The sky is growing dark. The streetlight and the curve of the hill we live on allow the artificial light from our township to spill down the curvature of our road, making the night seem less mature than it is. I look up at the sky - it’s a shade of dark blue-gray that comes before complete blackness. I won’t be awake for the north east suburban dark sky that would appear briefly in a few hours. I’m 7 years old. I have a bedtime. I’m standing outside on our front step, with my shoes on, because my mother’s anxiety would activate if I were barefoot outside. I know, even at this age, that my mother’s anxiety is its own justified reason to put my shoes on. I know, even at this age, that I’d rather be barefoot.
I’m in first grade and each evening this whole month of early spring, my homework is to pencil draw what the moon looks like, through each of her phases, putting the moon in little boxes on a worksheet my teacher gave me. After a few nights, my young eyes decide the boxes are too small to hold my moons. But I am without a solution, because my teachers won’t care if I tell them I don’t have what I need to adequately draw the moon - or at least that’s what it feels like. I wish they had asked me what I needed to draw the moon. I want to get closer to the moon. Even at this age, I can feel its pull and presence. This is my introduction to Jyotisha, witnessing Her limitlessness and being limited by Her simultaneously.
The beginning, the middle, and the end of my knowing Jyotisha exists in my lived experiences, in the recalling of such experiences, and in the intense and immense study of experience. Her characteristics of science and fact, emphasis of time and place, Her ability to be fluid, changing, and ever course creating, Her seasonality and Her patterns all create a kind of river-like flow that is ever changing, yet predictable, and yet not. All of it is alluring, inspiring, frustrating, enticing, activating, relieving, and soothing to my mind, and my heart.
I’m cold in my bones, and sort of stiff. I just slept on a Hogan floor in a sleeping bag, with multiple layers of clothing for warmth. I’m on reservation land in Navajo Nation, New Mexico on the land of a Navajo farmer, scholar, and elder. I’m here trying to understand the native Diné people. I don’t even really know my own people, but a desire rises up to know these people for whom ritual, ceremony, storytelling, fire, elements, art, and archeoastronomy are keystones.
Just last night we held a ceremony in the Hogan. When it came my turn to speak, I introduced myself by way of my parents and grandparents names - for the first time ever. My dad died just two years ago. I just transferred between top tier universities, neither do I want to be at. I can't identify a place in the world that feels like home, and yet here I am in the Navajo Womb. I’m 20. Everyone in the Hogan begins to stir from their sleep. The sky is dressed in predawn stars, but what is waking all of us is the slow beat of the drum that our Navajo host is creating steadily to wake us. Tum, tum something in me knows it’s not a ceremonial sound.
Wrapped in blankets and facing east all in a straight line, our group stands outside the Hogan quietly as Larry sings in Diné language and beats his drum according to a rhythm we’ll only ever know from the experience of hearing it, but never fully understand its meaning. At this moment, we are learning by way of our hearts, rather than by way of our minds. Among the group, this is what appears to be our commonality: a curious craving for an understanding of something beyond ourselves. We turn to face all four directions, and then we hold salt in our palm, each of us told to find our own spot of earth to say our own prayer, to welcome the day, and to offer the salt in the spirit of reciprocity.
The sun rises up over the mesa in a way that feels like a baptism. I’m relieved to not have to draw the sun in small square boxes. I’m glad for the vastness, and for the roundness of the Hogan. Despite the cold morning, I take my shoes off to be closer to the earth, closer in towards the sun. Here is where I begin to understand Jyotisha as my ‘Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ portal of my life. To escape into Her with each or any of my waking moments is a privilege, but also requires earning parts of the journey.
Her clues. They lead me to a union of intellect and experience. Directly and indirectly. Both, at the same time. “Meditate, and then go back into the dream,” one of my teachers once relayed to me. And that is Jyotisha to me, a meditation preparing me to reenter the dream that is my life.
I’m driving through the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen. Open lush rice fields, big skies, and animals and village life pass beyond my eyes through the window of the van. The pollution here isn’t nearly as bad as in Madurai so I have my window down and the smell of smoke, animal droppings, and food preparation fills my face all at once. I’m 25 years old.
We arrive at Sri Chitraradha Perumal Temple in Kuruvithurai. This is a temple named after and in dedication to my birthstar in Jyotisha, Chitra. I just moved into a Jupiter dasha, supported by a Jupiter subdasha. My teacher tells me this is a great time to visit India again, this time as a student of Jyotish. Last time, I was a documentary filmmaker.
Conveniently, as the science of Jyotisha provides, I notice there is a Jupiter temple right next to the Chitra temple. I’m so lucky to be here. My teacher has gone to the depths of research to even find the location of this temple. Our driver got lost a few times getting here from the city. But I’m here, and now I need to find yellow items for puja, and hopefully, I will still have enough time to circumambulate the temple in such a way that my teacher’s teacher advised her to instruct me to do. I think this has something to do with my birthday being just 10 days ago, but I’m not quite sure. I know enough about Jyotisha to know that when you know something, you only kind of know it, and only in the kind of way that you can know it. What might remain, you have to seek out, rely on your trusted sources, and rely in the Divine to provide. All this exchange is in a kind of equal measure that isn’t equal in the ways the mind knows equal to be. A different plane of equal, of balance. Jyotisha.
During puja, inside the sanctum santorum, I’m asked to introduce myself like I did when I was in the Hogan several years prior. My parents’ names, my marriage status - these things seem to transcend what we put on them, as if we can ID ourselves in front of Spirit. But I realize, our lines matter and they need naming, not for Spirit’s sake, but for our own. I think every time I’ve introduced myself in this way, I feel the fullness of what it means to be a whole and complete person. I cry.
The priest cracks the coconut as an offering to Shiva. I spend time on the temple grounds after the puja, my bare feet on the most beautiful, colorful, cool stone I’ve ever felt. Colorful stones individually placed in the cement for God. Devotion. I still have a little bit of puja ash in my palm and I fold it into a piece of paper to try and save it for later. Trying to put the puja into a little box, like I did years ago with the moon. I smile knowing that the cosmos that I’m in connection with has both a humor of irony and a subtlety of grace. Lines exist connecting all the moments of my life, and in all kinds of formations beyond that of a small box. My heart knows these jagged lines. Jyotisha is where my head meets my heart. And all I can do to prepare is to take off my shoes, literally and metaphorically, and remember that the box of my relationship with Her, is my life, and it’s actually limitless.
Now approaching 30 years old, Joytisha is revealing Herself as my way of storytelling and map making. It's the time, temperature and flavor of the experiences I’m digesting in being awake to life. Jyotisha is the view from wherever I’m standing, each stance containing the past, present and future views - like Russian nesting dolls. The more time I spend unpacking the dolls, the more dolls there are. Joytisha is neverending, and my curiosity is my sustenance. She is steady, in that there is reassurance of Her force guiding, but not quite revealing fullness until, in a moment, She does. And at the same time, fullness falls apart again into an unfathomable number of completely beautiful sherds of oneself, of myself, that are actually, separately and together, also the whole of the universe.
How machine learning addressed an ancient claim: Distilled descriptions of 6770 mundane events are a function of celestial positions
The belief in a correspondence between the planetary positions at the time of a world event and those at a similar event at another time is ancient and still claimed today (Tarnas, 2006). Using a database of 6770 dates of world events after January 1, 1600, AD from Wolfram Research, the short descriptions that accompany each date are quantified using 1536 long embeddings from OpenAI. Embeddings, a gift from machine learning, are a precise way to measure similarities between text. They were used here to quantify similarities in short descriptions without dates of pairs in 6770 world events post-1600 AD as found in a provided database. There are 22913065 unique such possible pairs. The zodiacal placements of the charts were also calculated for either the actual date at midnight of the event or the same but
using the start date for a multi-day event. Only Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, North Lunar Node, and South Lunar Node Tropical degree placements from zero to 360 degrees were computed. Finding the mean of the Cosines of the differences between planetary placements for two events offers a neat and novel way of measuring similarities between these zodiacal placements for the two events. These metrics for textual similarities and chart similarities when plotted against each other suggest non-monotonic dependence with effect size between the chart extrema being 0.380. The upper p-value for independence between the two metrics is less than 0.0001 as computed by Hoeffding’s dependence measure. The conservative Monte Carlo approach to estimating the upper value of this p-value was necessary due to physical computation constraints. Thus, likelihood for the alternative to independence, namely dependence, between event textual similarities and event chart similarities is shown. A classifier for an event date being war-like or peace-like as decided by similarity of the embeddings for the event’s full description to the embeddings for the words “war” and “peace” respectively was successful as built on event zodiacal placements only.
World events are often used in astrology studies. Accurate places, dates, and times are typically known even when they are not precise, allowing for a bridge between astrological placements and interpretation of social, cultural, and personal significations.
Studies of the correlation between celestial positions and world events are ancient. Over six centuries during the first millennium BCE, scholars in Mesopotamia recorded nightly celestial positions and terrestrial events onto clay diaries known as menologies. So, while they might log a full moon aligned with Venus in the constellation of Taurus, they also recorded mundane events such as the price of grain, the water levels in the Euphrates River or an earthquake (Sachs 1988) (Rochberg-Halton 1991).
Rarely however do these studies include enough events to achieve statistical significance for the interpretations drawn.
This practice has continued into modern times. Cultural historian, Richard Tarnas documents historical evidence to support a correspondence between mundane events and astrological alignments in his book, Cosmos and Psyche (2006).
The problem with verifying these claimed correlations statistically is that it is hard to measure such a diverse range of events objectively and consistently. Here I use a textual description of 6838 historical events in relation to astrological placements at the time of the event.
Across many millions of pairs of events, is the size of difference in textual descriptions (which contain words loaded with social, cultural, and personal significance) related to magnitude of difference in astrological charts for the two events?
I will be exploring quantitative equivalencies for most of the concepts within this question and then use appropriate mathematics to answer it.
Materials and Methods
Full code is available, including for the generation of event data (Oshop, 2023).
Almost all of the calculations in this study were performed through the professional mathematics software, Mathematica, which offers many tools. One of those is a database of 7818 historical events (Wolfram Research, 2012).
Included in the database for each event is a one sentence text-description (e.g., "Apollo 8 Returns to Earth") and the start date (e.g., December 27, 1968). Source information and metadata is not available for this database beyond assurances that it is continually being updated (Wolfram Research, 2022) (Wolfram Research, 2022). Unfortunately, this database is anglophone-centric, but alternatives are hard to come by as simple and easily accessible event databases are surprisingly rare.
The data was pared down to 6838 events from 7818 by excluding dates prior to 1600 AD and all events whose start date was January 1. The first was to reduce uncertainty resulting from the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar that was phased in globally from 1582 AD. The latter was to obviate a problem with the database, wherein uncertain dates for events were sometimes listed as January 1 of the year.
All numbers and other specifying qualifiers were also algorithmically removed from the database event descriptions. This was to avoid an artificial connection. For example, “The Battle of 1812” could be unrelated to another event that has the year 1812 in its description. (So, “The Battle of 1812” is reduced to “battle”.) Care was also taken to ensure that there were no duplicates in the event database.
Finally, removing these qualifiers in the chart descriptions to make them unspecific sometimes removed all the words in the description. Such empty event descriptions were removed from consideration, further limiting the number of events to 6770.
The removal process was considered necessary to remove most artefacts of association through excessive adjectives. So, for example, “earthquake" was the desired distillate and not full descriptions of earthquakes which may have been chained together in a region in 1912.
Table 1 shows the difference between the hands-off, automated distillates and original event descriptions from a random selection. Note that contemporary embeddings in general are robust enough to know when to treat names in the distillates as capitalized. For specific methods of the distilling algorithm, see the code. (Oshop, 2023)
A timeline histogram of the resulting 6770 events follows in Figure 1.
In Figure 2 is a word cloud of the most frequently used words in the 6770 event descriptions.
Measuring Textual Description Similarities
Allowing for high precision in quantitatively measuring qualitative texts, embeddings were introduced in 2003 in a paper that states that they “associate with each word in the vocabulary a distributed word feature vector … The feature vector represents different aspects of the word: each word is associated with a point in a vector space. The number of features … is much smaller than the size of the vocabulary” (Bengio, et al., 2003) (Aylien.com, 2022).
These embeddings embody a literal “geometry of meaning” (Gärdenfors, 2017). To share an example from computer science literature, subtracting the embedding numbers for “man” from those for “king” and then adding those for “woman”, one gets the numbers that closely align with “queen” (MIT Technology Review, 2015). So, king - man + woman = queen.
The calculator for embeddings used for this study was developed by OpenAI, was released in 2022, and uses the "text-embedding-ada-002" model. It results in a vector, a list, that is 1536 numbers long for each event’s deconstructed description. Each of the 1536 numbers in the vector is critical to fully describing the textual quality of the event description but in quantitative terms.
Going from two 1536-featured vectors for each event pair to a single number is done by measuring the cosine distance between each pair’s event embeddings (Google Research, 2018). In general, as similarity between two vectors increases, cosine distance decreases.
Measuring Chart Similarities
The celestial positions are measured in geocentric ecliptic longitude. While this is the same metric as the Tropical Zodiac, the values are expressed between 0° and 360° from the Vernal Point or 0° Tropical Aries. For each event there are separate degrees for Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, North Lunar Node, and South Lunar Node, thus creating a 12-number-long vector for each. Reduction to a simple number was made by taking the average of the twelve cosines of the twelve angle distances for each pair.
Comparing the 12-digit vectors for these zodiacal placements could be done by dot product, but that would miss some key features of astrology charts. We consider charts to be highly similar or conjunct when their degree differences, i.e., the results of their degrees’ subtractions, are either close to zero or close to 360 degrees or -360 degrees. Nicely enough, there is a trigonometric function that behaves exactly this way: the cosine. The simple plot of it follows, wherein you can see that the blue line has maxima at 0 degrees, 360 degrees, and -360 degrees.
Moreover, there are other qualities of the cosine curve that preserve information from astrology. Oppositions at +/- 180 degrees yield a cosine of -1, and +/-90-degree squares yield a value of zero. These parallel the astrological interpretations wherein squares suggest no similarity, and oppositions do show similarity but of an opposite polarity as conjunctions. Degrees in between the extrema have cosine values that are appropriately in between as well.
There exists a consistent bridge between astrological terminology and cosine value of degree differences between two events.
Thus, for each of the two events in an event pair, the twelve placements of the second one was subtracted from those of the first one. Applying cosine to each of the twelve differences and then doing a simple average gives a single-number result that is a straightforward summary for the chart similarities of the 12 astronomy features.
Measuring the Relationship Between the Texts and the Planetary Positions
Next is the assignment of detecting dependence. Note that this is different than correlation.
For example, a quartic is a function of the order of x raised to the fourth power. The resulting graph shows for each x one f(x), but it is not so that each f(x) only corresponds to one x. Parabolas, hyperbolas, and certain trigonometric functions such as cosine depicted above behave similarly.
Thus, one can say for these that f(x) is indeed a function of x, but not in a monotonic fashion. The idea of monotonic dependence is also known as correlation, but for these special non-monotonic functions, we need to consider tests for dependence and not correlation.
For dependency: determine that a variable has a value that depends on the value of another variable.
For correlation: the relationship between variables is linear and is considered as correlation. That is, as one similarity increases the other uniformly increases or decreases too.
This paper’s study answers a question not about correlation but about the more sophisticated situation of dependence.
To do the answering, a tool that can compute not just linear dependence (i.e., correlation) but also non-linear dependence, namely Hoeffding’s D (for dependence) measure, was selected.
Each Hoeffding D measure test was found to take about 16 seconds to compute for 100,000 event pairs, 22 minutes for 1,000,000 event pairs, and an unknown amount for the full event pairs that number over 25 million. The latter is unknown because the computation was aborted after six days. (The computer that was used is running Linux on an AMD 3950x CPU with 64 GB DDR4 RAM.)
Thus, a Monte Carlo approach was needed to estimate the upper-bound “p-hat” of the actual full p-value for independence. The approach consists of breaking up the problem into computing the p-value 10000 separate times for randomized sets that number 100000 pairs each.
The equation for this conservative upper bound is simply (r + 1) divided by (n + 1), where r is the number of runs that yield a test-statistic above that which is desired (here corresponding to a p-value of alpha 0.05) and n is the number of separate times the randomization is run (here equal to 10000).
All that is needed is r.
In the Monte Carlo simulation, r = 0, yielding a p-hat upper value for p of (0+1) divided by (10000+1) which is less than 0.0001.
To make it simpler to see the relationship between chart similarities to their embedding distances, here is the scatterplot of measurements in blue with their best fit line.
The three-dimensional histogram edition is shown in Figure 5 wherein a subtle shift from higher counts in the upper left dropping to the lower right is seen. As the charts become more similar, description distances become smaller, and description similarities become greater.
The general trend is subtle but clearer in Figure 6, wherein the nonlinear, algorithmically determined, best fit curve is shown,
which has an adjusted R-squared of 0.988 for fit and ANOVA p-values for coefficients that are far less than 0.0001. The relationship between the two variables is not monotonic which explains why dependence and not correlation is more proper.
The effect size (Cohen’s D) in text distance when the chart similarity is one, compared to when it is minus one, is 0.380.
A functional relationship between historical event text descriptions and historical event celestial placements is thus established.
Successful classifier test
To further test the utility of this relationship, each event description's similarity to the single-word texts of “war” and “peace” was found through cosine distance of their embeddings. Where the similarity to “war” was higher, the event’s astronomy chart set was associated with the classification of W, else the event astronomy was classified as P. Cloneable data is accessible. (Oshop, 2023)
After a random 80%-20% split of data into a training set and test set, the best performing model (determined via cross-validation) was a boot-strap decision forest model. The top field importances for the model are Saturn (4.52%), Sun (4.64%), Uranus (5.12%), Pluto (10.98%), and Neptune (54.25%). Access to the interactable and cloneable model is also available (Oshop, 2023)
Testing the model on the 20% test set yielded success in classifying P 95.5% of the time and W 22.9% of the time, outperforming both random choice and modal choice in recall, accuracy, precision, f-measure, and phi-coefficient.
More extensive, interactable, and detailed results are available. (Oshop, 2023)
A function for similarity applied to historical event descriptions is shown to be a function of chart similarity with a p-value for independence that is far lower than 0.001.
Calculating similarities between the celestial degrees on any arbitrary day and those of the nearest events in the database (even when full descriptions are not known) based on that astrology is nearly trivial. The demonstrated loose similarity of charts to these events’ descriptions may allow for some mundane event prediction. This study brings us closer to that potential future.
As a demonstration of the general utility of the astronomy chart of an event holding predictive power, a classification of event astronomies into war or peace was found to have more utility than either a random 50-50 choice or choosing the more common peace classification each time. One may apply this classifier to future astronomies.
As a preliminary result, it does indeed seem there is a time for war and a time for peace, as well as astronomical ways to understand a moment’s relationship to historical events that have gone before.
All material for replication is included in references. (Oshop, 2023).
Aylien.com (2022) An overview of word embeddings and their connection to distributional semantic models, https://aylien.com/blog/overview-word-embeddings-history-word2vec-cbow-glove
Bengio Y., Ducharme R., Vincent P., and Jauvin C. (2003) A Neural Probabilistic Language Model, Journal of Machine Learning Research, 1137–1155,
Gärdenfors P., The Geometry of Meaning (2017) MIT Press https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/geometry-meaning
Google Research Inc. (2002) Measuring Similarity from Embeddings,
MIT Technology Review (2015) King - Man + Woman = Queen: The Marvelous Mathematics of Computational Linguistics, https://www.technologyreview.com/2015/09/17/166211/king-man-woman-queen-the-marvelous-mathematics-of-computational-linguistics/
Oshop R. (2023) Is Text Similarity of Events Related to Chart Similarity? https://www.wolframcloud.com/obj/renay.oshop/Published/EventsComparisonCode.nb
Oshop R. (2023) BigML Cloneable Data https://bigml.com/shared/dataset/y5gOLoQb1y9Ikkhgi9st8ASDXXd
Oshop R. (2023) BigML Cloneable OptiML https://bigml.com/shared/ensemble/6AitpIkSL1tYyAEi1WCYMsZqDMi
Oshop R. (2023) BigML Test Set Results https://bigml.com/shared/evaluation/9HxONbPHG3iVER1FxfgRzHMKZVS
Rochberg-Halton, Francesca (1991) The Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 111, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun.), pp.323-332
Sachs, A.J. & Hunger, H. (1988) Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.
Tarnas, Richard (2006) Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, New York: Viking
Wolfram Research (2012) EventData, https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/EventData.html
Wolfram Research (2022), Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.wolframalpha.com/faqs/
Wolfram Research (2022), Wolfram Knowledgebase, https://www.wolfram.com/knowledgebase/
Full paper PDF download :
When I told my mother about my Jyotish reading with Renay, and how it had given me peace, she told me she also had been questioning herself. What she could have done, or not done, to prevent my developing this disease. I hope my reading helped her, too.
I’m fine. Really, I am very healthy and feel lucky to be alive and able to actively explore the beautiful planet we live on. I had many very dark months about four years ago, when debilitating vertigo made it difficult to walk and sometimes even to sit up. Time, yoga practice, medication, and diet tweaks have kept me vertigo-free for several years now. I am permanently nearly deaf in one ear from the episodes of fluid pressure in that ear that caused the nerve damage and led to the vertigo. But as I remind myself and others, I still have one ear left. So far, anyway.
This medical condition was a contributing factor to losing out on a personal and professional dream opportunity in 2021. The loss sent me into a spiral of questions about my direction and purpose, and led me to seek out Jyotisha for insight. Why had this happened to me? What could I have done or could I do to prevent or reverse it? Although our medical establishment in the US could slap a name on what was happening and could prescribe medication to react to it, no one could tell me why it was happening to me. In some ways the inner workings of the human body remain as mysterious as other worlds. In some ways this question of “why” is something Western medicine is not equipped to address.
At first it was a shock to learn from Renay that planetary alignments from my time of birth had made this dark period in my life perfectly predictable and inevitable, results of the eddies in the fluid dynamics of cosmic energy. I was born, I lived my life, I came to this bend in the river, it crashed over me. What I heard in that message was: what else would I have been able to do? The forces of nature were greater than me.
What I did was I swim through that dark period, and now I get to explore the downstream opportunities. Reflecting on my reading, it has freed me from remaining mired in the sucking mud of regret. Now I can accept that whether or or not it was truly inevitable, it happened. Rather than remaining stuck in one place on on one version of a dream, my reading suggested new destinations that inspire me to work my way towards them. Redefining my horizons by moving past one dream has not meant limiting those horizons, but actually expanding them.
In the year since my visit to Renay, my horizons have expanded as I began a new job that has challenged me to learn entire new fields of science and business. Moreover that new position has given me the financial and temporal freedom to learn to literally fly, another longtime dream. Surfing the currents of the wind on a paraglider physically expands your Earthly horizons, with the wind in your face and the birds below and beside you, connecting you to the essential air element of our beautiful planet without doing harm through burning jet fuel, and growing your mind and body to move in three dimensions at once.
Perhaps if the insight from one Jyotish reading can expand my horizons this much, further insight from study and consultations can do even more. Or perhaps not. In everything, I am learning (and relearning and relearning) there is a balance, and there may be elements of my charts I wish not to know. But if nothing else, it is a new way of perceiving the world that may expand not just my external, but my internal, horizons.
We Are Made of Stars
Perhaps it started when I was 22. I had a roommate in college who studied Western Astrology and taught me all of the energies of the planets, and the signs, and those 12 houses. We would sit in front of our wood-burning fireplace, and open books and read-aloud to each other from her traditional Western Astrology texts. One of those books was about the wisdom of Jupiter, and how his placements in our chart show us where we are lucky. I was lucky, I thought. I knew enough to identify someone’s Jupiter, and then I could tell my friends about this juicy planet in the sky that brings us bounty and good fortune. That alone made me a bit of an astrologer; it gave me a kind of identity. I thought.
Perhaps it was that same year, and the night I wrote these words alone on a single page of my journal: “We are made of stars.” I was staring up at a clear night sky from the balcony of my Boulder Colorado apartment, watching the full moon very close to Jupiter, the pair like a slow dance. That vibrant light and exuberant energy could be felt. It tingled. I remember a little dance on my insides.
Perhaps, it was sitting, wrapped in a blanket, on that patio for hours just staring into that bright light face, and letting that energy wrap me tighter. I began to realize astrology was real. These planets lived above me, around me, and also inside of me.
Perhaps it started when I randomly met my Vedic Astrology teacher at a pool party, and I asked her the same question I asked everyone I met at that time, “What’s your sign?” It was like a party trick that always worked. It was Boulder. When you tell someone about herself, see someone in a way that they don’t see themselves, it’s usually a win. I was learning.
She immediately told me her ascendant, her moon and sun sign, and I knew I had a new friend. Little did I know that friendship would turn into a relationship of great importance to my spiritual development and unfolding for the rest of my life.
She was a Vedic Astrologer, and in the way I understood the “light” of Western Astrology, she understood more, something more true. She also knew more about me than I knew about my own chart, and she hadn’t yet looked at my chart. I told her I was a Virgo rising.
“Your hair has shades of red,” she pointed out with a kind of uncanny certainty, “maybe you're a Leo.”
I am a Leo ascendant in the Sidereal Zodiac. That wisdom became a source of light for me; I needed to know more.
No matter how many astrology readings I had, there was something I was not getting. A relationship was, yet again, not working out. My heart continued to break again and again. Each time, I scheduled another Vedic Astrology reading. Somehow I thought if I understood the planets and memorized everything happening in the transits, dosha periods, and varshphals, then I could somehow control the outcomes of my life. I could be ready for everything that would happen. I could make my heart okay.
One astrologer once said, “I’ve never met someone so obsessed with their chart.” I needed my chart to define me.
But the truth was, knowing more about astrology wasn’t saving me, but it was bringing me closer to a kind of inner knowing. Just like my yoga practice, I needed my chart to understand my body and my mind – I was unconsciously seeking balance. As I worked to breathe and perfect the alignment of poses, I needed my chart to see patterns of my life. Once in a while, while finding that alignment, grace would flood my heart, and I came to realize that through breath and in practice we come closer to God.
I needed my chart to show me how I experience life. It was all a thing on screen, and on a page, and I could observe how my life is unfolding and may unfold. We call our charts the play of our lives, and I become an actress on a stage performance orchestrated by the planets and their relationships. It is all a thing I was doing.
This inner drive made me a student of Vedic Astrology. I began feeling sparks of the light of the universe in yoga poses and meditation, like tiny hits of truth within. The light I was grasping for was apparent inside of me. It was not separated from me. I was not separated from it.
It was in giving myself a sense of “personality,” I was separating myself; by needing consistent definition and approval, I was less aligned. I wasn’t the definitions of those planets. I am the planets. All I wanted to do was find more of that light.
I started acquiring a new understanding of the universe as I studied Vedic Astrology texts, The Bible, The Bhagavad Gita, Ram Dass, Neem Karoli Baba, various forms of meditation, and deepening my yoga practices. I learned that nothing is better or worse, no chart is better or worse, no dosha period is better or worse. The source of all light is one single source.
My meditation practices deepened most of all, and a powerful flow of grace started to become my life – I felt it in my work, on my walks, in each step. There wasn’t anything separating me from God. All I had to do was surrender to the divine flow, the plan in front of me, this single moment, and the source of love would fall into me. Jyotisha is an invitation to a path that allows us to find our way to God.
The study of light.
God is light.
And it still is, sitting on a patio somewhere, staring at the face of the moon and feeling the completeness within; the infinite stillness of the perfection of the universe resides within me. Everything I’ve ever desired is within this very moment. Within this very breath. In fact, that moment, almost 20 years ago, isn't different from the ones I experience now. Only now, that light is more consistent, it’s more often, it’s assimilating.
Each of those heavenly lights in the pure night sky, a continuum and a perfection, dissolving in and out of one singular one. This connection, a web of hearts. We are made of stars. One giant beating pulse of light. God.
Renay Oshop - teacher, searcher, researcher, immerser, rejoicer, enjoying the interstices between Twitter, Facebook, and journals.