South Indian Chart Format

As I am planning a series of articles on hindu astrology / vedic astrology / jyotisha (please choose your favourite definition 🙂 ) some ground work needs to be done. Today I would like to introduce the chart form I plan to use. There are three different chart forms used in vedic astrology. I am choosing the one that gives a clear overview of the chart and which is the farthest away from western astrological practice, for a better shift from one system to the other.

The south Indian chart is a fixed chart. The signs always remain in the same place. It is the ascendant or lagna that moves. To help get oriented I have indicated where Aries is located. Aries will always be in the second box from the top left. The signs also move clockwise, contrary to western practice. So Taurus will be in the third box from the top left and Sagittarius in the lower left box.

I’ve placed the planets in the signs or their domicile, exaltation, detriment and fall. You will notice a certain symmetry, especially in the domicile chart.

If you divide the domicile chart down the middle you will find that the outer planets are all on the left side while the Sun Moon and inner planets are all on the right side. There are some other interesting interrelationships. For example the common signs are always in the corners with the fixed signs behind and the cardinal signs following. I find the chart supports the symbology in a most satisfactory manner. The dual or common signs in the corners look in two directions. The cardinal signs, following clockwise motion, move away and so show themselves as moving signs. The fixed signs, with reference to the corner signs, demonstrate a reluctance for movement. Examine all of the charts and I am sure you will find other interesting symmetries.


Profection is another traditional predictive technique. Basically the ascendant (and all other significant points are moved one sign forward for each year of life). It can be considered a form of progression and provides additional detail to the new solar year. It is always used in combination with the natal chart. As it is connected to the solar year, it can be used in combination with the solar return.

Profection in Vedic astrology is intimately connected with the solar return. The jyotish solar return is called the varshaphala; literally yearly (varsha), effects (phala). There the only sensitive point that is profected is the ascendant or lagna. This is called the muntha. The muntha plays a very important role in determining the lord of the year. Quite often it is the lord of the year.

While we are discussing the varshaphala I might as well mention immensely interesting use of the terms (or hudda dasa) for determining sub-periods of the year*. The terms – the egyptian terms are used – are divided proportionally for 360 degrees. For example Aries has the following terms:

  • first six 6 degrees belong to Jupiter = 72 days
  • next six 6 degrees belong to Venus = 72 days
  • next 8 degrees belong to Mercury = 96 days
  • next 5 degrees belong to Mars = 60 days
  • last 5 degrees belong to Saturn = 60 days

So if the ascendant of the solar return is at 7 degrees Aries, the birthday being on the 1st of January, the planetary periods for the year would be:

  • Venus for the first 72 days, beginning Jan. 1st
  • Mercury for the next 72 days
  • Mars for the next 96 days
  • Saturn for the next 60 days
  • Jupiter for the rest of the year

Of course this system should be used for a jyotish interpretation as the planetary periods and sub-periods play a more predominant role in prediction. Firdaria would roughly be a similar, though by comparison more crude equivalent.

* for more detail please refer to K S Charaka’s book ‘Predictive Techniques in Varshaphala’

The Sun and those Retrogade Outer Planets

Sometimes the obvious is invisible, most likely because we are inclined to look at details and just simply overlook the greater picture. Although I have seen many charts and read many astrology books it never occurred to me nor has anyone recorded, in an astrology book that is, the simple observation that when an outer planet is in opposition to the Sun it is always retrograde. Always. And in the middle of the retrograde arc. I came across this in James Evans, ‘The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy’ in the chapter on planetary theory (p. 296).

Let’s try to put this in an astrological context. To be retrograde is considered a major accidental debility, William Lilly gives it 5 points in a scale of 1 to 5. An opposition is an aspect of conflict; at best the opposing planet is in its domicile or exaltation, angular and maybe conjunct Spica; at worst it is in detriment or fall, cadent and conjunct Algol. Most likely it will be the dominant aspect in the chart forming a personal pole around which the rest of the chart ‘rotates’ (figuratively), the house axis pointing to a major life theme with which the native wrestles. An aspect of a lifetime as many years can pass until the planet goes direct by secondary progression!  For example Jupiter may take 60 or more years before he goes direct by secondary progression!

Knotty but not Naught: the Lunar Nodes

I concluded the last article with the question, ‘What happens when you step on a node?’

In our travels as a planet around the Tree of Knowledge and the hidden Tree of Life there are two crossing points where the roots of the Tree are especially prominent. The radix of the Tree has two knots on opposing sides. One is elevated above the ground and the other is submerged deeply in a small depression. These are crossing points and require our attention if we wish to pass across them without stumbling or stubbing our toes. Let us look at these knots, yet again.

The knots are of course the lunar nodes (nodus is latin for knot or crossing). They are literally crossing points. Here the Moon intersects the ecliptic, the path of the Sun and so they do indeed have a ‘fateful’ character, especially should the Moon be near the crossing when she fully receives the light of the Sun or when she is fully obscured by the earth. Then either a solar or lunar eclipse occurs. Another characteristic is that the nodes are perpetually in retrograde, they are not static. As the Moon moves forwards they move backwards and only the Moon and the Sun  ‘conjunct’ them literally. And so the Nodes are intimately connected with two other invisible points that are formed by the movement of the Sun and the Moon – the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit. The only difference is that with the Parts of Fortune and Spirit there is a third factor, the Ascendant. It is precisely this third factor which gives us an additional clue as to how to ‘read’ the lunar nodes. The Ascendant is our very personal connection with our incarnation and so the Parts of Fortune and Spirit show our orientation towards our outer and inner life, in this incarnation. The nodes are superordinate and so it is not surprising that they are often associated with what is known as karma. They show our orientation not to our inner and outer life but to that of the World. They are, to use Christian imagery the two nails on which we hang on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. They are points of conscious awareness and as such also of agony in all levels of meaning (ἀγών – agon means contest in classical Greek).

Dodecatomoria: What are they?

The name itself already tells us that we are dealing with a technique that hellenistic astrologer’s commonly used. It literally means, “twelve fates”. Just as the circle of heaven is divided into 12 zodiacal signs so too is each sign in turn divided into 12 dodecatomorion of 2 1/2 degrees each. There is one small difference. The first dodecatomorion of a sign is always of the same sign. Only in Aries is the first dodecatomorion Aries. The first dodecatomorion of Leo is Leo continuing onto Cancer as the last dodecatomorion of that sign. As they are multiples of 2.5 degrees they are fairly easy to find. But for the mathematically inclined there is also methods to calculate them. I will present the system of 12 here, where ordinal numbers (0 to 1 is the 1st degree) are used.

  1. If every 2 1/2 degrees of a zodiacal sign is one dodecatomorion, then every 5 minutes of a zodiacal sign is a dodecatomorion degree (60 / 12 = 5)
  2. Multiply the zodiacal degree by 12 to determine the position along a 360 deg. circle. Divide by 30 and you have the number of signs. The remainder is in degrees. The remainder is added to the number of degrees determined by the step described below.
  3. divide the number of zodiacal minutes by 5 and add this to the degrees determined above. The sum is the number of degrees of the dodecatomorion.

An example: Suppose we want to find the dodecatomorion of 15 Sagittarius 30?

  1. 15 x 12 = 180 , 180 / 30 = 6  the dodecatomorion is 6 signs away in Gemini.
  2. 30 / 5 = 6, in 6 degrees of Gemini

Another example: What is the dodecatomorion of 29 Pisces 59?

  1. 29 x 12 = 348, 348 / 30 = 11 signs + a remainder of 18 degrees
  2. 59 / 5 = 11.8 degrees, 11.8 + 18 = 29.8 degrees Aquarius

The Dodecatomoria provide yet another level of detail. They are not unlike the bounds (terms) or the decans (faces) and can be used in a similar fashion.

A planet that has just entered its domicile it is also in its dodecatomorion. It has entered into its house and is immediately at home. If it enters its exaltation, the effect of the exaltation is felt immediately and is probably the strongest there. Now about midway the planet will become “weary” of its home and strives once more to go out of its house and engage in some activity. In the middle of its domicile it is also in the dodecatomorion of its exile. So this is the first impulse to leave home (maybe too much housework!). The same is true for exaltation. In the middle of the sign of its exaltation a planet enters the dodecatomorion of its fall. All that adoration and worship begins to become wearisome, time to have some peace and quiet! The middle dodecatomorion is for planets in their domicile and exaltation reflects on a larger scale what happens on the MC. The highest elevation has been reached. After that it is downhill.

The opposite is true of planets entering their exile or fall. They receive the full brunt of the debility the moment they enter their exile or fall. At the middle of the sign they are in the dodecatomorion of their domicile or exaltation. This is like being on the IC. It can only go uphill and get better. The deepest point of weakness or bitterness has been reached.