Category Archives: rasis

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.







What is the sign of Cancer all about?

At the time of this writing, the Sun is making its yearly pass through the tropical sign of Cancer (June 21-July 22).  It seems an appropriate time to discuss the qualities of this sign, and its ruler, the Moon.  In Astrology, each planet rules both a positive and a negative sign (or Rasi, in sanskrit) except for the Sun and the Moon. The Sun only rules the masculine sign of Leo, and the Moon likewise only rules the feminine sign of Cancer.  This means that the Sun is the most masculine force in the solar system, and that the Moon is the most feminine force in the solar system.  The Moon is the only aspect of consciousness that is 100% receptive and feminine.  This is the key to understanding the nature of the Moon’s sign, Cancer.

At the point on June 21st that the Sun stops appearing to move north is when the sign of Tropical Cancer is said to have begun.  At this point the Sun appears to not move north but not necessarily move south either…it appears to stall in its point on the ecliptic.  Then it eventually starts to move back south for six months until December 21st on the winter solstice.  This movement is similar to how a crab will move sideways in one direction for a point, and then stop for a moment, only to move back the other way.  The nature of the Moon and its sign Cancer can behave in a very similar way.  People with the ascendant, Moon, or Sun in Cancer are often said to be emotional, moody, fickle, and to change about as quickly as the Moon changes.  One day the Moon is full, a few days later it appears almost empty.  So Cancer can be a sign that on the positive can be quite adaptable, but on the negative side can lack consistency.  We can see why this is because the rasi, or sign of Cancer is the exact point where the Sun, the most stable and consistent force we can see, begins to change motion and direction.  This is very unlike the Sun.  The Sun is the opposite of the Moon’s changeable nature.  The Sun rises and sets like clockwork and is thus what creates the zodiac and the seasons on Earth as we know it.  This point where the Sun changes direction and begins to move back south is very significant, and marks the beginning of summer for the northern hemisphere, where most humans live.

Cancer is therefore the most feminine, Yin, or receptive sign we could say.  Cancer time is thus a good time to stop and enjoy life, and be receptive to all that nature is providing for us at this time.  Its the sign of the Mother, and our family environment and emotional life. Its also the sign of our happiness and contentment overall.  It is more easy and natural to feel provided for and nurtured by life at this time, especially if one has their own garden which is plentiful for most at this time (gardens are another thing that is ruled by cancer).

The Moon is also the ego-mind, and its placement shows what we are comfortable with in life.  If one has the Moon with Mars, one will be more comfortable with aggression and confrontation.  If one has the Moon with Venus they may be the opposite, and be only comfortable with polity and beauty.  Assessing the Moon is how we can see what one will attract by the nature of their own thinking and emotional reactions.

People with a strong Moon, or Moon as the atmakaraka (planet with highest degrees in the chart), or well dignified benefics in Cancer (such as Jupiter) often have a great amount of grace in their life when it comes to this receptivity.  They are the types of people that can really benefit from techniques of creative imagination, and activities that deal with trying to attract things into one’s life.  The truth is that not everyone has the karmic good merit to just pick up a book like the Law of Attraction, apply its principles and actually see a great deal of change in their life…But many people do, and thats why they find that book.  Many others dont though, and many more never pick up that type of book.  This may be because their Moon is not as robust and so they dont have this ability or see this possibility of receptivity.  In that case, they could benefit from developing skills like mental affirmations, and creative imagination.  But each person’s karmic situation is different, and many are meant to make their wealth through hard earned work, or through various means.  This is what Astrology is used for, to shine light on the karmic strengths and weaknesses one has… So if you are skilled at attracting things into your life, now is a great month to exercise that ability!  If you are wanting to develop that skill, this month is a great month to work on that.  Creative imagination, mental affirmations, meditation, prayer and pranayama, and fasting from negative thoughts are some great Cancer/Moon-related ways to attract more good things into one’s life.  This is an overall great month for trying to develop that Lunar side in all of us.


Symbolism of the Aquarius Rasi

The symbol for the eleventh sign of the zodiac is a man holding an empty pot of water.  Some sources say it is a man holding a pot full of water, or pouring out water from a pot, which all serve to convey most of the meaning of aquarius.  I prefer the symbolism that is given in the foundational text for most Vedic Astrologers, the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, by Sage Parashara.  It gives the aquarius rasi as being simply “a man holding a pot” and does not say that there is water inside the pot.  Parashara does still relate this sign to water though by saying that it “resides in deep water”.  This is an important distinction that is missed by most modern astrologers it seems, and I only came to learn about this subtlety from studying Ernst Wilhelm’s Rasi Sutras audio course, so I must give credit to him for teaching it.  This course can be purchased on his website found here, which I highly recommend for those who are practicing Jyotish professionally, as it has great insights into all the twelve Rasis.  But for now lets just look at the rasi of aquarius in the context of the twelve Rasis.

water potAquarius is an air sign, not a water sign.  It is the only fixed air sign of the zodiac.  It is the eleventh sign, with only one more sign to go before the end of the cycle at Pisces.   Each of the four elements represents an aspect of ourselves.  Fire signs represent our intuition, and our connection to our soul, and the fiery activity we feel we must do in life to fulfill our soul’s purpose; our Dharma.  Earth signs represent the mixture of all elements, and our rational, practical, and even mechanical side.  Air signs represent our own unique intellectual perspective as human beings, as well as our state of desire.  This is because human desires are as impermanent and changing as the afternoon breeze.  How often do we realize a long sought after desire, only to find a new one arising only moments later?  Desires are what keep us bound to this Earth realm and are what keep us separate from realizing our true eternal nature as Infinite Consciousness, or Spirit.  Water signs represent feeling and emotional sensitivity, and inner development such as wisdom and divine love.

Aquarius is the last sign before we get to the sign of enlightenment, Pisces.  So, as Ernst Wilhelm elaborates upon more deeply in his Rasi Sutras course, Aquarius is the sign of the culmination of the pyschological battle.  Aquarius is the stage of becoming psychologically healthy, so that we can then move into the final stage of merging with God.  Paramhansa Yogananda said that what most people think of as the spiritual battle or path, is actually just the psychological battle that each person must fight between their higher and lower sense of self.  He states that once this is resolved then the spritual battle is won very quickly.  And this matches with the twelve rasis of Jyotish as after Aquarius there is only Pisces left and it represents “kaivalya”, the absolute oneness of being.

This is why I find the symbolism of the empty, or mostly empty pitcher of water to be the most appropriate symbol.  As explained previously, the air signs all represent desire, which is what ultimately keeps us bound to the cycle of death and rebirth, and which the whole purpose of Jyotish is to free us from with Self Knowledge.  Water symbolizes spirit, and the wholeness and psychological well being that comes from our innate connection to spirit. (hence why the water signs are the most spiritual signs, the Brahmin caste/mentality.)… So if the symbolic water pitcher was completely full, it would show a completely full being on the inside and out, and the zodiac should rightly end at this stage because one’s development is complete here…. But it does not end here, it ends at the next sign.  Therefore the water pot should rightly be empty.  An empty, or mostly empty water vessel symbolizes the lack of the spiritual wholeness that we all desire whether consciously or not.  So this eleventh sign of Aquarius really shows the stage of REALIZING THE EMPTINESS IN THE WATER PITCHER, AND THE DESIRE TO HAVE IT FILLED.

The only permanent way to have our symbolic water pitcher filled is to become Self Realized and then know and experience that it was never empty to begin with.  This can  be done by merging our ego with something greater than ourselves, which is the job of Venus.  And as you might expect, Venus just happens to be the most auspicious planet for Aquarius lagna, and causes “Raja Yoga” by ruling both an angle and a trine.  Venus ruling a dharma (trine house) and Karma(angle house) indicates that it is innate and natural for Aquarius to move towards merging their consciousness with something greater than itself (Venus).  This shows that a sense of love and acceptance is what is really the best way to deal with the emptiness in our lives.  Whether the Aquarius is able to use Venus in this healthy way is depending upon all the karmas shown in the astrological chart, and can be known by the skilled astrologer.

This also makes sense when we think about the ruling planet of Aquarius, Saturn.  Saturn is the planet that deals with our debts, our sense of lack, our sense of isolation, and the more depressing, empty side of life in general.  The empty water pot is more appropriate as a symbol for Saturn in this way too, as it shows that there is a lack, or an emptiness that needs to be filled.  Thats pretty much the whole purpose of the Aquarius individual, is to find a way to fill that emptiness.

How they deal with the emptiness

This knowledge should now help you understand all the qualities and characteristics of Aquarius natives.  This is why western astrology looks at them as humanitarians, and even why old vedic texts from medieval times paint them in a much more negative light.  These medieval Indian texts describe them as drunkards, or as sexual deviants.  Western Astrology is great and I do not mean to bash it by saying this, but in general it doesn’t have a lot of authoritative texts or rules compared to Vedic Astrology, which is drowning in rules and texts.  They both have their strengths and weaknesses.  The western approach typically looks at the positive spin on a sign the most and downplays the negative sides, which makes sense as this type of method is being used in a culture which doesn’t want to be told stuff that it sees as “negative” or “fatalistic”.  Western’s positive spin on Aquarius is that they are humanitarians and inventive, which is true, sometimes.  This will be the case if the auspicious planets for Aquarius are strong, and the inauspicious ones are weak.  But if it is the other way around, then the Aquarius is likely to be frustrated in feeling love or detaching from the state of emptiness and will likely engage in some type of less healthy activity to try to temporarily fill the emptiness….  This is where the medieval vedic books would happen to be more accurate.  Without a strong Venus, its more likely that alcoholism, sexual perversions, vices, or other activities that society frowns upon will come in to play for the Aquarius native in order to fill that emptiness at any cost.  To be fair to both traditions, they both acknowledge the positive side of Aquarius that can manifest as a mystic, or as a spiritual renunciate as well.  To think that this same sign can create such seemingly extreme polarities of behavior can be hard to grasp…but they are all just extreme attempts to fill the emptiness that is being felt in one’s awareness.  Knowing this we should not judge Aquarius natives for their actions but rather try to see them in the light of understanding that Jyotish provides.