Relevant Vedic Background #2
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Blending the qualities of planetary Guna and Sign Guna is one of the more important anchoring principles in astrology. And yes, not just Vedic astrology. If you practice Western astrology, this can help you too. First of all, honor the traditional rulers first. When you start using the qualities of sign and planetary Guna, you will see the a dramatic difference in the interpretations and motivations behind why things happen.
The Five Elements
The 5 Elements – Building Blocks of the Vedic Sciences
The Self has entered this body, this dense jumble. If a man finds him, recognizes him, He’s the maker of everything-the author of all! The world is his-he’s the world itself.
– Brhadaranyaka Upanishad
Spirit is called Purusha. When spirit takes form it is called prakriti. Every object as prakriti is an expression of purusha. Matter expressing Spirit. This world of Matter expressing Spirit is formed by the 5 elements. They are the building blocks of The Vedic Sciences. Their properties provide the archetypes that underpin all aspects of Vedic thinking. First we will examine the 5 elements then explore their evolution as affected by the 3 gunas. (the 3 qualities of nature) Starting with the grossest and moving toward the finest, the 5 elements are:
Earth – Water – Fire – Air – Ether (Space)
Earth – Body As the densest element it is also the heaviest and “weightiest” psychological influence. Our physical body demands the most attention when its needs arise. For example no matter how enjoyable it may be talking to your best friend on the phone, you will only suppress the urge to go to the bathroom for so long before you relent.
Earth connects us to the sense of smell. Ayurveda says, anything we can smell contains Earth.
Psychologically speaking the Earth element is our practical nature. Literally being “down to Earth.”
Prominent planets in Earth signs will be sensual and hands on. They want to be useful and will work hard. They are practical in expression. They will wash your car on your birthday. Too much Earth brings stagnation and clinging to form.
The Earth signs are: Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo.
Mercury Rules the element of Earth. Saturn and Venus are also Earthy
Water – Senses / Feeling Specifically to the flow of the senses from the physical body to the outer world and the emotional connections and impressions made through the senses. Water is also our receptive emotional mind. It is on this vital level that our energy must connect and receive the environment in order to satisfy our bodily needs. (Earth) We see a chocolate éclair in the window of a Bakery and our mouth starts to water.
Water connects us to the sense of taste. Ayurveda says that anything we can taste contains water.
Psychologically the Water element has to do with our deep emotional bonds, memories and sensory impressions. Prominent planets in water signs makes one want to feed another and bond emotionally. They will cook you dinner on your birthday. Too much water can lead to excessive emotional dependence, escapism and extremes.
The water signs are: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
Venus Rules the element of water. The moon, and Jupiter are also watery planets.
(Although Mars also rules a water sign, he is a fiery planet)
Fire – Mind / Focused Action Fire element corresponds to digestion of all sorts – food, mental impressions, etc. It is also our active emotional mind, our passionate nature and the instinctual and conditioned / reactive mind. It is the element of fire that digests sensory impressions, (water) turning them into thoughts that we can use. Otherwise our minds would be just a jumble of sensory data.
Fire connects us to the sense of sight. Ayurveda says anything we can see is touched by fire.
Psychologically Fire represents our active, desire nature. We literally “burn” to satisfy our desires. It is fire that makes us “want” the chocolate éclair in the window. Prominent planets in Fire signs will exhibit an active, bold or aggressive nature. Strong fire types can be the most inspirational of signs, yet also the most self – centered. They will buy you sexy underwear or wear them for you on your birthday. Too much fire can lead to excessive anger.
The fire signs are: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
Mars Rules the element of fire. The Sun and Jupiter are also fiery planets.
Air – Intellect Air element corresponds to movement of all sorts, in the body, breath, thoughts, etc. Air is our higher intellectual and social mind. It is the mind of our philosophies and opinions – our politics and rationalizations as well as how we relate to others and society as a whole. It is through the air element the we observe and interact socially with the world and others and form conclusions about them and ourselves. It is the Air element that will decide whether or not we will eat the éclair in the window.
Air connects us to the sense of touch. Anything we can feel (with the skin) is touched by Air.
Psychologically Air represents our higher mental capabilities, as well as our conscience and ethical principles. Prominent planets in Air signs will exhibit a very social nature. They like discourse and debate. They will take you to the Opera on your birthday. Too much air and one becomes ungrounded, aloof, dry or sterile.
The air signs are: Libra, Aquarius and Gemini
Saturn Rules the element of air. Venus and Mercury are also airy planets. The moon is also airy if it comes within 30° of the sun.
Space – Consciousness The Space element corresponds to pure consciousness itself. Our awareness. It is the layer of being beyond the 4 gross physical elements in the astrology chart. It refers to the witnessing consciousness, that which is able to perceive the thought process (air) and remain unidentified with it. It is our connection to freedom and the closest to our true Self and our intuitive nature.
Psychologically Space represents an initial freedom from the mind/ body complex. It is through the element of Space that we perceive the distance between the thinking / feeling mind substance and the oneness of creation and our connectedness to it. The behavioral archetype is that of one who is detached in a healthy way, as the observer, the witness. Space is beyond our physical karma.
There are no Space signs. Jupiter Rules element of space
The 5 Elements at Work
Each finer element contains, observes and animates the grosser ones. In this way and for this reason, the primordial sound of Aum is the first act of creation. Even in Christian texts it is stated “in the beginning there was the word.” Amen is simply another form of Aum. All creatures are produced in this way through unique vibration based on their karma. Yet all creatures arise from the same source, from the same primordial origin, the sound of Aum. Thus through the element of ether the dance of creation begins out of the equilibrium that existed before. (Sound resonates through Ether) After Ether, the Air element is formed (intellect), then Fire (active mind), Water (feeling mind), and Earth. (body) This model shows why mantras are so powerful. They resonate through all 5 of our elemental bodies. (Mantras are sacred sounds repeated over and over again)
As shown above, life is created from the finer elements to the grosser ones. However, our spiritual path is walked in reverse. First we must master the body, then the senses and sense mind, then the active emotions, then the intellect, then finally pure consciousness. When we see a chocolate éclair, the physical body (Earth) is animated by the senses. (Water) The desire to eat it arises in the reactive / instinctual mind (Fire), but the higher mind (Air) actually decides whether or not to eat the éclair. Our consciousness (Ether) makes us aware of this process.
Karma and the 5 Elements
According to Vedic thought everything is an expression of pure God energy, pure God consciousness. As stated above, all physical bodies arise out of this balanced God state. But as a result of past karma and the samskaras (mental impressions) that accompany them, the 5 elements arrange themselves to create the body that reflects the appropriate person, animal, or whatever. This karmic energy points to the lessons that need to be learned in that lifetime.
For example, a person who needs to work through anger problems in this lifetime will inherit a body, mind and upbringing that will challenge them to confront their anger and hopefully transcend it. In the case of anger, the element of fire will likely predominate. An Astrological chart reveals this. It is a portrait of the soul’s karma and the pattern of illusion in which we may become trapped. As karma means “action”, we may mistake ourselves to be our actions, not our essence. This is Maya, the illusion,… CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE