Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year! In the Vedic tradition of astrology, there are many different calendars and systems of reckoning time (kaala chakra). One of the most commonly used methods to determine the New Year is based on the astro-chart for the New Moon in Pisces, which occurs around the Spring Equinox every year, this year on March 22, 2012, at 10:37:05 AM in Washington, DC.  This chart is known as the Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. For anyone wanting to know more about the New Year chart, astrologer Steve Stuckey has written an outstanding article published by both Jyotish Star and Saptarishis Astrology.[i]

Samvatsara is a Sanskrit term for “year.” In the Vedic system, there are 60 samvatsaras. The South Indian calculations for the samvatsaras are different from those in North India, and there are also two different ways of ordering the years, but most astrologers today use Sage Varahamahira’s method.

Each samvatsara carries a particular essence that correlates with its Sanskrit name. Though the last three samvatsaras from 2009-2012 were somewhat taxing and challenging, this year’s is considered to be quite fortunate. It is known as Nandana Samvatsara, “the year which bestows joy.” Civilization can experience great progress through our evolving mass consciousness; greater humanitarian action and implementation of democratic ideals; and important scientific and technological achievements. The last Nandana Samvatsara occurred in 1952-1953, when Mother Teresa opened her Kalighat Home for the Dying; India had its first general elections; and the discovery of DNA’s molecular structure was announced by Watson and Crick.

Usually on or around the first day of the Lunar New Year, Hindu pandits will install the new calendar (panchanga) during a ceremony in which the year’s upcoming predictions are read aloud. I recommend two panchangas that offer a good deal of interesting information about the New Year ahead (linked below).[ii]

The Vedic New Moon/New Year chart is based on the moment when the Sun and Moon conjoin in Pisces once a year, which is at the very end of the 15th Amavasya Tithi Gandanta in the lunar month of Chaitra. Immediately after this moment of joining, the tithi (lunar day) changes to the 1st Shukla Pratipada. The tithi in effect at the next day’s sunrise marks the first day of the New Year; in this case, the next sunrise occurs on the day after the March 22 conjunction, on Friday-March 23 (and Friday is the day of Venus), so Venus becomes the Year Lord of this Lunar New Year (this and other mundane horoscopes are posted below).

Another sidereal chart used for reading the New Year is known as the Mesha Sankranti Chakra. This chart is erected for the moment when the Sun, supreme source of light in our solar system, moves into its exaltation sign of fiery Aries (sidereal). This chart determines the Minister (Mantri) of the Year. This year’s Mesha Sankranti occurs on a Friday too, April 13, 2012 at 9:48:59 EDT. Thus, Venus is not only the Lord but also the Minister of the Year. This is interesting especially as Venus is playing a very prominent astronomical and astrological role this year.

First, from April 2 until June 4, 2012, Venus will be traveling out of bounds (OOB), that is, in extreme declination north of the ecliptic (beyond 23N26’22”). When Venus, planet of harmony, wealth, beauty and love, is out of bounds, its essence can become more prominent in an almost exaggerated way. As Venus enters its OOB cycle, it aligns with the Pleiades (in sidereal Taurus). The Pleiades are the Seven Wives of the Seven Rishis who symbolize the divine mother archetype. According to ancient occult traditions, this asterism of stars has a very important role to play in the evolution of humanity. On a less harmonious mundane level, Venus OOB in Taurus can reflect economic volatility and intense passions and greed. Personally, this cycle can be a time when we are driven to re-examine our inner and outer relationships in a big way.

The other big news about Venus occurs on June 5 or 6 (depending on location), when quite a rare phenomenon will take place via the Venus occultation of the Sun, when the Sun and Venus align through three coordinates—declination, celestial latitude and celestial longitude. This according to Mayan prophecy indicates our global initiation into a much brighter new world consciousness. If you would like to read more about this unique and significant transit of Venus, I have posted three links for suggested Web sites below.[iii]

Venus is known as Sukra in Vedic astrology. When Sukra is the Lord of the Year, we are promised material and spiritual happiness as well as progress in the areas of peacekeeping, business, the arts and entertainment. When Sukra is Minister of the Year, we are promised more of the same helpful results. Additionally, Venus is the ruler or guardian of the USA New Year chart because it is the planet that rules Taurus, which is the sidereal rising sign. Taurus is the constellation associated with creativity and material reality. The nakshatra portion rising is Rohini, whose shakti is growth, creativity and abundance. It is said that heaven can descend to the earth plane through this asterism.

Ketu, the Moon’s South Node, is found very close to the Taurus ascendant at ~15 degrees. When rising in a chart like this, Ketu has a great influence and modifies the results of the whole chart quite significantly. In mundane astrology, Ketu is considered to have a blistering effect that can wreak havoc. He can symbolize earthquakes; tidal waves; comets and meteors; volcanic eruptions; war; intrigue; assassination; catastrophes; and epidemics. He represents the past and burns up karma. He can have a destabilizing and transformational effect on material matters but can also represent positive karma from the past. Ketu’s influence is most often quite surprising and unpredictable.

I feel that Ketu’s prominence in this chart may reflect Western culture’s current identity crisis. Ketu is considered to have benefic influence according to some systems of astrology, so one can hope for breakthroughs that open the way for a more positive future. Ketu in this chart is vargottama which means it is found in the same sign in the main rashi chart and the all-important ninth-harmonic (navamsha) chart. According to the Vedic astrology classics, vargottama malefics are not ultimately as harmful as they might have been otherwise; even though they reflect some challenging lessons, they usually reveal success over time. In addition, the ashtakavarga score for the first house of this chart is very high, which also enhances the more positive qualities of Ketu in this position. What might those be?

Sage Satyacharya is of the opinion that the Moon’s nodes/Rahu and Ketu have no effects of their own but produce the results of the planets joined with them, aspecting them or those in whose rashi or navamsha they are placed. Mostly, their nature is to be understood from the nature of their dispositors. In the case of Ketu’s dispositor, that would be Venus, which is located with Jupiter in the 12th house of the chart in sidereal Aries. Ketu and the 12th house both relate to moksha (enlightenment). So with the two benefics located here, there is potential for personal and collective breakthroughs in awareness, which can lead to a greater spiritual and humanitarian action (additional 12th house matters).

Further, Venus as the 6th lord and Jupiter as the 8th lord in the 12th house form a powerful Viparita (Vipreeta or Vipreet) Raja Yoga, which indicates a rapid rise to power and position at the expense or loss of others (through foreign investment or through enemy downfall, for example). Jupiter and Venus in the 12th house can also indicate huge government expansion projects. They are opposite (with a very wide orb) Saturn in Libra in the 6th house (health care matters), which mirrors the current US government drama over Obamacare. Based on this New Year chart, it does not look like there will be a simple or quick solution to this ongoing health care crisis; and certainly based on my surface analysis of this New Year chart, all is not as it appears with this health care dilemma.

Visual Astrologers Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg have an interesting take on the upcoming Venus transit through Taurus, denoting a theme similar to the one I have described related to Venus and Ketu in Taurus in the Lunar New Year chart:

By June, Venus disappears from view only to re-emerge a few weeks later as the Morning Star, growing bright until mid-August and early-September. As she emerges she will be sitting in the face of the Great Cosmic Bull – the stars of Taurus. This radiation of the Cosmic Bull implies that something will be destroyed or ruined but will then be re-cosmogised, reborn or remade afresh. The Assyrian priest Nergal-etir wrote that this implied a loss of the harvest, while Bel-le’i added that if Venus is bright it will be worse,       particularly if, ‘Ishta wears a silver crown!’ Translating this into a modern concept it could well mean yet again another crises in Europe over currency or another global stock market crisis – a harvest being destroyed in this period. This is a time when the heavenly patterns are indicating cosmogising – destroying to remake afresh. [iv]

Brady and Gunzburg discuss how they track the phases of Venus rather than using individual charts to make long-range predictions, as there are “larger patterns at work than reflected in the charts of individuals or nations…a hierarchy with the heavenly patterns overlaying the vacillations of transits or progressions to personal or national horoscopes.” Using their methods, they predict that Obama will return to the White House in the next election. [v]

The Pisces New Moon occurs in the 11th house (with Mercury, Uranus and Sun in Pisces) indicating this repeating theme of our increasing awareness of social responsibility. Uranus here can point to sudden and unexpected events in Congress as well as some valuable new legislation being passed and perhaps some beneficial reforms in the stock exchange. The unpredictable nature of Uranus may also relate to airline strikes; upheaval in the government; unrest and agitation among the people; and on a more constructive note, astonishing technological discoveries.

One example of the kind of breakthroughs in technology that we have already seen is that of James Cameron’s Challenger Deep record-breaking solo dive into the Marianas Trench a few days after the March New Moon. Billionaire Richard Branson is also planning to plunge the depths of the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean. What is fascinating as an astrologer is that Uranus transiting in Pisces now and conjunct the New Moon in the New Year chart indicates new discoveries (Uranus) related to the ocean (Pisces); and also Neptune (oceans) is culminating in this chart (10th house), revealing that we could hear a lot more about the ocean, particularly the deep sea environment and its exploration.

Neptune in the 10th house can symbolize scandals and intrigues among high government officials. Trading exports are said to suffer when Neptune culminates, though fishing and maritime businesses may prosper, and oil will continue to be king. Mars is in the 4th house of the chart where it often reflects unusual flooding and seismic events; and with its aspect to Neptune, Mars here can indicate record rains and floods and other kinds of disasters related to the ocean; oil, gas and mineral wells; shipping industries; or the Navy.

Saturn will continue transiting through its best exalted sign of Libra for most of the next year, though it will travel back into Virgo for a short period from May 18 to August 5. This period of Saturn’s return to late Virgo could signify some instability, especially during the weeks around the eclipses on May 20 and June 4. Of particular concern to me is the annular solar eclipse chart for May 20 which has Saturn exactly conjunct the ascendant at the critical 29th degree of Virgo over Los Angeles. I was thinking that this indicates some unsteadiness for Southern California, especially because in the LA eclipse chart, Mercury (ruler of the rising sign Virgo), is in the 8th house of difficulties and upheavals in late Aries and inconjunct (6/8) the 1st house of the chart. There is a mitigating influence however in that the 29th degree of Virgo aligns with the fixed star Spica, which symbolizes tremendous grace and good fortune.

This May 20 solar eclipse will extend from China and Japan to the USA northwest coast and down into New Mexico and Texas, and any of these areas could be especially highlighted in the coming year, most likely after the eclipses. I have posted the NASA Eclipse Web site link below to access more information about the path and details of this eclipse.[vi] The May 20 solar eclipse will occur in (sidereal) Taurus, and the June 4 lunar eclipse will occur in (sidereal) Scorpio, activating the Lunar New Year chart even more, triggering the most dominant and significant 1/7 axis of the chart. The eclipses are continuing to set off themes related to the 6th and 12th houses of the US Kelleher chart, which we have been experiencing since last autumn, as with the health care predicament; debt crisis; war; a cultural revolution; overwhelming economic struggles; as well as positive spiritual awakening.

Saturn’s transit in Libra is said to uplift the people and restore democratic ideals to the nation, though progress may seem quite slow at times. In the 6th house of the New Year chart (11th house of the Kelleher US chart), Saturn is in a great position to help us to set things straight, supporting social justice; redefining healthy living habits as well as our relationships; urging us to be more individually and cooperatively accountable and transparent; to simplify our lives, be more realistic; and, live more in accordance with moral principles and compassionate action. This follows the theme of the Taurus Rising New Year chart and the coming eclipse in Taurus which are all about grounding spiritual principles into material reality and truly questioning ourselves about what we need versus what we can let go of (it’s about how to s-i-m-p-l-i-f-y our lives).

On the New Moon of July 19, Mars and Uranus will square Pluto. The Pluto-Uranus square is a long-term transit, i.e., on and off for years. It began with a wide orb in 2009 and will last until 2017. However, most astrologers understand that when the planets are within a certain range of each other (orb), the influence of their aspects will intensify. From June 24 until September 19, Uranus and Pluto will near an exact square. This will happen again several times in 2013-2015. Throughout history, hard aspects like this between Pluto and Uranus have been associated with times of social upheaval, racial tension and cultural revolution. Things are heated up even more when Mars in Virgo exactly opposes Uranus in Pisces while both square Pluto in Sagittarius. This Mutable T-square with Pluto at the apex can indicate a time of radical social upheaval that stimulates transformation in the collective consciousness, especially as Uranus (revelation and revolution) is in the sidereal sign of transformational Pisces (sign of the underdog) and in a tense T-square with Pluto (indicator of death, cataclysms, propaganda, big business, nuclear energy and concentrations of immense wealth and power).

On August 15 at 6:35:14 EDT, Mars and Saturn will conjoin at 0 degrees of sidereal Libra. Mars and Saturn come together about every two years, and mundane astrologers use this conjunction chart to glean more information about the coming two years. This conjunction takes place within a close orb of 2 degrees of the Midheaven (MC) of the USA Kelleher chart, which symbolizes the government in power. The MC in a mundane chart can also symbolize the leader of our country as well as the way our nation projects itself or is perceived by the rest of the world. This conjunction of Mars and Saturn on this point can be a sign of power struggles and antagonism between various opposing forces, both nationally and internationally. We may need to be careful during the weeks before and after this conjunction as it can prompt dangerous terroristic events as well as storms, accidents, aggression, turmoil, conflict and interpersonal pressures.

Could the conjunction of Mars and Saturn on the USA chart’s MC mean more of the same dirty politics that we have come to expect in an election year? The issue here is that this conjunction will reverberate for the coming two years, so it may not bode well for our government’s ability to transcend party lines in order to make effective changes. Of further concern is that Mars and Saturn will form a tense Cardinal T-square pattern with Mercury in the 8th house and Pluto in the 2nd house of the USA Kelleher chart (these houses 2 and 8 deal with financial and economic matters). This transit suggests a possibility of some extreme events and possibly even a situation in which our nation’s President will have to take quick, effective and decisive executive action.

One mitigating factor to the Mars-Saturn conjunction on the USA MC is Spica again (which is within a degree of this conjunction of Mars and Saturn), indicating the potential for positive transformation through divine intervention (as Spica reveals certain “gifts to mankind”). Libra relates to the marketplace, relationships and cooperative ventures, and the 0 degree symbolizes an awakening and brand new direction, as well as (possibly) some dire need for political intervention between the USA and other part(s) of the world. Mundane astrologers believe that countries associated with the sign of Libra will have to weather some serious troubles in the next two years, including the possibility of wars, riots and the “murder of kings”. In mundane astrology, the Libra countries are usually considered to be Japan; Egypt; N. China; N. India and Tibet; Burma and Argentina.

Some good news is that there is a very special and auspicious event happening in one of the Vedic calendars, from August 18 to September 16, called Bhadrapad Adhika Masa, which means that there will be two lunar months in a row when the Sun will not transit to another sign, and when the New Moon will occur twice in the sidereal sign of Leo. This happens because of the difference between the solar and lunar calendars (365 versus 354 days per year), which means that every ~2.5 years, an extra (intercalary) lunar month needs to be added. During this fortunate time of the Nandana Year, special prayers and pujas are performed by the Hindu priests, thus enhancing harmony between the spiritual and material worlds.

Neptune has a lengthy transit in sidereal Aquarius from 2008-2023, and will conjunct the Aquarian Moon in the USA Kelleher (sidereal) chart in closest range in March 2012; August 2012; Jan. 2013 and in the fall of 2013. The Moon falls in the 3rd house of the USA chart, the realm of neighbors, transportation and communication in a mundane horoscope. The last time Neptune transited here (~165 years ago) was during the United States-Mexican War in 1847-1848, which was fought in large part over Mexico’s refusal to accept the United States annexation of Texas. Neptune has come full circle, yet here today we are waging another kind of war along the USA-Mexico border.

The USA Moon (the populace) in sidereal Aquarius (humanitarianism) being triggered by Neptune’s transit (idealism) can signify some movement toward socialistic ideals. In addition, this transit can reflect unemployment troubles and the fact that trade deficits are out of control; additionally, fraud in government and big business may continue coming to light through mainstream and alternative media. At the same time, one wonders if the Neptune transit of the Moon reveals our environmentally and emotionally stressed and toxic world and a collective awakening about this and some of the other massive social and environmental issues that we face.

From March 28 to July 31, Venus and Ketu will transit together in Taurus. One of the greatest peacemakers in history was born with Venus and Ketu conjunct in Taurus…that would be Nelson Mandela, who said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Venus and Ketu in Taurus can have quite a harmonious impact on the world at large. Venus is the graha /planet that signifies harmony, diplomacy, compromise, beauty and balance, and Ketu magnifies these qualities. I once heard a Nadi astrologer say that when Venus is with Ketu in Venus’s sign (Taurus or Libra), this acts like a very auspicious combination of three exalted planets, reflecting quite a bit of good fortune and positive vibrations. It also can be a combination that is over-the-top in terms of materialistic desires and monetary gains, as the exalted planets are said to embody masculine energy that controls and dominates in a worldly sense.

From May 17 when Jupiter enters Taurus, the aforementioned may be more true, as Venus and Jupiter together can indicate too much of a good thing, i.e., excess desire for sensory gratification that can go out of balance. Overall though (ever the optimist that I am), it looks like further confirmation of constructive progress in the year ahead. I tracked the last time that Venus, Jupiter and Ketu joined in Taurus, which was from July 1881-May 1882. Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881 (a few months before the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Ketu in Taurus), but in the months following, she and her associates campaigned for endorsement of the Geneva Convention that protects the war-injured. Their efforts were not in vain, as the United States ratified this treaty in 1882. Such is an example of the kind of humanitarian progress that I am envisioning for the coming year.

Venus is known as the teacher of the asuras, supernatural beings who govern the material plane. Jupiter is the teacher of the devas, “shining ones” who oversee the heavenly realms. Often in myth, the asuras and demons are found battling as the forces of darkness and light in the divine play of duality. Because of this, many Vedic astrologers feel that when Jupiter and Venus join together, there has to be conflict. In my opinion, this is not necessarily true. As Jupiter and Venus join in Taurus, a sign of human progress and material development, along with Ketu, the graha representing spiritual discernment, we could actually see a deepening alignment and practical integration of spiritual and material principles. As our thoughts and actions help to make the world, much of what happens is up to each one of us and how we choose to play this marvelous game of life. The key is to remain heart-centered and appreciative, no matter what.

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