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.