Problematic Planetary Alignments in April 2024

Summary: This article examines a number of problematic and inauspicious planetary alignments happening in April 2024 from the perspective of Vedic astrology. It covers the total solar eclipse occurring on 8 April 2024, the appearance of Comet Pons-Brooks, planetary war between Mars and Saturn and the retrograde combust Mercury with Gandanta Dosha.   It then applies the rules and principles of Jyotish astrology to analyse the potential impact of these astrological events in the Vedic horoscope. It also demonstrates how Jyotish forms an integral part of the wider Yogic / Vedic spiritual traditions and is intended as a resource for people studying this subject.

Introduction

This article serves three main purposes. Firstly, it highlights from the perspective of Vedic Astrology some potentially problematic planetary alignments which occur in the 2nd week of April 2024.

Secondly, it provides a resource for students of Jyotish astrology showing how its rules and principles can be applied to analyse these planetary arrangements in the Vedic Horoscope and make predictions.

Thirdly, it also demonstrates how Vedic astrology forms an integral part of the wider Yogic / Vedic spiritual tradition by including references to enlightened Masters and ancient Sanskrit texts.

Before we begin to analyse these events it is worth noting what one enlightened Master said about astrology:

‘The purpose of astrology is to take you to the ultimate truth that the entire universe is one organism. It’s one Being, one consciousness, one Self, that manifests itself into this varied universe’. [1]

Potentially Problematic Astrological Events in April 2024:

Vedic Horoscope of Total Solar Eclipse on 8 April 2024 - for Buffalo NY USA. Showing planetary positions with the eclipse occurring in the 8th House.

Vedic Horoscope of Total Solar Eclipse on 8 April 2024 – for Buffalo NY USA

As individual phenomena, these planetary arrangements would have caused some unease, even if they occurred over a period of several months. However, in early April 2024, there are a lot of significant astrological events compressed into just a week! Taken together, these closely spaced events have the potential to disturb the laws of nature and be much more problematic than a single alignment.

From the Vedic viewpoint, if the planetary energies in the ‘heavens’ are disturbed, then ‘Mother Nature’ is also disturbed – with consequences for us here on earth.

These astrological events will affect some people more than others (dependent on their individual birth-charts) and some countries more than others (dependent on their view of the eclipse).

The people of North America will feel the greatest impact as the long path of the total eclipse cuts the USA in two (many Western astrologers have already noted this symbolism)! In Jyotish, a visible eclipse is seen as an inauspicious ‘omen’.

An ‘omen’ is a signal from Mother Nature (or Divinity) which, if read correctly, enables us to be forewarned of certain future events.

Another negative omen is the possibility of a comet being visible during the 2nd week of April. This comet might also be seen during the total solar eclipse – which is visible in North America. 

Of course, Jyotish can only make predictions based on planetary alignments and omens, etc. What Jyotish cannot do is assess the collective consciousness of the people – or their collective karma either. A fully enlightened Master [2] from the Yogic Tradition would often say: ‘It is possible to avert the danger that has not yet arisen’. Therefore, if the collective consciousness of a country is strong, that which is predicted will simply not manifest! So, if ‘rain’ is forecast, but we are all under a ‘spiritual umbrella’, then the elements cannot touch us at all!

It is worth noting that collective consciousness can actually be raised by a greater percentage of the population regularly doing some form of meditation [3]. This practice alone results in more alignment with the ‘Laws of Nature’ and adherence to Dharma – the ‘path of righteousness’. Following Dharma means growing spiritually, observing non-violence (including not killing animals for food), increasing our levels of compassion for others, taking care of our ourselves and our environment, etc.

The above is not a moral judgement, but a fact based on the Vedic principles of Sanātana Dharma (the Eternal Truth). If we violate the ‘Laws of Nature’ we will at some stage (maybe even in a future incarnation) have to suffer the karmic consequences.

The big question that Jyotish cannot answer is simply this: ‘Is our current level of collective consciousness high enough to avert these potential dangers?’

If we are new to Jyotish we should not think that it only deals with the negative! A couple of years ago it clearly identified an extremely positive period – a great time to be born in fact!

Also it is very rare that any astrological event is considered 100%  negative, or indeed 100% positive, in Jyotish.  There always exist moderating and mitigating influences. These will be discussed in each section of this article where relevant.

We should also note the Jupiter – Uranus Conjunction on 20th April 2024: Although this will be of interest to Western astrologers, it is of no consequence to Vedic astrologers. This is because all the information we need for predictions is already contained within the ‘code’ presented by the arrangement of the 9 Grahas in the 12 signs and 27 Nakshatras. If we are a Western Astrologer reading this we might want to view the article: ‘Vedic Astrology – A Paradigm Shift’.

These astrological alignments and their potential impact, together with suggested remedial measures, are discussed in the following sections according to the rules of Jyotish.

[All the planetary data, signs, etc., mentioned in the analysis below refer to the sidereal zodiac used by Vedic astrology. The Ayanamsha used is that of Lahiri.]

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Potentially Adverse Astrological Events in Early April 2024

 

Total Solar Eclipse – Monday 8 April 2024

Total solar eclipses occur about once every 18 months or so. Most pass over the oceans and sparsely populated regions of our planet and subsequently have little impact. What makes this total solar eclipse special is its long path over a highly populated area of North America. One estimate suggests that around 30 million people in the US live in the line of totality.

The path starts in Mexico, continues in a north-east direction right through the USA and finishes in Canada. Major cities like Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo and Dallas will be in the eclipse’s line of totality. Much of North America will also experience a partial solar eclipse.

According to the rules of Jyotish, a total solar eclipse is a negative omen (Nimitta) and not at all good for both the people and the country in its path!

An eclipse is however, not so bad for people and countries where it is simply not ‘visible’ on the ground. Note: ‘visible’ in this context is independent of the level of cloud cover. If it is not visible, it is not an ‘omen’, although it still remains an astrological phenomena with certain consequences – as discussed below.

Jyotish would advise all of us, wherever we live in the world, against starting new projects, etc., during the time of the eclipse. This is not a good time to be born either (but there are even Vedic remedies for this possibility)!

Most Vedic astrologers would probably advise all clients (wherever they lived) to avoid beginning new projects for a few days before, on the day of, and after the eclipse.

Vedic astrology also recommends all of us should avoid starting any major project for a period of six months (after the eclipse date) when the Moon crosses the constellation or Nakshatra where the eclipse occurred. In this case it is Revati (last Nakshatra in Pisces). Professional Jyotish astrologers, when asked to determine a good Muhurtha [4] (a good time to start important projects, get married, etc), would have noted this Nakshatra and told clients to avoid it for 6 months.

It is also worth adding that we should avoid food for a few hours before, during and after the solar eclipse (if it is visible in our country). This is because, according to  Ayurveda, we need the ‘fire’ of Agni to digest food. When the Sun is eclipsed this energy is seriously reduced. Undigested food gives rise to toxins and an accumulation of toxins eventually leads to disease.

In ancient times people were advised not to look at eclipses, but instead do spiritual practices such as meditation, chanting of planetary mantras, etc. So, although not a good time for external activity, an eclipse is a great time to ‘go within’ and make good spiritual progress!

How long will these negative effects last? There are a range of opinions on this. Some astrologers even suggest the effects are felt 3 months prior to a total eclipse and 3 years after it [5] . [Opinion: I cannot see how they arrive at a period of 3 months prior to it. It would seem logical to consider the effects starting, at the very most, one month prior to the eclipse. This is because the Sun and Rahu could then be conjunct and in the same sign. Often it would be less than this. For the current Solar eclipse occurring on the 8 April, the Sun is conjunct Rahu (in Pisces) from the 14 March to 14 April 2024].

Other Vedic astrologers suggest the effects last until the next eclipse season – around 6 months away. Some astrologers, while accepting the above, propose the main influence lasts for a week before and a week after it.

Although we can say with confidence that this total eclipse is generally unfavourable, it is more difficult to predict the actual events and life-areas that will be affected. Jyotish therefore examines the signs of the zodiac (e.g. is it a fire sign, water sign, etc.) that contain the eclipse along with the nature of the constellations (Nakshatras) in which it occurs. This helps us determine more precise associations and possible impacts.

Vedic astrologers can even construct a Vedic Horoscope for the time totality occurs at a specific place and analyse this (for example to look at the divisional charts) to make finer detailed predictions. The chart shown above is for the city of Buffalo, NY USA at the start of totality. Note the Leo ascendant which places the eclipse in the 8th House (House of Transformation)! However, if we draw up the horoscope for the earlier totality in Dallas, USA, we find the ascendant is Cancer – thus placing the eclipse in the more auspicious 9th House. So, location and small differences in time (e.g. 40 minutes) can potentially influence outcomes.

As this eclipse occurs in Pisces (a water sign) then the water element becomes more closely linked with possible outcomes. So, astrologers could propose a higher possibility of marine events, excessive rainfall, floods, etc. happening. Pisces is also naturally the twelfth sign of the zodiac and the 12th is associated with loss. However, these predictions are more speculative than identification of a generally problematic period.

This solar eclipse occurs in Revati (the last of the 27 Nakshatras) which is seen as the Nakshatra that nurtures and fosters wealth, expansion, and vigour. How much should we read into this by association?  Some astrologers therefore suggest possible issues concerning prosperity, optimism and our own security. 

During the eclipse Venus  is in transit through Pisces (its exalted sign).  A planet in exaltation is strong and all of its natural associations come into focus in a positive way. It also benefits the sign and house it occupies. Will the presence of Venus help improve this period, or will the positive energy of Venus be seized by Rahu (also in Pisces)? [Opinion: Maybe a little of both?]

As this eclipse occurs around 25 degrees Pisces on 8 April, the Sun then moves into its sign of exaltation Aries on 14 April. Here it is no longer conjunct the malefic influence of Rahu (conjunct in Jyotish means occupying the same sidereal sign). This is good news – as the Sun then quickly recovers its strength there. In Jyotish, a strong planet produces good results.

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Comet 12P/Pons – Brooks Might be Visible Before, During and After Solar Eclipse

This comet is the real ‘wildcard’ in this planetary drama!

It can currently be seen through telescopes at the time of writing (mid-March 2024).

If it becomes visible to the naked eye then it constitutes an ‘omen’. Unfortunately, according to the Bṛhat-saṃhitā [6] the vast majority of comets represent inauspicious omens!

The key word here is ‘if’. Although the path of the comet can be predicted with astronomical precision (it is closest to the Sun on 21 April 2024), its exact visual appearance (head color, tail, etc.) and even brightness can’t be accurately predicted by astronomers [7].

A recent photograph of comet 12P / Pons-Brooks through a telescope shows it with a greenish head at the time of writing. So it almost certainly falls into the ‘inauspicious omen’ category.

If it turns out to be bright enough, it could even ‘photo-bomb’ the total eclipse [8]! Some people in North America would then see two inauspicious omens close together in the sky (assuming the comet was one of the negative omens – which it most probably is). Not good news at all!

However, if it can’t be seen by the naked eye it no longer constitutes an ‘omen’. In Jyotish, this means it no longer constitutes an astrological event either. So we can then completely ignore it from the point of view of predictions!

If visible, how long would the negative influences from this comet last? Various sources have different opinions on this. One commonly accepted opinion (again from the Bṛhat-saṃhitā) suggests the effects last for one month for each day the comet is visible to the unaided eye.

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Mars – Saturn Conjunction then Planetary War around 10 to 12 April 2024

A conjunction of these two planets happens very roughly every two years.

In Vedic astrology a conjunction of two or more planets occurs when they are in the same sign in the sidereal zodiac. This conjunction started around 15 March 2024 when Mars entered Aquarius (sidereal) and will finish around 22 April 2024 when Mars leaves it. (Note: Saturn will remain in Aquarius for much longer).

However, particularly intense effects occur when planets are within a degree or so of each other. This is called ‘planetary war’ (Graha Yuddha) in Jyotish. This happens around  10  – 12 April 2024, just after the total solar eclipse.

There are academic debates [9] about what exactly constitutes planetary war and even about determining which planet is the ‘winner’. However, as we are dealing with the two prime malefic planets in Vedic Astrology the outcome of this planetary war is highly unfavourable – whichever planet ‘wins’!

In Jyotish, Mars is associated with motivation, the military, violence, anger and aggression; Saturn with authority figures, old age, delays, restrictions, grief and adversity! How many (if any) of these associations are brought into focus during this period remains to be seen.

One positive factor to note here is that Saturn is in its own sign Aquarius. Here it is fairly strong and resilient. So, the natural indications of Saturn may not be quite so badly affected by this ‘planetary war’ (even if it loses).

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  Retrograde Combust Mercury with Gandanta Dosha – 12 April 2024

During the Solar eclipse on 8 April Mercury is both retrograde, combust and also experiencing Gandanta Dosha. This could be particularly challenging for all the affairs linked to Mercury.

The movements of Mercury during this unsettled period are a little complicated. Here are some approximate dates of interest:

    • 26 March – 2 April 2024: Mercury in Aries – forward motion
    • 2 April – 25 April  2024: Mercury retrograde
    • 8 April 2024: Solar eclipse in Pisces: Mercury is combust, retrograde and with Gandanta Dosha during the total solar eclipse
    • 9 April 2024 to 10 May 2024:  moving from Aries back into Pisces (its sign of debilitation)

Mercury Combust

It is not that unusual for Mercury and the Sun to be conjunct as its orbit is always within a maximum angle of 28 degrees away from the Sun (as viewed from the Earth).

Mercury becomes ‘combust’  when less than about 15 degrees or so away from the Sun. In this state it is seen as being weakened by the ‘intense heat or rays’ of the Sun. This is a frequent occurrence.

However, when it is within a degree or so of the Sun, it means Mercury becomes highly ‘combust’ indeed. This happens quite soon after the eclipse – around 12 April 2024. 

Unfortunately, Mercury has already moved back into Pisces by this date. So, it is further weakened by then being in its sign of debilitation.

As a consequence, all the affairs associated with Mercury, such as communication, business, investments and stock markets, etc., could be adversely affected. Some say that a retrograde Mercury makes matters worse [10].

Again, these are just possibilities highlighted by Vedic Astrology – showing us areas where we might need to exercise a bit more caution during these celestial events.

Mercury in Gandanta Dosha

In this case, Gandanta Dosha happens because Mercury transits between the last 3 degrees of the Water Element sign Pisces and the first 3 degrees of the Fire Element sign Aries [11].

Vedic astrologers regard this placement as problematic and suggest there will again be issues regarding Mercury’s significations.

Gandanta means ‘knot’ and represents some deep karmic knot – that may be quite ‘difficult to unravel’. It is noted for both transiting planets and planets positioned in this zone in the Vedic Horoscope of an individual. Astrologers suggest the energy can be complex and highly changeable during this time. Again, their key advice would be to avoid starting new projects in this period and spend time in self-reflection. Extra sessions of meditation (particularly mantra based Vedic  meditation) or chanting planetary mantras would be highly beneficial too.

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Possible Effects of Planetary Influences on Individuals

While the above discussions have looked at the overall influences of these planetary alignments on collective karma, the specific effects on individuals will very much depend on their own birth-charts. It is simply not the same for everybody!

For example, the Mars and Saturn transits of Aquarius (sidereal) will have very different effects according to a person’s ascendant. This is because the ascendant determines the house number these transits cross. So, for a Leo ascendant the transits will affect the 7th House (partnerships), but for a Capricorn ascendant the 2nd House (wealth).

If we take the solar eclipse, we would expect it to affect all things associated with the Sun; such as our body, health, general well-being, and all external things such as authority and government institutions. This would be in contrast to a lunar eclipse which we would expect to influence all things associated with the Moon; our mind, memory, happiness, emotions and all internal things. However, the magnitude of the eclipse effects will depend on the strength of our own charts, strength of our ascendant, etc. The returning karmic consequences will also be modified if we are currently experiencing a favourable, or unfavourable, Mahadasha.

A person with a strong birth-chart will also be more resilient and immune to these influences compared with someone with a weak chart (e.g. several debilitated planets in chart).

Similarly, the eclipse effects will depend on which house in an individual’s chart corresponds with Pisces (as solar eclipse occurs in Pisces) and the condition and strength of that house and any planets occupying it.

The respected Astrotalk website holds a similar view:

‘Moreover, for individuals – the astrological house in which the eclipse takes place will be affected up to 6 months.

If the eclipse falls around the same degree as a planet in the individual’s horoscope, then it affects that planet, and everything it represents in that person’s horoscope.

Besides, when the eclipse falls on the individual’s Natal Sun, Moon, Ascendant, or ruler of the Ascendant, then it will severely affect that person’.

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Remedies to Help Balance Planetary Energies – Planetary Mantras

While it is good to meditate or chant mantras every day, it is especially important during an eclipse. This helps create harmony and balances the planetary energies affecting ourselves and our environment.

An easy option would be to chant something like:

‘Auṁ Namaḥ Śivāya’ (Om Namah Shivaya)

This simple mantra is very powerful at removing negativity. Chanting this for even 5 to 10 minutes a day brings huge benefits. There are lots of videos on YouTube giving the correct pronunciation of this mantra in chant format.

An eminent Swami (from the Art of Living Foundation – India) suggests a mantra that ‘takes care’ of the energies from all the nine planets and creates harmony between them. This will modify our returning karma in a positive way. Although we can chant this at any time, it is particularly useful to minimise the negativity associated with the eclipse:

adityaaya cha somaaya mangalaaya budhaaya cha |

guru shukra shanibhyash cha raahave ketave namaha ||

It is surprisingly easy to learn by repetition, and there is a good version and explanation on YouTube: ‘Mantra to balance effects of the Nine Planets (Navagrahas); By Swami Purnachaitanya’

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Footnotes

[1] Sri Sri Ravi Shankar , (May 2003), ‘Daily Sutra’ – Art of Living NGO

[2] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was an enlightened Master who brought the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique to the West. He was himself a disciple of the illustrious Swami Brahmananda Saraswati – who was Shankaracharya of the Jyothi Math Monastery in India.

[3] There is a well documented sociological phenomenon called the ‘Maharishi effect’. It happens when a large group of advanced meditators practice together. By doing this they create peace, harmony and coherence in the surrounding environment. This produces measurable drops in the crime rate, etc

[4] As stated by B.V. Raman, (1993) in Muhurtha: (Electional Astrology) – Chapter V, Point No. 16 : ‘The constellations in which the eclipses appear should be avoided, and in regard to marriage, such a constellation should be avoided for 6 months’. He calls this a ‘Graha Nothpatha Dosha’.

[5] ‘Although the eclipse energy mostly prevails for a week before, or after the eclipse, the influence on events continues much longer, that is, up to 3 months in advance, and also 3 years later. Astrologers advise shunning about 3 days on either side of the eclipse …. for starting any new project’. Quoted from the ‘Ganeshaspeaks’ website. Perhaps this  period of 3 years is a reference adapted from  Varāhamihira who says: ‘the effects for  solar eclipse last for as many years as the eclipse is hours in duration’ – and an average solar eclipse from start to finish can be up to a  few hours (including the partial phase)?

[6] The Bṛhat Saṃhitā is an encyclopedic Sanskrit text written by the well regarded Sage Varāhamihira in the 6th century. Chapter 11 (of English translation) covers details of comets – which were viewed as omens. The vast majority of comets, according to Varāhamihira, bring problems and suffering.

In addition to his own extensive knowledge of astronomy and astrology, the Sage also collated work from other authors. So the Bṛhat Saṃhitā doesn’t have quite the same connection with ‘Source’ as the main recognised text on Jyotish – the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra (which involved direct cognition by Maharishi Parashara).

Anyone reading Bṛhat Saṃhitā should be aware that comets are referred to as Ketus in the text – because of their tails. However, these should not be confused with the graha ‘Ketu’ (south node of the Moon).

[7]  The comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is estimated to reach visual magnitude around 4.5 (brightest stars have magnitude 1 and the dimmest we can see are magnitude 6), so it should just be visible in a dark sky with the naked eye.

[8]  If visible it will be on the side of the Sun close to Jupiter – with Venus on the opposite side of the Sun. During a total eclipse the sky is not fully dark due to the light from the Sun’s corona – so the comet could be on the limit of what we can see unaided.

[9]  An in-depth discussion about the technicalities and controversies surrounding ‘planetary war’ can be found on the ‘lightonvedicastrology’ website.

[10]  Quote from a stock market research website: ‘For example, a study by the University of California, Berkeley found that the stock market tends to under-perform during Mercury retrogrades. The study found that the S&P 500 index lost an average of 1.5% during Mercury retrogrades, compared to an average gain of 0.7% during other periods’.

[11] Technically when a planet occupies anywhere from the start of the last Pada of Revati Nakshatra (from 26 deg 40 mins Pisces) to the end of the first Pada in Ashwini  Nakshatra (to 3 deg 20 mins in Aries)

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Article Published: 21 March 2024


Additional Information on Vedic Astrology

Introduction to Jyotish. A range of articles for people entirely new to Vedic Astrology. Including: Introduction, FAQs, Origins and Karmic Implications.

Key Concepts in Jyotish. Articles covering the Sidereal Zodiac, Planetary Forces, Forecasting Analogies and ‘Planetary Antidotes’.

For Western Astrologers. Articles examining major differences between the two systems and the paradigm shift needed by Western Astrologers wanting to understand the subject.

Learn Jyotish. An extensive collection of articles covering key facts, concepts and methods. Aimed at ‘foundation level’ students. Includes essential information needed before beginning chart interpretations. Covering: Chart Formats, Planets, Houses, Mahadasha Periods, Transits, Aspects, Birth-time Errors, Natural and Functional Benefics / Malefics, Chart Interpretation Basics, etc.