Category Archives: Astrology Blog


A Time to Die: Death Charts as Cosmic Obituaries

A Depiction of the Moment of Death by Alex Grey
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die...” -Ecclesiastes

As astrologers we agree that the moment of birth reveals the character and destiny of that which is born, be it a person, a nation, an organization, or even an idea. For the most part we study the lives of people, and the moment of birth is the root from which all our investigations proceed. We may disagree on many things as astrologers, but the vital significance of the moment of birth is the one thing about which there is no dispute.

But what of the moment of death? Could it be that this moment, too, is pregnant with meaning regarding that which has died and the life that has been lived? Could it be that we have neglected to study this important and inevitable end-moment of every incarnation precisely because it is so shrouded in mystery? After all, we don’t know with any certainty where or what exactly death leads us to. We fear death, prefer not to think about it, since it is the antithesis of our very existence as living beings. We’re in perpetual denial of our mortality.

It is true that death has indeed been the subject of astrological scrutiny and speculation over the centuries, but this has almost invariably been limited to an attempt to gauge approximate longevity, and somewhat controversially, also to predict the precise date of demise. But what if the moment of death reveals what a life has actually achieved? Could it be that the death chart is indeed a kind of Cosmic Obituary?

This musing led me to study several death charts; the results of which have been startling! I posted some of my initial observations on social media, and many of my most learned and thoughtful astrologer colleagues responded with affirmative enthusiasm, encouraging me to continue this line of research.

While I’m aware that this is a rather bold and experimental hypothesis, thus far I have found that the most conspicuous planetary configurations present at the time of death consistently describe, often to an uncanny degree, the life of the person that has died.

Charles Manson

In fact, I believe it was the death of Charles Manson that first piqued my curiosity.

Charles Manson- unrepentant Mars-Pluto

Charles Manson, the leader of a murderous cult that was responsible for a number of high profile killings in the plush suburbs of Los Angeles, died under a near-exact Mars-Pluto Square and also, interestingly enough, while the Sun and Moon were both in Sidereal Scorpio. I found this Mars-Pluto signature strikingly apt from the start, but when I discovered the actual time of death (20:13) and was able to calculate the complete chart, I was astonished to find Pluto a mere degree from the Descendant, with Mars less than degree from exactly Square the Ascendant! This very tight engagement of the Mars-Pluto Square with the horizontal axis brings it right to the fore.

Although, even without a time of death one can almost invariably see the person’s life narrative at a glance written in the Aspect patterns on the day of death, when the time of the event is incorporated, the picture tends to become even more precisely ‘accurate’; just as we find with birth charts.

The Death Chart of Charles Manson
Viewing the moment of Manson’s death through the lens of an astrocartography map makes the prominence of this Mars-Pluto Square all the more graphic

Hugh Hefner

The lascivious Hugh Hefner died on the 27th of Sept 2017 while Venus and Mars approached a Conjunction (in the sexy Purva Phalguni Nakshatra), both in close Opposition to Neptune. In fact, Neptune is within a single degree of the Venus-Mars Midpoint, reinforcing the configuration.

Hefner with two Playboy Bunnies

The way that symbolism sums up his life is in fact where this idea really dawned on me for the first time that perhaps your death chart will say no less about your life than your birth chart.

The Death Chart of Hugh Hefner

Neptune’s association with film and photography, combining with sexy Venus Conjunct Mars (in Purva Phalguni), gives you all the elements of Playboy magazine, his ‘life’s work’, right there, neatly summed up. The boisterous social participation, the libido and the creative vitality of Venus Conjunct Mars in regal Leo is locked into an intoxicating dance with bliss seeking Neptune; this can make for art, eroticism, ‘sacred relationships’, ‘sacrificial relationships’, and also an indiscriminate misdirection of life force and lust in a big party. Venus-Mars-Neptune easily yields to sensual temptation, and there’s often a victim somewhere; the euphoria is fragile; hangovers.

The fact that Jupiter and Uranus are in partile Opposition further embellishes on Hefner’s unconventional life: it describes a person who is ever ready for fun and adventure; it’s all one big exhilarating adventure with others; a person with their own unorthodox, liberal and individualistic moral code. Jupiter in cahoots with Uranus can literally manifest as wealth gained through unorthodox projects, lucrative bold ideas, and feeling perfectly comfortable with defying common social taboos. Astrology would almost seem to be saying this person is pretty ‘open minded’, and that’s quite a good thing, because it’s liberating and you see possibilities where other don’t. If Venus-Mars makes for creative vitality, Jupiter-Uranus is the lucrativity and fecundity of bold ideas; this is a lucky rebel.

If we are to delve into zodiacal symbolism at all, it’s tempting to reflect on the possible significance of him dying while Saturn was in Sidereal Scorpio- the same sign it occupied at birth (tropical and sidereal).

The Natal and Death Charts of Hugh Hefner

Saturn in Scorpio can paint a sinister picture in its potential indication of materialistic exploitation of others, and literally sex. There’s no free lunch with Saturn in Scorpio. Beneath the jolly veneer of happy bunnies and good times all round at the Playboy Mansion, the view through the prism of Saturn in Scorpio intimates that the underbelly of this perpetual party at Hugh’s house is not far removed from a type of sexual slavery. It’s worth adding that the same is implied in his natal chart by both the Ladies of the planetary family, Moon and Venus, occupying the 6th House of servitude.

The Natal Chart of Hugh Hefner

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day of 1977. This very famous man, this joker and delightfully silly entertainer died under a Full Moon which was Conjunct Jupiter in sidereal Gemini, opposite the Sun Conjunct Venus and Mercury in sidereal Sagittarius. This is a Full Moon that ties all the merry benefics together, sidereally, in signs that are fond of mirth- and Gemini in particular gives an aptitude for mime and mimicry. Yes, we could probably dig a whole lot deeper, and there are bound to be gems if we were to probe into his life story, but in this Sun-Moon Opposition, this Full Moon that engages all the benefics in mobile, nimble, jovial and clever Mutable Sidereal signs, we have almost the whole of his story synthesized in a neat package; his Cosmic Obituary seems to be declaring eloquently that this person must have been a lot of fun; bright and conspicuous on a canvass of light; seen by all.

The Death Chart of Charlie Chaplin

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The Cosmic Obituary of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is one of the relatively rare cases where we have a time of death, and the finer detail here is intriguing.

In particular, the way it places the Sun close to the Midheaven, and in any whole sign system, tropical or sidereal, the chart contains Saturn in it’s own sign in the 1st House; a clear description of high authority, social status and even quite specifically a political career.

The personable Moon in the 1st House, Sextile both Mercury and Jupiter, shows him as hugely popular, a convincing and effective speaker who inspired hope and faith in the general populace (comparable in fact to the triangle formed between these same planets in the natal chart or Barack Obama, who also has Saturn in Sidereal Capricorn in the 1st ). The trine between Mercury and Jupiter at the time of his death was a mere 4 minutes from exact! He brought a rare degree of honesty to the world of (sidereal Capricorn) politics. In fact, beyond the popularity shown in the rising Moon, we can see in the Conjunction of Venus and Mars in his death chart, again less than a degree from exact, a further description of his disarming personal charisma, not to speak of a virility that is implied in his affair with Marilyn Monroe, for example.

Saturn Square Neptune in JFK’s Death Chart

The nefarious Square of Saturn and Neptune speaks of the hidden devils lurking behind the scenes which he may have prodded too hard with his threats to dismantle covert structures manipulating American politics.

This theme of conspiracy that surrounds his death, and indeed his role as a figure of ‘transpersonal destiny’, is further underlined by the Sun’s Semi-Square (within an impressive 15′ of exact) to the Neptune-Pluto midpoint. The Sun is also within a degree of Conjunct the Saturn-Pluto Midpoint.

The Saturn-Neptune Square is also a potential description of chronic and crippling health problems. JFK was beset with several serious medical conditions that caused him considerable pain and suffering. Saturn’s location in the 1st House, Conjunct the Moon, can indicate physiological vulnerability all by itself, and it serves to link the Saturn-Neptune Square for clearly and directly to the physical body and physical health.

During his time in the White House, despite public indications of continuing back difficulties, Kennedy enjoyed an image of robust good health. But according to the Travell records, medical attention was a fixed part of his routine. He was under the care of an allergist, an endocrinologist, a gastroenterologist, an orthopedist, and a urologist, along with that of Janet Travell, Admiral George Burkley, and Max Jacobson, an émigré doctor from Germany who now lived in New York and had made a reputation by treating celebrities with “pep pills,” or amphetamines, that helped to combat depression and fatigue. Jacobson, whom patients called “Dr. Feelgood,” administered amphetamines and back injections of painkillers that JFK believed made him less dependent on crutches …”

Marilyn Monroe

Marylin Monroe the Sex Symbol

Speaking of Marilyn Monroe, she died when Jupiter and Neptune were within a thin sliver of an exact Trine; that’s a world of glamourous illusion; mountains of money for nothing; a fragile utopia that can also easily evaporate. Film and fantasy. Sweet and kind, and yet a little unrealistic and careless. The Moon was close to Venus in Sidereal Virgo; she may have been the object of everyone’s desire, but romantic fulfilment eluded her. Venus in Virgo can be a ‘sexual servant’ and, in more extreme cases, can point to prostitution or the exploitation of sexuality, while showing little actual gratification. The Sun-Neptune Square in the death chart indicates loss of identity, addiction, disorientation, a sense of drowning in deep waters. You don’t have to look too far here for appropriate symbolism.

The Death Chart of Marilyn Monroe
Marylin Monroe with JFK

To top it off, there is a curious ‘coincidence’ in terms of the principles of astrological synastry that stands out at a glance when you compare the death charts of Marilyn Monroe and her lover, JFK: The Moon in JFK’s death chart is nearly exactly opposite the Sun in Marilyn Monroe’s! If these were regular birth charts it would be a perfect description of mutual attraction and chemistry.

The Death Charts of JFK and Marilyn Monroe revealing a tight Sun-Moon Opposition

Diana, Princess of Wales

Princess Diana died dramatically in a car accident with her lover, Dodi Fayed on the 31st of August 1997.

To be more precise, he was declared dead at the scene of the accident, whereas Diana died some time later in hospital, at 4:00am, in Paris-that’s how it’s recorded.

How apt that the Mother, the ‘Queen of Heaven’, the Moon, should be in the 1st House in her own Sidereal sign, Cancer. Not only does this mean the the Moon is strong (by sign and by house), the 1st House itself in this situation has a very powerful lord; it’s a common feature in the natal charts of famous people to have lord of the 1st House in the 1st House. It gives you a strong personality or persona.

That this queen would be well liked, a ‘queen of hearts’ as it were, is reflected in the very tight Sextile of the Moon and Venus, the powerful engagement of the Moon and Jupiter through Opposition, along with a Trine of Venus and Jupiter. This is social grace and heartfelt generosity and goodwill.

Jupiter in the 7th House, supported by Venus Trine Jupiter, may give you a royal spouse (apart from Prince Charles’s pedigree, Dodi Fayed came from a rich Jupiter in Capricorn family), but the debilitation of Jupiter in the in the 7th indicates some frustration and disappointment also. A cold and formal marriage, a needing to please and serve all the time, is shown in debilitated Venus in Virgo being tightly opposite Saturn. Saturn is close to the Midheaven, which can be a bit like having a strict old crone for a boss.

Mars in the 4th House is worth a mention, inasmuch as the 4th House on a psychological level is your ‘internal foundation’; Mars in the 4th implies the person is internally courageous, a defiant warrior even. Mars in the 4th House speaks of arguments in home and unruly family affairs. This may or may not be taking things too far, but inasmuch as the 4th House in Jyotish relates to cars and vehicles, Mars in the 4th House might even depict car accidents. The essential point here though is that Mars in the 4th House resonates well with Diana’s almost hidden underlying forcefulness, and this certainly became quite a hallmark of her life and career later on, when she became openly defiant towards the oppressive rigidity of her ancestral and matrimonial traditional binds.

That she would non-the-less be an attentive and caring mother is shown in the strength of the Moon, and it’s close aspects to benefits. With such a powerful Moon motherhood was indeed a key to her ‘dharma’. The real difficulties lay elsewhere.

Swami Vivekananda

The famous guru, Swami Vivekananda, to those who know his story, recall that he pioneeringly brought Indian philosophy and religion to the west, starting with his address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in Sept 1893.

The Death Chart of Swami Vivekenanda

He died on the 4th of July 1902- I don’t have a time for the event. There is a conspicuous triangle between Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto; Uranus and Pluto are in exact Opposition, respectively Sextile and Trine to Jupiter. Jupiter is also tightly Sesquiquadrate Neptune. Yes, he was indeed, in terms of the story of his life, a pious and idealistic religious revolutionary!

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self Realization Fellowshipand author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, was born under an Opposition of Jupiter and Saturn and died when both these planets simultaneously returned to their natal positions. These simultaneous Jupiter and Saturn Returns were both a strikingly tight 1 degree from exact!

We know that there is a tradition of prophets and great souls being born under Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions, and I believe it is reasonable to consider much of this potential to be present in an Opposition of these great Elders of the planetary family also. At their best, Jupiter-Saturn types become pillars of society. They energize or become founders of organizations that preserve the social order through education, or through political and economic activity that promotes general social well-being and security. Furthermore, an Opposition of Jupiter and Saturn can describe a partnership (the Opposition is a 7th House aspect) between a ‘priest’ and a ‘materialistic business person’; a partnership between Jovian philanthropic idealism and the clear-eyed stony pragmatism of Saturn.

As Above, So Below: Portly Jovian Yogananda exchanges a glance with James J. Lynn, his Saturnine disciple and benefactor

Indeed this very narrative played no small part in enabling Yogananda, through the help of his disciple, millionaire James J. Lynn, to purchase the near palatial estate in California where Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship could take root and blossom in the West. Through the lens of his death chart as a Cosmic Obituary, this reiteration of the Jupiter-Saturn Opposition seems to be a testament to the success of his life’s endeavour: to be an agent for the perpetuation and transmission of ancient wisdom, in the real world; Saturn giving the endeavour a solid form and structure, while a strong Jupiter ensures the essence of the teaching and philanthropic inspiration remains unsullied- at Yogananda’s birth, as well as his death, Jupiter was dignified by it’s location in sidereal Pisces.

Edwin Steinbrecher

Edwin Steinbrecher

Another extraordinary case is that of astrologer Edwin Steinbrecher, author of The Inner Guide Meditation, a book far more interesting and profound than its title initially suggests. The premise is that our entire experience of the outer world, or what we would think of as ‘objective reality’, is the product of our inner world and the primal archetypal forces that operate there. The Inner Guide Meditation presents a method for contacting and engaging with the archetypes via a specific method of visualization, or ‘active imagination’. The Inner Guide Meditation draws on the symbolism of tarot, astrology, kabballa, Jungian archetypal psychology, the I Ching and Taoism.

Finding your true ‘inner guide’ is a crucial first step in that process, and, it may be of interest to mention in passing that according to The Inner Guide Meditation, one of the various ways to establish the veracity of your inner guide is to check for a suitable ‘fit’ through the lens of your 9th House; in Jyotish terms, the house of the ‘Guru’.

The Death Chart of Edwin Steinbrecher’s biographical notes on Steinbrecher mention that:

‘Though he loved Santa Fe, he moved to Los Angeles where his work and teaching could reach more people. With master classes, lectures and personal interviews, he reached and touched the lives of thousands, unfailingly generous and caring.’

It is quite moving to read that he was ‘unfailingly generous and caring‘, and to see that he died under Moon Conjunct Jupiter tightly Quincunx a Conjunction of Sun, Neptune, Mercury and Venus. This symbolism can effortlessly translate as ‘generous spiritual service’. More specifically, with the Conjunction of Sun, Mercury and Neptune, there is a powerful focus placed on the realm of the invisible, mystical and otherworldly, the realm of imagination and visualization. This is a world in which most people get utterly lost and confused, but, see how Saturn and Neptune are within a quarter of a degree of an exact Trine! You will not look far to find interpretations of Saturn Trine Neptune in astrology books describing something like a capacity to ‘keep a balance between fantasy and reality’. Sun and Mercury Trine Saturn is the perfect antidote to the danger of succumbing to Neptunian spiritual delusions; Saturn wants things to work, and if they don’t, Saturn doesn’t want it.

Edwin Steinbrecher worked tirelessly to get as close as possible to the core of reality; that place where the forces that lie behind the symbols we study in astrology reside, and to find a conscious and deliberate way of building a firm bridge between that elusive inner dimension and the place we perceive as ‘reality’, and ‘self’. He died when the heavens described a noble, knowledgeable and articulate person (Moon Conjunct Jupiter in Sidereal Gemini), a person profoundly receptive to subtle influences and realities (Sun, Mercury and Venus all tightly Conjunct Neptune), but with his feet solidly rooted on earth as is possible under these circumstances (the Trines to a rising Saturn Conjunct the Ascendant). As astrologers we might disagree on Zodiacs and House Systems, which is why for the most part I’ve emphasized the Aspect patterns in this exploration of ‘Cosmic Obituaries’, which more often than not speak clearly enough on their own, however, for what it’s worth, at the moment of Edwin Steinbrecher’s death the Sidereal/Whole House chart contained a fitting Parivartana Yoga, or Mutual Reception, between the lords of the 1st and 9th Houses (with a distinct concentration of planets in the 9th House); surely the signature of a ‘true guide’, no?

In Conclusion

From the very first charts I looked at (many of which I’ve shared with you here) since my interest in the astrology of the moment of death was piqued, and in practically every case I have subsequently studied, the Death Chart seems no more difficult to read than the birth chart of the native. It seems the Death Chart is no less descriptive of the person’s life and character and can be read pretty much as you would a natal chart. This seems to be due to one of two reasons; either the time of death does indeed contain more information than we normally as astrologers accord to it, or one can get a fairly convincing reading of a person’s life from more or less any random moment using common astrological logic.

I recall Robert Hand once said that ‘I’ve never cast a chart that was wrong that worked better than a chart that was right’. Random or incorrect charts are almost invariably far harder to read than those that are correctly calculated, and many astrologers will attest to having first hand experience with this, when it happens perchance that one has wrongly entered data, or if the information supplied turned out later to be inaccurate. The consistency of the affirmative results of my initial investigations into Death Charts as Cosmic Obituaries compels me to continue expectantly with this line of research- these charts are just so easy to read and ring true to my astrological ear. That said, this is an unorthodox concept that leads us into the ‘uncharted’ territory of the nature and significance of death, not to speak of questions of astrological technique and the yardstick we use to determine whether an astrological idea or methodology ‘works’.

While aware of the technical and philosophical ambiguities regarding how death charts should be read, and what they reveal, if anything, I offer you these speculative musings as food for thought and to invite further astrological inquiry into the significance of that mysterious moment when we exit this world.

Webinar: Educational Astrobiographies

7 March 2020, 3:00 – 6:00PM GMT

Learn Astrology by Reading Charts!

Astrology is a language comprised of many dialects and many different styles and approaches. There certainly isn’t one single correct methodology. Every student of astrology ultimately needs to explore and test several methods, rules and principles to arrive at a personal approach that works.

In this workshop Richard Fidler presents an eclectic approach to interpretation combining a diverse array of techniques from both Western and Vedic astrology. This will be done by demonstrating the application of numerous methodologies using dozens of famous people’s charts. The aim is to bring a great many different rules and principles to life by focusing on application rather than theories.

We will delve into natal chart interpretation as well as various timing techniques, such as Transits, Progressions (Secondary and Solar Arc), the Vimshottari Dashas of Jyotish, and some lesser known tools, such as Progressed Declination and the Logarithmic Time Scale.

One of the less conventional ideas that will be presented is the theory that death charts are ‘Cosmic Obituaries’ and no less revealing than natal charts.

Along the way we’ll do some comparisons of the Tropical and Sidereal versions of the charts under consideration, as well as comparisons of different House Systems. Participants will have opportunities to chime in and add their own insights and observations.

There should be some eye opening revelations for students of just about all levels. Expand your astrological horizons in this intensive 3 hour workshop in which we scrutinize the lives of many well known personalities under a variety of different astrological lenses with aim to arrive at a richer and deeper insight than is possible when we stay within the narrow confines of a single school of astrological thought.

You’d be hard pressed to find better indications of extraordinary wealth in the Tropical/Western chart of Bill Gates, but the Sidereal/Whole House approach makes it clear.

Fee: make a donation via PayPal according to your means and inclination (alternative payments methods can be arranged upon request). Payments can be made via PayPal to, or you can use the button below.

A video recording of the workshop will be provided to participants for future review.

To register please send an email to, or you can use the contact form below.

2020- It’s High Tide in the Affairs of Men

2020 will be a big year, and it will be an important year.

It was to be expected that it would begin with the doom and gloom and danger that is typical of Saturn Conjunct Pluto, highlighted and amplified as it was by the Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse on the 10th of January. We started the year with Iran and the USA on the brink of all out war, and before January was through the outbreak of the corona virus had the whole world on high alert, exposing just how fragile our social and economic systems are to an outbreak of a highly contagious disease.

Lunar Eclipse 10 Jan 2020 amplifies ominous Saturn-Pluto Conjunction

Dramatic world events often occur at the quarterly junctures of the Saturn-Pluto synodic cycle. A few glaringly obvious examples:

  • The ‘9/11’ Twin Towers attack in New York on the 11th of September 2001 occurred when Saturn and Pluto were in close Opposition.
  • Saturn was tightly Square Pluto at the time of the bombing of the World Trade Centre on the 26th of February 1993.
  • In October 1973 there was a war between a coalition of Arab states, led by Egypt and Syria, and Israel known as the Yom-Kippur War, or the 1973 Arab-Israeli War in which:

Both the United States and the Soviet Union initiated massive resupply efforts to their respective allies during the war, and this led to a near-confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers.’ – Wikipedia

It seems that this cycle, on a mundane or global level, has a distinct tendency to bring about crucial developments in middle-eastern politics in some form or other (but of course it is about much more than that). The American invasion of Iraq, in March 2003, occurred as Saturn and Pluto were forming their final opposition in the series initiated in August 2001.

And so it comes as no surprise that America would use a drone to dramatically assassinate an Iranian general in Iraq as Saturn arrives within a single degree of Pluto at the very beginning of 2020, sending the entire world into a state of acute apprehension. Saturn will not form another exact Conjunction with Pluto this round, but Saturn will turn retrograde in May, backing towards another Conjunction with Pluto which comes within 3 degrees of exact in Aug-Sept 2020.

Mars forms a series of Squares to Saturn and Pluto as they come close to forming another Conjunction in August and September. That’s like a whole lot of bombs going off in short succession; if not literally, then figuratively. I wouldn’t be surprised if events unfolding then can ultimately be traced back to the dramas involving the USA, Iran and Iraq that we have witnessed at the start of 2020.

Jupiter Conjunct Saturn

We may be feeling the ripples of these dramatic events of early 2020 for some time, but there is something else brewing in the approaching Conjunct of Jupiter and Saturn. This grand astrological event contains within it the seeds of hope and a new improved order in the world; but as with the planting of any seed, ushering it into germination, and then through to fruition, requires skill, preparedness and response-ability. The moment of opportunity can be lost; the tide alone is nothing but latent possibility.

A meeting of Jupiter and Saturn occurs every 20 years and it is one of the most important of all synodic cycles in terms of general global trends. It may not be obvious to the lay person, but this is not a meeting of any old pair of planets. For one thing, Jupiter and Saturn are physically the largest planets in the solar system, and in terms of astrological symbolism they constitute a distinct and important pair of complimentary opposites.

They are, in their ‘polar-unity’, the Elders of the planetary family. Jupiter is ‘Guru’, Saturn is something closer to a politician.

When they combine, when they unite, there is a tension or ‘battle’ of contrasting principles; but this meeting is also an opportunity for an integration of opposites, in which the whole produces something greater than the sum of its parts. The moral idealism and altruism of Jupiter can elevate the materialistic nature of Saturn, giving it something worthwhile to be practical about, while Saturn imbues expansive Jupiter with the practicality required to make ideals real, solid, tangible and concrete.

The best that can be hoped for from the coming Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is a fresh infusion of true humanity, integrity and vision into the realm of politics and the economic structures that govern society, but there is some justifiable concern that materialistic interests will find ways to dilute and even appropriate and manipulate philanthropic movements or ideologies to their own ends (in terms of the Sidereal Zodiac the Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurs in the sign Capricorn, where Saturn is far stronger than Jupiter, hinting at materialistic values having the power to prevail over altruistic ideals).

However, even if the dice are loaded, there hasn’t been such an ideal opportunity to recalibrate and reform the systems that govern our world for a long time. It’s like, all hands on deck!

2020 is the year for the purpose-driven to gather their resources and focus their intention, and so doing materialize their vision. Great social institutions and projects will be born, and many will also die or reach the end of their usefulness and relevance; ‘the times they are a-changing’ and new laws and new political and economic systems will supplant the old order. That this has occurred will be clearer in 2021, but the final stages of the gestation and birth of this process will occur in 2020.

What is birthed or renewed or regenerated in 2020 will set both the tone and the stage for several years to come. Again: all hands on deck.

Anatomy of an Accident: Of Dashas, Debilitation & Transiting Angles

I did a reading for a good friend of mine in December 2018. She recently contacted me (early in November 2019) just to check in and catch up since it had been some time. She told me, ‘you were right in your prediction, you said I would have surgery towards the end of this year‘. She then proceeded to share these diagrams with me which pretty much speak for themselves. My friend had tripped somehow on stairs in her home, twisted her ankle, then broke it, and due to the fall that followed, bashed her head and was rendered unconscious for a while. Her young daughter had to seek help:

A technical point we may as well address at the outset. The x-rays above state that it was 25 October 2019. This is a mistake. My friend is clear on the fact that the accident occurred on the 26th of October.

Here’s some of plentiful evidence that the incident actually took place on the 26th; the report from the CT scan that was performed the same evening as well as a text response from the emergency medical staff that responded at 17:18 (Johannesburg) on the 26th of October 2019:

Ok, with all this in mind, why is the incident so significant? Why did I predict that she would be undergoing surgery in the not-too-distant future?

The shorter term indications of the accident in the Transits are important and fascinating in themselves, and perfectly appropriate for the event, and we’ll look at those factors in just a moment; but what I find more intriguing here is the fact it was the longer term picture of the Maha Dasha Lord changing from the 10 years of Moon Dasha to the 7 years of Mars Dasha (with natal Mars in the 6th House), that was the primary reason I suggested that surgery was likely not too far down the road.

And not only because Mars, bloodied blade wielding warrior that he is, generally has this penchant for injury and accident, it was the fact that my friend’s Mars is located in the Sidereal sign Cancer, where Mars falls and finds itself ‘debilitated’ that had me concerned. Even if Mars was not in Cancer, surgery, accident or mishap would have registered as somewhat more likely than would otherwise have been the case; but this debilitation of Mars in Sidereal Cancer implored me to expect, well, the worst: a relatively virulent manifestation from a grumpy malefic in the 6th House. I’m pretty sure I understated my concern in our consultation, so as not to worry my friend/client unduly, but I have come to view Mars in Sidereal Cancer as a placement capable of manifesting in a singularly violent fashion. I touched on this phenomenon in an article entitled Planetary Dignity and the Zodiac Debate.

In the article referenced above I mentioned that Mars in Sidereal Cancer is ‘not uncommonly implicated in chest illness or injury‘. Well, this is where it gets interesting! For reasons somewhat obscure to me at this stage, my friend’s ordeal led to her developing a pulmonary embolism (in layman’s terms, this is typically a blood clot that travels from the legs to the lungs and can be a very dangerous situation)! In fact, my friend had stopped smoking some months prior to this disaster due to my warning that chest ailments were something of a danger in the new Mars (in Cancer in the 6th House) Dasha. I don’t issue such warnings lightly; it was based on a countless observations of this pattern.

Now, what was happening on the specific date and time of the accident? Why did it happen just then?

Take a look at the chart below (I’ve used the Tropical Zodiac just to keep it a little more familiar to most of my readers). As you can see from her phone’s history shown above, the emergency people responded at 17:18. We don’t know for certain the very minute the accident occurred, but I think it’s fair to say that it must have been some time between about 17:00 and 17:10- and probably closer to 17:00. It would certainly have taken her daughter at least several minutes to realize that the situation was dire, what with her mother lying unconscious in the stairway, before she managed call for help and get a response.

Note that on that day Mars was Square Saturn in the heavens, and around that very time of the accident the planets forming this ominous celestial configuration were very closely conjunct the Descendant and Midheaven respectively. That’s quite uncanny! To put this into perspective for those who aren’t familiar with these astrological technicalities, the Ascendant/Descendant and MC/IC points, which bring the energies of planets right into the foreground, shift one degree every four minutes. It shows in this case that the potentially ‘violent’ Mars-Saturn Square occurring that day was in very sharp focus during the very minutes that this accident happened.

What’s more, note in the diagram below that Mars was less than half a degree from exactly Conjunct her natal Pluto (with Saturn Square her Pluto, and the Moon approaching a Conjunction with Mars/Pluto)!

Tragic as these events are, and yes, hazardous as Mars in Cancer in the 6th House may be, my friend, you will see, has a fairly tight Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the 5th House of her natal chart. I have often teased her in the past about her inimitable ability to ‘suffer in style’. See below that even under this duress, she manages to keep her toenails nice and neatly painted.

If you’ve ever wondered how the human spirit rises above adversity, well, this is how!

The Cosmic Signature of the Little King

So the 7th in line to the British throne was born today. Feisty fella by the looks of him.

I find it fascinating that his Sidereal chart contains an exalted Sun on the Ascendant, with an exalted Moon in the 2nd. This lad will have tremendous vitality, a very noble bearing, and natural instinct for leadership- all this not only because of the exalted rising Sun and exalted Moon, but also due to the Gaja Kesari Yoga formed by the Moon and Jupiter in opposite signs, and the very very tight and conspicuous opposition of Mars and Jupiter which would give a person tremendous courage and the confidence to attempt grand things. There is something of a crusader here. If inspired by a noble cause, he could do much good.

Pluto in fact connects to this Opposition in the Little King’s chart by being less than half a degree from exactly Quincunx and Semi-Sextile to Mars and Jupiter respectively. This implies that his innate zeal for crusading or ‘going big’ is tinged with a powerful sense of purpose. There’s great resolve and forcefulness in him. Around age 30, seen through the lens of Solar Arc Progressions, these three planets will all aspect each other and most likely awaken this forceful and resolute idealism. These three planets will regularly be simultaneously triggered by transits and progressions, but age 30 should be one of the more potent examples (add to that the fact that around that age Saturn returns and transits his 10th House).

This image of bold heroism we get from an exalted rising Sun, with Mars in Opposition to Jupiter, this idea that the Little King will be a ‘man of deeds’, as it were, seems supported by the fact that the Moon occupies the Nakshatra called Krittika, itself symbolized as a razor or flame. This Nakshatra is associated with the mythic hero Karttikeya, the general of the celestial army, giving this Nakshatra an association with ‘fame and larger-than-life endeavors and projects.’ *

I suspect that he will be a forthright speaker. Compare his chart to that of Martin Luther King: nearly the same degree on the Ascendant and Mars (the Sidereal Asc lord, also very close to the same degree in both charts) in the 2nd House of speech.

Mercury in Aries in the 1st House does nothing to tame this indication of fiery speech. In fact Mercury Conjunct Uranus in the 1st House in Sidereal Aries portrays a person with a quick and very active mind; bold, even defiant and provocative in his ideas and manner of communicating.

His Mercury in Aries is not far from Hitler’s Mercury- in Aries in any zodiac. Add to that Rahu in Gemini in the 3rd- this person’s going to express his ideas with enthusiasm and some flair I think. We’ll hear from him for sure.

Like Martin Luther King, again, he has Saturn as 10th lord in the 9th in Sagittarius in the Sidereal/Whole Sign chart. It will be interesting to see what role religion plays, if any, in his life. It looks like the royal scion is less likely than King to become a man of the cloth, having Jupiter, lord of the 9th located in the 8th (whereas MLK had Jupiter in the 1st), not to mention the religious heterdoxy that Ketu in the 9th in Sagittarius can describe. He will like science and logical thought, he’ll appreciate the practical application of knowledge.

Amoung his friends and associates will be found some not-so-royal elements, shown by Rahu in the 3rd House (and lord of the 3rd, Mercury, Conjunct Uranus), as well as Neptune in the 11th House (with Sidereal 11th lord Saturn Conjunct South Node and Pluto). Secrecy or some sense of loss in the realm of friendship or relationships is not improbable with Venus, lord of the 7th House located in the 12th House along with a fairly tight square of Venus and Saturn.

Oh well, all considered, what with Sun Trine Saturn in his chart, he seems to be a good lad who’ll eventually do his mum and his dad and his nanna proud.

God Save the Little King

* from Light on Life by Hart de Fouw and Robert Svoboda

Planetary Dignity and the Zodiac Debate

Perhaps the single most challenging difference to deal with when seeking to reconcile Western and Vedic astrology is the Zodiac Question: Tropical or Sidereal? If this issue was not in the way, it would make the two systems almost indistinguishable, at least as far as basic core principles go. Both these great streams of astrological tradition are custodians of the very same original ancient method of horoscopic astrology.

This all too often contentious zodiac debate naturally, and to a degree appropriately, tends to veer off into the realm of history, and speculation regarding what the ancients were thinking when they ‘invented’ the zodiac. Proponents of both sides of the argument might quote the works of august authorities to vindicate their views, and there’s indeed much to consider there; but we can debate endlessly about whether stars or equinoxes should be the anchor points of the zodiac, without truly resolving anything. There is only so much we can gain from seeking a solution to this great astrological riddle through this means.

Robert Hand discussed the Zodiac question in an article entitled ‘On the Invariance of the Tropical Zodiac‘. This was his concluding statement (1):

‘I believe we have to regard the tropical-sidereal controversy as yet another example of a historical pseudoproblem created by anachronistically projecting a modern problem with modern points of view back onto the ancients. It was not a problem with which the ancients were seriously concerned. Given the limits of their
computational accuracy, both systems would have given them the same results. This is a question that we
have to solve for ourselves. An appeal to history will not work.’

Right, so how do we solve this riddle, if for a moment we set aside the usual ‘appeal to history‘ and abstract metaphysical theories about why Solstices and Equinoxes might be more appropriate as reference points for locating the zodiac than Fixed Stars in their Zodiacal Constellations?

I suggest we should test it by comparing as objectively as possible the outcomes and conclusions arrived at using the core rules and principles of horoscopic astrology held in common by both systems.

One of the commonly held tenets of Western and Vedic astrology are the primary rules relating to planetary dignity according to zodiac sign placement, albeit that there are some differences in the finer details of the less primary features of the principle. Most outstandingly, all agree that planets are very well placed when located in their own signs, as well as in their exaltation signs. Planets are likewise universally considered particularly weak or awkwardly placed in the signs opposite their exaltation signs. All of these highly specific placements are identical in both systems; but, in practice, the substantial and steadily increasing misalignment between the location of the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs results in these very same rules of horoscopic interpretation yielding radically different outcomes upon actual application.

In fact, in some instances the conversion from one zodiac to another results in a given planet being very powerfully placed in one zodiac, but very weakly placed in the other. For example, more often than not Venus in Tropical Libra will become Venus in Virgo in terms of the Sidereal Zodiac. Mars in Tropical Taurus (where Western astrologers consider Mars to be in its Detriment, and whereas Jyotish would consider Mars to have very meagre dignity), will tend to be potently placed in Sidereal Aries. One would think that if there’s anything to this planetary dignity scheme, such cases should be quite telling, since they would invite very different readings of the respective planet’s strength.

What follows is a collection of necessarily concise comparative studies using some well known and often studied charts, along with a few lesser known ones, to illustrate that the Sidereal Zodiac is more consistently accurate and useful in this particular matter of planetary dignity, than is the Tropical. In fact, I would say that the way planetary dignity started to really work when applying the Sidereal Zodiac was one of the key reasons I became convinced of it’s value.

What I hope to offer a glimpse of here are the kinds of observations that resulted in me, slowly but surely, becoming an astrological ‘Siderealist’.

Who could dispute that someone like Adolf Hitler is someone we’d want to understand, right? Every fledgling astrologer before long delves into this chart expectantly, hoping to find answers to the enigma of this individual’s extraordinary impact on the course of history. Villain he was indeed, but a very great one, as villians go. He demonstrated leadership and resolve that galvanized the resources of a browbeaten nation into dynamic and focussed activity. It requires an extraordinary strength of a kind to achieve that.

An instant look at his Sidereal/Whole House chart reveals that the planets of rulership, leadership, authority, combativeness and forcefulness of character, the Sun and Mars, are at maximum strength, being located in Sidereal Aries, where they both flourish. By comparison Tropical Taurus does little for the dignity of these key angular planets in Hitler’s chart. When Mars is located in its own or exaltation sign, whilst also being in an angular house, it creates Ruchaka Yoga; an ancient Jyotish aphorism (1) describes such a person as ‘powerful and arrogant‘ and ‘the leader of an army‘. I would assert that if Western Tropical astrologers were to be abolutely honest, they would have found Hitler’s chart a lot easier to read if this was how it read for them. So I submit this first piece of evidence to court of astrological reason- #HitlerWasAnAries!

As far as sign based planetary dignity goes, if you were an astrologer interpreting Hitler’s chart at the time of his relatively humble birth, Sun and Mars in Aries would have helped you instantly in the right direction. I think you would have struggled to tell the real story otherwise.

Then there’s the fact that the sweet and kindly benefic planet Venus gains great strength in Tropical Taurus, but is far less dignified in the Sidereal map, where it falls in Aries. For contrast, Monhandas Ghandi, curiously enough, in many respects the anithesis of Hitler, shares the same dynamic Cardinal Sidereal Libra Ascendant, as well as a charismatic Venus-Mars Conjunction, but in the 1st House (as opposed to Hitler’s in the 7th), where peace-making Venus in her own sign, by Sidereal sign placement, trumps Mars.

The Tropical astrologer might point out that the Moon and Jupiter, in Tropical Capricorn, could be a better fit than Sidereal Sagittarius since both those planets are in Capricorn in decidedly weak positions, and in both instances it could be said that material ambition thwarts or taints the native’s sensitivity to the needs of others. There’s a fair point there, as far as that symbolism goes, but, the far greater dignity gained by the Sun and Mars in Sidereal Aries (as opposed to Tropical Taurus), and on top of that the fact that there is in the Sidereal picture, generally, a far greater emphasis on the excitable Fire element (as opposed to Earth in the Tropical picture), leads me to favour overall the Sidereal chart for Hitler. This Elemental emphasis is all the more clear cut by the fact that the Sun and Moon are both located in either Earth or Fire, depending on your choice of zodiac. Fire inflames! It stimulates, it’s very lively, and it is the Element that can inspire! Hitler had that power, to inspire fervour in others. Fire gives charisma and expressiveness, and these were among Hitler’s most outstanding characteristics.

It’s furthermore worth adding that Jupiter, for the Libra Ascendant specifically, is always lord of the 3rd and 6th Houses, both ‘dusthanas’ or ‘grief producing houses’, and Jupiter’s occupation of Sidereal Sagittarius strengthens both these less than wonderful houses, and as such it does nothing to tame the boldness, dynamism and contentiousness inherent in the 3rd and 6th Houses. The 3rd House in Jyotish rules most of the same matters in life as Western astrology does, but beyond this Jyotish makes more explicit the restless, adventurous, courageous and assertive attributes of the 3rd House.

In Jyotish Mars is the general significator (Bhava Karaka) for the 3rd House, as well as the 6th House. In Hitler’s Sidereal chart the 3rd House is greatly empowered by containing its own lord, along with the 10th lord (Moon), but beyond that it is further empowered by the strength of Mars, the 3rd House significator, which is angular and in its own Sidereal sign. Performing arts is a common association in Jyotish with the 3rd House (an idea that should be perfectly palatable to Western astrologers), and Hitler no doubt owed much of his personal charisma, his effective communication, and his capacity for ideological theatrics, to his powerful 3rd House. Although no planet occupies Hitler’s 6th House, the sign based strength of its lord (Jupiter), along with the fact that its ‘karaka’ or significator, Mars, is so strong (own sign, angular house), gives Hitler many benefits of the 6th House, such as the ability to prevail over enemies and competitors, and simply to capacity to work relentlessly.

Now, another formiddable warrior who pounded his opponents into submission was Muhammad Ali. As with Hitler, Mars in his Tropical chart is located in Taurus, and on that account would certainly not have raised your expectations of glorious feats of heroic prowess. The Tropical chart’s Mars does not shine saying ‘I’m the strong one here’. Even if you use Tropical signs with Whole Houses, Mars indeed gains prominence in the 10th, but his sign based dignity is pretty flat and unimpressive.

Imagine you were tasked with reading his chart for his momma at the time of his relatively modest birth? Would you see more than simply the idea (Mars in the 9th or 10th in Taurus) that he may be a fighter of some kind in his career? Would you discern that he would really kick ass? Like ‘No mum, I mean, he’ll be famous, even very famous and powerful, I’m tellin’ you mum, nobody can beat this guy‘.

Sidereal Mars in Aries in the 10th immediately points to an elevation in social status, since the lord of the 10th becomes so potently dignified, and it tells you exactly how- through fighting! The most famous boxer ever.- would you like him to have a debilitated or dignified Mars when you read a chart? Wouldn’t it be easier to read it from Mars in Aries? He was, with a Ruchaka Yoga comparable to Hitler’s, similarly ‘powerful and arrogant‘ and he was likewise, to quote the Jyotish aphorism alluded to in Hitler’s case, inclined to perform ‘many daring deeds‘, and tended also to ‘emerge victorious in all his attempts‘.

Saturn in Aries can translate very literally as ‘brain disease’, or ‘brain damage’, and Muhammad Ali was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s conspicuously close to the beginning of his 19 year Saturn Dasha. Having two malefics, Mars and Saturn (the two karakas or signifcators for the 6th House of disease) in Aries, compounded the danger to his head and brain.

A dignified or exalted malefic is not your mommy, and he might hurt you (or even others through you), but he may yet preserve you better than will a debilitated malefic, and he will give you some mettle with which to conquer adversity and turn it into strength.

Planets in their own or exaltation signs can manifest as attributes and circumstances of an exalted kind. They manifest opulently. Planets in their own or exaltation signs bring about a full and relatively refined manifestation of their inherent nature. It follows that simply finding a large number of planets in their own or exaltation signs will result in exalted attributes of character, or exalted, refined and opulent circumstances in the outer world. Let’s consider for a moment the chart of JP Morgan. One of the most wealthy, and in his day, influential of men to walk this earth.

His Sun is exalted in Aries, whichever zodiac you choose to use, so we’re all on the same page there- he was bold, confident and assertive- but for the rest it is the Sidereal chart that would have led the blindfolded astrologer, tasked with reading that chart without any prior knowledge of the native’s life history or social status, to be struck at once by the large number of planets in their signs of exaltation. Venus shifts from Aries to Pisces, Saturn from Scorpio to Libra, and Jupiter from Leo to Cancer. This multiplicity of exalted placements (including among them the Ascendant ruler) should be enough to inform an astrologer instantly that this person would be quite exceptional, and that they would most likely be very successful in worldly terms, without needing to resort to obscurer rules and principles and convoluted astrological reasoning, which is otherwise required to astrologically explain in retrospect this man’s extraordinary opulence and achievements. It is nowhere near as clear in the Tropical chart, if we are to focus on planetary dignity.

His wealth and influence was so great that on more than one occasion he forced the President of the United States to negotiate with him, on his terms, in exchange for his assistance in times of national financial crisis. He collected art and historical artifacts on a grand scale and in doing so founded several important museums. He enjoyed the absolute finest of everything this world could afford in terms of material resources and temporal pleasures, but of course his life was not perfect, as we can see in his debilitated Mars, which more often that not will take its pound of flesh.

Mars is located in Sidereal Cancer (Leo in the Tropical chart), in the 6th House. His health was not always sound, and he suffered many bouts of illness; and his nose was quite disfigured by rosacea.  More to the point, the Moon, as the dispositor of this ill disposed Mars, is located in his 7th House. He did in fact meet his first wife soon after beginning the 7 years of Mars Dasha- but she died from bronchial disease not long into their marriage.

Mars when in Sidereal Cancer often manifests as tragic loss of life, and it is not uncommonly implicated in chest illness or injury. I have seen this tragic face of Mars in Sidereal Cancer many times: warriors make an absolute mess in the nursery.

For example, Paul Mc Cartney, with Tropical Mars in Leo, but Sidereal Cancer, lost his wife Linda to breast Cancer, after years of battling the disease, the entire ordeal unfolding during the 7 year period of his Mars Mahadasha, between 1992 and 1999.

Nicholas Culpeper, the famous astrologer physician, was born with Mars in Sidereal Cancer in the 8th House. His father died 13 days before he was born (note, also, the debilitation of both Sun and Saturn in Culpeper’s Sidereal chart), and curiously enough, at the time of his birth he was in the Mars subperiod of the Moon Mahadasha. His mother died of breast cancer, and he himself was not only shot and severely wounded in the chest, he eventually died of tuberculosis.

He lost a would be spouse tragically early in his life- see, as with JP Morgan, the dispositor of his debilitated Mars is in the 7th House:

‘He fell in love with a beautiful heiress and they planned to elope. On the night of their rendezvous, there was a
severe thunderstorm and while driving to their meeting place, his lover’s coach was struck by lightning and she
died instantly.’ – Culpeper’s astrodatabank bio (

As another example, a client of mine with Mars in Sidereal Cancer (but Tropical Leo) in the 1st House, witnessed her husband being killed by a stampeding elephant, soon after beginning Mars Dasha.

In the course of searching for specific patterns in charts for a book I’m brewing, I made the accidental discovery that two similarly notorious suicide cult leaders, Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite, who went about their evil business quite separately, just happened to be born within a few days of each other in May 1931.

Both had Mars in Tropical Leo, but Sidereal Cancer. These men both caused much wanton loss of life. Furthermore, Jupiter in the charts of these two fiends was exalted in Tropical Cancer (really?) which shifts to Sidereal Gemini, where western astrologers would consider Jupiter to be in ‘Detriment’. Sounds better!

Both had Jupiter ruled Sidereal Ascending Signs, located in an angular house, pointing to their ‘preacher’ roles, with Jupiter substantially diminished in dignity through the Sidereal lens. That said, Jupiter in Gemini is arguably perfectly capable of coming across as convincingly learned and erudite regarding the scriptures, but it may be more verbiage and Mercurial trickery than wisdom.

Let’s consider Venus in Virgo for a moment, the sign in which Venus falls. Although Venus in Virgo may seem like a description of sexual prudishness and modesty, in practice it is often implicated in cases of sexual excess, sometimes alternating with periods of repression or sexual and sensual austerity. Debilitated planets seem to go to extremes.

Looking at the chart of Bill Clinton through the Sidereal rather than the Tropical lens would immediately invite you to consider themes of sexual impropriety, since Venus is debilitated in the sign Virgo, in the 1st House. Despite being otherwise popular and well liked, he will never be able to shake off the stigma of being a philanderer. A debilitated planet in the 1st House will damage your reputation, and here it is Venus, clearly showing what the cause of that blemish will be. I will concede, however, that Mars in Libra in the 1st House, and the proximity of Venus and Mars to each other, may have led a Tropical astrologer to a comparable conclusion, but note the reference to his Dasha periods below when we look at the chart of Chuck Berry. It makes for a useful comparison.

Having been amply convinced of this sexually intemperate idiosyncrasy of Venus in Virgo through observation over the years, I once remarked to a new client with Venus in Sidereal Virgo in the 8th House that there could be an element of this ‘sexual impropriety’ in her destiny, and I added that this was likely to be more apparent than usual around the age of 24-25 (when, according to a Jyotish principle, Venus ‘matures’ in every chart). She then acknowledged that for that particular year of her life, and only for that year, she was a prostitute.

Chuck Berry had Venus in Sidereal Virgo in the 12th House, as lord of the 1st House, and he was no stranger to sexual scandal. Apart from his many extramarital affairs, ‘in 1962, he was sentenced to three years (and served 22 months) for taking a 14-year-old prostitute across state lines..‘. – Chuck Berry’s astrodatabank bio.

Interestingly, and as a point of vindication of my suggestion that it was indeed Chuck’s debilitated Venus as work here, please note that he was in 1962 in the Venus sub-period of his Mercury Mahadasha- these two planets being in Mutual Reception in his Sidereal chart, linking the 1st and 12th Houses, pointing to a loss of stature and a loss of freedom, sin and shame. Likewise, Bill Clinton began his controversial affair with Monica Lewinsky (Venus in Virgo easily translates as ‘love of the servant’) in 1996, while in the Venus sub-period of his Jupiter Mahadasha, which ran from April 1995 to December 1997.

Another striking case of Sidereal charts pointing clearly to a person’s capacity to rise to the greatest heights of fame, power and influence through a multiplicity of highly dignified planets, is Condoleezza Rice; the efficient, refined and dignified U.S. Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor to George W. Bush.

Mars shifts from Tropical Aquarius, and in which he gains meagre glory, if any, to Sidereal Capricorn, where Mars is at his most exalted. Moreover, this Mars is located in the 1st House, so she embodies it! As with Hitler, who’s Mars was likewise in a powerful sign while also being in an angular house, she was ‘the leader of army‘ (inasmuch as she was a key national security strategist), and a dynamic and impressive personality. Consider for a moment that neither her race nor her gender, in American white man’s politics, would have helped her much. It would have been her own sheer determination, skill, and strength of character that enabled her to rise to such great heights.

Saturn, the Ascendant lord, is exalted in Sidereal Libra in the 10th House; its dispositor, Venus, is in her own sign (so the lord of the 10th is in the 10th powerfully strengthening that house, as with Muhammad Ali). It is thereby clearly shown that she would achieve a level of social recognition and authority well above that of her parental home. The Tropical chart does not makes this point with nearly as much clarity as does the Sidereal. It is a fact that the Tropical chart would show Mutual Reception between the 1st and 10th lords, and absolutely, that points to ambition, but the zodiacal dignity of these planets is much weaker. Planetary dignity, in the Sidereal picture, marks this chart at a glance as one of an exceptional person from whom great things could be expected on the basis of it containing four Maha Purusha Yogas‘: Mars, Saturn, Venus and Jupiter are all either in their own or exaltation signs, while in an Angular house (Kendra). It bears remembering that amoung these are the lords of the 1st and 10th.

Would you expect her to have broody Tropical Moon in Cancer, or clever, literate and articulate Moon in Gemini? I think the answer is obvious if you know just a bit about her academic life and achievements prior to the high office she was ultimately called to.

Vincent van Gogh, the brilliant, passionate, but often tormented and distraught painter, has Venus in Pisces and Jupiter in Sagittarius, whichever zodiac you use. No argument. There was nobility, beauty and refinement in his soul, and it was manifest in his art, and his love for art. He was for a time an ardent preacher (Mars is Square Jupiter, while in a Jupiter ruled sign). But where does all his angst and trauma come from?

Note that the Moon, located in Tropical Sagittarius, is debilitated in Sidereal Scorpio (and located in the 6th House). This is in itself a description of emotional and mental impetuousness. Moon in Scorpio is stormy, irritable and often dissatisfied (compare the Tropical/Sidereal Moon signs of Donald Trump, Saddam Hussein, and the cranky and cantankerous chess champion, Garry Kasparov).

In van Gogh’s chart Saturn (in Tropical Taurus) is located in Sidereal Aries, and this is yet another signature of frustration, dejection and failure in some realm or other. Saturn in Aries tends to be self isolating and self-thwarting (consider that van Gogh mutiliated himself by cutting off the lobe of his left ear in a fit of despair and ultimately committed suicide). His debilitated Saturn being in the 11th House (which is a house of financial gains in Jyotish) specifically makes sense of his desperate financial struggles. He somehow just couldn’t earn money, despite producing work of great quality, and he was dependant for his livelihood on the generosity of his younger brother Theo. Sure, Saturn in Tropical Taurus might translate as ‘money problems’, but this is shown as clearly by Saturn in the 11th House, and what’s more, Saturn in Aries reveals this inferiority complex, I’m tempted to call it; this person craving recognition and even a role of leadership, but yet being ‘stuck’ and disgruntled.

The examples I’ve used thus far have placed the focus on planets located in their very best and worst places, according to the schema of rulership, exaltation and debilitation shared by Western and Vedic astrology. I would like now to present another case focussing initially on more general zodiacal symbolism. See below the chart of Nikola Tesla, inventor and mechanical genius extraordinaire.

His Tropical chart gives a Taurus Ascendant, with Venus, the Ascendant Ruler, in the domesticated sign Cancer, close to the IC. His Tropical Sun is likewise in Cancer, with his Moon in ‘romantic’ Libra. Compare this to a pioneering and independent Aries Ascendant, with Mars as Ascendant Ruler in the 6th House in Virgo.

The entire stellium of planets in Tropical Cancer is located in Sidereal Gemini, and his Moon shifts from Tropical Libra, to Virgo (with Mars). Therefore, Mercury in the Sidereal chart becomes exceedingly powerful by occupying its own sign Gemini, while also being lord of both the Sun and Moon signs. If you know about the life and temperament of Nikola Tesla, little more needs to be said. His intelligence, his knowledge and his efficiency were his outstanding characteristics- whereas home making was not at all his forte. (3)

The Sidereal chart helps the Ascendant Ruler do exactly what you would want it to- Mars in Virgo in the 6th House guides you directly to perfectly accurate symbolism regarding what the person is all about and where they direct their energy. Furthermore the man was a distinctly Mercurial ‘tinkerer’, obsessed with creating efficient machines. Clever, curious and industrious in the extreme, his health suffered from overwork. He never married.

From the biographical notes on Tesla in’s astrodatabank:

‘Beginning his studies in physics and mathematics at Graz Polytechnic, he then took philosophy at the University of Prague. After finishing the studies at the Polytechnic Institute, doing two years of study in one, working 19 hours a day and sleeping only two, he suffered a complete nervous breakdown.’

Where are all the Taurus/Cancer/Libra stories?

Jupiter is located in Sidereal Pisces (Tropical Aries) in the 12th House from the Ascendant, gaining substantial dignity by sign there, if not prominence and protection by house. But, counted from the Sun or Moon (Surya Lagna and Chandra Lagna respectfully) this Jupiter in its own sign is in an angular house, being in the 10th from the Sun and 7th from the Moon. This contributed to his dignified bearing, his wide erudition, and much of the recognition he gained for his historic contributions to our collective knowledge. The Mahapurusha Yoga for Jupiter (formed when Jupiter is in its own or exaltation sign, while also being located in an angular house), is called Hamsa Yoga. Hamsa means goose, or swan; a bird said to be able to separate milk from water, representing the highest type of discernment (see also the Sidereal charts of Nicholas Culpeper, and Rudolf Steiner). There was I believe at least a hint of this empowered Jupiter influence manifested in Tesla’s life and character. It would not have been formed at all with Jupiter in Tropical Aries (though I’ll grant that Jupiter in Aries may be a symbol of something like ‘pioneering knowledge’, but it is not a particularly prominent planet by regular house position or house rulership). Indeed, thorough comparison can become very nuanced; I’m trying to give at least a nod here and there to the devil’s advocate.

Another intellectual giant, with more than a little dose of Sidereal Gemini (Tropical Cancer) in his chart, was Albert Einstein.

I present his chart as an example of what could at first appear to be something of a conundrum for a Siderealist making wind about planetary dignity. In Einstein’s chart Mercury is located in Tropical Aries, and Sidereal Pisces. What’s up with this debilitated Mercury, you may ask; wasn’t he supposed to be a genius? The matter is complicated somewhat by Mercury being Conjunct Saturn (another placement that in itself challenges narrow views on planetary symbolism- and not unlike Mercury in Pisces I would say, it can make for the deepest of thinkers, or the dumbest of fools).

This is quite a subtle point, but in my understanding, planets in their debilitation signs are in a sense no less ‘special’ than exalted planets. There’s an awkward situation to deal with, indeed, with debilitated placements; but in Jyotish language, such a planet ‘sees’, or by opposition aspect, reflects off, its exaltation sign. There are seeds of the the exaltation placement’s greatness within it, but certain inherent weaknesses have to be overcome.

For example, Mercury in Pisces could conceivably enable one to understand the most subtle and elusive cosmic abstractions, but without an integration of the precision and efficiency of articulate Virgo, it will translate as unintelligible, whimsical nonsense. Consider for a moment that though everyone nods in agreement that they know that Einstein was a genius of sorts and that he came up with ‘e=mc2’; what do you really know about that abstract physics? It’s absolute Greek to most of us, and requires a range, subtlety and complexity of thought that most of us lack. Is it really more of a Mercury in Aries business, this very abstract and obscure mathematics that Einstein laboured over? I think not. It is in fact far easier to read from Mercury in Pisces. Consider that he was prone to very philosophical and even spiritual musings. I can work with Mercury in Pisces for Einsten for these reasons, and it is in fact a good example of a person developing and mastering the latent gifts of debilitated planets.

Is it not also fair to say that Gemini as an Ascendant is a great way to begin thinking about Einstein, compared to Cancer? Apart from the obvious intellectual symbolism, it places the Ascendant lord in the 10th House, and thereby hints at the possibility of fame and recognition, an indication which is in the Sidereal chart greatly bolstered by the Mutual Reception (or Parivartana Yoga) of the 9th and 10th Lords- not to speak of an exalted Venus sharing the 10th with Mercury.

There are many other cases I’d love to add, but of course we can cover only so much ground here. I’d like to conclude with a musing on the possible relationship between the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs. Although I have come to favour the Sidereal Zodiac for analysing sign based horoscopic symbolism, including in particular planetary dignity by sign placement in particular, I don’t believe that the Tropical Zodiac is a complete error of astrological judgement.

I believe that the places where the Equinoxes and Solstices occur are indeed points of vital potency, or sensitivity, through which planetary energies are channelled into outer and observable manifestation. For example, the fact that the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred on the very day that Uranus entered Tropical Aries (or rather, crossed the point the Sun occupies at the Northern Hemisphere’s Vernal Equinox), and other similar observations, have led me to believe that the first degree of the Tropical Cardinal Signs do in fact act as important beacons, and could reasonably be used as reference points of something like ‘signs’, or ‘houses’. Whenever I’m most struck by the apparent aptness of a planet’s Tropical Zodiac position, it tends to be in the context of Mundane Astrology.

The following Tweet was a recent attempt to capture a way of looking at the relationship between the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs that currently makes sense to me. When we refer to ‘the Great Year’ and ‘the Age of Pisces’ or the ‘Age of Aquarius’, if there is any truth and validity in this idea, we are in a sense making 0 degrees Tropical Aries (or the Sun’s location at the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox) the Ascendant, the ‘horoscope‘ or hour marker of the complete precession cycle of nearly 26 000 years. Seen this way, the Tropical signs are essentially Houses projected from the Equinox, which seems a very fair and reasonable idea to me. Seen as the ‘angles‘ of a ‘world horoscope’, the first degree of the Cardinal Cross of the Tropical Zodiac would have a similar quality to the Ascendant-Descendant MC-IC cross of a regular western style chart, and for this reason planets located there are particularly potent and able to find externalized expression. For this reason it doesn’t surprise me to find significant mundane events coinciding with planets located at these cardinal degrees. The Sidereal signs, rooted in the stellar constellations, and fairly precisely anchored by certain Fixed Stars (specifically Spica, Antares and Aldebaran) are less ‘mundane’ and perhaps more aptly called ‘Zodiac Signs’ than is the case with the Tropical zodiac. It is interesting that this tradition of ‘the Great Year’ that divides the precession cycle into zodiacal periods references the Equinox in relation to the Sidereal or Constellational zodiac. If the Sidereal zodiac is indeed an obsolete ‘vestigial organ’ as one rather audacious Western astrologer has recently asserted, it would make this astrological notion of ‘zodiacal ages’ utter nonsense.

I would not have bothered seeking some way of resolving the apparent ‘zodiac problem’ if the Sidereal zodiac had not proven itself to me again and again in my daily astrological practice. It has made Planetary Dignity a far more applicable and reliable concept than it used to be. Theories aside, I’m interested in what works.

(1) From Phaladipika by the astrologer Mantreswara
(2) Light on Life, an introduction to the astrology of India, by Hart de Fouw and Robert
Svoboda. Pg. 238
(3) Compare the chart of Buckminister Fuller, with Sun and Mercury in Tropical Cancer and
Sidereal Gemini, and with Moon in Tropical Pisces but Sidereal Aquarius. ‘Labeled both a
crackpot and a genius, he was awarded nearly 40 honorary degrees from universities in the
U.S. and the UK and was the author of 20 books, including his perhaps best-known work,
“Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,” 1970.’ (

The Four Aims of Life and the Houses of the Horoscope

Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology, divides the twelve houses (or ‘bhavas‘) of the horoscope into four groups, each associated with one of the ‘puruṣārthas‘, or the Four Aims of Life.

Dharma (righteousness, morality) – 1st, 5th, 9th

Artha (wealth, material resources) – 2nd, 6th,10th

Kama (desires) – 3rd, 7th, 11th

Moksha (final liberation) – 4th, 8th, 12th

The idea that there are four aims of life is not specifically an astrological notion. It’s a basic tenet of Hindu or Vedic philosophy. This astrological correspondence is in fact an example of the close knit integration and ease of communication between Jyotish and other branches of Indian religion, culture and learning. It is similar, for example, with Jyotish and Ayurveda.

Western astrologers will recognize that these four groups distribute the houses into four triplicities that are normally associated with the four elements. Western astrologers may speak of ‘Fire Houses’ when referring jointly to the 1st, 5th and 9th Houses, and may describe the 2nd, 6th and 10th as ‘Earth Houses’, and so on. Some modern western astrologers have written on these house triplicities, and generally the elemental correspondences have guided their musings and observations.

This is all well and good, and many of those insights can complement and illumine what we can learn about these groupings from the Jyotish angle. It is worth noting, however, that the way Jyotish has linked these Four Aims of Life to the four house triplicities gives a more precise philosophical context, and arguably a greater importance, to this particular way of grouping the houses than you typically find in western astrology.

One quick technical point. The diagrams used in the case studies will show the chart for each subject using conventional Western astrological settings (Tropical Zodiac and Placidus Houses) on the left, and on the right of it, another chart applying the ‘settings’ used in Jyotish (Lahiri Sidereal Zodiac and Whole Houses). While more and more western astrologers are learning to read the vedic or Jyotish type square charts, they’re still somewhat esoteric to many. We’ll keep it simple by not adding new diagram formats to this discussion.

Without further ado.

The Dharma Houses – 1, 5, 9

‘Dharma’ is an excellent word for conveying an important insight into the nature of the 1, 5, 9, or the ‘Fire House’ triplicity. It becomes explicit that it is through the three Dharma Houses (or ‘Konas’ as they are also called) that we find or express our ‘true nature’, or ‘highest calling’. Call it self realization, creative intelligence and religion, if you like; they’re all faces or facets of the principle of dharma.

Like ‘fire’, dharma is a state of spontaneous honesty; it can’t be hidden or contrived in nature. There’s a purity, truth and integrity to fire. The houses of the Dharma Triplicity are considered the luckiest of all the houses, and are accorded great importance in Jyotish. The lords of these houses become, to some degree, ‘temporary benefics’, even when naturally malefic. Through these houses and the ‘fiery grace’ they represent, we can find our way, and align with truth and authenticity. Each individually, in our own unique way.

In the Baghavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna, “One’s own dharma, performed imperfectly, is better than another’s dharma well performed. Destruction in one’s own dharma is better, for to perform another’s dharma leads to danger.”

One aspect of dharma is close to the notion of duty, but this should be distinguished from what we think of, or may presume to be, career, or even adherence to custom, although at times they can be closely united. When we ‘individuate’ successfully, when the dharma is strong in us, so to speak, then we will be gifted, inspired, alive and enthusiastic; we’ll be intelligent, creative and intuitively capable in certain specific directions. Perhaps this brings with it an automatic responsibility.

Arjuna was an unequalled warrior, and so for him to lose focus at the commencement of a great and important battle was to lose his dharma in a most lamentable way. Lord Krishna hence went to pains to discuss the nature of dharma and how it related to Arjuna’s immediate situation, to help him reorientate and realign.

And that climactic moment was no time for wannabe warriors who have little to gift the situation, and who were not truly called to this purpose, who would be out of their depth, and in more than bodily harm’s way.

To find your dharma (without a birth chart), you should ask yourself, what was Arjuna doing on his off days, like, for fun? If you’re alive enough you already know the things you have a love for, and a knack for. If you find your aptitude and develop it with fortitude, then if perchance one day a conch shell sounds, and it’s your cue, your moment to be the only genius available capable of wielding, or rather sharing your particular gift, you’re ready to show up and enthral the house, or save the day, as the case may be. Knowing who you are, and being who you are, and then showing up, at the right time, is key to finding and fulfilling your dharma.

The inherently auspicious nature of the 1st House and it’s lord is substantially due to the fact that the 1st House belongs to the Dharma Triplicity. Beyond that the 1st house is the only house where karma, which basically means action (the Angular houses), and dharma automatically meet.

Where these principles combine, dharma finds outer manifested physical expression, in action, and so good things naturally follow. This idea that there is a valuable alchemical potency in combining the Angular Houses with the Dharma Houses is important in Jyotish, and is the basis of certain Raja Yogas (‘king making’ combinations promoting success, power and prestige).

The 1st house is our ‘dharma crown’ – the seat of our identity, purpose and will. It shapes our personality; the plain visible naked truth of who we are.

Inasmuch as 5th house represents romance, affairs of the heart, children, and play or recreation, these themes are inherently about our most sincere and beautiful intentions, experiences and ideals. What greater sense of heartfelt joy and exhilaration is there than play and courtship? Dharma Houses give peak experiences in awareness and self-expression.

Jyotish believes that ‘poorva punya‘, or past life credit, is shown in the 5th house. We are able to wield the energy or faculties of planets in the 5th house easily, almost playfully, like something we have done forever. We enjoy the activities associated with planets in the 5th house, and so we may easily excel in them. Through our 5th house we access the ‘dharmic’ attributes of intelligence, sincerity and creative self-expression.

The 9th house is associated with religion in both Jyotish and Western astrology. The word dharma is often used almost synonymously with ‘religion’. In the 9th house the morality and spiritual aspiration associated with the word ‘dharma’ reaches its pinnacle of expression. Gurus and mentors, shown in the 9th House, point out the way, and lead us along the road to the achievement of our fullest possible individuation, or self-realization.

The Dalai Lama’s Jyotish chart places Mercury in Gemini in the 1st House and Saturn in Aquarius in the 9th House; so the 1st and 9th houses contain their own lords which greatly strengthens both. The natural benefic Jupiter, as 10th lord, is located in the 5th House (and from there aspects the 1st and 9th houses, since Jupiter in Jyotish specifically aspects within the triplicity it occupies). The Dalai Lama is an embodiment and teacher of ‘the Dharma’, and a person with a mission and purpose.

Another preacher man with a penchant for politics is Martin Luther King. His Jyotish chart shows Jupiter, or Guru, in the 1st house, happy in Mars ruled Aries, as lord of the 9th house. Here too Jupiter aspects both the 5th and 9th houses and strengthens the entire Dharma Triplicity. King’s 9th house contains 10th lord Saturn, in the sign Sagittarius. The Sun, his 5th lord, is in the 10th house in Capricorn. As already noted, such a combining of the Angular and Dharma houses is considered very empowering and auspicious in Jyotish. In King’s chart the lords of both the 5th and 9th are located in the most powerful of the Angular houses, while his fiery 1st lord, Mars, is located in the 2nd house of speech.


The Artha Houses – 2, 6, 10

Artha, or ‘wealth’, is the material resources we need to support our incarnated experience of life. Simple and clear. This idea is very close to what western astrologers would see in the ‘Earth Houses’; these houses do indeed relate to practical aspects of life.

When Artha is viewed through the prism of the Four Aims of Life, it helps give a clearer perspective to what ‘wealth’ is when viewed in the context of the other aims of life. It is clear that we need stuff, but we aren’t stuff, and have other business here too. It puts materialism in its place.

The 2nd House represents both food and money or material possessions in Jyotish. Food is in fact the most fundamental material need we have, the most basic material support we require, and we typically meet this need with money.

In Jyotish the 2nd House is further associated with ‘family life’. One could, or should perhaps rather call it ‘household’. Your immediate social support. The people who not only break bread with you, but also nurture and protect you in other ways as part of your innermost circle. It could be argued that to eat bad food, and to lack household nurture, is a brand of ultimately material poverty.

The 2nd House is ‘speech’; your style of speaking, whether generally truthful or not, and, you know, ‘your word is your wand‘. The 2nd House is by extension also associated with listening, memory and learning; you ‘bank’ and store a greater wealth of information if you have a good retentive memory.

Understanding and managing your 2nd house Artha is more holistic than eyeing the numbers on your bank account.

The 6th house, being the house of work and service, and by extension servants or employees, is where we earn our daily bread through the rigours of developing and applying useful skills. Our work needs to meet a certain standard to be of any use. It’s exacting. It is practical apprenticeship, compared to the honour and worldly authority of the 10th house. The 6th house can get you down if you don’t like being dynamic and efficient and can’t make yourself useful. Everyone sooner or later has to earn their keep.

There is an element of struggle in the 6th house, to a greater degree than with either of the other two Artha houses. Illness, accidents and enemies may here threaten our fortress. We have to meet these contingencies with fortitude, vigour, commitment and skill. The sterner malefic planets, in fact, yield useful results in the 6th house – wilting wallflowers and shrinking violets need not apply! Benefics struggle here, at least for at time, but ultimately improve due to the 6th house instinct for fixing and adjusting.

If you can manage crisis, and get the dirty work done, and conquer or subdue your enemies, and be ‘early to bed and early to rise’, you safeguard your kingdom and your Artha remains secured.

The 10th house is in a sense the highest or consummate expression of Artha. The ‘Arthashastra‘, an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, is essentially a handbook for those who attain to a full embodiment or mastery of what the 10th house represents: Political power, fame and social influence that can impact the lives of many. A brief perusal of this old tome of practical wisdom reminds one of how well one needs to know the world, society, and people, to manage Artha at that exalted level. You have to build bridges, wage war, wage diplomacy, uncover intrigue and conquer hidden enemies, grow the treasury. It’s a full time job, and I can well believe that it might in a civilized society eventually come with a manual.

If we are not at the very pinnacle of worldly power and influence, the 10th house will represent those who stand above us in the social hierarchy, and upon whose goodwill our Artha may substantially depend; the elders and authorities of our social organization. Our 10th house Artha represents the respect, recognition and honor we can gain as a ‘citizen in good standing with the state’. This good standing is achieved, at it’s most basic level, by diligent execution of duty, obeying the rules, and making yourself somewhat useful to society. This earns you a certain amount of protection and rights within ‘the kingdom’.

At a higher level you have a career that requires harder work, or greater skill, something fairly specialized, important and respected socially, and therefore as a doctor, lawyer, judge or military general, for example, your status ensures that you will enjoy a level of preferential treatment.

If we are able to rise head and shoulders above others through our ambition, self mastery and effort, and successfully undertake great works for the benefit of many, we are recognized, if not celebrated far and wide. If 10th House Artha is mastered, then, inasmuch as it is the highest of the artha houses, we as a matter of course tend to eat fine foods, our words are edicts or become public discourse, and we are spared much 6th house type subservience, rigor and dirty work. This would strictly speaking only really be possible, in it’s fullest expression, if all three artha houses are strong, but a strong 10th house can do a lot to ameliorate deficiencies in the 2nd and 6th houses.

Muhammad Ali, someone who rose to tremendous heights of fame and influence through his career achievements, has Mars in the 10th house in Aries in his Jyotish chart. His 10th house is enormously bolstered by this fact alone, and indeed, as Mars would have it, he was famous as a fighter.


In Muhammad Ali’s chart Mars is lord of the 5th in the 10th which, adding a further layer of ‘luck’ and ‘authentic self-individuation’ to what his strong Mars in the 10th indicates. For every Cancer Ascendant Mars is the ‘Raja Yoga Karaka‘, or ‘kingly power significator’, and thus a temporary benefic, due to it’s lordship of one Angular and one Dharma house (or Kona).

In short, Ali’s Artha was tremendously bolstered by his strong 10th house, even though Rahu in the 2nd House (‘bad mouthing’, household disruptions), and Saturn’s debilitation in the 10th house (problems with authorities), may have blighted his overall Artha package slightly.


Leonardo da Vinci has, in his Jyotish chart, an exalted Sun in Aries in the 6th house, as lord of the 10th house (which already says a whole lot about him). Both the 6th and 10th benefit so far. The lord of the 6th house is exalted Mars in Capricorn in the 3rd house.

Jupiter, lord of the 2nd house, is comfortable enough in the 4th house, and is Conjunct 9th house lord Moon. The Moon and Jupiter, as two natural and temporal benefics (being lords of the 9th and 5th respectively), aspect the unoccupied 10th house with beneficial influence, supporting his social prestige and status.

Leonardo da Vinci was a meticulous, but also a bold and pioneering worker. He believed in his own practical ability, and he gained opportunities to demonstrate it:

‘In 1482, he earned the attention of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, when he wrote that he could build portable bridges and bombardments, make cannons and other war machines of the day, build ships, and sculpt using a variety of materials. In the Duke’s service, he became a principal engineer and architect for many of the Duke’s military operations and, in 1502, after the Sforzas were driven out of Milan, Leonardo entered the service of Cesare Borgia as his chief architect and engineer, overseeing work on the fortresses of the papal territories in central Italy.’

Gordon Ramsay, we know, is capable of producing and regularly savours the finest foods in the world. It is almost patently obvious from his Jyotish chart at a glance, what with exalted Jupiter in the 2nd house of food and all. Jupiter is lord of the 10th – he’s famous for it! Occasionally, when he’s done giving some young would be chef the third degree for gross and disgusting inefficiency, and he’s whipped everyone into shape, he utters words of counsel and encouragement to his hapless apprentices and reality tv victims.


This tension and aggression, and the rather terse expressions he has been known to utter when he pours his scorn and derision on fools who f*ck up, is clearly shown in the Ascendant lord, Mercury, being located in the 6th house, in Scorpio (and then there’s also the debilitated Sun in Libra in the 5th which can have issues around co-operation vs. authority and dominance).

The Kama Houses – 3, 7, 11

While the 3rd, 7th and 11th houses are indeed, as Rob Hand designates them in Horoscope Symbols, ‘social houses’, a theme which is commonly associated with the air element, the Jyotish attribution of Kama, or desire, to this triplicity, reveals a further underlying theme among these houses that is not apparent from western astrology’s usual take.

The 3rd house represents our immediate or short term desires. These require an almost instantaneous gratification and invoke our physical dexterity (the use of our arms or limbs), our communication skills, and also our courage, to achieve their fulfilment. The 3rd house thus shows ‘prowess‘. In Jyotish, performing arts is an important 3rd house theme; performance requires of one to be very agile, expressive and motivated. Apathy gets you nowhere, and is the antithesis of 3rd house kama.

The well known Kama Sutra, you will agree, is essentially a manual for effective execution of 7th house matters? Well, at least in terms of the more physical and overt meanings of the 7th house. The desire for a mate drives us at a primal level, like a deep obsessive longing. As the reflection of the 1st house, the 7th house can be the missing half of the 1st house. We’re not quite ourselves until we complete that search.

If it’s not going to be a mate, we can’t evade the fact that there is this otherness that will periodically crystalize into form as someone or some thing that we need to face, and embrace, or come to terms with. You will sooner or later deeply desire, for example, the services of doctor, or lawyer to help you meet life’s vicissitudes. They really can complement you at that the right time. You’d be a fool not to seek and court them. We cannot be all thing unto ourselves.

Although Jyotish typically takes the 6th house as the house of ‘enemies’, the 7th house can certainly manifest as those we need to confront and encounter in a more competitive way. Even competitors are potentially our complement, or indispensable other half, in that through meeting the challenge they pose successfully, our all important 1st house, or self, is validated, vindicated and satisfied.

The 11th house, western astrology teaches, is the house of ‘hopes and wishes’. This resonates closely with the Jyotish notion that the 11th House represents your longer term life goals, or longer term desires. The 11th house may thus reveal the nature of your longer range life objectives, and your ability to realize them. We become gradually more and more empowered in wielding the faculties or energies associated with planets in our 11th house, since they represent the person we want to become, or the things we wish to grow and cultivate in ourselves and our life experience in the future.

It is interesting to note that all three Hitler’s Kama houses are strong. Two of them, the 3rd and 7th, contain their own lords, while the 11th lord, Sun, is exalted in an angular house, with a powerful dispositor.


Jupiter in Jyotish aspects the 5th and 9th house from it’s position. Something, loosely, like a trine. It therefore blesses the entire triplicity it occupies. The 3rd House benefits from the occupancy of Jupiter, it’s own lord, and both the 7th and 11th gain strength from the aspect of Jupiter to both these houses directly, and then also to their lords. Hitler had no deficiency of Kama.

I don’t mean to suggest only villians do Kama well, but look at the chart of Aleister Crowley. The notorious magician who not only had countless affairs and sexual intrigues with people of both sexes. He practised sex magic with zeal, hiring prostitutes for the purpose if he was not able to seduce suitable candidates.


Here Mars and Saturn are located in the 7th, and both are very strong by sign. Saturn is lord of the 7th in the 7th, so that in itself somewhat protects and empowers it, which means he could fulfil much 7th house Kama. However, Jyotish associates both Mars and Saturn in the 7th, each on their own, as potentially indicative of sexual excess and impropriety, which by all accounts, he achieved.

His Sun in the 3rd house contributed to his high energy level and enthusiasm, his theatrical interests and abilities, as well as his curiosity and courage.

The Moksha Houses – 4, 8, 12

The word ‘Moksha‘ is normally translated as ‘final liberation’. It is associated with the destination of the soul after death, and generally the hidden world beyond the physical plane, and our relationship to it. It’s best exponents, those who have mastered and attained this aim of life in full measure, may be anonymous to us, since they would seek little in the way of public life and external validation.

Even on a more everyday level, the realm of Moksha, as described in our natal charts, deals with some of the most elusive and intangible inner experiences we can have. We rarely fully understand them or possess the faculties and resources to clearly see their workings.

On the surface the 4th house relates to the most mundane and accessible manifestation of this ‘Watery Triad’ and its essentially spiritual concerns. The mother, one of the 4th House’s most basic meanings, with her womb creates a bridge between worlds.

Symbolically at least, the Sun finds itself in the 4th house at midnight, when all are asleep in the shelter of their homes, in that mini-death that follows and precedes every day of outer waking activity. It is in this daily womb experience that we are restored, rebuilt, and prepared for our daytime reincarnation.

At a stretch, poetically, we could possibly say the 4th house represents a primal cosmic umbilical chord, stretching right up to the great Cosmic Mother. We emerge life after life, and day after day, from this mysterious hidden source.

The 8th house is persistently associated with death, even though in both the Western and Vedic traditions there are references to the 7th house being the house of death. It is certainly true that the 8th house has a fateful and calamitous quality. It can be highly destructive of conditions that support our physical or psychological equilibrium, but then, as the aghori Vimalananda put it, ‘Moksha is the dissolution of your delusion‘, and your delusion may at times be enabled by pleasant circumstances. It is also a place that is more distinctly associated with the world of departed souls, and our own awareness of such perplexing mysteries as our own mortality. The deepest, darkest recesses of the psyche, and the very secrets of the universe, are bound up in the 8th house, and it takes the likes of psychologists, shamans, astrologers and occultists, to penetrate through the veils.

When stark truths and fears are courageously faced, when we can cut our losses and rise from the ashes of our own destruction, whether in this world or the next, we win thereby one more grain of conscious immortality- which is certainly a brand of ‘Moksha’. Many healers who have survived 8th house trials and tribulations eventually guide and encourage others with the light of this glowing ember of ‘phoenix medicine’.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and also wiser, one might hope, inasmuch as one hallmark of wisdom is a recognition of the ephemeral nature of our outer life and circumstances, or the ‘cosmic maya’ that enthrals the spiritually blind. A wisdom leading naturally to a deeper trust and reliance on those things that are most real but least visible, in the world of appearances.

The 12th house is, not unlike the 8th house, one of loss, limitation and bondage, as far as outer appearances go. We here have to surrender to forces and laws of the cosmos far beyond our grasp and control. Yet potentially through the 12th house paths of meditation or monastic seclusion, or sacrificial spiritual service, we may attain to that true inner peace and serenity ‘that passeth all understanding‘. The ultimate experience of Moksha is this transcendental bliss.

It is in fact true that Jyotish sees through the 12th House the texture of the private realm of the bedroom, bed pleasures, and thus this house also reveals our capacity to ‘surrender to bliss’ in that everyday aspect of our lives.

It is written that the 12th house, in particular, shows the destination of the soul after death. Who can evaluate the accuracy of this? I can’t, but if it is to be shown anywhere, the 12th house would be a fitting choice. Here’s to you not finding any hot and bothered looking planets in your charts’ 12th!

Dharma, Artha and Kama, or at least our cycle of incarnated experience of them and possible attachment to them, must ultimately be dissolved in the ocean of Moksha, until the worlds once more are bridged, and preparation for a new cycle begins.

Parahamahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, and author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of Yogi, has a Leo Ascendant in his Jyotish chart, with Moon, lord of the 12th house located in the 1st house.

Venus is in the 4th house, while Mars and Jupiter both occupy the 8th house in the sign Pisces. This 8th house of his is especially strong since Jupiter is a benefic, and lord of the 8th in the 8th. Moreover, Mars is Raja Yoga Karaka, or a powerful temporary benefic for the Leo Ascendant, and so is capable of yielding beneficial results in the realm of its house location.

Yogananda brought ‘kriya yoga‘, an ancient and hitherto secret form of yogic meditation, to the west. His famous book has proved to have perennial appeal, and still fans the flames of aspiration in the hearts of spiritual seekers across the globe. There is an entire chapter in Autobiography of a Yogi, entitled, Outwitting the Stars, in which Yogananada’s guru, himself an astrologer, prescribes an astrological bracelet to protect him from a period of impending illness, and, in response to Yogananda’s scepticism, eloquently explains where astrology fits into the scheme of things.

Reading Yogananda’s extraordinary book gives glimpses into a world of miracles and magic that few people can present quite so convincingly. He died after a long and fruitful life as a spiritual teacher. His corpse was unusual in that it did not decay at anything like the usual rate.

A notarized statement signed by the Director of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park testified:

No physical disintegration was visible in his body even twenty days after death….This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one ….Yogananda’s body was apparently in a phenomenal state of immutability.

Yogananda records meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, and initiating him into the kriya yoga technique, at Gandhi’s request.


Mahatma Gandhi’s own chart shows the Sun located in the 12th house, pointing to a distinct inner orientation in Gandhi’s life, despite the fame and worldly power he attained (thanks in part to powerfully placed 1st and 10th lords in his Jyotish chart). He was imprisoned on many occasions, and embraced these times of relative quiet and seclusion to work on correspondence, or for reflection.

There are principles of Jyotish chart interpretation that I have not employed in these case studies, to keep it simple, but which would be part of a more complete and sophisticated assessment of a person’s capacity to achieve the Four Aims of Life in good measure.

I’m thinking in particular about the principle of ‘Bhava Karakas‘. We could call this ‘planets as house significators‘. Mars, for example, is for everyone the Karaka or significator for the 3rd and 6th houses. Mars does not have to be associated with these houses by occupancy or rulership to have this status, but the condition of Mars will have an impact or bearing on the ability of these houses to flourish. The tremendous potency of Mars in Muhammad Ali and Adolf Hitler’s charts (being in its own sign and angular by house placement in both instances), elevated their 3rd and 6th houses (and thus kama and artha respectively) substantially by this dignity, despite no direct link to these houses by occupancy or lordship. An article on another choice morsel of Jyotish method, for another day.

As Sri Yukteswar explained to Paramhansa Yogananda, in their conversation about astrology immortalized in Yogananda’s autobiography, ‘only when a traveler has reached his destination is justified in discarding his maps‘. Astrology can be just that for us; a map to guide us on this often beguiling journey through life. Understanding the Four Aims of Life in the context of the houses of the horoscope helps us orientate in each of these important aspects of living.