*Vedic Astrology, or Jyotish, is one of the oldest sciences on the planet and considered a relative of astronomy. It is an important and valuable part of the ancient Vedic texts. This complex, logic-based and also intuitive science, has survived thousands of years in India’s Vedic tradition and is still considered a highly valuable tool of guidance and life insight. It is not a religion, but rather a philosophical understanding of human and cosmic existence. In Sanskrit, Jyoti means light. Essentially, the study of Jyotish is the study of light and how we interact with the cosmic light—within us and within the cosmos. Vedic Astrology, or the sidereal approach to astrology, casts charts differently than Western, or Tropical astrology. The meanings, implications and purpose of Jyotish is therefor different, as are the details used for prediction and the indications given below.
Now that you are starting to peel back the layers of your karmic map, it’s time to make a little meaning out of what you’re reading.
Look at your first house and notice the number there. This number correlates to your rising sign.
Aries is a number 1.
Taurus is a number 2.
Gemini is a number 3.
Cancer is a number 4.
Leo is a number 5.
Virgo is a number 6.
Libra is a number 7.
Scorpio is a number 8.
Sagittarius is a number 9.
Capricorn is a number 10.
Aquarius is a number 11.
Pisces is a number 12.
Each of the signs (or rasi in Sanskrit) has unique and special meaning. There are twelve signs in the zodiac, which are also constellations in the sky. In Jyotish, or Sidereal astrology, we use a fixed twelve house zodiac. The signs are constantly moving through the fixed zodiac in the sky. This is why your exact birth time determines what sign was positioned on the Eastern horizon when you took your first breath.
The sign on the Eastern horizon at the moment of your birth is your rising sign, or lagna in Sanskrit. This is significant, as it organizes how your entire chart will be oriented. Your rising sign determines how your karmas will express themselves in your life time. Your natal chart shares these intimate details.
To understand how each sign expresses itself, we must explore its meaning at several levels.
1. First, the meaning of each rising sign is influenced by a ruling planet.
Some signs have more than one planetary influence though. This will add a blending of flavors layered on top of each other. (I will discuss the meaning of planets more in an upcoming article, but for now it’s important to understand that each planet has a very specific expression and offering). Here is a list of the nine planets and their correlation to the signs:
Sun: Exalted in Aries, debilitated in Libra, mulitrikona and own sign in Leo.
Moon: Exalted in Taurus, debilitated in Scorpio, mulitrikona in Taurus and own sign Cancer.
Mars: Exalted in Capricorn, debilitated in Cancer, mulitrikona in Aries and its own signs are Aries and Scorpio.
Mercury: Exalted in Virgo, debilitated in Pisces, mulitrikona is Virgo, and its own signs are Virgo and Gemini.
Jupiter: Exalted in Cancer, debilitated in Capricorn, mulitrikona is Sagittarius, and own signs are Sagittarius and Pisces.
Venus: Exalted in Pisces, debilitated in Virgo, mulitrikona is Libra, and its own signs are Libra and Taurus.
Saturn: Exalted in Libra, debilitated in Aries, mulitrikona is Aquarius, own signs are Capricorn and Aquarius.
Rahu: Exalted in Taurus and Gemini, debilitated in Scorpio and Sagittarius, mulitrikona is Virgo and its own sign is Aquarius.
Ketu: Exalted in Scorpio and Sagittarius, debilitated in Taurus and Gemini, mulitrikona is Pisces and own sign is Scorpio.
2. Each sign also has a unique symbol.
These symbols are very metaphorical, and they tell the story of the sign. We can think of them as an explanation of our wants and needs. They tell us about our life purpose, how we express ourselves and how to get greater support and fulfillment in life.
These symbols are ancient and elaborate and should be researched for greater insight. Take the symbols literally and imagine how they might share a story or a theme. For example, Sagittarius is symbolized by a bow. A bow and arrow is created to hit its target—to not waiver. It must stay true to course in order to meet the mark. This is relevant for the Sagittarius sign, as it has a difficult time changing course.
What does your symbol share about your personality?
Aries: Mesha in Sanskrit, translates as its symbol, the ram.
Taurus: Vrshabha in Sanskrit, translates as its symbol, the bull.
Gemini: Mithuna in Sanskrit, symbolized by a couple holding a mace and a lute.
Cancer: Karka translates as female crab in Sanskrit which is its symbol as well.
Leo: Simha translates as lion in Sanskrit, the symbol of Leo.
Virgo: Kanya means a girl, a virgin or daughter in Sanskrit.
Libra: Tula means the balancing scales in Sanskrit which is its symbol as well.
Scorpio: Vrschika means Scorpion in Sanskrit which is also its symbol.
Sagittarius: Dhanu means bow in Sanskrit. The symbol of Sagittarius is a man holding a bow and arrow, the lower part of his body being that of a horse.
Capricorn: Makara translates as sea monster in Sanskrit which has a head of a deer or goat and the body of a crocodile, which is also its symbol.
Aquarius: Kumbha translates from Sanskrit as a vessel that holds water, a water pot. The symbol here is a man holding a pot.
Pisces: Mina translates from Sanskrit as relating to the ocean and large expanses of water. The symbol here is two fish tied together with their heads and tails in opposite directions.
3. The twelve signs are each ruled by specific elements as well.
Use their natural element as a resource of refinement. The element dictates the basic expression of the sign and is instrumental in understanding what drives the person.
Fire planets are motivated, passionate and action oriented. Water signs are fluid, gentle and feeling-oriented. Earth based signs are grounded, solid and “of the earth”. Air signs are moveable, change frequently and have a certain lightness. For example, Aries is a fire sign. Therefore it is not unusual for an Aries ascendant to have issues with fire. This can manifest as anger, agitation or aggression, as well as acting without thinking.
What does your element share about your tendencies?
Now that you have some tools to study your own rising sign, what can you assess about its meaning? What does your rising sign express about who you are? Your likes and dislikes? Your story and personal mythology? Take each of these layers, step by step, and assess your rising sign from these three angles. Take notes, pause, contemplate and repeat this cycle. This is the beginning of using your jyotish chart as a tool of self-referral, self awakening. By bringing presence to who you are and how you are in the world, you begin to awaken. This awakening can lead to monumental inner and outer changes.
Ready to learn more? Join me for my August Jyotish Basics Classes!
Don’t have a copy of your chart? Get one here.
* This Article is relevant for reading a North Indian Style chart only.
The Five Buddha Families help us use our enlightened and neurotic energy to wake up and be of benefit:
Find out your Colour Crush & Learn a Life Lesson.
Author: Saraswati J.
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Flickr/Image Editor