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Caught in the Serpent of Time

Expect the unexpected, because as Bob Dylan sang back in the 1960’s, ‘the times they are-a- changin’. Only what’s happening now is perhaps an even more radical historical shift. Once this pandemic recedes, the world will emerge reconfigured—similar to what happened after each of the two world wars of the twentieth century, and similar to the cultural fallout of the 1960’s. We’re on the cusp of a new paradigm. 

One of the most mysterious astrological configurations known to Jyotish formed in the heavens at the New Year. Called the Kala Sarpa Yoga, it translates as the “Serpent of Time Yoga” (a yoga is a configuration of celestial bodies). Kala means time—one of the two most fundamental attributes of manifest reality, Eternal Spirit stretching itself out into temporal and spatial dimensions and setting the dance of duality in motion. Sarpa means serpent—suggesting both poison and wisdom, stealth and revelation, a shedding of skin that simultaneously induces excoriating pain and profound transformation. Right now, we’re caught in the Serpent of Time.

Technically, Kala Sarpa Yoga occurs when all seven planets fall on one side of the zodiac, held within the arc of the Nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu, according to precise degree placement. As mathematical points, Rahu and Ketu are always exactly 180° apart, their perfect opposition an expression of the dual forces that govern manifest reality. With one side of the zodiac empty and the other side inhabited by seven planets, a major imbalance occurs. Think about it. What happens when you sit on a see-saw and no one is sitting across from you? If that see-saw represents the zodiac, one half crashes to the ground and the other half rebounds skyward in free fall. 

The seven visible planets of Jyotish serve as anchors in physical reality of the subtle energy of Prakriti (Primal Matter or Shakti)—differentiated into the rays of creation like the colours of the rainbow or the notes of the musical scale. They embody the archetypal energy of psyche, both in its highest and lowest vibration. Rahu and Ketu function similarly. But with no physical bodies, they represent the hidden, erratic, extreme and unpredictable dimensions of mind. And so the imbalance created by Kala Sarpa Yoga triggers psychological destabilisation. For the world it indicates strange happenings.  

Whether from our human perspective we define its effect as positive or negative depends upon human criteria, which by definition is limited. From the divine perspective, nothing can be negative. Kala Sarpa in a birth chart indicates something unusual for the native. How the twists and turns of karma will unfold for that person requires careful analysis of all the variables of that horoscope. It’s not something I want to address here. But just to reassure you if you have a Kala Sarpa in your chart, unusual does not mean bad! And the greatest remedy for all challenges is knowledge. 

When Kala Sarpa forms in the heavens, as it has now, its effect upon the world at large needs to be assessed according to the other astrological configurations occurring concurrently. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and all the various alignments create complex threads of cause and effect continually weaving and unravelling into intricate patterns. Kala Sarpa Yoga contributes to that fabric with sudden seismic shifts. It unleashes storms and upheavals. Kala Sarpa means the “undulation of time”, time curving and sweeping in circuitous patterns. Just as a serpent slithering through underbrush, the effect of Kala Sarpa can remain hidden at first. But sooner or later its fanged tongue darts forth, releasing a venom that instantly destabilises the intrinsic harmony of its prey. 

The present Kala Sarpa Yoga is occurring against the backdrop of the Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction in Capricorn, which I’ve written about in other blogs. That conjunction formed in March of 2020, and Covid-19 is one of its tools. Though Jupiter leaves Capricorn in early April, he returns in the summer due to his retrograde pattern and won’t be entirely free of this conjunction with Saturn until the end of 2021. Meanwhile, Saturn remains in Capricorn—place of moveable earth where he is at home and strong—until January 2023 (except for a brief crossing into Aquarius in early summer 2022). The effect will be a restructuring of much we assumed to be stable back in 2019. Politics, economics, institutions public and private will have morphed into new forms. Over the course of this transformation indicated by the Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction, other celestial configurations serve as triggers to accelerate and colour the process. The Kala Sarpa Yoga is a significant one.  

The Kala Sarpa of 2021 is not the only one either! We can actually look forward to more Kala Sarpa Yogas forming in 2022 and 2023. When the two slow-moving planets, Saturn and Jupiter, reside on the same side of the zodiac a Kala Sarpa Yoga becomes possible. Conversely, when those two planets reside on opposite sides of the zodiac, a Kala Sarpa can never form. And so for many years in a row, balance characterises the celestial alignments and change occurs more slowly and harmoniously. We’re not in that phase now, my friend! The shake-ups have just begun. The storm planets have not finished with us yet.

This Kala Sarpa Yoga lasts until the end of March 2021—though intermittently. During this first quarter of 2021, the Moon breaks the Kala Sarpa every fortnight. Since Moon circles round the zodiac in a month, it will cross outside the axis formed by the Nodes and then two weeks later enter once again inside the axis that contains the other planets. This phenomenon obviously occurs with every Kala Sarpa Yoga, though it doesn’t necessarily indicate a return to stability. As Moon sojourns through the empty half of the zodiac, it remains for the most part isolated and unsupported—which is another indicator of instability. From the 8th until the 11th of February 2021, the Kala Sarpa takes on an extreme intensity, with a total of six planets residing together in Capricorn, impacting the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction with a confusion of conflicting energies. Not until a slower moving planet breaks the Kala Sarpa does the destabilising energy begin to dissipate. That happens when Mars crosses over Rahu in Taurus on March 26, 2021. But Mars conjunct Rahu forebodes another flavour of fireworks! 

It matters greatly in which signs Kala Sarpa Yoga falls. Ketu now resides in Scorpio and Rahu in Taurus, places where both of them are powerful and focused. As the natural Eighth House, Scorpio indicates secrecy, occult matters, death and transformation, Kundalini rising and black magic—all matters that resonate with Ketu’s otherworldly consciousness. As the natural Second House, Taurus indicates the materiality of basic resources, food, security and money—worldly concerns that give scope to Rahu’s greed. In terms of the body, Scorpio represents the private parts and Taurus the mouth. With Rahu, planet of compulsive behaviour and insatiable desire, activating the mouth, we have addiction and warped speech. With Ketu, planet of fantasy, transcendence and psychosis, activating the private parts, we have secrets revealed or secrets buried deeper. We have perversions and distortions disturbing the very generative core of nature. In the next few months, we could see some extraordinary contortions of lies, secrets and subterfuge—played out upon the world stage!

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. But something big is coming. The energy is too volatile, too unsettling. Violent outbursts, such as we’re already seen, will continue. Remain prudent, but do not worry. It’s precisely energy of this magnitude that provides the greatest opportunity for personal spiritual growth. A shake-up of the known world clears the slate for the new to emerge. The Nodes themselves indicate the way. They are shadow planets inhabiting the subtle realms—so elusive, slippery, ethereal, yet with the power to swallow the Sun. They are snakes shedding their skin.They indicate the Kundalini, also a serpent lying coiled at the base of the spine, with energy capable of blowing your head off. Rahu bites with his mouth and Ketu stings with his tail. But the pain they inflict is precisely the catalyst which makes possible the profound letting go necessary for ultimate liberation. 

It’s time to step up your spiritual practice. Meditation, mantra, asana, pranayama and prayer all serve to channel this volatile energy, to infuse the darkness with light.Your intention inspired by a heart on fire with bhakti matters more than a long list of techniques executed. You can cultivate that quality of heart with every breath, outside formal practice as well as in it—until you radiate all day long with a frequency of love for everyone and everything. No matter what’s going on in your personal life and what’s happening in the world, spiritual practice provides the best fortification not just for you personally, but also for the world. As you raise the frequency of your subtle body, that purified energy contributes to the leaven that uplifts the world. 

It doesn’t matter either that we don’t know what’s happening next. Your consciousness elevated suffuses the zeitgeist with light and harmony. Then it’s up to divine intelligence to channel it accordingly—the higher plan becoming clear to us only in the fullness of time. I know it’s challenging to live with so much uncertainty, but remaining in a place of unknowing can actually grant a unique spiritual boon. 

Incertitude itself is a spiritual gift. It opens our awareness to the frailty and limitation of our human sensibility. And so it makes it easier to let go and surrender, creating space for Ultimate Reality to fill our awareness. The treasure which is Sat-Chid-Ananda (Truth, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute) doesn’t share ground with our petty certainties. A vessel needs to be empty to receive. Whereas certitude roots us to the particular, incertitude opens us up to wide vistas of fantastical possibilities. It inspires us to hope and dream and trust. 

Om shanti 🙏