What is Vedic Astrology?
Depending on the situation and needs of the seeker, the astrologer will usually begin to read the timeline of the person's life, from birth up to the recent past and on to the present situation which caused him to consult the astrologer in the first place. This will put the original analysis into greater perspective. Then the astrologer will proceed to discuss the upcoming future trends and planetary periods that the seeker can expect to experience, both externally in the world and internally in terms of psychological attitudes. The internal and external realities are both very intimately related, for a negative mental attitude can attract, and often is the precursor to, equally negative experiences in external reality. The converse is also seen, that reverses in life can instill a negative and depressed worldview in the seeker, thus creating a vicious cycle of gloom and doom.
Note: We should explain that reading a chart is a process of discovery, much like an archeological dig; as we read the chart, planetary combinations representing various things present themselves. As he goes deeper into the reading and becomes more familiar with the terrain, the astrologer gathers more and more bits of information, which he pieces together to solve the puzzle. It will often be that a consistent pattern emerges and that the data reconfirms this pattern. But sometimes new information will present itself, prompting the astrologer to reassess the situation. He may then have to withdraw a previous statement. One should not mistakenly think that the astrologer is contradicting himself - instead, through the process of discovery he has found new information which supplants a previous conclusion.
This is where the real skill of the astrologer is tested. A real Vedic astrologer doesn't just make some predictions and then stand aside. Rather, he is a Vedic Brahmana who has been trained in yoga, philosophy, niti sastra (wise conduct, prudence, polity) and dharma, etc. If he foresees difficulty ahead, the astrologer should be able to provide the seeker with strategies for meeting the difficulties in a mature and wise way. This, after all, is the essential benefit of Vedic astrology and the proper use of our free will: to act with wisdom, as opposed to reacting in ignorance. Simply knowing that difficulty lies ahead may be sufficient to avert real danger. One might still be influenced by the problem but will know what to do, not taken by surprise. In cliche terms, "Forewarned is forearmed."
In 1992 Hurricane Andrew destroyed a large area of Southern Florida. There was massive physical damage to property, but considering the horrific nature of the storm, the loss of human life was practically nil. Why? Because the National Weather Service had warned residents of the approaching storm and so they had had sufficient time to prepare for the inevitable. They evacuated dangerous areas, boarded up windows, cached food and water, sought high ground, and took shelter. They acted with wisdom. We can imagine what the death toll would have been if Andrew had pounced on Florida with no warning at all. The carnage would have been astronomical, and the people would have been reeling from that death blow, not knowing what to do next. That scenario is one of ignorance--that is, reacting to a situation after it has already struck, without foreknowing that it would happen. Generally there are much fewer casualties from hurricanes as compared to earthquakes, because presently hurricanes can be predicted by the weather service whereas no government agency can predict earthquakes--which strike without warning. (There is branch of astrology that deals with weather forecasting as part of Mundane Astrology, it is not much practiced these days because governments no longer patronize such astrologers as the kings of the past once did.)
The above discussion should not unnerve one into thinking that the astrologer will read only dire predictions of impending ruination and existential calamity. This is hardly the case. (We simply have considered a worst-case scenario first.) Just as often, and much easier and pleasant for the astrologer, are predictions of upcoming periods of good fortune and happiness, free of difficulty and full of opportunity. People love to hear about good fortune. And speaking frankly, it is much easier for this astrologer when I have to report predominantly good news. (You perhaps know what would happen in ancient times to the bearer of bad news!)
It is commonly said: "Make the best use of a bad bargain." Often, hardship will bring the best out of a person. It has been observed that the only difference between the carbon in a diamond and that in a graphite lead pencil is that the former has been subjected to tremendous heat and pressure for a long time, then chiseled and polished to perfection. So while giving people bad news is not so pleasant, they often take it more seriously than when given good news.
The opposite of "Make the best use of a bad bargain" is "to squander a good opportunity" or "to rest on your 'future' laurels." Surprisingly, people often think that if good times are ahead they don't have to do anything. Wrong. When an astrologer indicates that there is smooth sailing ahead, it is not time to take it easy but rather to strive harder. Because resistance is lower, one is more likely to succeed; yet he must still endeavor with determination, although now the going will be easier. And, who knows -- the cycle may change. So it is the practice of a wise astrologer to advise his client to maintain and even increase his momentum in good times. In that way, if events should turn for the worst, the seeker will easily be able to overcome the problem. (For example, if one is driving on the flats and approaching a hill, he speeds up; the momentum of the car will carry him over the top with less effort.)
The usual situation among the vast majority of people is that their future karma will be a mixture of good and bad. So it is up to the astrologer to sort out, as much as possible, which is which, and then advise how to minimize the negative and maximize the positive with suitable strategies.
The process described above is how the astrologer tells the seeker "who he is," "where he has been," and "where he is going."
How Long Will it Take?
You should be prepared to spend from one to three hours (or in some cases longer) with your astrologer for the initial reading. The length of time will be determined by the subjects covered, questions asked, and the intricacy of the case. I have described a general first reading. Sometimes a person has a specific problem he wants to deal with, such as career, marriage, health, etc. The astrologer should adjust to fit the needs of the seeker. In so doing, however, several of the items described above may be omitted.
If the birth time is not accurate or is unknown, the astrologer may have to rectify it by asking certain questions and adjusting the time according to the answers. This requires extra time. Another factor that will vary the length of the reading is the particular kind of reading the seeker wants: predictive, spiritual-psychological, or a combination of both.
In this kind of reading the emphasis is solely on prediction, without any explanation as to underlying spiritual or psychological causes that may exist. This is most useful to people who just need to plan for the future.
In this type of reading we try to understand more about the mentality of the individual, why he is the way he is, and also the deeper, esoteric meaning of why he has taken his present birth and what he is meant to learn in this life. Each element of the horoscope--sign, planet, house, etc.--has a deep spiritual significance. By analyzing these elements the astrologer can help the seeker to understand what it is he should learn in this lifetime, and how he must act to accomplish that mission. This kind of reading is most useful for those who are on a spiritual quest, trying to find a deeper meaning to their life, seeking self-understanding, etc.
This is a combination of both types of reading, predictive and spiritual; it is a much more complex and lengthy reading, because both elements are combined. It is also the most useful of all.
Thus far we have discussed procedures that the astrologer is likely to employ, and what subjects he will speak on. But what about you? What should you say or do? Should you say anything, or just listen? The following recommendations will help you to benefit the most from your reading:
- Before going to the astrologer find out if he is going to record the session. If not, request permission to record it yourself. Bring an MP3 recorder with enough charge to adequately cover the meeting.
- Before starting the session pre-arrange with the astrologer to turn off the recorder when you make a particular signal; this indicates that you wish to discuss something off the record.
- It is good to prepare any questions or aspects of your life that you want covered in the reading. It is generally best to let the astrologer know this in advance so that he will be able to focus extra attention on those areas. Some topics may require extra research.
- Avoid breaking his train of thought while the astrologer is speaking. Bring a note pad, and if you have a question write it down; if it isn't resolved in the course of the reading, then you should ask it at the end. Breaking the astrologer's train of thought will cause digression; similarly, asking another question before the previous one has been answered will be distracting.
- Of course the client should offer feedback, both positive and negative, so that the astrologer knows that he is on the right track. Astrology is, after all, a difficult science. If the astrologer makes a mistake, let him know--he will adjust his calculations. If he is right, confirm it by a nod or simple gesture so that the astrologer may continue in confidence.
- Whatever the case, don't just sit there like a piece of wood. Interact. But do so in such a way as is conducive to the reading. This may mean that you have to go into a long explanation of your situation, or it may mean that you simply listen while he explains. The point is that both of you should stay on track.
- Be honest with your astrologer. You wouldn't lie to your physician, would you? If you don't feel comfortable telling the astrologer the truth about your situation then find an astrologer whom you can trust. Misleading your astrologer could have serious consequences. And don't try to trick or test him. If you intend to have a long-standing relationship with anyone, what to speak of your astrologer, it wouldn't be good to start out on such a footing. The astrologer will be able to tell that there is something afoot, and that will only hamper the process.
What has been said about your part in a natal reading similarly applies, with specific adjustments, to other kinds of readings.