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.

Sunday, July 1, 2012



The North Node is known as Rahu, the serpent-demon of insatiable desire. Rahu is ruthless, having sharp weapons in his hands. Yet he also carries a shield and protects when he wants to (not depicted here). He is shown riding a lion, which symbolizes his belief that he is the royal equal of the gods. He protects in a godly manner and attacks in a demonic manner, just like Durga or Shakti. His decision to protect or attack the native is entirely based on the karma the native has earned.

This is another question that I get a lot, and it can be hard to sum up without wandering. So, I’m going to pick four big differences, and stick to ‘em.

This article isn’t going to deal with anything technical. Calculating a Vedic chart by hand and learning enough Sanskrit to get around a Vedic website will be covered in Part Three, the next article in this series. Part Four will examine how to read a North-Indian style natal chart. So sit back and enjoy Part Two, which covers the interesting stuff without requiring much mental effort from you, dear reader.

One artist strongly influenced by Rahu on an unconscious level was George Bellows, an early 20th century American painter. Many of his paintings depict outcasts, dark-skinned men, poisonous or toxic landscapes, demonic facial expressions, and other strong Rahu elements. Even this peaceful picture, titled "Blue Morning", reveals the deep blue color and smoke or haze traditionally associated with Rahu.


Vedic astrologers borrowed the western Sun signs from the Greeks, and grafted it on to their own system more or less successfully, but the Moon signs are uniquely Vedic. They are considered the jewels of the Vedic system.

From a newbie perspective, the mere idea of learning 27 distinct archetypes is so much more exciting and confusing than the idea of mastering 12 sun signs and their meanings. It tends to winnow out folks who aren’t serious about grasping Jyotish pretty quick.

Rahu is shown riding the lion of royalty, while Ketu rides the vulture associated with death, destruction, and karmic clean-up.

Some of the asterisms occur in pairs, like Vishaka (Radha) and Anuradha – the name “Anuradha” actually means “Another Radha”. This means they share some core underlying characteristics.

One central meaning of the Moon is family, or tribe, or caste, or sub-caste. It connotes one’s people, or one’s social sphere. An exalted Moon was believed to be “tight” with its family – it didn’t warm to outsiders, or let them in very often. So the asterism Rohini, where the Moon is exalted, is said to take on this quality, and this is generally accurate for those born under Rohini.

A fallen Moon was believed to exhibit the opposite quality – it was extremely open to foreigners or outsiders, and often prospered among them socially and financially. The Moon is considered fallen in Anuradha, and natives born under this asterism often do exhibit this quality.

There is no way to do the nakshatras justice in this article. In Part 1, I mentioned the best book for a beginner is "The 27 Celestial Portals" by Prash Trivedi. A more extensive review by this author is available on - the date is Nov 6, 2007, and there aren't that many reviews, so it should be easy to find.
This iconic painting by George Bellows of two boxers reveals volumes about American race-relations in the early 20th century. Today, the "Fight" painting is considered a masterpiece.

The Rahu theme is very strong, including the triumph of a black man, and the demonic expressions on the faces of the spectators which are not visible in this image.


This is one huge difference between Vedic and western astrology. In Vedic astrology, ruling and fallen planets have actual predictive value – their impact on destiny may be of staggering importance. Western astrology tends to emphasize beneficial personality traits in connection with ruling planets, and often minimizes fallen planets altogether. There is almost no predictive value associated with western planets in rule, exaltation, detriment, or fall.

In Vedic astrology, one considers ruling, exalted, and fallen planets in the rasi and also in the navamsa, the "marriage chart" which has a secondary use - it gives a snapshot of the native's life after age 35 or 36. All of these may and usually do have a distinct impact on the person’s life.

For those who did not have an earlier chance to read my article, “Which Vedic Techniques Actually Work?” this might be a good time to do it.
This is a twin mantra for Rahu and Ketu.

Here are a few observations:

Obviously, it would be nice to have no fallen planets in either the rasi or the navamsa. Those who have only fallen planets in the rasi and also in the navamsa are here to suffer. This often brings about spirituality, and sometimes results in a fascinating life-story. These people have had interesting lives because they have suffered, in some cases.

This painting by George Bellows is titled "Night Excavation". The dark midnight-blue shades of Rahu predominate. The focus on toxic elements mined from the earth, and the vulnerability of nearly invisible miners crouching around a flame point to a very Plutonian theme. There is some cross-over between Pluto and Rahu. Rahu also represents new technology, and it helps to remember that new mining techniques were high-technology in the early 20th century.

For people who have a number of ruling or exalted planets in the rasi, the results may not be as great as expected – the person ends up a comfortable, upper-middle class citizen with an ambitious lifestyle amidst a social sphere of similarly status-conscious individuals, or as leading members of their small town or city, or as comfortable housewives who marry well and are happy with their kids, and never achieve anything else. It is almost as if too much ease early in life makes them complacent. This is particularly true when the rasi is full of ruling and exalted planets, and the navamsa is just average.

It is better to have a relatively weaker rasi and save one’s ruling and exalted planets for the navamsa, since the navamsa is thought to map the second half of one’s life. This suggests a person who is able to realize real career and personal achievements after an early life of struggle and obscurity, or just plain hard work.

A fallen Saturn has a “generational” effect on many of the people born during the 2 ½ years that Saturn occupies Aries – I realized this while reading Barbara Pijan’s website. Aries represents new life, and Saturn-in-Aries natives tend to be hesitant about starting new life, or to limit their progency. A lot of one-child couples have at least one parent with Saturn in Aries. Or there is a significant age difference between the first and second child, suggesting secondary infertility or a desire to be a one-child couple for a long period.

Fallen malefics (Saturn and Mars) are said to manifest more consistently than fallen benefics (Jupiter and Venus) do. My own internal jury is still out on this.

Those with ruling, exalted, and fallen planets are more likely to associate these placements with distinct life experiences which occur at or near the age of maturation. That said, some individuals will experience significant success or failure even if the planet is located in a “regular” sign (see discussion of Angelina Jolie in Part Four).


In Vedic astrology, planets mature at certain ages, and the full potential of the planet is seen at this time. Malefic planets, including the Nodes, are said to “calm down” after they give their maturation effect, allowing the things they represent better integration or at least less importance in the native’s life.

Nonetheless, there are some individuals whose lives are so dominated by a particular planet or Node, that when maturation occurs, it as is if the horoscope has no energy left to give, and the person dies. George Bellows, the early 20th century American painter who left a cow-town (Columbus, OH) to become one of New York’s most famous artists, was strongly influenced by Rahu – his famous painting of boxers and tenement children depict sacrifices and outcasts, and even his landscapes included Rahu elements of haze or smoke. He died at age 42, the age at which Rahu matures.

Here are the ages of planetary maturation:

Jupiter – Age 16

In modern times, having a ruling or exalted Jupiter usually shows some special opportunities for higher education or learning. For example, my ex’s Jupiter-in-Sag daughter won a scholarship to study in Germany for a year while she lived with a German-speaking family, and was also able to do a film internship in Germany – this turning point influenced her choice of college and career.

Jupiter is the karaka (indicator) of both children and spouse for a woman. In Vedic times, a girl was married at or before 16, and expected to produce a son soon afterwards. Having a strong Jupiter was considered a great blessing – it ensured the health of her husband and child, and likely promised a safe delivery. Girls with a strong natal Jupiter were and still are prized in the Indian marriage market.

Sun – Age 22

In modern times, this is when a young person begins to assert themselves in the job market.

Moon – Age 24

In Vedic times, a woman was fully established as a mother by the age of 24. Before the 20th century, if a woman did not marry by this age, she was likely to remain a spinster. In 19th century American culture, girls who were not chosen for marriage as teenagers often had a last chance at marriage around this age. Usually this came about because a sister died in childbirth, and a girl married her brother-in-law so that her sister’s children would be raised by an aunt.

Venus – Age 25

Venus is all about love and/or money. In modern times, significant love affairs often occur at this time. Some people plan weddings. Some are gifted the money to buy their first home. Some get their first decent job at this age. Some end up on unemployment for the first time – Venus gets lazy, but still brings in some money. And for some, nothing happens.

Mars – Age 28

This coincides with the 1st Saturn return in western astrology. It is a time of greater initiative and independence in life – Mars brings the courage to strike out in a new career, or move to a different part of the country, or to return to school. It is around this age that many young people finally leave their families behind and become completely financially self-supporting.

Mercury – Age 32

More intellectual development takes place at this time. Those with writing careers may publish their first books. Some become managers of others with significantly increased responsibility around this age.

Saturn – Age 36

As Veno notes, whatever the person has been working toward gives its full results at this age, usually in the house that Saturn occupies. Often either great upheaval or greater security and stability are the result. For an example of this, see my discussion of Angelina Jolie in Part 4.

Veno is the artist who did the beautiful illustrations in "The 27 Celestial Portals" by Prash Trivedi, and who also happens to be a talented Vedic astrologer in her own right.

Rahu – Age 42

This coincides with the western Uranus opposition, and for many, the onset of a mid-life crisis or real career success, or both. Rahu is associated with extra-marital liaisons of all kinds, dark-skinned people, foreigners, witchcraft, toxins, pharmaceutical use, aviation, hidden knowledge, and electricity. Rahu likes the things that society doesn’t approve of much, like kinky, BDSM sex. Komilla Sutton notes Rahu’s role in power-plays of all forms. Some achieve real power or prestige in their careers for the first time - my high school friend won his first state senate race as his Rahu matured.

Ketu – Age 48

This is the only one I haven’t experienced myself – it is said to be a spiritual turning point. In Vedic times, this was the age when a man’s grown sons could take care of their mother, so a man was free to become a wandering sadhu or at least go on extended pilgrimage. Ketu has a reputation for Neptune-like confusion and deception, but it is also said to be “like Mars” in terms of courage and initiative. People who are destined to take top roles in corporations are usually taking big steps toward that role around this age.

This painting is titled, "Burning Oil Well at Night near Rouseville, PA about 1861" by James Hamilton. Ketu is associated with oil and natural gas.


Not only planets but also houses experience an age of maturation in Vedic astrology. It is beyond the scope of this blog, but Veno gives a great overview of this phenomenon in her article, “Maturity of Planets and Houses”. For people who ask, “Well, what happens after I turn 48?” this article will suggest some answers for those younger than 66 years old.


Hands down, Rahu and Ketu are far more important in Vedic astrology than the North Node and South Node are in western astrology. Rahu and Ketu have their own associations and mythology, and for all intents and purposes, have the status of planets, although they are not planets and do not act as lords of other houses. Rahu and Ketu even assume some of the properties of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto - planets that Vedic astronomers may have suspected existed although they could not see them.

Here’s a brief recap of the Rahu-Ketu myth: A demon with a desperate craving for the nectar of immortality connived a way to steal it, and managed to swallow it, but the Moon and the Sun tattled to Lord Vishnu, who swiftly retaliated by chopping off the demon’s head. The head (Rahu) retained its insatiable craving, while the headless body (Ketu) became associated with inability to function in the real world (and also with spirituality).

Here we see Rahu devouring the Sun, which Vedic sages believed is what happened during an eclipse. Some western astrologers have connected Rahu with the mythical dragon, because the North Node was traditionally called "The Dragon's Head" in classical times.

Rahu and Ketu are emphasized when they conjunct a planet, and strongly emphasized when they tightly conjunct the Ascendant or Mid-Heaven axis. Ketu is generally recognized to cause more trouble in the house where it lands, but the two always work as a pair.

As noted earlier, Rahu is associated with extra-marital liaisons of all kinds, dark-skinned people, foreigners, witchcraft, toxins, pharmaceutical use, aviation, hidden knowledge, smoke, haze, and electricity.

While Ketu is often associated with poverty, disaster and paralysis (inability to function), it does have some more positive associations, some of which are associated with considerable wealth in some cases. These include oil and gas, film, photography, and pilgrimage.

Those born in Ketu dasa will find their entire forties are dominated by Rahu and Ketu, because they will begin their Rahu dasa and experience the gain or loss associated with the early years of this dasa during the same decade that everyone else experiences the Rahu and Ketu maturation. For these folks, there are only a few breaks from Rahu and Ketu during the entire decade.

UPDATE - JULY 2, 2012
This article was being written while more than 1.3 million homes in the Washington DC area lost electricity during a near-100 degree heat wave. Everyone suffered (Rahu rules electricity). I don't even want to admit how much I've gritted my teeth and tried not to scream during the past two days, and some people still don't have power. But the trick is to find the "silver lining" in the sacrifice demanded by Rahu. My hope is that readers enjoyed the result.

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

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