Sunday, May 24, 2009


From time immemorial, astrology has evolved as the study of the influences of planetary bodies on human life. Until the 18th century, astrology was focused on the Sun and Moon and other visible planetary bodies moving across the sky. In recent times, other more distant bodies, invisible to the naked human eye, have been discovered in our solar system. These bodies have increasingly found their way into the practice of astrology in the Western world based on the adoption of metastories from Greek mythology mixed with insights from modern psychological theories. This article offers a closer look at these bodies and implications for astrological practice. The article is offered as an eye-opener to those seeking greater interpretative and predictive accuracy.

The visible planetary bodies
Without the benefit of telescopes, astrologers and astronomers of yore relied on their obeservations of the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Calculated invisible points of the Moon's nodes (Rahu and Ketu) were also studied due to their importance in explaining the astronomical phenomena of precession of the equinoxes and solar and lunar eclipses. In the ancient Western world, Hellenic and Roman astrology evolved based on the visible bodies as was the case in the Eastern world with Vedic astrology. The accompanying photo shows some of the visible planets in the early morning sky. Of note are Mercury and Mars who are faintly visible over the horizon to the right.

Scientific advances
With advances in the science of telescopy, astronomers were able to discover other more distant bodies in our solar system, beyond the orbit of Saturn. In the fateful year of 1781, the planet Uranus was discovered. It is one-third the size of Jupiter but over four times as far from the Earth. Being also less than half the size of Saturn, Uranus is not visible to the human eye in the night sky. In 1801, puny Ceres in the Asteroid belt was discovered. It is one-fourth the size of our Moon, but much closer to Earth than Jupiter. In 1846, Neptune was discovered, which is similar in size to Uranus but almost twice as far from the Earth. Very distant dwarf planetary bodies have also been discovered. In 1930, the dwarf body of icy Pluto was discovered. It is around one-hundred thousand times smaller than Jupiter and over nine times as far from the Earth. The much smaller Sedna was discovered in 2003 at a 21 fold distance from Earth compared to Jupiter. Eris was then discovered in 2005, with similar features. Clearly, these tiny planetary bodies are way, way out there.

Size and distance determine visibility
The Earth is 12800 km in diameter and 150 million km (1 Astronomical Unit, AU) from the Sun. The Moon is 3475 km in diameter and only 385.000 km from the Earth. Aside from the Sun, the Moon is the largest disc to be seen from Earth, but only when it reflects the light of the Sun. The Sun is 1.4 million km in diameter and 150 million km from the Earth. It is the light- and life-giver in our solar system and the most clearly visible body by far. Of the other reflective bodies, Venus is 12000 km in diameter and 42 million km (0.3 AUs) from the Earth. It is the most visible of the planets. Mercury is under 5000 km in diameter and 92 million km (0.6 AUs) from the Earth. As Mercury and Venus are in an inferior orbit to that of Earth, their visibility also depends on their distance from the sun in orbit. Mars is 6800 km in diameter and 78 million km (0.5 AUs) from the Earth. The "Red planet" is beyond the orbit of the Earth but clearly visible. Jupiter is 143000 km in diameter, one hundred times smaller than the Sun, and 630 million km (4.2 AUs) from the Earth. Due to it being by far the largest planet in the solar system, it is more visible than the smaller planets closer to Earth, excluding the planet closest to us, Venus. Saturn, which is 120000 km in diameter, close in size to that of Jupiter but twice as far from the Earth, or 1.3 billion km (8.3 AUs), is also visible in the night sky.

By comparison, Uranus is 51000 km in diameter and 2.8 billion km (18 AUs) from the Earth and Neptune is 50000 km in diameter and 4.3 billion km (29 AUs) from the Earth. Neither of these planets is visible. Pluto is 2250 km in diameter and 5.7 billion km (39 AUs) away from the Earth, while Sedna has a diameter of 1800 km and is 89 AUs away. These dwarfs are not even easily detected with telescopes. Ceres is in the asteroid belt and is 900 km in diameter and 295 million km from the Earth. It is not visible, even if much closer.

The moon's of Jupiter and Saturn
We can also consider that there are many moon's in our solar system that are larger than the distant dwarfs and some are larger than Mercury, which is 5000 km in diameter! Compared to our own Moon, which is 3475 km in diameter, the moon’s of Jupiter, are quite large. Ganymede is 5260 km, Callisto 4800 km, Io 3630 km and Europa is 3140 km in diameter. Gallileo discovered these moon's in 1610 using a primitive telescope. Of Saturn’s moon’s, Titan is 5150 km in diameter and Triton is 2700 km. These moon's are also much closer to the Earth than the distant dwarfs but much further away than Mercury. Given their size and distance from Earth, these Moon's are far from visible on Earth. The close proximity of these moons to giants of the solar system likely has an effect to eclipse their influence on Earth.

Causality in astrology
Astrology has evolved over time as a symbolic language of the influences of the planets and the cosmos. Even if astrology is based on the influence of planetary bodies on human life, little is known about the actual causal mechanism. We do not know how the cosmic is having an effect on our experience in life or how it motivates our actions. It is a mistery, just like the law of karma is a mystery. However, we do know that the planets differ in size and distance, which affects their visibility or the pull of gravity on Earth. Moreover, we know that various influences have been detected through observation of human life by astrologers over thousands of years. At the same time, astrology is an extremely difficult field of inquiry as the stellar influences are highly complex. This makes it very challenging to isolate individual influences. That said, much progress has been made, such as embodied in the evolution of Vedic astrology, which is an integrated body of knowledge. One of the purest forms of Vedic astrology is the
Systems' Approach, which has endeavoured to rid the age old astrology of accumulated contradictions and confusions, making it also easier to learn this ancient system of astrology.

Gravitational force

Gravitation, as a force of nature, is not commonly well understood except in terms of what we experience here on Earth. In fact, gravitational force is considered a weak force in the universe. With enough thrust, we can escape from Earths gravitational field. That said, it is a sufficiently strong force for the Sun to keep other bodies in orbit and for planetary bodies to affect each other in orbit. The formula for gravitation force (F) between planetary bodies is

F = G * (M1 * M2/R*2)

the gravitational constant (G) multiplied by the product of the mass of two planets (M) divided by the distance between them (R) squared. The sub-scripts 1 or 2 indicate the planets.

A calculation of visibility
The attached table shows, the diameter of the planetary bodies and their distance from Earth, as well as a calculation of visibility. In the calculation we replace the planet's mass with its diameter. The results are broadly comparable to a calculation of gravitational forces. As the product of the mass of two planets is not used, the distance between the planets is not multiplied by itself. The table shows the ratio, which gives an indication of the range of influence, going from the highly visible Moon and Sun to the completly invisible distant dwarf bodies.

The accompanying graph shows that aside from the Sun and Moon, Venus is the most visible of the planetary bodies, followed by Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Mercury, in that order. It is Mercury that is seen to be on the margin of visibility due to its small size. By comparison, the other planetary bodies, the moon's of Jupiter and Saturn, the planets Neptune and Uranus and the outer dwarf bodies are far from visible. This brings up the valid question if planetary influences are to a given extent proportional to their visibility or gravitational influences.

The detour of Western astrology
It has not helped astrology, that its rebirth in the West in the late middle ages resulted in a major detour from its historical forerunners as explained in the article Roman astrology in the ascendant. The result is that Western astrology is no longer a study of the mostly visible phenomena. As such, it has become removed from its intuitive and simple beginnings. Too often, one finds that rather than being rules-based Western astrology has evolved into a veritable free for all. When it comes to chart interpretation, in general it can be said that Western astrologers feel free to point to different factors without sufficient logical consistency. This is quite different from the Systems' Approach of Vedic Astrology, which is both a comprehensive system and relies on a scientific approach to astrology. Below, we can see four features of Western astrology where it has taken a major detour from its historical origins.

  1. Wrong zodiac used: by not correcting for the precession of the equinoxes, the calculated tropical zodiac has lost its original moorings with the visible sidereal zodiac. The ancient Hellenistic astrologers knew about the precession and adjusted the zodiac for it (Holden, 1996). Since the early middle ages Western astrologers have systematically fixed the zodiac to the Vernal point, giving rise to the tropical zodiac. As a result, the zodiac of Western Astrology is moving with relation to the fixed stars such that it is now 24° removed from the visible sidereal zodiac.
  2. Overemphasis on the Sun: the Sun has now become the veritable 'fixed star' of Western astrology. The starting point of the reading is the sun sign without relation to the house the sign Leo falls into. Moreover, many Westerners view themselves as being e.g. a "Sun in Leo", when they are in most cases with "Sun in Cancer" as per the visible zodiac. That said, in Vedic SA astrology Sun is recognised for its importance and interpreted according to its functional nature. Moreover, when other planets are placed in Sun-Like Houses (2, 3 and 9) or the sign Leo, they are considered stronger.
  3. Ascendant logic lost: the practice of Horoscopic astrology has largely been lost in the West. Hellenic, Roman and Vedic astrology all place a primary emphasis on the Ascendant. People are considered Aries if they have this sign in the ascendant. In Horoscopic astrology the focus in not on the sun-sign. Associated with this is the important logic that each house and its lord have a functional rulership, which is either positive or negative in the chart.
  4. Use of irrelevant bodies?: the discovery of distant bodies invisible to the naked eye has resulted in these bodies being readily incorporated into the practice of Western astrology based on the assumption that differences in likely influences based on gravitational force or visibility do not matter. These bodies are given major import in chart interpretation. This is possibly an error in assumption but more research is required to settle the matter.
Is Western astrology too far out there?
Due to the above, Western astrology has evidently become a 'far out' art that has as a saving grace the original planetary influences. Some Western astrologers manage reasonably well despite this state of affairs. However, they labour at a disadvantage working with an astrology that has been stripped of the rising sign logic and the ordering or ranking of influences. Moreover, the horoscope interpretation is out of phase with the galactic background. Perhaps this explains why a majority of Western astrologers rarely emphasise accuracy of horoscopic interpretation or prediction. It seems many consider this original contribution of astrology, to make accurate predictions, as something that goes beyond what can reasonably be expecteted of today's astrology.

Science and astrology
It is a fact that modern Western scientists have, based on research of Western astrological practices, concluded that it is a 'pseudo-science' at best. This is a state of affairs that astrologers must confront. More importantly, Western astrology must find its way back into the academic research setting, as it has in India, where Vedic astrology (sk. Jyotish) is now being taught at the university level. The effort must be to get astrology 'back to basics' with the rigorous application of a scientific methodology. This is the only way to ensure that the symbolic language of astrology is built on a robust foundation. While the scientists have identified a weak spot, it is also true that in rejecting astrology based on superficial studies and a fundamental lack of understanding of the field they were studying, the scientists became guilty of prejudice. Their efforts to date have, regretfully, mostly been aimed at debunking astrology rather than exploring its potential. In other words, the scientists have already rejected the notion before researching it. Joseph Schumpeter termed such a bias the "pre-cognitive analytic act". Scientists, just like the astrologers, have a responsibility to determine the truth behind this age old knowledge of humanity. Scientists must perform their research into astrology with an open mind and knowledge of the detour of Western astrology.

It has been shown that planetary bodies in the solar system vary in terms of size and distance from the Earth. Some are visible to the naked eye while others are invisible. It is suggested that astrologers can usefully reconsider their astrological approach to see if what they assume is really correct in terms of accuracy of interpretation and prediction. Ultimately, if astrology is to have the kind of bright future that the visible cosmos invites it to have, astrologers must discard those techniques and assumptions that do not work. A good starting place for this inquiry is to carefully consider the likely importance of size and distance on astrological influences. A closer study of the historical origins of astrology is in order. Vedic astrology can be considered in this regard as it is the closest living relative to the astrology practiced in the ancient Greek and Roman world. More importantly, the final arbiter of the usefulnes of any form of astrology should be how accurate it is, both in terms of horoscope interpretation and prediction. If the predictions are based on clear logic and turn out to be accurate, the interpretations are likely also correct. If the predictions are not working out that well or easily explained in terms of astrological logic, then likely the horoscope interpretation is not of much value either. Vedic SA astrology is practiced consistently with the aim of accurate prediction and interpretation.

The views expressed are those of the author and should not be taken as the views of the Systems' Approach or its creator.

Gravitational force
Gravitational constant
Planets and their mass
Calculation of gravitation force
James H. Holden, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, 1996,M1
Astrology and science

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jupiter and the UK Parliament scandal

In SA Vedic astrology, the 10th house is seen to rule the parliament and law making. In the absence of a moolatrikona sign in the 10th house, we may look to Jupiter as a general indicator of the law givers.

In recent weeks, one of the biggest scandals in the history of the British Parliament has broken out. It is no surprise to find that Jupiter has become badly placed and highly afflicted in the national horoscope for the United Kingdom.

The immediate result of the crisis is that several members, who were seen to misuse the financial reimbursement scheme, were forced to resign. Meanwhile, other parliamentarians, who took advantage of the overly generous scheme but within the guidelines set, are seen to have their reputation tarnished. Below is a brief recounting of the crisis and the astrological influences in the 16° Virgo rising chart for the UK.

Expense reimbursements
The political scandal followed the disclosure of expenses by Members of the British Parliament (MP) which were later reimbursed to them. The report indicates misuse of the permitted allowances and expenses claimed by some MPs and attempts by MPs to exempt themselves from Freedom of Information legislation. In the United Kingdom MPs may claim expenses, including the cost of accommodation "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the performance of a Member’s parliamentary duties”

Gathering clouds
In January 2005, journalist Heather Brooke made a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the release of details of MPs' expenses claims. Although the request was allowed by an Information Tribunal, the House of Commons Authorities challenged the decision, as per the 2000 Act, on the grounds that it was "unlawfully intrusive". In May 2008, the English High Court ruled in favour of releasing the expenses claims. The House of Commons authorities announced that full publication of expenses would be made in July 2009, with certain information, which they deemed sensitive, being held back.

A crisis erupts in May 2009
On 8 May, 2009, The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which had obtained a full copy of the expenses record, began publishing this in daily installments. Highlights were given great coverage in the British media, with the findings being considered to show flagrant and sometimes gross misuse of the expenses system for personal gain by many MPs across all ranks and parties. As of 15 May 2009, major national newspapers such as The Times described the resulting controversy as "Parliament's darkest day" and a "full blown political crisis", reporting upon cross-party firings and resignations, an exodus of shamed MPs, the prospect of criminal or tax evasion charges, and a vote of no confidence being prepared against the Speaker.

On 19 May 2009, Michael Martin issued a statement that following criticism of his handling of the issue he would step down on 21 June 2009 and an election for a new Speaker will take place the following day, this being the first such removal in the United Kingdom (though John Trevor was removed from the then English House of Commons in 1695).
While not seen to have run afoul of the existing rules, the information published by the press revealed that Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, and Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, had made use of the generous provisions for financial reimbursement.

Astrology of the crisis
Jupiter is the general indicator for people of influence, including in the government, legislature or judiciary. In the 16° Virgo rising chart we can see the following:

The Mars-Saturn period is operating. It is well known in SA that periods of two functional malefic planets (Mars is 8th lord and Saturn is 6th lord for Virgo's) can be quite difficult. The influence of the period lords becomes important, especially of the sub-period lord, Saturn at this time.

With 6th lord Saturn natally placed in the 12th house, we can see the scope for financial scandals and losses.

In the chart, we can see that the dispositor of Saturn, 12th lord Sun, is placed at 19° Sagittarius. At this place, it afficts both the 4th house, owned by Jupiter, and the 10th house of the Cabinet and laws. This is suggestive of setbacks to the affected indications, especially when Jupiter as 4th lord is afflicted natally or in transit.

In recent months, transit Rahu in Capricorn and Ketu in Cancer have been moving over natal Jupiter at 10° 46' Cancer. This has created tension for the indications of Jupiter.

The scandal, however, broke out after transit 4th lord Jupiter had moved into Aquarius and the 6th house on 2 May, where it is badly placed and exactly opposite natal Saturn at 2° 17' Leo and the 12th house. In this position, Jupiter becomes weak and less capable to defend its indications. The influence of the sub-period lord Saturn and the influence of the 6th and 12th house placements is resulting in a lot of problems for legislators.

The scandal peaked around 19-23 May, when Jupiter was becoming exactly afflicted by natal Saturn. Adding to the tension at that time was the conjunction of transit 2nd lord Venus with natal Rahu at 22° 59' Pisces and the close affliction of transit 8th lord Mars at 28° Capricorn to natal 11th lord Moon in the 10th house. The Moon is also the dispositor of Jupiter making the situation even more difficult.

What can we expect for the months ahead?
The scandal may be revisited in some form as Jupiter in retrograde motion moves back over its opposition point with natal Saturn on 7 July 2009. Whatever tension is left from the crisis will then likely have greatly diminished as Jupiter moves into Capricorn on 31 July. However, when transit Jupiter becomes stationary at 23° 11' Capricorn in the Autumn months of 2009, where it will become exactly afflicted by natal Ketu at 22° 59' Virgo and 1st house, we can expect some significant problems for the indications of Jupiter at that time, possibly some sudden or violent event, consistent with the malefic nature of Ketu. If general elections are held in the UK this year, it will likely result in many sitting MPs being turned out by angry voters.

In sum, the scandal is clearly reflected in the period- and transit dynamics of the authentic chart for the United Kingdom.

Overview of the crisis
A list of the many parliamentarians involved
Speaker of the House of Commons quits due to scandal
Disclosure of expenses of British Members of Parliament
The Right Honourable Michael Martin, MP

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The impact of fast moving planets

Normally we look at the transits of stationary planets when examining major or significant events in the life of a country. As a result we often times miss seeing the impact of faster moving planets in transit in terms of the mundane horoscope. Sometimes the transit of fast moving planets show up in remarkable ways in the authentic horoscope of a national entity. Below we examine two very different examples.

The might of Mars
First, let us look at what was going on in Russia yesterday. On the 64th anniversary celebration of the victory over Germany, the Russian government staged an impressive military parade in the Red Square of Moscow. This event is described in the following news story:

Russia warns foes in Soviet-style show of might
"Russia on Saturday sternly warned its foes not to dare attempt any aggression against the country, as it put on a Soviet-style show of military might in Red Square including nuclear capable missiles...."Protecting the motherland is our holy duty, it is a moral foundation for all generations," said [President] Medvedev. "The future of Russia will be peaceful, happy and successful." Before handing over to Medvedev as president last year, Putin resurrected the Soviet practice -- dropped after Communism -- of having missiles and heavy tanks rumbling over the Red Square cobbles in front of Russia's leaders. Thousands of soldiers and more than 100 items of hardware featured in the Red Square parade, which was matched by similar demonstrations across Russia involving almost 30,000 troops, officials said. Thousands of soldiers marched past Medvedev and Putin, before dozens of heavy tanks, including the main T-90 battle tank and the Sprut self-propelled anti-tank gun, thundered through Red Square to the sound of martial music. There was a rare public showing for some of Russia's best known missile systems, including the S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missiles, the short range Iskander-M and the medium-range Buk. As in 2008, Russia proudly showed off a half dozen examples of its nuclear-capable Topol intercontinental ballistic missile which has a range of more than 10,000 kilometres (6,500 miles). Squadrons of fighter jets also flew over Red Square.
The parade was overseen by Defence Minister Anatoly Serdukov, a civilian ex-furniture salesman implementing a hugely controversial military reform to eliminate Soviet-era structures and prepare the army for modern warfare. "Greetings comrades! I congratulate you on the 64th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War," Serdukov, dressed in a suit, told the soldiers from an open-top car. [1]"

The transit and period influences in the chart clearly are consistent with such a major demonstration of Russian might:

The Moon-Venus period is operating. Moon as 2nd lord rules the wealth, status and relations with neighbors. Moon is well placed in the 3rd house of initiatives. Hence during the 10 year major period of the Moon (2001-2011) there is emphasis on such things. During the sub-period of 5th lord Venus (March 2009 - November 2010) , as Venus is badly placed in the 12th house but in its own sign of Taurus, Russia has some challenges to manage in foreign matters, including Nato military exercises in its back yard at this time. Nevertheless, the transits this weekend are very favourable and also reflect the nature of the event amazingly well:

- Transit 5th lord Venus exalted at 12° Pisces and 10th house of government is EXACTLY conjunct natal Mars (Indicator of the military)
- Transit 11th lord Mars at 19° Pisces and in the MEP of the 10th house is EXACTLY conjunct natal 3rd lord Sun (indicator of the President)
- Transit 3rd lord Sun at 25° Aries is exalted in the 11th house of hopes and goals (owned by Mars).
- Transit 2nd lord Moon was in Libra and 5th house of entertainment

In March 2009, I noted the stunning accuracy of predictions for Russia based on this chart, including both the nature and timing of the predictions.

The powerful Sun
Second, there is the event when George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the USA as provided for in the US Constitution, the second constitution of the country (replacing the Articles of Confederation), which created a more powerful office of US President. While the US Constitution entered into force on March 4, 1789, the country still lacked a President to wield those new federal powers for almost two months. At around 1:00 pm on April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath to become the first President of the USA under the new US Constitution. This event, which is considered an auspicious event in the history of the country, shows up very well in the SAMVA USA chart.

Of first reckoning is the fact that transit Sun is exalted at 19° 49' Aries. Importantly, it is excactly conjunct the MEP of the 10th house (at 20° Aries), which is fitting as the Sun represents the leader of the country and the 10th house represents the government. Adding to that, transit 10th lord Mars was at 22° 37' Pisces in close conjunction with the MEP of the 9th house. Making the event signal a new direction under new leadership for the country. Transit 3rd lord Mercury and transit 4th lord Venus were also placed in the 10th house.

Interestingly, the longer term direction is shown by the Moon- Mercury period being in operation at that time. The major period revealed a heightened sense of self, as Moon is 1st lord. Washington wanted the US to turn inward and focus on developing itself. The sub-period of Mercury as 3rd lord placed the focus on improving the effectiveness of collective action, notably in the foreign policy arena, given the natal location of Mercury and Sun in the 7th house.
While the US Constitution divides foreign policy powers between the President and the Congress so that both share in the making of foreign policy, the President early on took the lead in formulating and conducting foreign policy, consistent with the placement of Sun in the 7th house.
Of primary importance to President Washington was to define America's proper relationship with the rest of the world. How to secure American interests - especially those related to the nation's security and prosperity. He defined the objective as to “gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.”[2]

In sum, we can note the times when fast moving planets, i.e. the Sun, Mars, Venus or Mercury, serving as functional benefic planets according to the ascending sign (in the sidereal zodiac) and powerfully placed in transit and well supported, can bring quite auspicious or memorable events - within the framework of longer term trends.

[1] Russia warns foes in Soviet-style show of might
May 9 07:20 AM US/Eastern

[2] George Washington's Farewell Address 1796