Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Astrology of Knitting

Is there astrology specific to knitting?

This is "The Return of Ulysses" by Romare Bearden. Bearden instinctively grasped the connection between the fiber arts and occult knowledge. He shows Penelope weaving, but a cat plays with yarn under the loom, and a messenger crow waits outside the window.

As an increasingly avid knitter and an astrologer, I have been wondering about this. There is a signature for talent in the fiber arts, I think. Knitting, crocheting, tatting, and weaving are included in the fiber arts, and the common denominator for them all is the tying of knots.

Astrology-savvy knitters think of Virgo as the sign of the craftsman. This could be any craft, from baking to woodworking, which is done with the hands. It doesn’t have to be knitting. Saturn is the planet associated with time, and knitting is nothing but an endless repetition of loops or knots extending into infinity. Saturn gets closer to the spirit of the fiber arts, in my opinion, while Virgo represents anything done with the hands. That said, the anal, extreme detail-orientation of a hard-core Virgo is the defining characteristic of those who are good enough to join a knitting guild.

In Vedic astrology, the Third House is associated with the urge to create using one’s hands. Having a benefic like Venus or Jupiter in both the rasi and the navamsa often confers a life-long talent in one of the arts or crafts, but once again, this could also be anything from cooking to carpentry. For people who don’t have a career in the arts, the benefic in the navamsa may be more important, because interest in crafting seems to blossom in a subject’s mid-thirties and beyond.

Getting back to western astrology - are Saturn-in-Virgo natives top suspects? Sure, but think more broadly. Think about a ruling Saturn, or a strongly aspected planet in Virgo, or a stellium in either Capricorn or Virgo, or either of these signs on the angles. These natal configurations don’t promise a knitter, but they do tend to show up in the background.


If there is any natal aspect closely associated with knitting, I suspect it has to be the hard aspect (conjunction, square, or opposition) between Moon and Saturn, and occasionally the trine. Moon-Saturn hard aspects love to braid hair, tie knots, or weave rugs. It is as if the Moon needs a beautiful, nurturing way to express the limitations of Saturn, and Saturn is forever tying us in knots or binding us in some way.

Why Moon-Saturn hard aspects? Hard aspects create tension between two planets, and stress in the subject’s life. Knitting is very meditative once the knitter knows what he or she is doing. Saturn requires patience, but it also gives the gift of meditation, and the satisfaction of creation during time that would otherwise go to waste. Moon-Saturn hard aspects are a challenge to manage – they are associated with depression, difficult motherhood, difficulties in becoming a mother, difficulties with one’s own mother, and constant delays and restrictions in one’s life circumstances. Yet, with knitting, Saturn provides an artistic solution for some of the very problems it creates.

How does the Moon show up? The nurturing generosity of knitters can be legendary – they are forever knitting gifts for other people. Even those who only knit for themselves are usually pretty generous when it comes to teaching others how to knit.


When I began researching this article, I was surprised to find no mention of Pluto in connection with the fiber arts. Pluto is a portal to the underworld – it is represented by the occult, and has associations with remaining invisible and also with causing death. Consider some examples from the following myths, songs, and stories.

The myths of the ancient gods sometimes focused on the fiber arts – think of Arachne, the girl who infuriated Athena by weaving a tapestry depicting the transgressions of the gods – she ended up a spider. In fairy tales, spinning yarn or thread was associated with mild trance – magic might take place as a result. Spells were contained in knots – recipients of hand-made clothes were wary of gifts that might interfere with their free will. The folk song, “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?” recalls this idea with the lyric, “Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, without any seams or needlework.” The singer assures us he will give his love only if it is not coerced by occult means.

Pluto comes to mind when I think of the Moirai – the ancient goddesses of fate and destiny. Chlotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured out the thread and was said to make choices about a person’s destiny after the thread was measured, and the scary Atropos cut the thread. Atropos lives on in the name of the toxic plant Atropa belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade, and also in atropine, an anti-cholinergic drug derived from the plant which ironically keeps a compromised heart beating.

Take knitting away from the knitter, and he or she will seethe or twitch with frustration. Madame Defarge, of Tale of Two Cities fame, is a most Plutonian knitter – she knits the names of those the French Revolution will destroy. A modern knitter is more likely to knit the name of the one who took the knitting away.

There is now a resurgence of popularity in public (visible) knitting, which peaked right around the time Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, and is still going strong. But I remember my grandmother knitting when I was a little girl – women didn’t knit in public back then. Knitting was something that made her less visible, but I now realize it also allowed her the luxury of observations made in silence (Pluto is invisible).


Rather than focus on the planets or aspects behind knitting, the author of this blog observed knitters on an unspecified forum, possibly, according to their sun signs. Her sharp perceptions about knitters who made revealing self-assessments ended up as an article simply titled, “Knitters”.

I have a Capricorn stellium, and this blogger nailed Capricorn. She notes that Capricorn knitters have a knack for color or spatial dynamics, adds that they knit because they hate to waste time, and sniffs out their dislike of wasteful stashes. I had already written “My First Socks”, where I mentioned that color is my talent, and “My Knitting Philosophy”, with its remarks about show-off stashes and class warfare, before I discovered her article, and I had to laugh. There is no denying I’m a Capricorn knitter. Her article is worth checking out.


If there is one famous knitter who taps the hidden power of the ancient gods, it has to be Barbara Walker. Before beginning research on this article, I knew her only as the author of “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets”, which won Book of the Year from the Times (London) in 1986.
It turns out this book was a mere sideline for her – she had already made her reputation as the Julia Child of knitting with the publication of “Mosaic Knitting” in 1976, and followed it up with an even greater achievement, the four-part series, “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns”.

Like Julia Child, Walker rigorously tested all of her patterns, because she understood that knitting success can hinge on a single incorrect purl stitch in the wrong place. She was a perfectionist and an extremely thorough collector who ended up preserving much of what is known of the entire art of knitting – almost all contemporary knitting designers refer to her work. No matter what Fair Isle motif or lace pattern a knitter selects today, chances are good that Walker carefully recorded it years ago.

Naturally, I was curious about her natal horoscope. She was born July 2, 1930. I don’t have a birth time. Yet, even without a birth time, some things jump out of this horoscope immediately. Ruling Saturn in Capricorn is opposite Pluto in Cancer, creating an energy axis between the two planets I associate most closely with the fiber arts. There is a decent likelihood of Moon square Saturn. And Neptune (creativity) is partile conjunct Vesta (one’s life purpose, what one invests in most heavily) in the 1st degree of Virgo! (Vesta is not shown in the chart below.) Without a doubt, this woman had a knitter’s signature.


Steege, Gwen. The Knitter’s Life List, Storey Publishing, 2011.

I found Romare Bearden’s “The Return of Ulysses” in this book, as well as biographical information on Barbara Walker.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Knitting Philosophy

THOUGHTS ON SOCKS (My Knitting Philosophy)

Trying on a sock just after turning the heel.


•There is nothing wrong with mindless knitting (and indeed, a good deal to be said for it – many women knit precisely because knitting becomes “mindless” and therefore meditative, once you know what you are doing). Simple ribbed socks, or plain-Jane, stocking-net-stitch socks that show off a fancy, self-striping yarn, are the easiest knitting out there. Totally mindless. Call it “stupid knitting” – once you know what you are doing.
•I love “stupid knitting”. I’ve got the rest of my life to prove my competence in other areas – knitting is one thing that doesn’t have to go on my resume.
•There are two kinds of sock heels in this world – the kind that have a heel, heel flap, and gussets (round heels, square heels, band heels), and the kind that don’t (short rows and afterthought heels). Maybe it’s the Capricorn in me, but I prefer structure. Socks with a traditional heel, heel flap, and gussets have the best fit, and fit is everything when it comes to socks.
•Socks can easily knit from stashed yarn, and a knitter can shape their stash around socks, because they are easy to knit from a single skein. That said, I’m not a big fan of big-stash ladies.
•Having a large stash is wasteful – a lot of it never gets used, and is simply given away, or it gets thrown out. Rachel Herron, author of “A Life in Stitches” and owner of, points out that our grandmothers who knit never had large stashes. They knit carefully according to the project – and budgeted enough extra for mending only. Herron’s grandparents were sheep farmers in New Zealand – yarn was made to sell, not to show off in a stash to demonstrate one’s discretionary income or careless spending habits.
•But there is one thing that can be said for having a small stash. In terms of emotional well-being, four or five versatile skeins in a stash will get you through an extended period of no money far better than money will get you through a time of no knitting.
•Socks are quick and easy gifts. For those who aren’t married, the gift of socks is a lifesaving alternative to knitting a sweater before one has a ring, or is safely hitched – this is known as the “Sweater Curse”. The “Sweater Curse” is a myth, but most knitters know better than to fuck with it.
•Socks are portable. They can sit in the trunk of your car for years until you finally get around to them. I should know.
•Hand-knit socks and sweaters should look hand-knit – there should be some small design element (lace, picot border, a few Fair Isle motifs) or creative use of color that lets the viewer know that this is a hand-knit item. Otherwise, what’s the point?


•Cost is the elephant in the room. I’m serious. A fancy skein of hand-dyed yarn costs $28.00 these days. $28 for socks! Are you kidding? Socks cost $2 at WalMart. The most expensive, manufactured pair of socks I own – the Smartwool socks that I hike in, and could not live without – cost me $18. So, I’m spending $23 to $28 for fancy, hand-dyed yarn to knit socks that I must hand wash. I’m spending more for socks that don’t have the knitting technology found in a pair of Smartwool socks. Where class warfare exists in knitting, socks are at the center of the war.
•In terms of cost, socks are the poorest value out there. For a knitter, the item with the highest “added value” is probably a shawl - it takes only two skeins of yarn to knit a large, heirloom piece that can be handed down to one’s children. Try doing that with socks.
•Socks wear out, and get lost. But they’re not as bad as fingerless mitts. Nothing gets lost more easily than a fingerless mitt. No sooner do they come off the needle than one of them goes missing. You might as well just knit a matching set of three, and pray...

NEXT UP: The Astrology of Knitting

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My First Socks

Just sitting around on my day off, contemplating the need for hand-made socks.

I put off knitting my first socks for the longest time – I’m four years into knitting, and this is my first pair. I’ve knit a beautiful full-length lace shawl, and figured out fitted sweaters with set-in sleeves, and I haven’t had the nerve to take on socks.

All the different parts of the sock – cuff, leg, heel, heel flap, gusset, instep, sole, and toe – scared me to death. How was I going to figure out how to knit all of that, and pull off a Kitchener stitch to sew the darn thing up, too? It made me think of my long-ago French boyfriend who insisted that I memorize all the different parts of the cow because he said Americans didn’t know shit about butchering meat. I thought socks would become the French butchery of knitting, and I tucked my tail beneath my legs, let out a MOOOOOOOO, and ran.

Two years ago, I knitted two pairs of cuffs with a gorgeous, midnight-navy Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga yarn called “Sooty Dancer” that cost me an arm and a leg. (Sadly, this gorgeous color is discontinued, and Sanguine Gryphon has split up, although still operational. It’s other half is now called Cephalopod Yarns, and I do recommend them, despite the fact that I swear their yarn requires a designated credit card.) I named them “Junk-in-the-Trunk” socks, stowed them in the trunk of my trusty wheels, and they stayed there for two whole years (you don’t want to know what else is in that trunk, so don’t ask).

Then I finally found a teacher I could afford – Mary, the owner of Two Rivers Yarns in Brunswick, MD, is offering private half hour classes for $15.00 a half hour – you won’t find a better price anywhere in the DC metropolitan area. In fact, I’m willing to bet she is one of the most affordable knitting teachers in the entire country. Now, I would have someone to help me when I got stuck. For the first time, I began to feel the necessary confidence to tackle socks.

So, the first thing I did was fish the rainbow-colored, total 1970’s Shalimar finger-weight out of stash and knit a second pair – notice that I knit top-down to the part where I turned the heel, and then I stopped. (Gemini, the sign of the twins, is on my natal MidHeaven, and it isn’t there for nothing, ladies.) Now, I would have two pairs to learn the round heel and the Kitchener stitch on (more fun and misery for all concerned, right?)

Two pairs of socks at once is the only way to go with a Gemini Midheaven...

The book I used is “Sock Knitting Master Class” by Ann Budd. It has a CD, and knitters these days swear by CD’s in the back of a knitting book. I wouldn’t know, because the CD player in my 10 year old, museum piece laptop is broken. When I upgrade to the modern world, I’ll let you know, dear readers.
The lace pattern I used is “Rose Ribs” (p. 81). It’s probably a great pattern. I don’t know how to knit it (never mind the gorgeous lace shawl I did figure out). I’ve done nothing but botch the lace, so to save face, I’ve started alternating the lace with sections of stocking-net.
My mostly orange "rainbow" sock on top of the "Rose Ribs" pattern. When finished, these socks may not be much good for anything other than wearing around Halloween. Knitting cheaply out of the stash has a way of leading to laughter AT you in the end. Or these could turn out really just don't know until your project is close to done.

Small sections of lace allow some air in. Random yarn-overs speak to my laziness – only an anal knitter would chart their first sock, and I’m a don’t-worry, be-happy knitter. When I was a total knitting beginner, I didn’t even know how to cover my screw-ups. Four years in, I’m still a sloppy knitter (I’ll never make the knitting guild), but now I know how to hide things. Mwahahahahahaha!

When someone asks me what my talent in knitting is, I always answer, “Color”. By that, I don’t mean knitting color blocks, or intarsia. I mean putting colors together. I don’t sit there with a color wheel, but I’ve always had an eye for color (you want colors for a Fair Isle fingerless mitt – try three pairs of your favorite skinny yarn in these colors – burgundy and lime green, teal and lavender, navy and off-white – you’ll see how pretty this combination is). Although I am the first one to admit that knitting technique matters, and anal knitters make the most beautiful items, I am better at blogging and color. Everybody’s got a talent!

NEXT UP: My Knitting Philosophy

Sunday, August 26, 2012


"When God created the world, He gave us astrology so He could drop a few hints". -the Space Cowboy

This is my FINAL ARTICLE in the series, "Help for Vedic Beginners". My intent was to provide beginners with enough of a foundation in the basics that they will feel confident about pursuing further self-study, and-or taking an actual class in a specialized topic like yogas. Beginners out there, please let me know what you think after reading all four articles in the series.

For those of you who are proficient in Vedic astrology, and who are just reading to "brush up", or for an idea or two that you might have missed, I would be interested in hearing whether there are any beginning topics that I should have addressed, and didn't. Please take the time to read all four articles before commenting.

And now, without further ado...


Vedic horoscopes come in two flavors – North Indian style and South Indian style.
The South Indian style is much easier for a beginner to read, but it has not gained widespread use in the Vedic world. Most Vedic charts on the Web are North Indian style. If you purchase a detailed Vedic horoscope, it will almost certainly come with North Indian style charts.

James Braha uses the South Indian style charts in his book, “Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer”. The cover is actually a depiction of his natal chart in the South Indian style. He does this in order to make the book more accessible to beginners.


Since North-Indian style charts get the most play, let’s take a look at Angelina Jolie’s horoscope as an example. She was born June 4, 1975 at 9:09 am in Los Angeles, CA.

The diamond - shaped box at the top of the horoscope is the Ascendant. Venus is right on the Ascendant (see “Analysis of Angelina Jolie’s Vedic Horoscospe” in Sources, for a good Vedic analysis of her horoscope.)

Now take a look at the numbers…these are the key to a North-Indian style chart. The “4” is the 4th sign of the zodiac, which is Cancer. Jolie has a Cancer Ascendant.

Don’t make the same mistake that this author made when she was a beginner and assume that the house with the “1” must be the Ascendant. The diamond-shaped house at the top of the chart is ALWAYS THE ASCENDANT.

If you’re not sure which house is the second house, remember that Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac, comes after Cancer. So the house with the “5” is the second house, and this chart is meant to be read counter-clockwise.


There is quite a bit of good Vedic analysis of Angelina Jolie’s chart on the Web – I only mentioned one author in the sources for this article. For readers who are interested in a good biography, I recommend, “Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography” by Andrew Morton.

There are just a couple of observations that I would like to make – one is that this is an incredible horoscope for having children. Jupiter is the karaka (or “indicator”) for children – it is in its ruling sign of Pisces and located in the 9th House (its own house). This is the strongest possible combination of sign and house for Jupiter.

Jupiter is conjunct the Moon (motherhood), and the Moon is Lord of the Ascendant – indicating Jolie’s very strong relationship with her own mother, and also her desire to be a mother, (with Jupiter’s power of expansion influencing the Moon).

Plus the most powerful indicator of craving and insatiable desire in a Vedic horoscope is normally Rahu – which just happens to be located alone in the 5th House of children, so it’s energy is unmitigated by the influence of any other planet. Rahu is also a foreigner, and the 5th House represents the first child – her first child was indeed a foreign adoption.

In Vedic astrology, odd-numbered houses that follow the 5th House represent one’s relationship with particular children, and/or their qualities. The stelliums in the 9th and 11th houses of her horoscope suggest a powerful, fated relationship with her two daughters, Zahara and Shiloh. Her interaction with Zahara, and Zahara’s own personal qualities, are embodied by the planets of Jolie’s 9th House – Moon, Jupiter, and Mars. The planets in her 11th house (Ketu, Sun, and Mercury) influence her dynamic with Shiloh, and also the traits Shiloh displays herself.

The other observation I would make is that individuals like Angelina Jolie who are powerfully in touch with their life-path may experience a strong planetary maturation, even if the planet is not in a sign of rule, exaltation, or fall. Thus, Jolie realized a lifelong dream around the age of 36 when she directed her first film, “In The Land of Blood and Honey”. Her 12th House Saturn in Gemini is neither in its sign of rule or fall, but it is significant that the 12th House represents living and working in foreign lands - her role in "Blood and Honey" was a summation of all of her third-world development experience to date.

Seeing Saturn yield this sort of energy on maturation does seem to hint that there will be intense life experience regarding one or more of her children around the age of 42 when her Rahu matures - note its position in the 5th House.



This is a south-Indian style chart with a Leo Ascendant. Saturn is in the 9th House, and Jupiter is in the 3rd House. Quiz yourself – what does this mean?


Saturn is fallen in Aries in the 9th House of Luck, Higher Learning, and Philosophical Values. The 9th House also represents the guru and the father. Having a fallen planet in the House of Luck sets the native up for a difficult life.
Jupiter is in the 3rd House in Libra, which confers talent in written or spoken communications, and blessings for the siblings, rather than for the native. Jupiter is also in Libra, Saturn’s traditional sign of exaltation, so it is slightly weaker than usual.

Take-Away Lesson:
In Jyotish, fallen planets cast a positive aspect into the house opposite them, while ruling or exalted planets cast a negative aspect into the house opposite them. In this example, fallen Saturn casts positive energy toward the 3rd House, which further strengthens the impact of 3rd House Jupiter.

This native will not do as well as his or siblings in terms of material success. Higher education will likely be ruined in some way, and this may be linked to the lack of material success. An astrologer would counsel the subject to avoid resentment and envy of the siblings – it is this native’s life lesson to yield energy toward one’s siblings. He or she would also advice the subject that some 3rd House blessings will still accrue to him – he should develop whatever talent is “gifted” by this placement. If the subject is a woman, Jupiter’s nakshatra (it happens to be Swati, in this instance, although this cannot be determined from the simplified chart) will also suggest qualities of the first spouse, or first serious life partner.


Vic DiCara's Look at Angelina Jolie

PART THREE - If you want the previous article in this series.

PART ONE - If you want to jump all the way back to the beginning of this series.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Traditional Indian names for girls reflect the names of the Vedic asterisms - Ashwini, Rohini, Chitra, and Phalguni are all popular. This photo found on the web is of an Ohio State student named Ashwini.

Are you kidding? Beginners have balls…

Yet, only a beginner could ask a question like this. And I like beginners. So, I’m going to try to answer, from a technical perspective, rather than a philosophical one.

To get from your western birth chart to a Vedic natal chart, known as a "rasi", you have to remember that the Ascendant and every single planet moves 23.5 degrees from its western position for those born around the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and 24 degrees sharp for those born in 2010. The western tropical zodiac moves apart from the sidereal zodiac 1 full degree every 72 years.

• Let’s look at an example for a native born in 1970 with the Moon at 1 degree of western Taurus.

• Subtract 23.5 degrees from this Moon. It is roughly 7 degrees Aries in the Vedic zodiac, which locates this Moon in Ashwini, the first of the 27 asterisms.

You can do this to determine your own nakshatra. The 27 Vedic moon signs are more precisely delineated than the western sun signs – they are the jewels of the Vedic system.

• Most folks will use software to do these calculations. Solar Fire calculates a rasi (pronounced "ra-shi") and a navamsa (pronounced "na-vam-sha"). But you become a better astrologer if you learn to calculate an approximate sidereal degree in your head - this technique will allow you to glance at a subject's Western horoscope and quickly "ballpark" their Vedic rasi, a useful skill for anyone who consults using both systems. For manual calculation of a navamsa, a navamsa table is needed.

• Your natal nakshatra, or Vedic Moon sign, describes your personality, and also sets up your planetary dasa structure. It is far more important than the Sun in Vedic astrology.

Now, you need to make the same calculation for the Ascendant, which is the second most important consideration in the Vedic system, and is also considered more important than the sign of the Vedic Sun.

• Let’s look at an example for a native born in 1970 with the western Ascendant at 14 degrees Virgo.

• Subtract 23.5 degrees from this Ascendant. It is roughly 21 degrees Leo in the Vedic zodiac, which locates this Ascendant under the asterism of Purva Phalguni.

You will now make the same calculation for each of the seven traditional planets (Sun through Saturn) and the North Node (Rahu) and South Node (Ketu). Vedic astrologers use only the planets that were visible in the night sky, so the outer planets are not considered.

You will find that many of your planets will shift houses and signs as you move from a western tropical zodiac to a Vedic sidereal zodiac. This is because your Ascendant has shifted to a different sign. This tends to throw off a lot of beginners, who insist that a horoscope is meaningless if it doesn’t match the western horoscope.

The important thing to remember is that this does not make Jyotish inaccurate. It is a different system, and house meanings are different. Most people find that their Vedic horoscope complements the information found in their Western horoscope.

Let’s take a look at some examples, to see how this works. In Vedic astrology, the sign on the Ascendant often has an impact on career choice, or in some cases, life purpose other than one’s career – and it must make an accurate prediction about the native’s life.

In western astrology, the sign on the Ascendant describes personality traits, and sometimes, physical appearance. It also has an impact on career choice, so there is overlap between western and Vedic interpretation.


Roommate - Western Libra Ascendant, Vedic Virgo Ascendant.

She is pretty and popular, with a strong interest in pop-culture and new bands and cool music. She is also fair in her assessments of people – very Libra. It is pretty clear how Venus operates as the lord of her western chart.

When I first tried explaining Vedic astrology to her, she insisted that she couldn’t possibly have a Virgo ascendant, which is the case in her Vedic chart. Yet, what does she do for a living?

She is an executive secretary who supports a hospital CEO. The job entails strong organizational skills and a detail-oriented focus, and these traits are supported elsewhere in her western chart. But the Vedic chart makes a prediction – Mercury as lord will determine the shape of her career choice, and it did.

Sometimes, the shift operates on a more subtle level that is not immediately obvious. Consider the following example:


Western Virgo Ascendant and Gemini Mid-Heaven, Vedic Leo Ascendant

This woman is detail-oriented, and has always worked in Mercury-dominated career fields. She has been a secretary and a teacher (Gemini MC). She enjoys writing, and majored in journalism. A lot speaks to the western Virgo Ascendant, particularly in terms of career choice.

Yet, the Sun is the lord of her Vedic Leo Ascendant. To be valid, it needs to make some sort of accurate prediction about her life. A Leo Sun has to leave some sort of a lasting legacy, and this woman is me, the author of this blog.


Hands down, the best resource on the web is the vast and wonderful website at

Barbara Pijan has made an incredible amount of material for Vedic students available for free on the Internet. No other Vedic astrologer in the US has made this kind of treasure trove available without charge. This website inspires my intent for this blog – I am striving to build the kind of treasure that Pijan and her husband have built, and make it available for free. In the best Vedic tradition, Pijan has acted as my role model or guru, even though I have never met or corresponded with her.

When I first encountered this website, the wealth of knowledge on the nakshatras alone kept me busy for a week. But there’s a lot more on here than just nakshatras.

This website will seem overwhelming at first. There is so much here that it boggles the beginner’s mind. But if the beginner persists, Pijan’s gift yields like a cornucopia.

She uses the Sanskrit terms for the planets (also called “grahas”) and signs (also called “rashis”) – this alone can scare away the beginner. You have to do a little bit of memorization of Sanskrit terms to be able to navigate easily in her world, so a quick run-down of the Vedic signs is shown below.


Sun = Surya
Moon = Chandra
Mercury = Budha
Venus = Shukra (note the similarity to the English word for "sugar")
Mars = Kuja or Mangala
Jupiter = Guru
Saturn = Shani

Aries = Mesha
Taurus = Vrishabha
Gemini = Mithuna
Cancer = Karkata
Leo = Simha
Virgo = Kanya
Libra = Thula
Scorpio = Vrischika
Sagittarius = Dhanushya
Capricorn = Makara
Aquarius = Kumbha
Pisces = Meena


Other good sources for articles on the web include the library at Komilla Sutton’s website (located under the Resources tab).

James Kelleher also maintains a well-written archive of articles on his website, which may be reached from the heading “About Jyotish” to the left of the mandala on the home page.

Another good stash of Vedic articles by Veno is available on her website. Veno is the illustrator of Prash Trivedi’s wonderful nakshatra book, “The 27 Celestial Portals”.

Veno's essays are a quirky collection with a little bit of everything from the “Cosmic Cow” to “Polynesian Astronomy”. In particular, I liked “Venus, The Beautiful One” and “Random Thoughts on Tantra”.

PART TWO - If you want the previous article in this series.

PART FOUR - If you want the next article in this series.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Moon Phase Astrology

Time Out: This may be the most creative, interesting astrology book published in 2011. Raven Kaldera expands our understanding of Dane Rudhyar’s classic, “The Lunation Cycle” by cross-pollinating the eight phases of the “Lunation Cycle” with the moon in all twelve zodiac signs for a total of ninety-six different archetypes. The entire cycle repeats every 240 days, which is close to the 236 days that Venus spends as a morning star (the two patterns may not be related, but it is interesting to see how a similar cycle operates in terms of the moon).

I put a review on titled, “Catchy Archetypes and a Clever Perspective on the Moon”

(July 18, 2012), but I wanted to expand on it a little. This article is not a re-write of that review, so reading it first might be a good idea.

Kaldera is a Northern tradition pagan (Norse but not reconstructionist) and an experienced shaman. My sense is that he uses spirit helpers to guide his astrology, and the result is access to astrological ideas that are very different from the mainstream. Astrology revealed through trance or channeling of other-worldly wisdom doesn’t get the respect it deserves from traditionalists in astrology – these are the same folks who refuse to acknowledge the value of the Sabian symbols or give Elsie Wheeler credit for channeling them. My own view is that when revealed knowledge creates a bulls-eye match across a lot of horoscopes, its time to pay attention.

“The Lunation Cycle” was probably Rudhyar’s most widely read book, even though none of his books are an easy read, to say the least. You don’t need to have read “The Lunation Cycle” first in order to understand Kaldera’s book, but a quick recap of the classic may be helpful.

Here are some brief notes from a long-ago lecture I attended with Moses Siregar III:

NEW MOON – Not a large karmic burden – these natives are child-like in their energy. Moses Siregar III describes old and new version of the New Moon. He feels the young are just here to explore themselves, while the old ones have quiet energy and are going to do what they are here to do.

CRESCENT – Adolescent energy. Brittany Spears and Woody Allen have this moon. Enough said.

FIRST QUARTER (Waxing Quarter) – This phase is one crisis after another, and the focus is on scrambling to survive. Take it from me. This is my natal moon phase.

GIBBOUS – Siregar identifies it as perfect and very picky, and also notes the hard-driving, authoritative expression. Kaldera shows how this is truer in some signs more than others. I call it the corporate moon. The highest material expression of the moon happens here.

FULL MOON – Siregar says this moon learns through relationships, and tends to be focused on one long marriage, or on multiple marriages. Kaldera feels this moon has the best chance of liking themselves, but shows how it is hard for loved ones to access their minds and hearts.

DISSEMINATING MOON – This moon spills over and offers its knowledge and wisdom to the world in some manner.

THIRD QUARTER (Waning Quarter)– Siregar notes that this is the season of giving in to the dark – he feels that many of these natives reach an impasse (something that they really wanted isn’t going to happen for them). Kaldera feels this phase and the FIRST QUARTER phase are the most challenging natally.

BALSAMIC – The moon is almost spent and out of energy in its final phase. Its natives tend to be calmer and less reactive emotionally, too.

In "Moon Phase Astrology", Kaldera takes the above framework and shows it manifesting in each of the signs. The Libra New Moon is the “White Knight’s Moon” while the First Quarter Libra Moon is the “Black Knight’s Moon”. The contrast does turn out to be stark, but notice how a phase is skipped. In some signs, he shows how energy is carried from one phase to the next – for example, Full Moon, Disseminating Moon, and Waning Quarter Moon in Virgo are all “Fate” moons, but the Waning Quarter moon is the most “fated” of all.

How accurate are some of Kaldera’s descriptions? Here’s an excerpt from “Fate Moon”, the Waning Quarter moon in Virgo:

“The third Fate is the one who gets to say No, to draw the line and cut the cord….and she is lonely enough to want to reach out. Yet it seems that whenever she centers her life on others, things go wrong. She is forced to make difficult choices and defend her boundaries, and often cuts the cord and retreats again into solitary meditation. Being the one to mark out death is not an easy job, and it makes her desperate for human validation and coldly withdrawn by turn.

Still, she is required to render service to others. That service consists of saying No, setting boundaries, and perhaps of causing death. This is an important service that most people don’t appreciate unless they are in bad need of it, so she receives a lot of hostility in spite of her best efforts…

Many Fate’s Moon people live alone or end up living alone. A lot of time is spent facing health issues and death, of loved ones and themselves. Work is important to them, and the best job is either a service job that does not get closely involved or some kind of solitary work….This is not a Moon that is destined to learn about deep empathic melding with others…"

This is the natal moon for James Holmes, a 24 year old former neurology PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Medical School, who is better known as the Colorado Theater Gunman. He was born on Dec 13, 1987. In the space of a few moments, he shot 71 people, and killed 12 of them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chiron In Synastry

The author and her best friend on Jenn's wedding day.

One of my Summer 2012 “Double 007” projects is to figure out what Chiron means in synastry. So far, it’s been slow going (nobody said being a part-time astrologer is easy – darn good thing I still have the day job).

Obviously, Chiron can go either way – it can wound deeply or heal beautifully. Dismal synastry between two individuals involving a tight planet-Chiron conjunction isn’t my focus in this article – one will hopefully opt to get away from the offending person as quickly as possible – end of story.

Yet Chiron can be the hidden key to some very close, deeply loyal relationships between two people who don’t appear to have anything else in common in terms of synastry. Let’s find out why.

Nikki10 writes, " I do agree that soulmates are talked about and popular but many people dont really know what they are. A soulmate is a person that has agreed (before they are born) to help you learn lessons during your lifetime, and you have agreed to help them also, help their soul evolve." 11.08.12


• Chiron plays the healing role only when it is tightly conjunct a natal planet in the other person’s horoscope, using an orb of around 1 degree or less. (Actually, I would bet on the very tight opposition also, but I don’t have the charts to back this assertion up.)

• A light-bulb clicked on in my brain - Chiron also seems to operate something like the Moon when a conjunction is formed. In a synastry context, the emotions, vulnerability, and self-protectiveness of the Moon mesh closely with Chiron’s energy.

• For this conjunction to work without becoming terribly wounding and destructive, the two people can’t live together. If these two people recognize their need for space, and never attempt to live together, they can be life-long friends or lovers.


Here’s a nice example of two people who don’t appear to have much in common. My natal is on the Inner Wheel, and my best friend’s natal is on the Outer Wheel. Almost all of her planets are situated in the “middle degrees” between 9 and 21 degrees of a sign. None of mine are except Uranus. Yes, my Jupiter makes a partile trine to her Ascendant, but this is hardly “wicked crazy” synastry. Sure, a bunch of her planets make sextiles to mine, but sextiles do not a synastry make, if the reader catches my meaning. There is only one set of near-partile conjunctions in the chart – her Chiron and my Moon-Saturn.

Jenn lives in Cincinnati, and I live in Maryland – about eight hours away by car. We have been friends for nearly 15 years, and I am god-mother to her daughter. Months may go in between phone conversations, and we don’t keep in touch on Facebook, but when we do get on the phone hours pass before we stop talking, and we pick up effortlessly on the shared experience of our life as if the time lapse was unimportant. We also have a remarkable shared taste in jewelry – Jenn is always buying me cleverly designed, semi-precious pendents or necklaces on QVC, and I hardly ever return anything.

Over the years, I know that Jenn has healed (her Chiron) my limitations (my Saturn) almost unconsciously. I only get to spend a week or so at her house in Cincinnati every other year or so, but during that week I feel as if I have come home. Plus she tells me how intense that week is for her (her Chiron is on maximum overdrive, and that can be exhausting).

We both recognize how difficult it would be for the two of us to live together, even though we did it for three months when I was leaving my ex. In our synastry, the Saturn is mine, and I am the one with the crazy, “fucked-up” life, especially when compared to her stable, married, suburban existence. The healing dynamic of Chiron goes both ways, though. Like a gentle physician, she gives me stability and sensitive insight, and I teach (Chiron) her about a wide world of experience that she wouldn’t otherwise access.

First, let’s look at what Lois Haines Sargent says about a Moon-Moon conjunction in synastry in her mid-century classic, “How To Handle Your Human Relations”, first published in 1958.


"Feminine and domestic urges are similar. There is similarity of viewpoint and tendency of mood and disposition. The two individuals will be sensitive to each other’s moods and feelings. Reactions often produce telepathic thought exchange."

"These two agree on little things, and have many likes, dislikes, and tastes in common. There is mutual understanding and sympathy. Many similar traits of personality will be noticed. A tight Moon conjunction is considered a “soul-mate aspect”.
P 53


Clearly, Jenn’s Chiron operates something like a Moon, and interacts with my Moon in the way described by Lois Sargent above.

Jenn’s Chiron is also very close to my Saturn. In synastry, a Moon-Saturn conjunction is the “tie that binds”. Below is an excerpt from my private notes on Sargent’s book:

"Tight aspects between Moon and Saturn (conjunction, square, opposition, trine, and sextile) are the gold-standard for longevity in a marriage (or a friendship). Sometimes this can be a double-edged sword, because a spouse who suffers abuse finds it very difficult to leave a marriage when a strong Moon-Saturn aspect exists. This aspect is often shared between couples who remain separated for years before finally agreeing to a divorce."

"There is a real sense of duty and obligation to one’s spouse with this aspect, but the energy dynamic does carry a price. A best case scenario blends the Moon-Saturn 'tie that binds' with one of the soul-mate aspects, and other aspects that promote agreement, enjoyment of one another, and compassion."

Sargent goes on to describe the drawbacks of a Moon-Saturn conjunction in synastry – there can be a dominant-submissive dynamic between the two individuals which may burden the Moon person in particular. The conjunction can be a “ball-and-chain” for life. Yet when Chiron “acts like the Moon” and conjuncts Saturn, a healing interaction occurs without any of the negative bondage or limitations associated with the Moon-Saturn bond.

A striking depth and connection and loyalty toward each other is present in our friendship, but the fact that each partner gives the other a lot of space is what makes the relationship last. These people cannot live together, but will be as close as soul-mates as long as they live apart.

When people with very tight planet-Chiron conjunctions spend too much time together, something happens and the relationship fizzles. Chiron is half-horse, and horses get restless and skittish when kept in the barn – they need to be able to run free. These relationships can last a lifetime when each person is allowed the freedom to live apart.

With regard to understanding a tight Chiron conjunction with another individual’s planet, I knew I was on to something. So I flipped through my horoscope collection, looking for more examples. A tight Venus-Chiron conjunction would be the soul of tact with each other, I hypothesized. A tight Mars-Chiron conjunction would have one person healing the tendency for anger and aggression in the other – this assumes it is manifesting well, and that these two don’t kill each other first.

Unfortunately, these aspects are rather skimpy in my chart collection – partile or near-partile conjunctions are not common aspects. The best I could come up with was a polyamorous couple with a partile Chiron-Saturn conjunction who don’t live together. The Chiron person is happily married to a third party. The Saturn person has had a difficult life, but relishes his independence. She is a great wit, and heals with continuous, funny banter. Those who know them realized that these two were in love for years, long before they openly acknowledged polyamory.