Tag Archives: astrology fundamentals

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. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basics, Observations

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.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basics, Observations

Vedic Chart Reading Basics: Part 2

In part 1 of this post, I discussed some basic chart-reading guidelines for those new to astrology (or just new to Vedic-style charts). While those with Vedic astrology backgrounds will prefer to check out some of the blog’s more advanced posts, my hope is that this post and its predecessor will be a useful reference for beginners.

Since the first post in this series discussed the initial steps in chart reading, such as locating the ascendant, learning abbreviations for planets and signs and identifying the 12 houses, this post will go into a bit more detail about how planets, signs and houses work astrologically, while also introducing the concept of “aspects.”

In another earlier post about astrology fundamentals, I discussed the importance of viewing the planets as people. Like people, each planet has specific personality traits and, in the same manner that we respond in certain ways to different environments and lifestyles, planets respond differently to the energy of each astrological sign.

The 12 houses represent the different parts of our lives, as discussed in this other early post. For example, the 6th house represents our daily labor, debts, enemies and health or illness, while the 7th house represents our partnerships (including most notably – but certainly not only – marriage).

Let’s look at the big picture this way:

  1. Planets are people.
  2. Houses are the different parts of our lives.
  3. Signs are the types of energy (think: adjectives) connected to each house. Signs always match up with houses in the same clockwise order (i.e. Taurus always comes after Aries, Gemini always comes after Taurus, etc.), so as long as you find the ascendant in a chart, it’s easy to match up the houses and signs.
  4. When planets are close to each other in a chart (a “conjunction”) or reflect on each other at a direct angle (such as 180 degrees, which is called an “opposition”) they impact one another. Conjunctions and oppositions are both types of “aspects,” which is the broader term for all the ways planets reflect on one another and impact each other with their energy.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basics

Vedic Chart Reading Basics: Part 1

Astrology is a fascinating and, for all practical purposes, endless subject. At times, I know it can seem like a foreign language to people who are new to it… especially when looking at charts. However, once an astrology student can read charts – even at a very basic level – the fun and excitement of analyzing the charts of family, friends, love interests or celebrities often jumpstarts the learning process. If you’re curious about astrology, but unsure how to read an astrological chart, my hope is that this series of posts about chart-reading fundamentals will help you get over that hurdle.

As this post is aimed at those new to Vedic astrology and/or South Indian-style charts, more experienced readers may want to check out my posts under the “Observations” tab.

I’ve included a chart – (in the South Indian style, which is what I use on this blog) – for a hypothetical person born at the time I’m writing this, which is December 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm in Los Angeles. I’ll refer to this chart throughout the post:

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 6.09.06 PM

Let’s start by finding the corner where a diagonal line is drawn in the chart. In this instance, we can see that a diagonal line is drawn in Gemini (abbreviated to “Ge”), which is in the upper right-hand corner of the chart. This diagonal line and the number next to it, 21:53, represent the “ascendant,” which is the degree during the exact time of birth, as viewed from our location. A good way to think of the ascendant is as your “starting point.”

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basics

A Close Look At Combustion

Combustion, which refers to a phenomenon that occurs when planets are considered too close to the Sun, is a topic that seems to be interpreted differently by many astrologers I’ve learned from and respect. Some say they’ve either never found it to be the case in their practical experience or, at least, that it’s not the case with Mercury (the most common planet to be located so close to the Sun) and/or has mixed results. Some astrologers also feel the Moon cannot become combust, while others list it along with the other planets. I’ve also heard more than one astrologer suggest combustion is very real but that the required orbs are just much tighter than indicated in classical texts.

Those texts state specific orbs of combustion for different planets – (although the orbs vary a bit depending on which text is referenced) – and generally take a very negative view of combust planets. James Braha mentioned in an ACVA (American College of Vedic Astrology) lecture that he feels combust planets have a multi-layered effect that both brightens and agitates, giving the example of models with a combust Venus, who, despite their beauty, often have difficult love lives. The late Narendra Desai mentioned in another ACVA lecture that he felt Mercury, being so used to closeness with the Sun, doesn’t actually become combust. Chakrapani Ullal’s ACVA lecture on the topic is informative but also interestingly ambivalent; he suggests his own observations regarding combustion have been mixed.

It’s been my own observation that an unusual percentage of highly intelligent people have a very combust Mercury… and also that an unusual percentage of these people are anxious and neurotic. Possible anxiety and neurosis aside, it would be difficult for anybody to convince me that a combust Mercury makes one more likely to be intellectually slow or have trouble communicating, which I’ve heard from other astrologers whom I respect (but disagree with on this account). Even in regard to anxiety and neurosis, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean much; highly intelligent people may just be more likely to be anxious or neurotic. Similarly, without considering astrological factors, there’s plenty about modeling that seems as if it could make one’s love life more difficult. The number of variables involved in life is enough to make pinning down the facts about certain topics problematic at times… and that applies to most fields, not just astrology.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basics

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.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basics