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If you look at your own horoscope/ birth chart, or at someone elses, the first thing you wonder is, “what the heck… where do I start understanding this?” There are a few ways to answer that question, and several of them are good answers. Let’s explore one answer right now…
The first, most important thing you can do is figure out, which planet is most important? If you know this, you can automatically derive tons and tons of very useful, practical, helpful information from the horoscopic chart. Knowing this, you can categorize people into 7 or 9 broad categories and advise them accordingly. “Oh you are a Sun person.” “You are a Saturn person” etc. This is, though cursory, highly useful. Nobody should say that just because a technique is cursory it is not extremely useful for broad counseling and self-understanding!
Of course, the less generic and more refined you can make your assesment, the better. Therefore we might hope not just to classify a person as one planetary type or another, but perhaps we could aim to classify them as primary and secondary types “You are primarily a Saturn type and secondarily Venus.” Or perhaps we could go even further and give a whole balance of the influence of each planet “You are 50% Saturn, 20% Venus, 10% Mercury, etc.” This would be a highly useful tool for interpretation and counseling. So lets discuss how to figure out how important each planet is.
First you want to know, “Which planets influence the most sensitive positions in the chart?” If you answer this question you more or less have figured out what the most important planet is, and what the order of importance is for each planet! There are a few other things to consider, but its safe to say this is the bulk of the issue.
So, first you need to know, “What are the ‘sensitive positions’ in a horoscope?”
Four Cardinal Points
First of all the Ascendant. The degree of the ascendant is the Eastern Horizon itself, and that is the most sensitive and important point in the sky. Following behind the Ascendant in importance are the other three of the four cardinal points – these are the cusps of the 10th, 7th and 4th houses, in that order of importance.
Calculating the Points
How do we figure out what these “cusps” are. You could use a non-fixed system and calculate the midheaven, then find the decendant exactly 180 degrees opposite the ascendant, and the Ic (4th house cusp) exactly 180 degrees opposite the midheaven (10th house cusp). That’s one way to do it. BTW this system is not just a “western” system. It is a “Vedic” system as well, “Bhava Chalit.”
Another way to calculate the four cardinal points is to use the fixed-house system. In this system the degree of the ascendant becomes the degree of the cusp for every house. So is the Ascendant is 2 degrees in Aries, the 10th house cusp is 2 degrees Capricorn, the 7th is 2 degrees Libra, and the 4th is 2 degrees Cancer.
I prefer the fixed house system, but am open to comparing results for both systems.
The planets themselves are certainly very sensitive points in the horoscope. The most sensitive is the Moon, then whatever planet rules the 1st house, then the Sun, and then the planets in order of descending average speed – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, the Nodes (Rahu and Ketu) and Saturn.
How to Calculate “Influence”?
OK, now we know the sensitive points. How do we know how much these points are influenced? Let’s build a formula for it:
Each planet can influence a point up to 100% of it’s strength. Later on we will factor in the strength of the planet, so for now lets deal with the percentages alone. There are three ways a planet can influence a point – (1) by proximity, (2) by aspect, or (3) by disposition (being a “dispositor”).
Of these, being a dispositor is a black and white consideration. Either a planet is a dispositor or it isn’t. The other two are not black and white, instead they are gradations.
Let’s consider aspects for example. You have to learn about how aspects really are evaluated, all the currently popular knowledge about it is only 1/4 of the story. For that, read my books or take my courses. I will tell you a bit about it now. Each planet has one or more locations it influences at 100% potential, and one or two locations it influences at 75%, at 50% and at 25% potention. These locations are degrees relative to the position of the planet. In between the degree of 100% aspect influence and the next degree, the amount of influence from the aspect gradually falls off till it reaches the correct amount at the next degree. Let’s use a concrete example.
Venus, like all planets, has 100% aspect influence on the “7th house” from it, which is 180 degrees away from it. And also like all planets she has 0% aspect influence on the “6th house” from it, which is 150. So if the Ascendant, for example, is 180 degrees from Venus – Venus will influence that sensitive point with 100% full power from her aspect. But if the Ascendant is 150 degrees from Venus, there is absolutely no influence from Venus at all here. What if the ascendant is 165 degrees from Venus? Well, that is halfway between 150 and 180, so Venus’ aspect influence is halfway between 0 and 100% – i.e. 50%.
OK, in this manner go through and calculate (or create some computer software to do it for you) how much each planet affects the all the sensitive points as a result of their aspect.
If a planet has zero aspect on something, one possibility is that it will be in physical proximity – conjunct. This generally means in the same sign/house. Like aspects, it is not black and white, but gradated. The closer a planet is to a sensitive point, the more influence it exerts. I figure it something like this. There are 6 possible points. If two bodies are in the same sign, I give 2 points. If they are in the same lunar mansion I give another 2, and if they are in the same navamsha, another 2. This method broadens the concept of conjunctions to include navamsha conjunctions and out of sign conjunctions that are still within the same lunar mansion. Based on this, I get a percentage of conjunction influence – 0, 33, 66 or 100%.
If a planet is a dispositor of a sensitive point, give it some note or mark. Ignore dispositors to the 10th, 7th and 4th house because that is included in the ascendant dispositor by default. So give those points to the ascendant dispositor. So the 1st lord gets lots of influence points just by being the 1st lord. Planets with lots of other planets in their houses also gain some influence marks in this way.
Putting it All Together
When you have your data on how much each planet influences the sensitive points you have to do some math. I am not going to tell you everything! =) That would (a) put me out of work, and (b) would be awefully complicated and only the math and science majors among you would finish reading the article.
What I do want to say is that at this point you have data about how much each planet influences each sensitive point. You need to do math to weight the importance of the various points and then sum them together in a weighted average for each planet. You also need to convert the dispositor marks to a compatible numeric percentage format to include in that weighted average.
At that point you will be able to say, “You are 38% jupiter, 24%Moon, 12% Saturn, etc. etc.”
But you should also factor in the strength of the planets. How to calculate the strength? You must use shad-bala. What the heck is that? You have to read my books or take my courses, there is no way I can explain it right now. But to summarize, shad-bala is a value that tells you how potent the planet is. So if a very impotent planet is affecting millions of sensitive points, there has to be some weighting going on in your evaluate to take into account that each instance of influence is weak. Conversely a very strong, potent planet (according to shad-bala) may affect fewer sensitive points, but each effect is very powerful. Therefore take the percentage numbers you have for each planet and figure out a good math formula for multiplying them against each planet’s shad-bala score.
Then you have a very good assesment of What is the most important planet in this chart?
Think this will take forever? Yes it will.
(A) you could either live like a sadhu and learn to be calm and patient and take forever before making judgements. or (B) you have to figure out how to teach a computer how to calculate all this stuff for you in a few milliseconds, or (C) you have to sit there in awe of astrology and wait for someone to include these calculations in some commercial or public software release, or (D) you just sit there in awe. or (E) you wait for me to make it a reading and then order it from me for something rediculously inexpensive like $10!
Hari Bolo. I hope you enjoyed this article and that it sharpens your understanding, appreciation and practice of astrology.