Category Archives: Observations

An 11th House “Trick” for Friendships and Groups

In Vedic Astrology, the 11th house represents friends and groups.* I’ve found this representation to be consistent in the charts of people I know well and the charts of famous people I’ve studied whose lives are mostly public record. It’s also related to a sort of astrological “trick” that can help us find the friends and groups that are most likely to increase our fulfillment and happiness.

Planets that are either located in the 11th house or aspecting the 11th house lord impact our experiences with friendships and groups in two specific ways. They provide information about how fortunate we are in these matters and they also suggest which qualities will result in positive experiences with friendships and group activities. For example, a tight aspect from Saturn to the 11th house lord will probably result in at least some significant problems related to friends and groups as just an unavoidable part of life. However, choosing friends and groups that represent the positive qualities of Saturn can allow somebody with this aspect to make the most out of it and have many fulfilling experiences in these areas, as well. This might mean consciously spending time with people and organizations that are serious-minded, reliable, older than them, etc. Utilizing this sort of Saturn influence to form bonds with deep thinkers you can really trust and count on could be quite a blessing.

On the other hand, somebody with (for example) exalted Venus in the 11th house, absent other influences, will naturally be more inclined than average to have positive experiences with friends and groups. Yet, such a placement is hardly a “free pass,” as the Venus person could potentially end up with friends who are materialistic and self-centered – instead of artistic, devoted and refined – if her priorities are off the mark. Once you understand which planets are influencing your 11th house, you’ll be able to see how those planets have been represented by your friends and groups throughout your life. Then it’s up to you to emphasize the qualities that will enhance your life and avoid the ones that might drag you down. Mars in or aspecting your 11th house? Make friends with athletes and people with strong competitive drives, but try to avoid violent people and groups. Jupiter? Find knowledgable, generous friends but watch out for rigid ideology and fundamentalism. You get the idea.

Indications regarding friendship will be essentially “mixed” in many charts. To interpret a chart with multiple 11th house influences, just remember that they all count and nothing “cancels out” anything else. The late musician Prince had Pluto in his 11th house and his 11th lord conjunct Mercury in his 8th house. As one might expect, some of his friends were prominent or famous (represented by Pluto). His involvement with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (represented by the 8th house’s connection to unusual-seeming religious groups, which some people may consider “cults”) and his close friendships with people in the communications industry (represented by Mercury) were also important parts of his life. Prince was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, attending Kingdom Hall services regularly for the last 15 years or so of his life, and two of his closest friends were CNN political commentator Van Jones, who founded a program – with financing help from Prince – called “Yes We Code” that teaches inner city kids computer skills, and NBC anchor Tamron Hall, who was on the cover of one of Prince’s last single releases and took time off work to grieve following his death. Earlier in Prince’s life, many of his friends were fickle – (one of the less admirable indications of Mercury) – he even wrote a song in the 1980s called “Old Friends 4 Sale” with lyrics referencing people he trusted who betrayed him in unexpected, hurtful ways, such as selling personal information, mixed with salacious lies, to the National Enquirer.

If it wasn’t clear already, the point of this article is not to check your 11th house and rejoice if you have Jupiter and Venus there or mope if you find Saturn and Mars. While the state of the 11th house and its lord does help point out the likelihood of potential problems (or lack thereof) regarding friends and groups, the most important part of knowing about your 11th house is how you use that information to build a more fulfilling life. Difficulties and challenges can become our most important growth experiences, and if friends and groups are entirely “smooth sailing” for you in this life, I imagine it’s because your karma this time around is to focus on growth experiences in other areas (such as career, romance, spirituality, etc.). Besides, if you actually do have Saturn and Mars conjunct in the 11th house, that makes it easy – just befriend retired athletes 🙂

*Other areas of the chart can also give us relevant information about friends and groups – a few examples of this include general happiness and comforts (4th house) and, for many people, peers and competitors (3rd house and Mars) or business partners (7th house) – but the 11th house is the primary factor. 

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A Tip About Exaltation and Debilitation

Most people who have a cursory knowledge of astrology think of exaltation as the best position for a planet and debilitation as the worst. From this starting point, it would seem logical to figure that a horoscope with exalted planets is “better” than one with debilitated planets.

This isn’t necessarily accurate and, in fact, debilitated planets may do quite well in certain ways. For example, since the Sun is traditionally a planet of leadership, self-esteem and charisma, when debilitated in Libra it can’t function in its natural manner as easily and, thus, is likely to become more focused on fairness and working well with others – the “debilitation” isn’t a handicap as much as it is an adjustment away from the planet’s archetypal state of functioning.

However, even if the assumption that exaltation is the most desirable position for a planet and debilitation is the least desirable is taken as a rough starting point, meaningful analysis of these placements involves an important – and often forgotten – factor.

Exaltation points and debilitation points are exactly opposite one another in the zodiac and every planet aspects the position opposite itself. This means if, for example, Venus is in Virgo (its debilitation sign) in the 4th house of a horoscope, then Venus aspects its exaltation sign (Pisces) in the 10th house. Such a person might flourish in a Venusian career, since the 10th house, which represents career and status, receives Venus’s aspect onto its sign of exaltation. In fact, this example comes from the chart of a professional artist I know.

Remembering to look at the aspects from exalted or debilitated planets and not just the planets themselves is an easy way to add more specificity and depth to chart analysis. The symmetry involved with this concept also extends to placements other than exaltation and debilitation. Planets in their own signs are opposite their “detriment” (i.e. one step up from debilitation) and vice versa, while a planet’s “friendly” signs are opposite “enemy” signs and its neutral signs are opposite other neutral signs.

One of the great lessons of Eastern spiritual traditions is the concept of perpetual balance in the universe. To give a common example, this can be visually represented by the yin-yang symbol, which shows us that there is no light without darkness and no darkness without light.

In this same manner, exaltation and debilitation naturally incorporate each other’s energy at the most basic level.



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Astrology and Music: Prince and Michael Jackson

When art moves you on a deep, emotional level, there’s likely to be a clear astrological connection between you and the artist. If you look at your birth chart “layered” on top of your favorite artist’s birth chart (an astrological technique known as “synastry”), you will usually find that the artist’s Moon, Venus or Ascendant tightly aspects your own Moon, Venus or Ascendant.

Prince and Michael Jackson are my favorite musicians. I used to think this was just because I had great taste in music 🙂 Then, I noticed that Prince’s Moon is within less than a degree of my Ascendant and Jackson’s Ascendant is within less than a degree of my Venus. Apparently, if I’d been born on a different day, I’d be into Liberace instead.

The part of the zodiac I share with both Prince and Jackson is the middle portion of Aquarius that falls under the domain of Satabishak, which is among the most mysterious, mystical and secretive of the nakshatras. Ruled by Rahu, the north node of the Moon, Satabishak is symbolized by a hundred physicians or, alternatively, an empty circle. This suggests an existential crisis so unique and perplexing that someone may consult multitudes in desperation before eventually realizing he must cure himself.

As with the Upanishads’ philosophy of “Neti neti,” which literally translates to “Not this, not this” and points to a path of ascertaining truth by continuously eliminating the false, Satabishak tears away comforts and expectations until one is face to face with the void. This level of intensity can manifest as the great blessing of a window into the divine but has also resulted in Satabishak’s connection to alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide. Satabishak is a spiritual, creative and fascinating nakshatra… but it’s definitely not an “easy” nakshatra. Both the difficulties and the blessings associated with Satabishak have played significant roles in the lives of Prince and Michael Jackson.

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The Astrology of Terrorist Attacks

World events tend to provide especially clear examples of astrological patterns. The chart for a declaration of war, an economic crash or a terrorist attack will normally contain fewer variables and mixed signals than natal astrology. This is because an individual person is generally a combination of a wide variety of personality traits and influences that manifest over many decades, but (for example) the morning of September 11, 2001 in New York City is primarily a snapshot of a single major occurrence.

While viewing the chart for the recent Paris terrorist attacks* (on November 13, 2015), I noticed an aspect of less than three degrees between Mars and the nodes (i.e. Rahu and Ketu)**. The September 11, 2001 chart, analyzed in this post, includes an aspect of less than one degree between Mars and the nodes.

Since I wondered how consistent this sort of placement was in the charts of major terrorist attacks, I looked up the July 7, 2005 London attacks, as well. The day of the London attacks included Mars aspecting the nodes by less than one-and-a-half degrees. To put this information in context, an aspect of three degrees or less between Mars and the nodes only occurs for an average of less than two weeks per year.

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Mars in 1st House: Three Examples

It’s been proven that people learn foreign languages most effectively by the “immersion” method of being surrounded by the language in its natural context. Sure, you’ll still ask questions to clarify certain points and you might spend a little spare time brushing up on the basics, but the main way you become fluent in a new language is to fully experience that language as it’s naturally used.

In my view, astrology is essentially a language… and I’ve learned much more about astrology from reading and listening to expert astrologers explain charts or astrological concepts – even when they were speaking “over my head” – than I have from part-by-part lessons. That’s why I write so many chart analyses and concept-driven posts and why, even in my “basic” posts, I try to connect the subject to a broader astrological discussion. This post is titled “Mars in 1st House” and (of course) I’ll write about Mars in the 1st house, but hopefully with enough context included to form the astrological equivalent of a realistic “conversation.”

I’ve recently posted about the charts of two very different people with Mars in the 1st house and also looked over the chart of a close friend with Mars in the 1st house. All three examples clearly demonstrate how Mars may function in this position, yet each of these people also has Mars in a specific sign and nakshatra – (along with other planets in different positions, of course) – resulting in strikingly unique life choices and personality traits. For my Astrology and Enlightenment series, I profiled the great sage Nisargadatta Maharaj, who has Mars in the 1st house in Gemini and the nakshatra of Punavarsu; in my political astrology posts, I’ve discussed Donald Trump, who has Mars in the 1st house in Leo and the nakshatra of Magha; and my friend, whom I’ll call Henry, has Mars in the 1st house in Virgo and the nakshatra of Hasta.

If you’re wondering what Nisargadatta Maharaj and Donald Trump have in common, both are (or were in Nisargadatta’s case) near-tireless, quick to anger, and have/had unusually strong, memorable personalities. However, if I stopped there and explained “Mars in the 1st house” as representing these characteristics, you would probably think, “Yeah, right… so this placement can represent either a bombastic billionaire businessman or a great sage who was so humble he lived in a small flat near Bombay’s red light district almost his entire life. Thanks for narrowing it down for me.”

So, let’s look deeper. Trump’s Mars is in the fire sign of Leo, while Maharaj’s Mars is in the air sign of Gemini. (Each sign is associated with either fire, air, earth or water.)  It’s not an accident that terms such as “fiery” and “hot-blooded” refer to people who behave passionately and impulsively or that we call people who draw attention to themselves by putting on a big show “flamboyant.” Air signs are connected to their own cultural terminology. We refer to people as “high-minded” if we think they have something important to say or “long-winded” when we think they’re just talking for no good reason. The basic functioning of Leo is expressive and fiery, while the basic functioning of Gemini is talkative and airy. However, we should also note that Mars itself is a fiery planet, so it would make sense to view Trump’s Mars as “fire-meeting-fire” but Nisargadatta’s Mars as “fire-meeting-air.”

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Astrology and Enlightenment, Part 3

If you’ve missed my first and second posts in this series on astrology and enlightenment, which focused primarily on Krishnamurti and Osho, this is the third and final post in that series.

I wrote this series because I feel that sages – because of their unfiltered, genuine reactions – make for especially strong examples of different astrological influences. I also hoped to demonstrate that enlightenment occurs to all types of people with all types of personalities and that there is no litmus test – and if I could explore astrology in a meaningful way through the examples of Krishnamurti, Osho and Nisaragadatta Maharaj, all of whom I personally find fascinating – even better!

This post both wraps up the series and explores the life and astrological chart of Nisargadatta Maharaj, a householder who was moved at a young age to become an especially sincere follower of a local guru in the tradition of the Navnath Sampradaya, an ancient Tantric sect. Soon, the unreal dissolved for Nisargadatta and, expecting that multiple cigarette shops he owned would support his family in his absence, he left for the Himalayas and became a wandering sage.

Eventually, Nisargadatta returned home, but only one of his shops remained in business. He focused on stabilizing his family’s economic situation – (at least to the extent that getting by in a Bombay slum can be considered stable) – and as people noticed the remarkable change that had happened to him, he also began speaking to seekers after work in his flat. Over time, he drew the attention of skilled translators and, during the 1970s, he became known in the West.

Natal Chart for Nisargadatta Maharaj

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At a glance, the most striking feature in Nisargadatta’s chart is an exactly full moon, a rare placement which commonly results in an exceptionally “bright” and larger-than-life persona, along with the potential to have an unusually strong impact on others. According to Vedic lore, many avatars were born during full moons, and some of the most iconic figures in modern times (such as Charlie Chaplin, to give one example) also have this placement in their natal charts.

Nisargadatta’s Mars is located in his Ascendant, representing his well-known temper and fiery nature. Like Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta has an exalted Sun; however, while Krishnamurti never cared much for speaking to people or for being seen as a guru, Nisargadatta found joy in communicating his message of universal love to earnest seekers, many of whom became regulars at his flat for years or even decades.

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Astrology and Enlightenment, Part 2

As discussed in part 1 of this post, one of Krishnamurti’s final requests was not to have any monuments or temples built for him after his death. So, following Krishnamurti’s death, Osho instructed his disciples to promptly get to work on a grandiose monument. Osho’s explanation was that the only sort of person who deserved such a tribute was one who insisted against it, but I wonder if he was partially just being mischievous.

Krishnamurti and Osho never actually met. They were geographically near each other (i.e. within a short drive) on multiple occasions and their disciples and enthusiasts tried to arrange meetings, but an impasse always resulted. Osho would say there was no point since they were both enlightened. Krishnamurti was interested to meet Osho, but as Osho’s elder he felt it appropriate for Osho to come to him. Osho, true to his nature, had no interest in following any sort of tradition or protocol… which, of course, annoyed Krishnamurti.

Throughout his life, Osho seemed to delight in baiting both Krishnamurti and their fellow sage, Nisargadatta Maharaj. While Krishnamurti and Nisargadatta were friendly with each other, they generally gave as good as they got when responding to Osho’s lack of decorum. When Osho’s disciples, who regularly wore maroon robes and necklaces with a photo of Osho on them (known as malas) would attend Krishnamurti or Nisargadatta’s satsangs, the two older more traditional men frequently singled them out for criticism and harsh questioning. Yet, Osho would encourage his disciples, clad in their maroon robes, to keep returning to the other gurus, joking that doing so was like waving a red flag at a bull and delighting in what he seemed to consider a sort of cosmic practical joke.

According to people close to both Krishnamurti and Nisargadatta, each of them acknowledged Osho as enlightened but were confused and annoyed by his techniques and attitude. I find this distinction hilarious, as it seems rather like saying, “Sure, that guy’s a direct window into the mind of God… but what an asshole!” I also think it’s a great reminder that people are and always will be people, with personality quirks, preferences, likes and dislikes, even if enlightenment happens.

Osho’s chart provides an abundance of clues as to why he was more eccentric and mischievous – and also far more community oriented – than Krishnamurti or Nisargadatta. While Krishnamurti and Nisargadatta lived humbly and focused on the individual, Osho formed a massive commune, initiated his disciples into “neo-sannyas” and reveled in life’s sensualist pleasures. Osho’s natal chart demonstrates that he was destined to be contrarian in nature, deeply interested in taboo topics such as sex and death and involved in occult groups.

Osho’s Natal Chart: Note the 8th-House “Planetary Commune”

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As you can see, most of Osho’s planets are in the 8th house, which represents sex, death and all things taboo, secretive, occult and esoteric. Among Osho’s other planets, Jupiter is in his third house of communication, exalted and serving as his atmakaraka (indicator of the soul’s highest purpose) while in parivartana (mutual reception) with his 8th house Moon. This exchange of signs between his 3rd-house Jupiter and 8th-house Moon expresses his gift for communicating (3rd house) higher spiritual knowledge (Jupiter) via occult and esoteric practices (8th house) in an emotionally resonant manner (Moon). Not only that, but Osho was especially interested in expanding the role of women in his commune, celebrating the divine (Jupiter) aspect of the feminine (Moon).

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Astrology and Enlightenment, Part 1

Most people with a deep interest in astrology, especially Vedic Astrology, are spiritually oriented. This leads to a particular interest in viewing the charts of the spiritual teachers whom one is most influenced or moved by. I share this interest in viewing the charts of sages, but it’s not because I think I’ll find a clue to enlightenment. It’s just because I find most sages interesting as people.

Actually, if astrology clarifies anything regarding enlightenment it should be that, as modern American sage Wayne Liquorman (whom I don’t have birth data for) often emphasizes, “enlightenment is an impersonal happening.” By studying sages’ charts, we can see that enlightenment is expressed through all sorts of different personality types, which underscores this statement. Actually, if there is something I might go out on a limb and argue the charts of sages do suggest, it’s simply that their core personalities tend to shine through in a clearer way than with most of us.

Let’s take a look at three great sages who were at the forefront of enlightenment teachings for decades, their overlapping prominence extending from shortly after World War II and Indian Independence until their deaths, all between 1981 and 1990.

Jiddu Krishnamurti had no interest in being anyone’s guru yet, quite ironically, found himself stuck with a greater following than the one he tried to dissolve as a young man. Conversely, Osho (who had been Bhagwan Rajneesh before and Chandra Mohan Jain before that) founded the largest metaphysical commune in recent times and lived in luxury. Meanwhile, the humble but quick-tempered Nisargadatta Maharaj spoke to whoever visited his small flat near Bombay’s red light district… but often kicked out those who were insincere or lacked focus.

For this first entry in my “Astrology and Enlightenment” series, I’ll focus primarily on Krishnamurti. Upcoming entries will focus on Osho and Nisargadatta.

Natal Chart for Jiddu Krishnamurti

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An Astrological Look at 9/11

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NYC at 8:46 AM, 9/11/2001 (When the First Plane Hit the Towers)

Just like every person has his or her own birth chart, each event also has its own chart. The 9/11 chart paints a very specific portrait of what happened that morning.

Ketu and Mars are within a single degree of each other in Sagittarius, located in the 4th house, which is the portion of the zodiac that represents one’s innermost feelings and sense of home or belonging.

Every planet has the potential for a positive, life-affirming representation or a challenging, dark representation, and Mars directly connects to action, whether in the form of an athlete winning a gold medal, somebody committing a murder, or just a working man finding the energy to get through the day. Notably, Mars also represents soldiers, who at their best exemplify bravery and heroism, yet at their worst may follow destructive orders without questioning them.

Ketu, which is depicted without a head in Vedic mythology, represents the part of us that is pre-critical thought. That’s a beautiful thing when it relates to meditative states and the sort of spiritual understanding that goes beyond words, but not so great when it relates to primitive feelings and habits that remain unexamined. Ketu also specifically represents traditional cultures.

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Trump Update: Moon to Mars

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In my original analysis of Trump, written about six weeks ago, I profiled him in a general sense and looked at his campaign somewhat briefly from an astrological perspective. Since Trump is still going strong as a candidate and the transits of Jupiter and Rahu, along with a shift in antardasha (sub-period) for Trump will affect his fortunes in the coming months, it seemed like time to write an update that’s more specifically focused on his Presidential run.

Trump officially shifts from Rahu mahadasha (major period)/Moon antardasha to Rahu mahadasha/Mars antardasha on October 28. However, the effects of dashas become noticeable for a while leading up to their “official” change-over date, so Trump’s Mars has likely already begun the process of “taking over” from his Moon. While Trump’s 10th-house Rahu has been his mahadasha planet for almost two decades now, coinciding with his period of greatest fame but also exacerbating egotism and obsessive desires, his recent Moon antardasha, which began in April, hasn’t been very helpful for him. In other words, Trump’s success the past few months has actually been in spite of some astrological difficulties that are beginning to fade away as time passes.

While Trump’s Rahu, located in the 10th House of status and career, is in close conjunction with the Sun, which represents authority and power, his Moon is debilitated and located in the challenging fourth pada of Jyestha nakshatra. Of course, nothing – in life or astrology – is ever that simple, and Trump’s Moon does benefit from a strong dispositor (i.e. it’s in a sign ruled by Mars, which is a good planet for Trump) and an opposition aspect to his powerful Rahu-Sun conjunction. Still, Trump’s Moon is one of his chart’s more difficult features.

However, Trump’s Mars is much more comfortable, so to speak, as it’s located in Magha nakshatra, which is symbolized by a throne. Located within three degrees of Trump’s Leo Ascendant, his Mars is prominently placed and connected, along with his Ascendant, to the nakshatra most symbolic of royalty and the ruling class. Not only that, but Magha specifically relates to the act of initially taking the throne and beginning one’s rule.

While many people have planets in Magha and, of course, don’t become kings (or Presidents), the symbolism often relates to some sort of increase in status and/or authority. When I first explored Trump’s Presidential chances, I felt he had a real shot as long as he could remain a relevant candidate until promising astrological factors such as the antardasha of his Mars in Magha and transits of Jupiter and Rahu over his 1st House kicked in. (Jupiter’s there now and Rahu’s a few months away.)

At this point, I think we’re almost through the most obvious “danger zone” period for Trump’s campaign and it looks like he’ll be in the running long enough to benefit from a promising astrological stretch leading up to and through the election.

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Trump Enters Rahu-Mars in October and Jupiter-Jupiter Election Month

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