The Signs and the Doshas

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Vedic like Western astrology uses the twelve signs of the zodiac. However, in the Vedic system, the signs are a twelvefold division of the fixed stars, what is called a 'sidereal zodiac', not tropically based as is the case with the signs of western astrology based upon the equinoxes.16 The difference between the two systems, which coincided nearly two thousand years ago, is now around 24 degrees, with the point of the vernal equinox around 6 degrees of Pisces sidereally, moving backward toward the sign Aquarius.17 While those trained in western astrology may find this reorientation of signs to be confusing, it is not only more accurate astronomically, but is arguably the original form of astrology, which began with the observation of the fixed stars.18

The twelve signs of the zodiac from Aries to Pisces represent the fields in which the nine planets operate. They are an extension of the qualities of their ruling planets, for example, with Mars-ruled Aries having a strong Mars energy in its qualities. Like the planets, the signs also correspond to the elements.

• Fire Signs - Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

• Water Signs - Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

• Earth Signs - Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Fire signs usually endow a person with a good vitality, strong digestion, good circulation and excellent resistance to disease, owing to the ability of the fire element to both nourish the body and burn up pathogens.

Air signs afford a good development of the mind arid nervous system along with a good creative and expressive energy, but do not give good endurance and so the person can suffer from overwork or overexertion. They are also more prone to psychological problems.

Water signs provide a good development of the bodily tissues, which consist primarily of water, but have a tendency towards disease through excess water or weight, so their resistance to disease can be limited. They can be emotionally sensitive when afflicted.

Earth signs have the weakest potential in terms of health because they keep ones energy on a physical level and can increase entropy or the forces of decay, but they can also give athletic, healing or creative powers. Their range for both health and disease is the greatest of all the signs.

Air signs in general correspond with Vata dosha, relating to the mind, nervous system, communication and other Vata fields of activity. Fire signs correspond to Pitta, relating to the digestive system, circulatory system, perception and other Pitta fields. Water signs correspond with Kapha, relating to the bodily fluids, emotions and other Kapha fields. Earth signs represent the body and its structure, mainly Kapha fields, but more as a field in which the other three elemental forces can operate.

Some Vedic astrology texts relate Earth signs to Vata or the air humor. This is because earth signs relate to the physical body and keep our energy more at a physical level. They make disease more likely and disease is mainly caused by Vata, particularly the earth sign Virgo, the main sign relating to poor health. Earth signs are also more likely to cause depression in a person, which keeps our energy at a physical level and causes Vata to increase. In this regard, we could say that air signs represent the healthy side of Vata, while earth signs have a propensity towards the unhealthy side of Vata. Yet we must also remember that earth signs afford the greatest capacity for accomplishment in the physical realm as well and are commonly found among athletes, artists and performers, not just those suffering from health problems!

In addition to their correspondence to the elements, the signs relate to three qualities as moveable (cardinal in Western astrology), fixed, and dual or ambivalent (mutable in Western astrology). These qualities have doshic implications, though of a less consequential manner. Pitta dosha is usually moveable, cardinal (colorful), direct or deter mined, like fire which burns in a specific manner depending upon its fuel. Kapha is fixed or steady, like water that does not move unless acted upon by an external force. Vata as air is mutable or ambivalent. Sometimes it blows (moves quickly), sometimes it doesn't blow at all.19 The doshic impact of earth signs can be interpreted relative to these three qualities. Fixed earth, Taurus, has a more Kapha quality with the Moon, a watery planet exalted in Taurus. Mutable earth, Virgo, is related to Vata with Mercury, a Vata planet exalted in Virgo. Cardinal earth, Capricorn, though not as strongly, has some relationship to Pitta with Mars, a Pitta planet exalted in Capricorn.

Yet regardless of the qualities of the signs themselves, we must remember the general rule that the nature of the planets is more important than that of the signs. The planets represent the force, while the signs represent the field in which these forces operate. The force always tends to dominate its field of activity.

While the doshas of the planets and signs should be looked at together, greater weight should be given to the nature of the planets. Another important method is to look at the qualities of the sign according to those of its ruling planet.

• Aries, Leo and Scorpio are ruled by fiery planets Mars and the Sun and partake of the fiery (Pitta) nature of these planets.

• Taurus, Cancer, Libra, Sagittarius and Pisces are ruled by watery planets Venus, the Moon and Jupiter and partake of the watery (Kapha) nature of these planets.

Gemini, Virgo, Capricorn and Aquarius are ruled by airy planets Mercury and Saturn and partake of the airy (Vata) nature of these planets.

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