“Light On Life” DeFouw/Svoboda

[original post 2005-03-21]  Light On Life by Hart de Fouw & Robert Svoboda is one of my most-valued and most-thumbed astrology reference books.  The two main reasons for this is that it’s firstly a fabulous reference book, and secondly, perhaps more than any other Jyotish book, it gives me a sense of what Jyotish is like as practised in India. And although we aren’t in India, that insight is very valuable.

Light On Life packs an enormous amount of information into a Penguin paperback. If you need to know which planets associate with which metals, vegetables, human constitutions, tastes, colors or whatever, this is your book!  It’s bound to be in here somewhere. It contains a brief rundown of most major topics, including dasas and nakshatras, tithis and yogas.

Among its most useful sections (for me) are those on types of karmas indicated in a chart, and chart interpretation principles. Every time I look at this book again I find something useful.

It’s also stuffed with stories giving glimpses into Jyotish in India. Discussing Gaja Kesari Yoga (a chart pattern involving the Moon and Jupiter):  “On a business trip to Bombay, the owner of this horoscope [with Gaja Kesari Yoga] was approached on the streets by a strange sadhu (a wandering Hindu holy man), who announced with great force that our man (let’s call him K) must have a Gaja Kesari Yoga in his chart. Knowing his own chart well K was naturally amazed to to hear this, and asked the sadhu how he could possibly know. The sadhu replied that K’s strongly formed, round, vividly lustrous forehead indicated a powerful Gaja Kesari Yoga, and then forcefully suggested to K that this yoga would permit him to walk unharmed among poisonous cobras. The sadhu compellingly invited K to accompany him to a live cobra pit to prove the yoga’s power, but K adroitly extracted himself from this trial by serpent”.

If you are a total novice to Jyotish and like gentle introductions without being overwhelmed this may not be the place to start – although you will surely learn a lot!  For students wanting to go a little further, or for novices who like to jump in at the deep end, it’s a terrific read.

My minor whinge about the book is it uses the North India triangular style charts, which I’m not good at as I use the square South Indian style. But they give the data for chart examples so I can re-create them in my charting software.

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14th Dalai Lama

[original post 2005-03-21] Astrology books and websites give a variety of ascendants for the Dalai Lama; however there is clear evidence he was born at sunrise. In Kundun Mary Craig says “He came into the world by the light of a single mustard-oil lamp, at daybreak on the fifth day of the fifth month of Wood Hog Year (6 July 1935)”. A sunrise birth is attested by his mother and other family members. By definition a sunrise birth puts the sun close to the Ascendant, and as the Sun is at ~20 Gemini the Dalai Lama must have a Gemini Ascendant. Here we use a time which puts the sun a few minutes below the horizon.

14th Dalai Lama

A sunrise birth may be regarded as a plus indication when identifying a reincarnation – Sun in the 1st house tends to confer “presence” and authority, something Tibetans expect to see in high lamas. Mercury at 2Gem33 is in the 1st house, creating a Mahapurush “great person” yoga. The Mercury form (Bhadra Yoga) indicates someone of great intellect, respected by the learned, and good at speeches. A powerful Mercury in this position makes for a great public communicator, and this is one great service the Dalai Lama has done for his people – he has continually spoken on behalf of Tibetans and taught Buddhism all over the world.

His chart also has signs his fame would be in the spiritual/religious field. Ketu in the 1st house indicates a religious destiny and a spiritual seeker; although it can also suggest sudden changes in life. The 10th lord is Jupiter, which rules priesthoods among other things, and it’s located in the fortunate 5th house, which rules both intellect and purva punya – past life karma… which from this placement must be good!

Saturn in its own sign of Aquarius in the 9th, and Venus, the Moon, and Neptune together in the 3rd, are on the teaching & communication axis. Many public figures have strong 9th/3rd houses. Saturn’s placement gives the Dalai Lama great authority as a teacher; being aspected by Moon & Venus gives also a kind of sweetness and ease to his teaching.

Note that this is not the chart of a yogi or contemplative, which would show more emphasis in moksha houses, e.g. the 12th. Although the Dalai Lama does of course meditate and pray at least a couple of hours each day, he himself says the pressure of  his work for Tibet and his teaching engagements mean he cannot spend as much time on spiritual practise as he would like.   It’s the chart of someone with a strong spiritual bent who lives their life to teach and help in the world….  or, we might say, one who is like Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of Compassion.

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Pablo Picasso

[original post 2006] Here is the chart of the great artist of the 20th Century, Pablo Picasso. The data comes with a Rodden AA rating, apparently deriving from Picasso’s birth certificate.

chart for Pablo Picasso

The most immediately astonishing thing about this chart is that it contains no less than four debilitated planets!  And that’s if you don’t count the nodes.  Sun, Moon, Venus and Saturn are all debilitated, and none of the remaining planets are in ideal places. Debilitated planets can either be simply weak or badly behaved trouble-makers, depending on the planet and the circumstances. On the face of it they are likely to give bad results. But they also induce the person to focus on their house area psychologically, so that by working with the energy people improve the results, altho results are always liable to be mixed.

Picasso’s ascendant sign is Cancer, with its lord the Moon in the 5th house in Scorpio, where it is debilitated. However, being in the 5th house is good and its close conjunction with Rahu gives it considerable power. Further, the Moon (and Rahu) are aspected by Jupiter, which adds grace and strength it would not otherwise have. This is by far the strongest pattern in Picasso’s chart.

There are two notable things about this – first, that altho the arts in general may be signified by the 3rd house, painting has its special place in the 5th house. Picasso started painting as a child and never stopped.

The second thing about the Moon-Rahu-Jupiter pattern is Picasso spent his life around women; his childhood with his mother & sisters, and his adult life with not only his wives but various mistresses and lovers. There were also many problems in those relationships, and he was by all accounts a controlling and difficult partner..  in this we see the bad side of his Moon. Picasso was a great painter but not always an admirable character –  hardly surprising with so many debilitated planets! His biographers describe him as manipulative, one of the possible effects of 12 th house Mars. A 12th house Mars can signify a yogi or contemplative, but when it doesn’t produce someone with spiritual awareness it often produces manipulation and behind-the-scenes conniving.

Notice Venus debilitated in Virgo. Venus represents the arts generally, here in the 3rd house it adds weight to Picasso’s immersion in art. Its debilitation is slightly ameliorated because it receives an aspect from Jupiter (a trine); but it’s also less beneficially aspected by Mars, so it’s a mixed bag. It’s interesting that the art Picasso became famous for was Cubism and his modernistic style. He abandoned traditional forms and proportions of art in favor of a more spiky, less aesthetically graceful, but strong style. In this may be seen the influence of all those debilitated planets, especially Venus.  You could say this was a case of making lemonade out of lemons!

Saturn in the 10th obviously signifies Picasso’s fame and pre-eminent position in modern art, altho again we notice it’s a debilitated Saturn; he became famous above all for breaking the mold in art. Saturn also rules his relationships with women, and Picasso was notorious for them too. 

Saturn with Neptune is not a “pattern” in vedic astrology, but it is recognised in western astrology, and there we find it in the charts of people who try to build an ideal. Saturn represents the desire to construct, and Neptune the dream. John F. Kennedy had it, and from it springs the idea of the “Kennedy Camelot”. Here it perhaps suggests an artistic dedication, a constant pursuit of ideal artistic expression.

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Recovery Time!

A year or two later (2008?) the Singing Sun website crashed during a WordPress upgrade and wiped all the text out. There turned out to be no good backup later than the previous restore in 2006 (my bad!), and I never got around to restoring. In the last year I’ve built websites for other people, and now in June 2010 am having another shot at getting Singing Sun up and running again.

[Oddly enough I believe there’s another grand cross in progress.
Post charts of blog start and crash times?]

[original post 2006-04-06]. Last weekend this website was hacked and a number of posts lost. Some will be recoverable and put back when possible. The most notable astrological event going on was Mars move into Gemini, where it approached exact opposition to Pluto. The hacker substituted a skull-&-crossbones image for the usual website home page!ps. Probably nothing personal against astrology, hackers just go around looking for sites they can get into.

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Feeling blah and Soggy?

[original post 2005-03-26] If you haven’t got the flu you’re probably feeling Mercury. Mercury is currently debilitated, retrograde and afflicted. The only thing it isn’t is eclipsed – that comes in a couple of weeks time, but fortunately Mercury will be half a sign away by then so may escape the worst effects.

Mercury is debilitated because it is in the sidereal sign of Pisces, where it is at its weakest. All the planets have locations where they’re strong and locations where they’re weak. Mercury is a quick and airy planet, it dislikes water. It’s never at it’s best in any water sign, it’s rather fuzzy in Cancer and Scorpio, but it’s most weak in Pisces, the vaguest of the water signs. Mercury in Pisces is like a bird trying to fly underwater.

Retrograde is when a planet appears to go backwards due to the relative motions of earth and the other planets. Planets don’t really go backwards, but from our viewpoint they sometimes appear to and it has the same effect. Things don’t work properly, events which were proceeding on track get stuck.

Mercury is the most notorious retrograde in astrology since Mercury rules business, communication and computers and so lost phone calls, computer and network down time, and failed contracts are all symptoms of Mercury retrograde. A planet is afflicted when aspected by malefic planets. This generally weakens them.

Mercury is currently aspected by Saturn and Ketu, (and conjunct Rahu), and although its also aspected by beneficial Jupiter and Venus, so far that isn’t cancelling out the weaknesses.

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Difference from Western Astrology

[original date 2005-03-21] Jyotish or Jyotisha, is a Sanskrit word meaning “the science of light”. It refers to the practise of Astrology, sometimes known in the west as “Vedic Astrology” or “Hindu Astrology”.

Jyotish differs from western “Sun Sign” astrology (“I’m a Leo!”) in various ways. Here’s a brief run-down:

Jyotish considers all planets important; but the Moon and Lagna (aka Rising Sign, Ascendant) are more important than the Sun. Traditional Jyotish uses the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and the nodes of the Moon, Rahu (north) and Ketu (south). It does not use the outer planets, although it’s sometimes claimed ancient jyotishis knew of them. Some modern Jyotishis,
including myself – often called “neo-Jyotish” practitioners – do use Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, although do not assign rulership of zodiac signs.

Jyotishis use the traditional rulerships of Scorpio-Mars, Aquarius-Saturn, Pisces-Jupiter. Jyotish uses the sidereal zodiac not the tropical. ie it refers to the actual constellations visible in the sky.
If I tell you your moon is in Taurus, then at the time of your birth your parents could have looked up into the sky, found the constellation of Taurus (if you were born at night) and seen the Moon shining among those stars. However the tropical zodiac is based on the solar year, it always starts at the spring equinox – the first day of spring, 20th/21st March. Tropical Taurus is not the same as the constellation Taurus.

Think of the tropical zodiac as a kind of virtual zodiac, shifted from the constellations by a certain number of degrees (which changes over time). Both zodiacs have validity, although those of us who do sidereal or jyotish astrology think using the real stars is more powerful. Jyotish normally uses an equal house system based on the zodiac signs. Each house is one zodiac sign.

If your Ascendant sign is Pisces the first degree of your ascendant is one degree Pisces. It does not use as many aspect relationships as western astrology. And each planet has preferred or strong aspects specific to itself. Jupiter throws trines, Venus doesn’t. Saturn throws a forward sextile, Mars doesn’t.

Jyotish is more blunt than western astrology with respect to malefic and benefic influences. Although all planets are good for something, Jyotish says more openly that certain planets tend to be malefic: Mars, Saturn and Rahu (the Sanskrit name for the North Node of the Moon). Their transits often bring troubles.

House meanings are slightly different from western astrology’s, although there is considerable overlap.

Jyotish has various techniques unknown to western astrology, including dasas (pronounced “dasha”). The idea is that during your life the planets take it in turn to be influential in your life. Sort of like a revolving Head of Department …  or even the President of the United States. Every few years a new boss planet takes over. In Jyotish you can’t elect that planet, it’s identified according to a formula. The current Head of Department planet (“mahadasa” ruler) is highly influential. Planets bring about their strongest results in their periods of influence.

The difference is sometimes summed up as: western astrology is good at psychological profile but Jyotish is better at prediction.

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Aspects and Earthquakes

Mount St Helen’s erupted into life this afternoon after being quiet for weeks. I don’t study earthquakes and eruptions in detail like some astrologers, but perhaps it’s not a surprising event, coming on the heels of the current Mars-Saturn opposition. Mars represents action and movement, but Saturn stands for constraint and limitation. They are not very compatible forces!  The oppositions or conjunctions tend to lead to frustration and bottled-up energy. Often, with a Mars-Saturn opposition it feels like the pressure builds us for weeks as the opposition moves slowly toward exactness. As the opposition is passed the pressure releases, either gradually, or sometimes – as in this case – abruptly.

[original date 2005-03-25 22:40:40]

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How this got started

[original post 2005-03-09] Today at Carkeek Park, a north Seattle park at the edge of Puget Sound, there is a new log on the beach. It must be fairly recent – no barnacles, and still has bark in places. The wood is brown & deep red; it looks like madrone.

One point of the root end is dug deep into the sand, creating a pivot. The crown is in the sea. When waves come in the log rocks. I tried to rock the log back and forward, but can’t move it at all. Then I sat on it. The sea still rocked it – my weight made no difference. The small waves don’t look big enough to be moving the log, but they are. Just sitting on the log not paying attention to the sea gets me bumped up & down, like sitting a trotting horse out of sync. Keeping an eye on the waves I rise and fall easily with the log.

In Jyotish (Vedic Astrology), the planets are called “grahas”, which means “seizers”. Despite our desire to totally determine our own destinies, we actually operate in a grey area where we can decide what to do within the space determined by certain external forces – including transiting planetary influences.

Currently we have a configuration western astrologers call a “grand cross”. Saturn and Mars oppose one another, and at right angles to them Jupiter (with Ketu) opposes Mercury (with Rahu).  Rahu and Ketu, the nodes of the Moon, are at right angles to Saturn, as they are in my natal chart. Maybe it has something to do with fate…. The sign of Pisces is aspected by all the malefics: Mars, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. Whatever Pisces does in your chart may be under stress, or you’re being forced to focus on it. For ages I’ve been considering starting to write again but haven’t got around to it… writing is hard work!  Maybe today is the time to focus on this issue. So I’ve installed blog software on my website and here we go!

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Welcome to Singing Sun!

[original post 2005-03-09] Welcome to SingingSun!  I’m going to start a Vedic Astrology blog today.

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