The Timeless Light of Astrology : by Linda Callanan
Agni and Indra pour from heaven a sea with
seven foundations, whose opening is above.
Sapthahudhnam Arnavam Jihmabaran
— Rig Veda VIII40.5
Whether we are seeking a solution to suffering or are trying to quench an inner yearning that life leaves unsatisfied, eventually we look towards spirituality for answers. This quest can lead to meditation, yoga, philosophy or some other metaphysical disciplines. A metaphysical science with which many of us are familiar is astrology, the study of planetary positions and activities in relation to life on earth. The Western world is most familiar with the solar-based astrology of ancient Greece.
In recent years Western culture has become more familiar with the spiritual teachings of Eastern cultures and along with the various spiritual systems that have been embraced is an astrological system that originated in India known as Vedic Astrology.
As its name implies, Vedic Astrology.s roots are embedded in the ancient scriptures known as the Vedas. According to some, the Vedas are the oldest written teachings known to mankind and from these writings comes the philosophy behind yoga, advaita and ayurveda. Throughout these ancient scriptures are many references to the study of planetary patterns and it is obvious that the movement of the planets were carefully calculated. The Rig Veda, which is the first of the written Vedas, contains references to the vernal equinox being located in the constellation of Cancer which dates approximately to 6,000 BC. It is believed that the Brahmin priests planned their rituals and ceremonies according the movement of the luminaries and planets.
As the Vedic culture refined its knowledge into a working system, it became a requirement that Ayurvedic Doctors understand astrology and yoga. Vedic Astrologers were required to have a working knowledge of yoga and ayurveda. It was this integrated approach that first attracted me to Vedic Astrology and I have found that the close alignment of astrology with yoga and ayurveda presents a concise system that allows for a complete approach to harmony of body, mind and spirit.
An easy way to understand the scope and thrust of Vedic Astrology is to look at the word “jyotish” which is the Sanskrit word for the subject. The most common translation for “jyotish” is “science of light” which can indicate the light of the sun, the light of the stars or the light that can be shed on the darkness of ignorance of self. Jyotish comes from the root words of “jyotir” which means “light” and “Isha” which means “Lord” or “God”. The word can therefore, also be translated as “Lords or Gods of Light”. The ancient seers who gave us this knowledge knew that the destiny of each being was to return to his original and unchanging self. To guide us on this journey Jyotish was left as a guiding light.
To this end Vedic Astrology is rich in spiritual wisdom as well as practical knowledge on how the planets affect our minds and lives, played against the background of karma. One part of the practical aspects of Vedic Astrology is a system known as the “upayes” or remedies. The remedies will enable a person to grasp the energy and qualities of the cosmic bodies and transform them to their highest purpose. In Sanskrit the word for planet is “graha” which translates as “to grasp”. This word indicates the belief that one is able to grasp the qualities of each planet and merge it within himself. These “upayes” can be in the form of gemstones, mantras, pujas, yantras and yogic practices. For the proper application of many of the remedies a thorough knowledge of yoga is essential.
A way to see the unity of astrology, ayurveda and yoga is to look at the planets as they relate to a simplified chakra system and the ayurvedic classification system of “gunas” or “qualities”. Ayurveda teaches that all matter is composed, in part, of three distinct but interacting qualities. These qualities are classified as “rajas” (active), “tamas” (inert) and “sattvic” (balanced). Among the many qualities and indications of each planet is the assignment of its guna as well as chakra placement. A remedial approach to balancing a planet as well as its corresponding chakra could include herbs, yoga postures or planetary mantras.
The Sun is known as the “atmakaraka” or “indicator of the soul” and can show the basic inner drive of a person. Considered of the fire element it is sattvic and located in the sixth or “anja” chakra that sits between the eyebrows. The Sun shares its chakra placement with the Moon and within the anja chakra is the meeting point of the ida and pingala nadis of the spine. As the Moon reflects the light of the Sun, our minds reflect the inner drive of our soul.s purpose for a given lifetime. The Moon is therefore the indicator of the mind in an individual.s chart but it is considered as “manas” or the mind definition of yoga. That is, it rules our mental ability, emotions, personality and basic ability for happiness. The Moon is by far the most important placement in a chart and will show one.s basic mental stability and quality. We must all move beyond the mind in order to be the soul. Ironically, the mind is the vehicle through which we will travel for much of our journey. A balanced and strong relationship between the Sun and Moon will indicate an ability to achieve the peace, calm and trust necessary to travel the spiritual path. The Moon is considered sattvic in guna and of the water element.
Mercury is rajas in guna and of the air element. Its location is in the fifth or “vishuddha” chakra located in the throat. A strong Mercury gives good communication ability. Mercury also rules the mental quality that allows for discrimination and as discrimination requires an attitude of objective neutrality, Mercury is unique in its tendency to take on the characteristics of its sign placement as well as the qualities of the planets with which it is associated. Venus is placed in the charka located within the center of the chest known as the “anahata” or fourth chakra. Known as the heart center, the fourth chakra is the balance between the upper and lower chakras and it represents the point of integration between the higher and lower self through love and compassion. Venus, which is rajas in guna and water in element, is well known as the planet of love and beauty. A strong Venus in a chart will indicate a person who is loving, compassionate and gracefully balanced.
The next planet in the chakra scheme is Mars, which is located in the “manipura” or third chakra seated in the navel region. Mars has a reputation for being hot and aggressive, its element is fire. However, in guna it is considered to be tamasic, which can be heavy and inert. The third chakra is considered to be the seat of the ego, which perhaps accounts for its quality of tamas. The third chakra is also associated with will power and in a chart a strong Mars gives the energy and drive to accomplish goals. A weak Mars can indicate a lack of will power, just as problems with the third chakra can indicate a lack of drive.
Two planets known as the “cosmic teachers” rule the final chakras. Jupiter, known as a teacher of spirituality, has an influence over one.s choice of religion, morality and profession. It is located in the “svadhishthana” or second chakra seated in the genital region. Jupiter is sattvic and of the water element and is considered a planet of good fortune and expansiveness. Jupiter.s placement in the chakra of sexuality may seem a bit odd for this spiritual and sattvic planet but the second chakra is also the seat of creativity, healing and desire. A balanced second chakra fuels the desire to merge with Divinity and to become the Creator as well as the creation. The final chakra is known as the “muldhara” or first chakra located in the perineum. This chakra is the seat of Saturn, which is tamasic, and of the elements of air and earth. While Jupiter is known as the teacher of spirituality, Saturn is well known for his sometimes harsh lessons of life. Saturn.s placement in a chart will indicate where our karmic challenges and restrictions lie and will show us where the danger of stubborn attitudes and attachments will create new karmas. As the first chakra relates to issues of mundane security, physical comforts and basic biological needs, Saturn will often indicate our basic day to day living conditions. A weak Saturn can show financial, family and health problems. A strong Saturn will aid us in achieving a life of comfort. The highest teaching of Saturn is non-attachment to the pleasures and illusions of the mundane world. In understanding that we are more than just the physical and that our true security comes from the spiritual realm, Saturn pushes us beyond the illusions of the physical world.
The journey towards realization can appear dark and unknown but those who traveled before us left behind many points of light to show us the way. Jyotish has been guiding us for thousands of years and its teachings have survived because of the simplicity of its truth. Knowing that there is nothing in the universe that is not within ourselves, the inspired seers of astrology gave us a way to merge with this truth.