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Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
in "Here's Lookin' at You, Kid"

An astrologer needs to be able to see matters in a balanced way since every indication in a chart can have both a positive and a negative side. However, this becomes more difficult in those cases where appearances are deceiving. 

I recently came across a chart that dramatically illustrates this point. At first glance, the Moon in Penelope’s chart (not actress Penelope Cruz) looks heavily afflicted. There she sits in the 7th house nestled beside first rate malefics, Saturn and Rahu, and in the sign of her debilitation, Scorpio. But there is more to her Moon than meets the superficial eye. 

Penelope's Chart 

To only see these factors is to be taken in by her debilitated and smoky deception. This "femme fatale" is a double agent with many identities. Lift a veil, and you’re bound to encounter another. Do not be deceived. She’s not as notorious as she looks, and I plan to expose her little masquerade, and reveal the many positive potentials she seeks to hide.

Just for fun, picture a late 1930’s black and white film noir set. A stark room (more like a cell really) is dimly lit by a single naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Seated in the center of the room, head bowed, is the Moon, played by a young Lauren Bacall. Periodically, she looks up to glance furtively towards the door. Small beads of perspiration are beginning to form on her forehead. She shifts uncomfortably in the folding metal chair.

Into the room strides a no-nonsense Vedic astrologer played by Humphrey Bogart. In his hand is a well-thumbed copy of sage Parashara's classic text, Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. For a moment, they merely exchange looks, sizing each other up. Tension fills the room. Her lips curl in a half-smile, then stop short in something more like a sneer.

Moon:“So are you going to tell me I'm trash like all the other jyotishi's? Isn’t that how you guys always work? Well, I can save you the time, I already know I'm trash.”

Jyotishi:“I’ll ask the questions here, Miss." (Pausing with a sigh)“Look, we can do this the hard way, or we can do this the easy way. Cooperate, and nobody gets hurt. It’s up to you. I’m just looking for a few simple answers to a few simple questions.”

Moon:“Sure, why not? I’ve got nothing to hide.” (Mocking) “You gonna frisk me?”

Jyotishi: (Sharply) “Save it for the boys downtown. Now why don’t you start by telling me who you really are?”

Moon: (Bored) “Can’t you see for yourself? I’m a debilitated and badly afflicted Moon. Everyone can see that.”

Jyotishi: (Dryly) “Yeah, sure you are. But there’s a bit more to it than that, isn’t there?”

Moon: (Feigning surprise) “I don’t know what you mean. Why are you looking at me that way? I’m a fallen woman, and that’s all there is to it. You can’t hold me here like this just because I’m no good.”

Jyotishi: (Shaking his head) “I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but I’m afraid you leave me no choice.”

He begins to circle around her, arms clasped behind his back, an expression of thoughtfulness on his face. He suddenly wheels on her and says forcefully:

“Isn’t it true that you’re actually quite capable of bestowing favorable karmas in your dashas and antardashas!!?”

Moon: (Sardonically) “Yeah right, in my condition? Give it a rest. Everybody knows I’m garbage. No decent astrologer would even give me a second look.”

The Jyotishi calmly opens to a page in Parashara's text. A worried expression crosses her face.

Jyotishi:“That’s funny. It says here that the brighter you are the more benefic you become, and the way I see it, just a few days past fullness is pretty bright.”

Moon: (Flaring in anger, defiant) “So what if I’m bright! Lot’s of woman are bright! You’ve proved nothing! That doesn’t stop me from being a femme fatale! Just look at the creeps I’m hanging out with (Saturn and Rahu)(Smirks) If that’s all you got on me, the suits will have me out of here by sunset.”

Jyotishi: (Smiling, enjoying the game) “Yes, I’m sure they will. But if you don’t mind, just a few more questions.” (Now in a silky tone) “Tell me, Miss, does the name "Neecha Bhanga" mean anything to you?"

She gasps audibly, then tries desperately to cover her reaction.

Moon:“Neecha Bhanga? Neecha Bhanga? No…no…I’m quite sure I’ve haven’t heard that name before.” (Recovering her composure, and flashing an impudent smile) “Is he rich?”

He smiles at the bravado, and opens Parashara's text again, while she squirms uneasily in her chair.

Jyotishi:“Oh, but I think you do know him. I think you and Neecha Bhanga are intimately acquainted. But we can come back to that.” (Shifting abruptly, as if on to another topic) “Tell me Miss, aren’t you exalted in the sign Taurus?”

Moon: (Insolent)“Yeah, so?”

Jyotishi:“And doesn’t Venus rule Taurus?”

Moon:“What of it?”

Jyotishi:“And couldn’t Venus be said to be in a kendra from the lagna in this chart, being in the 1st house, and in the 7th house from your own position as well?” 

Moon: (Guarded, suspicious now) “I suppose, but what does any of this got to do with me?”

Not responding, he turns and begins to walk away from her, then suddenly spins and confronts her in a harsh tone, his face just inches from hers.

Jyotishi:“You’re lying, you little minx! You know perfectly well what it has to do with you! It cancels your debilitation twice over! It makes you much better than you seem! Now give up this little charade!"

Dropping her pretended ignorance, but with no less of a defiant attitude, she bolts from the chair, turning away from him.

Moon: (Venomously) ”All right, so maybe it does! But two little cancellations doesn’t make me Ms. Goodie-Two-Shoes, and you know it!”

Jyotishi: (Unperturbed) “Quite true, but shall we go on pretending that the mutual aspect between you and Venus doesn’t cancel your debility?”

She sags back into the chair, defeat momentarily registering on her features. But she recovers quickly, a challenging look returning to her eyes.

Moon:“Okay, so I’m not really that debilitated, but if you care to check your “bible” there, you’ll see that Parashara classifies me as a functional malefic for a Taurus lagna, and as a maraka because I'm in the 7th house. That still gives me beaucoup qualifications to play the villainess.”

Jyotishi: (Chiding tone) “Come now, must we persist in this little game? You know as well as I that Parashara also says that debilitated planets posited in, or ruling the 3rd house give raja-yoga in their periods and sub-periods if the lagna lord is in exaltation, or own sign, and aspects the lagna. Are you telling me that you failed to notice that this condition applies to this chart?”

Moon: (Looking more and more desperate) “Okay, okay, but what about those afflictions? You know I’m very impressionable. Are you going to tell me that hanging out with the likes of Saturn and Rahu improve a girl’s disposition? (Sarcastically) “In case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Rahu isn’t exactly putting his best foot forward either.(In its sign of debililitation, Scorpio)"

Jyotishi:“Point taken, doll-face. But aren’t you conveniently overlooking a few things about these associates of yours? They’re not quite the pure evil-doers your overactive imagination likes to portray them as, now are they?”

“Even a beginning Jyotishi knows that Saturn is the best planet for Taurus, becoming a first-rate yogakaraka for this lagna since it rules the best kendra and the best trine. And here Saturn additionally falls in an angle so that it’s fully capable of giving its promised raja-yoga effects. But I think you also realize that Saturn doesn’t fall in just any angle, but in the 7th house, where it gets dig bala, or directional strength.”

“And yes, Rahu is debilitated, but you know as well as I do that it gets cancelled three times for the same reasons that you do since its exaltation sign is also Taurus.”

“And what about the principle that the Moon's Nodes become yogakarakas themselves when they fall into an angle with the lord of a trine. We both know this Saturn and Rahu form a little thing called raja-yoga, baby-cakes, so you can stop with the phony-baloney."

“And speaking of raja-yogas, Saturn’s mutual aspects with Venus, the lagna lord gives another one (1-9), as does the mutual aspect with Mercury (5-10).”

“In fact, Venus conjunct Mercury in the 1st house is also a raja-yoga (1-5), and you are in mutual aspect with this combination as well.”

“So let’s see, that makes five raja-yoga combinations that you are connected with, in addition to the one you form as a debilitated 3rd lord. Now, are you still going to tell me that these associations are really so terrible after all?”

Moon: (Looking around, as if seeking to escape) “Hey, a malefic is a malefic, I don’t care how you dress’um up! You should know that!

Jyotishi:“Granted, cutie-pie, but how is it that you failed to mention that you receive the aspect of all three natural benefics as well? (Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter). And so well placed, with Venus in own sign, and Jupiter exalted”

“And then there is your dispositor, Mars, exalted in the best trine, and in an exchange with Saturn, the yogakaraka, giving yet another raja-yoga (9-7).”

Moon: (Burying her head in her hands, and bursting into hysterical tears) “Stop! Stop! I can’t take it any more. You’re right, I’m an imposter. I confess. I’ve been living a terrible, terrible lie.”

After a while her tears subside, and she leans back in the chair. (Looking relieved now) 

“I guess I always knew that someday, someone would come along who would see right through me and realize that I’m not really the tough-talking gangster-moll that I pretended to be.”

(Resigned, the-chip-on-the shoulder attitude completely gone now)

“So okay, I’ll admit it, I can bring good results in my dashas and antardashas. Is that what you wanted to hear me say?

Jyotishi:“It ain’t for me toots, it’s for all those new jyotishis out there who could be easily misled by a shady lady like you. And I think Penelope’s going to want to read a transcription of our conversation as well."

Moon:“So what happens now, you gonna throw the book at me?”

Jyotishi:“Negative. You’re free to walk, sugar. But if I hear you’re passing yourself off again as strictly a debilitated and afflicted planet, I’ll haul you in on those good-lookin’ games of yours faster than you can say karakamsha.”

Rising from the chair, she tosses her head and saunters to the door, her swagger returning a little. She pauses, her hand on the knob. Half turning, she gazes at him over her shoulder, a little misty-eyed:

Moon:"You know, you tell a lie long enough and you begin to believe it yourself. I guess I should thank you for forcing me to own up to my good side."

Jyotishi:“Forget it, doll-face, we all make mistakes.”

She turns again to leave, but half way through the door, stops and faces him again.

Moon: (Plaintively, her voice small) “Call a girl sometime?”

Jyotish: (Smiling broadly) “You dames are all alike! Sure, it’s a date. But lose the black leather. We both know it’s an act." 

They laugh together, as the camera fades out.

reprinted with permission