Aspects and Yogas - Part I
This article is my first attempt is to refine and reconstruct the mysterious rationale behind the special aspects of the planets, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in Vedic Astrology. This article could raise a few eyebrows who practice Vedic Astrology. My intention is not to offend or prove anyone or any concept wrong that has been practiced for over 2000 years as wrong. If you are open-minded, go ahead to read further. If not, it is better, you close the window right away!
Most basic ideology that I am sticking to is that, any aspect in any form of Astrology needs to be tied up to some kind astronomical, geometrical and mathematical relationship between the bodies that are connected. Having said, I am not excluding the divination and mystical element out of astrology. It is not my aim to prove astrology as an exact science. There are others who can do it better than me. I want to put forth my opinions against some of the basic level misconceptions that I think have been existing in Vedic Astrology for a very long time in natal astrology.
Zodiac wheel comprises of signs and planetary bodies from an astrological point of view. However, how do interpretation of planetary bodies and their positions in different signs are arrived at is a result of astronomical and geometrical relationship that various planetary bodies have with each other from various signs of the zodiac is the premise of astrology. This is a universally accepted logic of understanding astrology. In other words, calculation of the planetary positions is astronomy while the interpretation of the impact on human beings and other earthly bodies is astrology. Hence, we are pretty convinced about the fact that there is a geometrical, astronomical and mathematical relationship that is in place between the planetary bodies. The relationship between the planets from various positions are called as “Aspects”.
General Aspect Doctrine
There are four basic aspects (Sextile, Square, Trine, Opposition) that are common to all forms of astrology. I have left conjunction because it is more of a closely circled energy in my opinion which is more powerful than an aspect. Hence, I consider conjunction as a separate phenomenon altogether. The most common factor of all the aspects are the astronomical and geometrical relationships that the planetary bodies get into with each other. All these aspects are also sign based and not just degree based. However, the relationship with geometry and astronomy is preserved. From Vedic Astrology point of view, it is imperative to understand that aspect will be formed and very much existent even if the other square does not host any planet. However, seldom do Vedic Astrologers consider the aspects except those that are common like 7th aspect of every planet and the special aspects of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. Trine aspect is used in Nadi Astrology.
Sextile aspect is formed when two planets are posited at 90° from each other. Sextile is considered to be a mini-trine in terms of being a free flowing and an easy aspect which facilitates in easier manifestation of events without much of alteration or modification to current life condition.
A person sitting exactly near us with a geometrical relationship of 30° is very hard for us to see but it is relatively easier when a person is sitting at about 60° away from us from a geometrical relationship standpoint. This is a sextile aspect. In the above image, take Aries as rising. Aries is sextile to Gemini and Aquarius, likewise, signs and planets placed in the sign will have a sextile relationship with another sign and a planet placed placed in another sign which is 60° away. There is a viable geometrical relationship that certainly has an astrological significance because the bodies can actually “see” each other in this relationship.
Square aspect is formed when the planets are placed at 90° from each other. Square aspect is considered to be pivotal, conflicting and tensed aspect but this has a lot of influences based upon the nature of planets that are forming a square and we also need to take into account the element and modality of a sign.
A person sitting at 90° angle from us is always easier to look at from a geometrical position standpoint. In the above image if we take Aries as rising, the four cardinal points, i.e. Cancer, Libra and Capricorn will be square or the planet in these signs will form a square with other planets placed in the signs mentioned above. We certainly have an astronomical pattern here from basic visibility terms of planets from each other.
Trine aspect is formed when two planets are placed at 120° away from each other. Trine aspect is considered to be a free flowing aspect and represents easing energy, harmony and fortune. Yet, this depends upon the planets that are forming a trine. We also need to take the modality and elemental nature of the signs that are hosting the planets that are forming a trine. Elements are always the same in case of a trine.
When a person is sitting at 120° away from the other person, there is almost a clear visibility without much trouble of turning the head. Likewise, the relationship between the bodies in trine are pretty much established from an astronomical and a geometrical point of view.
Opposition is formed when bodies are placed at 180° away from each other. This is the most clear visibility that each body has with the other. Since the two planets are placed exactly at opposite points from each other, the idea is that this aspect is essentially a hard aspect that brings difference in opinions as it is called as a polarity. However, this is not a negative aspect essentially because it also depends upon the planets placed in opposition. Modality is always the same in case of opposition. 1st house opposes the 7th house, 2nd house opposes the 8th house, 3rd house opposes the 9th house, 4th house opposes the 10th house, 5th house opposes the 11th house and 6th house opposes the 12th house. Opposition always brings about a great chance in terms finding the other side of the same coin which helps us to understand the situations in life more clearly.
Before getting into the special aspects, I want to write about aversion which is a very major factor in the study of aspects. Aversion is formed when a planet is placed from 2nd, 6th, 8th and 12th from the other.
Special aspects of Vedic Astrology and the hidden gems in Yogas
A special feature of Vedic Astrology is the special aspects that are assigned to the planets; Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Mars aspects the 4th sign, 7th sign and the 8th sign from its position. Jupiter aspects the 5th sign, 7th sign and 9th sign from its position. Saturn aspects the 3rd sign, 7th sign and 10th sign from its position. The rationale behind these special aspects are unknown and mysterious except for a few astrologers trying to rationalize it by connecting the dots which in my opinion don’t really exist. Because, if we clearly get into the studies of Yogas of Vedic Astrology, we can see that most of the square, trine and opposition aspects are mentioned as various yogas in various texts. It is not that our ancestors have missed the basic aspects. But they have mentioned most of those as Yogas.
For example, Gajakesari Yoga is formed when Moon and Jupiter are in kendra from each other. When Moon reaches every square house from Jupiter and opposes Jupiter, Gajakesari Yoga is formed. Square and Opposition are considered to be hard in general. But, Moon and Jupiter relationship and its mention as Gajakesari Yoga clears the void by explaining that squares and oppositions always challenging. The natives born with this placement have the ability to beat the odds and rise in life from any situation.
Mars’ aspect of 4th aspect is pretty much geometrical and astronomical because of the position of 120°. Mars is a body in the solar system and it has an influence over other bodies from a position in which it is placed. Similarly, there are Guru-Mangala Yoga and Chandra-Mangala Yoga that indicate a geometrical relationship between Jupiter-Mars and Moon-Mars respectively. However, the most puzzling point is the 8th aspect of Mars which probably is a misnomer or a mistake in transmission of texts during the ancient period. Because, 8th house is considered as an aversion in most of the ancient texts and it is not an aspect between the planets or a single planet over a particular sign. One point that people could make here is that Mars rules the natural 8th house of Scorpio and hence, Mars has the 8th aspect. Jupiter rules the natural 12th house of Pisces. Why doesn’t Jupiter have the 12th aspect?
Jupiter has 5th and 9th as special aspects apart from the common 7th aspect. We may call that Jupiter is the ruler of the natural ruler of Dharma house of Sagittarius and hence there is the 9th aspect. Same can be made applicable to the 5th aspect as well. In that case, Mars rules the 1st fire sign of Kala Purusha and begins the journey of dharma, then passes the baton the Sun which rules Leo and then Jupiter which rules Sagittarius. As it is, all the fire signs are somehow related to Dharma. Idea could have been that Jupiter is the greatest natural benefic and Jupiter has been given more significance in terms of aspecting the trines of 5 and 9 from where it is placed.
Saturn aspects the 3rd and 10th from where it is placed apart from the common 7th aspect. 3rd aspect is the sextile aspect and 10th aspect is the most significant point from any planet or the rising sign. One can argue that Saturn is the natural ruler of 10th house of Karma and hence Saturn has the 10th aspect. With regards to the 3rd aspect, Saturn signifies efforts and hence Saturn has the 3rd aspect. However, Saturn’s aspect is always malefic in Vedic Astrology. Same is the case with Mars.
Point is that, most of the planetary aspects are covered in the Yogas. But there are 1000s of yogas mentioned in Vedic Astrology and there will be at least 500 (an approximate figure) yogas related to the aspects. It is harder for the current generation of astrologers to remember all those yogas while doing astrology readings or analysis. Astrologers of today can hardly remember 15 yogas and we are not sure if we will have the presence of mind to apply those while interpreting a chart. This is a practical issue. Hence, I think it is wise to consider the aspects like Sextile, Square, Trine and Opposition for all the planets based upon the sign, nature and nature of planet. This will give us further insight into a person’s life by not missing some of the important topics in a person’s life.