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Ep. 135 Transcript: Sade Sati: Saturn Transiting the Natal Moon

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 135, titled:

Sade Sati: Saturn Transiting the Natal Moon

With Chris Brennan and guest Ryan Kurczak

Episode originally released on December 4, 2017


Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: theastrologypodcast@gmail.com

Transcribed by Andrea Johnson

Transcription released January 7th, 2021

Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Saturday, November 18, 2017, starting at 12:43 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 135th episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. 

In this episode, I’m going to be talking with astrologer Ryan Kurczak about the concept of Sade Sati in Indian astrology, which is Saturn’s transit to the natal Moon sign. 

Hi, Ryan. Welcome to the show.

RYAN KURCZAK: Hi, Chris? How are you doing?

CB: Really good. Thanks for doing this with me today. I’m excited to talk to you. The last time we talked, I did an interview on your YouTube channel in September where we talked about my book, and we focused on the topic of the similarities between ancient Hellenistic astrology and Indian astrology, of which, I think we learned pretty quickly that there are many, right?

RK: Exactly, yes.

CB: So one of the similarities that I’ve always been interested in, or one of the topics I talked about earlier this month is we–with a couple of friends in an earlier episode–talked about the Saturn return. And one of the concepts that I’ve really drawn from ancient astrology that’s been really useful within a modern context is that Saturn transits are not just by degree when it gets close to the exact return.

Sometimes when Saturn moves into a new sign, or returns back to its natal sign–that in and of itself as a concept from traditional astrology–that transit really becomes active at that point. And in terms of studying transits and in terms of ancient astrology, it seems like one of the things that both ancient Western and Indian astrology share in common is this notion that sign-based aspects are important and relevant, right?

RK: Exactly, yes.

CB: Okay. And there’s a really good example of that that comes up, that’s become kind of a popular concept in Indian astrology, which is this idea of the Saturn transit to the natal Moon sign. So that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today, and we’ll get into that in a bit. 

So first, maybe just tell me a little bit about yourself–like where are you from and what’s your background in astrology.

RK: Well, I’m originally from West Virginia, where I was able to spend a lot of time meditating and spending hours immersed in astrology books because there wasn’t a whole lot of anything else to do. 

I began studying astrology about a year after I got involved in kriya yoga practices and meditation practices; so that was at least 17 years ago. And since that time, I had been studying Vedic astrology primarily because it was the astrology closely-related to the practice of yoga and meditation. I had a little bit of understanding of Western astrology. When I was a teenager, I had a book on the Sun signs but never really got into it. 

And I actually have to be honest. For me, astrology wasn’t something that I just fell in love with; it was something that my consciousness kind of forced upon me

CB: Sure. Yeah, I’ve heard different stories. I’ve heard different astrologers say that they started out as skeptics. Would you go that far?

RK: Well, I would definitely go that far because I am a Virgo Ascendant, and I do have Saturn on the Ascendant and Mars in my 10th house, and they’re mutually-aspecting each other. So I have difficulty believing things until I see things working out in practice. 

CB: Sure.

RK: I studied philosophy and psychology in college, but then after I got involved in this meditation process, someone said, “You really need to look at Vedic astrology. It can give you a lot of deep insights into people.” And I said, “Yeah, okay. Well, I can get good insights into people just by paying attention to them.” 

I decided to get a Vedic astrological reading done–it was the first astrology reading I had ever had–and the woman, she was very good at picking out psychological issues. She was very good at saying what certain difficulties I might have, how to remedy them. 

And she had never met me; she had no idea who I was–I barely had any idea who I was. I found from that point forward that I couldn’t quite ignore astrology, so that’s when I started getting into it more so I could understand, number one, myself, understand others. And the more I saw it work out, the more enjoyable it became. 

I eventually started doing donation-based sessions for people, to eventually people said, “Look, you’ve got to charge for this.” So over the course of about eight years of studying, of practicing, of doing donation-based sessions, that’s when it eventually became a full-time practice for me where that was all that I did; so that’s sort of how I got into astrology.

CB: Okay, that’s brilliant, because I was just talking in the last episode to Adam Elenbaas about how astrology students often find themselves in this middle-ground they get stuck in where they don’t feel like they know enough about astrology yet, or they don’t feel like they’ve mastered the subject.

RK: Right.

CB: But in order to really get that experience, you need to start seeing clients. And there’s often a hard transition there to make between just learning it theoretically versus actually seeing people and learning from experience with clients in sessions and how to make that transition. So you did that through donation-based settings or sessions.

RK: Yeah, and what you’re talking about makes perfect sense. I try to stress to my students that there is a huge difference between theory and practice.

CB: Right.

RK: A huge difference between the two. You can read all these rules. You can study all these charts, but it’s not until you actually start talking to someone and seeing just how those planets work out and the nuances and so on that you get a sense of how the language of astrology functions. And essentially, that’s what I did. 

I got interested in it. People said, “Hey, you’re interested in it. Why don’t you tell me about myself?” And I would do a little bit and then they’d start giving me money, and it just sort of built into that’s all I had time to do. So I had to turn it into a business so I could pay my bills.

CB: Sure, and that sounds like a much more natural progression. The other idea that we talked about that I was interested in–that you mentioned and I know you do–is I had mentioned to Adam that another field where they seem to have a good model is doctors have residency programs. 

We don’t usually have something like that in the astrological community, but you actually do something kind of close to that where you do an apprenticeship program, right?

RK: Right, and that’s exactly why I wanted to create this apprenticeship program. It’s a four-year program that I do that takes people from the very beginning of these Vedic astrological principles, and it puts them together–I look at it like a jigsaw puzzle. 

You know, it’s one thing to learn about dignity, to learn about houses and so on, but you can’t put it all together at once. You have to learn them separately and then put them together like a puzzle. So my goal was to do that and then, of course, encourage people to look at other people’s charts. 

My apprenticeship program utilizes a lot of writing. So I have people look at charts, write articles, exam principles; and by doing that then they start to see just how these things start to fit together. 

So in my mind, the student should eventually become better than the teacher, so I tell my students that all the time. I say, “Look, I’m doing my job when you know this better than I do.” And luckily, I have found many students who are able to do that; it is one of the more enjoyable things I love doing with astrology.

CB: Sure, I love that. And that was another thing we were talking about that sometimes the dynamic between student and teacher and the need sometimes for the student to outgrow the teacher and that sometimes creating tension either between the student or the teacher. 

But if the teacher’s going into it with the mindset that, “I want you to exceed me,” that’s probably going to lead to a much healthier dynamic when that eventually does take place, either because they have actually grown a better sense of mastery over things, or just because they’ve gone in a different direction. Either way, that probably leads to a much more amicable split than it could otherwise.

RK: Well, I agree with that. And you know, I have this discussion a lot with people: Are you a famous astrologer, or are you a good astrologer?

CB: Sure.

RK: And the issue is people can have charts that indicate fame, but maybe they don’t necessarily have as much knowledge. Similarly, you can have people that have a lot of knowledge, but not as much fame. 

And so, the way I’ve always looked at it is when I work with my students, yes, I check to see are they going to be famous, are they going to be more knowledgeable and so on; we try to work with them in that regard. 

But we’re seeing how astrology grows; it keeps growing. The things that you’re discovering with Hellenistic astrology–re-discovering maybe I should say–with Vedic astrology, the way that people look at Vedic astrological charts now is radically different than the experiences I was having with teachers and students in seminars 15 years ago because we’re able to go deeper. 

And so, the way I like to look at it is we’re building upon this process. I know a little bit, and I’m going to learn as much as I can about that little bit, and then I’m able to impart that to students. And hopefully, they’ll embody that and then they’ll grow, and then they’ll build upon that. I mean, that’s the way I think all sciences should proceed, so that’s the reason why I come at it from that kind of angle.

CB: Right, and that’s the real meaning of tradition in the truest sense, or that’s what tradition is about.

RK: Right. It’s not let’s just memorize all these dogmas and keep it this way for 2,000 years. It’s let’s remember what we’ve learned, and now, let’s continue to improve and grow and evolve in this way.

CB: Right, and having some sense of lineage in terms of the passing of the system from student to teacher, but also, the growth of that and the development of the lineage.

RK: Exactly, yes.

CB: All right, brilliant. Well, that all sounds really good to me. And so, one of the distinctions you were drawing between ‘famous astrologer versus a good astrologer’ is funny because we were talking about placements for that.

One of the things I love about Indian astrology is there’s a real clear sense or clear interest in defining those different things; you see a similar approach in Hellenistic astrology. And I’ve been trying to come up with a phrase for how to describe what you’re doing there; it’s kind of a modern phraseology, ‘archetypal scenarios’, but I don’t know if that’s exactly right. It’s borrowing almost a Jungian concept, which might be inappropriate in this context.

But I like that idea in traditional astrology that there are scenarios and that Indian astrologers and Hellenistic astrologers often share in common an interest in thinking about what are the different scenarios in each situation and that you could have different outcomes than what you would expect to see in the chart for one outcome versus another.

RK: Right.

CB: Indian astrology seems to have a preoccupation with that sometimes in a very positive sense.

RK: Right. If we think about it, the ideas in Vedic astrology of yogas and yoga karakas or things that produce greatness within the chart, there are four different kinds of yogas. We have dharma yogas which are yogas of inspiration. (Are you following your purpose and your power?) There are yogas for wealth. (Are you able to manage your responsibilities?) There are yogas for enjoyment. (Are you able to enjoy your life?) There are yogas for moksha, or liberation, and knowledge. (Are you able to transcend this experience and have a deep, abiding sense of really what is important in life and how to be free within this human vessel?) 

And as an example of that, you can have people that have what we call ‘liberation’ or moksha yogas, but if they don’t have any power or purpose yogas then that liberation can simply be I sit on my couch smoking dope all day.

CB: Sure.

RK: But if you have a sense of power and purpose with it that’s where we tend to get people who are more interested in wisdom and knowledge and being liberated from the mind in a more healthier fashion. 

So in Vedic astrology, it’s simply by taking the idea of the house lords and what are those house lords related to and how do they combine in the chart, and are they combining in places that give activity like the 10th house, or the 7th house, the angular houses and so on. I would imagine that it would translate very well to Western or Hellenistic astrology just using those kinds of principles.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And I think it was in June, I did an interview with Ernst Wilhelm about the concept of planetary yogas and his book on the subject.

RK: Right.

CB: That’s such a great intro to Indian astrology just because it’s something that’s readily applicable that you start taking and applying to your chart. Some of the yogas require you to learn a completely new system, but at least lets you put your toe in the water to get a sense for what it’s about and why it might be something interesting that could draw you into that approach.

RK: Exactly. And bringing up Ernst, it is important to remember that Ernst awhile back had a chat with me back in, I don’t know, 2010, I think, and I did eventually switch from using the sidereal zodiac to tropical zodiac. 

So for your listeners who are tropically-based or Western astrology-based, I see no issues using Vedic techniques with the tropical zodiac. It is a line of thinking that can be applied to the tropical zodiac to fill in these holes that possibly could be in Western astrology. I say that cautiously because I have to be clear that I have never really studied Western astrology, so I don’t know if there are actually holes like this in Western astrology.

CB: In terms of what?

RK: In terms of being able to see things like yogas.

CB: Oh, right.

RK: I don’t know if…

CB: I will say on your behalf, as somebody who is familiar with Western astrology, that there are holes in it, and I like the way that it’s been developed to a much higher level in Indian astrology. There’s plenty of things that Western astrologers have to learn from Indian astrologers when it comes to that, so I’ll go ahead and let you off the hook and clear of you and I’ll say it myself.

RK: Good. I also like to be clear that I really think it goes both ways. I mean, personally, I think there’s one science or system of astrology, and I think that the Vedic techniques, they have a portion of it, and maybe Hellenistic astrology has a portion of it, and even Western astrology has a portion of it. 

Personally, I enjoy the tropical zodiac more, but using the tropical zodiac, that kind of gives the fuller picture of the vastness of the science of astrology.

CB: Sure. And I’m glad you mentioned because you’re actually the third now Vedic astrologer I’ve interviewed who uses the tropical zodiac, starting with Ernst and then Vic DiCara and then you. 

You three are basically three out of, what, maybe four or five relatively prominent astrologers that have adopted and have promoted that approach at this point; although it seems to be growing. I’ve seen a number of you have students that are then going on and carrying out that lineage so that it’s become much more popular than it was maybe 10 years ago. 

I remember when Ernst first released that paper, it was very controversial. He was the only one taking that sort of stance at the time, but now, it seems like there’s a lot more of you at this point.

RK: There’s certainly a heck of a lot more of us. There are a few of us which are a little more well-known on YouTube and so on, but there are so many more students, so many more people getting involved in it. 

And I do have to be very clear that with Ernst, he was my initial introduction to the thought of it. My teacher, Richard Fish, before him–he passed a few years ago–he was a Western astrologer and a Vedic astrologer, and so, he was okay using both as well. 

But beyond that–and I’ll let the subject fall here–there is actually a history of folks in India–30, 40, 50, 60 years back–also getting involved in using the tropical zodiac. It just wasn’t well-known, nor was it really well-accepted. 

Ernst kind of brought it more into our awareness, but there is a history of even individuals in India using the tropical zodiac going back to Sri Yukteswar’s time, the late 1800s, early 1900s and so on. So it’s not brand new, it’s just people are more aware of it now, I think.

CB: Sure. And that’s important and useful just in historical–not historical context. It’s important and useful, as we mentioned before, because sometimes for Western astrologers who are already using the tropical zodiac and that’s what they’re comfortable with, it can make Indian astrology a little bit more approachable to know that you, yourself, as I’m interviewing you, use the tropical zodiac and that’s how we’re going to apply some of these techniques in this discussion.

RK: Exactly.

CB: And so, sometimes that can make an easier transition point into Indian astrology; whatever they end up doing with it after that point is sort of on them. But yeah, just making that point that sometimes it can be useful as an intro or a little bit easier than also completely switching zodiacs right from the start.

RK: Right. Well, if you’re using tropical, I would not advise you to switch zodiacs, but that’s just me.

CB: Right. I did a whole series on the zodiac thing this summer. I had Vic, and Vic did his somewhat more polemical style. And then I had a Western astrologer who had switched to sidereal, and he also had a somewhat more polemical style. We’ve done the whole thing at this point, so we’ll leave it at that you’ll be using the tropical zodiac and that’s what you prefer as we’re going through this discussion.

RK: Exactly, yes. And the only thing I would add to that is the issue that might possibly be something to consider is that doing Vedic astrology, I do still use whole sign houses. So I will not be able to speak to–I think they call it interceptions. Is that it where you have a sign crossing over houses? Is that right?

CB: Yeah. Well, luckily, I use whole sign houses as well and that’s pretty much the standard on this podcast. 

RK: Okay.

CB: Another easy and interesting thing is that in reviving Hellenistic astrology, we found that whole sign houses was the main system of house division, and a lot of Western astrologers have started to adopt that over the past 10 years since it’s been rediscovered. But then what’s hilarious about that is Indian astrologers have been using that approach for 2,000 years now, so it’s something that you guys never lost basically, but we did.

RK: Great. It’s good to know that we don’t have to get into that; it’s just a given for your listeners, that’s good.

CB: Sure. All right, so let’s jump into our main topic then. And this is a topic that has gained some mainstream currency it seems like. It’s not up there with Western astrologers talking about Mercury retrograde; the Saturn return itself has almost started to seep into popular consciousness as well sometimes as a thing that people go through in their late 20s.

RK: Right.

CB: This concept of Sade Sati is almost the Indian equivalent of that to some extent, right? Would you say it’s up there in terms of popular consciousness?

RK: It’s definitely up there. How I judge these things is I go look at my YouTube channel and see what are the most popular videos, and the most popular videos are almost always videos dealing with Saturn, the Sade Sati, the Saturn return, and then next in line would be Rahu and Ketu and the nodes of the Moon. 

And it makes sense because there is such folklore and myth and there is such a sense of dread around transits of Saturn that people are scared; and when you’re scared, you tend to want to figure out what’s going on there. So I would say it’s definitely one of the more popular topics in Vedic astrology.

CB: Okay. So let’s go ahead then and define it and talk about what it is and how maybe it’s defined in different approaches versus what definition we’re going to be using here.

RK: Right. So Sade Sati, essentially what this means, it’s a 7-½-year period of Saturn’s transit, and it’s specific to the 7-½-year period when Saturn transits the sign before your Moon, the sign of your Moon, and the sign after your Moon. Generally it takes Saturn about 2-½ years to go through a sign, so that’s why the Sade Sati is related to the 7-½ years it takes through those three signs.

CB: Okay, so the sign before the natal Moon, the sign of the natal Moon, and then transiting the sign after the natal Moon.

RK: Exactly. Yeah, that’s the typical definition of what people are looking for when they’re saying, “Oh, look, I’m in my Sade Sati,” or “I’m starting my Sade Sati,” or “I’m ending my my Sade Sati.”

CB: Okay, so the start would theoretically–if you’re using that definition–be when it first goes into the sign before, or when it transits through the sign before the natal Moon–the middle point. The most important point would be when it’s going through the sign of the natal Moon, and then the ending would be when it’s going through the sign after the natal Moon. 

RK: Exactly. So if you’ve got the Moon in Aries, then as soon as Saturn enters Pisces, typically people would say you’re in your Sade Sati. Once Saturn goes through Pisces, Aries, and then goes completely through Taurus–once it gets out of Taurus–then we would say you would be out of your Sade Sati; the Sade Sati would be over.

CB: Okay, got it. And so, it becomes this long period and it’s about that Saturn transit; the focal point is just Saturn’s transit to the natal Moon. Part of the context behind that of why that’s important or why it’s given such emphasis in Indian astrology is the Moon itself is actually a really major player in Indian astrology and is almost given more emphasis in Indian astrology than it’s given in Western astrology to some extent.

Especially modern Western astrology has become very Sun-sign focused. But almost in the same way that Western astrology is Sun-sign focused, Indian astrology has more of a lunar focus in some sense. Would you agree with that statement?

RK: Yeah. And the issue with the Moon is that the Moon represents our jiva, or our soul; and by that, I don’t mean this New Age-y thing that is your enlightened self. When I say ‘soul’, what I’m talking about is your collections of habits and tendencies–essentially, what makes you think you are who you are–that’s what the Moon represents. 

The Moon changes signs every 2-¼ days, and so, it was a way of looking at charts without having to have the exact birth time. The Ascendant, it can change as much as every two hours or so. So if we’re looking at something that changes every 2-¼ days, it makes it a little bit easier to look at a chart without having to be so specific about it. 

Really I look at it like the Sun sign is important, the Moon sign is more important because it changes every 2-¼ days versus every 30 days, and the Ascendant is the most important because it can change up to every two hours. So it’s just a level of definition, I suppose.

CB: Sure. But to that extent, even when you have the birth time, sometimes Indian astrologers will look at the Moon sign and then construct a set of derivative houses from the sign of the Moon–whole sign houses from that sign–and then read the chart from that perspective, right? What’s that chart called?

RK: It’s called the Chandra Lagna. So Chandra means ‘Moon’, Lagna means ‘Ascendant’. And the reason they do that is because we look to the Ascendant to see what is the person’s life path, such as: What are you going to get involved in? What are you going to be doing? Who’s going to come into your life? That’s what the Ascendant tells us. 

Whereas the Moon sign, since it represents our sense of self, it in a sense can show us how we’re going to react to the world. And if you know how someone’s going to react to the world, oftentimes, you can very easily predict their future.

CB: Sure.

RK: Yeah, so that’s why we use the Moon sign. And it’s very important because you can see a person who has a very difficult life maybe outlined by positions from the Ascendant. But if you look at the Moon sign, and you see there’s gentle planets like Jupiter or Venus helping out the Moon, then that can show a person who might have a difficult life. But because of their grace and their poise and their ability to navigate those things, they still project themselves and essentially are a good, wholesome, gentle person. 

So there are a lot of different kinds of variables that you can pull into this to see how a person’s going to act and why based on looking at the Ascendant or the Moon sign.

CB: Okay, got it. And then more broadly, the Moon is also important in Indian astrology because of the nakshatras, or the 27-sign, lunar zodiac, right?

RK: That’s correct, yes. I’m not one of those individuals that uses nakshatras a whole lot in looking at a person’s chart and what that chart’s going to say. Personally, when I think of Vedic astrology as it was originally practiced, I think it was definitely nakshatra-based, and I think it was more based upon electional astrology, such as saying: When is it a good time to do this ritual? When is it a good time to do this marriage? When is it a good time to undertake this task? 

And I think you would probably agree–I don’t necessarily consider horoscopic astrology taking shape in India until, what was it, 2,500 years ago or so. So the nakshatras I use more for the electional-based things, and the horoscopic astrology, I focus more on our general understanding of the Ascendant and so on.

CB: Sure. Yeah, that makes sense. But that at least gives some context for why the Moon probably has this greater significance in Indian astrology because you had this longer indigenous tradition of astrology that went back a thousand or 2,000 years before the arrival of horoscopic astrology and the use of the Ascendant and houses and things like that.

RK: Right.

CB: They had this more lunar-based astrology that was focused on the nakshatras and those 27–what are they? They’re like 13° signs basically that divide up the ecliptic into different segments, and that was more like the indigenous ‘zodiac’ of India prior to that time.

RK: Exactly. And when you read texts like Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, an Indian text, it essentially defines the zodiac as the nakshatras; it says the zodiac are the nakshatras. So when we’re thinking about Vedic astrology, if we’re going to be real technical here, we would probably simply focus on the nakshatras for that reason.

CB: Right, that makes sense. And then even some of the timing techniques, like the Vimshottari Dasha system, I think that’s initially calculated based on the nakshatra that the Moon is located in, right?

RK: Exactly. The placement of the Moon in the chart determines how the karmas–as represented by the planets–are going to function and how and when they’re going to give their effects, which is the nature of the Vimshottari Dasha system which you just mentioned.

CB: Okay, great. So this is super important because we’re starting to understand the context and the role that the Moon plays as a pretty important significator in Indian astrology. Not to say that the Sun or other planets aren’t important, but there’s just a number of these very unique things that Indian astrologers use; or basic techniques or things that you might take for granted. But looking at it from a Western standpoint, where we don’t have those things, there’s almost less emphasis on the Moon as a result of that.

RK: Right. Yes, that makes sense.

CB: Are there any other basic meanings of the Moon that you associate it with in Indian astrology that are really important in order to understand using that as the starting point–or just what the Moon signifies that we should maybe outline first before we get to talking about what it means when it’s transited by Saturn?

RK: Right. Well, there’s a few things. Number one, the Moon represents our capacity to grow things within our chart. The Moon is the capacity to grow and to nourish. That’s why it’s represented by the Mother and that’s why it’s represented by the ocean and so on. 

And this is also why the Moon is essentially considered to be the lord of the nakshatras as it relates to that dasha system because the dashas are how your life’s going to turn out, when things are going to happen and how they’re going to happen. Essentially, that’s based on how are they going to grow into your life. 

So the Moon determines how are the karmas going to grow into our life, and it also shows us how we approach our life situation. Do we have a lot of cruel planets–like Saturn and Mars–impacting our Moon, where we have to deal with a lot of adversity, and therefore, we have to be a bit tougher, a bit stronger, a little coarser? Or do we have the Moon influenced by Jupiter or Venus or Mercury such that our life is more geared towards grace and ease and enjoyment, and we don’t have to deal with a lot of these difficulties? 

So when we’re looking at the Moon, it’s giving us a deep sense of how are the karmas in our life going to grow, how and when are they going to show up in our life; when are they going to poke through the garden and give their fruits; and then also, how do we attend to our life, how do we approach our life. 

When Saturn starts to impact that Moon, it brings a lot of focus on the way we’ve been maybe mismanaging our life, or the way we’ve not been helping things to grow appropriately, which is why it can cause a lot of problems for people depending on how they’ve treated their Moon, how they’ve treated Saturn and so on.

CB: OK, sure. And you mentioned karmas a few times, and it might be worth expanding on that. So within this context, we’re talking about the results of past actions essentially, right?

RK: Yes. So the idea of karma is extremely simple. Anytime you look at something within a person’s birth chart–whether we’re talking about Western astrology, I imagine, or Vedic astrology–anything that’s an indication, we consider that a karma

If we look at someone’s chart and we see that the indication is that you’re going to have three husbands, well, that’s a karma. If we see that you’re going to tend to be depressed, well, that’s a karma. If we see that your Mercury is in the 10th house, exalted, it means that you’re going to be very good at managing things, you’re going to be a really good manager; well, that’s a karma

So karmas essentially boil down to what are the tendencies that you have. They are based on past action, true, but we always have to remember that everything we do in every moment is creating karma for the future. I state that only because many people who practice Vedic astrology are extremely fatalistic and I am not one of those astrologers. 

If you think about it, you had to do something in the past to get your chart where it is anyway. So if you can make peace with that and start doing things now that change that momentum, change that direction, or at least alter it, well then the way the chart’s going to express or grow will be radically different if you take different actions now. Does this make sense what I’m trying to say?

CB: Yeah, I think so. It seems like you can boil it down to every action has a reaction and that’s basically the idea underlying karma in that context. But then you’re trying to be careful not to also apply complete volition or choice or blame in some sense, which is one of the issues that comes up with the concept of karma, I think. Is that partially where you’re going with that?

RK: Yeah, completely. And one way I always like to break it down is like this: it’s as if you eat hamburgers everyday and smoke cigarettes everyday, and you go to the doctor when you’re 29, and he says, “Based on your past actions, you’re probably going to have a heart attack in five years.” 

Well, that’s like going to the astrologer and they see Saturn and Mars in Cancer in your 4th house, and they’re going to say, “If you keep acting in this way, sure, you’re going to have some cardiovascular issues.” But if you become aware of that, and you start exercising and you start eating more fruits and vegetables, well then that’s going to start to create a whole different energy or theme or pattern. 

So when I’m looking at an astrological chart, I’m not looking at it statically. I always have to take into consideration who is the person I’m talking to and how are they actually working with what’s in their chart.

CB: Sure. And I’m not sure if this is relevant here, but I’ve also heard that there’s different types of karmas, and that some might be harder to escape and others might be a little bit more negotiable in some sense. Is that something you follow as well?

RK: Completely. I say I’m not fatalistic, and I am certainly not fatalistic, but it’s just like this. When you look at a person’s chart and you see 10 indications that they’re going to be run over by an 18-wheeler truck, that’s a pretty strong karma. If you see two indications of it, you know that, well, maybe they should look both ways before they cross the street. 

So one of the things I like to do with people is when I look at their charts is determine what are the strongest karmas, what are the weakest karmas. And if someone’s asking me about changing a situation or doing something different or achieving something, what I always do is look at how strong is that karma. If they want to run a business, and they have only one karma saying, “Yes, you will be successful running a business,” I will say to them, “It’s going to be very hard for you to do that. Not that you can’t, but it means you’re going to have to put a lot of time and attention to figuring out how to run that business.” 

You see, it’s really based upon how often does it show up in the chart. The more it shows up in the chart, that’s just a stronger habit that you have, which means it’s going to be harder to break and so on.

CB: Okay. Yeah, I think in both modern Western and in ancient Hellenistic astrology, they had a ‘rule of three’, where sometimes if you see something once, it’s a maybe, if you see it twice, it’s pretty likely, and if you see it come up in three different places then it’s almost definite in some sense.

RK: Exactly, and that’s exactly how I treat it. The more I see it, the more I tend to think it’s going to be harder to change; or if it’s a good karma, they might not need to do anything to make it happen. When you get people who just magically get fame, or who magically just fall into the right relationship over and over again, those are people who in their chart show multiple themes of getting in good relationships. So it’s all about these themes and these habits and what are you made up of from your astrological chart essentially.

CB: Right. And that’s funny because it brings up an interesting point. This might be a little bit of a digression, but there’s an issue sometimes that comes up in the astrological community and in the modern, New Age community where there’s the emphasis on free will and progress and everything else. 

But it’s kind of tricky because sometimes it’s like the people that have really good charts set up, you can almost see it in their chart where they’re going to have the ability to actualize their potential and things go in their favor most of the time, and they don’t have the same sort of obstacles or setbacks, or bad luck or bad circumstances that other people have. 

Sometimes they have a tendency to create a philosophy around that where they say that you can change anything in your life and everything’s negotiable, and it’s all just a matter of your mindset. And the most extreme version of that in modern Western society has been The Secret

RK: Yes.

CB: …that New Age thing of The Secret and the concept that you just create your own reality based on your mental state and what you choose in your life.

RK: Exactly. 

CB: Some of this discussion is almost getting in that territory when you were mentioning some of those things. And so, that’s interesting to me, the idea that in some instances that might be in a person’s chart whether they’re able to do that or not.

RK: That’s exactly right. One of the things I do when I look at a person’s chart–before I even look at their chart–I try to see if I give them information, are they going to be able to use that information, or are they going to be so fixated on the problems that they can’t. 

So for example, people who find The Secret working or this type of mind-over-matter type of thing, they’re typically going to have either a wonderful Jupiter or a lovely 5th or 9th house; these are just very basic ways of looking at it. When you have a nice Jupiter, a nice 5th house, a nice 9th house, things tend to work out very well for you; even when things go wrong, they all tend to work out well. 

But if you get someone who has a lot of difficulty in the 5th house–a real difficult one is often Saturn and Ketu in the 5th house, or Saturn and the South Node of the Moon in the 5th house–that tends to make a person hyper focused on the problems. 

The 5th house is our ability to use our intelligence to improve our life situation, to creatively deal with our life situation. If you have Saturn and Ketu there saying, “Yes, but you failed all these other times; yes, but your dad never did this; yes, but society tells you, you can’t do this,” that makes it very difficult for the person to take the steps to actually make the change happen. 

So you’re right on there that you can actually see in a chart will someone benefit by reading The Secret, will someone benefit by positive affirmation, or will they benefit by having to be of service, a Saturn-related thing, or will they benefit by having to train themselves to improve in a certain area such as a Mars would do for them. 

One of the beautiful things I find about this whole system–of Vedic astrology at least–is that once you’ve figured that out, you know who you’re talking to, and you can help them negotiate that if they’re willing to do what needs to be done to improve their life situation, which will be different for everybody.

CB: Sure, that makes sense. Although in that instance, it’s almost a distinction between those who are going to be inclined towards having a more optimistic and creating their own reality attitude versus the ones you were talking about; people that might have mental hang-ups that will hold them back from doing that. 

But would you say there are people who maybe through difficult placements are not in a position to create their reality as much–in the sense that sometimes people just have bad luck or difficult circumstances–and it’s harder for them to escape from that in some concrete sense than maybe somebody else who just happens to be lucky and be in the right place at the right time?

RK: Right. That does take us into a little bit of a different area. I do like to be very clear that even people who have wonderful charts still have bad things happen to them and people who have horrible charts have wonderful things happen to them. 

CB: Sure.

RK: The difference is typically that the individuals who have, again, more supportive optimism and so on–I’m not talking about a Pollyanna attitude of “I hope it works out”–they really just know how to make things work well. When they have indications for that in their chart, when things go wrong, they tend to surf it better; they tend to navigate it better; they tend to create less problems for themselves. 

In the same sense, if you have people with more fixation on difficult things, they will tend to make a bigger mess of things when things do go wrong, and they’ll tend to not really tap into the opportunities when things are going well. 

So in the very beginning, it’s very important hopefully for people to see–what is my general makeup, what is my general setting–and then learn to work with that. The problem is that most people don’t have a lot of self-awareness to see that. When they see things going really wrong that’s their whole life and that’s all they’re used to, so they can’t imagine it going any different. Whereas people who have things going right all the time, when something goes wrong, they typically say, “Oh, well, I’ll get over that. Things will get back to normal.” 

It’s a very tricky way to look at the chart, but if you can work with someone long-term to help them see their patterns, eventually even the most difficult chart can finally start tapping into the positive, more optimistic things. It just takes time and it takes attention to detail–that’s the key to it–which is what Saturn’s all about.

CB: Sure, that makes sense. I was just thinking there’s been an issue in modern, sort of New Age astrology in the past few decades where part of the answer to that difficult question about people that experience difficulty or hardship is the desire to want to be empowering, and saying that people can change any part of their life, no matter what, and nothing is completely pre-determined. 

Sometimes it backfires, or sometimes it mutates into this weird, sort of implicit statement that if there are things going wrong in a person’s life, or if you experience hardship or difficulty that it’s your fault. Because you have the power to control or change anything in your life, if there’s something going wrong, there’s almost an implicit statement that that’s your fault for not doing better or not changing it. 

One of the things that’s almost been refreshing to me about traditional astrology is sometimes it almost seems to free people from that by just saying that sometimes people have difficulty in some area of their life and that’s not necessarily the result of choices or personal volition. Certainly, there are instances in which that is the case, in which the person is reinforcing bad behavior or making bad choices or whatever else; but sometimes there can be external circumstances that may happen to the person through no fault of their own.

RK: Completely.

CB: I’m not sure how that works in terms of other broader doctrines like karma and things like that, but it’s a recurring topic on the podcast.

RK: Well, considering that Saturn is going to be our topic here, what does Saturn do? From the Vedic perspective, Saturn teaches us to endure those things which we cannot control. So we have two kinds of planets that deal with problems in Vedic astrology–there’s Mars and there’s Saturn. 

Mars is the planet that says, “There’s an emergency. Something’s on fire. Get the hell out of the house.” So Mars deals with immediate difficult situations, and usually you have to respond by instinct, or you have to use your logic to get out of it. With Saturn, that’s when Mars has done his best and you’re still stuck with the problem. Saturn’s issue is, “Okay, this is life; we have to experience this; we have to endure this,” and so that’s how Saturn helps a person. But the other thing about Saturn is that Saturn deals with the idea of reality. 

And this comes up over and over because I don’t just teach astrology. Actually, before I got into astrology and teaching astrology, my main focus was on medication and kriya yoga practice. One of the difficulties in that whole area, that whole field is that if you just meditate right, if you just find the right guru, if you just pray right then you’re going to escape all the difficulties of life–and that’s total BS. 

I tend to lean a little more towards a Buddhist philosophy in that stuff happens in life and it’s very difficult, and it’s those things and how we respond to them which helps us mature, so that then we can maybe deal with future difficulties better. And even when difficulties do occur, you can say things like, “Well, it’s your fault, you weren’t doing something right,” but sometimes, difficulties come into your life because a person does need to mature. 

Think about an individual who maybe goes through an extreme health crisis, or their spouse goes through an extreme health crisis and through that they learn compassion–they learn patience; they learn to be more loving, more nurturing–and it inspires them to be kind and compassionate and nurturing to other people who are also going through that difficulty. 

So just to tie it around to what we were starting with here, sometimes when bad things occur, difficult things occur, we don’t really know whether it’s going to lead to something greater, or if it’s going to lead to a depth of maturity, or if it’s going to help us have a greater sense of compassion and understanding for those around us. 

One of the gifts of Saturn is that when you go through some difficulties of Saturn, you come out the other end and you do have all these more positive qualities because you become more mature, more understanding and so on.

CB: Right, and that’s a great transition point back to our topic. So it seems like in a lot of the discussions–especially the higher discussions–the Sade Sati transit of Saturn over the natal Moon sign and the sign before and the sign after, that’s generally considered to be a very difficult transit or a very difficult time in a person’s life in which some really challenging things can happen. But occasionally, the interpretation sometimes is that it can be a humbling experience where something positive can come out of it through the process of going through difficulties. Is that one of the interpretations?

RK: That’s the best interpretation. I mean, that’s the way I look at it. And again, we always have to remember that we’re talking about humans and human nature. We all respond differently to how these things occur. 

For example, there’s a book called The Greatness of Saturn, which is a book related to the mythology of the Sade Sati period. And in this book, The Greatness of Saturn, it’s about a king who Saturn comes to him and says, “I’m about to cross over your Moon, so watch out.” And he says, “Okay, I’ll do some remedies for Saturn and so on.” 

But then when it happens, this king essentially gets kicked out of his kingdom; he gets accused of theft; He gets his hands and his feet chopped off. He’s put to work on an oil mill for 7-½ years, and he just keeps going, and going, and going. 

And then at the end of the whole story, Saturn comes to the king and he says, “You’ve endured great suffering. You’ve developed patience.” The king sort of rolls over to him–because he doesn’t have hands and feet–and he says, “I just pray that you do not treat anyone else like this,” because Saturn asks if he would like blessing. He says, “The only blessing I ask is that you subject no one else to this kind of misery.” 

Saturn then says, “Bravo, King Vikramaditya. You could have asked for any boon. You could have had your hands and feet returned to you. You could have had your beauty returned to you. You could have had your kingdom returned to you. But you asked that no one else suffer as you have suffered.” And because of that expression of compassion, Saturn then says, “Here you go,” and he gives him his kingdom back. He gives him his hands and feet back; he gives him a beautiful bride; everything comes back together after that. 

So the issue that we see here is that all the suffering, all the difficulty this king had to go through was certainly a humbling experience; it taught him quite a lot about himself. And by becoming conscious and aware of the fact that, yeah, the world is shitty sometimes–quite to an extreme–and that we really need to think about others, that’s where the gift and the blessing of Saturn comes into play due to this Sade Sati period.

CB: Right. That’s brilliant, that underlying idea of developing compassion through suffering essentially.

RK: Exactly right.

CB: Yeah, that’s a great book. So it’s called The Greatness of Saturn. And who wrote it again? I remember reading it 10 years ago and it was really amazing. You actually did a good job of summarizing it just now, but I’d recommend people check it out. It’s a very intense read–it’s not terribly long; it’s a relatively short book–but it’s a great myth in order to give you insight into this concept of the Saturn transit.

RK: Yes. Robert Svoboda, he’s the author.

CB: Okay. And he was the author of a great book on Indian astrology, Light on Life.

RK: Exactly, yes.

CB: Okay, cool. So this idea of developing compassion through suffering, a lot of the popular, the generic interpretations of it that people get freaked out about is the suffering part basically…

RK: Right.

CB: …that this is going to be a transit where there’s going to be some area of your life where you might experience loss or suffering or hardship, and that’s the part that people often end up focusing on in terms of the concrete things that astrologers sometimes associate with the transit. 

RK: Right. And what a lot of people do when they get into this is they’ll say that during your first Sade Sati, you’ll probably lose your grandparents, during the second Sade Sati, you’ll probably lose your parents, and during the third Sade Sati, you lose your own life; and so, there’s a strong focus on loss certainly. But one of the things I do have to be very clear on is that, just with all things, there is a lot of myth and folklore around this, and it really depends on how your chart is set up in regards to how the Sade Sati is going to influence you. 

It may be that you’ve got it set up such that when you go through a Sade Sati period that the suffering that you’re going to have to endure is that you’re going to have to working really hard to support your business for 2-½ years, or you’re going to have to be working really hard to improve your relationships; the theme always comes down to working hard to understand and improve the situation. 

And so, if people don’t want to work really hard, or if they don’t want to put the time and attention to improve a certain area of their life, that’s when you’re find a lot more suffering during the Sade Sati period, which in turn relates back to the fact that the better Saturn is situated in your chart, the better you will typically work with a Sade Sati period because you already know how to work with Saturn. You already know what he’s going to expect of you; you already know it’s going to be hard and not to expect great rewards and gains during this time period, and so, you work with it better.

CB: Right. If you’re already somebody who’s comfortable with or in the mindset of the things that are proper to Saturn–which is putting in hard work, or putting in your dues, or subverting some of your personal preferences for what needs to be done at the time–if you go through a period in which that’s more of the focus then you’re already going to be a little bit adapted to it and deal with it a little bit easier than somebody who’s not prepared to do any of those things.

RK: Exactly. That’s why always, when we consider this idea of Sade Sati, the very first thing we have to do is see what is the nature of this person’s chart, the foundation of the horoscope; what is the nature of Saturn to see how they’re going to work with it. 

You mentioned the Vimshottari Dasha system a little earlier. And what I’ve seen is that if you are not in a Saturn period–meaning a Saturn cycle or a Saturn dasha–or if you’re not in Saturn or Moon dasha, the Sade Sati period, sometimes you don’t even notice it. You have to be in a period that is kind of pushing that agenda for Saturn to give that effect in the first place. 

This is again why I love talking about this because the folklore is this: “Oh, look, Saturn’s crossing over your Moon. Be prepared for this terrible thing to occur. By the way, go buy a $4,000 blue sapphire from my friend down the street and everything will be okay.” 

CB: Right.

RK: So, it’s interesting.

CB: Yeah, well, there’s two different threads there I definitely want to follow; one of them is something that Indian astrology and Hellenistic astrology share in common, which is the idea that transits are not the first-line of prediction necessarily. But first, you have to calculate the time-lord and the dasha periods and that’s going to tell you which planets are going to be activated in your chart at different times in your life, and then you look to the transits at that point. A transit isn’t going to be very major or is not going to necessarily even produce an effect unless it’s activated as a dasha or as a time-lord, right?

RK: That’s exactly correct, yes.

CB: Okay, so that’s a crucial thing right from the start, that not everybody is going to experience this as major. But if you have Saturn or the Moon activated through the dashas at that time then that’s going to put more of the focus on those planets, and therefore, it might be more of a focal point in your life at that point.

RK: Exactly. 

CB: And then separately, you were bringing up an issue about remedial measures because that’s something that’s very prominent in Indian astrology. There are some traditions of remedial measures in Western astrology, and it’s actually only recently with the revival of traditional astrology that we’re starting to see especially some Medieval and Renaissance astrologers starting to revive the practice of remedial measures. That’s something in Indian astrology there’s a strong tradition of, but there’s also some problematic issues surrounding that as well, right?

RK: Completely. Yeah, the issue that usually comes up is that there is again this idea that, number one, things are fatalistic; number two, if you just do the necessary basic things–yes, they may be extremely expensive, so you do have to put a lot of time and attention towards being able to do it–the things just work out. Again, just like we discussed seeing whether a person will be able to benefit from a positive affirmation or so on, it is possible to see what kinds of remedies a person will benefit from. 

For example, if Mars is doing very well in a person’s chart then this would be someone that I might say, “Yes, we need to do some gemstone therapy for you.” If we saw the Moon in very good dignity and very well-placed, we may say, “You would benefit by herbal treatments dealing with plants,” if it’s a health issue. The Moon also does deal with things like positive affirmation and visualization. If it’s Saturn, then we’d look at things like being of service to the less fortunate or doing regular fasts and things of this nature. 

So the issue is that most people have just glommed onto these very–what’s the word–generic remedies and they have not actually taken the time to learn, well, for this person’s chart, what are the remedies that are actually going to work for them–and I made this mistake too. 

I love gemstones, personally; whether or not it works for me, I enjoy jewelry. So people would write to me and they’d say, “Well, what about this gemstone?” And since I loved them so much, I’d say, “Sure, get this yellow sapphire, get this pearl.” But it wasn’t until I actually learned, “Wait a minute, it doesn’t work the same for everybody,” that remedies became more effective in my own practice when I’d advise them to people.

CB: Okay. One interesting thing is this is kind of tied in with Indian medicine or the indigenous Indian medicine tradition of Ayurveda, and one of the things that’s interesting about that is the idea of balancing and counterbalancing is part of the thing that’s built into that medical tradition, which then seems to blend over into the astrology as well in terms of what your actual approach is in the chart, in terms of counterbalancing different things, or not necessarily overemphasizing something because then you might create an imbalance of some sort.

RK: Exactly. Again, when you’re looking at the chart that gives you those insights into what is too strong in the person’s awareness, what is deficient, what is weaker in the person’s awareness. Once you get a sense of that then you’re more easily able to relate to them in a way that would be more specifically helpful to their current state and situation.

CB: Sure. I’m trying to remember if we ever talked about this. It seems like sometimes remedial measures, that’s also an area where there’s some abuse or potential for exploitation of people overemphasizing that, or people that don’t really even have much astrological background recommending remedial measures or very expensive ones. 

What are your feelings when it comes to that topic?

RK: Well, I think it’s a bad idea. We have to remember that just because someone says they’re an astrologer or is interested in astrology, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have your highest and best interests at heart. So that’s why you can talk to one astrologer and they’ll say, “Oh, yes, go buy this rudraksha bead,” which is a type of seed that helps you astrologically; some of those can cost $1,400. And then you find out it turns out that that person who wants you to buy that just happens to have a little kickback thing with the person who’s selling it. 

It’s just like anything else. You’ve just got to be careful of who you’re interacting with. It’s human nature I think to have that issue.

CB: Sure. And I don’t want to overemphasize that; it’s just an interesting aside that comes up or that I’m generally aware of.

RK: I wish it wasn’t that way. And the trouble is that since astrology is seen as a holy science, most people just sort of think, “Well, it’s a holy science, so therefore, everyone who’s interested in it should just be holy, nice people,” and that’s not always the case.

CB: It’s an interesting side effect of greater acceptance of astrology in a culture. One of things that’s funny in the West, and especially in some New Age astrological circles, is there’s this presumption that some day astrology will be widely-accepted again in the West, and it’ll make society better and everything will be great. But in India, where astrology is more culturally-accepted, sometimes there can be not-good side effects of that, or there can be instances where people try to exploit that acceptance in a way that’s not necessarily appropriate. 

So it’s just interesting from a Western perspective that because there are these overly-idealistic assumptions that astrology being accepted is always going to be inherently positive and can’t have any downsides, in some instances, perhaps there might be.

RK: I had one person who was a client of mine, and he wasn’t able to get into the session with me for awhile and finally he did. He said, “My astrologer recommended that I get a yellow sapphire for my Jupiter, and it happens to be a $20,000 yellow sapphire.”

CB: Wow.

RK: I nearly choked. I said, “Look, buddy. If you can afford a $20,000 yellow sapphire, I don’t think you’ve got any problems with Jupiter.”

CB: Right.

RK: So it’s this kind of thing that’s just promoted, but it’s the same thing with religion. When we think about astrology and religion, they’re going to go hand-in-hand, and we just have to be very cautious and conscientious and maybe experiment a little bit on our own to see what works and what doesn’t work; that’s really the best bet. If you don’t have access to someone that you trust, that’s the issue.

CB: Sure. And then you also run into an issue when it comes to astrologers sometimes having different opinions about specific placements, or how they would interpret specific placements in a birth chart. 

Where do you draw the line between I would interpret that and recommend a different remedial measure or say that that placement is not as afflicted versus when it’s the other astrologer that’s saying something that’s just completely out of left field and making a recommendation that is in no way defensible or appropriate?

Sometimes there’s a blurred line there just due to the ambiguities of differences of opinion between different astrologers, which is, I imagine, an issue as well.

RK: It’s completely an issue, and that boils down to what do you know about astrology. For example, I could go on and on about all the things I think I know about astrology, but if I meet someone who’s got 30, 40, 50 more years’ experience than I do, they might be able to see things with a little more depth that I don’t. 

The issue is when this happens, can two astrologers have a conversation and say, “Well, why is it that we see things differently?” Can they come together and say, “All right, well, based on this logic, based on this understanding, which one does seem more appropriate?” So that’s what it comes down to–how friendly and supportive can astrologers be towards each other.

CB: Sure, and just general ideas within the field of astrology, the extent to which you can have things like standardization, standards, and different things like that; there’s a lot of related topics I’m sure we could get into. 

RK: Yeah.

CB: But to bring things back around to our main topic, one of the things that you mentioned when we were talking about this previously is there are different definitions of how the Sade Sati period is defined or calculated. We’ve talked primarily about what I think is the more standard one, which is the three signs–the one before the Moon, the sign of the Moon, and then the sign after–but are there other ways that you would define that or narrow it down?

RK: Well, when I’m looking at the Sade Sati period, when I first got involved in astrology, I would certainly use the 7-½-year length that most people focus on; however, that was because I easily bought it into the fear-based aspect of it. 

The more I practiced, the more I started to see that the more important time period for the Sade Sati period was when Saturn was specifically in the sign of the Moon. So when people write to me, I typically only focus on the Sade Sati period when I see Saturn in the sign of the Moon; that’s my focus, which is a 2-½-year period.

CB: Sure, so that’s really the most intense period, as soon as Saturn ingresses into the natal sign of the Moon, and then it ends as soon as Saturn leaves the natal sign of the Moon.

RK: Right, that’s when I spend most of the time focusing on the Sade Sati period. When I first used the 7-½-year period–I might use this occasionally if I see other personal planets getting involved in the sign before or after–I’d typically say that when it’s in the sign before the Moon that’s when you start to become aware of the things that might get loss, or the things you have to take more responsibility for, or where you might have deficient in certain areas of your life. 

During the time when Saturn is in the sign of the Moon that’s when everything hits and you’re having a loss, you’re having to deal with it; all you have is the emotional grief possibly that you’re processing. And then when Saturn gets out of the sign of the Moon and into that third sign that’s when you’re starting to build your life back again. 

So it’s when you’ve been torn down and now you’re saying, “Okay, now this has happened, how do I want to live differently? How do I want to apply these lessons from the Sade Sati period, so that the next time it’s not so rough?”

CB: Right. And that makes sense to me because that’s very similar to the way the houses are set up with what I call the ‘angular triads’, where you have the cadent house. Sometimes when a planet moves into the cadent, it can be the beginning, or things ramping up in a sequence of events. Then you have the angular house itself, which is the high point, and then you have the succedent house that’s carrying forward and bringing to completion what happened in the previous two signs.

RK: Exactly. That’s exactly the logic behind it.

CB: Sure, and that would make sense here since you have that Chandra Lagna chart where the Moon is an alternative Ascendant and a starting point for a set of whole sign houses. So the sign before the Moon would be the 12th house, and the sign of the Moon would be the 1st house, and the sign after the Moon would be the 2nd house in that context.

RK: Exactly, yes.

CB: Got it. And from that perspective, the Sade Sati period would almost be like starting a new Saturn cycle in the sense that once it’s gone through the 12th house, it’s finishing up a whole transit of Saturn through the 12 houses measured out from the Moon. And then it gets to the Moon sign and it starts a new cycle over again and then it gets to the sign after, and then it’s fully into whatever that new 30-year cycle is. In some sense, it’s almost a parallel in a way to the Saturn return or something like that.

RK: It’s very similar to the Saturn return. And the last one you mentioned, when it gets to the end in the sign right after the Moon, when you’re putting the pieces back together of your life– that theme of the Saturn transit, 28 to 30 years after you get out of the Sade Sati period–the things that you have learned, the things that you’ve put into play to improve upon the situation then in a sense defines the next 28 to 30 years. 

And I’m always going to be tying it back to the idea that Saturn deals with improvement. Saturn sees problems with the goal of seeing the problems to grow from them, or to improve them. So the Sade Sati, yes, it can knock you down. But the difficulty a lot of people have is once they get knocked down, they say, “Oh, I was knocked down. That’s terrible. So that’s it. I’m done, nothing else.” 

But when you get knocked down by Saturn, his goal is not to just kick you in the head and say, “Stay down.” His goal is to say, “OK, well, now, get up. What can you do differently so I can’t do that to you again?” How can you improve your life? How can you become stronger, more endurance and so on, so that you, again, become a more mature, responsible human being essentially?

CB: Sure, that makes sense. And then going through that process over the next 30 years of having different periods of checking back in to see how that’s going and how that’s developing as Saturn continues to move through the other houses.

RK: Right. For example, one really good transit is supposed to when Saturn goes through the sign that is 11th from your Moon. When Saturn goes through the sign that’s 11th from your Moon, oftentimes, you’re getting a lot of support in your life; you’re getting a lot of things working well for you. And whatever’s working well for you during that transit–Saturn, 11th from the Moon–those are typically the things that you’re meant to focus on to keep you going to keep you engaged in the game so that you can make it through the Sade Sati period. 

For example, in my chart, when I went through my second Sade Sati period, Saturn was in the 11th from the Moon, and that was when many of my books got published, many of my classes started to grow, these sorts of things. And so, when I actually went through my Sade Sati, that thing which kept me going, which kept me feeling like I had a purpose and a direction was continuing to focus on my astrological work, continuing to focus on the teaching capacity and so on. 

So it’s not just necessarily the Sade Sati period, there’s also other periods too which are all about the development of Saturn. The key to this whole thing is how is Saturn developing in your life.

CB: Sure, that makes sense. Well, it’s funny that you mention that because I just published my first book, and Saturn would be going through my 11th over the course of the past year or two.

RK: Yeah, exactly. These are the kinds of things that you pay attention to. Should you go into your Sade Sati period, and should there be some difficulties, well, now you know. Focusing on your work, your writing and teaching and these sorts of things–that’s what’s going to be important to help carry you through the whole situation.

CB: Sure, that makes sense. All right. Let’s see. There’s other things I’m sure that are relevant in terms of what part of the person’s life this transit may manifest in. I imagine one of the primary things is just what house the Moon is placed in natally perhaps, as well as maybe what house the Moon rules in the chart. Would you say that those would be two things that could help you to narrow down what part of the life it might apply to?

RK: Yes, those are the two most important things, as you were saying and that’s what popped into my head: number one, what house is the Moon in, which you described; number two, what house does the Moon rule over. 

If the Moon is in the 4th house, well, maybe there’s going to be a focus on changes or a focus on taking more responsibility for your home, or your vehicle, or your mother–all things related to the 4th house. If the Moon rules over, say, the 5th house, maybe some of the responsibility or the time and attention required is going to be related to a person’s children, to their creative capacity, improving how they use their mind to improve their life and so on. 

So it always, always boils down to those two things: the house the Moon is in and the house that the Moon rules to give you more insights into how that Sade Sati is going to play out. And one more thing is that we always have to be aware that sometimes those difficulties don’t have to be bad.

If the 10th house is involved–dealing with status and fame and career and activity–again, the earlier example, maybe it’s just that you’re going to be working damn hard for that 2-½ years to improve your status, to improve your fame, to work on your business; and that can ruin your marriage, that can ruin your health. But if you know–what’s the word–that in the end that it might support these more positive things, hopefully, you can manage the fallout, I suppose, a little bit better.

CB: Sure, that makes sense. And here is also where some of the yogas could come into play since the Moon could rule one house and being placed in another could be creating a specific type of yoga. If you get Saturn transiting over that that’s when the yoga is going to come into play potentially, especially if the Moon is also activated as a dasha or a time-lord.

RK: Exactly. And that’s one of the ways that we typically use transits; we call them ‘trigger’ transits. It’s when we have something in the chart and a planet with a similar energy or quality crosses that point or aspects that point then that’s what triggers it to occur. 

One woman I was working with, she had all these planets in one sign, and it was when she was going through a Saturn return, she was going through a Sade Sati that these health issues and career issues got activated for her due to that particular transit impacting those planets related to those areas of her life.

CB: Okay. Got it. And what was the placement again?

RK: She had numerous planets in the 10th house and they were all personal planets. And so, when Saturn hit the Sun, hit the Ascendant lord, hit the Moon altogether in this 10th house, it was if life just crumbled and she didn’t know what to do with her health, she didn’t know what to do with her career, she didn’t know what to do with her parents. She’s been spending the years after that recuperating trying to figure out how do I address this, how do I build my life back up. That’s how those transits can trigger certain karmas within the chart, or yogas as you used the term.

CB: Okay, that makes sense. One other thing that might be worth exploring or talking about, or a question that I had is are there any standard mitigations, or are there any types of mitigations that might make this transit of Saturn over the natal Moon easier for certain people or more difficult for other people? 

I know there’s other offsetting things in traditional Western astrology that can mitigate placements for better or worse. Are there any standard ones when it comes to this that are commonly mentioned?

RK: Sure, there’s a few things. So following a couple of threads you have there, number one, we do have to remember that Saturn and the Moon, they act differently for different Ascendants. For example, Saturn itself can be more difficult for a Cancer Ascendant because it rules the 7th and the 8th houses; especially the 8th house can be a more difficult house. 

Whereas, say, for a Libra Ascendant, Saturn rules over the 4th and the 5th house; so it rules over a trine and an angle, which makes it typically more graceful, more beneficial for a Libra Ascendant. And so, that means that generally Sade Sati, Saturn return, Saturn transits, they will innately act differently depending on what your Ascendant sign is. 

Now to follow that up, when it comes to remedies for the Sade Sati period, there’s a few things. Number one, always, always, always being of service, volunteering, helping to feed homeless people, to help people that are less fortunate than you; this is one of the prime ways to work through a Sade Sati period. 

Number one, we have to remember that Saturn is the producer of misfortune and poverty to a degree. And so, if you are helping people who suffer from that, you are in a sense appeasing that aspect of your consciousness; that’s more of an esoteric stance on it. 

Number two, what most people find is that when they’re going through a Sade Sati period, and they do things like serve the homeless or help people who are less fortunate, they end up actually seeing that, hey, their life isn’t that bad; so it gives them perspective in regards to what they’re going through. 

Doing mantras for Saturn can be extremely helpful. But really the key–on a more behavioral, psychological level–is paying attention to where the suffering is occurring and then asking oneself, “What can I do to be more responsible in this life to manage the situation?” 

Most of the time, when people have difficulty with Sade Sati or Saturn return, it’s because there’s an aspect of their life that they’re not being mature about, or they’re not being responsible about–like someone who goes through a Sade Sati or a Saturn return dealing with the 10th house again. 

Maybe their career takes a hit; but maybe they learn all the things that they’ve been doing wrong in their career. And so, they have to learn to admit those things and then improve upon them. So the best way to work with Sade Sati is truly self-awareness and then doing one’s best to improve on how they relate to those difficulties within their life. Does this make sense?

CB: Yeah, I think so. Sometimes I think back to that story and the myth of The Greatness of Saturn that we were talking about earlier and some of those themes. One of the themes towards the end is it almost seemed like the main character eventually–I don’t know if this is the right word–submitted to it…

RK: Yes.

CB: …or allowed himself to submit to that he was going through a period of suffering and that he needed to let go in some sense and just fully take in or experience what that was like. There was something integral to going through a process of suffering or loss that itself allowed him eventually to achieve almost a sense of enlightenment through understanding what that aspect of existence or life was about.

RK: Exactly. A very key point is that towards the end of that story, King Vikramaditya, he surrenders; and by surrendering, he’s able to make peace with the pain and difficulty that he’s gone through. And I think that this is really a more profound blessing of the Sade Sati or even a Saturn return time period because, again, it comes down to this fact that even if we can manage life perfectly, even if we were a king, even if everything’s going beautifully, suffering still exists in the world. 

I’ve had people ask me–when I’ve taught meditation classes and kriya yoga classes–they’d say, “Is there anything that can help us through grief, or through this pain, or through this suffering?” As someone who’s gone through a fairly difficult Sade Sati period, I have to admit that it wasn’t until I finally said, “Look, there’s nothing I can do about this; I just have to cry; I just have to grieve; I just have to feel this pain,” that things became lighter; that things became, in a sense, put more into perspective. 

The whole issue really, if we get down to it, is learning that there is suffering in life, and we have to do our best with it; and we cannot control every situation. That’s why Saturn is considered to be the ego-destroyer–not to just be maliciously stepping on your head and trying to squeeze your brains out through your ears. He’s trying to show you that you are a very small part in a very bigger picture or a very big story, and you’re not going to know the reasons or the why’s that certain things occur. But if you can learn to surrender while doing your best, then life becomes more peaceful, and you become more capable with what life brings to you, I suppose. 

I always look at Saturn as the clearest teacher. Some people say in Vedic astrology Jupiter is the great teacher. But really, if you can make peace and understand and appreciate and accept and welcome Saturn into your life, there’s nothing else you can’t do–you’ve pretty much got it there.

CB: Right. Yeah, I like that. That seems to be one of the main underlying themes here that keeps coming up in this discussion, which is in going through those heavy Saturn transits, a difference between when to control and when to learn to take better charge of your life–in order to do that which you should be doing better to truly do it better, if it’s within your control–versus acknowledging and recognizing those things that are outside of your control, that can’t necessarily be reversed or get better and just learning to let go and to be okay with that, if that’s what’s necessary. 

RK: Exactly. It always comes down to–what do they call it–the Serenity Prayer. It’s something like, “God, give me the capacity to change those things that I can change, to endure those things which I can’t change, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.” That’s the lesson of the Sade Sati, Saturn return–most Saturn issues in a nutshell, I think.

CB: That’s perfect. That’s a perfect encapsulation of what I was just talking about and the thread that’s been running through most of this discussion. 

RK: Mm-hmm, yeah. And to take that a step further–did you have more you wanted to explain upon that before I launch into something else?

CB: No, go ahead.

RK: Okay. So to take it a step further, one thing I love to encourage people to understand is that in our astrological chart, we have cruel planets; we have gentle planets–we have malefic planets, benefic planets; we have nice planets; we have mean planets–for a reason; they are all a part of our makeup. The issue is not to say, “Saturn is bad, let’s get rid of him.” The issue is to say, “What is Saturn’s role, and how can we love that, embrace that, and appreciate that in the same way that we would do with Mercury, or we would do with Venus and so on?” 

What I see as the real focus of astrology–and even understanding Saturn–is coming to terms with all these facets of our consciousness that the planets represent and trying our best to endure suffering when it’s there (Saturn); to logically take care of problems when they arrive (Mars); to appreciate the luxury and love in life (Venus); to be inspired and to be able to follow our dharma and our path (the Sun) and so on. 

If we’re able to see what each planet represents for us is a facet of our consciousness, and if we can do our best to appreciate and love that, then we become a fully-integrated human being. That’s why Sade Sati, Saturn return, any Saturn issue is extremely important to pay attention to, because that’s usually the thing that we want to sweep under the rug and completely ignore, which effectively arrests all of our development. And so, it doesn’t matter if we know about our Sun or we know about our Venus because we’ve skipped this fundamental, primary issue of human existence which Saturn represents.

CB: Sure, that makes sense. And that makes me think of something I meant to mention earlier, which I always think is interesting when talking to Indian astrologers about the concept of karma. In Indian astrology, the entire chart is treated as if it’s the result of past karmas, and every part of the chart has to do with karma on some level. Whereas in some of the modern Western, especially New Age astrology, there’s a tendency to attempt to attribute karma only to certain things–like to say that Saturn is the planet of karma, or that the Nodes are the only thing in the chart that has to do with past lives or something like that. 

RK: Right.

CB: And it’s interesting how different that is in Indian astrology where that’s not really the case.

RK: Well, it’s not the case in the way I interpret it. I understand the focus on the Nodes and focus on Saturn, because Saturn are the things that we have not been responsible for that we have to take care of, so it causes us problems. Rahu, or the North Node, is that thing which we want to develop which we haven’t; and so, it’s going to cause us problems because we’re not skilled in it yet but we can become skilled. Ketu is a planet that shows us where we’ve put a lot of time and attention and have become hyper-fixated on, so we try to use it as a safety net to define ourselves. So they are the most obvious planets when it comes to this idea of what most people think about karma. 

When we think about the other planets though, they are certainly our karma. If you think about it, the fact that I have a black phone, that’s a karma; that’s a tendency that I have. The fact that I enjoy pizza with green peppers on it, that’s a karma. From the Vedic astrological perspective, it’s more like anything that’s in your awareness, that’s in your consciousness is a result of some past intention, thought, or tendency; which is why everyone can be so radically different in that regard. 

Think about people who are always in wonderful relationships and then you meet someone else who never is in a wonderful relationship; or think about someone who always has problems with their health, and you meet someone else who kind of has problems with their health and someone who has no problems with their health. All these things are represented by the planets which represent the general trajectory of our past actions, of our past karma; so everything in a sense becomes karma in that regard. That’s the way I look at it, at least.

CB: Right. That’s really interesting to me just because there has been this attempt to almost cherry-pick some concepts in Western astrology–like karma and reincarnation–and to apply them to certain things, on a very surface level

RK: Right.

CB: But in looking at longer traditions where those concepts have been used for thousands of years, or where they originated, you have a much more detailed or nuanced understanding of that and of what karma is, when you’re using that as a concept as applying to everything. Maybe step back from that a bit and be a little bit more–not gracious. 

Maybe part of the reason for that is with Saturn, it’s something that’s much more evident. If you wanted to use that notion of karma, maybe there’s something more evident about in some instances what you’re not doing, or in terms of retribution in some instances…

RK: Right.

CB: If there’s something that you’ve done wrong, you can get a real sense of getting pushback from the universe from that. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why there’s been a tendency to push karma–in some Western traditions–more onto planets like Saturn.

RK: I think it really depends on what you’re interested in. For example, in the New Age, spiritual, astrological community, there’s a strong, Scorpionic, Pluto-like focus. I make a joke with one of my other astrologer friends, Channing Ayers; we sometimes do these monthly reports on what to expect, not too often. I try not to get into that too much because I think it’s more important what’s going on in your own chart.

CB: Mm-hmm.

RK: But we make a joke, and I say, look, you get your jar out, I’ll get my jar out. Anytime someone says the word ‘transformation’, ‘challenges to the ego’, ‘evolution’–the whole host of words that seem to be everywhere in astrological speech. Anytime we use that word, I’ve got to put a dollar in my jar, or you’ve got to put a dollar in your jar. 

Most astrologers are hyper-fixated on this idea of transformation and avoiding suffering and so on; whereas, really, the whole human experience is related to the astrological chart. That’s why, again, if you’re more fixated or focused on the pain or retribution mindset that Saturn can engender, you’re going to have that kind of approach to things. But if you see everything as an expression of consciousness, or divine consciousness, or whatever it might be, it tends to mellow everything out. If you’re not cool with things being mellow, you’re going to focus more on the difficult things like Saturn and Rahu and Mars and so on.

CB: Sure. As well, there’s a tendency–it’s probably a tendency in all astrological traditions, but it’s more easily seen sometimes in some of the modern traditions. There’s a tendency to almost–what I’ve called in the past–fetishize Pluto…

RK: Right.

CB: …or to fetishize the Nodes or something like that. I’m sure that happens in other traditions…

RK: Certainly.

CB: …where you have a tendency sometimes, where astrologers will gravitate towards focusing on and really making a single concept the centerpoint of the entirety of astrology. 

RK: Right.

CB: I don’t know if this counts, but would this be one of those things–like Sade Sati–where maybe some astrologers could overblow it and say that this is the most important thing ever, or are there other things in Indian astrology that meet that bar?

RK: If I think about why are people typically wanting to get sessions with me, I can almost always tell you it’s going to be due to Saturn, or it’s going to be due to Rahu and Ketu, or it’s going to be due to Mars. 

If you think about it, it’s almost always related to what we call the ‘cruel’ or the malefic planets. I mean, is someone going to come to an astrologer if everything’s going great and there’s no problems whatsoever? 

CB: Are they naturally gravitating towards wanting to explore those things because those are areas where they have problems in their life, or are they wanting to come to you because they’ve heard bad things and they’re worried because there’s some general, pop astrology concern around those things?

RK: I see. I don’t get too many people writing to me, saying–occasionally I do. Someone will say, “They talked about my Sade Sati and they painted it completely horrible,” and that happens a lot. But what I’m trying to say is that most of the time when I’m researching a chart, the things that they want to know about typically always revolve around Saturn or Mars, or Rahu or Ketu and so on.

CB: Okay.

RK: I do have a few videos on my YouTube channel specific to the Sade Sati period, and even at astrovedicastrology.com, under the downloadable courses page, there’s a free class that I did on how to deal with the Sade Sati period. 

And so, when people come to me with that kind of preconceived notion about, “I’ve heard that this is horrible,” I usually just refer them to that to get a sense of what it’s all about. But I’ve got to say that in my practice, not too often do I have people coming to me specifically because they’ve heard something horrible like that.

CB: Sure. I think there’s one other one that I heard, that I mentioned to you before, which is Kuja dosha, or the idea of Mars affliction. Is that one that you think that people overblow in Indian astrology or is commonly worried about?

RK: I think it’s an important thing to consider, but we also have to remember the issue of what Kuja dosha is. Essentially, Kuja dosha deals with Mars, and it deals with if Mars is placed in the 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th, or 12th houses. 

The reason this is important is because if Mars is in the 2nd house, well, the 2nd house is often related to family and happiness, so it can show a person has a lot of misunderstandings with their family. If it’s in the 4th house, that’s our sense of emotional buoyancy and contentment, and if Mars is there, we’ll tend to have more aggression internally; we’ll be more easily disturbed by a violent nature possibly. 

7th house deals with the spouse, so putting Mars in the house of spouse can make a person suffer from aggression in the spousal relationship; it can even be domestic violence. 8th house, vitality and so on. 12th house can deal with difficulties with expenses or even infidelity and so on. 

So that is something to pay attention to, but most of the time, when people write to me about Kuja dosha–or Manglik is what it’s called–it’s usually a woman, and she’s usually saying, “An astrologer has said I’ve got this, and therefore, I will never be happy in a relationship.” And the reason they’re saying that is because when Mars gets in these positions, it tends to make a woman more–’aggressive’ isn’t really the word. They usually stand up for themselves more; they’re a more Type A personality. 

In traditional Indian culture, from my understanding, that’s not really a thing to be. They want the spouse to be meek and just only serving the husband, they don’t want a spouse that’s going to talk back or stand up for themselves, so there are issues with that Kuja dosha

Most of the time when people write to me, it’s because they’ve been told that they’re not going to get married or have a good relationship. But what I tell them is they just have to be able to find a partner that will appreciate a strong woman, and if they can do that, then things can be okay. That’s just a general way of looking at it. 

CB: Sure. Yeah, it seems like the generic statement that’s usually put out there. People understand it as indicating something bad or terrible for relationships or for the person’s love life is usually the generic statement associated with Kuja dosha, right?

RK: Right, that’s the general statement. But the underlying theme that no one’s going to tell you about is that what the astrologer typically means is you are a strong-willed woman and men don’t like that.

CB: Yeah, I love that. And so, when you actually break down why some of those placements might actually be relevant for that, you realize that it’s not such a bad thing. It’s just that it’s often misconstrued as something, or that it has to be something terrible; when in fact, there may be ways in which that can be perfectly fine. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to be unhappy in relationships, or that you’re never going to be married, or that you’re going to lose a partner or something like that.

RK: Right. One final thing I would say about that is it is very specific on how the planet is qualified. For example, is Mars a good planet for your Ascendant? Number two, is Mars in good dignity? Is it actually going to bring in some positive things to your chart? Number three, does it have support from its friends? 

I do want to be very cautious when I make these statements. I don’t just use that as a blanket statement; I really have to qualify it by numerous angles before I would say one way or the other, but that’s just the general theme behind it.

CB: Right. That’s really so important because it seems like a continuous theme throughout most older forms of astrology is that there’s some specific interpretive principle, that some general placement will indicate good things, or some general placement will indicate bad things–that’s the surface-level understanding. 

But then there’s a deeper understanding that there’s mitigations and there’s different shades of gray underneath that, or there’s things that can sometimes completely contradict it and make it go one way or the other.

RK: Completely.

CB: But oftentimes, the public doesn’t get to that deeper understanding. Instead, you just hear the very surface-level thing and that’s as far as some people go, and then they get freaked out about it for obvious reasons. 

RK: Exactly. They do a little bit of research–that’s why Google can sometimes be dangerous. They do a little bit of research, they say, “Oh, look, Mar’s in the 2nd house,” which is Manglik, which causes these difficulties with family and happiness, and they latch onto that. But they don’t say, “Oh, well, maybe you’re a Sagittarius Ascendant and Mars is exalted in your 2nd house, and it’s aspected by Jupiter,” so you need to follow it a little bit further. 

Not only is it that way with clients and regular people who want to understand astrology for their own sake, but it’s also rampant in people who are learning astrology, which is one of the reasons why the focus on this four-year apprenticeship program. People will read a book and they won’t have any of the background information about how to determine, “What does that mean Mars being exalted in the 2nd house?” and so, again, they jump to more conclusions. 

The overall issue with astrology, as you know, it takes a lot of study, you’ve got to look at it from a lot of different angles, and you can’t make an assessment simply because you know 1/32 of the entire formula behind it. Same thing with Sade Sati and all Saturn issues as well.

It’s always gotta come down to this deeper analysis in regards to how it’s actually functioning in the individual’s chart, which is why I personally try to avoid doing generalized transit reports and so on because those transits are going to impact you maybe 200% differently than they’re going to impact me because your chart is different than mine, and we always have to remember that.

CB: Right. That’s a really good point. There’s actually a few good points there, but one of them that’s interesting is–what was the part you said just before that part about the general transits?

RK: That you have to consider each individual person’s chart before you understand the transits–was that it?

CB: Yeah. Sorry, I just lost my thought…

RK: That’s okay.

CB: …and I’m trying to recover it. 

RK: I almost lost it too.

CB: Right. No, I think it was something you said actually right before that. But I was just thinking about–but that was before that. I was just thinking about the concept of–it’s not accidental beneficence. It’s accidental–I’m trying to think of the term. You’ve referred to a few times this concept–and I just wanted to make sure we outlined it–of when a planet is a ‘functional’ benefic versus a ‘functional’ malefic based on what houses it rules.

RK: Yes.

CB: That’s a very unique concept in Indian astrology that has some crossover in traditional, ancient astrology, but it’s never very well-articulated. And so, I was wondering if you could expand on that just for a second; just because it’s actually very important as one of the mitigating factors that you’re talking about for some of these placements, including Sade Sati.

RK: Sure. If we consider Mars, for example–since we were talking about Kuja dosha here–let’s think of a Cancer Ascendant. If we have a Cancer Ascendant, what we’re going to have is Mars will be ruling over the 5th and the 10th house–do I have that right? I’ve gotta think about it.

CB: If you have what Ascendant? Aries? 

RK: Cancer Ascendant.

CB: Cancer Ascendant. So yes, Scorpio would be the 5th house…

RK: Right.

CB: …and Aries would be the 10th house.

RK: Exactly. So for a Cancer Ascendant, Mars then rules over the 5th house–a trinal house, a house of power; excuse me, a house of purpose and dharma and inspiration–and it rules over the 10th house, which is a house of action and activity and power within the world; in that regard, Mars works very well for a Cancer Ascendant. 

But then if you look at a Virgo Ascendant, we’re going to see that Mars rules over the 3rd house and the 8th house, and these are two extremely difficult houses. The 3rd house deals with sometimes violence and egotism and so on, and the 8th house can deal with sudden breaks and changes. 

And so, in that regard, the planet Mars will tend to work better in regards to supporting their purpose and path in life for the Cancer Ascendant versus how it functions for a Virgo Ascendant because the houses they rule are difficult or are good. Does that explain it?

CB: Yeah. I think that’s perfect. Just to consolidate this statement or the underlying principle, there are certain houses of the 12 houses in the chart that indicate, generally-speaking, positive things or are auspicious…

RK: Yes.

CB: …and there are certain houses that tend to indicate more difficult or inauspicious or negative things. When a planet rules a positive house or positive houses in a chart, then it becomes functionally more of a positive or a benefic planet in the chart, even if the planet itself is normally a malefic, like Mars or Saturn…

RK: Exactly. That’s exactly right, yes.

CB: …versus if a planet rules negative houses in the chart, then it’s going to take on some of those more negative qualities and become functionally more of a malefic or a difficult planet, even if it’s normally–in terms of its inherent properties–a benefic planet, like Venus or Jupiter.

RK: Exactly. And that takes it a little bit further into the idea of how people function in the world. For example, if we think about spirituality, we see all these kinds of spirituality where people are striving for these lofty goals, and they’re trying to be the best person possible; and they’re all inspired and devotional. Well, that’ll work very well for a Jupiter-ruled Ascendant, or a Cancer Ascendant and so on. 

But if we’re looking at, say, a Libra or a Virgo or a Gemini–where planets like Mercury and Saturn are better planets–well, that would show a spiritual approach to life which is actually more grounded in simply being present in reality, dealing with problems as they arise. If a person tries to get on board with those spiritualities that are more lofty and inspirational and charismatic and so on, they’ll actually tend to fail, spiritually-speaking. 

Again, the whole point is that the deeper you go into this, you actually start to see the specifics of how every Ascendant functions optimally within the world based on how the planets are situated from that Ascendant; so it’s pretty fascinating, I think.

CB: Yeah. That’s really hugely important and that gets tied into the concept of yogas as well. And then this of course becomes very important as a potential mitigating factor in interpreting Sade Sati in terms of what houses Saturn rules, and it’s tendency to be a natural malefic is…

RK: Right.

CB: …either emphasized or is mitigated positively based on what houses it rules in the natal chart.

RK: Exactly. So knowing that information, you would approach how you discuss Sade Sati with a client differently. That’s the key there; you nailed it.

CB: Sure. And just to circle back–I actually remembered the point that I forgot five minutes ago. There’s this real distinction that was coming back up of book learning or abstract learning of a concept–like you were saying, Mangala, or Kuja dosha–where you have Mars in certain positions and then what that is said to sometimes indicate…

RK: Right.

CB: …versus the importance of sitting down and what you learn and the wisdom that is gained through experience and through talking with clients about their lives and charts. 

RK: Right.

CB: I like that example you gave where it sounded like from experience, what you’ve observed. Yeah, you’ve sat down and you’ve talked to some women who have that placement. But what happened was that they just tended to be more strong-willed and that didn’t necessarily always work out well within the context of a traditional relationship because sometimes it did create tensions and then perhaps the relationship didn’t work out… 

RK: Exactly.

CB: …but that doesn’t mean that the person is doomed not to have any relationships. They just need to take that into account, or there needs to be some allowance for certain types of relationships that they might be more well-suited to. And that’s just something that clearly comes out of the wisdom of you having those experiences with clients that you can only get from that versus just reading the principle in a book.

RK: Right, exactly. If you think about it, with Kuja dosha, what’s actually one of the remedies for it to overcome it? Well, it’s actually to marry someone who has it themselves.

CB: Right, right. The traditional recommendation is if you have that, then you get in a relationship with somebody else that has it, and it almost cancels the other out or something.

RK: It’s said to cancel it out. But what I’ve found is it’s just that you understand each other better. If you have that kind of aggressiveness and that Type A drive, and you get together with someone who also has it, you can respect each other; and you understand where you’re coming from, which makes it work out better. 

One of the interesting things that you can delve into when you look at these remedies is, well, what’s the logic behind it? And that helps you understand what the actual issue is in the first place.

CB: Right. That’s funny. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense

RK: Mm-hmm.

CB: All right. Well, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else with respect to our main topic that we haven’t covered; we’ve covered a lot of ground in this episode. I’m really happy with how this discussion went, and I think people are going to get a lot from it, especially the part of my audience that tends to be Western astrologers that don’t have a lot of experience with these concepts. I think there’s a lot of great crossover potential in ways that people will become more interested in learning Indian astrology as a result of this. 

Is there anything we should mention with respect to Sade Sati that we haven’t gotten to at this point?

RK: I think we’ve covered pretty much all of the foundational material. If people want to learn more, I’ve got plenty of videos on my YouTube channel dealing with it; but really, it would just be a reiteration of what we’ve already discussed. I think we’ve done pretty good.

CB: Sure. Yeah, that’s a great thing we should mention just because I’ve been following your YouTube channel for awhile. You’ve got hundreds of videos. What are you up to at this point?

RK: It’s well over 250, so I can’t say.

CB: Okay.

RK: I just keep doing it.

CB: You’ve got just a ton of great videos on different aspects of Indian astrology, both in the techniques and the philosophy, as well as a lot of great interviews. What’s the url? Your YouTube channel is youtube.com/ryansvedicastrology, right?

RK: That’s correct, yes.

CB: Okay. And then you’ve also got a couple of books which you sent me, which are actually really amazing. Are these standalone, or are these supposed to be tied in more to your courses?

RK: I wrote them as standalone material. Richard Fish, who is my main teacher–it was way back in the day when you had to take correspondence courses via actual stamp and postage– this was a correspondence course that he had created, that we just decided to turn into a book, which is foundational ideas of Vedic astrology. 

And then the second book, The Art and Science of Vedic Astrology, Volume 2, those are essentially collections of notes from all the classes I’ve taught which I turned into a book. It’s standalone, but it forms the foundation as a textbook for many of the classes that I do have available.

CB: Okay. And in terms of the classes you have available, what is your website again?

RK: It’s ashevillevedicastrology.com.

CB: Okay. And you teach through that site? That’s your main apprenticeship–or foundational courses are available there?

RK: Yeah. I have a section for downloadable courses. There’s probably 10 or 12 courses that I’ve done over the past three or four years that are audio courses, video courses that you can download. I haven’t been doing too many of those anymore because I have focused more on this astrology apprenticeship program, which there’s also a link to that. 

There’s three classes per year, four years, and it’s also done online as well. So that’s the direction that I’ve been going with that website.

CB: Okay, awesome. Well, yeah, I think people should definitely check that out. In addition to this podcast, checking out your YouTube channel is a great way to get a sense of your teaching style, which tends to be very straightforward and approachable and sensible it seems. So I would recommend people check out your YouTube channel and then check out your website for more information about your work and your courses. 

And you’re also a consulting astrologer, right?

RK: I am. I mainly do prajna astrology now, which I think you all call horary. Is that what it is?

CB: Yeah, horary astrology.

RK: Yeah, so I mainly do horary astrology and also Muhurta. Is that electional astrology?

CB: Yeah, electional.

RK: Yeah, so those are the two things I mainly focus on at this point, but I do have a waiting list of people that are interested.

CB: Okay, brilliant. Well, people should then check out your website, which is ashevillevedicastrology.com. And I’ll put a link to that and the YouTube channel in the description page for this episode of the podcast. 

But, yeah, thanks a lot for joining me today.

RK: No problem. I really appreciate it. We covered a lot of good ground, I think.

CB: Yeah, I’m glad we finally got a chance to do this because I’ve been meaning to talk about it for quite awhile. I thought after seeing some of your videos that it would be a great opportunity, so, yeah, thanks again.

RK: No problem.

CB: All right. And thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.