Volume 51, 21 December 2020

“There are two ways of going after things; either for the sake of being happy or happily.”

Swami Dayananda

From Darkness Into Light

It seems an excellent time to revisit this beautiful śloka from Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad (1.3.28.):

असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।।

asato mā sadgamaya |
tamaso mā jyotirgamaya
mṛtyormā amṛtaṃ gamaya ||

It is known as the pavamāna mantra - a mantra chanted at the beginning of the sacred soma sacrifice and symbolizes purification. The meaning is compelling and so appropriate at this winter solstice time, while in a pandemic and with a planetary war between the great grahas of Saturn and Jupiter. Here is a modern rendering:

From falsehood, lead me to truth
From darkness, lead me to light
From death, lead me to immortality


May it be so

The Winter Solstice

If you are interested in the cosmos and are at all active online, you are likely aware of the rarest of rare events occurring over these past few days and culminating on this winter solstice.

You might even have been watching the brilliant display of the two giant grahas of our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, as they have danced with each other through 2020. They were especially bright in the summer evening sky when both went retrograde within 4 days of each other around mid-May. Since they both have long retrograde cycles (Jupiter’s ended mid-September and Saturn late September), this was quite a show especially when the Moon in its different phases joined the dance each month and made it into a trio rather than just a duet.

When two heavenly objects line up in the sky in close proximity, it is referred to by astronomers as a conjunction (not the same as the Sanskrit word yuti). The latest move in the dance between Jupiter and Saturn is a very very tight conjunction, the equivalent of what happens when you and someone else are the last contestants left in the game of musical chairs. With only one chair left, inevitably the two remaining players wind up on top of each other when the music stops. On December 21st, Saturn and Jupiter will appear to have fused together as viewed by us from earth.

Though these conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn happen approximately every 20 years, these incredibly close ones are rare and this one is said to be the third closest one in three millennia. Here are two excellent sources on line if you want to delve into this topic: Wikipedia - Great_conjunction and Rice University - Great_conjunction. But even these detailed articles do not deal with the astrological rareness of this event. How so? For astrologers, having Jupiter and Saturn doing performing this particular dance in the constellation of Capricorn has particular significance since Jupiter debilitates in this rāśi and Saturn is sva rāśi. Indeed, the December 2020 conjunction is the second time in the Common Era that this has occurred - the only other one was in 372 CE. We won’t have to wait too long for the next one. It happens on the Ides of March in 2080.

The very close proximity of these two giants to each other is known in Jyotisha as graha yuddha or planetary war (see next article below). Even at a huge magnification it is difficult to distinguish both Jupiter and Saturn. In my time zone, the exact conjunction happens during the day and is therefore not visible when they are high in the sky. But shortly before sunset, the sky darkens enough for them to become visible near the Western horizon within 1° of each other. The following screen caps from Starry Night are hugely magnified. Otherwise you would not see Saturn at all.

At a very high magnification you could see both before sunset but not with the naked eye.
At a very high magnification you could see both before sunset but not with the naked eye.
At a lower magnification, you can see Jupiter with the naked eye but can’t see that there is both Jupiter and Saturn.
At a lower magnification, you can see Jupiter with the naked eye but can’t see that there is both Jupiter and Saturn.
An hour after sunset with high magnification
An hour after sunset with high magnification
An hour after sunset - lower magnification - Jupiter is very bright but cannot distinguish Saturn - the two look fused together. Note the twin stars that are marking ~10° Capricorn. Jupiter and Saturn are at 6° 20’
An hour after sunset - lower magnification - Jupiter is very bright but cannot distinguish Saturn - the two look fused together. Note the twin stars that are marking ~10° Capricorn. Jupiter and Saturn are at 6° 20’

A Total Solar Eclipse and a Planetary War

As if the drama of the tight and bright visible conjunction is not enough, Saturn and Jupiter moved into this conjunction on the day of yet another total solar eclipse.

Though this time the path of the solar eclipse was not visible in North America and therefore did not cut the country in half as it did in 2017, it is still consequential that yet another sensitive point in the chart of the President hosted this eclipse. It is astonishing that the very same nakṣatra where Trump’s natal Moon is totally eclipsed is the one that the Sun and Moon tenanted to form the Solar eclipse of December 14, 2020. Even more incredible is that this eclipse point was on Almost the Exact Degree of the eclipse point in Trump’s natal chart. You can’t make these things up.

This was also the day that the official graha yuddha (planetary war) started. A planetary war happens when two of the tārā grahas (true planets i.e. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) are within one degree of ecliptic longitude of each other. Determining which is the victor is not straightforward and best left for another time but war comes at a cost for both winners and losers. There is also a disparity in strength between the two grahas as Jupiter is debilitated in Capricorn and Saturn is sva rāśi.

Another unusual flavor of this planetary war is that both Saturn and Jupiter have been moving unusually quickly relative to their average forward motion in the last few months. Grahas moving very quickly are considered to be unstable.

What might this all mean and when does it end? The actual planetary war ends December 30th but the tendrils of collective karma linger on especially considering confluence from other transiting grahas, most notably the nodal axis. Rāhu/Ketu are in Taurus and Scorpio respectively where one is debilitated and the other exalted; neither is a bargain when it comes to rogue significations. This is greatly intensified by the fact that all the grahas (other than the Moon when it breaks free for part of each month) are caught within the Rāhu/Ketu axis in a Kāla Sarpa yoga pattern for a protracted period of time. This has been at play since around mid-December and technically lasts until mid-April though some Jyotishis will date it to March 27 when Mars is no longer inside the belly of the snake though it is still conjoined with Rāhu.

Interestingly, on April 6th, Jupiter transits out of Capricorn into Aquarius.
Combined with the end of the Kāla Sarpa pattern, it makes sense that the predictions from Dr. Fauci and other health leaders indicating improvement in the pandemic fight in the second quarter seem reasonable. Hopefully vaccination will be more widely available and embraced. Perhaps there may be improvement of other acute issues that look unsurmountable through the winter.

It is most fortunate that once Jupiter transits into Aquarius, it will remain in Aquarius all the way into mid-September before retrograding back into Capricorn. It is a relatively short stay in Capricorn before returning to Aquarius November 20th 2021.

Putting all of this together, we are in the thick of it and need to weather through until the end of the first quarter. Considering both incoming and outgoing Presidents are in Jupiter daśā, great difficulties and obstructions to both are likely and therefore to the country at large. The nodal axis patterns, rāśis and nakṣatras reinforce the hysteria, unpredictability, sudden changes and reversals and of course, the pandemic as it ravages and mutates.

This is the time to stay safe, be conservative, hold onto your practices and be steadfast in the knowledge that change is all there is.

For those who are fearful of what these combinations might mean for them personally, always remember, the individual ecosystem of the chart is the final arbiter. It is a good time to keep in mind that Barack Obama was born in a Saturn/Jupiter yuti in Capricorn and was elected President one time in his Jupiter daśā and the second time in his Saturn daśā.

Media Corner: Time and Date

Since we have eclipses on the mind and we are coming into 2021, I would like to suggest a website which is an excellent place to check on eclipses for this year, when are they, what kind are they and where would they be visible. It is very clearly done with great videos showing the range of the shadows of the eclipses.

The good news is it is not just for this coming year, but you can go way into the past and even into the future. It is a wonderful research tool.

If you notice an eclipse pattern in a chart you are working with, you can immediately pull up the site and check if there was a visible eclipse that month, year and date where the native was born.

Here is the link in general for researching eclipses and here is the one specifically for 2021