Each year, the full Moon in the Hindu month of Ashadha is dedicated to celebrating our gurus. This year’s Guru Purnima falls on the night of July 8th in North America and India, with the Moon reaching peak fullness at 9:07 pm PDT on Saturday. This year, Guru Purnima’s full Moon falls in Purvashada nakshatra (Vedic constellation), in the middle of sidereal Sagittarius, close to the galactic center. The Moon will be opposite the Sun in sidereal Gemini, where we began this lunar cycle.
The Sanskrit word guru is most commonly translated as “teacher.” It refers not only to the mighty spiritual teachers that are often associated with this word, but can indicate teachers in many fields of study or practice. One might have a spiritual guru, a yoga guru, an astrology guru, or even a knitting, cooking, or physics guru. “Gu” is often translated as darkness or ignorance while “ru” implies dispelling, disseminating, or removing. Guru as an adjective often implies grandeur or weight, frequently translated as “heavy,” which is a way that one might describe our most influential teachers. Students of jyotish will also recognize Guru as the name for Jupiter, who even the ancients knew as a large and profoundly influential planet. His influence in our lives is often in the realms of higher teachings and philosophy, and his position in someone’s natal chart can tell us about their path of learning and relationships with teachers. (For more rumination on the concept of guru in general, check out previous years’ articles.)
Each month, as the Moon waxes and wanes his way through the ecliptic, he undergoes 30 phases known as tithis in Vedic astrology. Although the transition is smooth, the tithis are delineated distinctly, and each one carries a certain supportive energy. The purnima phase, roughly a day long, is the fullest phase of the Moon, with the peak of fullness happening at the last moment of the phase (given as Full Moon time), before the light on the Moon begins to recede again as we enter the waning phase.
Purnima is generally thought of as the most auspicious phase of the month, and is positive for most activities, especially spiritual activities. There is a harmony of lunar and solar energy at this time. The Moon influences the ebb and flow of our watery emotions and our state of mind. We are most able to perceive this subtle body within when the outer Moon is fully illuminated. It is also a time where opposite poles within us (and in the external solar system), are both illuminated at the same time. Wherever the Full Moon occurs, it is on the exact opposite side of the zodiac from the Sun. On this Full Moon, the Sun is illuminating the Gemini part of the sky while the Moon’s light brightens Sagittarius for us. We are better able to integrate the two opposite poles within us when this occurs.
Sagittarius Full Moon
The Sagittarius section of the sky carries an energy of optimism and idealism, under Jupiter’s idealistic rulership. With the Moon here we are inspired to act on our beliefs, and share our purpose with the world. There is a great charitable nature here. Sagittarius is opposite from Gemini, where Sun and Moon began this lunar cycle, which is a place of much more practicality and impartiality, ruled by Mercury. On this full Moon we are able to see a better path towards balancing our flexible, curious, intellectual side (airy Gemini) with our passionate and idealistic side (firey Sagittarius).
The Vedic sky is divided into 27 sections or nakshatras, along the same band of the ecliptic as we see the twelve major zodiac signs. These smaller sections give us much more information about the energy coming from that part of the cosmos, and the mood that the planets will take on as they pass there. This Full Moon falls in Purva Ashadha nakshatra, known as “the invincible one.” There is a great deal of optimism and power here, so this could be a great time to face some fears and challenges that require confrontation. The water deity Apas presides here, strengthening our connection to the water element and our inner sensitivity.
As you tune into your own heart under the Guru Purnima full Moon, acknowledge the teachers and gurus who have and continued to support you along your journey. This is a particularly auspicious day for honoring them, upholding tradition, and even setting intentions for new paths of learning or teaching that you plan to follow.
Jupiter, Venus & Saturn
The Guru planet himself is in Hasta nakshatra at the moment, the sign of “the hand,” which adds even more expansion to our opportunities for learning and strengthening our skills. He is also aspecting Venus, who is now in Taurus, his own sign. Venus in Taurus (most of this month), elevates the artistry in our life, bringing more beauty and amplifying our connection with all sensual pleasures — nature, art, music, food, and our surroundings in general.
With this aspect it could be a good month to improve your material situation … but be aware that retrograde Saturn is also aspecting Venus now, having just transited back into sidereal Scorpio. While Jupiter’s aspect helps us to expand in Venusian endeavors, Saturn’s disciplinarian mood may bring up feelings of restriction. Take this as a lesson to broaden your vision and look at the long-term results of your decisions. Indulging in your pleasures now may require a bit of hard-work and commitment because of Saturn’s influence, but that is a reminder of the effort we will need to put forth over time to support our actions.
This Wednesday brings a new Moon cycle, starting us off with the energy of Aries and the Vedic nakshatra of Ashwini. The Sun and Moon coincide on the dark night of Tuesday, April 25th, with the waxing lunar cycle beginning at 5:16 am PDT on April 26th. Both Aries and Ashwini bring on the energy of new beginnings, as the first major and minor signs of the zodiac.
Ashwini is a Vedic constellation found within the first 13°30′ of sidereal Aries. Known as the “horsewoman” or the “twin horses,” this nakshatra is ruled by the Vedic deities called the Ashwin Kumars. These horse-headed twins are known as the physicians of the Gods, and thus the new Moon here leads us into a month of healing and exploring new types of medicine (especially herbal), as well as starting new ventures.
What kind of healing do you need to cultivate in your life right now? What medicines or holistic arts have been calling to you that you are ready to explore more deeply?
One caveat of the horse-power energy offered by Ashwini, and the headstrong, Mars-fueled strength of Aries, the ram, is that we sometimes tend to rush into things that we do not have the endurance to finish. Of course, we’re still experiencing the slowed-down energy of having three planets retrograde — Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter — so that may curb our enthusiasm a bit and allow for more foresight to meld into our springtime fervor.
The Sun, in particular, is exalted right now during his transit of Aries. This gives us an immense sense of physical vitality. It’s a great time to re-start our exercise regimes (yes, even if they already started and fizzled out around the Gregorian new year in January), and other projects that are fueled by our inspiration and gut “yes!” The direction that we wield the horse’s (or ram’s) head right now will be the one where we find the most momentum as we bound into our goals and ventures through the summer. The Sun’s energy, as well as our own, are strongest during the summer months.
What direction do you want to steer your energy for the coming year? Where do you feel the most inspiration, and want to plant seeds whose potential will grow throughout the lightening season? What projects have you had in mind for a while that you feel some extra gusto for right now?
Three Planets Retrograde
With Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury all retrograde right now, we have the potential for some deep introspection along with our high inspiration.
Saturn retrograde helps us to dive deep into our long-term goals and commitments, especially around our work. Saturn also rules over two specific areas of life for each individual, and those areas may be under serious question right now, as you begin to align them with your values over the next two years of his Sagittarius transit.
Jupiter is also retrograde, giving us the opportunity to re-evaluate our goals as far as education and higher learning are concerned. Many people may be reconsidering going back to school, or alternatively taking a break from it. It’s also a good time to take a second look at what teachers and higher values we follow closely, and seeing if these internal relationships are changing for us at all right now. Jupiter also rules two areas of your life that could feel like they’re at a stand-still or going backwards right now.
Mercury retrograde comes more frequently and lasts for only three weeks (as opposed to many months for Jupiter and Saturn). Through his motion, Budha (Mercury) gives us a constant reminder not to plummet ahead too fast with what we think we know. The intellect, our impartial observer, needs times to reset itself, slow down, and look with fresh eyes, so that we don’t become overpowered by the passion of Mars, the opinions of Jupiter, or the desires of Venus (to name a few other influences). Mercury retrograde is a good time to check ourselves, become more curious and observant, and slow down our communication.
This could be a bit more difficult while Mercury transits Aries and Ashwini, who add more fire and head-strong certainty to our analytical mind, so it’s a really good time for a conscious practice of active listening and breathing before speaking. Mercury turns direct again on May 3rd.
Thursday/Friday this week brings the third day of the waxing Moon cycle this month, and both the Sun and Moon will be in their signs of exaltation at that time. This day known as Akshaya Tritiya occurs each year, three days after the new Moon in Aries. With Sun exalted in Aries and Moon exalted in Taurus, we feel optimum strength and inspiration as well as maximum peace of heart and mind. The divine masculine and divine feminine are both most readily available to express themselves through us.
It is hence known as the day of “never diminishing,” and tradition states that any investments made on this day will yield positive returns. This includes physical and monetary investments as well as spiritual and energetic investments … i.e., starting new ventures or setting new intentions in your life. The dark moon night of the 26th is a great time to be still and sit with your intentions, becoming clear on your goals, and putting them into action on the 28th carries the likelihood of an auspicious outcome. (Of course, with the three planets still retrograde it can help to consult an astrologer for the specific timing of any launches … but connecting with your heart and divine guidance are naturally more open pathways on this day as well.)
This Monday, April 10th brings the purnima full moon phase under a mass of retrograde planets. The Moon reaches peak fullness in sidereal Virgo at 11:08 pm PDT. In contrast to the sensitive and dreamy nature of Pisces that led us into this lunar cycle, the Virgo full moon illuminates for us some more grounded and practical ways of looking at the flood of emotions we have experienced lately.
Venus and Pisces
You probably remember my emphasis on Venus this Moon cycle, since the planet of desire and relationships has been having a heavy influence lately. Venus joined the Sun and Moon in Pisces at the start of this Moon cycle, setting the tone for (another) month of really focusing on relationships and how we go about achieving pleasure in this world. Venus has been transiting Pisces since late January, where he’s considered exalted.” This time frame has compelled us to realign our desire with the cosmic desire, taking a look at what our truest desires really are, and seeing how that relates to our most cherished values. Pisces is a place where we can learn to surrender into the divine flow, and also come into much deeper contact with our emotions. It’s also a sign that brings up the possibility of escapism, so if you have that tendency it’s a good time to watch out for it.
Since March 4th, Venus has been on his retrograde course. This semi-rare occurrence (happening once every 18 months), is a time where we seriously back up and reflect on our relationships as well as our pleasures. I have seen a LOT of people experiencing a degree of retreat in relationships as well, feeling more aversion to partners and feeling much more inwardly drawn. We seem to notice everything that’s wrong with the relationship, or the partner, or better yet in our own approach to human harmony. It can certainly feel a bit painful at times, but this is an opportunity for us to become more self-aware, and elevate the way that we approach and behave in our relationships.
What recent revelations have you had about your personal relationship style?
When you check in with yourself and allow yourself to feel your true desires, what do you find?
How do your desires relate with your highest values, philosophy, and beliefs?
Virgo Full Moon
This Virgo full moon is a great time to actually seek and find some tangible methods of implementing that elevated approach to pleasure. Virgo is an earth sign ruled by Mercury (the intellect), so this full moon guides us towards practical and implementable tools to improve our modes of relating, and reaching our desires. Jupiter joins the full moon here, so our belief structures and higher guidance is a strong support right now. We have the chance to take tools from our highest teachings and create daily practices and specific methods that take us towards our goals and desires.
What small daily practice can you add to your life that harmonizes both your desires and your beliefs?
What conscious plan of action can you implement, either on your own or with a partner, to better support your relationships?
This full moon falls within the section of Virgo known as Chitra, “the brilliant.” This is a very potent nakshatra (Vedic constellation) for taking the beauty that we perceive through Venus and birthing it into form in the world. The deity of this star is Vishvakarma, the celestial architect, who reminds us of the cosmic harmonic perfection that is truly an amalgam of beauty and order (think sacred geometry). This concept elicits the understanding that desire and beauty are not exclusive from sensibility and logic.
As your own architect, what steps can you take towards weaving more beauty and harmony into structured practices your life?
So Much Retrograde!
Though the full moon phase usually has us feeling a little bit more active and outward, this time around might really be better served with some personal retreat time. There is a lot to reflect on due to Venus retrograde alone, but on top of that, this purnima also finds Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Rahu and Ketu retrograde (the nodes always move in apparent retrograde direction). That’s six out of nine Vedic grahas appearing to move “backwards” through the zodiac. This mass of retrograde planets lasts through the week, from April 9th through the 15th.
This could mean that we will experience a major slowdown in almost all areas of life next week. Don’t worry, this just means that it’s a time to schedule some downtime and go inward. It’s not the best time to plan on starting new ventures or important milestones in life. In the area where I live, this week is spring break for a lot of the schools. A little vacation or retreat could definitely be appropriate right now, as things aren’t really moving forward anyway in terms of work, relationships, education, and communication. But be prepared for a few possible hiccups in travel logistics or scheduling of events.
On the following Friday, the 15th, Venus will turn direct. We will have hopefully found more clarity around our relationships and desires by then, and can begin to better implement our plan of action the between then and the end of May, as Venus continues his journey forward through Pisces.
Shani or Saturn is one of the planets whose retrograde motion recently began. He is the planet governing our commitments, perseverance, and work ethic, so with this motion we may be feeling ourselves slow down, and beginning to reconsider our long-term goals, particularly around career. This retrograde transit lasts from now through August 25th, during which time he will transit back into Scorpio (having only recently begun his journey through sidereal Sagittarius). This will give us the chance to take another last look at the commitments we were working through during his Scorpio transit over the last two years, which are very particular for each individual sign. (Email me for the free Saturn Retrograde in Scorpio e-book if you didn’t get it yet.)
Remember, above all, Saturn is here to teach us patience. With Mars in Aries while Saturn is slowing down, you might feel like a fireball wanting to speed ahead but frustrated at your ability to do so. This week’s mass of retrograde planets is giving you the opportunity to slow things down and turn inward for a minute, reflecting on what is really important.
Retrograde dates to remember:
Jupiter Retrograde: February 5th – June 9th
Venus Retrograde: March 4th – April 15th
Saturn Retrograde: April 5th – August 25th
Mercury Retrograde: April 9th – May 3rd
The purnima full moon phase this month also indicates Hanuman Jayanti, the celebration of the birth of Lord Hanuman. This Vedic deity represents the penultimate devotee, and shows us the immense strength that great faith, humility, and service can bring forth from within us. With all of this retrograde motion, and the powerful influence of the “Venus in Pisces” Moon cycle we are traversing, devotional practice is probably the best medicine. Chant, sing, meditate, and especially, find some ways to be of service, in order to honor Hanuman this Monday.
Sunday begins the New Moon cycle and brings with it a powerful eclipse whose alignment offers some deep healing opportunities. The annular solar eclipse will be visible from much of Africa, South America, and Antarctica, and will coincide with the exact time of the darkest Moon phase at 6:58 a.m PST (14:58 UTC) on Sunday, February 26th. This eclipse occurs with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Ketu all in sidereal Aquarius within the Vedic nakshatra of Shatabisha.
Aquarius is a sign ruled by Saturn, and it is where we remember something greater than ourselves. It is where we become inspired towards universal service, and to offering effort into society and for the greater good. Saturn, the planet of pressure and time, is aspecting the planets of this eclipse from his recent seat in sidereal Sagittarius, compelling us even more deeply to stand up for our principles and beliefs, and commit ourselves to these through hard work.
Shatabisha is the Vedic nakshatra that most elicits the concept of healing. It is the star of the “100 physicians” or the “100 medicines,” and is ruled by Varuna, the deity of the cosmic waters. With many planets under the influence of this star, we are strongly called towards our journey of self-healing, trying many different medicines and healing techniques to get there. Having Ketu here, eclipsing the Sun and the Moon, presents the opportunity to go deeply into our subconscious blockages and find release from past karma and trauma.
The Greater Eclipse Cycle
This is the third solar eclipse that has occurred since Rahu and Ketu transited into the Leo-Aquarius axis in January of 2016 (download the Free E-Book and Forecast by Sign for this transit if you haven’t yet!). Throughout this time, we have experienced shadows and blockages coming up around the themes of the Leo-Aquarius axis. On a broad scale, this relates to the balance of personal power and universal service that we play out through society. On an individual level, it has raised questions around the house-themes of Leo and Aquarius in the personal Vedic birth chart.
We have been uncovering layers of our own karma through this time, and discovering where change is needed in our lives–either through a change in our actions or a change in our thoughts. Our personal challenges become most apparent during the eclipse windows, which have occurred this month, as well as during August and March of 2016. Though these windows can be difficult times, the power of the lunar nodes helps us to see where we are stuck. With self-awareness and observation it becomes less difficult, but when we are not paying attention or are clinging to our own attachments, the eclipses can feel like they are wreaking havoc on our lives.
Since this is the third and final pair of eclipses during this transit of Rahu and Ketu, it is a time for really reaching some clarity around the lessons being brought up over the last year-and-a-half. Eclipses do cause confusion and are inauspicious in general, but as we do the work of self-inquiry and practice astute awareness, we can gain insight and more light after going into the darkness of their shadows. The healing power behind Shatabisha nakshatra may present us with some different medicines, or practices, to assist in our evolutionary process, assisting us in learning how to flow better with the cosmic waters.
In addition to the healing energy of this nakshatra, we are receiving the powerful gift of deep meditation offered by the Shivaratri holiday. Maha Shivaratri (or Sivaratri) is “the great night of Lord Shiva,” celebrated in India and around the world each year on the 14th night of the waning Moon this month. This year it falls on the night of Friday, February 24th into Saturday the 25th, around the world (except for mid-Australia/Japan and Eastward, where it falls on the 25th/26th).
On Shivaratri, it is a common practice to stay up the whole night in meditation, fasting and praying. This commemorates the sacrifice made by Lord Shiva when he kept the poison that arose from the milk ocean in his throat in order to protect the entire creation. In this story, his wife Parvati held his throat to keep him from consuming the poison, and thus this holiday also commemorates the union of masculine and feminine forces, Shakti and Shiva, yin and yang. In many places this is represented by a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding, and one may see large statues of the two paraded about town and worshiped.
Shiva and Parvati represent the path towards awakening consciousness through the ascetic side of yoga, and the practices of tapas and renunciation. By renouncing food and sleep for one night, particularly on the night of Shivaratri, we can gain some of the benefit of the austerities that these two performed for aeons. Tapas, or austerities, are yogic practices of undergoing difficult situations in order to gain more patience, as well as deeper understanding that we are in fact the eternal soul and not the body-mind with which we normally identify.
On this Shivaratri, as we approach the transformative energy of the eclipse in Shatabisha, the opportunity for overcoming the challenges and shadows of our minds is great. The power of group meditation occurring all over the world also contributes to this. With the energy of Aquarius behind us, let us offer the fruits of our practice towards the peace and happiness of all beings on earth, and spread the benefit for the greater good.
Mantras for Maha Shivaratri:
Om Namah Shivaya (the panchakshari mantra – “I bow down to infinite consciousness”)
Tyagenaike Amrtatvamanashuhu (by renunciation alone, immortality is gained)
The full Moon occurs in sidereal Gemini tonight! The exact full Moon time is 6:34 am EST on January 12th. This full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Punarvasu, a constellation of renewal. Meaning “good again,” or “more light,” this is a great nakshatra to connect with as we begin the new year. This star-sign comes after the stormy and turbulent nakshatra of Ardra, and represents the calm after the storm. Many people experienced 2016 as especially turbulent (and many astrological alignments contributed to that!). Now is is an excellent time to be reminded of the rebirth that can come after chaotic times.
Punarvasu can be identified in sidereal Gemini, around the stars Castor and Pollux. The preceding constellation, Ardra, is ruled by Rudra, a fierce form of Shiva. He reminds us of the destructive powers of nature, and challenges us to find peace and consciousness amidst turmoil. Punarvasu comes after Ardra, and signifies the return of light. During this time of year we begin to feel the light of the Sun returning after the December solstice, as the seasons begin to wax in the northern hemisphere. The deity for this nakshatra is Aditi, a fertile mother-goddess. After the rains, the ground becomes moist, lush and ready for new life to begin its journey upward.
What have the intense rains of winter watered in your life? What has been destroyed by them, creating space for something new to be planted? Where have you nourished the grounds thus far, and what do you desire to grow this year? Now is a time to rise up and connect with your intentions, offering your vision forward and finding the light after the wreckage. The Gemini full Moon offers a fresh start. This is fitting as it coincides with the start of the New Year, and also with Makara Sankranti (January 14th), a Hindu holiday celebrating the return of the light when the Sun enters sidereal Capricorn.
Both Gemini and Punarvasu are strongly dual in nature, enabling us to see both sides of a situation. In Western lore, the twins, Castor and Pollux are found here. In Vedic mythology, Gemini is called Mithuna, “the pair.” The two figures were seen in Vedic times as a male and a female, representing the yin and yang aspects of existence, and the dance between the two.
Gemini reminds us to be open, curious, and playful. The full Moon here offers a contrast to the strongly opinionated and purposeful energy of Sagittarius, where we began this cycle. Under a Sagittarian influence, we move and act closely in alignment with our beliefs. This can sometimes lead us in the right direction, but sometimes can lead us into dogmatism or over-zealousness. Gemini reminds us to remain flexible, and allows us to change directions if we want. The light of the full Moon here illuminates the amenable and resilient side of ourselves, and aids us in going with the flow and adapting to life’s circumstance. This lunar cycle teaches us to move with purpose, while at the same time reminds us of the need to stay open.
The energy of this month may be very tough on relationships, as we’ve had Venus, Mars, and Ketu joining together in Aquarius for the last couple of weeks. All three remain here for another week more to come, and Venus and Ketu stay joined through the 27th. Ketu with Venus brings up doubts and shadows around relationships, while Mars adds a level of passion and intensity that can result in arguing or fighting. Ketu also has the potential to break things and set us free from the past. If you’ve been trying to move forward from something or someone, this could be the time. If you’re trying to hold something together, be aware of the added challenge that is coming from this alignment. With these planets in Aquarius, work on aligning your relationships, pursuit of happiness, and actions with your highest goals. Service to society or a greater cause will help you to work with these energies now.
We’re nearing another eclipse cycle, with the nodes eclipsing the Moon and Sun (partially) on February 10th and 26th. This is the last full eclipse cycle with the nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis. If you never read the report for your sign about this, download the free e-book now. The coming eclipse cycle is a final time to get a really good glimpse of our shadows around power and service, and particularly in relation to the house-axis aligned with Leo and Aquarius in your Vedic chart. If there are lessons you’ve been trying to ignore for the past year, don’t pass up this opportunity to pay attention to them and make some changes in your life, whether internal or external.
At the end of the month, on January 26th, Saturn will enter Sagittarius for the first time, after a 2.5-year transit through Scorpio. This will bring big changes in where and how we approach our long-term goals, and where we feel acute pressures in life. Then on the 27th, Venus will transit into Pisces, where he’ll remain exalted for four full months, including a 6-week period in retrograde motion. This has major impact potential for relationships and how we approach happiness in general. Stay updated to get the upcoming forecasts for your sign on both of these major transits!
The Four Turkeys of Abundance and The Purusharthas
I saw these wild turkeys wandering through my “yard” (woods) earlier this year. Actually, I had begun seeing a lot of turkeys grazing up and down the hill fairly frequently. After seeing a group of fourteen together one day, I pulled out my animal wisdom medicine cards to check the significance of this totem. “Give-away,” it said. I was reminded that, of course, turkeys represent the spirit of giving and abundance. As we are reminded on American Thanksgiving, the turkey gives his own life to nourish others and provide abundance. He signifies the honor in those with the most sharing what they can with those who have less.
Credit, Sams & Carson goo.gl/QtRaQR
Something about these turkeys struck me this day, as the four of them let me wander closely behind. In thinking about abundance and the give-away idea, I was reminded of the Vedic concept of the purusharthas, or the four aims of life. This is a traditional yogic concept that outlines the general human pursuits we follow in order to live a balanced and fulfilling life of purpose. The four aims are: dharma (duty, truth), artha (material prosperity), kama (pleasure), and moksha (spiritual liberation). Each of these Sanskrit words and the concepts behind them may be investigated and discussed to great end, and there is much literature on the subject, but this will serve as a general introduction, based on my own experience and study.
What is interesting, as relative to Jyotish or Vedic astrology, is how these aims relate with the twelve houses in the individual natal chart. The houses represent twelve major areas of life through which everything in our conscious and subconscious lives can be understood. Of the twelve, three relate to dharma, three to artha, three to kama, and three to moksha. Each of the four pursuits are indicated once on the individual level, the interpersonal level, and the societal or universal level. It is said that to have a truly fulfilling life, we carry out karma (actions) towards all four aims of life.
Dharma most generally indicates the idea of right living. It represents the idea of doing what is right, and living in truth. This concept is often loosely translated as duty or purpose, which has nuances in itself. We have many dharmas that are unique and individual, in the various roles we play in life. We may perform the dharma of being a mother in some of our actions, and that of a sister, a daughter, a partner, a friend, a teacher in others. My teacher always reminds us that we also have a para-dharma, a higher purpose, which is to know the divine. To live in harmony with the universe we do our best to know our dharma and fulfill it with love and joy. When we give ourselves through our unique purposes, we contribute to the functioning of the world as we know it.
The first house in one’s natal chart is the dharma house of the individual level. This represents all aspects of our general experience, our individuality, and our identity. We must discover and follow our personal truth here to find fulfillment. Dharma on the interpersonal level lies in the fifth house, which indicates our creativity. It shows what we manifest into the world from our love, and most specifically indicates children and romantic relationships. On the universal level, dharma plays out through the ninth house, the place of learning, teaching, and philosophy. Through the ninth house we can share our purpose at large through higher education and philosophical study.
Artha represents the idea of fulfilling a purpose in the material world. This includes the work that we do as professionals, as well as the material prosperity we gain from it. It can be a complex issue from a yogic perspective, but most simply suggests that work, income and financial security are valid pursuits (certainly for householders, as opposed to ascetics or renunciates). In my mind that certainly doesn’t validate luxurious excess, or the degree of wealth discrepancy that we see in the world today, but it means that it’s okay to make an offering and live comfortably. Following the turkey’s symbolism of giving, we should remember that part of gaining worldly success also lies in the giving.
In the Vedic astrology chart, the second house shows artha on the individual level. This house represents our money and possessions in general, as well as the family of origin and our immediate surroundings. The sixth house shows material pursuit on an interpersonal level. Here is where we need to do the hard work to support what we love and create, through things such as mundane tasks, chores, and standing up to those who challenge us. On the broader perspective we pursue artha through the tenth house, the place of career. The tenth house signifies what we put out into the world and the public arena.
Kama is actually the name of desire personified as a Hindu deity (aka Kamadeva, similar to Eros or Cupid). We are all divine sparks, but the universal design placed us divine beings here to live a human experience. Seeking fulfillment in desire, pleasure, and human love is certainly part of that. I would also argue that without this our yogic pursuits would be lacking, as observance of the mind’s desires seems fundamental to the perceived struggle against them. The desirous mind is part of what makes us human, and part of humanity’s aims as indicated by Vedic thought. Imagine that when we feel abundant in pleasure (not lustful), how much more love we are able to give to the world and those around us.
The third house in the astrological chart indicates our personal desires, our likes and dislikes, our hobbies, and our gut sense of “want.” The seventh house, the house of relationships, is where we pursue achieving pleasure while dancing with another person. This includes romantic relationships and sex, but it also represents the idea that to be happy around anyone–a friend, a business partner–a certain degree of compromise is necessary for both parties to find happiness. On a societal or universal level, we pursue desire through the themes of the eleventh house. Here we find our hopes and dreams, our community and friends, and our visions for and service to the world.
Moksha is the idea of spiritual liberation, freedom, or the breaking of bondage. The fourth house is the dharma house of the individual level. It represents our innermost heart space (as well as personal spaces like our home and vehicles). It is through the fourth house and the heart that we find peace at the individual level. To find this, we must often break free from the bonds of attachment we have to our individual desires (3rd house), possessions (2nd house), and even to what has happened to us (our experience, 1st house).
The eighth house shows liberation on the interpersonal level, and can certainly be a difficult one. It represents sudden change, which can include death, divorce, and the breaking of relationships. This is also the house of transformation, however, when we begin to break free from the bonds of both our individual and interpersonal attachments. We can then begin to orient ourselves towards universal pursuits and consciousness, in the 9th-12th houses.
The twelfth house, the house of loss, is the ultimate moksha house, where we pursue total liberation from our worldly life, karma, and the cycle of birth and death. It is here we can attain self-realization, higher knowledge, and divine communion. We actually experience the twelfth house through many moments in our lives, long before death, however. The twelfth house is the place of sleep, meditation, subconscious states, and the pre-natal state. It also represents other kinds of escapes from the daily experience, such as television, screens, intoxicants, retreats, hospital or jail stays, and foreign travel. When we have a strong twelfth house in the natal chart, it is of utmost importance to activate the higher potential of this house, which can lead us towards actual spiritual liberation.
When we achieve abundance and fulfillment here, we have one of the greatest gifts that we can then give in turn: wisdom. Should we be blessed to achieve true liberation, may we follow the exemplar of the great saints and sages. They stay on earth to teach and inspire, to love and serve, until every last one of us reaches the ultimate state of moksha. We are only as strong as our weakest link, and we are all connected by the same divine thread.
Each one of us wants to feel abundance in our lives. We will follow paths toward it through dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. When we count our blessings and offer gratitude, we will feel more abundant in certain areas, and perhaps less so in others. We can give thanks for what we do have, and do our best not to dwell on the areas where we are lacking. We should also keep faith and continue to pursue our dreams of fulfillment in all areas of life. Feeling completely “fulfilled” is a tall order before reaching said “ultimate liberation” mentioned above. Until then, we hopefully find inspiration to remain grateful, and to give away what we can to support others, as demonstrated by turkey medicine.
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