I spoke with the great Sonia Masocco in January of 2017. I recommend Sonia’s herbal services at the highest level.
The audio to the interview was initially lost and then found 2.5 years later but in somewhat of a corrupted state. I am so glad to finally release the partial transcript of this interview about plants and planets. I hope you will enjoy reading the conversation as much as I had in having it!
Renay Oshop (RO): So here we are. AyurAstro is with Sonia Masocco. I thought of Sonia directly and exclusively with the theme of plants and planets. She has developed quite a wonderful teaching program and Ayurvedic phyto-products down there in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am really happy to have Sonia Masocco join me for today. Hi Sonia!
Sonia Masocco (SM): Hello and thank you for having me! I am very excited actually to share my phytotherapy knowledge with all of you, and I am very excited about this topic, about the plants and the planets, because it is something that has given passion to me for quite a long time.
RO: Wonderful, I can’t wait to hear more. I have a few prepared questions for you. I wanted to ask you first how did you begin your work with plants?
SM: Well, now I am aging myself, but it was around twenty years ago. I was in Hong Kong, and I was basically in a work environment that was not conducive to my basic dreams and soulwork, and I actually found someone who worked with essences. My first approach to working with clients was actually working with the Bach flower remedies, and they did work on a very subtle, mental, emotional level. And that was just the start, the tipping point to make me dive deeper into the plant world.
So, it started with the essences, making very, very subtle medicine, and it worked more on the mental, emotional, negative aspects of the psyche and turning that into positive gifts, into basically being fascinated by the fact that you can have one plant that can, on the subtle level, yield these effects on emotions, but on a deeper level also work on bruises or contusions. So, I said I have to learn about this as well.
So, from essences I went to very deep – I call it the most strong of the plant medicines which is actually aromatherapy – and basically I find it to be a little bit more of a jackhammer of plant medicines, and then basically from there, I found another medium which was in both Western and Indian herbs as herbs themselves.
So, it has been quite a journey, and I am still very passionate about using plant matter, but I do see them as helpers and not something that we should rely on day in and day out.
RO: Forgive me, but I would like to interject a subquestion, because that stimulates so many great, wonderful ideas in me. Thank you for that. My first, biggest question really is that, when you speak of the Bach remedies dealing with the manas and the psyche, would you say that plants have a special affinity to say the manomayokosha? Do they start with the annamayokosha with the bruises and such and then lift up and out, or is it from the outside, from the astral body in, would you say?
[Edit: this study was subsequently repeated with NFL player data, and the same negative results held and in the same way.]
It was a topic of conversation: does body mass index (BMI) or even height or weight vary among the sun signs?
Ayurveda would say that they may vary by Ascendant, not particularly the sun sign, but getting good data on the Ascendant is a notable difficulty, because the Ascendant depends on the birth time of day.
Getting tens of thousands of charts with that level of precision is nearly unheard of.
A psychology prof from France named Michel Gauquelin compiled thousands of charts in the 1950's and 1960's that included birth time and hence Ascendant information. I am a little skeptical of the quality of these charts, as many are from the 1800's and more worringly, many use Local Mean Time, which if you back-engineer, describe the birth time as being at 10 am or 11 am on the dot.
So, I feel I can not use Gauquelin's data. I am always on the lookout, then, for credible birth or event data, scouring data science competition sites like Kaggle for the elusive ideal data set.
I came across SoFIFA.com in that way. It gives very good data on the various thousands of professional male soccer players associated with FIFA, including their birth date and height and weight. Birth time and place are not given.
However, if I could just "scrape" that data, that would give me a way to test the conjecture that BMI or even height or weight may vary by sun sign. So, that is what I did.
I recently had some serious dental pain. It was a must lie down, tears in my eyes, think I am going to die kind of pain.
The only problem was that it was the weekend, and my dentist would not be open for two more days. So, what do I do?
Inspired by some principles of Ayurveda, I made the following. It worked for me.
Each day I made a fresh batch of the following:
2 tsp turmeric (classically said to reduce inflammation)
1 tsp neem (classically said to reduce infection)
1 tsp salt (as a kind of anupaan, to make the solution absorb better)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (classically said to reduce pain)
1/2 tsp fresh garlic (classically said to reduce vata and pain)
I added the mix to 2 cups of water and simmered for 2 to 5 minutes. I let it cool to room temperature and strained the solution. I added a teaspoon of sesame oil to improve coverage.
Then I swished for a minute about an ounce of the tea every twenty minutes until the pain abated. It did not take long.
By reading the book Cymatics, many of us thrilled to the idea of vibration made visible in that gem of a book from the late 1960's.
With a few lines of code I have decided to plot the equations which go to heart of, and could be said to generate, these beautiful forms.
More motivated me than just the chance to look directly at and witness the imagery. I have seen some claims that the Shri Chakra could be seen from these "tonoscopes".
I did this quick project for a friend who wanted to know the best place to put her dollars to get the most protein.
The raw USDA source data can be found here.
Some immediate surprises:
Download the spreadsheet here:
A student just asked a great question:
"If an astrologer sees something about the past, but that didn't materialize, does it give a clue about the kind of karma that the native built up? Meaning, can retrodiction [a prediction about the past] be used to live more intelligently in the future?"
Here is my answer: If the retrodiction failed, then the astrologer failed. Sorry if that seems harsh, but that is my first answer. Building on it, that simply means that the astrologer is still learning, and very few astrologers are not still learning. What it can do is teach you something new, or at least stimulate you to learn more, some new technique, some new meaning.
So, at the very least, it can cause the astrologer to live more intelligently into the future. The client is just fine, always has been and always will be (and so is the astrologer).
Now, I feel like latently embedded in that answer is another question about free will. That is, some may say that the person is "just" exercising free will, and that is not in the chart. The concept of free will is held in such high esteem in American culture, and so, if your astrology can not line up with a past event, it is not helpful or even honorable, the thinking might go. I would like to address that thinking.
Remember that astrology is fundamentally about maya, and in maya is great cause and effect, such a dense web of it in fact that almost everything is fixed in potential in the chart. This is the field of experience, and the astrologer excels here.
There is in fact only one thing not in the chart: Purusha consciousness, "one-pointed awareness", also the only thing which gives us real freedom and hence real free will. It is true; that is beyond the chart, always has been and always will be. (In one-pointedness is no movement, no change, nothing to move into or change into, so the melodramas of the stars are of no use.) Hence, It is beyond the laws of karma and is the pure essence of everything, including Itself. This is the seed of awareness, and personal consciousness excels here. This is reality.
However, what does Purusha consciousness want to fulfill? Prakriti (Mahamaya), just as Shiva wants to fulfill Parvati, leading us in a delightful mobius strip back to the astrology chart.
This is why Dr. Lad draws an infinity symbol between Purusha and Prakriti at the top of the Sankhya tree.
To know this diagram is to know astrology, to know Ayurveda, to know both the manifest world and where it came, to know the child of Purusha and Prakriti. Ganesha.
Note: above Purusha and Prakriti is the unary oneness of Atman. Atman is not shown in this particular version, but in school, when presenting this topic, Dr. Lad does certainly draw It.
Aum Shreem Hreem Kleem Glaum Gam Ganapataye Swaha!
I remember before I learned Jyotish that I was often bewildered as to why things were.
I would wonder "why is this person acting that way" and "why was that thing that way" and so on. And then I learned Jyotish and honestly, I never again had to leave those questions unanswered. Better yet, after a few years, I no longer had to ask them.
For example, at a meeting the other night, there was to me a rather sharp and shrill quality to the discussions, discussions that were actually coming out a generous emotional place but that ultimately detracted from the ability to relate. The relating instead demonstrated fairly universally a very strong ill-placed and displaced pitta.
I think this not because I know more or even that I feel more than any other, but rather because the chart of the meeting says so, and so, as seen after the fact, it was.
I am just writing this to remind myself and invite others to consider what, to me, is a deep Vedic truth: don't take things personally.
From the great Colorado Ayurvedic Medical Association (COLORAMA):
Join #Renay #Oshop, professional jyotishi of 18 years and COLORAMA Board member for a special presentation on #AYURVEDIC #PSYCHOLOGY & THE #JYOTISH#CHART on Friday, July 31, at 5 pm at the Lotus Room at the Solstice Center (302 Pearl St., Boulder, Colorado).
Learn about the
-Definitions in Jyotisha, #Vedic #Astrology,
-Ayurvedic notions of health,
-Ayurvedic notions of the Self,
-Differences in Ayurveda from Western cultural concepts of mental illness,
-The mechanisms of the interior in Ayurveda: the #antah #karana from the tradition of Vasant Lad,
-How the above can be directly seen in Ayurvedic "scans" through the Jyotish chart with examples.
Cost $12 for COLORAMA members / $20 for non-members.
For information about #COLORAMA and how to become a member visit http://www.ColoradoAyurveda.org/membership
Meditation is a wonderful thing.
I’ve lately begun to feel the connection of the sushumna naadi to my crown chakra above and my root chakra below. A magnetosphere phenomenon happens. In other words, the first picture plus meditation is the second picture.
A human in meditation looks like a magnetosphere in the shape of a torus, the shape of the universe.
This might explain why groups of meditators practicing together “cohere” enough to change the environment.
Don’t believe in macroscopic coherence? Here is mainstream proof.
Note how the heart is the core of the torus.
Did you know that the earth’s magnetosphere correspondingly looks like a human?
Plus, by extension, there is this: Rattling_Earth’s_Force_Field - a truly awesome video that basically explains the foundations of Vaastu.
What I have found in my experience teaching at and attending Ayurvedic schools is that there is a fairly simple but robust formula for who does best in which school. I get asked pretty often by students which school to go to. This post is for you.
Each school has an overall characteristic that can tell you what its working rising sign is. For example, a certain school has a very academic approach, very technical. It functionally has a Gemini ascendent. Sure enough, almost all of the students have a Scorpio rising sign. How does this make sense? Well, Ayurveda is represented by the eighth house. Scorpios have Gemini in their eighth house and so tend to learn Ayurvedic mystery-school type stuff, represented by the eighth house, in a Gemini way.
There is a nice symmetry here too in that the sixth house of Gemini, which represents the healing model that the Gemini school takes, is Scorpio. So, all these Scorpio rising students satisfy the healing approach of the Gemini school, and the Ayurvedic education of these Scorpios are satisfied by the Gemini approach of the school.
In short, the 6/8 relationship works very well in general for Ayurvedic education.
Similarly, an institute-style school is very Aquarian in its approach, taking the grand transhumanist Satabishak (a fixed star in Aquarius that means “100 physicians”) framework. Sure enough, the students who do best there are Cancer types, very loving, nurturing and feminine in their approach to life, since they have Aquarius in their eighth house, and the Aquarian school has Cancer in its healing sixth health house.
A nutrition based school, Taurus rising, similarly does best with Libra ascendants. I have empirically seen this. Similarly a truly temple-like spiritually complete school which is Piscean and meditation-centric is a great home for proud Leos looking for Ayurvedic education.
Is the school’s approach meticulous, plodding, careful to approach completion, perhaps with a hatha yoga emphasis? It may be Capricorn rising. Here the detailed high ordered geekiness of a Gemini student is best.
Is there a strong charismatic leader, perhaps with government connections, that is leading the school? The plodding careful work of a Capricorn rising student would be best in such a Leonine school. And so it goes.
Finally, as a sidenote, one merely needs to look to the tenth house to see how the school appears to the world: the Gemini school hence appears as highly spiritual and Piscean. The Aquarian institute would have a public reputation of a very transformative, somewhat scary Scorpionic mien. The Taurean nutrition school is likely to have a reputation of a nonpersonal society-improving higher purpose of Aquarius, and the Piscean spiritual school as a mutable fiery place of monks in higher Saggitarian learning.
However, I must emphasize that love for the teacher is paramount, that it comes before any of the above analysis, and that a good teacher can teach to and for anybody. For example, the Aquarian institute would be fine for a Scorpio as long as the Scorpio is willing to accept his or her Ayurvedic education as a kind of remaking college experience (Aquarius is fourth house, symbolizing college and other things, for the Scorpio) even if if the Scorpio has already been to college or even graduate school.
The bottom line to all of this is that Ayurvedic schools, all holy, all beautifully intentioned, have dramas of their own. It would be a disservice to the student to say otherwise. The responsibility is on the teachers to make sure that a complete experience is available to each student. The responsibility is on the student not to take the dramas of the sky personally. If he or she could learn this as a general principle, he or she will go far toward becoming a general healing practitioner.
Make sense? This system of observations has really held up empirically. I hope it is of use.
Good luck in your search and feel free to ask questions.
Renay Oshop - teacher, searcher, researcher, immerser, rejoicer, enjoying the interstices between Twitter, Facebook, and journals.