A Birthday Speech (I Haven’t Given)

Originally posted on The Enquirer:

A Birthday Speech (I Haven’t Given)

When I was 19, I sat up in my bed one night and tangibly experienced reality — the impossibly infinite magnificence of existence itself. I could literally see and feel divinity saturating, permeating, being everything — even the most hum-drum of all stuff — like the walls I sat up to stare at.[0]

Since then I haven’t been normal.

Of course, I was never “normal,” but this amazing experience made my abnormalities escalate radically. There is such a deep feeling of happiness in truly experiencing reality — it is euphoric like a sustained, breathtaking, almost “orgasmic” wholeness. Suddenly my normal experience of life felt like a small box with very little inside. I lost interest in everything else and pretty recklessly threw my life on whatever tracks seem to lead towards this divine experience. [1]

The good news is that I have gotten…

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The Root Meanings of the Nine Planets

The Root Meanings of the Nine Planets

Unedited first draft of a very early chapter in my next book…

As I briefly mentioned in the Introduction, planets are the few unusual celestial lights that move around while all others stay in their respective places. We can immediately see seven of them: The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Another thing we see in the sky, sometimes, are eclipses. Eclipses are caused by two shadows: that of the Earth that of that of the Moon. These shadows move, relative to the movement of the Sun and Moon, so astrology treats them practically as if they were two more planets. Indian Astrology names them Rahu and Ketu, bringing the count of astrological planets to nine.[0]

[extraPlanets]: There may be more or less than nine planets out there in the void of space, but astrology is not really about the void of space. It is about life on Earth. It is a way for the universe to communicate with human beings, and the messages it sends are intended to be understandable using the tools naturally available to every human being: a brain and eyes. So I strongly believe that astrology should concern itself only with those nine planets we can naturally see with our naked eyes.

The nine planets represent the nine key components of human life.

  1. Sun = Soul
  2. Moon = Mind
  3. Mercury = Brain
  4. Venus = Senses
  5. Mars = Strength
  6. Jupiter = Positive experience
  7. Saturn = Negative experience
  8. Rahu = Extroversion
  9. Ketu = Introversion

It might be helpful to note that the visible appearance of each planet is the cause of it’s symbolism.

  1. The Sun radiates light and warmth, granting sight and fostering life. So it represents the source of sentience (“sight”) and vitality (“life”): the soul.
  2. The Moon reflects light and constantly changes. It represents the part of us that reflects upon the world, and experience ever-changing emotions as a result: the mind.
  3. Mercury is so close to the Sun that it is barely visible. It represents the brain’s intelligence because intelligence is the closest companion to the sentient soul, barely distinguishable from it.
  4. Venus is so bright, it is practically the most beautiful light in the sky. So it represents the senses, which always seek the pleasure of experiencing beauty.
  5. Mars is red and wanders from its orbit more erratically than any other planet. So it represents strength and what strength grants: power and independence.
  6. Jupiter, like Venus, is outstandingly bright and beautiful. While Venus represents beauty that we can perceive with our senses, Jupiter represents beauty that we conceive: wisdom, particularly wisdom gained by positive experiences.
  7. Saturn is very slow and very dim. Thus it represents negative, difficult experiences imposed by being held back and limited.

Rahu and Ketu cause eclipses so they symbolize changes to how the inner self shines and reflects upon the ourself. They exist 180º opposite from one another, so they symbolize polar opposites. Essentially, Rahu represents the extroverted way of interacting with the world, and Ketu the introverted way.

Now I’ll devotee a chapter to explaining each meaning and the most important implied meanings that branch out from it.

Vic DiCara



I’ll admit, for better or for worse, that I tend not to care very much about Retrogression of planets in the birth chart. Of course, it is a significant factor in my calculation of the planets ability to have impact (“It’s a part of ṣaḍ-bāla,” for those familiar with Indian calculations), but I don’t get much out of changing my interpretations because of retrogression. I’ve just found it more accurate not to.

First of all, let’s issue a disclaimer that I am talking specifically about retrogression in the birth chart. Retrogression and Station in Transits, and Solar Return (varśaphal) is a whole different topic, obviously important.

But I’m interested to discuss how Retrogression might be useful to read finer details of the symbolism.

My basic theory is that the direction and speed of a planet indicates the direction the “energy” of the planet “flows.” If that direction is towards something unusual, then the astrologer should take note of it, and modify the usual interpretation accordingly.

For example, if a planet is Retrograde in the very early degrees of a sign, it indicates an effort to return to the previous house/sign. I have seen this be accurate (or at least very useful) in the several horoscopes I have encountered it in. This type of planet will be using its energy for the sake of achieving something indicated by the house/sign its trying to return too. Of course the main, normal interpretation should apply, but modify/add this extra information to it.

Moving forward in the late degrees of a sign might mean a similar thing. Being stationary at the cusp (ascendant’s degree) or at the end or beginning of a house might also mean something interpretable in a similar way. Moving towards or notably away from a planet might also mean something recognizable.

I say “might” because, for me, they are untested theories.

Say that Saturn and Venus are in close conjunction, and Saturn is at the earlier degree but is retrograde. This means Saturn is moving away from the conjunction, “avoiding” it. To give an example of a possible way to apply the theory: perhaps it indicates that grief will approach the marriage, but fall away, unable to overtake it.

This is my working theory of how to begin more fully exploring the symbolism of the birth chart, taking retrogression into account. I think its a theory worth testing and refining and working with.

There are other theories that are more general. The one’s I’ve encountered are:

  1. The idea that retrogression reverses the inherent character of the planet. IE a benefic becomes malefic and visa versa. This seems awfully dramatic to me. I’d really need to be convinced that this is a reasonable theory.
  2. The idea that retrogression strengthens the planet. That’s completely acceptable, but its already factored into the ṣaḍ-bāla calculation, so it might be overkill to consider it twice.
  3. The idea that retrogression indicates rebelliousness. Seems reasonable, but I haven’t carefully scrutinized the idea in practice.
  4. BPHS indicates that retrogression (along with position in the sign) has some affect on the timing of the “busy period” of a planets daśā.

Whatever the theory, I think its important not to focus everything on retrogression. Such there are a few planets retrograde in the chart, it doesn’t mean its a chart from outer space aliens. Just read the chart as you would read any chart, and then refine that basic interpretation with the extra information you can get by considering the significance of retrogression.

What I particularly like about the theory I suggested in this post is that it allows some retrogression to be unimportant — if a planet’s retrogression doesn’t involve it moving notably towards or away something nearby — and that seems to be an important match to the reality of reading birth charts: in a lot of cases the retrogression makes no super important difference. But in some cases it really does. Since this theory accommodates that, I like it.

Please feel free to experiment with it.

Vic DiCara

Foresee the Future

Foresee the Future

Animals do not seem to know much of the past or future. Human beings all know a bit about the immediate past and future. The more intelligent a living thing is, the more it can predict how things will happen. It is not really a “foreseeing” but it is a "calculation of trajectory.” It is not like the future already exists and some people can see it, that’s not the way it is. Only the present exists, but the wise can calculate the trajectory extending from the past through the present into the future, and therefore can know what shapes will arise in the future, before they actually arise.

Superhuman beings like the gods, progenitors, creators, etc. are so intelligent that they can understand the trajectory of the future in great detail. Among humans only sages who take great pains to acquire superhuman knowledge through divine blessings and ardent study can know some distance into the future in some detail, but Prajāpati’s like Kaśyapa can foresee in considerable detail.


Here is the completely unedited initial sketch of the Introduction to my next book on astrology, The Great Big Crystal Ball in the Sky Part II!


Astrology — like math, like music — is a language.

What are the “words” in the language called Astrology? There are nine nouns, twelve verbs and twelve adjectives.

Parts of Speech

The nine nouns are the nine things that move through the heavens, the planets. They are nouns (“persons, places, things”) because they move through the heavens like people moving through a landscape. Technically there are more than nine, but very few people speak the language with a level of sophistication that involves more than nine, and I strongly advise limiting yourself to the nine primary planets, at least until you have become very proficient and intimate with their subtleties.

The twelve verbs are the twelve zones of the sky, the twelve “houses.” They are verbs (action words) because they define the different areas of life in which the planets will be active.

The twelve adjectives are the twelve divisions of the ecliptic, the “zodiac signs.” The are adjectives (descriptors of nouns) because they modify the nature of the planets (the nouns).

Reading Astrological Sentences

When you put nouns, verbs, and adjectives together you get sentences, the fundamental structure of language communicating sophisticated ideas. Similarly, when you consider a planet in a sign and house you can understand a complete astrological “sentence” giving you information about the universe and destiny. A planet representing marriage for example (like Venus), in a sign that makes is prosperous and generous (like Pisces), and a house that indicates foreigners (like the 12th), forms a sentence that communicates the idea of a good marriage to a foreigner, or at least prosperous relationships in foreign lands.

Just as there are many ways to understand a word and a sentence, there are many ways to understand any combination of planet, sign and house. If you can enjoy sussing out the subtleties of the communications you receive through astrology, you can enjoy playing the role of an astrologer (even if only for yourself) and can derive benefit from astrology. If you want concrete black and white answers delivered at the snap of your fingers, get in line with the rest of the long faces. Everyone wants that, and no one gets it. You can get clear, definite answers from astrology, but not without sitting with it patiently and carefully sussing out the most appropriate meaning out of all the possible meanings.


Grammar defines how the nouns, verbs and adjectives can combine. Its always a bit of a complex subject in any language.

In astrology, the simplest grammar is a “conjunction.” It occurs when planets, signs, and houses literally link with one another by physical proximity. For example if Venus is in Pisces and the twelfth house, the grammar in that forms an easily recognizable sentence.

The conjunction grammar works in less obvious ways, too. If Venus is in Pisces with the planet in charge of the twelfth house, it forms a sentence that sounds a lot like “Venus in Pisces, the twelfth house.

Another venue for covert conjunctive grammar involves the natural house association of the planets. For example the Moon, as you will learn, has a lot in common with the fourth house. So let’s say Venus and the Moon are together in Pisces — it could be in any house, but because the Moon naturally has a lot to do with the fourth house, there is a bit of “fourth house” unspoken in the sentence, “Venus with the Moon in Pisces.” Since the fourth house has to do with the mother, maybe the sentence means that a good marriage will result by following mom’s advice, or emulating mom, or allowing mom to help you select a good partner, etc.

A still more obscure way the conjunctive grammar can operate is through subdivisions of the zodiac. Most people are not familiar with what these are, so it may not make sense right now. We will explain it in its own chapter, but to just give an illustration here, Venus might be in Scorpio in the 3rd house, but at a particular degree of Scorpio that places it in Pisces, in the 12th house, when you divide the zodiac into certain fractions.

Now we start to see that a single planet in a single sign and house writes a whole lot of sentences!

Another astrological grammar is the “aspect.” This is a way planets can “be somewhere” without physically being there, a lot like you can influence a person by deliberately looking at them from a distance. So, for example, we can get a similar sentence as “Venus in Pisces, the twelfth house” if Venus in Pisces strongly aspects the sensitive point of the 12th house, or even if Venus in Pisces strongly aspects whatever planet is in charge of the 12th house.

The aspect grammar can exploit the same subtleties we noted for the conjunction grammar.

Yet other astrological grammars are transit and periodic. These grammars allow planets to form different variations of their sentences at different points in time!

Paragraphs and Chapters

Sentences form paragraphs and paragraphs form chapters. Similarly the ability to read combinations of planets, signs and houses is just the beginning of what it takes to deeply decipher astrological information. But it is the most essential beginning. Paragraphs, after all, are just collections of sentences on a similar topic. And chapters are just paragraphs groups meaningfully together.

If you really become comfortable and expert at reading the combinations of planets, signs and houses, it will be pretty easy for you to comprehend and utilize any other astrological technique that may wait for you as a more advanced student.

In the Book

Stick with me patiently in this book, and I will first explain the definitions of every noun, verb, and adjective (planet, house and sign) in astrology.[0] I would like to ask you if its possible that you try to “forget” most of what you already know about these things, and try to start from scratch with me. The lexicon of astrology is extremely sophisticated and its just easiest to start studying it from scratch, with a clean slate.

[nak]:This leaves out the fixed stars (nakṣatra). I’ve given their definitions in another book, called “27 Stars, 27 Gods.”

Besides the definitions I will also explain how the grammars of aspects, conjunctions, transit, and period work, and explain the subtle ways each one can operate through house lordship and zodiac subdivisions.

Where I do and do not Differ from Mainstream Indian Astrology

Where I do and do not Differ from Mainstream Indian Astrology

I should explain where I differ, and more importantly, where I do not differ from what has become the mainstream in Indian astrology.

I do not differ from:

  1. Definitions of the planets, houses, and signs.
  2. Definitions of the symbolism of the planets, houses, and signs.
  3. Definition of the imports of combinations of planets, houses and signs (yogas).
  4. Calculations of the houses
  5. Methods of evaluating the strength and positivity of the planets and houses.
  6. Calculation of planetary aspects.
  7. Calculation of zodiac divisions.
  8. Definitions and calculations of the fixed stars (nakṣatra)
  9. Calculation of timing systems (daśā) [although I define the length of the year a little bit differently than most]
  10. Etc. (Many other calculations, definitions, and analysis systems)

I do differ on one point:

  1. The location of the fixed stars with respect to the 12 divisions of the ecliptic (the “zodiac”).

Mainstream Indian astrology considers the fixed stars to have an unchanging relationship to the 12 divisions of the ecliptic. Although this has probably been the vogue for at least 5 or 6 centuries, it is not in perfect accordance with the definitions given in the more original, more authoritative texts — most notably the Sūrya Siddhānta, but also the Purāṇas like Viṣṇu and Bhāgavata. I have an article and video with the details on this.

You can see that what I have in common greatly outweighs what I don’t have in common with Indian astrology, so, there is no need to think that one of us must be reading from completely erroneous data and the other from completely accurate data. Nonetheless, because my system is more squarely based on the original astrological texts themselves, I am confident that it produces accurate results more easily.

Astrology is an extremely sophisticated and complex science. The same outcome can be generated in any number of ways. The qualities of Mercury in Virgo, for example, can be attained without having Mercury in Virgo, but having certain yogas, and certain conditions pertaining to the 5th, 9th and 3rd houses, etc.

Furthermore, simply looking at the obvious sign of a planet is not a complete analysis of its zodiac position. According to the various subdivisions of the zodiac (aṁśa) Mercury at a certain degree in Virgo might actually have a lower dignity overall (by varga-viṁśottari calculation) than Mercury at a certain degree of Pisces. So we shouldn’t allow ourselves to say, “Oh Mercury in Virgo matches me but Mercury in Libra doesn’t.” That type of astrology is far to simple to validate or invalidate an astrological calculation.

The best bet, in my opinion, is to carefully and faithfully study and comprehend the ācāryas who helped to found the science. It will lead to improved clarity and accuracy in the long run. My zodiac calculation is based much more directly and obviously on Sūrya-Siddhānta, Viṣṇu and Bhāgavata-Purāṇa, I therefore place my confidence in it, rejecting the mainstream concept of how the 12 ecliptic divisions align with the fixed stars.

Vic DiCara

Clarifying Rahu and Ketu

Clarifying Rahu and Ketu

Q: I understand that planets have both high and low dignities, so even the natural malefics like Saturn and Mars can cast dignified and positive qualities when well disposed. But, I always thought Rahu was always negative. Even when conjoined with benefics, it tends to expand the less dignified aspect of the conjoined planet. Also, the pastime associated with the appearance of Rahu and Ketu does indicate that they are originally demoniac…

Although there really is no siddhānta in astrology, there are a few books that are clearly better and more authoritative than others. Bṛhat Parāśara Hora Śāstra for example, and Phaladīpika. In my opinion, BPHS is outstanding for mathematical techniques to assess the fundamental facts of a horoscope very objectively. But the Phaladīpika is outstanding in its presentation of interpretational guidelines and examples.

Phaladīpika, in my opinion gives the most rational and useful definitions of several basic interpretational constants. The author states clearly and definitively that Rahu and Ketu are neither krura nor somya (aka neither malefic nor benefic). They are entirely unlike the seven true planets. They simply mimic whatever they are in contact with.

My experience as an astrologer does not match the idea you stated, that Rahu or Ketu will always spoil whatever it contacts. If this is true, Paul McCartney would not be Paul McCartney (Ketu conjoins his ascendant). What to speak of Paul McCartney, our Śrīla Prabhupāda has an extremely strong and tight conjunction of Jupiter with Ketu. So the idea that you have presented that Rahu and Ketu spoil everything is completely bogus. The truth is that Rahu and Ketu powerfully amplify anything they contact.

Consider the tale, they are dopplegangers (shape changers).

Vic DiCara

Authentic Modern Astrology from the Ancient and Classical World


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