The three guṇas or triguna (Sanskrit: गुण) refer to three universal qualities or principles of energy movement which interact to help define the character of a person or a situation. The gunas are known as rajas, tamas, and sattva. They carry the positive, negative, and neutral charge in the torroidal magnetic field, which is the primary pattern of nature. In astrology, we often correlate the three gunas with the three modes/modalities of the signs (rashis).
The three modes show how the four elements of fire, earth, air and water are expressed through the twelve individual zodiac signs. As we study the gunas, it should be kept in mind that one guna is not better than another, but each has a balanced versus an imbalanced quality. Ultimately, our job is to harmonize all three gunas by bringing balance to body (tamas), mind (rajas) and soul or spirit (sattva).
The three modes of astrology and their relationship to the gunas are as follows:
1. Cardinal (Chara) – Dynamic, Action-oriented, Initiating; Conscious Mind: Rajas Guna ~ Aries-Cancer-Libra-Capricorn. Rajas can be symbolized by an erupting volcano.
2. Fixed (Sthira) – Stable, Determined, Unyielding; Unconscious Mind: Tamas Guna ~ Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius. Tamas can be symbolized by a tall mountain.
3. Mutable (Dwishwabhava or Dual) – Subtle, Transformative, Reflective, Superconscious mind: Sattva Guna ~ Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces. Sattva can be symbolized by a newborn baby.
There is actually some controversy over the magnetic charges of the gunas. My guruji Paramahansa Yogananda said that rajas has a neutral attribute that 1) activates the positively charged sattva to suppress negatively charged tamas, and 2) activates the negatively charged tamas to suppress positively charged sattva, all of which creates constant activity and motion. Hast Jyotishi Ghanshyam Singh Birla also says sattva is positive, tamas is negative and rajas is neutral.
However, Vedic astrology teacher Komilla Sutton says in The Essentials of Vedic Astrology that sattva/dual signs are negative, tamas/fixed are neutral and rajas/cardinal are positive! Vedic scholar David Frawley has written about two different schemes in his books and articles. In Polarity Therapy (one of my modalities as a healer), which is based on a yogic understanding of the human magnetic field, sattva is considered to be neutral, rajas is positive and tamas is negative. According to this theory, positively charged rajas emanates out of the neutral sattvic core as an expansive centrifugal force, and negatively charged tamas returns to the neutral sattvic core as a contractile centripetal force.
When I do an astrological consultation I measure the balance of the gunas through the placements of all the planetary bodies (grahas) in the signs to understand an individual’s typology. The gunas also play out in the grahas which we look to for deeper interpretation. For instance, Saturn is quite tamasic and this is especially so when Saturn is placed in a tamasic sign as it is now while transiting in sidereal Scorpio since last November 2014 and for the next few years. Following this idea and in another arrangement, the gunas can also be determined by the sign rulers instead of the signs, wherein tamasic signs are those ruled by tamasic grahas Mars and Saturn: Aries, Scorpio, Capricorn, Aquarius; rajasic signs are those ruled by rajasic grahas Venus and Mercury: Taurus, Gemini, Virgo and Libra; and sattvic signs are those ruled by sattvic grahas Moon, Sun and Jupiter: Cancer, Leo, Sagittarius and Pisces! Working with all these overlapping schemes and systems, it becomes quite clear that we are vast multidimensional beings who are not so easily categorized!
Within our natal and progressed horoscopes, we see a picture of our natural and evolving tendencies shown through the balance of the elements (energy and form) and gunas (movement of energy and form). In addition, as we monitor the transiting grahas, we see another picture showing how the karma of the collective is unfolding at this time, and then we can relate that back to our own personal situation as well, as we look to see how the transiting bodies are affecting our natal charts. (Please keep in mind that I use the sidereal zodiac of traditional Vedic and Babylonian astrology, not the tropical system used by most modern western astrologers).
Tamas guna (also called tamoguna) is very high on the planet now from November 17 and through at least the first week of December, as we have several planets transiting in tamasic rashis: Sun-Mercury-Saturn in Scorpio; Neptune in Aquarius; Jupiter in Leo; and every five days, the Moon transits for a few days through a tamasic sign too (it is in Aquarius now, and will be in Taurus next week for the full Moon, and so on).
Tamas guna can be solid, resistant, repressed, attached, denied, underactive and contracted. Tamas represents the earth, the physical body and the forces of inertia and gravity. Dr. Randolph Stone, founder of Polarity Therapy, said that a tamasic imbalance represents a “crystallizing effect of the subconscious mind as rigidity and fixation.” In other words, tamas in its most torpid state can be dark, violent, heavy, depressed, toxic and lazy. However, when tamas is in balance, its nature is persistent, reliable, stable, and strong.
The water element is also strong now, as we have tamasic South Node Ketu in Pisces and also (again) we have the strong Scorpio placements. Many of my clients are writing to tell me they are feeling heaviness. This tamasic energy explains it, and additionally, this is the tamasic season in the Northern Hemisphere as we spiral inward toward the Winter Solstice. It is the season of Going Within and Letting Go.
The tamasic fixed modality is similar to the water element, so strong water modality + strong water element can be a super-trigger to the parasympathetic nervous system which gives us our deep relaxation response. So if you are tired, please give yourself the gift of some good rest. But that’s not all we need. Moderate exercise is also helpful to raise some fiery energy (rajas) to help balance the tamas. And do some journaling, dream work, and/or work with a healer/therapist to help you uncover anything in your mental or emotional bodies that may be lurking beneath the surface and needing to be brought to light.
To further balance tamas guna, we can benefit from dispersive therapies that are forceful and deeply penetrating, like deep tissue massage or Rolfing if you like that. To further invoke the fiery mode to help balance tamas, meditate on fire in a fire pit, or fireplace, or even a candle; and also, take sauna or steam baths and get out in the sunshine.
Elimination is important now, so drink lots of warm or hot water and make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet. Minimize intake of junk (always), and try to avoid taking in tamasic foods and substances like meat, mushrooms, eggs, cheeses, drugs and alcohol and overcooked food or food that is older than a day.
Releasing the negative pole of the energetic body will help to move any stagnant tamasic energy, so get a foot massage, ionic foot detox, or simply massage your feet (especially before bedtime). Last but not least, remember, you are pure eternal spirit and have everything within you that you need to be able to bring balance to your own energetic system.