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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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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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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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A Quick Guide to the 12 Houses

I’ve been thinking about writing a series of posts exploring each of astrology’s 12 houses, one by one, using specific examples and going into some depth. With that in mind, it seemed reasonable to write a quick guide to what each house represents first. I’ve already written a similar article about what each planet represents (The Planets As People), so the idea is for the two articles to work together as a (very) basic reference.

For example, Taylor Swift has Venus in her 1st house. She appears and seems to the world (1st) as artistic, aesthetically pleasant and connected to romance (Venus). Jiddu Krishnamurti has Moon in his 12th house. He lost (12th) his mother (Moon) at a young age and his state of mind (Moon) was focused on enlightenment i.e. loss of self  (12th) which he spent much of his life discussing in foreign lands (12th).

You get the idea. Saying the above method lacks nuance is putting it mildly 🙂 … so don’t go crazy with this, but hopefully it has some usefulness. I should note that I’m only including basic meanings here, so I’m not delving into concepts such as bhavat bhavam, for example, which is a valuable, but more complex method of finding further indications for each house.

1st House = You, as you appear and seem to the world.

2nd House = Your fixed assets, accumulated over time, including money, values/taste, family and close friends.

3rd House = Your peers and younger siblings, competition, talents, ambitions and achievements. Also short-distance journeys and publishing or production of the arts.

*Some astrologers feel the 2nd house involves writing and communication, while the 3rd only involves publishing. Other astrologers feel the 3rd involves writing and communication, as well as publishing.

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Charles Manson Horoscope Analysis

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Until now, my horoscope analyses have focused on celebrities who interest me in an artistic or cultural sense.  Sure, they’re no strangers to controversy, but Donald Trump is a current news phenomenon, Woody Allen is one of my favorite filmmakers and he’s had a colorful life, to say the least; Taylor Swift is the world’s biggest pop star and a talented, interesting person; Ben Affleck is an accomplished actor, director and screenwriter who has been in the news recently. Those were “fun” profiles for me.

The subject of this profile, Charles Manson, is much darker and I was on the fence for a while about whether to publish it. My concern with profiling dictators, serial killers or other reviled figures is that it’s human nature for people to keep an eye out for astrological features they or those close to them share with the chart being discussed. It’s important to remember there are gentle, peaceful people who have conjunctions in common with Manson, idiots who share aspects with Einstein and introverts with placements similar to Trump. We study the specifics in charts so that we can better understand the puzzle of an entire human existence, but each chart is a single entity made up of innumerable factors combining in a unique manner. To understand the human body, doctors learn about all of its parts… but you only have a human being when those parts work together as a whole.

So, this profile is different from my past ones. It’s about a crazed cult leader and mass murderer who experienced bizarre delusions… someone who, at first glance, would seem far too unhinged, dangerous and disheveled to attract any sort of following or support. Yet, Charles Manson not only befriended Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and other music industry figures, but also had an odd, almost hypnotic appeal to some disaffected young people, especially young women.

Venus, the planet of love, the arts and aesthetics, is in Manson’s 7th house of partnerships and relationships, in its own sign of Libra, contributing to his unlikely charisma. However, Manson’s Venus is deeply combust, as the Sun is barely a degree removed from it. I discussed the controversy and uncertainty surrounding combustion in my previous post, but in this instance, it certainly seems to fit, contributing to a significantly darker and more confused representation of Venusian qualities than usual.

Manson’s 7th house is actually quite crowded, with a four-planet stellium, including the aforementioned combust Venus, the Sun, which represents authority, power and dominance; Jupiter, which symbolizes his role as (false) guru; and Mercury, relating to communication and “getting the message out” about the cult’s deranged, homicidal vision. Mercury also has an important opposition aspect to Uranus, suggesting the strange and chaotic nature of Manson’s communication.

With a 7th house this impactful, it’s no surprise that its owner focused very seriously, in his own warped manner, on cultivating partnerships and relationships… in fact, this occurred to such an extent that, to this day, those who followed Manson while committing atrocities are generally referred to as “the Manson family.”

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Jupiter & Donald Trump’s Future

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Donald Trump is out to an early lead in polling for the Republican Presidential nomination, and just about everywhere one turns people from either major party (or neither major party, for that matter) seem worked up about it and insistent he’s a joke candidate with no real chance; yet, he’s not just ahead, but way ahead of any other Republican candidate, as of the timing of this article. To be fair, Trump’s disapproval ratings are far higher than the other candidates, too. He’s a big personality who often evokes “love him or hate him” reactions, but he’s already affected the race and proven to be more than a sideshow.

What makes Trump’s Presidential aspirations interesting from an astrological perspective is that a study of his chart strongly suggests the best is yet to come for him and – wait for it – that period of his life is scheduled to begin in November, 2016. That’s election month. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll win – for one thing, he has to remain a viable candidate for more than a year just to have a shot – but it’s certainly an interesting coincidence.

Trump’s strongest planet is a near-stationary Jupiter, which was moving at less than 1% relative speed at his time of birth. (Near-stationary planets in one’s natal chart are often extremely important and powerful.) His Mercury in its own sign of Gemini, located in the 11th house of fulfillment of desires, social circle and networking, has surely played a major role in his success, as well.

However, Trump’s overall life-path may be most defined by his 4th house-10th house axis, which includes both luminaries (i.e. the Moon and the Sun, which is also his Ascendant lord) in a tight opposition orb to each other and in close conjunction with Ketu and Rahu, respectively. This indicates Trump’s career in real estate, as the 4th house represents the home environment (including homes, in general, not just one’s own living space) and the 10th house represents career and status. However, Trump’s near-stationary Jupiter suggests that he was destined to be “larger than life” in some way or another, even if his other planets were in different locations. The role of his 4th house-10th house axis wasn’t to ensure his success (which his Jupiter and Mercury had already heavily weighted the deck in favor of), but instead to point to the area where he would apply most of his energy and resources.

And in November, 2016, Trump’s Jupiter mahadasha (major period) begins. Jupiter is likely Trump’s most important planet, but he hasn’t even experienced its mahadasha yet. This mahadasha should be highly positive and benefit him in a number of ways, no matter what happens in his current campaign; however, he’ll have to remain a relevant Presidential candidate long enough for Jupiter’s energy to kick in or the timing will be too late to help his chances in the 2016 election. In the meantime, upcoming transits of a number of important planets and a change in antardasha (minor period) from Moon to Mars all seem lined up to benefit Trump in the near future.

Yet, Trump may still encounter obstacles relating to much of the populace, as a substantial part of his personality seems driven by a need for expansion and power. While Trump’s Jupiterian strengths have led to positive relationships with his grown children, given him an instinctive sense of generosity at times, and helped him to employ thousands of people, some of the less desirable manifestations of that Jupiterian energy, as channeled through his current Rahu mahadasha – such as potentially harmful expansion, over-the-top self-promotion and a bombastic attitude – have also played a role in defining his identity to the American public.

However, he’s just finishing up his Rahu mahadasha, which began all the way back in 1998… and that’s the sort of thing Rahu can do to people, especially if they’re prone to such tendencies before entering its mahadasha. Rahu, the north node of the moon, focuses on more, more, more; it represents insatiable desires and, in Hindu mythology, is depicted as a head without a body. Picture that image for a moment – it’s always hungry, not equipped to digest experiences or process them, only to continue craving them. As that sort of craving is quite a motivator, (albeit an inherently unsatisfying one), Rahu plays a substantial role in the lives of many people who are famous and/or achieve worldly success. Rahu’s also hell on impulse-control, which fits with Trump’s tendency to speak first and think later. And if he seems obsessed with status and career, well, he has Rahu in his 10th house, which represents those very things.

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Ben Affleck & Rahu’s Rollercoaster

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At first glance, Ben Affleck’s chart looks like a dream come true. Venus is right on the ascendant in the intelligent, creative sign of Gemini, opposite Jupiter in its own sign of Sagittarius and trining a 5th-house Moon in Venus’s own sign of Libra (in the nakshatra of Svati, which is often associated with the wealthy and socially adept). Mars is located in his 3rd house, which has a strong connection to the arts, and is in the sign of its great friend, Leo (which, once again, represents the arts). In other words, it’s a fitting chart for a multimillionaire movie star who is also sharp enough to become an elite screenwriter and film director.

Most movie fans are familiar with “Good Will Hunting,” which Affleck and Matt Damon famously wrote together and starred in, jumpstarting their careers. However, in my view, Affleck’s career artistic peak and one of the best movies of the new millennium is “Gone Baby Gone,” which was co-written (adapted from a novel by Dennis Lehane) and directed by Affleck. I can’t remember a movie in the past few years that likely resulted in more couples arguing as they left the theater… and that’s a compliment, if it wasn’t clear 🙂

Then there’s Affleck’s substantial humanitarian efforts, which he’s kept rather low-key compared to the amount of effort and attention he gives them. Considering the lifestyles of some movie stars, it’s a bit ironic that a clearly talented artist who invests much of his time on charity work to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (which constitutes way more personal attention than writing some checks or showing up at a few banquets), seems to trigger intuitive suspicion and negativity among much of the general public. Affleck clearly understands how he’s often seen and even incorporated this view of himself into his art when he starred as a philandering husband framed for murder in the recent blockbuster “Gone Girl.”

He’s also had one of the most unlikely career trajectories in film history. He was celebrated as a screenwriter in his 20s, unfairly mocked as a tabloid headline for years, reemerged as one of the world’s top directors (and, suddenly, a respected actor), won an Oscar and now his pending divorce is all over the news, with most accounts essentially blaming him for drinking and gambling away his marriage. Of course, who knows if that’s true? However, the point is that it’s on every supermarket shelf, and while it’s likely especially personally painful for Affleck, it’s really just a dip on the Rahu-driven rollercoaster he’s been riding for a long time.

Rahu is the north node of the Moon and considered especially troublesome in Vedic Astrology. It represents our insatiable desires – the areas of life we are relentlessly compelled to experience but must eventually realize are maya (illusion) to continue on our spiritual path. Rahu is specifically responsible for all forms of mass hysteria, which include both fame and public derision. So far, I’ve done celebrity profiles on Woody Allen, Taylor Swift and Affleck and I’ve ended up writing about Rahu extensively in each one. None of these people were originally chosen to profile with the idea of focusing on Rahu, but it turned out to play a huge role in all of their lives.

Affleck’s Moon nakshatra of Svati and his Ascendant and Venus nakshatra of Ardra are all ruled by Rahu, so it’s bound to be a substantial influence throughout his entire life. As it’s placed in his 8th house, it represents sudden ups and downs, secrets and the esoteric or occult. Since the Moon nakshatra determines which mahadasha (major period) one experiences first in life, Affleck grew up during a Rahu mahadasha; then he initially became famous during the mahadasha of his strong 7th-house Jupiter in Sagittarius and antardasha (sub-period) of Rahu. In this instance, Jupiter, which is generally considered the planet best able to work with Rahu’s energy, was able to channel the more positive elements of Rahu into a sudden rise.

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