Thursday, August 30, 2007

Western Vs. Vedic Astrology: A Brief Musical Interlude

I realize that most of you out there are more familiar with Western Astrology than you are with Vedic. That's okay: Vedic can be a little intimidating at first.

Both systems are looking at the same person, and the same planets in the same places. The language is different, the techniques are very different (yet strangely compatible once you get the hang of it), but the results (done properly) are the same.

I thought I should clear that up before I go on any more about Britney Spears. The best way I've been able to sum up the difference between these two schools of thought is musically. So turn up those speakers and get astrological with it!

First, the sound of a typical Western Astrologer looking at your birth chart. Lesley Gore, from "Ski Party" (1965):

Now, the same from a Vedic Astrologer. The Dust Brothers, from "Fight Club" (1999):

See? Vedic is easy to figure out!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Britney Spears And Ashtakavarga Astrology -- Gesundheit!

(Click on the picture. It gets bigger.)

Britney Spears is going to be just fine, eventually, and I can demonstrate with ashtakavarga. It's a big scary word, but don't be afraid of it: ash-tok-a-var-ga. Say it with me.

Forget everything you know for a moment about astrology. I'm going to try to convey my great enthusiasm for Ashtakavarga astrology -- a Vedic technique so different from anything else you've seen before that it may as well be considered a branch of astrology distinct from either Vedic or Western. Furthermore, it's a technique that I have found to be consistently reliable and straightforward when it comes to making hard predictions.

Interested? Good. Read on.

The sky is divided into twelve equal portions, called "houses". When you were born, each of these portions received a certain number of "points" based on where the planets were at the time. The more points a house has in your birth chart, the stronger it is, leading to generally better results. Conversely, a house with a lower score tends to be more of a struggle. Each planet also has it's own strength, expressed as a number, depending on which house it is transiting through at the time.

On the right is the birth chart in standard Western terms. In the middle is the Vedic chart... the same information in a different format. The box in the bottom right-hand corner is the First House... that line through it represents the Ascendant. The box to the left of the one with the line through it is the second house, then the third, and so on clockwise around the chart.

On the far left (top left hand corner) is the same information again, except now the information is displayed as a numerical total (the "strength" of each house). Each of the remaining eight charts shows the strength of the transiting Ascendant or planet as it passes through that particular House, with that planet's natal position in grey. In other words, Brit's natal Sun is in the Third House, where it has a strength of 4 out of a possible 8.

(I'm going to pause now so you can catch your breath. All these numbers and boxes can be pretty intimidating. The ancient sages who laid the foundations of Vedic astrology knew this, and predicted that one day there would be a means to make all of this a lot easier. They were right. All these numbers were calculated in a blink by a computer. In the old days, if you went to an astrologer and wanted him to work out your ashtakavarga, you'd pay extra. And for good reason: doing this manually can be crazy-making. But the interpretation can be surprisingly straightforward.)

The houses work largely the way you're used to. The first house is "presenting symptoms" (in medical terms), the Seventh is marriage and partnerships, the Fifth is children and romance, the Tenth is career, the Eleventh is "love received" and so on.

One interesting thing about ashtakavarga -- whenever you see a big difference between the score in a house and the score in an opposite house, that shows an inherent imbalance between those two areas of a person's life. For example, a person with a high score in the First and a low one in the Seventh often indicates someone who "presents well" and is popular and well-liked but has constant difficulty in their marriage and close relationships.

Britney Spears has a score of 37 in her First House and a score of 28 in her Seventh. She has 31 in the Eleventh... but 23 in the Fifth House, representing children. The score is 35 in her Career House (the Tenth), but 20 in her domestic situation (the Fourth).

Although the traditional Vedic system doesn't use Pluto, it's still useful, and still means the same things in a Vedic chart. Pluto entered Brit's Vedic Fourth House last year. Hmmm. Given that big 4th House/Tenth House imbalance, I wonder if there's been trouble between Brit and her Mom, during all this career-boosting publicity?

You bet there is!

You might find yourself wondering at this point if ashtakavarga explains why some people with a strong Venus in the Seventh House have crappy marriages, and why some people breeze through their Saturn Returns.

And you'd be right.

Got all that? Good.

Next time: Quantum superpositioning and negative probability made simple!

Oh, wait, this is my astrology blog...

Next time: Britney Spears' future in detail, using ashtakavarga, made simple!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Britney Spears, Me, And Astrology: Day Two

The recent sudden spectre of child abuse charges against Britney Spears I reported here yesterday have manifested themselves more or less as anticipated... with a whimper, and not much of a bang. Yes, allegations of child abuse have now been officially raised, but...


Everyone who is under the age of 25, is starry-eyed in love at this exact moment, or has a strongly aspected Venus in Pisces is advised to scroll down fast and NOT read the next paragraph.
Look, you and I both know that bullshit allegations get thrown around in some divorces like the rice was at the wedding. And given the near constant press coverage of these two the entire time they were together, and the huge funds available for investigators, lawyers, and professional muckrakers... the best you got is "dental child abuse"?? Unless I'm much more of an old fart than I knew, and only if California is even crazier than I've heard, that's just not going to make a dent. It's the kind of thing that makes the accuser look worse than the one being accused. And it doesn't impress the judge. And judges know petty divorce bullshit when they see it, what with being forced to spend much of their day knee-deep in it.

Astrologically: although I haven't been able to track down the time of the hearing, it amuses me to think it was right at 8 AM, when the transiting Moon was conjunct Neptune in the 5th House. I love an ironic event chart, don't you?

Which brings me to my situation. I was going to go Vedic with it today, but my life is likewise taking its own interesting twists and turns. Also: interesting things happen when you translate a branch of astrology from Sanskrit to English to Windows. I'm about to attempt a repair... as soon as I find my hammer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Britney Spears & Me: Yeah, We're Close

I wanted to try my hand at a little celebrity astrology and found myself staring down the barrel of an issue I occasionally have with some of my clients: a similarity of transits and a parallel in personal issues.

Britney Spears (December 2, 1981, 1:30 AM, Mahon Mississippi) was in a previously-unpublicized hearing in dependency court today, raising the possibility that child abuse charges will be flying in the upcoming Spears-Federline divorce and tabloid TV festival. This comes after a year of heartache, bad behaviour, and general celebrity mayhem.

In a sick sort of way, I love looking at transits of people who are going through major crap. There's absolutely no shortage of things to go on about... and it's always a challenge making a Pluto square sound like a wonderful personal evolutionary opportunity. Which it is. Of course, if you think about it, a flooded basement is an indoor pool.

I want you to understand that although my transits are different, there's a certain symmetry. So I have to immediately declare myself fallible and possibly biased.

Having said that, though... I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that although Brit's life over the course of the next year is going to get ugly, she's going to come out the other side intact. Transiting Saturn squaring her natal Uranus is going to be an ongoing issue until next summer, drifting in and out of orb, with the only remaining exact hit in September. But there's a close pass in March-May, when Pluto drifts in for a conjunction.

This is the sort of thing that could be used to seriously scare a client. But I'm not into scaring people: life itself still does a good enough job of that without any help from me. I may have found the saving grace in all this pile of bad transits. And, like Sherlock Holme's famous dog who didn't bark in the night, it was hiding in plain sight.

During this entire mess I'm not seeing any major transits, good or bad, to her natal Moon from any of the heavier planets. None. A sextile and a quincunx from Jupiter, although positive (or at least not obviously bad) is just too soft to count.

I think -- and a disclaimer, this is more my personal experience as an astrologer than anything I've read anywhere -- this means that no matter how things get, the period in question will be endured and the person will come out the other side roughly intact. I've seen this before. And given that maternal issues are largely involved

On the other hand, you can't look at the dog's breakfast of transits from the outer planets and wonder what's going to blow up next, and which tabloid will run the pictures first.

I'm normally able to offer something more concrete than this in a consultation, but in this case I admit my judgement is a little clouded. Again, Brit and I are suffering from certain strange parallels right now. The only thing I want to admit to is the one that is already somewhat public: the recent nastiness involving my other blog.

I'm not here to whine about my life. But a reminder to all you astrologers out there, whether amateur or professional: you try to read your own transits at your own peril. Even the world's greatest surgeon shouldn't try to take out his own appendix.

If only there were some kind of astrology that could cut through all this angst!

Next Time: Vedic To The Rescue (Maybe) -or- "Help! My Grahas Are In A Knot!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Astrology: The Path To Hell Is Paved With Gold

I really wanted to take the time to write a long and thoughtful piece about the relationship between organized religion and astrology. I was set off on this line of thought by an archbishop who's been picking on astrology, and the above tale of self-congratulatory demons from religious tract publisher Chick Publications, but I simply don't have the time.

I'm too busy counting my money from that market, all flooded with my writing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reality TV, By Sun Sign

"The Bachelor: Aries": He wants to get married... right now! Hurry up and grab your veil, the cab's waiting! What the hell are you waiting for?

"Last Ten Pounds Boot Camp": Tauruses engage in their traditional pastime: eating and complaining about their weight. This week: Mindy discovers a way to heat Pop Tarts on the treadmill.

"Boobies And The Geek": Sometimes they're the same person, particularly if you're a Gemini.

"I'm A Celebrity, Give Me Drugs!": not that Cancers are prone to artificially-enhanced withdrawal from reality... but this week's guests are Lindsay Lohan and Courtenay Love. Again.

"America's Got The Talent Of A Fifth Grader": ...but don't tell The Tap-dancing Leos they stink, or you'll never hear the end of it. Say nice things about their hair instead.

"Hell's Bathroom": Is there anything these Virgos won't clean? This week: critiquing the roommate (Viewer Discretion - Language).

"Wife Slap!": Libras... they've had enough peace love and understanding, for once.

"Who Wants To Bang A Pussycat Doll?": A Scorpio, that's who!

"So You Think You Can Walk And Chew Gum At The Same Time?": Sagittariuses test the limits of safe behavior.

"Pimp My Mom": Capricorns find creative ways to stretch the domestic budget. This week: Mom works a convention.

"Inappropriately Touched By An Angel": Aquariuses are breaking the dating rules all over, and they want you to watch!

"Intervention": Addiction, compassion and suffering as a family tries to wean their Pisces off of her addiction to watching "Intervention."

The Amazing Surprise Economic Turnaround Astrology Experiment continues! Click here to read more, and to join in!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Is Your Astrologer Smarter Than A Monkey?

"I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people"

-Sir Isaac Newton

"A typical mutual fund is providing nothing for the mutual fund owner that they could not get by throwing a dart at a dartboard."

-Paul Samuelson, Nobel Prize-winning economist

Meet Adam Monk, the Chicago Sun-Times stock whiz. His record consistently beats out most of the major investment houses, each of which invests thousands (if not millions) of dollars to predict and project the course of the stock market. He outperforms the major indexes every time.

Adam Monk is not a trained professional. He is a Capuchin Monkey.

Mr. Monk performs two useful duties for me. First of all, he's a reliable guide to investment. He's also an excellent reminder... not of the limits of prediction, but of our society's values when it comes to what we make predictions about. People pour billions of dollars into the market based on the advice of major investment houses. Some win, some lose, but the game continues. And how often do you hear people complain that all investment houses are frauds, based on the poor performance of the one they chose to listen to?

On the other hand, these same people gather around the sun-sign forecast in the paper at work and have a good laugh. "Hey Bob, what sign are you? Aries? This says you're gonna get lucky today!" And then everyone goes back to work, buying and selling stock.

The Wall Street Journal regularly runs a feature comparing the stock market performance of major investment firms to the performance of stocks picked at random by throwing darts. In the ongoing battle between trained professional humans and the darts, the humans are winning... but only by a ratio of 45 to 34. These are not the sort of odds I would want to run my personal life by.

You don't see a lot of undercover news reports about rogue stock traders playing on people's fears and vulnerabilities about their economic futures. But I've seen the same sort of thing when it comes to astrologers, psychics, and "fortune tellers." Sadly, such things do happen in my line of work. I'm sure there are plenty of crooked investment advisors out there, but somehow it's more telegenic when the crook in question is sitting in front of a starry backdrop, acting all mystical.

A lot of astrologers no longer perform their traditional role... hard prediction, or de-emphasize their role in that capacity. That's okay by me... the psychological/holistic approach can have profound benefits for a client. I've seen it. But I think a lot of astrologers have drifted away from hard prediction (and understandably so) based on a few memorable, dramatic failures. I know it's happened to me.

To those astrologers out there who have more-or-less completely drifted away from prediction... the hard-and-fast observable forecasts... I urge you to do what I've done recently, particularly if you have your doubts about your own ability to forecast with the accuracy and detail you'd like. I've gone over a long list of my previous consultations of late, and I've discovered that my track record -- although far from perfect -- consistently beats the big investment firms (who have the benefit of millions of dollars of research, and some of the best mathematical minds out there). I'm also outperforming the monkeys and the darts, thank you very much.

I believe that a consistent, logical, objective application of the traditional predictive techniques offered by astrology can be accurate and useful in a consistent, logical, objective way. Experience backs this up. I see it happen all the time... and if you're a half-decent astrologer, you probably see it happen too. So why aren't I and every other working astrologer out there offering our advice every fifteen minutes on CNN? My guess is that it's a cultural thing... we all like to think we're perfectly in control of our lives, and yet the stock market represents a larger, mostly-beyond-our-control Force Of Nature that we attempt to predict and negotiate with... just like all those "primitive" cultures we like to snicker at, praying to the Rain God for a good harvest.

Either that, or CNN is secretly run by jealous monkeys. I can accept either explanation.


The Amazing Surprise Economic Turnaround Astrology Experiment continues! Click here to read more, and to join in!

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Visit From The Scorpio Fairy

I was at home a few evenings ago doing the usual -- ignoring both housework and my astrology blog -- when the room was filled with a flash of light and a cloud of graveyard-dark smoke.

I had been visited by The Scorpio Fairy.

"Do I get three wishes?" was my first response. As an astrologer, it's never wise to pass up an opportunity for a free meal.

"Yes, in a sense" The Scorpio Fairy said. "I'm going to give you three gifts that I have chosen for you."

"That's kind of controlling of you, isn't it?" I replied.

"Enough with the Scorpio clich├ęs, astrologer boy. You have been one sorry slacker lately, and you need to get up off your ass and do something. You have a purpose here, and you've been terribly lazy about it."

I paused and cast my glance downwards. Even gentle criticism from a Scorpio can be pretty withering. "Okay," I sighed, "you're the boss."

The Scorpio Fairy tapped me on the back of the head with her wand. Instantly, my back stiffened as if my spinal column had been suddenly replaced with a length of steel rebar.

"Your first gift. Fortitude," The Scorpio Fairy announced. "You've become lazy with your profession and with your writing. Always being distracted by other matters."

"Ow. That really hurts." I observed as I tried to move my immobile backbone.

"I'm just getting started." She tapped me with her wand across the eyes. I heard a loud pop, then felt a sharp pain in my eyes. I reached up to check them only to discover that my eyes had been replaced by 75X microscope lenses.

"Gift number two: Focus." The Scorpio Fairy explained. "You always tell your clients to try and break things down into simple, easy, manageable bits. You haven't done that with your life at all, lately, have you?"

"No, not really," I replied, bent over stiffly as I examined the fine weave of the couch fabric magnified 75 times. "I've gotten kind of overwhelmed."

"And it's only made things worse. By losing focus, you go nowhere. Thus, everything becomes a muddle."

I nodded in agreement. "Yes, very wise. Now, about my back and my eyes..."

"My third gift," she interrupted.

I felt the wand tap my nose. I felt myself lurch forward, and (under extreme magnification) saw a greyish, rough surface heading towards my face. I estimated the surface roughness to be equivalent of about a 20-grain grade of sandpaper.

My nose had smacked into a grindstone. The stone began to turn. "Ow. Ow ow ow." I said, or words to that effect.

"Determination!" The Scorpio Fairy proclaimed. "Combined with Fortitude and Focus, these are the keys to making your life a better place, and as a result... the world a better place. You want that, don't you?"

"Yes yes yes yes!" I agreed wholeheartedly.

She left me there for several minutes (just to make sure the lesson had sunk in) and then, with a wave of her wand, I was returned to normal.

"Now," she said, "you're not going to make me have to do that again some time, are you?"

"No ma'am," I replied immediately, rubbing my nose and blinking my restored eyes.

She stepped a little closer. Her expression softened and she looked me in the eyes, imploringly. Her voice grew sweet.

"Besides, sugar," The Scorpio Fairy said, "Saturn's still in Leo, along with the Sun now. Neptune and Chiron are taking forever to get out of Aquarius. With Mars in Taurus these days I'm feeling surrounded, and so are a lot of my people. We need you. Now get to work."

She leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek, flashing me a bit of cleavage before she vanished in a puff of smoke.

Bloody Scorpios. They're so persuasive.