Newsletters

Volume 60

“Of all the things of a man's soul which he has within him, justice is the greatest good and injustice the greatest evil.”

Plato

Lighting Up the Sky

Some viewing opportunities are coming up though few can match the dazzling images of Venus and Jupiter over the last few weeks. A picture can’t capture the magic of being out under the sky when the Moon was just below Venus and Jupiter on February 24. ˇThe show continued all month with the two brilliant luminaries dancing with the Moon as in this March 1 photo caught by sangha member Amber Ocean in Colorado.

However, even those sightings were surpassed by an auspiciously timed trip to Finland taken by sangha member Judy Quinby and her daughter. No way she could have known when their trip to Iceland was booked over a year ago that they would be viewing a brilliant Jupiter and Venus “kissing” in an exact yuti in the presence of a dazzling Aurora Borealis. Try topping that one!

The dance of the grahas as always continues with elusive Mercury becoming visible (depending on your location) on the 11th of April. Bright Venus can help you find it as Mercury is between Venus and the setting Sun. On this day, Mercury will be setting two hours after the Sun and might be seeable.

After the spectacular viewing in March, Venus continues to be the brilliant Queen of the Night setting as much as four hours after sunset. It should be especially lovely when viewed near the Pleiades (Kṛttikā) on April 10. It is at its highest altitude on May 21. Please note that there is difference between ecliptic latitude and altitude. Altitude is how far the graha is above the local horizon. Even when closer to the Sun, if Venus is at a high altitude it will be easier to see.

As for the outer grahas, Jupiter is combust and won’t be making much of an appearance until summer. Mars is fading and Saturn is a morning planet and very hard to see if at all.

Justice for All?

The equinox invokes concepts like equal and equality. These are important issues these days so let’s turn to the societal guardrails for justice and equality in the eyes of the law—the courts.

In several parts of the world there is controversy as to whether the mandate of “no one is above the law” really exists. The current hot spots are two democracies, Israel and the US. Both have moved decidedly to the right to the discomfiture of many citizens. This is evidenced by protests, press and migration out of the country in the case of Israel and certain states in the case of the US.

In the US there has always been the see-saw between the two viewpoints of conservatives and progressives, but of late the pendulum has swung decisively to the right in the Supreme Court. It might be interesting to look at the chart of Antonin Scalia, one of the major architects of the strict originalist viewpoint in interpreting the Constitution, what we might call the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law.

Justice Scalia
Justice Scalia, March 11, 1936 20:55, Trenton, N.J.

Justice Scalia has a powerful chart with a stellium of grahas in the 5th bhāva. It is notable that all the dharma lords are there and none of them are weak. The strongest is, of course, Saturn in its own rāśI of Aquarius. Mercury, the 9th lord of law and courts is in that bhāva along with lagna lord Venus. However, it is also true that the 9th bhāva is afflicted and Jupiter, the kāraka for dharma, though aspecting the 9th, is gaṇḍanta, with Rāhu, and in Mūla nakṣatra. This can indicate perhaps an offbeat or quirky concept of dharma.

Many auspicious yoga combinations are forming in the fixed rāśI of Aquarius making them firm and enduring. The daśā sequence emphasizes this as he starts Saturn at the beginning of his career and runs Mercury, Ketu (acting like Mercury among other grahas) and then Venus until his death.

Whether you agree with him or not, it would be hard to argue that this is an unprincipled man. At 17 years old he was already an archconservative who knew where he was going and had an exceptionally brilliant mind that catapulted him to the top of all the educational institutions he attended. He was laser-focused on his opposition to the idea of a living constitution and was forceful in imposing his views. He wrote a record number of dissents when in the minority in the strongest possible language. Note his second lord is the fighting Mars in the 6th aspecting the lagna. He was very out-front with who he was and what he thought. Nothing was couched or hidden.

Let’s turn to the current longest serving justice who is considered to be to the right of even Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas, June 23, 1948, 21:00, Pin Point, GA

Scalia famously quipped when asked to compare his judicial philosophy to that of Clarence Thomas, “Look, I’m an originalist but I’m not a nut”. This was in reference to Thomas’s tendency to throw out precedent such as the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade.

What is striking about this chart is the weakness of Mercury, the 9th lord, the lord of the highest dharma sthāna. Mercury though swa and retrograde is in the 6th bhāva completely combust and losing a planetary war. In fact, the 5th lord Venus is also in the 6th combust. He has a nirbhāgya yoga formed by the 9th lord going to a trik house. In this case, I would take this as afflicted since the Sun is completely combusting Mercury while the bhāva is also afflicted by a strong Saturn. He has a super-sambandha between lagna lord Saturn and 7th lord Moon which also forms a strong passion combination. This might invoke how glued together he is with his spouse who looms large in his life. Note lagna lord Saturn is in Aśleṣa giving the possibility of manipulation and secretiveness.

There is a different cast to this chart and a different path for Thomas. Scalia was unanimously confirmed to the Supreme Court while the Thomas confirmation became mired in charges of sexual misconduct, an allegation that has continued to persist. Recently he has been under the cloud of rendering decisions that pleased his right-wing activist wife, perhaps even discussing cases with her, and ruling on cases that might directly or indirectly involve her without recusing himself. This kind of potential wrongdoing didn’t accrue to Scalia even as his interpretations were railed against.

We will never know whether Scalia would have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, a statute that had precedence that was reconfirmed though Scalia thought it wrongly decided. What does seem to be true is one of these judges has integrity and the other appears to be lacking in this regard? It is fascinating how the charts seem to reflect that dichotomy.

A Rhymed Interview with Mars (A Graha Story)

Written by Ananga-lata Devī Dāsī

Me: Oh Maṅgaladeva, how do you do? Please, if you will, tell me more about you.

Maṅgaladeva: I am a kṣatriya, commander-in-chief. My power and strength cannot be beat. I am often accused of being rash, violent, and angry. Quite frankly, I am flattered; these comments don’t faze me.
I wear these traits like emblems on my chest for war. Red and variegated clothing are how I am further adorned.
Inside of my heart is a great fighting spirit.
It burns down all opponents who dare to come near it.
As a warrior I am fiery and certainly courageous. In places for aggressive and violent acts, this is advantageous.

Me: Oh great warrior, how wonderful to hear. Please tell me more about your unusual career?

Maṅgaladeva: Before I continue, a distinction must be made. The present is unrecognizable to the origins of my trade.
The modern day kṣatriya is more than a disgrace. They lack drive and courage yet try to save face.
As battle fighters, we need foods heavy in protein like meat. We need foods which excite passions and ensure no defeat.
It fosters our strength, passion, action, and competitiveness. We used to hunt and skin walking four-legged creatures for our sustenance.
Now society is rampant with butchers shops and slaughterhouses. Pure rage in my heart is what this arouses.
In the past, we dealt personally with the animal’s marrow and muscle tissue. Animal genocide in all the countries now has become such an issue.
This used to be a noble profession of fighting and confrontation. We did adventurous, dangerous, or courageous acts as a dharmic occupation.
Now the battlefields are burned areas of carnage with the ashes of religiosity. I look upwards in disgust at the utter hypocrisy.

Me: Oh Maṅgaladeva, a disgrace yes it is! I hear you have siblings; tell me more about this

Maṅgaladeva: I have many siblings ranging from ages 42-56. I am the youngest; a mature age of 28, but to them I’m a kid.
We often get together for physical contests. Boxing and wrestling rings or karate dojos’ are a popular request.
We also meet at football stadiums, armories, and military installations. Basically, anywhere for men, and things connected with men, are our favorite places.
My siblings are all masculine with a variety of professions. Some work in factories with heat, energy, and electricity as their obsession.
Others deal with metals (especially gold) and machinery in machine shops. The rest includes fire fighting, cutting professions, and real estate but the list doesn’t stop.
One brother is a surgeon who does operations in laboratories. He always returns with the most fascinating of stories.
For many of us, we ended up working in places near fire. Our goal-directed energy and vim and vigor collectively inspires

Me: Being the youngest of brothers has got to be tough. With whom is your relationship particularly rough?

Maṅgaladeva: One of my brothers is a hasty rascal. His occupation is harassing others, I mean what a hassle!
He associates with wicked people, spies and thieves. Anger and an ‘all or nothing’ attitude are among his better qualities.
He is irritable, inconstant and inconsistent for sure. He picks things up from his time spent at places frequented by blue-collar workers.
In general my brother is just a natural malefic. It is no surprise that his nature is so tamasic.
He was conceived in a union with one deformed in someway. Definitely not from a woman with the ideal hourglass figure you could say.
When he was born in the Grishma season (May 20 to July 20), he was born feet first. Ever since then his life has been cursed.
As a young child below school age he was always quite short. He was also so ill that he never played sports.
Overheating, (eruptive) fevers and liver complaints; the people who nursed him were truly saints.
This doesn’t begin to mention the ulcers and lacerations. I swear his present day antics reflect his early life complications.
Personally, I think he could have used more punishment in his life. He would’ve responded well and avoided much later strife.

Me: I guess every family has a black sheep, which of your brothers is your favorite of the heap?

Maṅgaladeva: Another one of my brothers is a true patient gem. Like a copper, coral, bloodstone creme de La creme.
I know these well because he shares his knowledge of inorganic materials such as minerals. He’s not a butcher; his cookery in the kitchen is ethereal.
He uses red flowers, red lentils, and pungent herbs. His use of hemp, peppers, mustard, and coriander is particularly superb.
He likes clove, garlic, and other plants and foods with strong odors. He likes things very pungent, and even more so as he gets older.
Needless to say his pitta is off the charts. His use of coffee, tea, strong liquors, and stimulants are my least favorite part.

Me: Dear Mangaladeva, nonetheless, you love your brother to no end. Please tell me which illness do you most often contend?

Maṅgaladeva: Skin rashes are my most dreaded disease but not uncommon due to the poison ivy, strong, thorny, and poison oak trees.
7 yojanas south is a thorny shrub/plants and weeds thicket. Amongst, is the stinging nettle - I try not to pick it.

Me: Maṅgaladeva, thank you for your time. And thank you for also speaking in rhyme.

Maṅgaladeva: May your jyotiṣa journey be full of victory. And may you have an easy time memorizing my story

Media Corner: Podcast on Vargottama Grahas

<a target='_blank' href='https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKxmENgsuQI'>Podcast on Vargottama Grahas</a>
Podcast on Vargottama Grahas