Category Archives: grahas

What Grahas Get One Involved in Astrology?

Shukra (Venus). Guru of the Asuras.

Shukra (Venus). Guru of the Asuras.

I am often asked what planets get one involved in being an Astrologer themselves.  It is an understandable question since most people studying astrology would naturally want to see if it that is indicated in their own horoscopes.  When I was reading, for the longest time there was a gap in my understanding when it came to this question.  Most of the books available state that Mercury is important for being an astrologer and that you have to have a good Mercury to do astrology and to convey what is shown in the chart to the individual.  But there must be more to it than that, since a good Mercury can also make one many other things, like a lawyer, a bookkeeper, or an artisan for example. What else is involved?

First, I want to define an Astrologer not as one who necessarily makes a living off of it, or is super amazing at it, or famous, or whatever, but as one who has devoted a great portion/majority of their life and time to the study and practice of Astrology.  A person could be a nurse by trade and in the sense of what pays the bills, but in another sense, they are an Astrologer if they are constantly contemplating astrology all day at the hospital while working, and get home and study and practice it at night.  This should be clear first.

And that is the thing with Astrology, it is a very thoughtful craft.  So while I do agree that Mercury is very helpful and important for a person to be able to convey the chart to an individual, there is more involved than that. Mercury represents skills and our aptitude overall. In this manner, a great Mercury can really make one great at most things. So naturally that can carry over to studying Jyotish, and Mercury loves to study.  But there must be some desire to study the heavens, to contemplate, to find symbolic meaning in life, to be philosophical and so forth. Mercury alone is not really the planet that is going to always do that. Mercury is a vaishya, the Merchant mentality (There are 4 castes or mentalities in human nature according to Vedic philosophy, each one offering unique skills and abilities). To really be a counselor, an advisor, a guide that has the best interest of the individual at heart, one must have other factors going on to indicate that. Mercury alone is a businessman and sometimes even a trickster, it just depends. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wanna be tricked when I go to get advice.

So the main planets you really need to see involved in a person’s makeup are the philosophical and contemplative planets, the Brahmin mentality.  Those planets are Venus and Jupiter. They are the Brahmins of the zodiac, which means most devoted to knowledge and spirituality, to learning, educating, etc.  These planets suggest a desire for refinement in life as well. Ketu is also involved in making one an Astrologer.  So when it comes down to it, having these three planets involved heavily in your chart, and connecting to the self-factors such as Atmakaraka, lagnesh, swamsha, and pada, you often find these people to be involved in Astrology at some point in their life. (Look for these planets in the svamsa or 10th from it, see my previous posts for more info on the svamsa).

Brihaspati (Jupiter) Guru to the Devas.

Brihaspati (Jupiter) Guru to the Devas.

Then you often find Mercury connecting to these planets in some way, via conjunction or rasi aspect, or ruling them, especially if they are going to make a business out of it. Mercury rules business as well as curiousity, so they may just talk about it a lot if the business isnt indicated by other factors in the chart.  This you will really find happening a lot! Jupiter, Venus, or Ketu in the lagna, or 10th, or with the Lagna lord is very, very common.

Now you have the ingredients as far as planets go.  But to be more precise, we need to see the 8th house connected to Ketu to make one an Astrologer, at least if they are going to spend a large portion of life involved in it.  One example I can think of is the Lord of Ketu being in the 8th, another is Ketu simply being in the 8th, another is with the 8th Lord and Ketu rasi aspecting each other, and still one more example I can think of has the 8th lord conjunct ketu.

If all these factors come together you will often see an Astrologer or someone who is involved somehow in dealing with the Soul’s journey and its many lives. There is more to determining any career than this but now you have the basic ingredients to find if one is going to be an Astrologer from the birth chart.

Oh and one more thing, a predictive Astrologer is often shown more by Venus. A psychological astrologer or more of a spiritual advisor type of astrologer can be shown by Jupiter. Venus is the Guru to the Asuras, the worldly forces of materialization and the senses. Naturally, Venusians take after this quality and tend to give great guidance to people for worldly matters.  Jupiter is the Guru to the Devas, the heavenly forces of consciousness, ideas, and inner life. Therefore, Jupiterian Astrologers will perhaps not be as inclined to predict but will give great spiritual counsel about where you are and the type of person you are, your dharma.  The best Astrologers tend to have both planets involved so they can do both of course.  But this is worth noting as there are so many types of astrologers and there are many uses for this craft.  So go to a venusian astrologer if you need help with getting a new car. Go to a jupiterian astrologer to learn a great mantra to meditate upon. Or hopefully, with the grace of God, you will find one who can do both ;)


Jupiter and Pranayam

It sure is interesting that the planet Jupiter, commonly called “Guru”, is exalted in the sign of Cancer. Guru means “heavy” (read more about this name here). This implies that Jupiter is the planet that is the most heavy with life experience or knowledge. Of all the different yogic practices and paths that are available to take, a competent Guru can discern, one way or the other, what path and practices are best for the particular person in question.  Because each person is different, each path will be a little bit different.  Just like some people make a better runner than a swimmer, it is the same with spiritual paths. converted PNM file

One of the things that Gurus frequently advise for most serious aspirants are pranayama practices.  Pranayama practices are essentially breathing exercises and techniques that are used to expand consciousness and awareness. Everyone knows that states of mind relate to our breathing…but often we leave it at that. The Yogis took it much further and fully explored the relationship between breath, life-force, and awareness.  [Fun Fact: The word “Pranayama” itself comes from the Sanskrit “Pran” which means “life-force”. Pran, or Prana, is similar to “Chi”, or “Qi” in Chinese thought,  and to “Ka” in Egyptian philosophy.  Yama means “restraint” or “suppression”, and many of you may know that Yama is also the name of the God of death.  The single letter “a” means “not” in Sanskrit. Now you can fully understand the word Pranayama, as “Life-force Not Restrained”, in other words, “Life-force Expansion”.  Does that make sense? ]

Pranayama is, therefore, a practice that slowly infuses the body with tremendous amounts of life force energy, purifying all of the bodies subtle energetic channels and pathways (nadis), in turn leading to more rapid awakening and clarifying of awareness.  There is of course much more to it than that, but this should explain the concept sufficiently for now. It really is a great practice. In my opinion, we should learn it from people in person, one on one, and not try to practice it straight from books, which I think are great but should be used more as a reference. (There are different opinions on this, and as I said above, everyone’s path is different. I am not making a blanket rule here.)

So now we are all on the same page about pranayama and why Gurus tend to advise it so often.  Now, when we look at the exaltation and debilitation signs for the planets, Jupiter may pop out at us. Notice that Jupiter, the planet of Gurus and wisdom, is exalted (meaning in its strongest possible sign) in the sign of Cancer, the sign of the breath. Cancer is the sign of the rhythm of life, the waxing and waning of the Moon, the inhalation and exhalation of the breath, and the high and low tides that regulate the growth of life on Earth. This clearly shows that the Guru is most “exalted”, or most awakened through the Cancerian environment of the breath.  Jupiter is our wisdom, so another way to see this is that our wisdom is most exalted (able to produce fortunate results) through the faculty of breath expansion (aka “ayama”- non-suppression, in other words, expansion).

It should be no wonder now why the Guru so often recommends pranayama, or breath (Cancer) expansion (Jupiter). If you follow me, the very term “breath expansion” is a synonym for a healthy Jupiter in Cancer.  This is clear “astro-logic” for why breathing exercises are so important for spiritual awakening.  Cancer is a brahmin rashi as well, and a sattvic one at that. Only Pisces and Cancer are both sattvic brahmin signs, which means they are signs most naturally inclined towards spirituality and seeking liberation (moksha). These qualities also show how Cancer is connected to spiritual development.  Jupiter will only be in Cancer 1/12th of the time, so most people are not born with this blessing innately. But if we practice pranayama every day, it is like we are exercising the karmic muscle that would make our Jupiter exalted, or at least strengthen it, which is why pranayama is such a great remedial measure as well. When we strengthen Jupiter, we find more grace in life. It is said that a strong Jupiter can remove 100 blemishes from a chart. I do not think this is because of some magical rule, I think it is because a strong Jupiter will use wisdom and knowledge to make life better and to avoid 100 other mistakes that easily happen to a person who is not behaving wisely. And of course, a really strong Jupiter will use Pranayam as well!

Synchronicity of the Number Seven

7Why do things so often get grouped up into seven in this world?  Have you ever noticed that?  Not to say that the number actually occurs more than other numbers, but in the sense of the way we tend to see, group, and categorize things.  When we think about our common use and grouping of things, seven seems to have a significance, dare I say, even something sacred about it.  It happens with really big things too, like the seven continents of the world, the seven seas, seven openings or cavities in the human face, seven colors in the rainbow or visible spectrum of light that we can see, and almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae.  These are things we cannot seem to change very much, but what is equally interesting is that there are also many things that we as human beings have intentionally perceived or classified as being seven in type or quality, when we could probably have divided them into other numbers if we wanted to.

Let me give some examples:

  • There are seven notes on the musical diatonic scale, but other ways of dividing the notes up have also been created.  But this is a very popular one, probably the most popular.
  • We have this idea in folklore of many different cultures (including American/European and Indian)  of seven years of bad luck coming to someone for various reasons.
  • There are said to be seven deadly sins.
  • There are seven wonders of the ancient world.
  • There are said to be seven heavens in Islam and many, many other philosophies as well as occult systems of knowledge.
  • Seven horizontal rows are in the periodic table.
  • According to the Baltimore classification, there are seven types of viruses.
  • Seven is the neutral ph value between acidity and alkalinity.
  • The Bible is overflowing with a sacramental implication of the number seven, the most commonly known being the beginning part wherein the Earth was created in seven days (it also clearly mentions the creation of the “heavenly bodies” for “Signs and seasons”, aka Astrology, by the way).
  • There are seven temples in the Book of Revelations (Which Edgar Cayce also revealed to each relate to a certain chakra and the sins most associated with that chakra/state of consciousness.)
  • Seven is the sum of any two opposite sides of dice.
  • In India there is the Sapta Rishis, or the Seven Sages.
  • There are also the Seven Sages of Greece.
  • There are seven main chakras in Yogic philosophy, also seven according to psychic Edgar Cayce.
  • Seven main endocrine glands (gonads, leydig, adrenal, thymus, thyroid, pineal/hypothalamus, and pituitary.)
  • We have seven days of the week, which is so ancient that we actually do not know where this originated. The Norse had a seven day week which is where our English names of Friday (Freya/Venus day) and Thursday (Thors/Jupiters day), and Wednesday (Odin/Mercury day).  The ancient Indians also had a seven day week, which makes one wonder if any other cultures of antiquity also had this tradition.

There are probably many more classifications of seven in number that I am not recalling, but I feel this has made a strong enough case as these are big parts of our human life.  Also you will notice that fiction writers love to use the number seven in their fiction works, simply google the number seven and you will see one after another fantasy book that has something to do with “Seven gemstones of power” or what have you.  A modern example of this can be seen in the hugely popular Game of Thrones HBO series, which is based on fiction books.  It takes place in a medieval Europe (Kali Yuga-style) fantasy realm and their is of course an emphasis put on the “Seven Kingdoms of Westeros”, which is where the majority of the story takes place.  There are also many different faiths throughout the kingdoms but the most popular faith is the “Faith of the Seven”, interestingly enough.  Obviously this is influenced from the actual medieval European times when the seven planets were worshipped as deities.  It is also made very clear that “The Seven” is one deity, that manifests itself into seven aspects.  This is identical with European and Indian style Astrology.  { NOTE: Many people still think that Hinduism is polytheistic (believing in many Gods) but if they actually researched it they would learn quickly that it is monotheistic.  Hindus acknowledge only one God, but with many different names, aspects, and forms. This is like how there is just one Sun that lights the world, but it can be seen to appear differently depending on where one is on the world, at sunrise, sunset, or midday.  We don’t say that there is a different Sun at sunset, even though it may look different than the mid day Sun, with its bright red and orange shades.  In the same way, Brahma is the same as Vishnu, and Vishnu is the same as Shiva. }   Also even the seven different deities are pretty much the same in this fictional series as they actually are in Astrology, which may have been intentional or not on the part of the writer, but because these archetypes are so prominent in our consciousness, I would not be surprised if the Author of these stories just thought them up himself.  (Read the descriptions of “The Seven” here and see for yourself)

Why is this the case? Why does the number seven keep coming up?  Could it be that there is something within the human psychology and the way that we are designed that makes us see things in terms of seven?  Well, the reason I am bringing all this up is because it is very peculiar in the light of the Jyotish philosophy of India.  In Jyotish/Vedic Astrology philosophy, all things that exist on Earth are “produced” by the seven planets that we can see with the naked eye, and can, in a sense, see us.  And so there are seven basic states of consciousness, that when mixed, produce all the varied forms and types of consciousness on Earth.  Each of the visible planets relate to one of these states of consciousness, and each state is an aspect of the divine.  Each planet is a “karaka”, which literally means a “producer” of various things in your life.  Based on one’s past life karma, one will incarnate with these various producers in the proper harmony to produce or not produce the life that this soul needs to have for its own development and growth beyond just this one life.

So now we can see that this number seven coming up so much is really a reflection of the seven planets and how they mix and create life on Earth as it appears to be.  It validates Astrology, that we have seven of most things, either uncontrollably, or by our own arbitrary intellectual divisions.

To see how this works, let us take the human body as an example:

  1. The Sun produces the bones and the immune system, which are one system in the context of astrological truth, but not current medical books. This is because the immune system relies on the mineral supply stored within the bones to regulate the health of the body. So in a birth chart, a weak Sun in the rasi chart and the D30 (trimsamsa) chart can indicate that one does not have a lot of strength in the bones and may have low mineral density, or low mineral absorption, and should eat a mineral rich diet to balance this.  A strong Sun person can eat a lot poorer quality food before there bones start to suffer, because they will tend to have better mineral reserves overall.  Strong Sun/Leo people tend to eat a lot of meat and even though meat always leaves a toxic residue on the body, these people can handle that more efficiently than others, and they also have a stronger Agni to burn off these toxins as well.
  2. The Moon produces the blood of the body, the ocean within the body.  A weak or afflicted Moon means that one will need to be more mindful of foods that dirty the blood, because this will happen more easily for them if they eat poor foods.  They may also have emotional issues as well as a result of having not the best blood quality. They may need to avoid table salt in favor of good quality sea salt, and add an extra amount of the healthy salty tastes like lettuce. A strong moon person will crave healthier foods for their blood naturally, and will have better blood flow and health overall as a result of having a strong “producer” of blood, a strong moon influence.
  3. Mars produces the nervous system, and the nerve tissue within the body. A weak or afflicted Mars indicates that one has nerve problems.  They may get nervous too easily, not what you want in a profession like surgery or war.  A strong Mars person can hold the knife steady, and that is why a surgeon usually has a strong Mars “producer” in his chart, producing the healthy nerves needed to do such a job. This is also why someone who isn’t willing to stand up and fight is said to “not have the nerve”.
  4. Mercury produces the cognitive/sense/integumentary system which is to say bluntly that Mercury produces our senses and cognitive ability.  A bad mercury means one does not perceive and cognize things accurately.  Now we can understand why Mercury is always involved in combinations for mental insanity in the old Indian Texts.  A good mercury will be the opposite, and will contribute to rational thinking.
  5. Jupiter produces the endocrine system, an incredibly important system for how one feels and for unfolding the spiritual capacities within us.  An afflicted Jupiter means that one does not produce an ideal endocrine system health, and as a result may have hormonal imbalances or other chemical imbalances that interfere with their happiness and emotional health.  A strong Jupiter indicates that one has produced a healthy endocrine system and feels good in their own body.  It is also noteworthy to mention that in deep meditative states, the endocrine system secretes powerful hormones and antioxidants, that make you very happy, and Jupiter is also the karaka or “producer” of one’s happiness and contentment.
  6. Venus produces the digestive system, and so a weak Venus means one does not absorb nutrients and digest well. This means the body loses its vitality more quickly because it requires more of its own vital energy (Virya, which Venus rules) to digest the food and assimilate it than it should.  A strong Venus does the opposite, it helps one absorb and digest well, and leads to a healthy and well built body.  This is also why Venus rules rejuvenation, as the health of the digestive system has a big say on whether one will rejuvenate easily or not.
  7. Saturn produces the muscular system of the body. The part of the body that does all the labor, basically.  Saturn also produces one’s laborers, servants, and lower level employees, which play the same role but in the context of a business.  A weak Saturn shows weak muscles, and so one tends to feel lazier.  A strong Saturn shows strong muscles and good lymph and so one will tend to not feel so lazy.  A strong Saturn is also associated with accomplishing many deeds in life, and here we can see how that relates on a physical level, to the dignity and strength of the “producer” of the muscles, Saturn.  Someone who feels lazy all the time is of course not going to accomplish as much as the opposite type of person.


In this way, the seven grahas mix and produce all things for us, and in accord with our karmas that we are meant to experience in this life.  This same idea is the logic behind how we see the good or bad karmas connected to each area of life for a person, and is a fundamental concept for practicing Astrology, both western and eastern.  Now we can reflect and see, that it is no surprise that in this world of seven colors, seven seas, and seven continents, that we also have seven visible lights in the sky, guiding us along the path of our Soul in this incarnation.


Aries and the Active Expression of Virtue.

“The active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence.” – Sri Yukteswar  (1855-1936)



Swami Sri Yukteswar, a self realized yogi and astrologer.

The above quote by the yogi Swami Sri Yukteswar is ripe with spiritual and astrological truth.  When we act virtuously, we start to see things more clearly and intelligently.  Likewise, when we really know something our actions tend to demonstrate that knowledge in a natural fashion.  This can be attractive and appealing to see someone like this.  It is possibly for this reason that saints and mystics often seem so attractive or magnetizing to spiritual seekers, because they have gone through a great range of experience and their actions naturally demonstrate such experience in a spontaneous way.  Also in the opposite sense, when we think we know something but really do not, our actions can be a clear give away of our lack of knowledge.  There is a clear relationship that can be seen here when we look at the zodiac, between our “active expression of virtue” and the development of intelligence within us.

To fully see this relationship, lets clear up a few things about intelligence in the context of an astrological chart.  When I am speaking about intelligence, I mean specifically the ability to arrive at the correct conclusion, to arrive at truth.  And in life we see that different methods can be used to arrive at the same correct conclusion.  Some people use logic to figure something out, others use feeling and emotions to figure the same thing out and get the same conclusion.  In the same way, each planet has a unique type of intelligence that it expresses.  For example, Mars would be the intelligence of logic.  Venus is the intelligence of poetry, the ability to grasp the meaning behind the words, the real heart of the message.  This post will not go into each planets intelligence, which would require an entire post in itself.

With this having been said, all the grahas give intelligence but the main one that Astrologers tend to emphasize is Mercury, as he rules the “buddhi”, the Intellect.  But when we read the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, the Sage Parashara gives the descriptions of the different planets.  In this, he does not describe Mercury as being intelligent necessarily.   He does start off, however, by saying that the Sun is intelligent.  This is very interesting.  He gives many complements to Mercury as well as the other grahas but does not assign intelligence to Mercury, and instead gives it to the Sun.  So the implication is that the Sun is the real planet that thinks through situations and arrives at truth.  (In case you were wondering, he describes the Moon as “All knowing”, which is similar to how many western astrologers attribute the Moon to a pyschic, right brain type of ability to arrive at truth)

I have noticed in studying charts that when Mercury is joined the Sun, which is happening 1/3 of the time anyway, then Mercury gives intelligence yes.  This is also called a Budha Aditya Yoga, which is said to give intelligence amongst other things.  When not connected to the Sun however, I do not necessarily see Mercury giving intelligence in the sense of arriving at truth.  (I can hear the astrologers gasping while reading this…bear with me)  Now if strong, this person’s Mercury will still be able to cognize quite well, and of course still be able to memorize and organize data very well.  This person may speak very fast and sharply and come off as very smart and intelligent.  They may have lots of information to articulate and be multi-talented and skillful.  But that is where we get mistaken.  Those qualities are not intelligence.  One can organize information extremely well, regardless of whether it is true or untrue information.  One can be very multi talented and know a lot of things but still miss the truth of life, and the truth of any given situation.  These days we sometimes seem to mistake having information about something with having intelligence, or knowledge of that thing.  These are different words and have different meanings.  Nowadays people consider having googled something to equate to having “knowledge” of that thing.  They are mistaken.  When you read old books the word “knowledge” did not mean “information” and was never used in that context.  It meant experience and the direct knowing of something that one gets from experiencing it for themselves.  For example, you know that you are you, and you don’t have to look that up or ask anyone else to convince you of being yourself, because you know this from experience.  This would be “knowledge”, as opposed to “information”.

So while Mercury gives the intellect, that intellect can see things a million different ways and until one is Self-Realized there is no promise that Mercury will give the intelligence to see the real truth in life.  That is the “keenest intelligence” that Sri Yukteswar is referring to, and that, as Parashara states, emanates from the Sun.

How we see this in the Zodiac  

We can see how and why the Sun would give this intelligence by examining the mechanics of the zodiac itself.  Aries is the sign of virtue, action, inspiration and nobility.  Thus, Aries is the sign of the “active expression of virtue” that Sri Yukteswar mentions. The Sun gets exalted here, meaning it is the strongest it can possibly be.  So the highest or “keenest intelligence” (The strongest the Sun can be) is brought about by developing the qualities of Aries, the “active expression of virtue”.  Pretty cool huh?

Also from the sign of Aries, the Sun rules the 5th house from there, Leo.  The 5th house is said to be the house of the mind, and the intelligence we use to manage our lives.  So when we act virtuously in order to manage our lives more effectively, that is like the Aries, putting the 5th lord, the Sun, in the first house, of one’s action and expression, and in this case the sign of the same things, Aries.  And what does that do?  That makes the Sun exalted, as strong as it can be.  And when the Solar force is strongest the innate intelligence we have is strongest, and we can be “King” of our life.  This is the logic and mechanics behind this great quote from Sri Yukteswar.  He was also an advanced Jyotishi, so perhaps he was aware of this connection in the zodiac as well as in his real life experience.

This is the Astrological reason why, at least on planet Earth, we can have all kinds of ideas or information, and we may think it to be true or not true…But until we apply it in our lives and act from it, and see the result, we do not really know if that information or idea is true or not. Remember that real intelligence is brought about by virtuous actions.  The results of this truth are very evident in the spiritual growth world nowadays.  Many people  can absorb spiritual ideas quickly, and can read spiritual texts and understand them very well, but don’t apply the truths in day to day life nearly enough, and then wonder why they haven’t experienced authentic spiritual growth.  The people who shine with spiritual happiness are the people who have applied spiritual truths in their lives, and in their day to day actions, and have expressed these virtues in real time, not just on the internet or in their minds.  We have to apply what we learn or we get a sort of “mental indigestion”. This happens when we just go about reading one after another metaphysical, or spiritual self help book, but never implement it into daily life.  For this we need the strength of the Sun and Mars, the two warrior caste/fire element planets to give us the courage to act virtuously.  This is also where a jyotish reading can help someone, because if we see that they are a spiritual seeker, but the Sun and Mars are afflicted, they probably have difficulties with actively expressing virtues. In this case we can advise certain mantras, gemstones, meditations, behavior adjustments, and other remedial measures to combat this negative karma and make the best of the situation at hand.  In this way we can see why Jyotish was such a beloved tool of Yogis seeking Self-Realization, as it reveals the obstacles that are in the way of experiencing the goal of our incarnation.







Jupiter Aka Guru

converted PNM fileOne of the names of Jupiter in the ancient Sanskrit texts is Guru.  This name is fitting for Jupiter as he is the planet that is said to be the most wise and proficient in all branches of knowledge, and that is what we think of as a Guru.  Someone who can teach us how to do what we want to do.  But what does the word Guru really mean?  It is normally defined as the person who removes the darkness from you and puts you into the light.  This is because the syllable “gu” means darkness or ignorance, and the syllable “ru” means destroyer, so the one that destroys your darkness is the common definition.  But when you look up the word Guru as a single word in the sanskrit dictionary, it comes out different.  It means “heavy“.  And of course like all Sanskrit words it has many layers of meaning.  A Guru is someone who is “heavier” in knowledge and experience of something than you are.  In this way anyone can be a guru to anyone else.  For example, I may have more experience and knowledge of Astrology than you, which would make me a guru to you for Astrology, but you may have more knowledge than me of Ayurveda, or in woodworking. This would make you a Guru to me for Ayurveda, or woodworking because you are heavier in that wisdom.  This way of understanding the word also reveals that wisdom and knowledge are the true measure of the weight and value of a person on this Earth.  In the same way Jupiter if strongly influencing the chart, makes one a valuable person to society.

It is also interesting that the ancient Seers of India gave the name of “heavy” to Jupiter, because Jupiter is the heaviest planet in the Solar System.  Jupiter is even said to slightly affect the Sun’s movement which is not at all the case for the other planets.  And of course this name is at least 2-3,000 years old if not much older, so there was no NASA information to rely upon when naming it.  It is quite an amazing thing to think about how they may have known that this particular light in the night sky had the most mass of any of the others!

Why is Saturn Related to Brahma?

“Vahni (Fire), Ambu (Water), Shikhija (Skanda), Vishnu, Vidauja (Indra), Sachi, and Ka (Brahma), O’ Twice Born, from the Sun and the other Grahas in their order are known the Devas.” – Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra Chapter 3:18

This quote is from a foundation text of Vedic Astrology, the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, on the allotment of different deities to the Grahas (The Sanskrit word for the planets).  These are not the only associations that the Grahas have to different deities, however.  It should be remembered that all the many deities of Hinduism are considered to act through the agency of the different Grahas for their purposes and responsibilities as custodians of the various forces of nature on Planet Earth.  So while this list is not meant to be the only correlation of Deities to Grahas, it is a very insightful list to consider, shedding much valuable information on the nature of the different energies of the Planets.  In this post, for brevity’s sake, we will just be focusing on Saturn’s correlation to Brahma as it is quite interesting to contemplate.

This relation of Saturn to Brahma is very confusing and hard to understand for most.  If you study Jyotish you are probably already wondering where I am going with this, but lets first make sure we understand a little about Saturn.  He is in many ways the toughest planet to understand… Saturn rules death, lack, loss, negative karma, disease, depression, sorrow, and those things we must do that we are not good at doing.  When well placed in the birth chart, He is the planet that does the hardest jobs that no one else cares to do.  He does it without concern for himself and just for the sake of others. When Saturn is weak one is not able to do the hard things they know they must do for success and therefore usually are not very successful in the world, as most successful people in the world didn’t get that way by avoiding or not wanting to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.  Saturn is the one who does that. Jaimini says that if Saturn is in the 10th from the swamsha (atmakaraka in navamsa) the person will live a life of “accomplished deeds”.  Meaning this person gets things done in the world.

Mythological image of Brahma.  Depicted with four heads, each continually reciting one of the four vedas.  Even his mythological image seems much more busy at work like Saturn, when compared to Vishnu and Shiva who are both mythologically seen lounging on a coiled serpent, or sitting in blissful samadhi.

Mythological image of Brahma. Depicted with four heads, each continually reciting one of the four vedas. Even his mythological image seems much more busy at work like Saturn, when compared to Vishnu and Shiva who are both mythologically seen lounging on a coiled serpent, or sitting in blissful samadhi.

The word for the absolute God without attributes is Brahman in Hinduism.  The names of the threefold aspect of God as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively.  This correlates to Christianity and its holy trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, actually.  Brahma is the God of creation, he creates but does not get involved with creation and does not destroy or transform it, those are Vishnu and Shiva’s roles… Everybody knows that, so what is my point?  Well Saturn is not the planet of creativity, so you would think Jupiter or Sun would be related to the creative aspect of God (Brahma).  But they arent… Why is that?

I am not asserting to know exactly why that is, but here are some interesting ideas about why that may be the case:

Brahma is the force that releases just the right finite amount of God’s infinite potential of energy to create a galaxy and cause creation to occur.  Too much or too little of God’s infinite potentiality would cause tremendous imbalances in the grand scheme of the creation… So Brahma is that force which releases just the right amount of energy, but not too much.  In this way we can see that for creation to occur most perfectly from God’s standpoint, there needs to be a Saturnian element of restraint involved for the creation to be harmonious and properly balanced…If new worlds were constantly created before the old ones got destroyed then everything would be off and their would be less purpose to creation.  In a smaller way this is why I think the yogic guidelines Patanjali gave in the Yoga Sutras called one of the Yamas “Brahmacharya”.  In plain english, this is one of the 10 do’s and dont’s of Raja/Kriya Yoga and it is normally translated as “celibacy”.  This is a bad job of translating though.  Brahma means God’s creative energy, and Charya means “going, driving”.  So it simply means “going the way that God goes”.  And God doesn’t waste It’s creative energy in frivolous sexual pursuits.  So Brahmacharya really means to use one’s creative energy wisely and like God would, so as not to waste the spiritual force generated from Yoga practice.  Its true that sexual over-indulgence is the fastest way to waste that force for most people and so this is why it has slowly come to mean that, though it really means much more.  Talking excessively, being on social media unnecessarily, and eating bad foods that take too much energy to digest are just as obvious and popular ways of wasting one’s spiritual force in this modern age as sexual indulgence is.  And in the same way but on a smaller level, when Saturn is strong in a birth chart that individual will usually be much more focused on important works and not be as easily distracted or waste its energy on over-socializing, overeating, or overstimulation in general.  And so from the perspective of God it may be more that creation is not real, it is an illusion, but it is Brahma/Saturn’s job to continue this illusion for the purpose of individuals to grow beyond whatever separates them from God and to eventually unite with God.  So in this sense creation is very much an “Accomplished Deed” and thus related to Saturn.  Also we must remember that we dont incarnate unless there is some Karmic debt (Saturn) that must be worked out.  Even having too much good karma can cause a need to reincarnate and live an awesome life, which happens often for Saints and Yogis.  Even this is still a karmic debt that must be spent before the positive and negative karmic-balancing scale can go back to zero and one can finally become liberated.  Its like a bank account balance, it has to be zero to close out (get liberated), so a positive balance must be spent in an incarnation, and a negative balance must be worked off in an incarnation.  So when we see that Creation is actually just this path we must navigate to get beyond our lack and separation, and to merge back with God, we can see how similar it is to Saturn’s astrological role.

Here is another way to see how creation is related to Saturn, and this is basically paraphrasing what Ernst Wilhelm has written in his book Graha Sutras, so all credit goes to him on this perspective:  In order to have creation, the Absolute God must hide himself and be “veiled” in order to make creation seem real and separate from himself.  The veil is called “maya” in sanskrit and is created by each person’s “Avidya”- the ignorance of their soul nature as pure Spirit.  Saturn is responsible for each person’s ignorance and so this is how we can see his connection to creation from the perspective of having to create illusion/separation/lack from our real Self.  Ernst even goes so far as to say that Saturn rules the flow of life force into the nerves, making us sense things as cold/hot, fast/slow, dark/bright, etc. and not as God essentially.  So in this way Brahma requires and uses Saturn to create the world and the ignorance of our soul nature that so often accompanies our incarnation.

Another interesting factor is that Brahma is the most neglected of the trinity by far, as there are very few temples to Him and He is hardly mentioned compared to Vishnu and Shiva.  Saturn is similarly always the most neglected planet as well!  This is really because Saturn is misunderstood, and gets blamed for being the worst planet, but it is really because He has the most enemies from the standpoint of the lajjitaadi avasthas, and so therefore on average will be the weakest and most afflicted planet.  So then when his dasa or transits occur, we experience those weaknesses and difficulties.  But this is not because Saturn wants to wreck our life, it is because our Saturn is often not strong enough to deal with all the negative karma that we have and so during his periods there are difficulties.

Mercury and “Middling in the affairs of others”

The etymology of words can be very fascinating, especially in the astrological context.  A surprising amount of our old astrological knowledge has been forgotten in this current age; yet our very own English language still preserves clues to it, when we know the astrological language that birthed these words.  See my previous blog on astrological word origins for more on this.  One example I find fascinating is how in English speaking countries there is a negative saying about when someone is getting too curious about things that are not any of their business to be knowing about.  We say that person shouldnt be “middling in the affairs of others”.  The word middling means of medium or intermediate size, and so to be middling in the affairs of others is to be concerned with affairs of others that arent really important which often leads to unneeded gossip, or back biting, and does not usually bring about a productive result.  This term is never used when one is genuinely inquiring about how they can help someone in a serious way.  This term is used when one is more likely just curious and potentially seeking self-aggrandizement by comparing themselves to another.

The reason this is so interesting to me is because if there ever was a middle type of planet, it would be Mercury.  He is the most mixed and intermediate planet in many ways, being malefic when with malefic planets and benefic when close to benefic planets.   He rules, is exalted in, and is fallen in ONLY dual signs (which have both masculine and feminine qualities), showing how pronounced his dual nature naturally is.  Mercury rules one’s curiosity, and whether one has a healthy sense of curiosity, or whether they use this faculty to simply “middle in the affairs of others”.  And so a person with a weak Mercury may find themselves with a somewhat unhealthy sense of curiosity and can therefore get themselves into trouble with gossip or backbiting.

Let me elaborate on this point further.  Mercury is very much in the middle of things, and he likes the harmony that being in the middle can provide.  He doesnt like to choose a side, so much so that in a negative state mercury people are often stereotyped as “two-faced”, when they are usually just trying to maintain a good harmony with everyone they associate with, but may fail to really express how they truly feel to the person (which can cause problems down the line).

When it comes to our sense of taste, each planet rules one of the tastes, or “rasa” in sanskrit.  For example the moon rules the salty taste, and jupiter rules the sweet taste.  Mercury rules the “mixed” taste, or the savory taste as we often say, and what is referred to as “umami”.  This is what MSG (monosodium glutamate) is designed to replicate.  The taste can be created from the mixture of different chemicals and so is not easily created without being in the “middle” of a bunch of other chemicals, or tastes, we could say. Some examples of the umami, mixed taste of mercury would be the flavor that sauteed onions and garlic add to a dish, or the savory quality that tomatoes cause when cooked in dishes with other vegetables.  The quality that aged wines develop is said to be umami. ( See Ernst Wilhelm’s Graha Sutras book for the best treatment I have found on the tastes of the grahas.)

Another example of Mercury being in the middle is the genders of the grahas (graha is the sanskrit word for planet).  Sun, Mars and Jupiter are male grahas.  Venus and Moon are female grahas.  Saturn and Mercury are said to be neuter grahas.  Again we see Mercury not necessarily choosing a side but preferring the middle place.  Also, each planet is given an avatar that relates to that planet; such as the Sun is correlated to Prince Rama, the Moon to Krishna, etc.  Mercury is connected to the Buddha.  What did the Buddha eventually end up teaching after experiencing all paths?  The “middle way”….

Now we can see how this old phrase happens to match so well with what we know about the most “middle” planet, who also happens to rule over one’s sense of curiosity, be it healthy or unhealthy…. Another saying we have to express the same sentiment is that someone is being “too nosey”.  The nose is the organ of the sense of smell.  Can you guess which of the five senses mercury rules?

Jupiter And The Sweet Sixteen

In the United States, we have this curious tradition of recognizing a girl’s sixteenth birthday as especially important.  Where does this come from? It certainly has stuck around as a tradition for some time.  It is defined by Wikipedia as  “…a coming of age party celebrating a girl’s sixteenth birthday in North America, primarily in the United States and Canada.”

The traditions vary according to different families, but sometimes a tiara is given by the Mother to the Daughter to celebrate her becoming a woman.  It also implies that she is eligible for marriage.  What interests me about this is that it is only important for a girl, and for boys there is no special cultural significance given to turning 16 years old.

This seems to reflect an astrological truth.  It has to do with the different ages at which the planets are said to “mature” in ones life.  Each planet has a different maturation age, and when this age comes about, the person is able to use that planet to a more effective level, if such a promise is shown in the birth chart to begin with.  If not, then the person may start to experience more problems associated with the planet as it is not maturing properly.  The person is not as developed in the area of consciousness associated with said planet, and it shows.

The maturation ages are as follows:

  • Jupiter : 16   Jupiter
  • Sun : 21
  • Moon : 24
  • Venus : 25
  • Mars : 28
  • Mercury : 32
  • Saturn : 36
  • Rahu : 42
  • Ketu : 48

As can be seen above, Jupiter is the first planet to mature, and it matures at the age of 16.  Jupiter represents a great many things in a horoscope, including wisdom or philosophy, guiding principles and the ability to appreciate the wholeness of life.  His placement in a chart can also give great understanding of what makes you happy, and what your “dharma”, or purpose in life is.  If you are a Woman, or someone who likes Men, then Jupiter actually plays a slightly different role in the chart as compared to a Male, or someone who likes women mostly.  This has to do with Jupiter being the producer, or “karaka” of the husband in a Womans chart.  He is also the significator of children in the horoscope, for both males and females.  So for the average female, the planet Jupiter “produces” (in the astrological  sense) and is responsible for, her children, and her husband in life.  Those are very important parts of life for most people.  And when Jupiter matures at 16, all these things under Jupiter’s domain begin to mature and become prominent in a person’s life as well.  Also, Jupiter rules our creativity in general, and children are the most important creative process for most humans, and at this age a woman is physically mature enough to take on this creative process.  Also, the hormones and endocrine system is ruled by Jupiter, and this matures around the age of 16 as well.

This is what is so interesting about the tradition of the Sweet Sixteen, and how it is only significant for a lady.  Before the age of 16, the average girl’s physical body, hormones and consciousness are not cultivated enough to maturely know what is in her own heart, and what type of Husband (if any) she should choose.  The same goes for children.  She may not want to have kids, or not really think about it until after the age of 16.  After that point, if it is in her Dharma to have kids in this life, she may begin to have more of her own thoughts and feelings about the matter.  This is because she is now physically mature enough for this process, but not necessarily mature enough on all levels.

For a girl that has a strong Jupiter in her chart, this means that in past lives she lived dharmically enough to gain the “good karma” (good merit) to have a happy and fortunate married life with pleasing children.  In most cultures this is the general ideal thing to have for most women, (as well as with men, but with a happy wife as opposed to husband) although everyone is different.  This has long been one of the best uses of Jyotish, to determine if one should pursue marriage in this life or if they should save themselves a lot of time and energy and focus on something else they care about.  At the age of 16, Jupiter matures, which means that (for either sex) the individual’s consciousness of their “dharma” has matured, leaving them to pursue their own unique purpose in the world.  If this purpose involves marriage or having kids, then the time is ripe at 16 to pave the way for those events to occur when they are meant to.  Because marriage and children are such important factors in life, it makes sense that families at some point decided to have a big celebration to commemorate this.

Regardless of their sex, at 16 the person is going to begin to think more about their purpose, and more about what they want to do with their own life.  At 16 a person may think more about what is really right and wrong, versus what they have been told to think by others. They may think more about what they themselves believe to be true from their experience.  They may develop a belief system of their own naturally or start to follow a belief system.  This is because Jupiter rules ones belief systems, and wisdom, and ones understanding of the big picture in life.  And how this plays out depends on the way Jupiter is situated in the horoscope.

Also, I have heard, but cannot confirm, that some studies have shown that women actually bear children with the least amount of accidents or health issues at the age of 16. The likelihood of health complications during childbearing is thought to increase with age gradually.  I could not find a study to confirm this, but found a lot of information online about how accidents and birth complications are increased gradually with age. Here is one article.

For men, it is different, because Venus rules the wife or mate in a chart of someone who likes females, and as you can see above, Venus does not mature until the age of 25.  This means that for men, they may not be fully mature enough in their consciousness to choose the right marriage partner or commit to their chosen path in life until the age of 25.  Venus is the consciousness that helps us love ourselves and seek the best quality of life for ourselves, therefore representing our decision making capacity.  The strong Venusian weighs out the choices they are given in life wisely (like Venus’s sign Libra, the balancing scales, “weighing ones options”. Libras tend to get the best deals and be good traders and businessmen) and thus his life leads to greater satisfaction and well being because of the good choices they made to get there.  A person with a weaker Venus will typically not inherently appreciate themselves as much, and will make decisions that reflect that, and choose bad partners and bad relationships, therefore inviting difficulty and hardship into their lives as a result.

Boys typically do not mature sexually as fast as women, and who knows, perhaps that has to do with males not being truly ripe for marriage until the age of 25, as opposed to girls at 16, according to this line of thinking.  Also, it is usually considered more normal for a woman to marry an older man, than it is for a man to marry an older woman.  This makes sense when we see that a woman is mature enough (or close to it) for a spouse at the age of 16, compared with a man not being that mature until almost ten years later at 25!

It can be nice to reflect back and see how ones own beliefs or philosophies (as well as other jupiter-ruled things) may have developed during that very formative time.



Saturn And The Crow

This post is about a very interesting talk that was given by Joshua Klein on Crows and their intelligence, on the TEDtalks website.  It has particularly fascinating information for Astrologers, as the crow has a symbolic association with the planet Saturn, and this video unintentionally demonstrates that affinity very well.


The nine planets in Jyotish are said to produce all the many things in the world and in nature by mixing and blending their influences.  Each planet is a “karaka”, or producer, of a particular concrete thing in someone’s life. For example, Saturn “produces” one’s servants.  So in ancient times, if a King wanted to know how his servants would be, and whether they would work honestly and dilligently, or whether they would be dishonest and lazy, the skilled astrologer would look to the condition of the planet Saturn.  The astrologer would look at other things too, but the producer of that correlating archetype in the physical world is very important.  For learning about the King’s soldiers or ministers, we would look to Mars and Venus, respectively.  There are many other factors the astrologer would look at, but this is perhaps the most important.  Another way to say it is that one has to look at the planetary archetype that matches the physical entity in one’s life and “as above, so below”.  So if there is a difficult Saturn “above” in the heavens at this king’s birth, then there will be difficult servants “below” in this person’s experience of an earthly incarnation. This is a foundational concept in the occult sciences in both the east and western cultures.  It can be a hard thing to comprehend, so if it is difficult to grasp, just imagine it for now.

If you study astrology, then you probably know that crows relate to the planet Saturn and should watch the video first and observe the similarities yourself.  If not, then you can read this list of congruencies and hopefully begin to appreciate this connection.

I will list some of the archetypal synchronizations I noticed below:

  •  To begin with, the speaker, Joshua Klein, has a simple, intelligent, and capable look to him. These are the qualities of a strongly placed saturn.  He wears a black t-shirt without a logo. Saturn is related to the color black, and is mythically said to have a black or dark complexion. He even tells a bit of a “dark” joke about the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.  These traditions of Saturn relating to the color black is still evident in the Jewish tradition, where on the holy day, the Sabbath, they traditionally where black.  The Sabbath is Saturday, which is the day of the planet Saturn.  The spelling makes it obvious, but all the days of the week are actually related to the planets.
  •  He says that he began his interest and research in crows when a friend at a cocktail party tells him that they are useless and should be killed. His very saturnian response to it is that they could probably be trained or used in some way that is more helpful for human life.  This is very evident of a strong Saturn, while Joshua’s  friend displays the typical pessimism of a poorly placed Saturn, Joshua says “no”, and decides to think differently about the matter.  Saturn’s astrological role as a planet is to help that person become who they need to be so that they may do what they need to do to help the world the most.  So right away Joshua is looking at what could be viewed as an annoying pest, and seeing how it could potentially be turned into an animal that actually makes life more bearable and enjoyable.
  • At about 3 minutes into the video, he shows an amazing clip of a crow bending a metal wire into a hook to get a worm out of a tube in a science experiment, which the crow had never seen done before, showing great ingenuity and inventiveness.  At 4 minutes in, he states that the brain of a crow is in proportion to the brain of the chimpanzee.  Saturn is found well placed in the charts of Inventors and people who are somehow improving the quality of life for everyone.
  • The clip of the crow at the five minute mark, with its clever trick of letting the car crack the nut for it, demonstrates patience, a key attribute of Saturn. Taking 30 years to go through the zodiac, it is the slowest of the main planets, symbolizing patience and endurance.  A squirrel would never be able to wait that long.  Also, it is said that the difficult karma that Saturn brings out in a chart can tend to afflict one the longest, because of its slow movement through each sign over 2.5 years.  Sounds familiar to the story about the crows hassling the scientists, and remembering them even months and years later!
  • He makes a strong point overall about how crows seem to actually benefit from cleaning up our human societies messes and roadkill, and that when trained can actually help us clean up debris from events or find lost change.  Saturn’s role in the medical aspect of astrology is quite similar, ruling the immune system.  Saturn is the planet that is responsible for removing waste from the body, keeping off disease, and is said to rule our longevity. Here we see evidence that crows are cleaning the city streets in an analogous way.

Overall I think this video is fascinating even without respect to Jyotish, but for those with interest in astrology and mythological symbolism, you can see there is much to be appreciated between the Crow and the planet Saturn.  And by appreciating the symbolic value of our environment and the life around us, we can feel more like we are a part of something greater than our little self.  In this way, mythological symbolism can have therapeutic properties for our minds.

If you notice any other interesting astrological correlations between the behavior of crows and the symbolism of the planet Saturn, please share below in the comments section.


Photos: Mythological image of the graha Saturn, said to ride upon a crow or vulture.