Tag Archives: zodiac

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.

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Evaluating Transits: Ascendant or Moon?

Jupiter recently transited into Leo, using Vedic Astrology’s sidereal zodiac. Since Jupiter is the greatest natural benefic and only changes signs about once a year, many people are discussing the transit and what it means for each sign. However, some astrologers discuss transits based on the Ascendant, while others focus on the Moon sign.

Here’s a quick guide to the difference:

The Ascendant represents what’s actually happening. So looking at houses/signs from the Ascendant is probably the most fundamental way to judge a transit, and certainly the most accurate predictive method.

The Moon represents how we feel about what happens. So looking at house/signs from the Moon is important in its own way and shouldn’t be ignored. For example, if you get into a romantic relationship, what really matters is how you feel about it, not that it occurred. It’s not like you’re going to date an asshole, have your self-esteem plummet, become a nervous wreck and then look back on the time fondly, thinking, “Well, who cares how I felt – the important thing is I was in a relationship!”

Other situations are more matter-of-fact, such as predictions about finances or what a transit may be like for your children, if you have any. The simple reason for this is that people are usually happy to make more money or see their children thrive, but dislike losing money or seeing their children suffer.

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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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Getting to Know Pluto

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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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Is It Your Karma to Change Your Karma?

Karma probably confuses people from Western and Judeo-Christian cultures more than any other Eastern spiritual or philosophical concept. Most just seem to dismiss it as the simplistic idea of “what comes around goes around.” I remember a friend – a loyal, well-intentioned guy who could, nonetheless, get quite worked up when he felt somebody had taken advantage of him or personally wronged him – exclaiming about the downfall of a man he felt had cheated him in some way, “That’s karma! Karma will always get you!”

I almost brought up holocaust victims or school shootings, but decided I could get across the same general point without creating such an awkward mood. Making it into a bit of a joke, I asked, “What happened? Was this guy mean to you, so he got eaten by a tiger?” My friend knew I was teasing him – and probably also knew I was trying to get him to think more deeply about what he’d said. His reply was something along the lines of, “Come on… of course he didn’t get eaten by a tiger, but he screwed me over, and now it’s his turn. What do you think karma is?”

The problem with many people’s conception of karma is that “bad things” happening to “good people” seems unfair to them (and “fairness” is a modern cultural ideal), so some just dismiss the idea of karma completely because they see “unfairness” happen too often throughout the world; others, perhaps even more misguided, figure there must be reasons that fit their limited frame of reference. (e.g. “That baby must have really been an asshole in a past life to end up with spina bifida!”) The concept of some sort of inevitable “punitive” karma destined to smite evildoers is also used as a comforting mechanism by many who feel bitter and/or vengeful.

However, what we think of as “good” and “bad” is actually quite subjective. Most people have no problem eating animals kept in horrible conditions and slaughtered for (unhealthy, unnecessary, environmentally problematic) food or with buying products made by child slave laborers. If you want full disclosure, I’m quite careful not to do the former and pay very little attention to the latter. Maybe a tiger will only eat half of me?

A hundred years ago, a doctor willingly performing an abortion would be seen as an evil act by most people, but now the majority of developed nations feel abortion should be a woman’s personal choice. Blasphemy is considered a serious crime by most Muslims, yet perceived as an indispensable element of free speech by most Westerners. Social programs Americans and Europeans currently take for granted, such as emergency medical care and public schools, used to sincerely worry well-meaning traditional capitalists.

Still, you may ask, what about more “basic” morals, such as not killing, stealing or committing adultery? Well, what about other old standbys involving specific rules for how to sell one’s daughter into slavery or the correct way to torture witches to death? Stuff changes. And we have far more trouble predicting what will change, why and when than most people like to admit.

In other words, the world is in flux. Constantly. And that’s okay.

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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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“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.)

Lakers_88

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

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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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