As my work becomes more inspired and informed by Vedic Astrology, I am receiving questions from clients asking about what it really is.
As such, below are some frequently asked first questions which you might be pondering too. I am hopeful that this post will be informative!
And if I miss a question that you are hoping to have answered, please consider adding it into the comments so that it can be included in a future blog post.
Q1: What is vedic astrology? How is it similar to/different from astronomy?
Let’s start with the second question first.
Astronomy is an area of science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It is one of the oldest natural sciences, practiced globally by the earliest civilizations in recorded history.
Vedic Astrology is the fusion of astronomy into the cultural understandings and ways of living in ancient India.
Jyotiṣa (can be pronounced JYO-tish-ah, or JYO-tish) is the Sanskrit word for Vedic Astrology, and it means ‘the science of light.’ The earliest records of Jyotiṣa can be found in the Vedas (the cultural records of ancient India).
It is important to note that Vedic Astrology has always remained true to astronomy and the ‘living sky.’ This means that you can download an astronomy app like SkyView Lite and confirm the placement of the planets in relation to the constellations that Vedic astrologers are sharing.
This is not always possible with western astrological calculations, which use an Earth-centered zodiac. You can read more about the differences between these two methods for calculating astrology in the blog post linked below.
Q2: Why care about vedic astrology?
This is an in-depth video response to this question, answered by Vedic astrologer, author and teacher Komilla Sutton.
If you are looking for a highlight reel, these are the reasons from Komilla’s presentation that resonate for me about why Vedic Astrology is such an incredible tool:
- Jyotiṣa is a path to self-knowledge that helps you to understand who you are; the light of knowledge (remember, Jyotiṣa is the study of light) dispels ignorance.
- Recognizing your Inner Light gives you the opportunity to look deeper within your consciousness, to be in touch with your real Self.
- Jyotiṣa assists in the understanding of the fruits of your karma (detrimental and helpful), what you bring into this life, and how to deal with the predisposed issues of life. This is revealed through your Birth Chart.
- Every person is – in their nature – perfect and pure. However, this is obscured by the planets at birth as well as the planets that influence one’s daily experience. You can understand your karma through the language of planets.
- Karma is the action and reaction of both past and present lives. All unaddressed actions/reactions need to be reconciled. When we don’t practice reconciliation, we get caught up in the illusion of life and produce more karma. Only when all karma has been reconciled does the cycle of reincarnation cease.
- You have the opportunity to exercise choice through right action in order to influence your future. You can improve your life and sort out situations; you do not have to be stuck in your past karma.
- This is not only about destiny; it is about understanding your destiny so that you can do something about it.
- The key to a happy life is understanding how to deal with the karma that you are born with.
- The planets (graha-s) left on their own are grasping you. The knowledge of Jyotiṣa allows you to take responsibility and bring your karmic experience within the control of your practice.
- This life is very precious; Jyotiṣa gives you the opportunity to be informed and choose to do things to develop and improve yourself.
Want another reason to care about Vedic Astrology? For all the Yogi’s out there, in the Vedas alongside the writings of Jyotiṣa are the writings of Yoga (moral philosophy). Yoga shows us how to live and what to aim for, and Jyotiṣa illuminates what could get in our way and what could help us on this journey. Together, they make a great pairing!
Q3: How can I start to explore vedic astrology?
This body of knowledge is incredibly vast, detailed and nuanced; one could easily feel overwhelmed from a quick Google search. A relatively approachable entry point could be through working with the lunar calendar.
The lunar calendar is an astronomy-based calendar that follows the cycles of the Moon, spanning approximately 29.5 days each (aka, a Moonth 😉 or a lunation). The phases of the Moon within each cycle are created by the interaction between the Moon and the Sun, with the light growing on the face of the Moon during the ‘waxing’ period (approximately 2 weeks) leading up to the Full Moon, and the light disappearing from the face of the Moon during the ‘waning’ period (approximately 2 weeks) as we approach the New Moon.
What does the lunar cycle have to do with Vedic Astrology?
In Vedic Astrology, the Sun is an external representation of your power – your will, confidence and courage. The Moon is an external representation of your mind – your feeling nature, your psyche, intuition and sense of connection.
From our view on Earth, at each New Moon, the Sun and Moon meet within a 30 degree section of the sky associated with a particular constellation. This means that your power and your psyche are aligned with the energy of this constellation, activating unique karmas and initiating a uniquely potent time to practice Yoga (philosophy) within the backdrop of a section of the sky that only comes around once each year.
Familiarizing yourself with the lunar cycle will naturally begin the process of familiarization with the planets, the signs, the houses, and other astrological concepts.
Q4: Why pay attention to the lunar cycle?
Why not? The Moon’s effect on the Earth is clear; with the power to shift water from coast to coast, it follows that the Moon could have an effect on humans as well, being made almost entirely of water ourselves.
When adding in cultural considerations, the teachings of the lunar cycle offer a reprieve from the constant action that is expected under the system of western imperialism.
The lunar calendar offers a rhythmic to approach living life that balances
- action, increasing momentum and production (the ‘waxing’ portion of the cycle) with
- reflection, decreasing momentum and integration (the ‘waning’ portion of the cycle).
Once you get into the rhythm, you might find that it can be a more sustainable and holistic approach to living life than what you may have been taught by domination culture.
Q5: Can you tell me more about this rhythm?
Here I’ll speak to two of the multiple layers that are at play in the sky above.
At a high level, we are part of the rhythm of the Nirayana Cakra, aka the sidereal zodiac. In this zodiac, there are twelve constellations, each of which is attributed to a 30 degree section of the sky. Each constellation has a planetarry ruler that delivers a certain force which alternates between an active and reflective form. So as the Sun and the Moon meet in each constellation in the sky over the course of a year, each ~29.5 day cycle is characterized by an alternating rhythm of action and reflection.
Within this higher level rhythm of the zodiac is the rhythm of the lunar cycle itself.
It might be helpful to think of the four seasons as a metaphor for the lunar cycle. You can think of the New Moon – when the Sun and the Moon come together in the sky – as the time when winter is at its darkest. Life is dormant and still, waiting. Then, with some warmth coming into spring, dormant life gently starts to stir. When the growth process begins and energy is added, this is akin to the First Quarter lunar energy. As time goes on, summer is reached and the manifestation of the growth process is complete and visible in full expression; this can be equated with the Full Moon. And from here, as summer fades into fall, plants start losing their leaves and returning towards dormancy. This energy can be associated with the Last Quarter Moon, which carries us through the end of the cycle, only to circle back into the dark of winter at the New Moon phase.
In both the zodiac’s rhythm and the lunar rhythm, there is a natural flow of equal action and reflection. Like the ebb and flow of water along a shoreline.
This rhythm can act as a healing salve for people conditioned within the system of western imperialism, where action is heavily valued and reflection is often interpreted as weakness. It’s no wonder why burnout is such a prevalent phenomenon in domination culture today.
If you have found this interesting, please consider sharing it with the people you know by clicking one of the icons below. And stay tuned for more astrology-related blog posts in the future!