Volume 7

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let our dreams die, but others nourish and protect them, nurse them through bad days till they bring them to sunshine and light.”

Woodrow T. Wilson

The Night Sky This Winter

Just a few days ago, Jupiter moved out of its debilitation constellation where it was also with Rahu for most of the last year. It is a great start to the New Year.

There will be a couple of noteworthy events coming up for those predisposed to get off the desktop sky and out to the real one.

There is a better than average meteor shower occurring right on New Year's Day lasting possibly to the 5th. It is important to point this out so those of you that partied too much won't think you are hallucinating when you see up to 40 meteors an hour zooming around. The peak is said to be January 3rd and 4th and is best viewed just after midnight in a dark location.

The second event worth noting is around January 29th when Mars will be at its closest approach to the Earth (this one is for real unlike the computer emails you get every August). Its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun and would be a great time for pictures of the red planet. We need to think really good thoughts about Mars as it is in the longest transit through a constellation in recent memory and that constellation happens to be one in which Mars is not at all happy.

The Path Into Shastra

Infusing Freshness into Established Tradition

The third and fourth golden keys naturally go together and provide the mechanism whereby the stability of the tradition does not decay into staleness and dogma. The formal name for the third key is apurvata which essentially means a unique principle that is not available elsewhere in shastra or repeated within the shastra in which it occurs.

Apurvata can be extended somewhat to include a unique interpretation or elaboration of an established principle in shastra, However, it does NOT include coming up with something idiosyncratic that has no basis whatever in the tradition.

The "partner" to apurvata and the fourth golden key is phala which literally means results. It implies testing the apurvata principle or unique interpretation over a significant period of time by many different jyotishis to confirm that it is a valid and substantial principle that is useful and replicable.

Because a unique principle in shastra is an attention getter, apurvata is also a way of "red flagging" something and even startling the reader with what can appear to be a contradiction. An interesting example from a text called Phaladipika is a statement saying that exalted grahas that are retrograde give results akin to debilitated grahas. Those are "fighting words" to the ears of a well trained jyotishi who knows that both retrogression and exaltation makes a graha very strong.

What can be meant by this odd statement? Apurvata is a way of signaling the need to stop and ponder the odd and unique statement and try to get to the underlying message. In this case, shastra is emphasizing the idea that an exalted planet that is also retrograde is extremely powerful but that this power does not always produce auspicious results for the native. Picture if you will an exalted Saturn that is also retrograde sitting in the 7th house where it also has dig bala. There will be some matters that will be hugely enhanced by this Saturn but according to the context of the chart, it may also cause huge difficulties. Those difficulties arise because this Saturn will afflict almost all of the primary relationships - partner by occupation of the 7th, father by aspect to the 9th, mother by aspect to the 4th and the lagna by aspecting into it as a triply powerful malefic. In this way it may give an outcome akin to a debilitated graha...

In a similar way, there is a statement that a debilitated graha that is retrograde gives the results of an exalted one!! The intent here is likely to completely underscore the importance of retrogression as a way of providing an inherent strength to a graha.

In neither of the above cases is one to literally expect either of the results all the time. It is the shastra's way of signaling that one must examine these occurrences very carefully, apply these principles to many charts through many years of practice in order to understand under what circumstances you will get the stated phala or results.

These two principles form a powerful combination insuring that in future generations, there can be both an examination of interesting "corners" of shastra and a fresh look at established principles through the lens of the current time and place. For example, where in the shastra does it deal with airplanes? Where are computers mentioned? How do we deal with artificial insemination? If Jyotisha is going to be relevant, we must be able to redefine and rework what the rishis say and apply them to all people in all times.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry:

Combinations for Conviviality

Jyotisha reflects life in all its endless manifestations. At the holiday season, many of us will gather for good food, good company and probably a lot of bad jokes! What combinations in a chart boost the capacity for enjoyment of all this season typically offers?

The time honored sources for finding these contemporary correlations are the classical Jyotisha texts. Festivity, fondness of joking and merriment are attributed to Venus in several texts. Mercury too is correlated with humor and a jocular nature that can turn tricky and sarcastic depending on other influences on it - notably Mars. The Moon is classically related to food and hospitality and at least one text also links it to merriment. Jupiter is the signifier for joviality as the derivation of this English word clearly demonstrates. It is also a magnanimous nature, generosity and sometimes too much of a good thing like sweets!

When the food factors favorably relate to the second and sixth houses, we can more comfortably predict that enjoyment of cooking and eating will be a strong interest. When the 11th house is favorably activated, we can get party time with the upwardly mobile "beautiful" people and lots of sparkle and gifts. The jokes will fly when witty Mercury configures with the 2nd house or in the lagna itself as part of the person's nature.

The richness of the Jyotisha tradition shows itself in the many ways a particular theme can be brought forward. Not only do the grahas and the bhavas bring forward life's endless variety but so do the constellation and nakshatras. For example, humor is also seen with those that have prominent placements in the nakshatra of Hasta. The Sanskrit root that the name of this nakshatra is derived from is has and one of its important meanings is to laugh.

Let's look at some charts to see these factors (pardon the pun) at play!

Simone Beck
Simone Beck

The first chart is that of Simone Beck who was a close collaborator of Julia the book 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' as well as writing cookbooks of her own. Her family was an old wealthy French family that was noted for a fine liqueur from their vineyard.

She has an amazing second house with Venus, the lord of the lagna and the sixth in the 2nd. The house is loaded with many combinations for preeminence. Though there is no biographical information specifically saying so, it is more than likely that she had flowing conversation and a wicked sense of humor.

While we are on the subject of food, Paul Wittamer is a Belgian chef, and known as one of the finest pastry chefs in his country rewarded especially for his exquisite black chocolates. A Cancer ascendant (predisposed to hospitality, food etc.), his bright full Moon is in the 6th bhava of cooking in a wealth yoga with the Sun and exchanging with the exalted 6th lord. Jupiter sitting in the ascendant. Jupiter is the planet of sweets and Venus is the planet of luxury. Rahu joins them adding the necessary obsession to be the Chocolate King!

Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson has all the combinations of great fame and an awesome talent for networking and communication. All of the houses involving personal charisma, the entertainment industry and the convivial planets are interwoven. Mercury is strong in the ascendant with good bite from a debilitated Sun and Saturn giving plenty of fodder for the sly and sarcastic humor that became his hallmark.

Society Hostess
Society Hostess

The final chart is that of a society hostess. She loves the glitter of charity balls, art openings and delights in being part of the "right" crowd. She is very clever with a sparkling sense of humor and sophisticated conversation. Her Moon is the lord of her very notable 11th house and it comes right to the lagna in the nakshatra of Hasta. In addition to her socializing, she has a sincere interest in helping others and a very effective fund raiser with clubs and societies for all kinds of good causes. Note the exalted Jupiter forming a powerful yoga in the 11th with the 9th lord Venus.

The Media Corner

The Peace Pilgrim

In this time of Nobel Peace prizes we are reflecting on whether man can achieve the maturity that is necessary to build the foundations for lasting peace. It is therefore appropriate and inspiring to read of an American woman who embodied the quest peace for peace and pursued it as a true sannyasi. She lived a life of wandering and teaching for the purpose of focusing attention on cultivating personal peace as the basis for a more lasting societal and world peace.

You can check out several interesting books, a few videos of the Peace Pilgrim's talks (notably an hour long one to a college class) and a website with an ongoing mission to continue her vision. (