What brought you to astrology?
I think Astrology finds YOU! Astrology insinuated itself into my life when I wasn’t looking for it. I certainly was not surrounded by it growing up and going to school and college. I was a musician and a composer, and had talents in various art forms, especially music. I think music has a special affinity with astrology and vice versa. They both organize a large number of symbols and make some harmonious sense out of them. Many astrologers seem to have musical backgrounds.
Music and composing brought me to the metaphysical realm finally, and to the realization that the flood of musical sounds coming through me was fascinating to an incredible degree, but even more significant was where the sounds were coming from and why. Those questions were better answered for me by astrology than by most other systems, although I did study other philosophical systems and predictive methodologies. I was also intrigued how universal information could be organized in such a wonderful way. It began to make a lot of sense, and before I knew it, I was reading piles of astrology books and studying as many charts as possible. I thought of it as a hobby, until so many people started asking me to look at their charts that I began to realize the inevitable. In this culture, no one tends to ask you: How would you like to become an astrologer? Nevertheless, in 1980, I began my professional practice (after four years of study).
Why do you practice astrology?
I practice astrology because it is my dharma – my rightful work, but I resisted it when I first encountered it, thinking of it only as something I studied (passionately) on the side. That was before I understood my destiny a little better, and how I could help people individually and collectively through a deeper awareness of planetary patterns. I learned that I could translate those patterns in a meaningful way for the public. This expanded through my client work, lectures, teaching, and writing articles and books. It also took me many places around the world.
I started studying Vedic astrology in the late 1980s, my first teacher being David Frawley, whom I later discovered moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico the exact same day I did in Feb. 1983! (He moved from California and I from New York.) We met in the mid-1980s through our respective partners.
I have always had an interest in Mundane astrology, and very early on I started looking at local, national and global events, in addition to natal charts. I always figured there was a way to see them astrologically, even though it takes many years to learn how to do it well. I lectured on Mundane astrology at the first UAC in 1986, also in 1989 and onwards, though not exclusively on Mundane astrology after that.
I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for 21 years, and was fortunate to live there during the years when, among other astrological projects, there was a regular December event that would feature 6 to 9 local astrologers predicting the future of the upcoming year, sometimes complete with theatrical skits. That was from 1989 to 2001, and I was invited to speak at all of them. The first year they rented a large room at La Fonda Hotel, but so many people came, they had to bring in more and more chairs. It went on like that for 12 years uninterrupted, a full Jupiter cycle, and brought in audiences of at least 250 to 300 into packed halls. It gave the astrologers very good practice in predicting for the upcoming year. Our audiences were very appreciative and loyal, and we had such fire to do it that inevitably we ended up serving the public, just as we learned how to serve our individual clients. I have also been very fortunate to learn a lot from my clients and students over many years.
Last fall I lectured in India at an extraordinary conference on Mundane astrology, and did some travel around India afterwards. Among other places, I visited 3 of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples. These are considered the most sacred power spots in all of India. The atmosphere there is extremely heightened, being consecrated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 1000s of years. Not surprisingly, it is considered a real boon to go there. At one of these temples, in Ujjain, the Head priest asked me to do an impromptu reading of both his birth chart and that of his 7-year-old son. This went on for two hours, and was quite an experience for all concerned. My guide was suddenly pressed into translation service (Hindi/English), and I received tea and multiple garlands of flowers (malas). The birth charts had to be brought from another location, and then translated, as absolutely everything was in Hindi. They were also North Indian charts, so I redrew everything in South Indian format, the one I use (my Vedic “lens”). I had no computer or ephemeris with me, and that made it all the more demanding. I had to figure in my head which dasha-bhukti (planetary periods) anyone was in, though of course I knew the transits.
Once he discovered I was a Jyotishi (astrologer) after the puja (ceremony) in the temple, the priest started asking me all these questions in Hindi. (During the pujas, I had noticed that he knew very little astrology, whereas of course traditionally the Hindu priests all used to study and use it. Other priests were sitting in on the reading I gave, and were extremely interested for that reason alone.) The Head priest was very passionate, energetic, and engaging. It was almost comical for me at moments trying to persuade him that his young son had a most extraordinary chart (with five planets exalted), while his main concern was whether his son’s education would go well. I kept telling him: “Don’t worry! He will surpass everyone!”
My guide was young, bright and Indian, with absolutely no knowledge of Vedic astrology. When I would tell him something about the chart, or answer some question from the priest, before he would translate, he would often say: “Is that good or bad?” Very astute, though of course his task was only to translate. But he was beginning to learn that it was just part of the destiny, and neither good nor bad, though some of it was spectacularly good. However, even that can be a major challenge. Each statement or question that he had to translate seemed to make him more curious, to the point where – on the way back to Indore – when we stopped at a local Shani Navagraha temple (Saturn – 9 planet temple, featuring Saturn), he instinctively bought himself an iron ring. Iron represents Saturn. I said: “When we get back to the hotel, let me check if that’s a good idea for you.” And sure enough, he had Capricorn rising, with Moon closely contacting Saturn exalted in Libra. He was VERY conscientious, luckily for me. Someone with a prominent Saturn is the hardest worker of all. He had never seen his chart until that day.
What makes it juicy for you?
Moments like these make it juicy – when you can open someone’s eyes. In this case, I was also re-introducing to an Indian priest what he used to be taught as a matter of course. In an odd way, Westerners may be helping in the preservation and development of these powerful ancient traditions. At least we can make our contribution to that effort. In 1834, English education was introduced into India as part of the British Empire, breaking the legacy and tradition of learning Sanskrit – the language of the Hindu/Vedic classics. Loss of this custom was gradually resurrected after independence in 1947, but it’s taken its toll. Meanwhile, there are large numbers of classic texts on Vedic astrology still awaiting translation. That is a project being undertaken now in some quarters, and a very exciting one.
At another level, there is a tremendous expansion of one’s consciousness that can occur just by studying and practicing astrology. When I first got into Vedic/Hindu astrology, I was astonished to discover there was a religion that actually works WITH astrology and the planets, and recognizes the individual destiny in terms of planetary configurations, paying special deference to Saturn. (Of course there is no requirement to be a Hindu in order to practice its astrology.) Many of their temples have statues of the nine planets (out to Saturn, including Rahu and Ketu). You propitiate them when you walk around all of them at least three times. So it is all part of the living reality.
What is your specialty or focus?
Right now I am focused on writing and lecturing, and am in the midst of preparing my first book on Vedic astrology, which will be published soon. I have been researching and writing it for over six years, and the genesis was laid for it in 2002 when Alan Oken asked me to create an Audio Course for his Wisdom School. (Yes, he too was among those fortunate Santa Fe astrologers at the annual December events, and we were lucky to have him. We were also lucky that Arielle Guttman organized these events!) I produced an 18-½ hour Audio course on Vedic Astrology in June 2002, and that became the basis of this book, which has expanded quite a bit in scope since 2002.
Are there any additional comments you’d like to make about your lecture/workshop?
I move back and forth quite easily between Natal astrology and Mundane astrology. Depending on the level of audience expertise and interest with the subject, I am happy to incorporate more Mundane astrology, and look at the larger picture that affects all of us. This is especially true in the workshop, where the Vedic Ascendant charts will be covered, but I give us leeway perhaps not to cover every single Ascendant chart, if we want to delve more deeply into certain charts. (These are whole sign houses, by the way.) In any case, we will discuss how the individual destiny is impacted by the larger collective destiny, and in this vein, I may bring in some national charts and some pivotal astrological event charts. My book focuses on that in some depth in the opening chapter. But the power of the Ascendant is always the hinge in the chart, and the focal point we return to again and again.
From your unique perspective, how do you see what’s come forth recently with regards to the current astrological weather (e.g. Cardinal Cross)?
I am very riveted to the recent exact Jupiter-Saturn opposition on March 28, 2011. I am looking at it in the sidereal zodiac (Lahiri ayanamsha) at 20:20 Pisces/Virgo. The sequence of key events leading up to this final exact opposition and occurring very shortly after it is breathtaking, as usual. The Virgo/Pisces axis is associated with workers, work and health conditions, and sacrifices made in both arenas, also with nations, races, or segments of the population who have been victimized. If a national chart has Sagittarius Ascendant, the Virgo/Pisces axis radically impacts its infrastructure.
I could give you an expanded list of events reflecting this recent Jupiter-Saturn opposition. But instead, I will mention that I am also looking at this from the larger perspective of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions primarily in EARTH, nominally since 1921 (Virgo), and in earnest from 1961 (Capricorn). This extends up to 2199. I have lectured and written on this subject, and I have new material on it in my upcoming book. You can also see some material in one or more articles at my website, notably my article on Corporate Conglomerates vs. the Nation State (2010).
The corporatocracy is in solid control, and it is important to look at why that is from an astrological perspective, and how we got here. Things are heating up, literally and figuratively, so how best to deal with the present realities?
I look forward to seeing you all in mid-May.