How astrologers derive meaning from these symbols is logical and easy to understand. What would it mean, for example, if Mars, the planet of conflict and war, was in the fourth house of home along with the moon, the planet of mother and mind? This would suggest troubles with mother, troubles in the home and disturbances of the mind. Instead of Mars what would it mean if Jupiter was in the fourth house along with the moon? This would suggest prosperity in the home, happiness with mother, and peace in the mind. What would it mean if Saturn and Mars, the planets of struggle and conflict, were together in the 10th house of career? This would suggest conflict, delay, and struggles, yet the drive to success in one’s career. And what if Mars was in the seventh house of marriage? This would suggest war and conflict within the marriage and perhaps even divorce. And what if the moon or Jupiter, positive influences, were in the seventh house instead of Mars. This would be good for marriage and suggests happiness and children. These examples are simple and straight forward, but life is more complicated that this. What would it mean, therefore, if the moon and Jupiter were in the seventh house of marriage along with Saturn or Mars? In this case we have good influences mixed with evil influences. Would this mean some good and some bad effects? But how much good and how much evil? And when would the good occur and when would the evil occur? Would the marriage even survive? Would a second marriage also have these mixed effects? Now the matter becomes complicated and only the careful and experienced analysis of a trained astrologer can sort these influences out and make an informed opinion about the marriage. Astrologers have many mathematical systems to measure the strengths of these influences and to determine the times in life when these influences, both positive and negative, will be in force. Even though more detail on this topic goes beyond the scope of this discussion, the reader, at least, has an idea of how an astrologer approaches his craft. There is a lot of learning that goes into a sound astrological interpretation.
Gems and Pujas
Once a chart has been analyzed and a reading given, it is common to find both negative and positive influences within a chart. Even a “good” planet may bestow negative results and a “bad” planet can bestow positive results under the right conditions, and so a client may want a way to diminish these negative effects or even increase the positive influences. In Hinduism there are many ways that this can be done, but the two most common ways are through the wearing of gems or the performance of puja. The idea behind the wearing of gems is as follows. Every planetary influence has both a positive and negative side. The moon, for example, is generally a positive influence, but it also has a negative side, dark emotions and insanity. Mars is generally not a positive influence. It is war and conflict, but it is also courage and strength–good qualities. So even Mars has a positive side. In general, planets that are strongly positioned in a chart bestow their positive side and planets that are weakly positioned bestow their negative side. Each planet is also associated with a certain gem stone (and even a metal and a color, etc.) Jupiter is yellow sapphire, the Moon is white pearl, Mercury is green emerald, Mars is red coral, and so forth. By wearing the gem of a particular planet one increases the power of that planet and thereby brings out the positive qualities of that planet. If the moon is weak in a chart, one could increase the power of the moon by wearing a pearl. A yellow sapphire would increase the strength of Jupiter; an emerald would increase the effect of mercury; a diamond would do the same for venus, etc. The gem would also be put on at a time when the influence of the respective planet is highest. For example, a pearl, for the moon, would first be put on during a Monday, the moon’s day. A diamond would be put on for Venus on Friday. In this way, you can often get a good indication of a person’s astrological condition by noticing the kinds of rings they wear. People will often wear multiple rings for various astrological reasons.
The idea behind an astrological puja is as follows. If it is determined that Mars is a enemy in a particular chart, in other words, Mars exerts a negative influence, then a puja for Mars could be performed. During the puja, symbolically Mars is invited and treated as a guest and shown all respect and honor by being bathed, fed and given gifts, etc. In other words, one way to neutralize an enemy is to make him your friend. The idea behind a puja is to invite your enemy over for a “visit” and make him your friend by honoring him food and gifts and thereby decreasing his negative influence over you. The appropriate gem, a red coral in the case of Mars, may also be put on during the Mars puja. And of course, the puja would be performed on a Tuesday, Mar’s day. These kinds of astrological pujas are called Nava Graha pujas and they are commonly performed within Hinduism. By far the most commonly performed astrological pujas are for Saturn, Mars and Rahu, the three most “cruel” of celestial influences.
The Uses of Astrology
Hindu astrology is a vast subject and in these short pages I have tried to explain in simple terms the basic workings of astrology, how an astrologer makes an interpretation and some of the techniques that astrologers use to affect positive change. In the hands of an experienced astrologer, astrology can be a powerful tool for good. It can give insights into one’s character, into one’s strengths and weaknesses, and into the subtle forces around us, but like any tool it must be used with discretion and caution, and it has limitations. An immature astrologer can cause havoc in the minds of parents by telling them of a child’s future diseases, divorce and even premature death. On the other hand, an astrologer can see hidden talents and encourage parents to cultivate these strengths within their child. An astrological chart can be used to understand the basic psychology of a couple and thereby help a troubled relationship. It can give a partner insight and strategies in dealing with a difficult relationship. But astrology can also lead to dependency, and to a situation where a person avoids taking responsibility for one’s life. So like most things in life it has positive and negative aspects. It is to the credit of Hinduism that it has managed to keep within its fold an ancient discipline such as astrology. As the world continues to develop and move ahead it is good that there are traditions like Hinduism that preserve and even keep thriving one of the oldest of all human pursuits.
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