Vedic Astrology Jyotisha: The Science of Light
Why I Switched from Western to Vedic Astrology
Many people have asked me why I switched from Western tropical to Vedic sidereal astrology, so I decided to write a little bit about this. As my experience is somewhat similar to my teacher’s, Joni Patry’s, story of coming to Vedic after being involved with Western for over 20 years, I thought it would be a good thing to discuss.
Many newcomers to astrology are turning onto Vedic astrology, or Jyotisha, and the sidereal zodiac. Here’s my experience below, and I hope that you can see my logic. I also have been a clairvoyant Tarot reader since 1989 when I got certified with the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) in Los Angeles through their correspondence course. In the Tarot each card depicts a different aspect of the zodiac, and so my astrology background came into play there, too.
The reason I switched zodiacs and systems is very similar to why I switched from ballet and modern dance to Arab dance: the music! The scales! Western music uses a pentatonic scale, which has five notes, whereas Arab music uses the maqam system, and one maqam (scale) can have up to 12 notes. Maybe 13! The average notes per maqam are usually around 9-12. The quarter tones between the notes are what make the difference; there is so much more to listen to, and it’s more interesting. While I still love Western music, such as Jazz, The Blues, Rock n’roll, and some Country, it does not hold the magic or healing qualities as strongly as Arab music, and it therefore is limiting. Not only are there more notes in the Arab scales, but the way they move between them is also different. There is a “sliding” between notes called “melisma” that makes the note seem like one long note, instead of different ones put together. They say the notes, like the movements in Arab dance, should be “massaged”. The way I see this similarity applies in astrology is that Vedic uses nakshatras; these are when you divide each rashi sign into 2.5 parts, similar to quarter tones. Then these nakshatras are split into 4 parts, or padas; this attention to detail shows more nuances in the signs, and also is similar to the music. While I am not versed on East Indian music, I do know that it is similar to Persian in some respects, and Persian music is the mother of high classical Arab art music. There is a connection between the philosophies of music and literature of India, Iran and Iraq for sure. Baghdad used to be a part of the Persian Empire before it became Arabic, so the roots of ancient Arab music that began at the royal courts of Baghdad came from Iran. Also, there are many similarities between Babylonian and Vedic astrology, and many are saying now that the Indian race was a tribe of Babylon that migrated to what is now India. Lots to think about!
Last year my mother passed away, and I have fond memories of her and me pouring over her astrology books in Tulsa, Oklahoma, her hometown. Since I was 9 years old I have been fascinated with the stars. Why do they hold such power over our lives, and why are they so accurate? Growing up in the Bible Belt of Oklahoma did not allow my mother’s love of astrology to flourish, however. She became a Born Again Christian, and stopped following astrology, and even said she wished she hadn’t exposed me to it, as it was against what the Bible says. Apparently, one should have enough faith and trust in God that they don’t need to know the future, or the past. Just be in the present. While I can appreciate that, there is no doubt that Jyotisha, the Science of Light, is a science just as music is, and why shouldn’t we understand how the cosmos works? Forewarned is forearmed. These are some of the questions that have haunted me for a long time.
When I was in my twenties I had the good fortune to have a great friend who acted as my big sister, and I knew my Spirit Guides had sent her into my life. A Persian lady, she was very refined, intelligent and so kind! What a beautiful heart she had, and she loved astrology, too! She took me under her wing and basically taught me Western astrology in many informal sessions. At the time she had some of the first astrology software, I forget the name, but in the 1990’s having a computer and astrology software was not cheap, and so I felt very fortunate to be able to study with her. We both even worked for the Psychic Friends Network, I as a Tarot reader, and she as an astrologer. After about five years into our friendship, one day told me that she was now using the sidereal zodiac and switched to Vedic. Suddenly, my Sun in Sagittarius fun loving teacher was now a serious and brooding Scorpio, and I felt lost. What was going on? Was I not a Sun in Cancer?? I couldn’t accept that I was a Sun in Gemini, and a Cancer Rising, with Moon in Virgo, Hasta. I was so attached to my tropical chart, that it literally hurt my brain to switch gears.
Fast forward about twenty years. I now see that we “do” try to become our Western sun signs, and I even wrote a short article about that for Joni’s magazine. I kept in the back of my mind that I was “probably” a Sun in Gemini, again focusing on the Sun sign per Western astrology, not focusing on the Moon sign, as per Vedic. If I had paid attention I would have seen that my Virgo Moon in Hasta nakshatra has the Moon as its ruler, and with my Cancer rising that Cancerian energy was still there, it just wasn’t my Sun. I’ve found that whatever you loved about your tropical chart and resonated with you is in your sidereal chart, but it’s just in a difference place. I tried to continue with my Western astrology studies on my own, but it just didn’t have the magic anymore. I felt that it wasn’t holding my interest, and moreover, I was noticing that it was not accurate. When you are involved in a belief system, and yes, astrology has at its roots a firm belief that the stars hold power over us, you begin to see that people “drink the Kool-Aid”, and stop questioning. I stopped following astrology for the most part for about ten years.
A few years later I continued with my bellydancing, and put up a modeling profile on one of the modeling sites so I could find some photographers for a photoshoot a few years after that. One day I get a message from this Vedic astrologer saying that he needs models and actresses for his YouTube channel, and would I be interested in that kind of work? I said, sure, but tell me about your channel, I know a little about Vedic astrology, and oh, “I’m SO not a Gemini”! Well, this person was Kapiel Raaj, and he went through my chart and told me about my life since the day I was born. He named all of these events, when they happened, with whom, etc. It was amazing. I said, how did you do that? He said, “You see, if I had used your Western tropical chart none of those events would’ve been there. This is the power of accuracy of the sidereal zodiac.” Well, that was it, I was sold! I said, “Hey, when I’m wrong I say I’m wrong, and I’m WRONG!” Since that day I’ve been on a quest to learn Vedic astrology, and I couldn’t be happier.
The biggest hurdle that I had to overcome was the Indian terminology; it sometimes still gets me, but now I have reference points. I think this is why a lot of astrologers don’t make the switch to Vedic, it’s hard! Not only do you need to understand a different zodiac with the nakshatras, but you need to learn the Indian names! You also have to memorize the myths, the god/goddesses names, history, culture, so much! It is second nature for me to learn new languages, and I seem to have an affinity for it, as I have my Sun in the 12th house of foreign lands/people. I can see how this would be daunting to people who don’t have this ability. Also, the biggest hurdle I see that people have is their attachment to their Western signs. Try telling a tropical Sun in Aries that he’s actually a sidereal Sun in Pisces, and you’d better duck! They will definitely come swinging at you. I’m really glad that I started with Western, and have over 30 years under my belt working with that system. It’s made learning Vedic much easier, and now I can read all types of charts, Western, North Indian, and South Indian. I had already learned the glyphs, sign meanings, house meanings, and aspects in Western, so getting adjusted to the Hindu language was the first focus. Learning is a lifelong pursuit in astrology, and you’re always a student, especially when it comes to somebody else’s culture. They say you should do what you would do if no one paid you to do it, and for me that’s definitely astrology. Every day I love to see what new videos have been posted, diving deeper into the myths, there is so much to learn, I feel like a kid in a candy shop! So happy! Isn’t that what life’s supposed to be about? I hope you find the joy in Vedic that I have, but if you don’t and want to stay in Western, I do understand. Just like music, it’s all frequency and certain frequencies either resonate with us, or they don’t.
Astrology is the sheet music of the soul, and a good astrologer can sing your chart, and you know it is truth when that frequency resounds within you. May you find the music that reverberates with you! Namaste!