising) or because they are with or aspected by malefics.

And when a planet is influenced only by malefics, as his Moon is (by both Mars and Ketu), then that planet is severely impacted. Since both the Moon and the Fourth House represent the capacity for inner stability and joy, President Trump, as a result, seldom has any inner peace.

Even though the Sun in his chart is aspected by a strong Jupiter, nevertheless, the tight conjunction with Rahu (the North Node) is hugely detrimental, inflating his ego, inflaming his greed, and creating huge distortions in his perception.

He is unlikely to ever feel fulfilled, is hypersensitive to criticism, and drives himself endlessly, all due to Rahu's proximity to the Sun. And yet we also have to attribute his achievements to the same unbridled ambition.

In looking at the Dashas, we see that President Trump entered the Jupiter Dasha in November of 2016. Note that Jupiter is stationary in his Western chart, conferring it with great strength.

A Vedic analysis of this Dasha indicates both great good fortune (5th lord) and a huge number of challenges too (8th lord), while looking at the Dasha in the Western chart shows both an enhancement of and protection in his career (Jupiter aspects his 10th house planets).

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