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What Is Vedic Astrology Exactly?

Complicated Enough To Get To The Truth?

“I see from your chart that you are an Aquarius with a moon in Cancer.”


This opening statement from my first astrological reading from renown Vedic astrologer Alan Annand made me a little skepticism. An Aquarius? According to every horoscope I had ever read, I am an Aries true and true.

But before going to the reading, I had done my google research on Alan and he had impressive creds:a physicist turned successful writer and astrologer, accredited by both the British Faculty of Astrological Studies as well as the American College of Vedic Astrologers. He has been conducting consultations for over thirty years, has written numerous articles about the subject and published multiple novels. Thus despite my initial uneasiness, I knew that Alan was a professional and so I tried to hold back judgment until I knew more.

Alan explained that Vedic Astrology, or Jyotish as it is historically referred to, differs from Western astrology in a myriad of ways, and it is considered to be the source from which popular western astrology arose. Jyotish uses the sidereal zodiac, or the stars, to determine what the position of a planet means in relation to a person’s birthday whereas western astrology uses the tropical zodiac which is based on the sun. So, five times out of six there will be a difference between the reading of a western astrologer and a Jyotish astrologer. The latter, Alan assured me, has more tools in his arsenal, an older and more complex tradition, and therefore can conduct a reading that produces top quality, applicable results.

Jyotish focuses on the moon and the sun and the visible planets — Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn - and each of these has its own set of characteristics and associations. Though all of them are considered during a reading, it is the Moon that bares the greatest importance, as it is the stellar body that moves the fastest.

The charts Alan and other Jyotishis use in their readings are called harmonic or divisional charts, and known as amshas or vargas in Sankskrit. “The simplest way to characterize them is to say they’re like musical harmonics, fractals, or holograms, wherein each sub-division contains a relation to the whole,” explained Alan. He added that the charts themselves can get very complicated and reveal a deep level of a person’s subconscious.

These readings also differ from western readings in that the latter places a heavy emphasis on the psychological consequences and meaning of the birth chart, often times projecting states of mind and serving first and foremost as a tool to self-motivate. “[Western astrology] assumes anyone with adequate effort can make the best of a bad situation....[Jyotish] recognizes that karma comes in three forms — fixed, unfixed, and mixed — and that some people are inherently lucky or unlucky no matter what they do while others are capable of tipping the scales in the direction of their efforts” wrote Alan recently.

What is perhaps most interesting about Vedic Astrology is the dueling nature of the planets. For example, in my birth chart both Saturn and Mars have very strong presences. For me, Saturn’s position lends to the characteristics of organization, a knack for planning, and overall caution. However, at the same time Mars’s presence suggests that I am inclined to be a risk taker, a leader, with heightened ambition and a desire to get things done quickly. The strength of the two planets lends to an internal tug of war. My Jyotish reading illuminated a truth that I experience daily: I am simultaneously inclined to hold Warrior 2 until my legs quake, and surrender into child’s pose immediately, both on and off the mat.

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Jyotish also addresses a person’s dharma and what careers a person would excel at. This is one of the biggest draws for many: the desire to be pointed in a direction and professional choices validated by the stars. When asked the ways in which a Jyotishi determines a person’s calling in life, Alan explained that it was about "finding a theme, like the grain in a good piece of wood...we look for a combination of planetary influence that act like a compass saying, ‘go this way because it is the right thing for you to do’.” For me, I would do best in a field where I can use my aptitude for personal relationships combined with my creativity. Alan suggested a career in public relations or communications would yield professional success. Well, I am a writer and so it was nice to hear that.

It was during this portion of the reading that the “houses”, the divisions relating to different aspects of one’s life, came into play. Like the planets, each of the 12 houses has a capacity to be strong, weak or ordinary, and each has a different impact on an individual’s personal characteristics. Each person’s combination will be unique to them, and it is possible over multiple readings to delve very deep into the subdivisions of the charts in order to achieve higher specificity. In some cases, Alan will bring in palmistry to his readings, asking clients who cannot meet in person to send them pictures of their hands.

Though an initial skeptic, the reading proved an educational experience, and by the end Alan took on the role of supportive life coach, offering advice on how to achieve balance and personal fulfillment based on my chart. He recommends that every person undergo a Vedic reading, and parents should obtain an “astrological profile” of their child at age fourteen, in order to be able to more successfully guide and support them.

For yogis especially, undergoing a reading can prove valuable. “ Vedic Astrology addresses all four needs of life: Artha, Karma, Dharma and Moksha...More specifically for people in a spiritual practice, Jyotish can comment on various issues that arise in our practice," said Alan.

I realized that consulting a talented Jyotishi such as Alan is worth the investment. If nothing else it will give you a reason to be exactly who you are, as it is written in the stars.

For more information about Alan Annand and to set up a consultation, click here.

Alan has written eight novels and published mutliple articles on many different spirituality and wellness topics. To view some of his work and learn more about his life as a writer, click here.

--Erin Ward

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