Category Archives: Observations

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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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.)


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

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ACVA’s Great Astrology Resources

While listening to a wonderful lecture by legendary Vedic Astrologer Chakrapani Ullal titled “Surya: The Significations of the Sun” this evening, it occurred to me that more people should know about the great resource that is ACVA’s MP3 library.

ACVA (The American College of Vedic Astrology) features an online store that sells literally hundreds of lectures by great astrologers in MP3 format. The lectures generally cost $9 if they’re about an hour and only $12-$18 for some that are four-to-five hours. This resource has played an exceptionally valuable role in my learning process.

It’s possible to sample the teachings and lecture styles of different Jyotishis at an affordable price this way; and once you find somebody you “click” with, they’ll likely have multiple lectures available on the ACVA website. (Chakrapani has an even 20!) If you’re interested in astrology – (and, if you’re reading this, I figure you probably are) – the ACVA store is worth a look even if you’re not actively studying at the moment. Out of the hundreds of lectures available to browse through, some topic or another is quite likely to catch your eye.

* After writing this post, it occurred to me that I should probably make it clear that I have no connection at all to the ACVA and, in fact, haven’t even met anybody who works there. I know people get suspicious about posts like this that promote a specific service. While that’s understandable in this day and age, I promise that all I’m doing here is spreading the word about an awesome opportunity for Jyotish lovers.

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Study: Birth Month Related to Health

A just-released Columbia University Medical Center Study demonstrates a connection between birth month and the likelihood of contracting different illnesses. This is, of course, interesting from an astrological perspective, although not as much so as it might seem to a casual observer. Only the Sun, which is one of many celestial bodies involved in astrology, returns to (virtually) the same position each day in different years. Other planets will be somewhere entirely different today than on this date a year or two or twenty from now. So, while it’s interesting to note evidence of a sort of cosmic connection between health and the Earth’s annual phases, the specific connection to astrology, quite ironically, isn’t so precise as many trying to discredit the study seem to fear.

I’ve found it amusing to come across an unusual amount of talk (regarding a major study from a respected institution) about various concerns and objections to these findings. I may have read that correlation doesn’t equal causation more today than I have in a very long time, and I’ve also come across some rather dramatically phrased warnings that people are, basically, just reading way too much into this. The extent of concern among many Americans who consider themselves scientific thinkers about the possibility that somebody might point to this study as a way to legitimize astrology is both humorous and unfortunate.

It’s unfortunate, because mysticism and science should be working together, as they do rather seamlessly in many Eastern cultures. Those who are so quick to insult the intelligence of and attempt to delegitimize anybody who even remains open-minded towards astrology would never say that almost everybody in India or Japan is an idiot; such a xenophobic ad hominem attack would be rightfully condemned. Yet, almost everybody in those nations believes in the very things that are so often called idiotic or (if a nicer word is being used) superstitious in the West. I’m sure most American “scientific thinkers” are familiar with the transitive property.

The reality is that much of what we call “mystical” or even “psychic” is simply going to be called scientific in ten, twenty or fifty years. This study is a perfect example of the melting of those borders. It doesn’t fit into many “scientific” people’s worldview, so it seems threatening to them; however, the study was done by an Ivy League medical center, not some fly-by-night group of eccentrics. And more and more studies that find a way to merge mysticism and science are almost surely going to emerge in short time. Whether it’s astrology, NDEs or past-life memories, we’ve reached the point where many members of the scientific community, often with credentials from the Ivy League or top international universities, are dedicating themselves to this sort of work. In that sense, the dam may not have broken yet, but it’s certainly sprung a leak, which makes the endgame quite predictable.

In this instance, the determining factors may not be specifically related to astrology. If I’m going to accuse those instinctively arguing against some astrological connection of simply reacting in accordance with their biases, I want to be careful not to do the same thing myself. We don’t really know why different months seem to have specific lifelong health impacts. However, the holistic idea of health being naturally connected to the Earth’s yearly phases seems like common sense to me and, I’m sure, to practitioners of Eastern medicine, mystics of all sorts, and even just regular people who live in a manner that’s more in touch with nature than the average 21st-century Western lifestyle.

I would love to see this sort of large study focused on subjects from a single year, so that all the planetary positions (instead of just the Sun) would be consistent for each date for the participants. Then we could easily see if there’s a relation between astrology and health in this manner. Unfortunately, I think that study is unlikely to be funded anytime soon, at least in the US.

In the meantime, I wonder if astrologers will be able to run their own smaller studies, or even sift the data from this study and find patterns. I’ve long been curious (and even a little suspicious) about astrological placements and combinations related to health and physical appearance. It seemed to me that if such indications were as precise as many astrologers claim, it should be relatively simple to provide proof. But maybe it’s just that nobody cared enough to try proving it yet; after all, it’s not like astrology studies get much in the way of funding. And maybe, someday, this study will be looked back on as a key factor in changing that.


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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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