Nakshatras are rich in imagery and powerful in myth. Becoming familiar with the Lunar Mansions brings depth and focus to natal consultations. The Jyotish who understands a clients Moon in a particular Nakshatra, gains a great understanding of how a person feels and thinks. A vitally important quality for creating an atmosphere of safety and healing for the people who entrust their charts to us. Sharing these ancient stories and their symbols with clients is a powerful tool, helping them to connect with their own divinity and directing them on a path toward personal empowerment.
For the student, Nakshatras can be daunting area of study, especially the thought of memorizing them! After all, there are 27 modern Lunar Mansions each 13 degrees 20’ minutes and they have Myths, Deities, Symbols, Degrees, Rulers, Doshas, Elements and more to consider. Whew! Nakshatras are literally a lifetime of study in their own right. Students at ACVA are required to know the Nakshatras before they graduate. Several students have asked me how I learned them. My standard reply is “study a little everyday” but the truth is, in my experience, I have discovered a rhythm to learning them and the chart below is designed to demonstrate the technique:
As we memorize, its important to keep in mind a few key points:
1. There are three groups of nine Nakshatras which we shall refer to as Red, Black and White. Each group span four zodiac signs:
Red Lunar Mansions, Aries through Cancer complete. Fiery and rajastic in nature, bringing a beautiful sense of creativity and passion.
Black Lunar Mansions, Leo through Scorpio complete. Tamas in nature, a place of looking inward and thinking deeply.
White Lunar Mansions, Sagittarius through Pisces complete. Sattvic in nature releasing us from the bondage of materiality and connecting us to the divine.
“While the Nakshatra’s originated in ancient India, they are also used in the astrology of Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibet it is said that the first nine, the red mansions, are associated with Earth, the second set of nine or black mansions with the Underworld, and the third or white mansions with Heaven” -Kenneth Johnson author “Mansions Of the Moon”
The Lords rule three Nakshatras of which the degrees will be the same. Memorize degree with Lord and then Lord with Nakshatras; this will result in “instant recall”. Memorize using numbers. The Nakshatra will always reduce to the same number as its lord.
Referencing the chart above:
Ketu is number 1:
Ashwini = 1 Magha = 10 (or 1 + 0 = 1) Mula = 19 (or 1 +9 =10 reduce 1 + 0 = 1)
Venus is number 2:
Bharani = 2, P. Phalguni = 11 (1+1=2), P. Ashadha = 20 (2+0=2)
(These number and planet correspondences are not the same in Vedic Numerology)
In the process of memorizing, its helpful to learn one column at a time. For example, learn the order of the Lords first (same as the Vimshottari Dasha sequence), degrees second etc. As we are learning, its helpful to make a special “mental note” of the first Nakshatra and its zodiac sign in each group: Ashwini = Aries, Magha = Leo, Mula= Sagittarius. This technique can help us keep our bearings in case we begin to lose our way in all those Nakshatras!
Roeland de Looff and Martha Ijzerman have published a set of fantastic Nakshatra study cards. Wonderful flash cards, the classic images are black and white. Release your inner muse and color while meditating on a Nakshatra.
Effectively learning the Nakshatras requires daily exposure. Once the basics are committed to memory, its amazing how quickly we advance in our studies!
I hope these study tips help you organize your mind and prepare for your exams. Join me in our next article as we explore utilizing Nakshatras in chart reading.
Bibliography: The Nakshatras author Dennis Harness, PH.D. Mansions of the Moon author Kenneth Johnson The Hindu Lunar Zodiac Cards author Roeland de Looff , Illustrations Martha Ijzerman