Last month the Prime Minster of Canada, Justin Trudeau and his family visited India on official government business. Trudeau’s visit was hailed as a success as it relates to trade and other issues between the two countries. Unfortunately, the accomplishments were totally overshadowed by, of all things, the Trudeau family wardrobe!!!
Trudeau chose to show his love for the Indian culture and everything Indian, by hiring an Indian fashion designer to dress his wife, children and himself in a series of elaborate and often over the top ethnic Indian outfits. The Trudeau family’s good intentions to embrace the Indian culture backfired. The media was merciless, and twitter was ablaze with negative tweets.
“trying too hard, too flashy”,
“We Indians don’t dress like this every day, not even in Bollywood films”
“too much choreographed cuteness”
and my personal favorite…” people after one yoga class”.
The Canadian media was also heavily critical. “Justin Trudeau has become so identified with Kumbaya priorities that he has lost the appearance of leading a serious government”.
Late night comedian Trevor Novah said “ I don’t know if you have noticed that just as Donald trump becomes more and more un-woke, Justin Trudeau is compensating in the other direction.
There is often an uncanny similarity between extremes – here we have two very different Leo Ascendants, who share the fatal flaw of Leo types, a flare for excessive showmanship.
Polarity is the foundational principle of Yogic knowledge, as everything in the universe manifests with its opposite, each compensating for the other – Shiva and Shakti, day and night, hot and cold, good and evil, light and shadow, Sun and Moon, and yes even, Justin Trudeau and Trump. Vedic Astrology teaches us how to find the balance point in the polarity to acquire equanimity and harmony in our external and internal environment.
"Everybody acts out a myth,
but very few people know what their myth is.
And you should know what your myth is,
because it might be a tragedy.
And maybe you don't want it to be." ~ Jordan Peterson
The horoscope shows our myth, it lays bare the story we are carrying in our unconscious, which then plays out as external events. It is our unique and narrow view of reality, it is not the whole reality - it is incomplete, usually leaning too heavily one side or the other. There are huge knowledge gaps in all our personal myths. Therefore, many of our longings remain unfulfilled because we simply don’t have the tools to get there.
Vedic Astrology as a spiritual science of self-realization urges us to fill in these gaps in our story by gaining a more intimate relationship with the whole. It teaches us not cling to the edges of one or two houses, signs or planets, especially Rahu and Ketu. We do this by embracing the whole zodiac and deepening our understanding of the polarities inherent in our inner and outer worlds.
Yoga, Unity and the Circle
For eons ancient cultures have worshiped the circle to understand the divine. Different cultures have divided the circle into different number of parts. The Yin and Yang symbol is the simplest of all divisions, which consists of just a two-part division. The directions North, South, East, West divides the circle in four parts. The zodiac that most eastern and western astrologers work with divides the circle into twelve 30-degree houses and zodiac signs. The Mayans had a zodiac with thirteen parts.
Vedic Astrology uses the twelve-part zodiac and also the star constellations, Nakshatras, which divides the circle in 27 parts, each corresponding to the days it takes the moon to orbit the earth. It really does not matter how many parts you divide the circle in, as long as you understand the whole. Indeed, the more concentrated the planets in a 2-3 houses and signs, the more difficult the destiny, the more spread out the planets, the more auspicious the chart, as you will have a broader view of life.
Polarities of the Houses, Signs and Planets
To gain a deeper understanding of the whole zodiac, let us look at the 12 houses and signs, and how each complements its opposite. We will see how the opposite signs, houses and planets urge us to go beyond our comfort zone to create balance and harmony.
Sign: Aries and Libra
Houses: First and Seventh
Planets: Mars and Venus
The first house, or Ascendant, represents our self-identity, self-interest, ego, me and myself. The seventh house of selflessness, co-dependence, companionship and partnership sits exactly 180 degrees opposite to the first. This is probably the most ironic polarity nature asks us to bridge. Building in us an urgent need to preserve our independence, self-promotion and self-significance at all cost and at the same time the deepest longing to acquire a partner, merge with another and form a lasting union. Indeed, Vedic Astrologers also refers to the 7th house as the house of our open or known enemies (12th house is the house of hidden enemies). In a sense our partners also function as our “enemies”, as they challenge and oppose parts of our personality/identity.
This polarity stretches our limits to find the balance point between asserting our personal needs and yet conforming to the person we are relating to. Swing too far in one extreme and you will spend your life alone and go too far on the other and you will end up surrendering your unique personality and sense of self.
The planets that primarily relate to this polarity are Mars, the ruler of Aries and Venus, the ruler of Libra. Independent Aries/Mars seek individual freedom and diplomatic Libra/Venus prefer compromise and concession.
Signs: Taurus and Scorpio
Houses: Second and Eighth
Planets: Venus and Mars
Both the Second and Eighth houses bring value and self-worth to our life. The second house through tangible experiences that we can touch, feel and see. The eighth through mystical, impalpable and intangible peak experience that challenge the ground under which we stand.
Although these houses are not just about money its important to try to understand them by talking about money first. How do we define our self-worth and bring value, stability and security to our life? Is it on second house terms like having a steady paycheck through our own self efforts? Is it through tangible assets, a house, a savings accounts and a full pantry.
Or is it on eighth house terms, where our self-worth and value system are derived from intangible, abstract, metaphysical and emotional resources. The financial gains in this house are uncertain and not always in our own control, as often they are dependent on other people’s efforts or desires (i.e. inheritance).
The second house undoubtedly seeks security through tangible solutions. The eighth through intense, metaphysical and often crisis driven situations, which deny comfort and peace, but have the potential to make us rich with meaning of life.
The balance point of this polarity is that we cannot develop value and self-worth in life by avoiding our worldly responsibilities, nor can we be satisfied with what we have accumulated without the emotional resources that others provide. Furthermore, second house needs to remember that there is great “value” in the exploring the unknown, mysterious and the shadow part of our life, such as death itself.
Adventurous, secretive and risk-taking Scorpio and its ruler Mars, and the desire, beauty and comfort seeking Taurus, and its ruler Venus guide this polarity.
Signs: Gemini and Sagittarius
Houses: Third and Ninth
Planets: Mercury and Jupiter
This axis deals with our mental or intellectual quest to understand the world. Sometimes the third house is referred to as the “lower mind” and the ninth the “higher mind. I like to think of the third house as a place where we acquire a little bit of knowledge about many different subjects, much like a high school or undergraduate degree. In the ninth house we go deeper and concentrate in one area, much like a PhD, which allows us to create our own original research, new paradigms, and a broader inner awakening and understanding.
The third and ninth house polarity can be understood by this saying - “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. But so is a lot”. The risk of staying too far in the third house realm is that we don’t go deep enough with our knowledge search. We can become too analytical and knowledge becomes a form of entertainment, rather than the means to understand the deeper Truths of our existence. Too far in the ninth house and we risk believing that our knowledge is complete, creating dogma and narrow mindedness.
When the third house stretches to meet the polarity of the ninth house we stay curious and open to new ideas and opinions, but we still cultivate faith in the absolute Truths, without needing to be self-righteous or fanatic.
This polarity pertains to the curiosity, logic and reason of Gemini and its ruler, Mercury and the conviction, faith and inner-knowing of Sagittarius and its ruler Jupiter.
Signs: Cancer and Capricorn
Houses: Fourth and Tenth
Planets: Moon and Saturn
How do we balance the polarity of our private life in the fourth house with the public in the tenth? We all need a home base, a safe space, a retreat where we feel emotionally secure and nurtured. Free to roar like a like lion or curl up like a cat, without intrusion from the outside world. Yet, our life is not complete unless we have some type of position in our society, a career, a contribution and a reputation where we are accountable and exposed.
When we swing too far to the fourth house, where we are focused on our inner emotional needs and sensitivities, we risk the Peter Pan syndrome, a refusal to grow up leave Neverland.
The ambition of the tenth house on the other hand can keep us on the road, burning the candle on both ends, hiding feelings and fears in intimate relationship from family, friends and even ourselves. With no time to retreat and touch our home base, or inner alter we may end up physically or emotionally drained and forced to retreat. Often at the mercy of a family member or friend who has to take us into their home.
This polarity comes into balance when we are willing to toil and slog and be uncomfortable in order to meet our responsibilities in the world, yet find time to retreat and refresh without becoming lazy or escapist.
The sign here is Cancer, the archetypal, nurturing mother of the zodiac, ruled by the emotional and temperamental Moon. On the other side it is the hardened, task master Capricorn with its serious and stoic ruling planet Saturn.
Signs: Leo and Aquarius
Houses: Fifth and Eleventh
Planets: Sun and Saturn
Fifth house is the house of joy, spontaneous self-expression, risk-taking, creativity and romance. The fifth house is the playground of childlike exuberance for life, where personal creativity, inspiration, hearts desires, and being chosen and special for our talents and personality want expression. The fifth house is the belief that we don’t need to fit in, we can “follow our spirit”, and find our unique and special gifts to share with the world. This house often overlooks the need to participate in what is popular, admired and community minded. But what happens when the free-spirited child in the playground meets other children who want to play in the same space? Sharing the playground means rules and responsibilities for the collective wellbeing and collective creativity, which is the Eleventh House.
In the famous movie Chocolat, a new arrival, tantalizes a small tranquil French town with her creative confectionaries, upending hundreds of years of community tradition of lent. Here the newcomer represents the fifth house and the town and community she disrupts the eleventh house.
This polarity stretches to meet in the middle when wanting to take center stage, takes into account that others too have wishes, dreams and hopes. Participating in the collective, co-operating, but not always waiting for everyone to approve of what we do, so we can still stay true to our uniqueness, is the challenge of this axis.
The corresponding Zodiac signs here are the charismatic, royal, chosen and special Leo with its ruler the Sun, the King and Center of the solar system, who bows down to no one. And the civic and community minded, progressive Aquarius, with its ruler Saturn, the servant of the solar system. King Leo needs the masses, and the Aquarian masses need the king.
Signs: Virgo and Pisces
Houses: Sixth and Twelfth
Planets: Mercury and Jupiter
Both the sixth and twelfth houses are called Dushtana or enemy houses in Vedic Astrology. They are seen as houses of loss of identity, self-improvement, service and hardship. The sixth house through order and goals and the twelfth through surrender and chaos.
In the sixth house we focus on self-improvement and service to the self and others, through analyzing, organizing, categorizing and coming up with good strategies and techniques to solve our daily problems. The Twelfth house, often referred to as the house of surrender, loss, and admission of defeat, is where the scaffolding of the personality we have built in houses 1 – 11 is torn down. Here we come to a place of service to all of humanity and to the self, through renunciation of all personal and even interpersonal goals. Hence the twelfth house is also seen as the house of spiritual transcendence and enlightenment.
The polarity here depends on improving our life in the sixth house with techniques, goals and daily routines, and in the twelfth by surrendering to the vast cosmos that does not really need our petty efforts, it simply awaits to fulfill our intentions. The Sixth house builds strength and the twelfth house builds fluidity. The rigid, fearful sixth house often has too many rules and boundaries stretches to meet the fluid, do nothing twelfth house to give us a safe footing in the world, but at the same time stay connected to the transcendent reality.
The signs here are the focused, hardworking Virgo and its earthy and practical ruler Mercury, and ethereal and otherworldly Pisces, with its ruler Jupiter.
Yoga, Polarity and Balance
All yogic sciences including Asana, mantra, Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology, require a great deal of, strength and practice but also fluidity and surrender in our actions, emotions and thoughts. To truly know and practice this ancient Vedic knowledge requires a razor thin equilibrium between the polarities, which needs fine tuning and refreshing minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. The key is to neither move too much to one side or another, nor freeze with inaction.
Vedic Astrology helps us to become conscious by alerting us to forces and primary indictors in our horoscope, where we are likely to lose control and fall into extremes.
Emphasis on Asana and sustained effort on the mat will help bring balance into our thoughts, emotions and actions but without deep knowledge of our horoscope and the karmic forces in our subconscious that are waiting to polarize and derail us at any moment, we may be doing our Asana practice in the dark.