As I write this, we have just passed the Full Moon in Virgo, the constellation relating to self-improvement, health and healing, and we are also approaching the spring equinox, which occurs on Sunday, March 20 at 23:21 UT. The spring equinox marks the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when Mother Nature rebalances and begins to awaken herself. Spring is also the time of year when we take an especially deep breath and renew our commitment to awakening ourselves, perhaps with a focus on improving health and well-being.
According to Chinese Five Element theory, Wood is the element of spring. It represents new growth and an expansive sense of renewal, the birth of upward moving Yang energy that propels us forward with new vision, hope and determination. The organs of the body associated with the Wood element are the liver, gallbladder, eyes, tendons and ligaments. The liver governs planning, and the gallbladder relates to decision making, so in this season, it is only natural to initiate new beginnings and plan for future activities.
The positive emotions of Wood are kindness, forgiveness, generosity and compassion; the negative emotions are inflexibility, indecision, anger and disappointment. Feng Shui sometimes correlates the Wood element with the Throat Chakra, which governs our will and self-expression. This time of year especially, it is important to honor and express all our feelings, especially those of resentment or frustration, in order to help us release the past and move forward with a light and clear perspective.
To harmonize with the changing energies of spring, we should take brisk walks in the fresh air to open the lung meridian and disperse the tight and stiff “Woody” energy in our tendons and ligaments. If you have a yoga practice, focus on inversions, twists, forward bends and backbends to tonify the liver and gallbladder. A balanced spring detoxification program to cleanse the liver and gallbladder is also important. Clear away clutter in your home and office to create space for new energies to emerge. As Water is the supporting element of Wood, make sure to drink enough H2O.
There is evidence that great civilizations have risen and fallen many times throughout Earth’s ancient history. This is apparent in some of the teachings that remain from the golden ages of ancient India and China. During more enlightened eras in the far past, astrologers were likely to make exact predictions that could forestall accidents and calamities. Nowadays, as we are still so far removed from an enlightened age of humanity, astrologers are less able to make specific forecasts that could be used to protect human beings in harm’s way, such as when Mother Nature unleashes her fury. Many first-class astrologers are able to predict dangerous cycles, which can be very helpful toward understanding something about the outer forces bearing down upon us. However, it is a rare modern astrologer who can or will pinpoint disastrous events by exact date, time and place of incident. Such is the unfortunate case in the recent events of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear energy crisis. I wish it had been the case that I or someone else was tuned in enough to be able to warn of the precise events that were to transpire, and that those affected would have been tuned in enough to heed such advice and make necessary preparations. Such was not the case on either side.
According to the Vedic understanding, when events happen on a mass scale, this is known as collective or samhita karma. Karma is not a punishment, as is often an erroneous and dangerous assumption. What happens in mass disasters is not a sign that the people of a specific place where the disaster occurs were somehow bad and thus they deserved what happened. Karma is a mysterious balancing force that is not within the realm of comprehension of ordinary human beings. I for one am often lost when I try to fathom the meaning of the human suffering that has been a part of this world since what appears to be the beginning of time.
I do believe that, ultimately, our suffering is a result of living in a duality-based universe, with good versus bad; light versus dark; life versus death, and so forth. In other words, happiness and misery appear to be necessary aspects of this polarized dimension in which we currently exist. On this plane of being, we apparently cannot have one without the other. To ultimately transcend this dimension of duality is the purpose of the spiritual path. The quickest way to do this is to harness the mind; open and develop the spiritual heart; attune the consciousness with higher forces; and devote oneself to spreading love, truth and joy while alleviating suffering.
Paramahansa Yogananda explains the nature of collective karma in God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, Royal Science of God-Realization.
“On a cosmic scale, the combined karma of groups of individuals—social or racial groups, or nations, for example—or of the world at large, constitute the mass karma of the earth or portions thereof. This mass karma responds to the electromagnetic vibrations of the earth’s cosmic neighbors according to the same laws that affect each individual, thereby inducing beneficial or malevolent changes in the course of world and natural events. A store of good mass karma from living in harmony with divine laws and forces blesses man’s earthly environment with peace, health and prosperity. Accumulated bad mass karma precipitates wars, diseases, poverty, devastating earthquakes and other such calamities. During times of prevalent negative vibratory influences, the individual must thus contend not only with his personal karma, but also with the mass karma affecting the planet on which he lives” (III: II).
The “negative vibratory influences” mentioned above are again not about certain people or groups being “bad.” I am not saying that anyone who suffers deserves it! It is more about so many on this planet at this time being quite far removed from a state of enlightened alignment with the true divine Self within each of us. We have collectively lost our awareness of being divine spirits having a human experience. According to Sri Daya Mata, the late spiritual director of Self-Realization Fellowship, “If man’s moral and spiritual evolution does not keep pace with the upward progress of knowledge and technology, he misuses the power he has acquired, to his own destruction. Indeed, this is the nature of the world crisis we are facing today” (http://www.yogananda-srf.org/HowtoLive/Guidance_and_Encouragement_for_the_Years_Ahead.aspx).
So how do we remedy this difficult situation? Yogis and spiritual adepts teach us that change starts within each one of us. By keeping the soul, mind and body strong, we will be resistant to unfavorable astrological influences. We need to do spiritual practices in order to wake up and realize the divine self within. It’s as simple as that! Again, according to Paramahansa Yogananda, “…By attuning the consciousness to higher forces in meditation elevates man, who may thus avoid the fructification of evil karma; misfortune can be greatly lessened, while the liberating effects of good actions are enhanced. Man and his astral preceptors in higher realms, by mutual communion, can find great good and control destiny. Eventually, by constant contact with spiritual forces, the devotee comes into harmony with the Supreme Creator, Organizer of all higher and lower beings” (III: II).
Modern astrologers are rarely able to make exact predictions for an individual, and it is actually considered unethical to foretell “bad events,” because this would be tantamount to overriding the aspect of free will, and also, it is not ethical to instill fear. Because an individual’s own actions and thoughts go into determining his particular future outcomes, it is best for the astrologer to use indeterminate qualifiers that allow room for the individual to make changes and choices for his future. When difficult cycles are presaged, they are only to be given along with remedial measures that the individual can use to help mitigate the possibility of difficulties. This idea is also applicable to the idea of predicting mass disasters, which apparently can sometimes be mitigated or even averted through the collective agency of our individual and joint prayers and actions.
As we create more harmony within ourselves, and as we support others to do the same, the results of our intentions and behavior extend out and influence everyone else and the entire planet “itself.” Yes, the Earth is a living breathing organism which, like each of us, is constantly shifting. We are told by various wisdom traditions that as humanity’s fear, anxiety, selfishness and greed rise, so does the upheaval in the Earth’s crust, i.e., weather and geo-seismic disturbances are said to become more intense when human consciousness is too aligned with the negative power. Whether this is true or not, what other choice does each of us have anyway, but to come from the place of our highest integrity, to work on ourselves and root out the negative vibrations that we are responsible for creating?
Now, all that said, I have taken a very brief look at the next few months from my astrological perspective. There are many different astrological charts that mundane astrologers use to track collective karma. One such chart is the birth chart of the nation, which I mention below (see chart #1). Another is the Vedic Lunar New Year chart (Shukla Paksha Pratipada), which is set for the New Moon in Pisces every year. This chart gives the astrologer an important means for understanding something about the energetic influences and the collective karmic results for the year ahead. The Vedic New Year chart can be set for any place in the world. I have cast the sidereal wheel and the North Indian style charts for Washington, DC (see Charts #2 and #3 below), for April 3, 2011 at 10:32:18 AM, to learn something about what may be ahead for the United States in the year ahead. I have also connected the United States birth chart with the New Year chart in a bi-wheel combination (see Chart #4 below).
In the Vedic tradition, there are 60 samvatsaras (years), each of which has its own name. The 60-year cycles repeat indefinitely. Occasionally, one of the 60 will be passed over, because this count is based on the zodiacal position of Jupiter, whose period around the Sun is slightly less than 12 years. This 2011 new year begins the samvatsara called Khara, which follows the two past years of Virodhi and Vikruti, all three of which portend danger.
The Vedic New Year in the United States begins on a Sunday, which means the year ahead is ruled by the Sun, and thus according to ancient methods of prediction in Vedic mundane astrology, it promises to be a hotter than usual summer ahead. It is also said that when the Sun is the lord of the year, the country will go to war (march their armies and attack and destroy other countries); the crops may see some failures; there could be a pandemic; and drought. However, the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars are all in the auspicious 11th house, which suggests some positive energy overall as planets in the 11th house tend to give good results. As Jupiter is blessing the Sun in this chart in its own constellation of Pisces, and in the lucky nakshatra of Revati, this could be taken as somewhat of a good sign. So as is often the case in the dimension of duality, life will be both good and bad.
Taurus rises at the edge of the sign (29 degrees and 30 minutes), which is indicative of an end to a cycle, and one hopes it means the transitional end of a difficult economic downturn (Taurus is the sign of finance). This 29th degree is called the “anaretic degree” in Western astrology, and indicates some potential for mass confusion in the year ahead, especially related to our knowing what is true and what is valuable. Taurus is the sign in the 6th house (debts and struggles) of the United States (Kelleher) birth chart. Mars (war) occupies the 7th house (enemies) of the United States (Kelleher) chart, and is conjunct the rising sign of the New Year chart; Ketu, the Moon’s malefic South Node, is conjunct Mars in the United States chart (adding fuel to fire), all pinpointing the many domestic and international challenges we are already facing. Rahu, the Moon’s malefic North Node, and Pluto, related to transformation and upheaval, remain conjunct the United States chart ascendant, revealing further dramatic events; political, religious and civil unrest; but also the possibility of innovative technological developments. Mars and Uranus in the New Year chart fall into the 4th house of the United States Kelleher chart, which could foretell some kind of water crisis or water disaster, floods, volcanic eruptions or earthquakes ahead. In addition, the real estate crisis could see a surprising new development, though I am hopeful it could begin to show improvement once Saturn transits into Libra (starting in November 2011).
The United States remains in its Saturn Return (when transiting Saturn is returning to its natal position), a time of karmic readjustment and reckoning. In addition, we are in another epochal cycle in which, every twenty years, Saturn and Jupiter oppose each other in the heavens. This transit is intensified by the presence of transiting Uranus (think “extreme”), which is opposite Saturn and conjunct Jupiter. The current cycle of Jupiter opposite Saturn began in April 2010 and will continue (within exact orbs of influence on and off) until March 2012. The opposition in Virgo and Pisces will be exact one last time on March 28. This oppositional transit of the two planets of dharma (Jupiter) and karma (Saturn) in the axis of Pisces and Virgo reflects transformative outer conditions that force us individually to root out our inadequacies and become more self-aware—all in the process of moving us toward greater fusion with the divine power behind this incredible play of reality that we call “life.” On a collective level, we could say that the Pisces-Virgo axis is about crisis versus redemption. On a worldly level, Saturn opposite Jupiter often sees the overthrow of dictators and change in status quo. This sign axis will soon be shifting, as Jupiter will move into Aries on May 9, 2011 (where it will remain for about a year), and Saturn will move into Libra on November 16, 2011 (where it will remain for about two and a half years). We can expect some significant changes over the next few years, both collectively and personally. For instance, Jupiter in Aries may find us more focused and determined to create innovative and pioneering solutions for many of our problems. Saturn is exalted in Libra, where it reveals a capacity for inner strength, maturity, balanced living, selfless giving and systematic problem-solving. According to mundane astrology, the karmic task master Saturn transiting through his exalted constellation of Libra will see us in better times all around, no doubt.
The other big change in coming months is in the transiting “mean” lunar nodes, which will move from Gemini-Sagittarius to Taurus-Scorpio in the first week of June. One could say it is disturbing to see this in relation to the “edgy” Taurus rising sign of the United States New Year chart, as Ketu will soon transit onto that position. Ketu in Vedic astrology is akin to Mars, planet of war and epidemics. I choose to be hopeful that Ketu here will have some hope of awakening more of the positive power within and around us, as Ketu is moksha karaka, indicator of enlightenment. The lesson for this nodal axis is to let go of attachment to the material world. Rahu in Scorpio relates to the battle between light and dark, good and evil etc., and is a placement for revolutions and revolutionaries. It can reflect the new forms that arise after the destruction of what is no longer valuable.
June 1 will see a solar eclipse (from Japan into NE China extending into Canada and Alaska-see the first map below) and (unusually) another partial solar eclipse will follow on July 1 (this one occurs in the S. Hemisphere below Africa-see the second map). In between will be a lunar eclipse on June 15. Astrologer Joni Patry wrote an excellent article about eclipses which can be accessed on the Saptarishis Astrology Web site. She mentions that the months leading up to an eclipse can see major karmic events along the eclipse path, such as what happened in Japan. What does this mean to have all these eclipses and the lunar nodes changing signs in June? Well, for one thing, I feel that if you have some important plans in the making, it may be best to do them in April or May or save them for July or August, since eclipse periods can be times of some instability or change (in this case they are occurring throughout the month of June). Of course, such matters need to be fined- tuned through a personal consultation with an astrologer, as there are always “work-arounds” and special considerations that apply to one’s own natal horoscope.