We’ve established quite a bit of foundation to astrological analysis in the previous parts of this series. Now we are going to examine how the planets interact with each other through aspects and yogas. I briefly went over yogas when explaining the nature of housing systems and why they are important for adding nuance and specificity to an individual’s chart, so we will start there.
Planetary yogas are a technique that is exclusive to Vedic Astrology. The meaning of the word yoga is “to yoke” – so a planetary yoga is when two planets are yoked together. Generally, this tends to be based on the house rulerships associated with the planets involved but not always. Essentially, yogas are different sets of possible combinations of different planets in charts that have a tendency to yield particular results. One of the most common examples are raja yogas.
Raja yogas are “king maker” yogas that occur when the ruler of a kendra/angular house (1st, 4th, 7th, or 10th) combines with a ruler of a trikona/trine house (1st, 5th, or 9th). For example, say we have a chart with Aries on the ascendant and Mars and Jupiter occupy the same house – say, the 10th house (Capricorn). Mars and Jupiter form a raja yoga – a pretty powerful one considering Mars is exalted in Capricorn. Someone born on the same day as this person, but whose ascendant falls in Taurus instead, would not have this raja yoga. That is why the exact time of birth is so important. Additionally, the strength of the planets involved is also important when evaluating a yoga. Let’s go back to our Aries ascendant chart – maybe instead of Mars and Jupiter being placed in Capricorn, they are instead placed in Libra in the 7th house. Mars nor Jupiter do well in Libra, so the strength of this raja yoga is diminished.
Another set of yogas are called dhana yogas, which generate wealth in a chart. Dhana yogas are formed when planets that rule the 1st, 5th, 9th (trikona/trines) or 2nd and 11th (wealth) houses conjoin together. The chart of Bill Gates has multiples of these yogas. Bill Gates is a Gemini rising, with Mercury (1st house ruler) and Mars (11th house ruler) conjoined in the 4th in Virgo, where Mercury is exalted. He also has Saturn (9th house ruler) and Venus (5th house ruler) conjoined in Libra, which is ruled by Venus and the sign of exaltation for Saturn. This is a clear example of how the strength of the planets involved in the yogas contribute to the results of the yogas. However, they are not the only factor that goes into evaluating yogas.
Yogas also are not always active or yielding their results in the native’s life – the timing of when yogas mature and give their results is assessed using the Vedic mahadasha system, in addition to other factors such as the quality and the strength of the planets involved. Yogas can even be canceled out completely if certain conditions are present in the chart. There are hundreds of different kinds of yogas, and it takes a skilled astrologer to be able to give a full analysis of their presence and the results they may yield in a person’s chart.
Yogas can quickly become complicated. For the purpose of this series it is not necessary to get too detailed about yoga analysis. Frankly, I am not trying to teach people how to analyze the yogas in their chart. I just wish to give some general information about what yogas are and how they are used. In summary, this is what the take-aways are:
Planetary yogas are one way of analyzing how the planets interact with each other and how different areas of life accounted for in the natal chart are connected
Yogas often, but not always, involve the houses of the chart and therefore are highly dependent on an accurate birth time
Not all yogas are created equal – astrologers analyze the strength of a yoga by looking at the strength of the planets involved, which includes looking at the sign and house the yoga is placed in, and ruling out the presence of any possible afflictions or cancellations in the chart
Yogas don’t always get a chance to yield their results, which can come down to timing or afflictions present in the chart
Now we come to an area of astrology that it utilized in both Western and Vedic traditions, albeit differently from each other. This is the topic of planetary aspects.
In Western traditions, planetary aspects occur when planets occupy specific numeric angles from each other. This technique is also shared from the Arabic tradition of astrology. The angle of the aspects is measured by counting the number of degrees between two planets (remember that the ecliptic is a 365* circle). Aspects can be auspicious or inauspicious, with each type of aspect having its own kind of significations and experiences associated with it. The following sets of aspects are used with this technique, though there are more as well:
|Conjunction||0°||Occurs when planets occupy the same sign. |
The energies of the planets combine.
|Opposition||180°||Occurs when planets occupy signs opposite each other.|
Can create pressure – each sign has a paradoxical relationship.
|Trine||120°||Occurs when planets occupy the sign of the same element.|
Considered very lucky and harmonious.
|Square||90°||Occurs when planets occupy signs of the same modality.|
Considered challenging, but yields growth.
|Sextile||60°||Occurs when planets occupy alternating pairs of elements: |
air and fire or water and earth.
Considered friendly and harmonious.
Vedic astrology, on the other hand, has two main schools of thought around aspects: Jaimini and Parashara. I am not a Jaimini astrologer, and it is a bit niche so I am going to focus on the Parashara school of astrology here. According to Parashara, the planets themselves give aspects unique to their individual nature, rather than planets being in aspect based on a mathematical relationship to each other. The aspects instead are referred to as “drishti” or “glance” – as in, the planets are giving their gaze unto different houses. The aspects of a given planet are counted as number of houses away from the planet in question. So, a planet that has a 7th aspect and is placed in the 1st house aspects the 7th house. A planet with a 3rd aspect that is placed in the 2nd house aspects the 4th house, and so on. For the record, all planets have a 1st (the sign they occupy) and 7th (the sign opposite) aspect. However, the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn give additional aspects. Here is a table of the planets and their aspects:
|Mars||1st, 4th, 7th, 8th|
|Jupiter||1st, 5th, 7th, 9th|
|Saturn||1st, 3rd, 7th, 10th|
Instead of a quality being assigned to the aspect itself, the aspect from the planet is evaluated based on that planet’s relationship with the themes of the signs, houses, and their ruling planets. So, if a given planet has a harmonious relationship with the sign and ruling planet of the house it is aspecting, then the aspect is auspicious. If that is not the case, the aspect is challenging. Remember that all planets give their 7th aspect, and so the sign opposite a planet is always being aspected. This is one reason why debilitated or fallen planets are not necessarily all bad – because they still aspect their own sign opposite their sign of fall or debilitation. It’s also worth mentioning that according to this system, houses can still become activated by the presence of yogas or planetary aspects even if there are no planets present in that house.
Yogas and aspects are how astrologers assess what the planets are saying to each other and how different areas of life come together and influence each other in the natal chart. What exactly the planets are “saying” involves weaving together assessments of the involved planets, houses, and zodiac signs, using the foundational knowledge we covered in previous articles. Astrologers use all this information together to get a sense of what results the natal chart will yield in a person’s life, but the “how” and “when” of those results are evaluated through studying current planetary transits and timing periods such as planetary returns and the Vedic dasha system. In the next article, we will go over the Vedic dasha system and lunar nakshatras before moving on to looking at planetary returns and transits.
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