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Meanderings East and West

Exploring the Connection between Astrology and Yoga


Amen RaChurch ServiceThe custom of saying “Amen” at the end of each prayer hearkens back to the ancient Egyptians. In their language, Amen meant "the end" or "resting place". To the Egyptians, Ra was the first God, the creator, the ultimate symbolic force and his symbol was the Sun. Ra means light. Amen Ra denoted the place where the light rests: the West where the Sun sets. The end.

Amen Ra was the name given to the Divinity during the Age of Aries, when the Spring Equinox occurred in the constellation of the Ram, the exaltation sign of the Sun. See Meanderings 1 for more about the resting place of the zodiac.

Pope With MonstranceFrom the word Ra we get our modern words like "royal" and "regal" and names like Raymond and Raimundo. They come from the Latin Rex ("King"). The bright star at the heart of the constellation Leo is known as Regulus, the little king. In Sanskrit, the word for king is raja and the word for queen is rani.

One of the many Hindu names of the Sun God is Ravi, which means "the absorber". Splendid items are sometimes said to be ravishing. Lord Rama, whose name means “delight”, was prince of the Solar Dynasty. The Egyptians recorded the reigns of many kings named Raamases. Perhaps all of this is more than mere... coincidence !

In Indian Astrology, the Sun is said to be well-placed in Aries or Leo and when found in either the prominent angular houses (1,4,7,10) or the fortunate trinal houses (1,5,9). Its force is weakened in Libra and Aquarius, or when in houses such as 6,8 and 12. Individuals with a weak Sun tend towards low vitality, poor blood circulation, troubles with eyesight, low self-esteem and difficulties in finding direction in life. Traditionally, they are advised to perform remedial measures to strengthen the solar force in their auras – to take “Sun supplements” as it were, throughout their life.

Sun Salutation

Sun WorshipChrist Icon Among the many classical upayas, or astrological remedies, are such practices as wearing, eating, or donating gold-colored articles. Perhaps the most effective technique is the chanting of mantras in salutation or attunement to the Sun. As the Sun is such a primary archetypal symbol, it is no surprise that propitiation of the Sun is a universal spiritual endeavor.

Many elements of religious ceremony and ritual have their roots in "Sun Worship”. The early Christians did not originally gather on Sundays, but Church fathers soon saw the wisdom of moving the Sabbath to that day, to ensure enthusiastic attendance. The new converts were accustomed to worship on that day facing the Sun. They had to be instructed to turn around and face the altar, where the sacred icon portrayed a golden disk - above or behind the head of God.

Sun SalutationSun Worship In River GangesTraditional Brahmin males are required to salute the Sun and make a daily offering. Where possible, they bathe in a holy river at sunrise. Standing in the river, they face the rising Sun and recite the Gayatri Mantra. Doing so, they attune to the Divine as embodied in the Solar force and pray for spiritual illumination.

The river - like the Sun - is both actual and symbolic. Standing in the middle of the river, represents the state of Samadhi or Enlightenment, where the Yogi has balanced the forces of nature within and settled into the Sushumna Nadi: the balanced channel, the holy river within the astral spine. When we “gaze upon the Sun”, we lift our attunement upwards, towards the Source within, the ultimate “remedy”. The attunement therefore, is to the light without, as well as the light within. They are, after all, one in the same.

The term Gayatri denotes a particular type of poetic meter or rhythm - like the sonnet or limerick. There are many Gayatri mantras, addressed to different emanations of the Divine, just as there are many sonnets and limericks. The particular Gayatri recited by male Brahmins is the Savitri Gayatri, which calls upon Savitri, the Goddess of the Dawn.

Circling the Light

Planets Circling The SunKaabaMany religious ceremonies involve symbolic rotation around a light or fire, such as the oriental custom of circumambulation around a holy shrine. Perhaps this is a symbolic acting out of the rotation of the Earth and other bodies around the Sun. When devout Hindus say their prayers, part of the practice involves a slow spinning around in one’s place while standing. In Hindu weddings, the couple walks around the sacred fire four times, exchanging vows of duty and love, fidelity and respect.

This is not unlike the ritual performed by devout Muslims during their Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, when they circle the Holy Ka'ba Stone seven times. During an Orthodox Jewish wedding, the bride walks around the husband seven times, representing the seven revolutions that the earth made during the seven days of creation, indicating that marriage is a re-enactment of the creative process. What is this all about ?

Astrological tradition describes the 5th House and Leo as the domain of children, amusements and... romance. To that list, classical Indian texts have added temples, pilgrimages, worship and spiritual illumination. To the Yogi, this should come as no surprise, since the "roma" in romance is none other than Rama, the principle of delight, which is none other than Ra, the symbol of the Divine Light.

Leo Rising

Not surprisingly, many people born when the sidereal constellation Leo is rising, look like... Lions. Below we see Lauren Bacall, Neil Young, Marlene Dietrich, John F Kennedy Jr and Henry Ford.

Lion Face Lauren Bacall Neil Young Marlene Dietrich John F Kennedy Jr Henry Ford

The Sun is often prominent in the horoscopes of people are born at sunrise or noon. Planets are strengthened when placed in the angular houses (1,4,7,10) and the First and Tenth houses are the strongest angles. Planets are also strengthened by placement in the Fifth House, the Solar House.

Even people born at sunset have a strong Sun in their charts. A good example, are those with Leo rising and Sun in Aquarius. The Sun directly aspects the Ascendant, which is it's own sign, so we end up with two powerful Yogas or combinations. "The ruler of the First House, aspects the First House" and "The ruler of the first sign, aspects its own sign". Such natives are double Leos, as it were.

Leo Girl Individuals born at sunrise or mid-day, are like Leos in many ways, no matter what constellation the Sun is in. They will be dramatic, expressive and stand out among their peers. They are natural managers. They will tend to have a round and reddish face and a warm constitution.

While others are complaining about the heat and reaching for cool drinks, solar people will be surprisingly comfortable. "I like it warm", they say. Just as the Sun is the central figure in the Solar System, they are often at ease when the center of attention. Stage Fright is not their problem, for Leos are the natural born stars of the Zodiac: they rarely go unnoticed.

Leos often like to adorn themselves in splendid fashion: bright and cheerful is the norm. Just as the Lion has a great mane of hair, Leos often sport blonde hair, big hair (or long beard). They like gold, jewelry, beads, rings, necklaces and fashion accessories. Even Tee shirts with written messages on them, will draw attention. It's only natural for Leo types to express the dignity and radiance they feel within. Their favorite colors? Warm colors: Yellow, Red and Orange.

Leos tend towards buoyant health when the Sun is well placed in the chart, but it's important to keep in mind that the Sun is a mildly malefic influence by nature. Because it corresponds to the Heart and Blood Circulation in the body, Solar types can suffer from vascular problems with the Sun is poorly disposed. Fire, like all the symbolic elements, needs to be balanced: neither excess nor deficiency is welcome. Too much Fire can cause big problems.

Double Triple Leo: Robert Redford

Robert Redford RancherAccording to Astro Data Bank, Robert Redford is an "American actor, director, and environmental activist. Redford received an Academy Award for Best Director for his film "Ordinary People" in 1980 and appeared in films that include "All The President's Men," 1976, "The Way We Were," 1973, "The Sting," 1973, "The Great Gatsby," 1974, "The Natural," 1984, "Out of Africa," 1985, and "The Horse Whisperer," 1998. He first became well known for his signature role as "The Sundance Kid" in the classic film "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid," 1969."

In his chart, both Sun and Moon are in Leo. That makes him a double Leo. Because his rising sign is Pisces, we look to its ruler Neptune as lord of the chart. It too, is in Leo, which makes him a triple Leo. Chart ruler Neptune is conjunct the Mercury and Venus... in Leo. That's a lot of Leo !

Physical Beauty

In this horoscope, Pisces is rising and it ruler Neptune is conjoined by 3 benefics: the Moon, Venus and Mercury, all in Leo. The other ruler of Pisces is Jupiter and Robert Redford was born on a Jupiter station point (10% forward motion). When the first lord is strong, longevity and good health are promoted. The native is recognized by others.

robert redford Horoscope


Robert Redford FaceFrom Aquarius, Saturn opposes the large grouping of Leo planets. Ordinarily a strong Saturn would suggest someone who appears older than their years, possibly damaged, deformed or otherwise unattractive. In the chart of a Man, Saturn is more welcome since Mars - the male symbolic force - is naturally exalted in Capricorn. A strong Saturn can give a man a kind of chiseled and angular countenance which ages handsomely, like weathered stone.

Here we find Saturn in its own sign Aquarius, which changes things considerably. In their own sign, planets can flourish and easily share their sunny side. Because Saturn is aspected by the Moon, Venus and Mercury, these 3 benefics soften Saturn further. Actor Cary Grant had a strong influence of Saturn: considered remarkably attractive and elegant, he continued to play youthful romantic leads well into his older years... convincingly. The same is true of Robert Redford.

High Achiever

This chart contains Sun in Leo, Moon in Leo, Mercury in Leo, Neptune in Leo. In a caucasian, that can give red hair and freckles. It can also give substantial creative energy and talent.

When the North Node is in the 10th house, the native is driven to change the world. Rahu gives pronounced ambition and drive.

The same Saturn which contributes to Mr. Redford's good looks gives a further drive to accomplish but it balances the Leo potential for narcissism. Saturn bestows humility and the dedication required to spend long hours of hard work to reach the goals. When asked about his career, Robert Redford replied

"I've made some interesting movies, I've been very satisfied with the work, but if someone wrapped it all up and said to me 'What's your greatest achievement?'
I'd say, 'The children. They're the best thing in my life."

Not All Roses

This chart has 2 malefics (Mars and Pluto) in the 5th house, the house of children. While Leo corresponds to children in a general way (an emphasis in the Signs or constellation, the psychological emphasis) we look to the Houses to determine the physical karma of the individual.

Mars is fallen in Cancer, and Pluto is in the 5th house. His first child - a male (note both Pluto and Mars are masculine in their nature) - died at age 4 of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. His third child had serious health problems, requiring multiple surgeries culminating in a Liver transplant.


Robert Redford As The Sundance KidRobert Redford was also born on a Uranus station point: Uranus was moving retrograde in Aries at only 8% of its normal speed. Along with Saturn in its own sign Aquarius, this makes one an independent agent, an independent thinker. Many of his films portray the lives of those held down by the excesses of the wealthy and powerful. His characters often embody a classic American success story where ordinary people beat the odds through sheer self-determination. They succeed by discovering strength within.

According to the Astrologers Handbook by Sokian and Acker, Uranus in Aries gives people "whose mission it is to blaze new trails in science and social reform". Such a pattern can make one the champion of the downtrodden, a knight in shining armor, even if disguised in 21st century clothing.

The Sun, the Moon and chart lord Neptune are conjunct in the 6th house. This is the sign of a hard worker, one whose job and service to others (the 6th house) is creative, and one who finds fulfillment in serving others.

In Aquarius, chart lord Saturn brings not only personal ambition, but humanitarian orientation. In addition to acting and directing Hollywood films, Mr. Redford has contributed to many political and humanitarian causes including charities which promote medical research. He has launched artistic and commercial enterprises such as the Sundance Institute. Sundance: an appropriate choice for a person with so many symbols in Leo !

The Light of the Soul

Healing HandsLeos often have so much vitality that they pass it along to others, knowingly or not. Their simple presence can be healing. Strongly solar individuals heal others on a psychological level, through their self-confidence, positive attitude and charisma. Others look to them at times of desperation. They heal on a physical level with their strong Prana or Chi - their Life Force. Their inherent cheerfulness dispels gloom and stagnation wherever they go.

On the spiritual level the Solar Force expresses itself as Shakti or divine energy. Strongly solar individuals have a tangible magnetism, a presence that can be felt when they enter the room. To the degree that they have refined and balanced this energy, their Shakti will activate the various chakras of those around them and cause the inner spiritual currents to flow.

An important form of Hindu spiritual practice is simply to be in the presence of saints. Having Darshan literally means "gazing" or "seeing". Being in their presence, our energies become more balanced. Simply looking at holy people, one can be uplifted.

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