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Meanderings East and West

Exploring the Connection between Astrology and Yoga

Two Contemporary Kriya Yoga Gurus

Sun Moon Let's briefly examine the horoscopes of two contemporary Kriya Yoga gurus: Shelly Trimmer and Goswami Kriyananda.

For audio and video recordings, as well as written information by and about Shelly Trimmer, see

For audio, video and written information by and about Goswami Kriyananda, see the Temple of Kriya Yoga.

Ancient Western Methodology

Egyptian Sky GodThe compelling emphasis on higher spiritual knowledge and teaching that we find in these astrological charts is easy to see when we use whole-sign houses and the sidereal zodiac, the constellation-oriented approach of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians and early Greeks.

Ancient western astrology was imported into India by the Greeks, where it was further developed and is still used today. For more information about the origins of the zodiac, see Meanderings 1.

Kriyananda's chart has a powerful solar theme, while Shelly's nativity is unmistakably lunar.

The Horoscope of Shelly Trimmer

Shelly Trimmer Shelly Chester Trimmer (1917-1996) was a guru in the Kriya Yoga tradition. He was a personal disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, having lived and studied intimately with him for several years at the Self Realization Fellowship ashrams in Southern California, starting in the late 1930's. They subsequently maintained a correspondence by mail.

As befits a predominantly lunar individual, Shelly taught privately from the comfort of his home. He often gave personal counsel and instruction late into the night. He did not charge a fee. Later in life Shelly delivered a small number of public lectures, but did not have any formal organization, nor did he write any books. When asked why, he responded: “My students are my books.”

Shelly did not disclose his horoscope data, but this information was determined from in-person conversations with him at his home in Longboat Key, Florida, where he occasionally referred to his own influences.

Shelly Trimmer Horoscope

Seeker, Teacher, Mystic

Seeker Shelly was born when the constellation Cancer was rising. The Moon is the lord of Cancer - and therefore the primary symbol of his chart. When close to full, when high in the chart, the Moon is the greatest benefic. In Shelly's horoscope it's in the 9th house, in the watery constellation Pisces. Wherever we find a powerful chart lord (the ruler of the 1st house) we find a keen focus for the individual.

A natal 1st house/9th house combination suggests the life of a seeker, a traveller, a teacher. 9th house matters will tend to flourish. Such an individual can readily gain access to higher knowledge and delight in sharing it.

In addition, his chart has Neptune, the lord of Pisces - the lord of the 9th house - in the 1st house. This is the same 1/9 pattern in reverse: a 9/1 combination. It's another indication of the chart of a seeker, a traveller, a teacher. The appearance of both a 1/9 and 9/1 combination is a strong indicator of someone's symbolic destiny: it's like being born in the "college of knowledge".

Anyone who spent time with Shelly found out that there was little he didn't know. When people asked permission to pose a question, he liked to joke "Go right ahead: I'm a vast encyclopedia of useless information!"

For charts with Cancer rising, the Moon becomes the primary symbol twice over: it is the more personal of the two luminaries (the Sun and the Moon) and it is ruler of the nativity. A bright Moon (close to full) is a great booster wherever it is found. It functions like Jupiter - or even better - promising abundance and growth in the affairs of the house where it's found. Shelly's bright Moon lights up his 9th house. Plus, it is lord of the chart, and found high in the sky. This strong 9th house emphasis makes him a traveller, seeker and teacher. A guru.

Saturn and Neptune are in the 1st House: this is the indication of a natural recluse. Shelly often said "I really just want to be a hermit."

Kriyananda taught that Neptune in square aspect to one of the luminaries and trine to the other, constitutes a favorable indication of a mystic, someone of advanced spiritual development. Shelly had Neptune square the Sun and Neptune trine the Moon. (Kriyananda had this very same combination, only in reverse.) Saturn/Neptune/Moon combinations suggest a life as a monk or hermit - or a life lived like one. For a similar combination, read about the horoscope of the Dalai Lama in Meanderings 22.

Scientist, Mathematician, Researcher

Equations Shelly had a keen interest in electronics, mathematics and physics from an early age.

He was not only a master astrologer, he was highly developed psychically. He could read people's minds, see their auras and perform healings from early childhood.

Sun Trine Pluto is a pattern of a natural-born researcher.

Pluto conjunct Ketu is a mystical symbol par excellence: Ketu represents other-worldly, mysterious affairs. It functions well in the 12th house, which deals with all matters distant from normal awareness. Pluto represents the depths. Taken together, this combination is a fine indication of a researcher and in highly evolved souls, a gifted mystic.

NASA scientists consulted him privately with questions about Theoretical Physics.

Shelly told students that when he heard the news about the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago in December 1942, he was "walking on air".

Shelly worked as an electronics repairman.

The Great Synthesizer

Home Sweet HomePrior to his contact with Yoga, Shelly was already a very advanced student of western mysticism: Kabbalah, Tarot, Alchemy etc. After becoming a disciple of Yogananda, he devised a synthesis of both traditions.

Kriya Yoga combines elements of Tantra and Yoga. Shelly masterfully integrated it with esoteric western philosophy, using Astrology as the master key.

In characteristic Libra style, he defined this grand view of Spirituality East and West as the soul's pathway towards the goal of Balanced Self-Conscious Awareness. Click here to listen to his 1985 public lecture on this topic.

Modest, Reclusive, Domestic

Home Sweet Home Shelly had large watery eyes and round features. He was highly imaginative and sensitively attuned to feelings of others. These are among the classic descriptions of individuals born under the influence of Cancer, the Moon and the 4th house. The symbol of the Crab was chosen long ago as the embodiment of these traits. For more on Cancer rising, see Meanderings 10.

Gentle and unassuming, Shelly never wanted an organization and shunned any limelight. He had no telephone and didn't want to be contacted. Prospective students had to reach him by post.

When Shelly taught, his tone was matter of fact, however far-out the topic. He was distinctly unpretentious, whether discussing Relativistic Mechanics, the Laws of Self-Conscious Awareness or his dog's sense of smell.

For many years Shelly wore only black, or black and white attire. He wore plain and sturdy boots. He was very practical and down-to-earth, never flashy.

He never adopted a Sanskrit name or honorific title. He avoided all external indications of religious affiliation such as beads, robes, etc. He remained just... "Shelly".

Shelly was a life-long vegetarian - unusual for an American of his time. He had a sensitive constitution and meat gave him indigestion from an early age.

Shelly was a homebody, for many years a farmer in Minnesota. He taught in his living room to small groups or one-on-one. He kept a low profile, but when requested he could articulate engagingly before a large gathering, without any notes in hand.

Simple Lifestyle

Shelly with Dog

These financial indications are mixed and therefore not highly limiting for wealth but the overall tone of the chart is rather other-worldly. Shelly was very gifted and could have easily acquired a fortune if he had set his mind to it. He was merely interested in other matters. He raised a small family but preferred a path of simple living and high thinking. His lifestyle gave him time for seeking and inner development.

Short Stature, Chronic Pain, Heart and Vision Problems

With Saturn in the 1st house, the native is often industrious and mature beyond their years. The person may turn grey or appear aged before their time. This placement can also restrict the height of the individual. Shelly was shorter than average.

According to the principles of Essential Dignity, the Sun is "fallen" in the constellation Libra. When the Sun is weak in a horoscope, the native can have problems with their father, eyesight, and cardiovascular system. There will be difficulty with or disinclination towards self-promotion. Just how thorny these issues become, can be estimated by how weakly the Sun is disposed in the chart.

In Hindu astrology, the Sun is said to be strongest at 10 degrees of Aries and in its deepest fall in the 10th degree of Libra in the sidereal zodiac. For more on the planets in their critical degrees, see Meanderings 15. Unless there are mitigating influences, planets very near their deepest degree of debility will be problematic. Shelly's chart provides a good demonstration of this principle.

Shelly suffered from macular degeneration and increasingly lost his ability to see details. In later years he carried a powerful magnifying glass to read print.

Shelly also had congenital heart disease: his heart was wrongly shaped. He endured many heart attacks over the years. He told some students that there had never been a day when he had been free of physical pain.

Shelly told some students that his relationship with his father was strained at times. His father worked at a dairy. Note that in Hindu astrology, the father is delineated via the 9th house and in Shelly's chart we find the Moon there: a fine dairy symbol.

Nocturnal, Aquatic, Musical

Sailing After retirement, Shelly habitually stayed up late into the night and slept during the day, almost opposite to the usual pattern. Many artists and creative people work this way, since they are more strongly connected to interior realms. In an environment near the Gulf of Mexico, where all was quiet, Shelly enjoyed the tropical stillness and resulting absence of "psychic noise".

He was highly attuned to the subtle dimensions. From an early age, he was able to leave his body and freely roam around in his astral vehicle. With his students, he occasionally shared stories of his experiences and encounters in the etheric planes of existence.

After first moving to Florida, Shelly and his first wife Marjorie lived on a house boat. After the birth of their daughter they moved to a home in Bradenton, near the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually he settled on Longboat Key, basically a large sand bar in the Gulf of Mexico.

Shelly was a fine musician. He was a talented keyboard player and kept several models of large electric organ in his home, which he repaired and maintained as a hobby.

Relocation to Los Angeles

Shelly Trimmer Horoscope Los Angeles

In his youth, Shelly moved to southern California for several years to study with his guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. When first in Los Angeles, he worked as a waiter and short order cook: natural lunar/Cancer/4th House jobs. Note that relocation to this area brought the planet Jupiter (Guru in Sanskrit) to the Ascendant and Uranus to the Zenith. At the same moment Shelly was born in Erie Pennsylvania, Jupiter had just risen over the horizon and Uranus was culminating in Los Angeles. If nothing else, this tidbit can help confirm the accuracy of the birth time and further interest us in the potential of relocation astrology.

Percy B Shelley ?

 Shelly Trimmer may have previously lived as the English poet Percy B Shelley (1792-1822), who also loved boating, had a keen interest in mysticism and scientific experimentation and had a striking gaze. He too, was widely known as just "Shelley".

Like Shelly Trimmer, Percy B Shelley was an unconventional thought-leader with a prominent influence of Uranus in his chart: see Meanderings 16.

The Horoscope of Goswami Kriyananda

Goswami KriyanandaGoswami Kriyananda (Melvin Leroy Higgins 1928-2015) was a guru in the Kriya Yoga tradition. He was a direct disciple of Shelly Trimmer, having lived and studied at Shelly's home in rural Minnesota from 1949 to the early 1950's.

Goswami Kriyananda founded the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago in 1969 and remained as spiritual preceptor and a director until his death in 2015.

Kriyananda did not disclose his horoscope data, but this date and time was pieced together from information given out over the years during his public talks and classes. He often shared fragments of information about his own chart, for purposes of instruction.

Goswami Kriyananda Horoscope

Educator, Writer, Lecturer

Goswami Kriyananda Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this nativity is the disposition of the planet Mercury. According to the principles of Essential Dignity, Kriyananda's Mercury is "fallen", weakened due to placement in the constellation Pisces, which can suggest problems with communication. Indeed, Kriyananda often related that he was very quiet and extremely shy in childhood, retreating into a world of books. He often suggested that he had lived as a cave Yogi in previous births and emerged from the cave in this life to share and teach. (Whether this was allegorical or factual was never clarified: a fine illustration of Mercury expressing itself through poetic Pisces.)

Taken alone, Mercury in Pisces is "in debility": this can silence a person, give speech impediments or render one inarticulate. Mercury expresses distinct facts, while Pisces blurs all distinction. In Kriyananda's case, we find a pattern that Hindu astrologers call Cancellation of Debility or Neechabhanga Raja Yoga. In a nutshell, when a debilitated planet is closely aspected by another planet that is exalted, the weakness of the fallen planet is said to be "cancelled", mitigated, even reversed. In Kriyananda's chart, Mercury is conjunct an exalted Venus and a Jupiter that is in its own sign. So the usual debility of Mercury is Pisces "cancelled" twice over !

It's not easy to predict the outcome of this combination. According to theory, people with this planetary yoga experience limitation and problems, while simultaneously demonstrating extraordinary gifts along Mercurial lines. If you have any doubts about these gifts, listen his inspirational talks, seminars or courses. Read his remarkably poetic and inspired translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

Goswami Kriyananda To suggest that Kriyananda was an avid reader would be a tremendous understatement. Indeed, he often described his fantasy of Heaven as an enormous library. Visitors to his Hyde Park home in Chicago saw books stacked floor to ceiling throughout the house. In his Kedzie Street office, wonderful editions were abundant and the Temple of Kriya Yoga book store was always stocked with compelling titles.

Another unique feature of the Mercury in this chart, is the closeness of its conjunction with the great benefic Jupiter, not only by longitude (the degree along the circle of the Zodiac) but by declination (its elevation above the ecliptic). This is called planetary occultation: two planets appear to be joined into a single dot. In his chart, Jupiter functions as both the major benefic and the 5th lord: a very positive influence. It functions even more powerfully when in its own sign Pisces. Jupiter is occult with Mercury, which greatly enlarges the function of Mercury. Any debility of Mercury in this chart is very much "cancelled".

If that weren't enough, at the time of Kriyananda's birth, Jupiter was moving at 99% of its possible forward speed. This makes Jupiter even stronger - and along with it, it's ability to mitigate the weakness of Mercury.

Another extraordinary individual born with this pattern - a Mercury/Jupiter occultation in Pisces with Jupiter moving at its maximum forward speed - was the renowned scholar Professor Joseph Campbell. How many people do you know who have this pattern ?

Temple Summer 1987Kriyananda did not have children of his own, but had many students and disciples. He lived simply and did not amass a personal fortune, but dedicated his life to the inspiration and edification of society.

Kriyananda founded his own educational institution, publishing company, yoga teacher training center and theological seminary. He performed baptisms, weddings, initiations and ordinations and taught courses on spiritual topics such as meditation, astral projection, astrology and Hatha Yoga. He authored a variety of inspirational books, including commentaries on mystical scriptures, astrology and inner development.

He gave thousands of horoscope consultations to people of all walks of life. He guided clients in their personal development and practical affairs: family and marriage relationships, finances, career direction, psychological growth, past-life influences, etc.

Kriyananda delivered weekly instruction and inspiration from a podium before large groups. He led spiritual retreats and was able to captivate and humor audiences for hours on end.

Seeker, Mystic, Guru

Goswami Kriyananda Both Sun and Moon are extremely well disposed in this chart: something rather unique. The 8th, 9th and 10th houses are also very powerful. Other individuals may have some of these influences, but finding them all in the same horoscope is uncommon.

When the 12th lord is exalted in the 8th house, and the 8th lord is exalted, and Jupiter is in its own sign in the 8th house, spiritual inclination is supported. When the these houses are prominent in a horoscope, the native is born with extraordinary spiritual potential, particularly along the lines of psychic and metaphysical investigation.

The 8th house is one of the 3 moksha houses (4,8,12) and deals with hidden knowledge. When strongly disposed in the chart of a seeker, it can indicate clairvoyance, clairaudience and other paranormal abilities. Kriyananda could see auras, read minds, perform healing and predict the future from an early age. As a young man he supplemented his income for a time at a hotel in Chicago, giving palm readings. Like Shelly, he could leave his body and travel around freely.

The 12th house, the principle Moksha house, is also very strong in his chart because it is Cancer and its lord the Moon is exalted, in an angular house. Were it not aspected by Saturn, the Moon and the house it rules would be "off the charts".

Kriyananda founded his own order of Swamis and Seminary, initiating many disciples and ordaining many priests. Spiritual orders, like the armed forces, are 12th house matters.

In Hindu astrology when the ruler of the 12th house is in the 10th house, this is called Dur Yoga (the "difficult combination"). It can bring changes or instability to one's career or job, which many find challenging and inconvenient. However, this combination can show the performance of many different jobs at the same time. Multiple occupations are also indicated when the ruler of the 10th house is conjunct several planets, as Venus is here. In its highest expression, Dur Yoga can indicate a spiritual calling. In this chart, the combination appears from both the Ascendant and the Moon.

Kriyananda had Jupiter conjunct Uranus. He told some students with this aspect that they could have been Babylonian priests in the past, since astrology was an important element in Babylonian religion. (We get our 7-day week from them, for example.) Kriyananda was a master astrologer and his presentation of Kriya Yoga, as learned from his teacher Shelly Trimmer, infused Astrology into every aspect of the spiritual path. A student once asked him "What is Kriya Yoga ?" and rather than answer, he simply handed the student a copy of Llewellyn George's classic astrology textbook A to Z Horoscope Delineator.

Leader, Manager, Entrepreneur

Goswami Kriyananda Kriyananda had Leo rising. Leos are often most comfortable in situations where they can shine and roar. For more on Leo rising, see Meanderings 5. In many ways his chart reveals a highly sensitive soul, yet clearly born to be in the public eye. Leos and those with a solar and Fire emphasis are often first among leaders and pioneers. For more on the Fire element, see Meanderings 12.

In Hindu astrology, the Sun is said to be strongest at 10 degrees of Aries, in the sidereal zodiac. Kriyananda's Sun is less than 2 degrees from this point. When the Sun is strong and the Sun is the chart lord (as it is for Leo rising) it is unlikely for the native to go through life unnoticed.

An exalted Moon in the 10th house of career symbolizes a destiny involving the public in general and women in particular. Before teaching full-time, he worked in the cosmetics industry. There, he met his first wife Joanne who became his most enthusiastic and hardest-working supporter. It was she who enabled him to teach and later grow his organization.

Rahu (the North Lunar Node) in the 10th house often shows people keenly interested in making a difference in the world. When Rahu is exalted, and its dispositor (Venus in this case) is exalted, the effect is... greatly magnified ! Seeing only this powerful Rahu at the birth of a child, any competent astrologer could safely predict leadership ability.

Property, Family, Partners

Fourth House

Kriyananda had no children of his own but helped raise a large set of younger siblings, mostly sisters. This gave him a profound understanding of female psychology, which he used throughout his lifetime of counseling.

His mother, a waitress, worked tirelessly to raise a large blended family.

Over the years, Kriyananda had some challenges with property maintenance. The shore of Lake Michigan enlarged to the point where his ashram had to be raised up and moved to a safe distance at considerable expense. The headquarters property in Chicago required regular repairs. Shortly after his death it was sold off and his long-time staff were let go. This occurred during the sub-period of his 4th house Saturn (see Vimshottari Dasha Highlights below.)

Seventh HouseKriyananda married twice. When the 9th lord (Mars in this case) is in the 7th house of marriage, the native can marry a partner who is spiritual, from a foreign land or religion, or who fulfills other 9th house indications like travel, higher education, publishing, etc. In this chart, the combination appears from both the Ascendant and the Moon. His first wife made it possible for him to travel to India. She later had her own store selling imported rugs. She was instrumental in his becoming a teacher. An original board member, she worked long hours to support and maintain the Temple of Kriya Yoga. His second wife Rebecca was a yogi and a widely celebrated fibre artist: her visionary paintings and illustrations adorn many of his books. In later years they lived abroad and travelled together around the world.

Vimshottari Dasha Highlights

Kriyananda DashasKriyananda met his guru Shelly in 1949, at the beginning of his Rahu Dasha. He had Rahu in 10th house of career, exalted in Taurus. This placement suggests the commencement of his life's true calling.

Kriyananda opened the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago in 1969, at the start of his Jupiter Dasha. During that time he made his first spiritual pilgrimage to India.

He died in 2015, under Mercury/Jupiter. Examining this combination in the chart of an older individual, an astrologer could foresee this period as critical, since both planets are located in the 8th house, Mercury is debilitated and Jupiter, while a natural benefic, functions as the 8th lord .


Kriyananda Mosaic The 8th house, when strong, denotes a strong life force. He had 3 benefics in Pisces, the 8th house, including ruler Jupiter. There is a 1st house/8th house exchange, since Neptune is in the 1st house and Jupiter is in the 8th. This can be seen in his tremendous work ethic. He often got by on reduced sleep while doing the work of many people in teaching, counseling, writing and managing.

Another consideration of Kriyananda's 8th house: it contains the rulers of several "auspicious" or favorable houses. Jupiter rules the 5th house of creativity and fulfillment, Venus rules the 10th house of career and Mercury rules the 2nd and 11th houses which relate to wealth and enterprise. Wherever so many favorable house rulers combine in a horoscope, talent and fortune follow.

For some, a prominent 8th house shows a gift for psychic prognostication. Over the years, Kriyananda's horoscope consultations provided a constant stream of revenue which helped support the Temple. His teacher Shelly Trimmer often mentioned that Kriyananda gave highly accurate readings, even when the chart was incorrectly calculated or the given birth time was inaccurate.

Kriyananda had 3 exalted planets (Sun,Moon,Venus) and 1 planet it its own sign (Jupiter). This is rather uncommon.

Kriyananda was born a few days before (and thus his horoscope is very similar to that of) Shirley Temple, the most famous child movie star of all time. The similarities and differences between the two charts are highly instructive. For a discussion of her horoscope, see Meanderings 1.

In Hindu astrology, the classical planet of highest degree is called the self-indicator or atmakaraka. In Kriyananda's chart, it's Jupiter at 27 degrees. According to some scholars, when the atmakaraka is found in Pisces in the 9th harmonic chart or navamsha (as it is in Kriyananda's navamsha), the native "attains spiritual emancipation".

Connections, Similarities, Differences

Kriyananda and Shelly

Other Teachers

Buddha Hall Interested in the horoscopes of other spiritual teachers ?

See these articles:

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