The mention of astrology brings all kinds of reactions in people, ranging from curiosity to contempt. The primary misconception is that the planets out there in our solar system have an 'effect' on our destiny. That mars transiting a certain house can "trigger" an accident or injury. People then go to all sorts of physical theories bringing in gravitation and other mysterious cosmic energies that emanate from these planets and influence individuals, millions of mile away, which form a miniscule speck on the face of this enormous planet of ours. Perhaps our war-mongering nations who are trying to perfect aerial combat and long-distance aiming must study these planets and how they focus their cosmic beams on a tiny target like individuals from such great distances!
I prefer to treat the planets in astrology, and their motions like the hands of a clock. The hands of the clock indicate time but do not control or 'effect' time (nor do they affect time!). The mere fact of the hands of the clock coming together at noon is not what causes hunger in most individuals as their minds turn towards lunch, but rather that the two completely disparate activities, namely, cycle of hunger and the cycle of the clock-hands are synchronized, more or less that they coincide at lunch hour. Everybody does not eat or even feels hungry at the same time every day, though the clock regularly joins its hands at noon. Similarly, mars comes to a certain position each day but does not cause an accident or injury every single time. Mars, therefore, does not cause the injury but merely indicates the probability or circumstances where such can occur. Planetary symbols are indicators that we use in astrology. Those who are comfortable with esoteric conceptualizations, often point out the possibility of the macrocosmic planetary cycles being in synchrony with similar cycles within the microcosm (Yat pinde tat brahmande; as in the unit (body), so in the universe). We shall leave such pondering to the philosophers and turn our attention to more practical issues.
Astrology is a language that uses the alphabet (symbols) of signs, planets and similar entities and through interpretation and synthesis of such symbols generates a reading that has relevance to the human experience: all facets of life and what surrounds us. The very basis building blocks used in jyotish (Indian system of astrology) involve the 12 sidereal signs (Aries or Mesha to Pisces or Meena) which are formed by clusters of stars in the sky and lie along the apparent path of the sun. Apparent because it is really the earth that is going around the sun and in doing so, due to our geocentric vantage it appears as if the sun is moving against the backdrop of stars. This apparent path of the sun as it moves 28 degrees north and south (again due to the tilted axis of the earth), defines a 'belt' around us.
The belt is called the ecliptic or zodiac. Each of these equally divided 12 signs (30 degrees each, since a circle describes 360 degrees and 1/12th of this would be 30 degrees) is ruled by a planet. In jyotish, sun and moon are considered the 'lights' just like in western astrology, but only the 7 visible planets, mercury to Saturn are taken into consideration. The extra-saturnine planets (sometimes mistakenly called outer planets; this is contrary to the geocentric classification, where all planets outside earth's orbit are outers and those within its orbit are inner planets) are not included in traditional jyotish.
It is intriguing to note that the planets up to Saturn would have orbits, which are less than 30 years; therefore, most human beings would experience more than one complete revolution or cycle of each planet. The planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have very long orbits, ranging from 84 to 248 years, which are beyond the average expectancy of life in most countries. These planets would perhaps have more significance in entities with a long life span, such as stock market entities, organizations, nations, etc. This is outside the scope of this article and will not be addressed any further.
The planetary rulership over the signs is based on the orbital distribution of the planets in the solar system with the sun given to rule over Leo and moon over Cancer. Sun and moon are considered to represent the parents, father and mother, respectively and the children, the planets are given one house on each side of the parents. In keeping with their orbital distribution in space, mercury, Venus, mars, Jupiter and Saturn rule the corresponding signs on each side of cancer and Leo. So we have mercury ruling over Gemini and Virgo, Venus ruling over Taurus and Libra, mars over Aries and Scorpio, Jupiter over Pisces and Sagittarius, and Saturn ruling over Aquarius and Capricorn.
Each sign then represents a house in a horoscope and the orientation starts with the sign rising at birth in the east; this being the first house or ascendant. In a given horoscope, the planets may be placed in their own house, or in another house, alone or with other planets. They are also considered to influence certain other houses by their 'glance' or drishti. It must be noted that these are concepts and descriptors that are useful in judging the connectivity between planets and between planets and signs. Each house has certain attributes and rules over certain areas in life, such as we will describe for the 12th house, further down. The basis theme and considerations are similar for other houses, though the specific issues would vary in each case. Now given that there are close to 6.7 billion individuals inhabiting the earth, a permutation and combination of 12 signs, 9 planets and 1 to 3 aspects or drishtis does not yield too many unique patterns.
Obviously, jyotish does not stop at this and utilizes further divisional charts, each ruling over a certain area in life and there are other considerations such as a series of 'roles' played by each planet. For instance, sun in a horoscope represents the ruling stratum of the society and ones father, but it may also be the putrakaraka(significator of progeny) in one chart but darakaraka (spouse) in another chart, and it has more roles possible. Using the asterisms (a way of dividing the zodiacal circle into 27 divisions instead of the 12 signs alone) and the 'invisible' planets that are really mathematical points (lunar nodes, luni-solar upagrahas, etc) a fairly intricate matrix results and begins to match the complexity of our lives, as astrology moves towards higher concordance with the human experience that it purports to describe.
Many good books are available for learning jyotish, which provide the information in an orderly fashion, hence, I will refrain from doing the same. In this series of articles that I shall be sharing through the courtesy of Boloji, I shall attempt to present this in a more practical format for the benefit of those who are interested in learning astrology or whose curiosity about astrology brought them to this page. Additional material exists at and shall be added from time to time at the Crystal Pages and I would like to invite you to visit us there, as well.
Crystal Pages is an E-Organization that is dedicated to providing information about jyotish as well as conducting studies and research in this area and providing limited astrological services to help with the upkeep of its various jyotish-related activities.
The following illustration shows the radix or rashi chart of a celebrity (Madonna) using Parashara's Light version 4.5 software (Geovision), in the layout that is utilized in Northern India.
The top diamond is the first house and in this case contains Leo, the 5th sign. Virgo or the 6th sign forms the 2nd house in this chart and so on. She has Venus in Cancer in the 12th house. The numbers shown against the planets represent their longitudes in degrees and minutes. So, Venus in this chart is in 8 degrees and 39 minutes of sidereal Cancer. Sun, mercury and moon are in 1st house, rahu and Jupiter in 3rd house (Libra or sign #7), retrograde Saturn in 4th house, mars and ketu in 9th house, and Venus in 12th.
The 12th house in a horoscope encompasses matters that signify material loss. In practice, any house that is in the 12th from another, would signify loss regarding matters governed by that house. In other words, any given house would indicate loss to the matters governed by the house that lies next to it. So, the seeds for triggering a loss in efforts, courage and communication (ruled by the 3rd house) lie in the 2nd house, loss of conjugal bliss and marital harmony (ruled by 7th house) may be studied from the 6th, and loss of fortune and poise (spiritual equilibrium signified by the 9 th house) may be studied from the 8 th house since it lies in a chart in the 12 th house from the 9 th!
The 12th house, therefore, is not a very easy house in materialistic terms; however, there exist hints in ancient texts that indicate the spiritual significance of the 12th house! It is a house of paramount importance in the horoscopes of religious figures and ascetics. Confusingly, though, it has also been vested with attributes and matters such as 'pleasures of the couch' - happy rests the head that has nothing that remains to be lost, I suppose! Other things that may be studied from the 12th house include the state of one's sleep, dwelling and wandering in lands foreign to one, karmic burdens, investment expenses, institutions and similar issues.
Generally speaking, one's spiritual growth, also known as the quest for knowing oneself, gets a kick start in a major way when one faces 'choices' that pertain to losing something or someone who is extremely dear. During most spiritual journeys, a time comes when one's attachments and clinging must be challenged and subsequently shed. Invariably, experiences at such points in time prove to be the pivots around which the wheel of spiritual progress turns! Whether one actually suffers the loss or merely faces the possibilities of such, and the degree of metamorphosis that such an event or eventuality can bring within oneself, varies between individuals, the profundity of the effect, however, is felt unambiguously.
We can perhaps say that the 12th house signifies the material price that one must pay in order to reap spiritual gains. Obviously, the two 'realities' or realms of awareness hardly enjoy any equivalence in values. What might sound like a terrible loss when awareness is focused in the materialistic plane might not automatically signify something of equal positive or negative value in the spiritual!
Planets that are associated with the 12th house in a horoscope, for instance those that are located in the 12th, are important indicators of the materialistic areas that need work so that one may reap spiritual benefits. The natural significance (role; karakattwa) of such a planet must be taken into account, as well as those things signified by its rulership over houses in the given horoscope.
The sun represents the individuality and ego (which can readily become EGO!) and by virtue of being placed in the 12th house would signify the lure of EGO, WHICH must be overcome by the nativity before any real spiritual advancement can commence. This would be even more so, should Leo be rising in the ascendant, thereby imparting the sun with a natural and temporal or chart-specific focus as during double duty as a significator of the self and ego, two keywords that are primarily studied from the first house! Should such a situation (sun in cancer in a Leo rising nativity) be present in a chart where Saturn the epitome of humbleness rises, the path towards self-effacement becomes harder and not easier! The task, signified by the sun in the 12th remains the same, but the expression and self-perception, thanks to the Saturn in ascendant, lulls one into minimizing the extent of the task! "After all, how much more humble can one appear", is what such a nativity feels? The mantra for someone with such a horoscopic signature obviously is to 'become' humble and not merely be contented with simply "appearing" to be humble!
For someone who is born with Venus in the 12th, the battle becomes one that is fought less at the mental level! Indeed, such may be the plethora of artifacts of pleasure, luxury and distractions that one finds the time and opportunities to think about the soul, much later in the game of earthly existence, perhaps through finding a parental role!
While this may not be cast in stone, more often than not, when one is born with a planet in the 12th house, one is almost assured of 'reminders' from the spirit! These reminders may appear in one of many different forms, but generally are unmistakable and quite often persistent. These could occur during significant transits, and during the periods of dasha (the Vedic system of timing using a special form of progression of the natal moon) of planets situated in the 12th house as well as during periods of planets in the stars ruled by planets that are associated with the 12th. One may choose to treat the 12th house as ones enemy and may try to reduce its impact but running and hiding in the game of spiritual evolution merely delays the inevitable, namely, that growth and maturity is the birthright of the soul and is best handled by facing rather than turning away from opportunities for growth that challenge us throughout life.