Teachings in Western and Vedic Astrology

September 2002

Vedic Astrology: A Time-based System

Among the primary differences between Western astrology and Vedic astrology is that the latter is much more of a time-based system.

While most Western astrologers look at a natal chart and assume that all of the patterns in the chart will manifest, this is not so in Vedic astrology. In Jyotish astrology, instead, it is understood that:

For a pattern in a chart to manifest fully in a person's life, the person MUST run the dasa and bhukti (period and subperiod) of the planets that are part of the pattern during an appropriate period of their lives.

This statement, which is central to the effective use of Vedic astrology (and perhaps might well be applied to Western astrology with much benefit) needs to be clarified and elaborated upon:

1. Charts contain many patterns -- called yogas in Vedic astrology -- which are formed by two planets being in specific signs, houses, lordships, or aspects. For example, the shakata yoga is formed by the Moon being 6 or 8 houses from Jupiter (counted inclusively) while the gajakesari yoga is formed by the Moon being in the same house as, or 4, 7, or 10 houses from, Jupiter.

2. Each yoga has its own meaning, and affects the quality of a person's life IF that yoga manifests during a person's lifetime.

3. In order to manifest during a person's lifetime, the dasa (planetary period) of one of the planets and the bhukti (subperiod) of the other planet must occur while the person is alive.

4. Furthermore, if the dasa and bhukti run when the person is a child, or run very late in life, the yoga may not have a major effect on the person's life.

5. While a yoga may have a smaller "background" effect at all times in a person's life, when the dasa and bhukti of the planets involved runs, then the yoga reaches its full effect.

6. As mentioned in other articles on this website, if the yoga is mediocre to begin with (e.g. the planets are neither powerful nor debilitated in the chart), then the effect during the relevant dasa and bhukti will also be mediocre. If, on the other hand, a positive yoga is comprised of at least one powerful planet, or an adverse yoga is comprised of at least one seriously weakened planet, the results of the dasa and bhukti will be marked.

7. As I have written before, this approach allows the astrologer to understand exactly when natal patterns will ripen. Even without using divisional charts, one can often see when marriage is most likely, when financial difficulties or advances may occur, and for the psychological astrologer, when lifelong issues will be confronted and resolved or healed.

8. The use of a truly time-based system makes comprehensible why two people may have stellar charts, but only one of them has a stellar life. If the opportunities to manifest the patterns in the chart are time-based, and can only happen during certain periods of the life, then the expressions "strike while the iron is hot" and "save for when you need it" take on even greater significance.

A recent example of the latter: A client came to me with the aforementioned shakata yoga in their natal chart. They confirmed that their income level varied greatly at different times in their lives. In fact, they were (predictably) in a low period at the moment. They had already cultivated the (excellent for shakata yoga) habit of saving money, but didn't allow themselves to spend any savings when times were slow. I advised them that that was one of the purposes of their savings, to help equalize the cash flow in their lives, so that they could weather the slow times with more grace and comfort. The permission to do so was a great relief for them.

Taking Western Charts in Context: When is a Scorpio not a Scorpio

Important Note: in the following paragraphs, whenever I don't mention whether a sign is Tropical -- i.e. what is used by Western astrologers -- or Sidereal -- used by Vedic astrologers, know that I am using the Tropical/Western sign.

Today I had a client with five planets in Scorpio who had had many chart readings.

I asked her: Have you ever had astrologers tell you things about Scorpio that just didn't fit you?

She said -- as I knew she would -- that, yes, many things were wrong, including the emphasis on power, sexuality, passion, and control of others.

How did I know she would have this response?

1. I use the Equal House System in constructing Western charts. Over 90% of the astrologers that I've met who have rigorously tested house systems have found the Equal House System to be the most accurate. In her chart, with any house system that places the Midheaven as the 10th house cusp, -- e.g. Placidus, Koch, and Campanus -- her Uranus would have been the strongest planet in her chart (almost exactly on her Midheaven) and astrologers using these systems would have erroneously predicted that she was independent, free-thinking, innovative, and pursued her own interests. In fact, none of these were true.

By the Equal House method, she had Saturn at the top of her chart and thereby the strongest planet. And indeed, all of the qualities I described to her for her Saturn -- seriousness, deference to authority, anticipation of things that could go wrong, self-judging, and self-inhibition -- were completely true for her. Her strong Saturn was therefore a factor in keeping her Scorpio from being free to be passionate, assertive, and sexual.

(Note for professional astrologers: both planets were in Gemini, and the conjunction between Uranus and Saturn was very wide. Also, I have consistently found Saturn in the Air signs of Gemini and especially Libra to not carry as much personal authority. )

2. All of her Scorpio planets were in Sidereal Libra. After much research, I have consistently found that people with planets in late Scorpio that stay in Scorpio in the Sidereal Zodiac too, are much more typical Scorpios, with great impact upon others, emotional intensity, sexuality issues, etc. Since none of her planets stayed in Scorpio, they were a blend of Scorpio and Libra, and indeed she was very accommodating, other-directed, and even codependent at times.

3. Her rising sign was Virgo. I must immediately state that Virgo rising, by itself, does not inhibit the libido. It may make a person a little more discreet, but is not in any way anti-sexual.

But the rising sign is the "gatekeeper" controlling what comes into a person and what comes out of them. Virgo rising would exacerbate the Scorpio's sensitivity to criticism and reenforce the seriousness reflected by both the Scorpio planets and the focal Saturn. Most importantly, however, Virgo rising, especially in the charts of women, increases the likelihood that the person will be cooperative, of service, responsive, and introverted (as opposed to controlling others, pushy, or in any way dominant).

The Virgo rising -- in combination with the Scorpio -- kept her from confronting others even on the smallest issues, both from the already-mentioned magnified fear of criticism and from the also reenforced patterns of self-inhibition, self-containment, and self-control.

4. Finally, her Pluto in Leo squared all of the Scorpio planets. If I took this aspect out of context, I would have told her that she got into power struggles, had a "queen" part that wanted to be the center of attention, and may have even encountered violence. And I would have been all wrong. Because of all of he factors I've mentioned above, it fell upon the men in her life (father and husband) to embody the power, which she lost access to. In other words, her chart predisposed her to meekness, and showed that others in her life would be the powerful ones.

5. I must add that I am in no way fatalistic. Over time, people develop both the courage and skills to deal with their life (and chart) issues more and more effectively, and become more and more successful in their quest for authenticity, selfhood, and wholeness. And a skilled astrologer can shine a light on the patterns that stand in the way of self-realization, and even help the client find the (inner and outer) resources that will help them achieve their goal.

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