Jyotish Fundamentals – Zodiac Signs
Aries is youthful and never mature. As the first sign, Aries carries all the qualities of youthfulness- quickness, agility, zest and energy. Because it is ruled by Mars, it has ties to aggression and force. As a fire sign it is best occupied by Mars, Jupiter and the Sun, who are the three planets who rule the three fire signs. The Sun is exalted in Aries, because the King is worshipped by the army there. A King feels really good amongst his army because first they do his bidding, and secondly they protect him, and third they kill His enemies. So, Aries is the Sign where the Sun is the strongest.
Because Aries is so passionate for life, quick, aggressive, happy, youthful, therefore Saturn hates Aries and is debilitated therein. Debilitation means that sign for each planet where He feels stripped of power. Since Saturn is into slowness, the quickness of Aries is a pain. Since Saturn is into old age, the youthfulness of Aries is a pain, and so on.
As stated, the two most sensitive points of any chart are the Moon and Lagna [Ascendant]. We can know a sign very well by looking at the charts of person who have the Moon or Lagna in that Sign. Persons who have the Moon in Aries, for example, are quick thinking, quick to action, make sudden decisions, and leave things quickly too, as Aries has no endurance, only sprint-ability.
Taurus is ruled by luxury loving Venus. Taurus is the sign of beauty, luxury, happiness, comfort and all things nice. Taurus is symbolized by the Bull, which is quite content to sit in his nice green pasture and eat grass. The scene with a happy bull in a field is a nice and pleasant scene, and a very settled one too. It’s not easy to move a bull, and an angry bull is dangerous. So, Taurus rules the settled home, and Taurus affected people like to get things set up and leave them that way.
Taurus is one of the three Earth ruled signs. The Earth signs rule Earthy things such as pragmatism and material provisions. As the first of these three Taurus is the leader. With the beauty and grace of Venus behind it, Taurus goes about procuring or arranging for very Earthy circumstances and since Earth is solid, the things Taurus creates are also solid and lasting, not fleeting, like things created by Wind signs (which are susceptible to being “blown away”).
Gemini is a Mercury ruled Air Sign. Thinking and ideas “live in the air” so to speak as they have no Earthly form. Mercury is about thinking, speaking, deal making, carrying messages, and so on. Gemini is His first sign, and the first of the air signs. So, Gemini has a special kinship with messages which travel in the air, which could be gossip, or TV advertising, Radio and so on. Since Mercury is a very non-committed entity, so also Gemini has the tendency to be open to all ideas, and therefore is very good for study, learning, scholarship, education, teaching, repeating things learned, book publishing, and so on.
In Sanskrit Gemini is called Mithuna, which means “sex” essentially. The coming together of a pair of lovers for the exchange of love is a type of meeting, which Gemini supports very well. Gemini and Mercury are very supportive of talks, messages and negotiations, and not so much about what is being shared. Mercury and its signs are more about handling messages and information rather than committing to the specific content of any one message. There are many things which carry messages without concern for the content- such as computer disks, libraries, phone lines, colleges, mirrors, etc., and these things have a touch of either Mercury, Gemini or both, inside of them.
Wherever Gemini sits in the chart, there we will find intellectualism. If Gemini is in the first house, we will find an overall interesting but deal making person. If Gemini is in the seventh, the person will have a tendency to make deals with the spouse. If Gemini is in the ninth, the person will have a tendency to intellectualize about religion, but necessarily commit to any one religion.
Jnan, pronounced “gyawn” like “yawn” with a “g” in front, is a Sanskrit word that means “knowledge”. But it means “book knowledge” or just knowing facts, not realized knowledge, which is more like “wisdom”. Gemini and Mercury are more into jnan, than vijnan (vig-gyawn). A jnani is one who “knows a lot of things”. This does not necessarily imply depth of character, or depth of wisdom, which requires positive help from Jupiter and Saturn. A soldier who teaches war at a college may know a lot about war but may be “a chicken” when it comes to fighting. Gemini and Mercury are about jnan.
Cancer is called Karkata in Sanskrit, which means both circle and crab (the sea creature). The example of the crab is significant because crabs live near water, and Cancer is a Water Sign. Crabs are particular about protection. This is because they move somewhat slowly and their bodies are very soft. So, they employ hard shells and claws to help themselves survive. They tend to sit in holes in the rock for further protection when not scrounging about for provisions. They often inhabit the shells of other bygone creatures.
Cancer is one of the more sensitive signs therefore. All the water signs are sensitive, but this one is the leader. Water flows around your finger – it does not object if you stick your finger into it. Whereas, fire will burn it off, and Earth simply won’t allow it in. But water is adjusting to others. Water doesn’t mind “going around” obstacles and “assuming the shape” of wherever someone may pour it. So it is with this sign- it is adjusting, soft, sensitive, generally in need of protection, and a natural servant of those persons or places that give it shelter.
Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and as the Moon reflects the light of the Sun, so goes Cancer- always searching for that great light to reflect, or glorify, or serve. Cancer feels dependent and needy, and so has a natural tendency to depend upon others. If everything is safe, it is a very good sign, but if things aren’t safe, it’s likely to use its little pinchers to pinch a wound or two into the threat.
As Cancer is the only sign ruled by the Moon, and Leo the only sign ruled by the Sun, much of the nature of the feminine and masculine principles are taken from these two planets and their two signs. The masculine principle is independence and control, whereas the feminine is dependence and submission. The masculine is strong in the material world, whereas the feminine qualities are more helpful for emancipation from this world, because what is needed in spiritual life is first and foremost a humble and submissive attitude towards the divine.
If you need someone to be concerned about setting up or protecting a home, or about nurturing and caring for dependent children, then Cancer is your woman!
Leo is the only Sign ruled by the Sun. It is a Fire Sign, and odd or masculine, and fixed, not movable or mutable. Therefore, Leo is the topmost excellent sign for masculine dominance. We find often in political leaders that they have either Leo Moon, Leo Sun or Leo rising. This is very common. Amongst person, those with these prominent Leo placements always have a hard time submitting to others, and therefore they rise to leadership positions because being a follower is foreign to them.
If you need someone to be brute and strong willed, never succumbing to opposition, then Leo is your Man!
Virgo is called Kanyain Sanskrit. Kanya means “daughter” or “virgin”. Virgo is a Feminine Earth Sign. Virgo rules the bounty of nature when it is at its prime. In India, virgin daughters are considered much like the Earth itself – full of the possibility of producing the future needs of everyone. Virgo is innocent, beautiful, Earthy, and being ruled by Mercury, has connections with learning. In fact, Virgo is the writers and editors sign to be sure. Persons with significant mental planetary placements (Lagna, Moon, Sun or Mercury) in Virgo tend to be writers, editors, communicators, etc.
The symbol of Virgo is a young girl seated in a boat, carrying books and fresh cut grain from a field. These symbolize the nature of Virgo. Virgo rules agriculture because of the fact that agriculture is based first and foremost on the preparation of the soil. When the environment and soil are truly healthy and good, then good things are grown in that soil.
The young girl in the boat is healthy, happy and wholesome. She is young, and learning. Virgo rules that coquettish stage of learning where the person feels an abundance of knowledge, and is proud of it. This is why it’s good for writers and editors. They like to use their exacting knowledge. This leads to being “picky”. Virgo as a sign is known most for producing very picky people (which editors must be for example).
Cleanliness requires finding dirt and getting rid of it. Editing requires finding mistakes and getting rid of them, and good farming requires finding things which foul the process and getting rid of them. A beautiful young girl is something easily polluted. A virgin is no longer a virgin after one sexual encounter, so, Virgo as a sign is very particular about seemingly small things. If you need somebody to be “anal” about something, then get a Virgo!
Libra is called Thula in Sanskrit, which means “scales”. Thula is used in Sanskrit verse to mean “how heavy do you weigh in”, or “what is your position”. It is a bit deeper than just “scales”. Libra is the only Movable Air Sign. Libra is ruled by Venus and is the exaltation of Saturn, and the debilitation of the Sun. All of these things tell us a lot about Libra. Where is that place, where King’s feel in danger, and workers feel really good? Well, the open marketplace in the street. Libra is there in that market.
There we have the scales of commerce, the workers showing their goods, collecting cash for their wares, and having fun talking to each other. So here comes the King. He’s surrounded by those whom he overtaxes, he’s surrounded not by his army, but by workers. They taunt him, throw things at him, and he has to run away in fear. In Libra, we’re all equal. Libra is about cloth, and goods, and talking, and being friendly, not taking sides, but somehow just getting through the day. Libra is very practical and real.
Nobody can move around like Libra. As a movable air sign, it’s “out of here” constantly. Don’t try to lock down Libra. As the exaltation of Saturn and the Debilitation of Sun, it’s not about being “strong, responsible, conservative and stable”. No, forget those uptight qualities. Libra is a marketplace full of hippies, who set up on one corner one day, and a different corner the next. It’s a confusing array of colours, cloth, decorations, smiling painted faces, clowns, music, balloons, honking horns, bullock carts, pickpockets and all the things that an uncontrolled happy crowd of desperate living and breathing beautiful humans can offer each other. No heavy decisions, no heavy organization, just “let’s do something, let’s make some money, let’s have some fun, can we go now?”
Ah Scorpio. Are you ready for this? You enter a cave where water is dripping everywhere and it’s hot and steamy. Down you go. You come to a cavern, and there is a den of thieves. Rough, tough, grimy sweaty men with intense looking haircuts and spike collars like bulldogs. You think you’re finished. But just then, in a very sensitive and humble voice, one of them starts to talk about his inner child, and the other one offers you his milk biscuits.
So here we have the 8th sign of the Zodiac. Not an enviable number at all, as you’ll eventually realize from studying Jyotish. Scorpio is a Mars ruled water sign (“Oh brother”). That’s a paradox in itself, but then on top of that it’s a Fixed Sign (non-movable nature).
So how does this all stack up? Well, how do you feel about large underground gasoline tanks? They are watery, yet full of Mars potential, yet fixed in the Earth. Perfect. Scorpio is dangerous, that’s true. That’s why it’s the debilitation point of the sensitive Moon. The sensitive Moon feels very threatened and frightened in Scorpio. In Sanskrit Scorpio is called Vrishchika, which by no surprise means “Scorpion”.
Scorpio is mysterious and frightening to us all. All the things that Scorpio rules are the things we love to fear- like spiders, serpents, scorpions, holes in the ground, caves, crevices, cracks and dark places. When you take deadly force, and give it a covering, and make it mysterious, you’ve created Scorpio. Scorpio is also the genital and anus of the Kala Purusha [Primordial Being], or the Universal Form of God. In the Bhagavat Purana, and other Vedic Scriptures, the Virat Rupa (Universal Form) of the Lord is described. There it is said that Scorpio rules over the private parts region of the His body.
Nobody likes to show their anus to other people, and none of us want to look at each other’s anuses. It’s just not a pleasant subject. Yet, having one is essential and we use it every day. The genital is another thing, also a part of the picture of Scorpio. We “love each other” through the Genital, but we cover it with cloth, and don’t show it openly. It’s a private, erotic, secret area.
So Scorpio is about secrets, and private pleasures, and deep issues, and eroticism, and fear, and danger, and all kinds of things we love to hate, or love to fear, or love to lust, and generally remain really bewildered about. Some of the most odd and unique personalities have Scorpio placements. If you want someone who believes in things nobody else believes in, or to listen to you babble really fast about all your muddled emotions, then you need a Scorpio.
In Dhanus (Sage), we have a Mutable (that means it’s either moving or non-moving – depending) Fire Sign. Dhanus means the Bow as “Bow and Arrows”. So here we have a Fire Sign ruled by the Priest, or Jupiter.
Many wars have been fought for religious reasons. In fact, it’s still going on. In fact, in one sense, they’re all about some type of “we’re better than you”. Of course, the Gulf War was just about who gets the old dinosaur goop, but most wars are about “We’re better than you, and you just don’t get it”. So wars are fought over beliefs and money. Jupiter rules both beliefs and money. So, in Dhanus we find the arms of Jupiter, ready to stand up for what is right, and fight for it.
Dhanus is idealistic. Dhanus thinks “Let us set our goals and go for them. Let us aim high with our bows and fling our arrows into the beyond. Let us transform from what we are to what we want to be.” These sentiments and emotions are found in the Barracks of Armies, and in the Churches and Ashrams, and sometimes in businesses. Wherever we find Preacher types who are kind of in control, and conveying a message rich with high goals, and others are following it with fire and zeal, there we have the influence of Sagittarius, or Dhanus.
Capricorn is pragmatic and real. Ruled by Saturn, and being an Earth sign, Capricorn is about what’s really going on right here right now, or at least, that’s how it feels and seems. When important personality shaping planets are in this sign in someone’s chart (that’s the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and Mercury) then they became pragmatic, good workers, hard workers, have lots of endurance, and serious.
Capricorn is the exaltation sign for the Mars, and the Debilitation sign of Jupiter. The reason Mars is exalted in Capricorn is because Capricorn is where simple forest dwelling, hardworking people live who don’t follow the King. Mars likes to go and fight there. Also, in forests and jungles, there’s lots of shrubbery and trees for fire to consume. So, both the soldier and the fire can really go nuts in the jungle and live out their Martian desires. Jupiter is debilitated there because the simple jungle people have no interest in his high talks and rituals for material advancement. They just give him a blank stare and then walk away. He hates it- nobody listens to him there.
This is why America had such a hard time in Vietnam. They are the “ant people”, devoted to being small, working humbly, underground, with less tools and weapons. We preferred to not touch the ground, thinking we could fight from the air, or standing straight up, and we were wrong. Capricorn is humble- it’s “the people sign” and it’s not especially fond of the fire-trine buddies Sun, Mars and Jupiter. If you want workers, you need Capricorns. The Sanskrit term Makara means Alligator. Actually, the descriptions in the scriptures of the “Makara Beast” is a combination creature, not just an alligator or crocodile. Capricorn doesn’t so much need anything else. This is the nature of Saturn. We’ve conquered the world, but it’s hard to conquer the jungle. Similarly, if a crowd gets big enough, no government can control it, and why should it, if the crowds of people are against it? Saturn is powerful in its humility, size and sheer distaste for the controlling mood of the Fire Trine.
The downside of Capricorn is that it can blunt and dull. The sign does not promote intellectualism or finery in any way. It is more about brute strength, strength is lowness, and being “totally real”. But by “real” Capricorn means to say, the lower classes, the masses, the worker, basic provisions, hard work, doing what’s necessary, not being proud or loud.
Aquarius is a Fixed Air Sign, ruled by Saturn. It is neither the exaltation nor debilitation of any planet. Air signs promote thought because air can move quickly, like the mind. Saturn rules old things and the is a Fixed Air Sign, so, the combination of these two makes Aquarius well suited for old things, things that don’t change, and things which are idea based. Because scriptural revelation is old, unchanging, and coming from the sky, or air, as it were, therefore Aquarius is associated with these things.
Every twelve years when Jupiter is in Aquarius, called “Kumbha” in Sanskrit, the Kumbha Mela takes place in North India. This is the largest gathering of humans in one place on Earth at any time ever. It’s a big event- millions of Hindus gather at the meeting place of the Three Main Holy Rivers of India, the Yamuna, Sarasvati and Ganges. It is called Kumbha Mela because that is where the nectar fell from the sky oh so long ago. Kumbha means “water pot”. Occasionally good things pour down from above, and because of this happening once long ago, the Kumba Mela still happens every twelve years. If you want to see Yogis, that’s the time and place to do it. They come down out of their hiding places to all hang out together for a few days. Aquarius is a good sign for understanding gadgets, science, electrical things, and so on. Many researchers and scientists have Moon or Mercury in Aquarius.
This sign is known for causing seclusion and depression. Fixed in the air and ruled by Saturn, it is unreachable and old. When the Moon is in this Sign the person is ever universal and detached. Aquarians do not make good friends or lovers in some ways because they are so detached. If they love, it is for all. They always seem aloof.
The final Sign of the Zodiac, Pisces rules the end of all things. There is nothing left to do, except be peaceful. Pisces is called Meena, which means Fishes, because this symbol represents being merged in the ocean of truth or finality. This is a Water Sign, ruled by Jupiter. Think of the quiet inner grounds of a monastery, and you have Pisces. There is monks walking about very serenely and there are fountains, and gardens, but everything is quiet, very controlled, very balanced, one with God, surrendered to Divinity, and there is Pisces.
When Pisces affects a person greatly, say because it is their Moon or Rising Sign, then they will have a quality of Peace and equanimity in their personality. Pisces folks like this are kind, sensitive, but fairly passive – they seem to do more staring at you than domination. It is not an ideal sign for being a leader, as water is too responsive to others. It is a good sign for serving, for counselling, and for private or protected lives. It is sometimes called a “weak” sign because it has so little material “oomph”.
Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, and the debilitation of Mercury. Venus, the planet of happiness and pleasure does well in Pisces because in her Vanity she totally stands out there where she is not at all wanted. Jupiter, the owner of Pisces, and Venus, are enemies because they preach in opposite directions. So when Venus is in Pisces, we find in the person some trace of something holding them back, or interrupting their meditation. Venus rules the 3rd and 8th houses from Pisces, and you’ll find that these are “malefic” angles from any point. So, we know that Pisces does not want Venus to come inside. It is like Mars in Capricorn, it’s an exaltation built more on rudeness and confrontation than welcoming.
As for the debilitation of Mercury in Pisces, this is because in the final chapter of truth, which Pisces rules and carries, there is no place for lively jnan (Gyan) or knowledge. Knowledge, mental speculation, thinking about things, not being sure, switching sides, making deals, negotiations- all these things are not necessary once “one is there”. Pisces represents “being there”. It’s final, and spiritual. The religious leaders make it very clear that gyan is inferior to Bhakti, and that in the final stages it is not welcome nor necessary. It is replaced instead by spontaneous loving affection and intimate pastimes and exchanges based on love and divine relations. The things Mercury rules have faded away. Everyone is too peaceful in Pisces, so Mercury feels that His ample talking, discussions, readings, studying and so on is not welcome, and He’s right!