Planetary Strengths and Weaknesses

IMG_1839In “A Tale of Two Cities”, Charles Dickens writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The same can be said for present day. All around, people are undergoing huge transitions. They are making changes in life, willingly or unwillingly. From the viewpoint of Vedic astrology, or Jyotish, this is related to the planetary strengths and weaknesses.

To evaluate what a planet will bring in its cycle, we look to see if it is strong or weak. What makes a planet strong is if it in its own sign, exalted (at its strongest point), or retrograde. What makes it weak is if it is debilitated or in a war with another planet (within one degree of each other), or combust (within 9 degrees of the Sun). Planets can sometimes be both strong and weak simultaneously.

What we have right now is that Saturn is strong by being exalted in Libra. And Sun is strong by being in its own sign of Leo.  Venus and Mars are both weak by virtue of being debilitated, in Virgo, and Cancer, respectively.   Jupiter is in Gemini, and that is not so bad, except it’s in a nakshatra (constellation), which is often turbulent.

And now we have the two strong malefics, Saturn and Mars influencing each other. These planetary strengths and weaknesses interplay.

Saturn’s strength can bring discipline and fortitude, and prominence, but it can also bring instability due to its placement in Svati nakshatra and be linked to natural disasters. Mars’ debilitation can bring battles and a passive-aggressive nature. There’s a lot of will to fight but the outcome leaves the person weary from battle. With Saturn and Mars interplaying, there is this drive to accomplish a mission with exactitude and perfection. Specifically, the person in a Saturn/ Mars or Mars/ Saturn cycle pushes themselves to fulfill an ambition with an unstoppable drive. They may exhaust themselves in the process.  They can also try to get others to comply and wear them out in the process.

When a planet is debilitated, the person may work extra hard in those matters. With Venus being weak, those in a Venus cycle may work extra hard on matters of love and romance, or artistic endeavors, without seeing the desired results.

The Sun is strong so it can bring stamina, luminosity, and creative expression. This is so for those in a Sun cycle.  It’s also a time when our spiritual practices can shine and illumine our inner nature.

Jupiter is in Ardra nakshatra. Of the 27 nakshatras, Ardra can be one of the more tumultuous. The symbol for Ardra is a teardrop, and there is an association with loss and grieving. The deity is Rudra, the god of the storms. As the storms wash away that which is no longer useful, new growth can spring forth.

Mercury is also in Leo, in close proximity with the Sun, thus combust. This brings about the quality of mental brilliance and can result in very innovative thought processes, as Mercury is the planet of intellect. Yet, Mercury is also the planet of communication – both spoken and written. A planet too close to the Sun is lost in its rays. What we intend to convey may be misunderstood or the message may not get delivered.    

The nodes take on the guise of their companions or the lord of their zodiacal sign. Rahu will act like Saturn and Venus, so it’s a time of instability, especially by virtue of both Rahu and Saturn being in Svati nakshatra. Ketu acts like the debilitated Mars.

Depending on the planetary cycle one is experiencing, these factors blend together and a person experiences highs and lows in life. The planets are continually moving in the heavens, and as they do so, conditions shift. Jupiter moves out of Ardra nakshatra and into the more harmonious Punarvasu nakshatra on September 1. Mercury moves out of proximity to the Sun and into its own sign of Virgo on September 5. That same day, Venus leaves its debilitation sign of Virgo, and moves into its own sign of Libra, where it joins Saturn and Rahu.  The Sun joins Mercury in Virgo on September 16.  Mars remains debilitated until October 5.

Examples of how these placements are manifesting for the various ascendants are described  in the next blog.