Change, Exchange, Extremes: the planets in December 2016

shadowChristmas is coming, the planets are not getting fat! Instead, for some of this month they are in the scissors yoga, papa-ketari, and other planets exchange signs and gather more strength. It is an interesting time of much energy accompanied by fatigue at times, along with steadiness and balance of Jupiter in Virgo. We look to Cassini’s extreme surface grazing and ring grazing as it orbits Saturn.


The Moon

Vedic Astrology examines the placement of the planets and constellations, and if all planets are between the two lunar nodes (Rahu and Ketu) then a yoga call Kaal-Sarp yoga is in effect. This has been the case for some time and Kaal Sarp yoga (time, snake) has only been broken by the transit of the Moon. Else, all planets are papa-ketari, sandwiched between the nodes, bringing a general feeling of tiredness and mental desuetude. This condition has different effects for everyone and has to do with a small diminution of the effulgence within. When this happens, the mind is affected, and the paths the mind follows is principally the path laid down in life through personal self discipline. Self discipline lays down what the esoteric light workers call “ski trails” in the mind, and the mind uses the deepest trails, even in times of weakness and diminution of inner effulgence. The moon (which represents the mind) was thankfully breaking this condition every two weeks. Mars will smash through the barrier day after Christmas; this however, will present further challenges for all.

December commences with the new Moon – in debilitation – in Scorpio in Jyestha nakshatra. Jyeshta (Jay’shta) means “elder sister”, a position of high esteem in ancient traditions. Achieving seniority, and acquiring authority, power, respect, and high status are Jyeshta’s interests. The moon very quickly moves through Mula as Venus transits to Capricorn. The Moon then moves beyond Ketu on 7 December, providing temporary relief from the Kaal-Sarp (time-snake) yoga. December 13 sees an exalted Full Moon in Taurus (Super Moon) a Super Moon is when the Moon is closest to the Earth (Perigee).

The Full Moon in Mrigashira nakshatra is aspected by Mars, Saturn, Sun and Jupiter. Jupiter provides some relief at 24:43 degrees. These aspects may be producing intrapsychic tension as there are drives to surge forward (Mars, fire), (Sun, fire) contained by Saturn (restriction, control) and Jupiter (balance, self-knowledge). Perhaps at such times of inner conflict we take the available energy and use it for peaceful activities, for the welfare of the world. Any such activity offered up for the welfare of the world will bring peace back to ourselves.

Saturday 17 December sees the Moon in its own sign in Pushya, which is symbolised by the cow’s udder, nuturance. Owned by Saturn (and being a Saturday) this may be the last chance to take time for ourselves and provide some self-nurturance before the advertising frenzy and all else that occupies us in the week before Christmas takes hold. The next day, the Moon moves into Ashlesha, and thereafter, the Kaal Sarp yoga – all planets located between the two nodes – takes over again.




1st Exchange: Saturn and Mars

The exchange between Saturn and Mars – which has been in place for some weeks – continues as Mars transits into Aquarius where Saturn is Lord, and Saturn remains in Scorpio, where Mars is Lord. Ketu, currently in Aquarius, is co-Lord of Aquarius and also has an exchange with Saturn. This will make Mars and Ketu co-Lord in a water sign, and Mars will aspect two Earth signs. Mars conjunct Ketu (giver of accidents) on Christmas Day makes it imperative to drive carefully and look before you leap. Many a spinal cord has failed to endure thoughtless leaps. No point spending Christmas in hospital bed. Mars then moves on and breaks the kaal-sarp yoga – the fortnightly see-saw of emotions and mental desuetude all have been enduring.

Saturn continues in Scorpio with Sun conjunction occurring around 10-12 December. This conjunction will occur at 24:46 degrees Scorpio and Jupiter is also transiting at 24 degrees in Virgo which will provide some small relief. The Saturn – Sun conjunction will bring a curb or restriction (Saturn) on behaviour that is secret, hidden, dangerous, playing with fire (Sun in Scorpio). Scorpio is a water sign, and in Vedanta, there is fire in water. Fire in the hidden depths of water may produce explosions affecting the dusty, dry, arid wastelands of human endeavour.

The Sun will then move past Saturn into the gandanta area between Scorpio and Sagittarius. Gandanta means “knot”. This is the most unstable of the 3 fragile transition points during the year where a planet changes sign from water-element to fire element sign – in this case from watery Scorpio into fiery Sagittarius. Saturn will also follow the Sun into this knotty area on 31 December.




2nd Exchange: Jupiter and Mercury

Mercury is in Sagittarius where Jupiter is Lord; Jupiter is in Virgo, where Mercury is Lord. This generates an exchange of lordships between Mercury and Jupiter. Mercury becomes temporary ruler of Sagittarius where it remains present until early February. Jupiter, vice-versa, temporary ruler of Virgo. (A good transit for Jupiter once it moves into Chitra nakashatra.) Mercury is retrograde over the holiday period, December 19th to January 8th. The good news is this is a ‘shortie’, a 20 day period where Mercury shifts back 16 degrees; quick for a retrograde planet. This means all the usual Christmas hassle with shopping and travelling, but not as severe as the full 24-day Mercury retrograde.

There are no negative aspects on either of Mercury nor Jupiter, and Jupiter is providing some relief during the month to other planets. In the meantime, Mercury flits with information and its spread. Jupiter is a guru, specifically guru of para vidya or higher learning, higher wisdom. The ability to discriminate and think more deeply and wisely and become involved in higher learning will be enhanced. In general this expands wisdom and discrimination for everyone and supports speaking, counselling, publishing, childhood education and philanthropy but the impact will be different for different people.




3rd Exchange: Rahu and Ketu and Nakshatras

Rahu and Ketu – the Lunar Nodes or shadow planets (for they cause shadows to be cast on the Sun and Moon) are perpetually travelling backwards in the astrology charts. That is their task, to uncover the past karma of the human, and to tip it out and bring that to fruition. Ketu is the karmic reservoir who holds the karma selected for this lifetime, and Rahu, the bucket tipped upside-down, the giver of karma. In addition to travelling backwards, they also traverse houses, signs and nakshatras. Both Rahu and Ketu own nakshatras, and as in the case of planets exchanging lordship (parivarthana or mutual reception), can also have nakshatras exchanging lordship.

Here, we have Rahu in Leo (Sun is Leo’s lord), in Magha nakshatra, which is owned by Ketu. We also have Ketu in Aquarius (Saturn is Lord of Aquarius) in Shatabisha nakshatra, which is owned by Rahu. Thus, the situation comes where there is an exchange of lordship, and Rahu becomes temporary lord of Magha nakshatra in Leo, and Ketu becomes temporary lord of Shatabisha in Aquarius. This also means that the nakshatras will have strong influence on the planets transiting, and cause planets to behave like the nakshatra lord. Ketu is normally withdrawn from the public sphere and with this exchange, intimations of materiality may be caught up in our inner spaces and we could very easily find ourselves in a mindless spending frenzy purchasing objects we really have no desire to own.

Ketu and Rahu both deal with past desires (and bring them to fruition) and present desires. The Lordship of the signs is an example. The Sun represents the King in Leo and Saturn represents the servants. While many say this is an archetypal struggle, where in fact, most mistake the mind as the master, the intellect is the servant and guides us along the right path. The King (Sun) may well do as he wishes, but Saturn (Truth) will be the best guide to action. Where one ignores the inner guidance, revolt happens:




Ketu is in the 11th House, the house of parliament, legislation, legislative assembly. The Sun will give support to Ketu in this sign, and hence, bring corruption out into the light. Lobby groups and protest groups will be incited and we can expect to see this continue until March 15th. Rahu, on the other hand, is in fifth house of stock exchange, investments, speculation. It is also the house of the morals and values of the oi poloi, and whereas the nakshatra trait of magha is tamasic, rajasic, rajasic, we may see the deep emotions – normally quiscient – get stirred up even further as Leo is a fire sign. Take care not to get caught up in toxic energy in the public domain and get trampled underfoot. We should be master of the mind and master of our own energy. If public protest is not something we normally do, then it is best to stay away.



 protest against corruption, Copabana Beach, Rio de Janerio

In Vedic Astrology the day begins with sunrise. Sunrise for 1 January 2017 presents an interesting scene. While Jupiter in Chitra (ruled by Mars) has dominance the strongest planet at Sunrise is Saturn. This could suggest a year of some form of necessity: mundane restriction: whether it is a form of water borne restriction or some ther kind of fundamental deep-seated challenge for all of humanity remains to be seen.



For more than a decade, the Cassini spacecraft has been exploring the system of Saturn, some 1.2 billion kilometres from Earth. As the first phase of its final descent begins, we look at what it has discovered about the ringed planet and its moons, and what happens next. Launched in October 1997, the seven-metre-long spacecraft has spent its time in the outer solar system measuring and observing the mysterious gas giant Saturn, its rings, and the moons that surround it.

On December 1 at 10:30am (AEDT), Cassini began a series of orbits that will bring it within 10,000 kilometres of the outer edge of Saturn’s main rings to observe them and a moon close by. That is the prelude to Cassini’s ‘grand finale’: a dramatic orbit beginning in April next year that takes the spacecraft high above Saturn, before plunging it between the planet and its innermost ring 22 times.

After that, it will kamikaze dive into Saturn’s upper atmosphere on September 15, 2017, collecting data before eventually breaking apart and ending the 20-year mission.



 This graphic shows the closest approaches of Cassini’s final two orbital phases. Ring-grazing orbits are shown in gray (at left); Grand Finale orbits are shown in blue. The orange line shows the spacecraft’s Sept. 2017 final plunge into Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Last week Cassini got a gravitational assist from Saturn’s big moon Titan which put the spacecraft on course to graze Saturn’s main outer rings over the next five months.

The new images beamed back to researchers on the ground show glimpses from high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, including the planet’s intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream that we recently discovered changes colours with the season.



 A collage of Saturn’s north polar hexagon as seen by Cassini on December 2nd, in (clockwise, from top left) violet, red, near-infrared, and infrared.
NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute




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