Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The South Node is known as Ketu, which means "comet", because a comet resembles a long, fiery tale without a head, and Ketu is also headless. A comet was often considered a portent of disaster, and so is Ketu.

I get questions about how to start learning Vedic astrology so often that I figured I’d better just write a blog article about it. My goal was to eventually write a series of articles explaining a lot of the topics that beginners find confusing.

Then, I sat down to actually start writing a comprehensive article that would be easy enough for any beginner to grasp, and realized what a wide-reaching subject this is, and how it resists condensing. It didn’t take me long to figure out why articles like this are not readily available.

So, I decided the Vedic beginner needed some hope, and some practical advice wouldn’t hurt, either. If you understand modern western astrology, and want to get started teaching yourself Vedic astrology (also called Jyotish, which means, “Path of Light”), you need some sort of framework, or a gentle guru who has gone before you who can guide the way…so this is where I need to live up to my reputation as a teacher. Let me know how if I accomplish my dharma, readers!


Most folks are attracted to Jyotish because of its predictive value. This means they are already starting to come to terms with the fatalistic nature of Vedic astrology before they begin to study it. If you are the sort of gentle reader who cannot wrap your brain around pre-ordained fate, and must believe in free will to maintain your sanity, Vedic astrology is going to hurt. (As pagan author, Raven Kaldera, puts it, “Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.”) It does not preclude free will, but it does not give it the same emphasis found in modern western astrology.


Assuming that you are certain of your birth time, the easiest thing to do is to spend some money for a complete analysis of your Vedic chart, including your dasas, or major planetary periods. You should do this around the time you buy your first book, and start exploring online resources. You will be able to refer to your report as you read, and you can hand-check the calculations from your Western horoscope to make sure they are correct (this article will show you how to do this).

If you consult a Vedic astrologer for a reading, it will be more expensive than getting a printed analysis, and most Vedic professionals need to charge separately for it – they can’t afford to “throw it in” for the price of a reading.

Glancing around online, I see that Vedic Scholar is offering a full report for $50.00. Here is the link.

A full report will contain interpretation of well-known yogas, and may even throw in a few obscure ones. Most beginners are very curious about yogas because of their predictive value - yet yogas are not a beginner’s topic (See my article titled “Which Vedic Techniques Actually Work?”, and note the final section on yogas.)

Here’s a good STUDY OUTLINE for the beginner:

1. Learn how Vedic astrology works.
2. Learn as much as you can about all 27 nakshatras (Vedic Moon signs)
3. Then worry about yogas – don’t worry – #1 and #2 will take you years, little grasshopper.


If you can’t afford a report, but you do have an accurate birth time, you can still figure out what your Vedic “rasi”, or natal chart, looks like. You can even estimate your planetary dasas (covered later in this series). It may not be as accurate as a report run on computer software, with an analysis by a live human being (who is hopefully an experienced Vedic astrologer), but it’s good to learn how to do calculations yourself – you learn far more thoroughly this way (this will also be covered later in this series).

If you have access to western astrology software such as Solar Fire, you can calculate a rasi, a navamsa, and other divisional charts. These charts are done on western-style chart wheels, so they will not look like Vedic charts. Nor does the Solar Fire software calculate the planetary periods, or dasas. But it’s still helpful if you want to sketch a quick chart yourself, and would like a software program to back up your calculations.


The first Vedic book you should buy is “Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer” by James Braha. Trust me on this…there are a lot of beginner books out there, but this 1976 classic does the best job of covering all the bases. This was the book that introduced Vedic astrology to the United States. It is available used on amazon.com. Here is the link.

This was my very first book on Vedic astrology, and years later, I still look back through it from time to time. It covers almost every beginning topic in detail. It does not cover nakshatras (Vedic moon signs), but the Vedic zodiac is better covered in a good nakshatra book (patience, little grasshopper, we’ll get to that…)

Once you have mastered the Braha book, you will be ready for some of books by modern astrologers who are writing today.I like “Path of Light: Volume 1 Introduction to Vedic Astrology,” by James Kelleher, which is available on his website. This book is selling well, and there are good reasons why. Here is the link.

It’s a hardcover book, dear reader, so you know it’s going to be pricy. If you only have money for one book by Kelleher, Vol. 1: Introduction to Vedic Astrology is a better pick than Volume 2: The Domains of Life.


The most extensive and accessible book available on the topic is titled, “The 27 Celestial Portals”, by Prash Trivedi. Sharp-eyed readers will note my amazon.com review of the book under my real name. Here is the link.


In Vedic astrology, two planets are conjunct if they reside in the same house. You will see this referred to as, “Saturn is with Mars”. Saturn and Mars do not need to be conjunct in the western sense.

This is a south-Indian style chart with Mars and Saturn conjunct in 11th House for a Pisces Ascendant. A whopper of a yoga is formed, because Mars is exalted in Capricorn, and Saturn rules here. Having both the malefic planets in one house is almost always hard on the house itself, but here it confers powerful benefits, both in terms of the lordships, and also within the 11th House itself. However, this does not mean that Mars and Saturn lose their power to teach painful lessons in this house.

Modern Vedic astrologers do take into account that a western-style conjunction of two planets is more noticeable. For example, a native with Mars conjunct Venus is said to be a “leader of their village”. In my experience, this effect only shows up when the two planets are closely conjunct in the Western sense, and I only use orbs of around 6 degrees.

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Life at UAC 2012 in New Orleans...Hospitality Girls Rock! We kept this conference on its toes.

From left: Christine Thomas, Susan Scott, Kelley Hunter, our lovely boss, and this author, Monica Miller (aka Sunny Dawn).

This is my FINAL ARTICLE on UAC workshops that I personally attended. I hope my readers enjoy the whole series.

The next couple of workshops shown below reflect two different approaches to timing transits which bring on lucky financial increases. Both astrologers look at the charts of lottery winners to show these techniques in action, but both also stress that lucky configurations often mean some other form of luck than a lottery win.

Joni Patry’s Vedic technique is simple to understand. David Beazley’s technique is more complex and requires special software. Beazley also provided an extensive handout – without this, context will be lost on recording.

JONI PATRY – How To Predict A Sudden Rise In Life

Patry is especially easy to understand, and her presentations are very well-organzied. She has found that when transiting Jupiter and transiting Rahu (North Node) form a trine, and when a third planet just happens to be in a natal position which completes the formation of a grand trine, this brings on a better paying job, or a lottery win, or some other luck.

Looking at lottery winners’ charts, she emphasizes that the transit is slow enough to encompass both the date of the ticket purchase and the actual date of winning. Her feeling is that the Nodes represent a change in destiny and the beginning of new life experience, so that somehow these two dates will be related.

DAVID BEAZLEY – How To Find A Winner

Beazley’s technique involves looking at “midpoint pictures” formed by transiting trans-Neptunians. Regarding lottery wins, he feels the technique works best for the day the ticket is purchased. Having a lucky natal horoscope isn’t essential – not everyone has the traditional lucky natal aspect between Jupiter and Uranus. Even if you don’t have a “big winner” natal chart, you can still improve your odds and chances of smaller wins using the Nova Chart Wheels software to follow trans-Neptunian transits, and if you can’t figure it out, you can always pay him to do it for you.

Evening on Jackson Square in the French Quarter, with the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

JOSEPH CRANE – Why Did Dante Put Astrologers In Hell?

Crane takes us to spy on the astrologers of Canto 20 in the Inferno, who imitate the motions of the planets as they walk in never-ending circles, and whose bodies are twisted because they twisted everything in their predictions.

He shows us Dante’s ambivalence toward the astrologers. Dante selects examples of famous diviners such as Tieresias and Manto, and mixes them with astrologers like Figulus and Guido Bonatti, in an effort to show why the entire profession stands accused and condemned. But some of the stories are false, and Crane says that Dante’s well-educated contemporaries would have perceived this.

Crane also points out that Dante rarely, if ever, made mistakes in the Comedia, and suggests that Dante knew his audience would recognize the inaccuracies and interpret accordingly. So Dante delivers the necessary double-speak, as well as an authentic and genuine warning against astrologers who deliberately falsified their predictions, or who gave council they knew was wrong.

Crane does an in-depth and thorough look at one of the more puzzling cantos in the Inferno. This is a nice recording for history buffs, because he treats his famous and obscure classical sources with equal care.


RICHARD “RICK” TARNAS - The History Of Rock And Roll

Let me say that I am more than a little in awe of Rick Tarnas, author of the best-selling “The Passion of the Western Mind”. He really conveys passion for the subjects he finds most fascinating – and he’s so darn smart on top of it. Few people who attended UAC managed to stick around for a post-conference, but this one was totally worth it. As Tarnas himself put it, it was a very select performance – almost as if he was giving a private concert.

Folks waiting for their own concert on Frenchman St. in Marigny, just outside the French Quarter.

He begins with the premise that astrology helps you understand the music, and music helps you understand the astrology, because music conveys the archetypes more directly than other arts. He also points out that rock-and-roll begins with the convergence of European and African cultures – so New Orleans is the perfect city for this presentation.

The Pluto-Uranus conjunction of the 1960’s dominated the birth of rock-and-roll. Pluto represents submerged and simmering anger and sexuality, and Uranus is electric and revolutionary. With the sextile to Neptune, shocking and sinful music emerged.
Tarnas delineates each period of development, beginning in the mid-1950’s, with the corresponding secondary conjunction or other aspect which most influenced events.

The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction from the summer of 1954 to the summer of 1955 lasted just 14 months, but Elvis Presley had his first recording, Chuck Berry released his first record, Kerouac publishes “Howl”, Ferlinghetti’s poems are released, and all three of James Dean’s movies come out during this brief period.

From there, Tarnas follows the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto, which really gets started around 1962, and shows how developments in rock-and-roll occurred each time the conjunction made an aspect to other planets. Even secondary aspects were magnified by the unleashed flood of energy – for example, John F. Kennedy was assassinated under the Saturn-Neptune opposition of 1963.

Tarnas also does a sweeping critique of the Beatles, careful analysis of the natal charts of Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Mick Jagger (along with plenty of music clips), and shares insight into why the majority of stars of this period did their best work before turning 30. It isn’t possible to do this presentation justice within the scope of this blog, so I recommend the recording and accompanying video if it is available.

In honor of today's Venus Occultation, here's a picture of Venus in the arms of her Mars...

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Life In The Big Easy...Great music with no cover charge at BMC on Decatur St. near Esplanade.


Attendees spend a considerable amount of time trading tips on the lectures and presenters they liked, because folks find that the lectures they most wanted to attend occur in the same time slot as one or two others that were also on their bucket list. So everyone wants tips on what recordings are worth the price at the end of the conference, as well as which ones might be worth skipping.

Here’s a continuation of what I’ve liked so far:

CHRIS TURNER – Suddenly I’m Old. How Did That Happen?

“I think I believe in reincarnation, but even if I don’t, I’ve lived a lot of lives.”- Chris Turner

Chris Turner, a spunky and opinionated 70 year old Australian, designed this workshop because she felt there is only limited structure for interpreting the horoscopes of clients past age 60, and even less for those past age 75.

As one of the youngest people present, I learned a lot from this presentation, and not only from Turner, but from the audience. Comments from the audience will enhance this recording if they are preserved.

Turner talked about the Pluto-in-Leo’s insistence on demanding change on social issues – from feminism to divorce – and says they will continue their demands into old age, requesting not to be abandoned in nursing homes, and voluntary euthanasia for those who want it. These are older people who hope to return to live with their families, even though Pluto-in-Aquarius suggests the death of the conventional family.

She also mentioned that the Pluto-in-Leo’s born in the late 1940’s and 1950’s will experience a Pluto opposition between the ages of 85 – 90, the first generation to experience this transit since the planet was discovered, and also the first cohort to experience it at such a young age.

It used to be that a lot of people died around the Uranus return at age 84, but this age is increasing for many people. Elderly people still have a tendency to die very close to their birthdays, indicating involvement from the Solar Return.

Turner bluntly states that living longer than age 84 may not be all that desirable for many of us. She feels a widow in her early 80’s may not have that much to live for – the relationship with the great-grandchildren is nowhere near as close or special as it is with the grandchildren – and it is the relationship with grandchildren which sweetens the lives of the elderly.


QUIK RESTAURANT TIP: Palace Cafe on Canal St. near the Marriott has amazing pecan catfish for $17.00.

Venus descending a staircase during busy lunch at Palace Cafe.

ONE MORE RESTAURANT TIP: Domenica in the Business District has a great half-price happy hour. Spicy lamb meatball pizza, and very good desserts. Don't miss!


PRISCILLA COSTELLO – Playing The Hand That Pluto Has Dealt

This presentation was a scattered grab bag of many different ideas – Plutonian spiritual practices, shielding techniques in Plutonian situations, Pluto’s natal aspects to the Sun, and Pluto’s transits were all covered.

A natal Pluto-Sun aspect may make us especially vulnerable to seduction or being overwhelmed by a member of the opposite sex. A Pluto transit to the Sun (or a transit to the progressed Sun) may indicate the possibility of surgery or weight loss – it can really change one’s appearance. Diets done during this year have a greater chance of success.

Listeners who are hoping for a focused presentation may become somewhat frustrated by this lecture. Those who are comfortable piecing together many different topics as they listen will probably enjoy it.

GLENN PERRY – Oppositions: The Scylla and Charybdis of the Birthchart

Perry has a smooth, melodious speaking voice (he’s a professional therapist) and is reliably focused throughout the presentation, so this recording should be worth the money.

The take-away lesson is that natal oppositions reveal the essence of what one achieves in terms of a career or contribution to society. For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s chart is full of oppositions. His Venus closely opposes Saturn, Mars, and the Moon, and he has another tight opposition between Mercury and Pluto. The oppositions manifested with his creation of Facebook – Zuckerberg designed it for those who want to have relationships (Venus), but want to be in control of the dynamic (Saturn). Facebook also allows us to dig out (Pluto) information (Mercury) about others with whom we might be in relationship.

Perry does equally insightful analysis of the T-Squares in the natal charts of Bill O’Reilly (Fox News) and George Lucas (creator of Star Wars). Listeners will be thinking about how they express their own oppositions in terms of career or personal ambitions by the time they finish this recording.

ARLAN WISE – An Astrological Look at Internet Dating

Wise first does a run-down on the houses from a dating perspective, and then surveys the on-line dating landscape with cautionary tales about romance fraud, and other mistakes that Internet daters tend to make. She is protective and reformist - her current relationship is with someone she met through on-line dating – but in her own words, Internet dating can be a “playground for overactive Uranus and projective, wishful Venus”.

A number of topics are covered – 1st meeting charts and the value of particular transits. Long-term and important relationships often begin under Venus Rx, while there are more likely to be a lot of false starts under Mercury Rx. A strong Pluto transit will change your life situation, and may also bring about a relationship with someone totally different from anyone you have ever dated before.

Anyone single or in a relationship with someone he or she met on the Internet is likely to enjoy this presentation – it’s a very occult Venus topic!


Certain cities express astrological polarity in a very visible way. Polarity is a pair of opposite signs, like Aries and Libra.
TIP FROM MY ROOMMATE: New Orleans is a purely Scorpio city, but they eat like Taureans (foodies all the way).