I have been talking and thinking about sidereal astrology enough that I felt like I needed a little more knowledge about it. When I saw Ronnie Gale Dreyer’s Vedic Astrology on the shelf at my local occult shop, I picked it up. Flipping through it has been modestly illuminating from an abstract point of view, but I figured I might as well go ahead and take a look at my own chart. That provides a clear path through the material.
It brings back memories.
The first time I tried to cast my horoscope was some time back in the early 1990s. Back in the dark ages, I didn’t have the internet and a dozen astrological calculators at my disposal, so I checked how-to books out of the library along with an ephemeris or two. I calculated and then diligently drew out my results with compass, ruler, and protractor (this was the same time I was taking things like high school geometry and trigonometry, so the tools were ready to hand).
I had to redo it several times before I managed to produce a chart that didn’t fall apart when I checked over the calculations used to produce them. I was so frustrated with myself for those mistakes because it took me hours to get to the final result. Check, check, recheck hoping there wasn’t really an error, then start over.
The actual astrological interpretations that all this work yielded did not impress me. It took all this work to put the chart together and it was hard for me to really wrap my head around the relational presentation of the chart and the formulaic explanations given around those. I took more pleasure from the success of having (finally) produced the horoscope than I did from the tidbit of insight I was able to glean from it.
Since taking up geomancy, I have always meant to come back to the horoscope and take a look at it like I would look at a geomantic chart. I am quietly hoping that once I do, the richer and more flexible interpretive skills I have picked up through geomancy might be the tool that I need to really break through into a better understanding of my horoscope. It’s been years since I started doing geomancy and I haven’t gotten around to it, though. Maybe once I wrap my head around the Vedic material a little? Maybe.
The first thing I am doing, of course, is drawing out the charts to fill in. Little things are catching my attention. Dreyer provides both the South Indian and North Indian chart formats and as I am drawing them it becomes utterly apparent how they fit on a continuum with the charts used in traditional European astrology (I’ve drawn a lot of those for geomantic readings). There is an aesthetic sensibility that plays out not just in the eye, but in the hands. Long continuous lines, diagonals, straight lines, short lines, the absence or presence of an vacant central square.
I have often thought of trying to create some geomantic forms so I could just print out charts to fill in, but there is some small but important focus that drawing out a shield and astrological chart that I appreciate. The time it takes to prepare the charts becomes part of what separates a geomantic reading from everyday concerns and prepares me to approach it with a certain quality of seriousness. I don’t think that makes a big difference in any one reading, but as part of a practice, it seems significant.
Drawing out these charts, just quick and dirty for note taking purposes, I find myself musing about all the times this has been done, and the ways at which the subtle geometric differences between the charts introduce subtle rhythms into the habitus of the reader, into the way that they will come to read and interpret a chart. Again, it is the sort of thing that probably doesn’t have much effect on any specific reading, but repeatedly, over time, it almost surely has some influence on the reader.
Because I have been talking about permutations, there is an aside that Dreyer makes which catches my eye. There is apparently a variant chart (the Chandra Lagna) that treats the sign in which the moon falls as the ascendant, and that this chart is seen as having especial uses for appreciating a woman’s horoscope.
I’m wondering what happens if I start to play with that more intensely, rotating the chart through the different planets, treating each of their associated signs as an ascendant. Will that flash up some of the personal affinities we possess for this or that planet which can’t be easily captured in a standard horoscope that necessarily exclude the substance of the person in favor of the celestial forces operating upon them?
There are already some basic elements of permutation to reading the astrological chart in geomancy and I wonder if there might also be ways to amplify that? Could you sensibly reorient a chart around a key point? It would break the symmetry between shield and astrological chart, but that might be an interesting thing to explore in its own right. I’m spit-balling a bit here, so don’t take too much to heart.
Ever since I have turned toward the <i>Sefer Yetzirah</i> I have had a lot of occasions to really stretch my legs, feel out new directions. Hopefully I will be able to articulate that a little more clearly soon, but I’m enjoying myself.