Approaching a Western Chart
When a novice approaches an astrology chart, they often wonder what to look at, what will dominate, what is important?
Do they focus on the Sun and Moon, the asteroids, the aspects, the general shape of the chart, what?
One of the first suggestions that I make is to prepare a notebook of charts for yourself. Put charts in the notebook in alphabetical order, and include the charts of family members, friends, and famous people you feel you know well. Exclude charts where the birthtime is uncertain or rounded off (e.g. 10 am), so that you can trust house positions and the Moon and Rising signs.
If you have Solar Fire 5, you can actually prepare pages with six (or more) different people's charts on them. Just remember to place all of the charts with last names beginning with A on one page, etc., so that you don't have to search for anyone too hard.
Use this notebook to test your own ideas and those you read in books. Don't take other astrologers statements as the "gospel truth." Each astrologer has their strengths and weaknesses, and it's hard for a beginner to know which books and authors are reliable and which are not. I've found that even the most famous authors have books and insights that are valuable and others that are not. (You can also select books to read from my astrology reading list.)
Among the themes I'd like to emphasize today are:
1. The power of the rising sign. The Ascendant controls the expression of all of the points in the chart. Read my essay on this here.
2. The importance of the first house. Separate from the considerations in #1 is the fact that if there are planets in the first house, then they often have a profound impact on not only the self image but on the whole manner of expressing and embodying oneself. Never ignore first house planets.
3. Focality. The method I use to determine which planets are strongest is as follows:
A. Planets conjunct, square, or opposite the Ascendant within 6 degrees or less are very, very strong in the chart.
B. The Sun and Moon are always important, as are planets in tight (5 degrees or preferably less) aspect to them.
Note: with both A and B above, the closer the planet or aspect to the Sun, Moon, or Rising, the stronger the emphasis. Therefore a planet 2 degrees from being exactly square the Ascendant is much stronger than one 5 degrees above the Ascendant. Note also that I specifically omitted the M.C. from this consideration. I do not find planets conjunct the M.C. to carry as much weight or influence.
C. Bucket Handles. If a planet (or group of conjunct planets) is alone in half of the sky (i.e. with no planets in the two houses on either side of them), then they are very much strengthened and very important in the chart.
D. Stationary Planets. If a planet stood still within a day of the birth date, the planet becomes stronger and more important in the interpretion.
4. The Strongest Aspects. Some astrologers don't realize that the strongest aspects in the chart carry the most energy. Draw a chart with only aspect lines having one and a half degree orb or less. This "x-ray chart" will show you the strongest dynamics in the chart.
5. Accurate Assessment of Predominances. I am a very big advocate of looking at what elements, modes, hemispheres, etc. predominate in a chart. There must be a clearcut predominance for this theme to be important, but just counting numbers is not enough. If a person has their Rising, Sun, Moon, and another focal planet (other than Saturn*) in fire, they definitely have a fire predominance.
*Since Saturn has difficulty in Fire and Water signs, I omit counting it in assessing how many planets are in fire or water (if it is in those elements).
I could go on and on with these themes. Email me if you want me to expand on this subject. Thanks.
Approaching a Vedic Chart
I have just finished my Level 2 Intensive training in Vedic astrology with my teacher Hart de Fouw. (Which is, incidentally, why there was no October 2000 article in this series. I had too much homework!)
He taught us the following sequence to follow in analyzing a Vedic chart:
1. Yoga analysis:
Yogas set the context for the life, how far above or below the norm a person's life is, and in what areas. Yogas are more important and more influential than the simpler analysis of the effect of planets in or ruling houses.
Examine which yogas are in each chart. Ascertain how strong the planets in each yoga is, and therefore how potent the expression of that yoga is.
Remember that the positive yogas vary tremendously in strength, and are not really manifest unless they:
A. involve very well conditioned planets (e.g. retrograde, own sign, or exalted, or full moon)
B. Repeat from the Chandra (Moon) and Surya (Sun) lagna (ascendant).
C. and the planets involved are not seriously afflicted (by the nodes, Saturn, Mars, or
combust w/in 6 degrees).
For bad yogas:
A. None of the planets can have strength (see point A above).
B. If one or more of the planets is debilitated, combust, and rules or occupies a bad house (6, 8,
12) the bad yoga is amplified.
C. And none of the planets involved should be aspected by or conjunct a benefic, especially a strong one
(Jupiter, Venus, full Moon) for the bad yoga to be truly potent.
2. Lagna analysis:
The status of the Ascendant, its occupants, aspects, and lord determine how well the person weathers their lives, and how well they can utilize the gifts that they are given.
Examine these factors from the Ascendant, the Moon (as the first house) and the Sun (as the first house).
3. House analysis:
The strengths and problems within specific houses can be examined in the same way as the inspection of the Ascendant in #2 above.
In order for an area or theme of life (i.e. a house) to really be noteworthy, all of the factors should be congruent. That means that there should be only good influences on the house, its occupant and its lord for very good results, or the opposite for very bad results. Use the methods outlined in what makes a yoga purely good or bad to ascertain house patterns, too.
Note: I do not believe that "bad" manifestations are necessarily taken as bad by the person. Fame, for example, is not good for everyone, and for some people, not having a child, spouse, or brother is actually an important part of their learning process. Our lives are well-designed to teach us what we need to learn. The kind of analysis I'm describing here can give indications of outer manifestations, but how we respond to and relate to each facet of our lives is the most important thing.
4. Special features
Each chart has unique features. Make note of them.
5. Dasha/Bhukti analysis
Particularly notice the sequence of dashas in childhood, and how they color the person's formative years. Also notice which dasa and bhukti pairs actually have a relationship in the birth chart, as these periods represent the fruition of and/or potential resolution of important life themes.
6. Transit analysis
The outer planets, Saturn and Jupiter, have a more potent effect than the inner ones.
7. Sub-chart analysis
The methods of S. Iyer are excellent for examining the predictive value of the varga (a.k.a. amsha or divisional) charts. Notice again the Dasa sequence from birth, which conditions the person's life in each of the areas represented by each subchart.
In particular, if a person runs the dasha of the lord of the ascendant of a particular subchart, the position of that planet in the subchart sets the tone for the remainder of the life.
Use the subcharts to analyze the accuracy of the birthtime.
9. Ancillary methods
Use whatever methods you are facile in (e.g. palmistry, Tarot, Western Astrology, psychic intuition) to confirm what you get from the chart.
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