What are “sandhi planets” and how do they affect us?
Recently I’ve been working with the theme of “limbo” in my personal artistic and therapeutic process. This theme started to emerge from my shadows as I painted and danced, using my intermodel body centered expressive art therapy practice.
It’s here. It’s been here as long as I can remember, yet only recently was I able to identify it for what it is.
Limbo: it’s a neither here nor there type feeling. It’s not firmly grounded, yet not entirely uprooted either. There’s a sense of always “preparing” for something that might be next, just around the corner, arriving today, or tomorrow, or the next. Limbo requires that we don’t fully unpack our bags, that life stays in boxes ready for the inevitable changes of life and moving on. Limbo can be used as a protection mode, an internal set point that allows us to not get fully hurt or damaged. “It didn’t really matter that much? I’ll be moving on soon anyway.”
Limbo can show up as resignation, a sense of futility, a passivity in our energetics. We may try to take action, but we use limbo as our buffer to give padding for inevitable pains and disappointments.
A session with my shaman and mentor was a catalyst in helping me identify this physical response.
The tendency for me to “roll out” of my physical body too easily as a protection mechanism has been a default for me since childhood but I’ve been unaware of its consequences. This is actually quite common for those who have experienced trauma—especially early in life.
Staying separate from what’s going on within can be like having a “safe zone” to go to when things get too tough. But this doesn’t bode well for life, or living fully, nor for one’s sense of embodiment. This “neither here nor there” type feeling can be likened to a death process—the in between realms—when a soul is neither in a body nor in the higher realms.
(Another reason it’s so important to work with the emotional body and somatic embodiment awareness so that we can ground into what is happening rather than push it away. This is a big reason why I’m so passionate about a body centered approach to therapy- and of course the arts- as they are a big messenger for the inner landscape).
Limbo can show up in our emotional body, our mental body and our physical body. It can appear as confusion, indecisiveness, lack of clarity, lack of purpose, a sense of disillusionment and overwhelm.
It can cause us to lack commitment or refuse to commit. It can hinder action steps and send us into a state of depression as a result.
As with any inner process that I’m witnessing in myself, I take it into my jyotish practice. I look at my chart. I assess the transits. I feel into the planetary implications- the felt sense of it all.
Limbo can be related to sandhi planets. Sandhi is the gap; the in-between space. The netherworld between signs if you will. Most schools of Vedic astrology consider this placement to be weak, to lack strength and clarity. Sandhi planets, who are just entering a sign or just leaving a sign can lack clarity, purpose and focus, just as I’ve described about the sense of being in limbo. Sandhi planets are indeed in limbo. (You can check for this in your own chart by looking for planets that are less then two degrees or over 28 degrees.)
It’s true, sandhi planets lack the grounding and stability that a planet who is clearly situated within a sign may offer. It is as though the planet hasn’t fully decided if it is in the house that it is in. It is on its way in or out, but hasn’t decided which one it will be. Its bags are still packed, boxes are still full and it may not know if it’s here or there. It’s a traveler. It’s in limbo.
This sense of here nor there, however, can offer some profound insights and awareness.
Nothing is all good nor all bad, and this is quite true with sandhi planets. The gap offers us a connection to the mystical realms, the nether realms, and can offer great depth and awareness with what feels untouchable most of the time (or all the time depending on the individual).
Planets that are sandhi offer potential, possibility, unique insights and depth as a result of their “otherworldly” connections. These are flexible planets and of course that can show up as versatility in a person as well. We can let this lack of grounding hinder us or give us great awareness. That is a choice.
I like to remind my clients that what may appear to be a “negative,” is in fact a great gift of some sort just waiting to be discovered. If there’s any part of a chart that gives this type of indication so clearly, I think it is sandhi planets.
The type of planet and its sign placement will affect the experience of the limbo dance, and the gift or offering within the chart as a result.
In my natal chart I have a sandhi Saturn. Saturn represents the physical body, its structure, as well as our sense of support, stability and the ability to be consistent and methodical. The placement of my sandhi Saturn indicates that there may be some issues with these indications as a result of his “neither here nor there” placement. However, the gift here is that he offers me a very real experience of the physical body and the physical structure of the universe, that is beyond the mundane, the tangible.
My lack of physical grounding has insisted that I put in much effort to change that; hence my passion for embodiment work. It will be my lifelong work, but I will gain much growth and grounding as a result.
His placement in my 10th house insures that I will share my experiences of the body (internal body as well as universal body) with others as a result. This is not without constant effort, but knowing this expression of Saturn has been profound for me. As a result I’ve been working with my “limbo dance” in a very different way. Letting Saturn give me insights and awareness that I may have not been looking for if I didn’t understand his complexities and unique placement in my chart. And perhaps all of this limbo work will eventually lead to unpacking my boxes and landing somewhere more permanently.
As the planets change (every 2.5 days to 2.5 years) each goes through a time period of sandhi. These time periods offer us an experience of possibility and change, immense creativity and potential.
At these times, we may feel unsettled, poised for change, but uncertain when it will come.
These junction points may cause us to dream and scheme for something new, yet feel frustration that it isn’t arriving soon enough or fast enough. Sandhi times are like a grace period and should be treated as such. Don’t rush things, force agendas, or take untimely actions.
Let the planet arrive firmly into its house before you force change, make decisions or take forward action steps. Find ways to surrender to your depths, to listen intently, quiet the mind, and settle into your inner knowing during sandhi planetary dances.
The gap is a perfect time for meditation. These are times to harvest your inner riches; special times that are otherwise unavailable to us. Listen intently and use these time periods of sandhi, the gap, for the value that they can offer.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman