Teachings in Western and Vedic Astrology

July 2002

The Teachings of Iyer -- Part One

[Note: the following approach is my interpretation of Iyer's methods as taught to me by my Vedic astrology teacher Hart de Fouw.]

Sheshadri Iyer was one of the most brilliant Vedic astrologers of the 20th century, and among his many advances, he shared tremendous new insights on how to use divisional charts (Vargas).

He taught that we should evaluate the meaning of each Varga chart with respect to the planets whose dasa and bhukti are running at each period of a person's life. For example, if a person is running a Venus dasa, then one would focus on the position of Venus in each varga chart.

While the rules he developed for interpreting divisional charts by these methods have a lot of exceptions and clauses, there are many very useful general principles that are definitely worth applying even before one learns all of the subtleties:

1. For both the rasi (birth) chart and for each divisional chart, when the dasa lord and the bhukti lord have a relationship in the chart (e.g. mutual aspects, exchange of signs, exchange of nakshatras, or a mixture of these) then that dasa/bhukti period will be very significant for bringing to the surface and resolving and/or fulfilling the patterns represented by the two planets in relationship. E.g. Harrison Ford's career exploded when his Jupiter conjunct Mercury in Gemini in the 10th house was activated by the Mercury Dasa, Jupiter Bhukti.

2. If a person runs several dasas in a row that are all unfavorable or all favorable, during the relevant time in their life for the matter of a specific divisional chart, then that life theme becomes "conditioned" by the repetitive pattern and unlikely to reverse course. E.g. if a person from the age of 18 onward ran dasas of planets that were well positioned in the Navamsa (marriage) chart, then even if subsequent dasa lords are poorly placed, the marriage continues to go well.

3. For each area of life, the rasi chart should never be ignored. While the appropriate varga chart may indeed carry more weight in determining the outcome during any period, the promise of the rasi is constant and when the themes of the rasi chart and the varga chart support each other, then is the most likely time of an event happening. E.g. if in the rasi chart, a person has Mars as lord of the 7th, and Mars is well placed in the Navamsa chart, then it becomes likely that the person will be married during the Dasa or Bhukti of Mars.

Note: the following rules apply specifically to divisional (Varga) charts and not to the rasi (birth) chart. Please remember that when an area of life goes poorly, it can mean that either the relationship with that theme may be difficult, or the people or activities represented by that division may have problems. For example, if your Dwadamsa chart (parents) is going through a bad dasa, then either your relationship with a parent may be strained, or the parent themselves may be having problems.

4. No matter whether associated with malefics or not, in varga charts, Mercury is to be treated as a benefic. Similarly, unless the Moon at birth was within 72 degrees of the Sun (i.e. dark) in the rasi chart, in all varga charts the Moon is to be considered a benefic. Venus and Jupiter are always benefics in a varga chart, and Sun, Mars, Saturn, and the nodes (Rahu/Ketu) are always malefics.

5. The most important factor in determining if a period will go well is the placement of the dasa lord, i.e. whether the dasa lord (or bhukti lord, see # 5 below) is in a good house or a bad house. If a planet is in house 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, or 11 then the period will go well unless there is a sankya yoga -- see the next statement #4 -- and will go poorly if in house 3, 6, 8, or 12 (again unless there is a sankya yoga). Note: the only exception to this is if Mars is in the 6th house -- and no planet is in the 8th house -- then the Mars dasa goes well. If a matter does happen, e.g. marriage, while the dasa lord is in a bad house in the Navamsa, then its outcome is not likely to be positive. In other words, a matter may either not happen or not turn out well if begun during the period of a poorly-placed planet.

6. The preceding statement (#3) is superceded by a few considerations, foremost the presence of a sankya yoga. If there are a pair (or more) planets in specific houses: 1 and 7, 2 and 12, 3 and 11, 4 and 10, 5 and 9, or 6 and 8, then a sankya yoga exists. The primary rules for a sankya yoga are as follows:

    A. If one of the planets in each of the pair of houses is a benefic (Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, or Moon) then a shuba -- good -- sankya yoga exists and the dasas of both planets will go well. For example, if Venus is in the 12th house and Mercury is in the 2nd house in the Navamsa chart, then marriage will go well in both periods (provided the person is, of course, of marriageable age).

    B. If one of the planets in each of the pair of houses is a malefic (Sun, Mars, Saturn, Rahu or Ketu) then a papa -- bad -- sankya yoga exists and the dasas of both planets will go poorly. E.g. if Mars is in the 3rd house and Rahu is in the 11th house in the Dasamsa chart, then the career will go poorly during both the Mars and Rahu dasas.

    C. If one of the planets in one of the pair of houses is a malefic and a second planet in the pair of houses is a benefic, then a mishra-- mixed -- sankya yoga exists and the dasa of the malefic will go poorly and the dasa of the benefic will be o.k. E.g. if Venus is in the 10th house and Mars is in the 4th house in the Drekkana chart, then during the Mars period, one's sibling may have problems or you may have problems with them, but during the Venus dasa neither are likely to be true.

    D. The only thing that can reverse a bad house placement or bad (or mixed for a malefic) sankya yoga and make that period positive is the aspect or association of the planet with a strong Jupiter (a Jupiter that is retrograde, or is exalted, own sign, dig bala or Vargottama in a particular varga chart).

    E. In the evaluation of Sankya yogas for the nodes, if Rahu is the only planet opposite Ketu (or vice versa) in houses 1 & 7 or 4 & 10 then no Sankya yoga exists. Another planet has to be opposite either of the nodes for the nodal period to be challenging in these house pairs.

7. Resolving Dasa lord, Bhukti lord differences. To ascertain whether a Dasa lord's control over a period will prevail, or instead a Bhukti lord will take over control of the period, there are several considerations:

    A. If the Dasa lord is in the Bhukti lord's nakshatra in the rasi chart, or in the Bhukti lord's sign in varga chart (or even in the rasi chart), or receives a unilateral aspect from the Bhukti lord (while in any of these cases, the Bhukti lord is not in the sign nor nakshatra of the Dasa lord), then the Bhukti lord "takes over" and the quality of the period should be judged by the Bhukti lord's placement and not by the Dasa lord's placement

    B. If the reverse of the above paragraph A is true, e.g. the Bhukti lord is in nakshatra of the Dasa lord, then the bhukti lord's placement can be pretty much ignored.

    C. If the Dasa and Bhukti lords are both in good houses or good sankya yogas, then a good period will occur, and if both in bad houses or bad sankya yogas, then challenges will result.

    D. If the Dasa lord is in a good placement and the Bhukti lord is in a bad placement (or vice versa), and neither takes control (see A and B above) then if they are in kendras or trines or mutual aspect to each other, some degree of blending will occur, with the dasa lord's placement the predominate influence. Otherwise, if they have no relationship at all, the Dasa lord's placement -- good or bad -- will prevail.

8. For areas of life where results are likely, e.g. a marriage or career or having children at appropriate ages, it is often the case that a bad placement will not stop the event from happening, but simply give challenging results, unless otherwise indicated in the rasi and appropriate varga chart.

9. If a karaka for a person is in the first house of the relevant varga chart, then there may be problems for that person, or the relationship may be denied or troubled. E.g. Venus (spouse) in the 1st in the Navamsa, Mars (younger sibling) or Jupiter (older sibling) in the 1st in the Drekkana, Sun (father) or Moon (mother) in the Dwadasamsa, and Jupiter (child) in the Saptamsa.

10. According to Iyer, one does not use house rulerships in varga charts (with the exception of the ruler of the ascendant). You can -- and should -- look at and use all yogas that do not depend upon house rulership in evaluating varga charts.

11. When a planet participates in the formation of many (good) yogas in the birth chart, and is well placed in a specific varga chart, then when the dasa of that planet unfolds, things will go particularly well (especially if the themes of the yoga match the meaning of the specific division). Similarly, if the dasa of that planet never happens, then we can only look to the bhuktis of that planet for the results it promises.

12. While we have focused here only on the placement of a Dasa lord, other factors certainly apply. If a planet has Dig bala or is vargottama in a particular divisional chart, that adds strength to that varga and is helpful. If a planet is retrograde (or the Moon is bright, i.e. within one rasi of Full) these add strength to a Dasa lord for all vargas, while if a planet is combust (within 3 degrees of the Sun) in the rasi or loses a planetary war, it is weaker in all vargas.

13. Similarly, if a planet is associated with or aspected by multiple malefics or in the sign of debilitation in a specific varga chart, then it is weakened, and the period - if well placed - might not be so positive, or -- if poorly placed -- could be quite challenging. If it is unassociated with malefics, and associated with benefics or in its own sign or exalted in a specific varga chart, then it is strengthened, and the period may go better than expected.

14. If a Dasa lord is in an ambiguous position, e.g. in a good house or sankya yoga but debilitated and aspected by Saturn, then the period will be mixed and not likely to give clearcut results.

I have learned about Iyers' teachings from my wonderful teacher Hart de Fouw. If I've made any mistakes in the above presentation, however, they are mine and not his.

These teachings may seem complex, but they are very valuable and worth learning and using.

Aspect Orbs in Western Astrology

One might think that the orbs to be used for determining whether two planets, either in a birth chart, between charts, or by transit, are influencing each other, would be completely understood by now.

In actuality, there are many differences of opinions among astrologers as to the orbs to use, from those who count two planets as influencing each other if they are in the same sign, to those who use only tiny orbs of a degree or less, to everyone in between.

I don't believe anyone is the ultimate authority, and would not like to be considered that myself, but here are some of my thoughts on orbs:

1. In birth charts:

    A. The stronger the orb, the more intense the internal connection. One thing that distinguishes the charts of famous thinkers is often predominance of planets in tight orb of each other (one or two degree orb). If a chart has mostly tight orbs, then the person experiences a great deal of inner integration and even if there are inner conflicts, they are conscious.

    B. If, on the other hand, there are planets not connected by major aspects (conjunct, sextile, square, trine, or opposition) to any other planet, those planets operate as fragments, parts of the person that are autonomous, not connected to the rest of the psyche. If a chart only has weaker aspects (3 degrees or wider orbs), the person may have difficulties marshalling their resources.

    C. If you widen the orbs too much, you get too many aspects, and might ignore the most important ones, i.e. those with the tightest orbs. That's why it is useful to look at a chart using only 3 degrees or less orbs as well as a chart with more normal orbs.

    D. Since sextiles join signs that are in different elements, just as oppositions do but much less energetically, I think that a smaller orb -- say half that of an opposition -- is appropriate for the sextile aspect. (I also believe that a person learns over time to develop their sextiles, while their trines represent gifts given at birth.)

2. In transits:

    A. I used to believe -- because of the teachings of Isabel Hickey -- that a transit was over after the transiting planet reached the same degree and minute as the natal point. But after careful observation, it has become clear that even after the exact "hit", the transits' effects still reverberate for quite a while.

    B. I do find that the period of a couple of days right around the time of exact hit (when the transiting planet is at the same degree and minute as the natal point) is the time when the intensity of the transit is usually highest -- and an external event may be likelier to occur.

    C. However, I also have seen that in watching many clients' and friends' transits, that if a transit has several swings (e.g. it approaches, then goes retrograde, then forward again), most of the approaches and exact hits will be inconsequential, i.e. have little or no effect.

    D. I have been consistently amazed that I have, on several occasions, literally felt a planet enter the first degree before exact transit. I therefore consider the time range from one degree before exact to exact as the most important period for any transit.

3. In Chart Comparison:

    A. Since there are many more aspects between charts, because you have twice as many points, the orbs for comparing charts should be significantly tighter (e.g. 5 degrees or less).

    B. Like in birth charts, people who have strong interaspects to your chart will relate much more strongly to you than those who don't.

    C. Interestingly, if a person has a strong aspect to your Sun, then that's what they'll trigger in you. If they have a strong aspect to your Saturn, then you'll act Saturnian around them.

    D. I definitely have found that it is just not enough for two people to have compatible signs. In one couple who were my clients, their planets were consistently in compatible signs, but almost none in close aspect to each other. They recognized their similarity of temperament, and married, but felt -- throughout the marriage -- like "passing ships in the night" -- and eventually divorced as a result of the lack of strong connections.

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