Monthly Archives: June 2015

ACVA’s Great Astrology Resources

While listening to a wonderful lecture by legendary Vedic Astrologer Chakrapani Ullal titled “Surya: The Significations of the Sun” this evening, it occurred to me that more people should know about the great resource that is ACVA’s MP3 library.

ACVA (The American College of Vedic Astrology) features an online store that sells literally hundreds of lectures by great astrologers in MP3 format. The lectures generally cost $9 if they’re about an hour and only $12-$18 for some that are four-to-five hours. This resource has played an exceptionally valuable role in my learning process.

It’s possible to sample the teachings and lecture styles of different Jyotishis at an affordable price this way; and once you find somebody you “click” with, they’ll likely have multiple lectures available on the ACVA website. (Chakrapani has an even 20!) If you’re interested in astrology – (and, if you’re reading this, I figure you probably are) – the ACVA store is worth a look even if you’re not actively studying at the moment. Out of the hundreds of lectures available to browse through, some topic or another is quite likely to catch your eye.

* After writing this post, it occurred to me that I should probably make it clear that I have no connection at all to the ACVA and, in fact, haven’t even met anybody who works there. I know people get suspicious about posts like this that promote a specific service. While that’s understandable in this day and age, I promise that all I’m doing here is spreading the word about an awesome opportunity for Jyotish lovers.

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Study: Birth Month Related to Health

A just-released Columbia University Medical Center Study demonstrates a connection between birth month and the likelihood of contracting different illnesses. This is, of course, interesting from an astrological perspective, although not as much so as it might seem to a casual observer. Only the Sun, which is one of many celestial bodies involved in astrology, returns to (virtually) the same position each day in different years. Other planets will be somewhere entirely different today than on this date a year or two or twenty from now. So, while it’s interesting to note evidence of a sort of cosmic connection between health and the Earth’s annual phases, the specific connection to astrology, quite ironically, isn’t so precise as many trying to discredit the study seem to fear.

I’ve found it amusing to come across an unusual amount of talk (regarding a major study from a respected institution) about various concerns and objections to these findings. I may have read that correlation doesn’t equal causation more today than I have in a very long time, and I’ve also come across some rather dramatically phrased warnings that people are, basically, just reading way too much into this. The extent of concern among many Americans who consider themselves scientific thinkers about the possibility that somebody might point to this study as a way to legitimize astrology is both humorous and unfortunate.

It’s unfortunate, because mysticism and science should be working together, as they do rather seamlessly in many Eastern cultures. Those who are so quick to insult the intelligence of and attempt to delegitimize anybody who even remains open-minded towards astrology would never say that almost everybody in India or Japan is an idiot; such a xenophobic ad hominem attack would be rightfully condemned. Yet, almost everybody in those nations believes in the very things that are so often called idiotic or (if a nicer word is being used) superstitious in the West. I’m sure most American “scientific thinkers” are familiar with the transitive property.

The reality is that much of what we call “mystical” or even “psychic” is simply going to be called scientific in ten, twenty or fifty years. This study is a perfect example of the melting of those borders. It doesn’t fit into many “scientific” people’s worldview, so it seems threatening to them; however, the study was done by an Ivy League medical center, not some fly-by-night group of eccentrics. And more and more studies that find a way to merge mysticism and science are almost surely going to emerge in short time. Whether it’s astrology, NDEs or past-life memories, we’ve reached the point where many members of the scientific community, often with credentials from the Ivy League or top international universities, are dedicating themselves to this sort of work. In that sense, the dam may not have broken yet, but it’s certainly sprung a leak, which makes the endgame quite predictable.

In this instance, the determining factors may not be specifically related to astrology. If I’m going to accuse those instinctively arguing against some astrological connection of simply reacting in accordance with their biases, I want to be careful not to do the same thing myself. We don’t really know why different months seem to have specific lifelong health impacts. However, the holistic idea of health being naturally connected to the Earth’s yearly phases seems like common sense to me and, I’m sure, to practitioners of Eastern medicine, mystics of all sorts, and even just regular people who live in a manner that’s more in touch with nature than the average 21st-century Western lifestyle.

I would love to see this sort of large study focused on subjects from a single year, so that all the planetary positions (instead of just the Sun) would be consistent for each date for the participants. Then we could easily see if there’s a relation between astrology and health in this manner. Unfortunately, I think that study is unlikely to be funded anytime soon, at least in the US.

In the meantime, I wonder if astrologers will be able to run their own smaller studies, or even sift the data from this study and find patterns. I’ve long been curious (and even a little suspicious) about astrological placements and combinations related to health and physical appearance. It seemed to me that if such indications were as precise as many astrologers claim, it should be relatively simple to provide proof. But maybe it’s just that nobody cared enough to try proving it yet; after all, it’s not like astrology studies get much in the way of funding. And maybe, someday, this study will be looked back on as a key factor in changing that.


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Planetary Exaltation and Debilitation

The concepts of planetary exaltation (i.e. the “easiest” sign for a planet) and debilitation (i.e. the “most challenging” sign for a planet) are often considered to be astrological fundamentals. Yet, many people view exaltation and debilitation through a simplistic and inaccurate prism of good and bad.

If you haven’t read my post on “The Planets As People,” which forms a sort of framework for much of the discussion on Astro Thoughts, looking it over before reading further might be helpful. That’s because viewing the planets as people, which means being aware of their specific personalities, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, is a big help in understanding how they respond to different environments.

If, for example, if Mars is placed in its exaltation sign of Capricorn, Mars’s specific nature makes it comfortable and allows it to express itself as an energetic, brave and action-oriented planet within Capricorn’s house. However, if Mars is located in its debilitation sign of Cancer, it becomes uncomfortable within Cancer’s calm, nurturing environment, often resulting in Mars “acting out” and expressing unhealthy qualities such as loss of temper, obnoxious behavior and so forth.

Yet, being comfortable isn’t necessarily a recipe for success and being uncomfortable isn’t necessarily a recipe for failure. Some people excel where their exalted planet is located, taking advantage of the opportunity for that planet to fully express its positive qualities. For others, the same scenario may lull them into a false sense of confidence, resulting in wasted potential. Sometimes, a difficult, uncomfortable life situation crushes somebody’s confidence and makes that person timid, but for a others, such a roadblock can serve as added motivation.

Furthermore, each planet’s exaltation sign and debilitation sign are directly opposite one another (i.e. 180 degrees apart in the zodiac), so a debilitated 4th-house Mars, for example, will be uncomfortable regarding 4th-house indications such as the home environment, yet its opposition aspect will reflect on its exaltation sign, sending powerful, positive Martian energy to the 10th house, which is related to career and status.

Ultimately, the biggest lesson of exaltation and debilitation may be that the importance of analyzing every chart as a whole cannot be overstated. Although much of the learning process must occur step-by-step or the information would overload students and fail to register properly, the reality is that every chart is an organic entity that is equal to much more than the sum of its parts.

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Nakshatras Beyond the Moon

One of my favorite parts of Vedic astrology is the nakshatras, a series of 27 fixed stars. They’re most commonly utilized in reference to the Moon, but they also relate to the other planets. After all, in the same manner that the Moon is located in a specific nakshatra at any given time, so are all the other planets. Nakshatras are just like the normal zodiac signs in this way.

In fact, I wonder if the emphasis on the Moon nakshatra is mostly just because Vedic astrology is an ancient system and people didn’t tend to have precise birth times until recently. If somebody isn’t sure about his or her birth time, the ascendant changes too often (about every two hours) to conclusively determine it. When this happens, astrologers will generally make a “Chandra Lagna” (Moon Ascendant) chart, placing the Moon in the first house and positioning the other planets accordingly. Even when the ascendant is known, looking at the chart from the Moon, as well, remains a valuable technique. Continue reading

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Taylor Swift and Ardra Nakshatra

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I find the most interesting feature in Taylor Swift’s horoscope to be her Moon (and Jupiter) in the nakshatra of Ardra. This is notable because Ardra is about creating something beautiful out of destruction. It literally translates to “the moist one” – (although probably not in the way you’re thinking) – as it represents storms that can result in a harvest. It’s often considered one of the most challenging nakshatras, because the person has to go through so many emotional “storms.” However, if the metaphorical rain is utilized properly, the result can be a great bounty.

Sometimes an astrological indication is such a literal fit that it almost makes me start laughing. I think we can expect the metaphysical to speak to us in symbols and riddles to such an extent that it seems surprising when it gives us a straight answer. However, as I continue to study astrology, I’m noticing clear, straightforward indications more and more frequently. In this case, Swift is a musician who is famous for writing hit songs about her break-ups. So, she’s creating something beautiful – or certainly a bounty, even if you’re not a big fan of her music – out of her emotional storms. Of course, she writes songs about plenty of other topics, too, but she’s probably better known for “break-up songs” than any other musician, which is an obvious interpretation of Ardra. Continue reading

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The Planets As People

Sometimes it can be tricky for astrology students to get a feel for how different planetary energies express themselves and interact with each other. Viewing the planets as people has been a significant help to me in this regard. Some astrologers suggest viewing the planets as gods, which I think works out about the same. Without getting sidetracked in a theological discussion, I’ll just say that for the purpose of astrology, capturing the planets’ archetypal nature by picturing them “come to life” is key. Of course, they are “come to life”… but sometimes that can be easy to forget when the process of study tends to make almost anything feel academic. This is one reason I like doing celebrity horoscopes – they’re a way to discuss astrology literally happening, as opposed to hypotheticals.

I’ll use this as a jumping off point for further discussion about planets in signs and houses, aspects, dashas, varga charts and pretty much everything else. For that reason, I want to keep it pretty simple and just focus on who the planets are and what they’re all about. There are multiple indications for some planets, and I’m not addressing every last thing here; this is just meant to be an introduction and reference sheet.

The Sun (ruler of Leo) is the father, king and general. The Sun is in charge and likes it that way; the Sun’s individualistic nature and ambition make the Sun want to shine, but sometimes the Sun can forget about fair play, equality and humility.

The Moon (ruler of Cancer) is the mother and a representation of the mind and emotions. The mind and emotions are what make us human and the archetypal mother cares for us and nurtures us. The Moon is loving, kind and thoughtful, but can become clannish and overly attached to routine. Continue reading


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Woody Allen Horoscope Analysis

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What really jumps out at me is how Woody Allen is blessed with an abundance of energy and discipline… well, at least in his work. His later-life productivity is a textbook example of what a strong Saturn, Mars and 6th house can accomplish. Fans of Allen know that he’s made a movie almost every year for four decades now and some of his best work (“Midnight in Paris,” “Match Point” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” for example) has come in the new millennium.

Allen’s early entertainment industry jobs that led to his film opportunities occurred during his Rahu dasha, which also encompasses most of his childhood and all of his adolescence. Then, after his Jupiter dasha is over, Rahu (the north node of the Moon) plays a key role again during Allen’s successful but scandalous Saturn dasha, as it co-rules Aquarius, where Allen’s Saturn is located. As is the case with many famous people, Rahu has clearly had a significant influence on Allen’s life. Continue reading

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