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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.

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Ben Affleck & Rahu’s Rollercoaster

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.38.09 AM

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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Getting to Know Pluto

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Pluto’s in the news these days, as recent NASA photos provide us with the clearest images of the planet (or whatever you want to call it) in our history.

This is especially intriguing to me since Pluto plays a prominent role in my own natal chart, yet I must admit that I know relatively little about it compared to most of the other planets, which are closer to Earth and more commonly referenced in astrology.

On January 24, 1980 at 8:09 AM Pacific Time, Pluto was exactly stationary. My birth certificate reads: January 24, 1980 at 8:27 AM Pacific Time. Retrograde Pluto’s relative speed at the time of my birth was 0.15% (i.e. 15% of 1%).

Stationary or near-stationary planets are often tremendously important and tend to point to the area of one’s life direction and/or greatest potential. For example, Donald Trump has an almost exactly stationary Jupiter (with a relative speed of 0.52% i.e. 52% of 1%) placed in his 2nd house, which represents finances. The late musician Amy Winehouse’s chart features a near-stationary retrograde Venus (moving at a relative speed of 3.32%), which certainly hints at both her immense artistic talent and inability to act with moderation regarding the Venusian elements of life.

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Vedic Dress for (NBA Basketball) Success

You may know that each day belongs to a specific planet in Vedic Astrology and that each planet has its own mantra. It’s also considered an astrological fundamental that each planet is connected to a specific color or color scheme. People can use this information to create more harmony in their lives by wearing a planet’s color(s) on its day of the week or by regularly wearing the color(s) of a planet whose specific energies are currently desired. Yet, as I’ll explore in this post, there may be another more competitive and rather intriguing possibility involving the planetary colors. If you’re familiar with those colors, feel free to skip the next paragraph, but here’s a quick cheat sheet:

The color of the Moon is white or silver, Mars reps red, Mercury gets green, Jupiter features yellow or saffron, Venus picks pretty pastels, Saturn sports sterner shades, such as dark blue and black, while the Sun blasts a bright orangey pink. 

So, yes, there’s a reason Vedic monks wear saffron and why green is considered “lucky” throughout so much of Asia. The connection between color, astrology and fate actually has a long tradition.

As an NBA basketball fan, I’ve observed more than once that the same teams win a disproportionate number of titles for a 30-team league that incorporates features such as a salary cap, revenue sharing and a draft that gives the worst teams the best chance at the top prospects. Not only that, but with only five players on the court at any given time (compared to the much larger numbers of players in a baseball, football or soccer game), theoretically, a star player or two should change the fortunes of any NBA team tremendously.

Yet, the same teams win, win, win, like it’s fated.

Team colors have long been an integral part of organized sports and they make up a memorable element of any NBA franchise’s identity, ranging from jersey colors to the team logo to promotional material and even communal impressions (such as associating the Boston Celtics with the “lucky green” connected to the team’s Irish-inspired nickname).

So, why wouldn’t the same teams, featuring their fortunate color schemes, win much more often? This was easy for me to explore, at least somewhat superficially, as there’s a clear general consensus about the greatest NBA teams.

The Boston Celtics claim the most titles in league history. I personally consider their 67-15 1986 title team, which played in the league’s greatest era and cruised through the playoffs with a record of 15-3, to be the best single-season squad in NBA history. That’s far from the whole story though… back in the late 1950s and 1960s, the Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years, which is a level of consistency that has never been and likely never will be matched in any pro sport. For years, rival sportscasters and columnists would joke, half-bitterly, about the lucky “leprechaun” that seemed to make sure Boston emerged victorious. We all know what color leprechauns are 🙂

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

“Notice how my mustache adds a flourish of Jupiterian yellow?”

The Los Angeles Lakers boast five titles in the 2000s, which, added to another five during the golden age of the 1980s (and a great 69-13 title season in the early 70s), makes for quite an impressive combination. You can also add a ridiculous number of 2nd-place finishes to the record, as the Lakers ran into a near-unstoppable Celtics squad multiple years in the late 50s and 60s NBA Finals. Known for doing everything big and bold, this Hollywood franchise uses yellow, represented by Jupiter, as its base color, and combines it with flourishes of rich, velvety purple. Some people feel the color purple is related to Saturn, but I think, at least in the present era, it’s more connected with Rahu, as it is so often associated with fame or prestige. (The musician Prince, who has Rahu in his Ascendant and his Moon in the Rahu-ruled constellation of Satabishak, may have the strongest association with the color purple in modern popular culture.)

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“Yes, Kareem, we know you’re Muslim… just trust us on this color thing.”

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