Mars & Marriage (Kuja Dosa / Mangala Dosha)

“Mars Affliction” (Kuja Dosha) is a rather modern trend, not a truly “vedic” or “classical” yoga or astrological combination. To quickly explain what it is: Mars is the planet of independence and the Seventh House is the place of cooperation. The two have obviously opposing themes. Therefore when Mars interacts strongly with the Seventh House astrologers tend to foresee that the Mars’ independence will interfere with the cooperation required to make good, lasting relationships.

How would Mars interact strongly with the Seventh House? Simply put, if he occupies or aspects it. In a simplified sense, Mars aspects the Seventh House if he occupies the 12th, 1st, or 4th houses.

Some astrologers extend the formula even further, saying that Mars will cause problems to relationships when he interacts with the Second House, since that is the House of Family – and “family” also does not get on well with “independence.” Mars can interact with the Second house if he occupies it or aspects it, and in the simplest sense he aspects it if he occupies the 7th, 8th or 11th houses.

So the list of houses that will cause interference between self-oriented independence and relationship-oriented cooperation are: 12, 1, 4, 7, and 8. Astrologers drop the 11th House from this list because the 11th House is a good place for Mars. Of all the houses to have Mars in, the Seventh is the worst, theoretically, because from here Mars influences both the Seventh House, the house of relationships (since he is in it) and the Second House, the house of family (since he will aspect it).

Rampant Misdiagnosis

There is a very long list of reasons why this whole topic is extremely overemphasized and misdiagnosed by the vast majority of people who presume to read horoscopes.

  • The biggest problem is that most of those people read horoscopes like they would paint-by-numbers. They have little to no real understanding of what they are doing, or why they are doing it. They are just trying to follow some stuff they read somewhere. This problem causes all the rest.
  • Another problem is that Vedic aspects are degree specific and 90% of people telling other people they have the Mars Affliction (“Kuja Dosha”) frankly have no idea that this is true, what to speak of knowing how to read Vedic aspects by degree. Mars may be in the First House, for example, but his aspect to the Seventh House could literally amount to nothing if the degrees between Mars and the cusp of the Seventh House are significantly less than 180º.
  • Another problem causing misdiagnosis of Mars Affliction is that Mars is not always the cause of troubling and counter-productive selfish independence. Mars in good signs, for example, bestows strong constructive drive and enthusiasm. In such cases it would be wrong to diagnose his influence as an affliction (“dosha”).

Correct Diagnosis

To truly have Mars Affliction the following has to occur in the chart

  1. Mars must not have good dignity. You should consult the vimshopaka score to get a quick idea of the true dignity of Mars taking all his subdivisions into account. A good dignity results the more the Vimshopaka score is above 10.
  2. Mars must really aspect the 7th House cusp with an intensity generally of 70% or above. To assess this you need to know what Vedic aspects really are, which is well beyond the scope of this article. I encourage you to take my class or read my textbook on Unlocking the Meanings of a Horoscope to learn this.
  3. Mars should also aspect the 7th House from Venus and/or the Moon.
  4. The more intensely Mars has low dignity and fully aspects the 7th house form the Ascendant, Venus and/or the Moon – the more severe the affliction from Mars will be.
– Vic DiCara
© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved

How to Read a Horoscope

This is an except from Chapter 25 of my book, Unlocking the Meanings of a Horoscope, the textbook for my course of the same name. Everything mentioned in summary below gets a treatment of full explanation in that book and, especially, in the course.

Getting the Sculpting Material

I started out with the metaphor of an astrologer being like a sculptor, and I want to return to that metaphor now. The first step in making a sculpture is to get reliable material to sculpt, and to figure out what that material is best suited for. What you can do easily with clay you cannot do easily with marble, and similarly what marble can accomplish cannot be accomplished easily with clay.

The first step in unlocking a horoscope is to get an accurate and reliably calculated birth chart, and review the rising sign in full scope down to the lunar mansion and navamsha subdivisions, as well as the sign, mansion and navamsha of the Moon. This is analogous to getting your sculpting materials set up and assessing what final product these materials is inherently more suited to produce.

Crafting the General Outline of Form

The first bit of actual work a sculptor does is to start to carve out the basic shapes of various areas of the sculpture. In astrology, you feel-out and define the basic outline of an individual’s horoscope by individualizing the rising sign. This requires you to asses the elemental and modal balance in the individual chart, the placement of the first house ruler, the overall situation regarding key houses, and the friends and enemies in the birth chart.

Basic Elements

Once a sculptor is satisfied with the basic form of his or her sculpture, she begins to work on smaller units in it, bringing out the first details in the sculpture’s main elements: the shape of an eye, lips, nose, etc. The Astrologer does this by doing a planet by planet overview considering their signs, houses and lordship placements from a wide and inclusive angle.

Combinations of Motifs

The sculpture starts to become a work of art when the artist connects themes and motifs across more than just one element. A curvature of line in the eyes repeated in the carving of the hair, for example, makes both elements far more dynamic and artistic then they would be on their own. The next step of unlocking a horoscope is very similar, because it requires the astrologer to look for connections between multiple elements in the chart. I call these “combinations.” The astrologer first identifies all the mutual links the planets form in the horoscope, and evaluates if these links constitute Power, Wealth, Health, or other types of important combinations. The astrologer also need to become aware of the basic depth and intensity of any combinations he or she uncovers.

Fine Details

The greatest amount of artistic skill and craftsmanship is in the very finest details of the sculpture. Analogously the final phase of unlocking the horoscope is the most detailed and will make the difference between a “pretty good” reading and a “life changing” one. To polish out the fine details in the horoscope – details which will give the final definition of all the shapes, elements, and motifs you have unlocked so far – the astrologer must asses each planet in three dimensions: motive, strength and influence. To do so, he or she will examine the True Dignity, outstanding subdivisions, Sixfold Strength, dispositors, and exact aspects for all the planets in the horoscope. This information allows a complete and thorough final definition of every note previously made during the process of reading the horoscope.

Putting the Art on Display

When the sculpture is done, the artist puts it on display somewhere. For an astrologer, this is analogous to actually delivering and communicating a reading to the client. By following the steps above an astrologer can fully process all the facts of a horoscope and succinctly distill exact effects and outcomes. All the interpretations of the horoscope will be at your fingertipes, and you can freely discuss it with your client in whatever format you choose to work.

I will stop short of teaching you how to communicate this information to your client, because that very broad and important subject is a course of study unto itself. (I am working on the textbook for that course now: VA 102: On Being an Astrologer.)

Practical Notes

At first you will want to go through every step for every planet in every horoscope. This is a lot of work, but it is part of what you have to do. “Practice, practice, practice.” Later on, after you have successfully read perhaps a hundred or so charts, you will be more free to follow specific threads of meaning relevant to the concerns and questions of the querent without having to explicitly go through each end every step. The reason you will be able to do this is that your mind will be able to process these steps much more quickly. It is not that you will ever depart from these steps, but when you become seasoned they steps will come more naturally, and sometime without being explicitly noticed.

– Vic DiCara
© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved

What is a “Dispositor”?

“Dispositor” is really an oddball word, if you ask me. It is not even in the normal modern English dictionary! Look at it carefully and you will find it is made of “dis” and “posit.” You use dis- in plenty of words, like distance, disgrace, disfigure, etc. The prefex dis- indicates negation, absence, & separation. But very importantly to the astrological use of the term, it indicates completeness, accomplishment and intensification in some uses like disgruntled, discombobulate, and disposition.

Now we are on to something. The word posit is an awful lot easier to recognize in it’s stand alone form: position. And so disposition is a much more familiar form of the word disposit.

Your disposition involves the inherent qualities of your mind and character. It describes how you “position” yourself in relation to other things, people and ideas. A dispositor is a person or factor that is instrumental in creating your disposition.

How Dispositors Gain Opportunities to Influence

You cannot fully understand a planet without knowing it’s disposition. The dispositor is a huge factor in creating that disposition. A planet who disposits many other planets gains significant influence over “disposition” of all of those planets. That is how dispositors gain influence and opportunity in a horoscope.

Thus, planets gain influence by dispositing other planets, especially when those other planets are themselves quite potent and strong.

Types of Dispositors

There are several ways a planet can become the dispositor of another.

Sign Dispositors

The simplest way to become a dispositor is to own the sign that a planet occupies. Mars, for example, becomes a dispositor for any planet that occupies his signs: Aries & Scorpio. Venus becomes a dispositor for any planet who occupies her signs: Taurus & Libra, etc.

Final Dispositors

Every dispositor will itself have a dispositor, until you get to one that you designate the “final dispositor.” The final dispositor can become very influential, especially when it is the final dispositor of many or all of the planets in a horoscope.

How do you decide that a planet should be the “final dispositor”? Normally this happens when you get to a dispositor who occupies it’s own sign. Such planets disposits themselves. Alternatively it can happen when the chain of dispositorship returns to a planet.

In the example at left, the Moon is in Taurus, so Venus is her dispositor. Venus is in Capricorn, so her own dispositor is Saturn. Saturn is in Aquarius, which is his own sign – so he disposits himself. He largely creates his own disposition. Since Saturn has no dispositor besides himself, he is the final dispositor of the Moon (and of Venus).

At right is an example of a final dispositor which is not in its own sign. We start with Saturn (simply because we picked Saturn and want to know about its dispositors). Because it is in Taurus, Venus is its dispositor. Because Venus is in Sagittarius, Jupiter is her dispositor. Because Jupiter is in Cancer, the Moon is his dispositor. Because the Moon is in Libra, Venus is his dispositor. We already mentioned Venus in this chain! Therefore a closed loop will form with Venus as the focal point. This makes Venus the final dispositor.

In this case we have traced the dispositors of four planets, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and the Moon. We have discovered that Venus is the final dispositor of all of them. On this basis Venus gains considerable opportunity to exert what strength she possesses and influence the rest of the chart to cooperate with her intentions.


– Vic DiCara
© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved

On Sculptors and Astrologers

Imagine a sculptor. He takes his well-maintained tools and sits before a block of fine marble. What do you imagine him doing next? Does he pick one spot on the raw rock and finish it completely before moving on to the next, carving out a flawless, perfectly polished and finished eye while the rest of the sculpture is still nothing more than a square block of stone? Of course not! He gradually chisels at the whole block. Each time the overall shape of the entire statue emerges slightly more clearly. Eventually the rock has been chiseled into a shape that clearly resembles a human. Now he begins refining the individual features, and polishing the final details.

That is exactly how you must read a chart if you want to be any good at astrology.

First of all you must have your “tools” organized and well maintained. That means you must always sharpen your basic understanding of the fundamental astrological symbols – the planets, signs, mansions, houses, divisions, elements, modes, etc.

Next, you must have a fine “block of marble.” This means that you must have an accurate chart to work with.

Once you have your tools and your block of marble, what do you do next? Do you leap into defining the meaning of the Sun in, say Cancer in the 7th house, going into great detail about the nature of someone’s marriage and relationships? No, please don’t! This would be like the sculptor carving a finished eye before moving on to carve the nose and the rest of the statue. If a sculptor tried to sculpt this way he would find that (a) he couldn’t reach in to sufficiently polish and finish all areas of the eye, and (b) when he said, “OK, the eye is good enough” and moved on to the nose, the work he would do on the nose would very likely wind up chipping and marring the work he poured into working on the eye! The exact same thing will happen to any astrologer who dives too deeply into any single part of the chart without first at least roughly considering all the other parts of the chart.

So, let’s try again with this question. Once you have your tools and your block of marble, what do you do next?

You go over the whole chart and start to gradually reveal the basic shape and outline of it’s meaning. You proceed in pass after pass over the whole chart to gradually understand it’s shape. Once you have the overall shape well defined, then you dive in and polish up the details.

– Vic DiCara
© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved

Reading Birth Charts

Think of the chart as a musical instrument and the planets as musicians. Musicians make music according to their taste, but also according to the instruments they are given to work with. Take a musician and give her a piano; she will make a certain kind of song because the piano has 88 keys, etc. Give the same musician a guitar and she will make a different type of song, because the guitar has different properties than a piano. There are things you can do with a guitar that you can’t do with a piano.

To begin reading a chart you have to figure out what kind of “instrument” it is. You do this by carefully evaluating the rising sign and the essential modifications to that rising sign causes by the specific placements of the planets in the chart. You had to look at specific planets, yes – but only in so far as seeing how they modify the rising sign.

There are 12 rising signs, so you could say there are 12 categories of “instruments” that the planets can “make music” with. In any category there are lots of major and minor distinctions. Guitars, for example, are a general type of musical instrument. But there is a big difference between a hawaiian ukulele and an electric bass guitar, for example. And even among ukuleles there are different brands, qualities, tunings etc.

By examining the rising sign you understand the type of “instrument” the chart is. And then by reviewing the planetary placements in the chart, you get an idea of the subtype. From the rising sign you could say, for example, “OK this chart is a guitar.” And by examining the planets in relation to the rising sign you can figure out – “OK, this is an electric guitar in standard tuning.”

You still don’t know what music the musicians are going to make with this instrument! But you do know what they have to work with. If one of the musicians wants to make a flute quintet sonata… it’s not going to really come to pass, because an electric guitar just doesn’t support that sort of music.

So by evaluating the inherent, derived, and extended properties of the rising sign, you understand clearly the potentials of the chart. Next you will have to read the actual planets and see what sorts of “songs” they want to make. When they want to make songs that fit well on electric guitars, bingo! Big things happen. By first examining the rising sign thoroughly you know have done something very important: you have made your job as an astrologer possible! You now know what you should pay attention to and what things you can ignore. Or, to put it another way, you know which interpretations to make and which not to make. Your task has gone from an impossible amount of potential interpretations to a manageable and “possible” range.

– Vic DiCara
© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved

Learning Astrology (For Beginners and Experts)

Fractals are amazing. They are infinitely complex patterns formed by repeating much simpler, smaller patterns over and over again in smaller and smaller contexts. Astrology is a fractal – infinitely complex, but built on relatively simple principles. The complexity of astrology is like the complexity of a fractal – a result of the finer and finer application of the basic pattern or principle.

If you try to grasp the whole complex fractal of astrology, you won’t. You have to put aside your ambition and hunger to understand the whole thing all at once, because this is literally an impossible task. The only way to draw an infinite shape, a fractal, is to clearly define the simpler patterns which create it. Similarly, the only way to grasp the whole complexity of astrology is to clearly understand the simpler patterns at its core.

The more you focus on trying to get the complexity of astrology – the less you will get it. But if  you focus on improving your intimate knowledge of the basic building blocks, suddenly and rather soon really, the entire fractal of astrology’s infinite complexity will awaken in your cognition, and you will become a true astrologer.

The planets, houses, and the signs (12 signs of the solar zodiac and 27 signs of the lunar zodiac) are the fundamental patterns on which astrology unfolds its infinite complexity. Direct your attention to these and you will prosper as a student of astrology.

– Vic DiCara

Why is Astrology so Confusing?

Keenya Woods painted this wonderful picture of "confusion"The main reason astrology is so confusing is that even the people who explain it are usually pretty darn unclear about what it is.


Because Earth is only just now gradually emerging from the Age of Darkness (“Kali-yuga”). The darkness of this age creates great confusion. During this time the tropical zodiac drifted out of sync from the sidereal zodiac – and no one seemed to notice or care. Instead they tried to invent new stuff to patch up the problem. Within a few hundred years all the beautiful simplicity and basic symmetry of ancient astrology got lost in a pile of new planets, new theories, new techniques, new ideas, etc.

Astrology got really confusing.

~ * ~ * ~

“What’s your sign?” she asks.

“Uhm, I am a Leo” he says.

“Oh, I hate Leos… but, uh… you’re pretty cute!”

For most people in the age of darkness this is the depth of their exposure to Astrology. So even if they meet a person who understands astrology clearly and simply – anything that person says is still going to go flying over their heads.

In this age of darkness, even the most simple and symmetrical things about astrology strike most of us as perplexing, complex and downright confusing.

~ * ~ * ~

So let me try to explain why there is a certain amount of complexity built in to astrology. Let’s take Venus for example. Everyone loves Venus. Everyone knows that she is the planet of romance and love and relationships.

OK, then some astrologer comes along and tells you about “houses“. That confused the hell out of you, because you are lucky to have even heard about Venus before, much less to know what the houses are. But since you are really into astrology, you do some homework and try to figure out what the houses are all about.

You find out that the 7th House is about relationships.

But wait, you thought Venus was about relationships?

It’s confusing. What’s what?

Why not take Aries as another example… you will learn that Aries is bold and headstrong and self-oriented. At first you think that means that everyone you meet in a bar who answers “uhm, I’m an Aries” is going to be bold, headstrong and selfish. But later on you learn more about astrology. You learn that it is not just signs it is also planets. In fact, it is mainly about the planets.

So far so good.

Until you read about Mars… bold… headstrong… self-willed.

But wait, isn’t that supposed to be Aries?

~ * ~ * ~

What I am illustrating is that you will initially find it confusing that a single trait can be represented by more than one astrological thing. There is a very important reason why any single trait has to be represented in more than just one astrological factor: convergence.

Here is how you can understand convergence. Get one of those combination locks, the cheap ones with the three or four rows of numbers. Inside them, each row has one slot cut out, one window through which the bolt can pass so that the lock can open. When you line up all the windows, all the right numbers on the lock – then all the windows converge; they line up and provide a complete path for the bolt to pass all the way out so that the lock can open.

You can get an initial grasp on how astrology works by applying that image.

Venus represents romance, for example – when she lines up with the 7th House, which also represents romance – you get a bigger convergence regarding romance. There is a bigger opening for the energy of romance to “unlock” and come out for the person.

When things line up together in astrology, the things about them that they have in common get bigger windows of opportunity – broader access to actually come out and become real in the person’s life.

Saturn, for example, is a planet that has something to do with you career and your work. But this facet of Saturn really unlocks and comes out when Saturn is  in the 10th House. Especially if he is in the 10th House in a sign that also has a good “window” for career – like Libra or Capricorn or Taurus, for example.

Venus, for example, is about all the things which make life better and more beautiful. Put her in the 7th house – which is about relationships – and the window opens up winder for her make life better and more pleasant through romance. Put her in the 11th House – the house of enjoyment – and a different window opens up – one in which she makes life better and more pleasant through appreciation for enjoyable things like art, music, dance, etc. and through financial profits.

~ * ~ * ~

Now, I hope, you might be starting to understand astrology at a deeper level. You might be starting to understand how to read the positions in a birth chart. But please don’t forget that you are only just starting.
– Vic DiCara