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From Equinox to Equinox: March 2024

By Marianne Jacuzzi, M.A., E-RYT 500, Jyotish Visharada, Jyotish Kovid, Jyotish Brihaspati   

Springtime inspires hope. Everywhere Nature is renewing herself, awakening from the torpor of winter. In Ireland, where I lived for over 30 years, darkness begins to lift in late January, when the first few flowers appear, tiny white blossoms called “snowdrops”. Crocuses open a few weeks later, splashes of yellow and purple blooms nestled low under trees, for safety—because usually the next heavy rain will obliterate them. By the time the spring equinox comes round, daffodils, primroses and early tulips are in their glory. The patterns of nature follow predictable cycles, as do the planets and stars we observe in Jyotish. 

As the centre of our solar system, Surya, the Sun, governs these cycles of the natural world. His light, his effulgence, generates prana, which infuses every living creature, propelling it onwards towards its karmic destiny. Vibrating at his highest frequency, Surya is the Atman, Ultimate Reality understood as the core of our Being. And so rightly he rules the zodiac as King. But the Queen, who is Chandra, the Moon, also exerts enormous power over natural cycles. She rules watery things, the tides, the lymphatic system, menstrual cycles, and prana as it manifests through fluid in plants. Roots deepen into earth when she is waning, and when she is waxing, stems, leaves and blossoms flourish. Though more varied than the Sun, her cycles also follow observable patterns. 


The cycles of the stars and other planets are more subtle, in that we don’t observe their impact upon the natural world so tangibly, but they are just as powerful, maybe more so, especially those of long duration. The yugas, for instance, precipitate dramatic change, but because they’re so long, we don’t observe their cyclical quality. According to the classical calculation of yugas, Kali Yuga, where we are now, continues for a total of  432,000 years. In Sri Yukteswar’s more contracted theory of the yugas based upon the precession of the equinoxes, a complete cycle lasts around 26,000 years. In that system, it takes 72 years for the position of the vernal equinox to move just one degree, an imperceptible change from our human vantage point. Throughout most of human history the Biblical proclamation of “three score years and ten”, in other words seventy, was indeed a full life for the average person, who looking up at the sky saw the planets moving against a backdrop of stars that never seemed to change. And so they were called the “fixed stars”, even though they, along with everything manifest, were moving through a cycle. 

These vast cycles set parameters, within which much change can occur, but always defined by the quality of the cycles running. In Sri Yukteswar’s calculation of precession cycles, we’re in the ascending Dwapada phase, an age characterised by scientific advancement, technology and a progressive, materialistic spirit. Though spiritual consciousness begins to awaken for some, for society as a whole, widespread discontent, anger, enmity, untruth, delusion, greed and fear diminish its impact. According to the relatively shorter cycles of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, we’re presently in the Earth phase. Approximately every twenty years, Saturn and Jupiter form conjunctions, and for several centuries, those conjunctions occur in signs of the same element, except for a few anomalies at the transition points between elements. Earth promotes materialism, technology, security, corporate structures and institutions, secularism and business, including agriculture and mineral resources exploited for profit. 


As 2024 begins, it’s fruitful to recall the Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction of 2020, because it inaugurated a major shift, a turning-point in history, which will come into clarity better with a bit of distance. It was a triple-conjunction occurring at the winter solstice, so extra powerful. The previous triple-conjunction in earth occurred in Virgo in 1980-81, inaugurating the Information Age, the proliferation of digital technology, which revolutionised communications, education, banking and just about everything else. The 2020 Conjunction gains even more significance through its placement along the cycle of conjunctions occurring in Earth signs. Deep in Earth, it occurs midway in the Earth period proper, which began in 1960 and continues to 2080. Earth themes dominate the zeitgeist most powerfully now, and will for decades to come. 

A new age began in 2020, and though it has yet to be defined, most everyone understands that 2020 marked a turning point. There was BC time (i.e. before covid) and there is now, a time marked by astonishing (and often bewildering) advances in technology, worrisome encroachments upon personal liberty, and horrific violence. The daily news is dire: war, poverty, climate crisis, inflation, shortages, social division manifesting both as a wealth divide and an ideological divide, particularly in the USA, where each side believes that evil people from the other camp are creating all the problems. National alliances have formed around the war in Ukraine as well as in the Middle East. Not since the Cold War has the threat of World War III been so imminent, and so real. Is it any wonder then, that these days the average person lacks hope for the state of the world? 

As the eye of the Vedas, Jyotish can see beyond the surfaces. In the fullness of time, Satya Yuga, the Age of Truth, will come again—just as surely as bluebells follow daffodils in an Irish spring.  And though these bodies we’re now inhabiting will be long gone for eons, the Divine Ground of Being, our unchangeable essence, will always be no matter the yuga, because It is eternal. It is Brahman, the Absolute.  Eternal also are the cycles. That is why sadhana is the best remedy for any distressing karma. It lifts us out of attachment to things ephemeral, and so not only mitigates the present sorrow, but opens our awareness to that transcendent realm beyond the duality of pain and pleasure, which things ephemeral will continually trigger. 


With all this in mind, we turn to the defining astrological event for the year ahead: A total solar eclipse, which occurs on Monday, 8 April at 19:21 GMT at 25° in the sign of Pisces, nakshatra of Revati. The whole event will last about two and a half hours; but significantly, the phase of total eclipse will be four and a half minutes, nearly double what was considered the Great Eclipse in 2017. Interestingly, during the eclipse, a comet, called Pons-Brooks will come near the eclipsed sun, about 25° away, close to Jupiter in Aries. Classically, comets have been harbingers of change. 

As the New Moon in Pisces during the month of Chaitra, this solar eclipse marks the Indian New Year. The chart figured for that New Moon, called Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, indicates trends for the year ahead. In other words, the powerful indications of this solar eclipse forecast themes for the entire year. The Chaitra Shukla Pratipada (CSP) chart can be calculated for different locations, which will obviously give different ascendents and divisional charts, and so karma unique to different nations can be studied. But the basic planetary configuration itself applies to the whole world. Sunrise occurs in Pratipada, which is the first tithi (i.e. lunar day), on the following calendar day for this London CSP chart. And so Mars, whose day is Tuesday, becomes Lord of the year. 

In fact, Mars figures very powerfully for 2024 in other ways also. Having just left Capricorn on March 15th, his sign of exaltation, he forms a very tight conjunction with Saturn precisely at the time of the eclipse. Both intense malefic forces, Saturn and Mars clash when their discordant natures influence each other. Mars exerts a fiery aggressive energy, whereas Saturn restrains and contracts with a slow, deliberate, calculated coolness. Though in certain charts both can function positively, their conjunction usually indicates conflict, both internal conflict that disturbs mental equilibrium as well as conflict with others. Both can be ruthless, each in his own style. Their conjunction coinciding with the solar eclipse does not bode well for the world. It only takes triggers to the charts of certain powerful individuals for wars to escalate or new wars to break out. 

If not more war (let’s hope), this spring and summer could see some major upheavals in the world order, with entire systems dismantled and reconstructed. In transit, Mars will conjunct Rahu on May 18th, the Node obsessed with material realisation. A disruptive force dissatisfied with convention and intoxicated with desire, Rahu adds revolutionary spirit to the fiery aggression of Mars. These potent malefics in synergy portend something volatile. Then on May 26th, Mars will cross over 25° Pisces, the degree of the solar eclipse. The eclipse degree functions as a hot spot, its effects reactivated as planets transit over it, with the after effects lasting for a couple of months, and even occurring to a lesser extent in anticipation of the event. It’s notable that the annular solar eclipse in October 2023 occurred at 26° Virgo, right opposite this one, so 25° Pisces was already hot! 

The eclipse occurs in the nakshatra (lunar constellation) of Revati, the last nakshatra in the last sign of the zodiac, so twelfth house themes of death, loss and transformation become prominent. Mercury retrograde in the first minutes of Aries is approaching close to the eclipse degree, as well as entering soon his sign of debilitation, Pisces. To arrive, he will cross the gandanta bridge between Aries and Pisces, adding confluence to the volatility already coming with this solar eclipse. This year once again gandanta becomes a prominent feature, with a heightening of confusion and risk for worldly matters, yet with spiritual momentum for those tuned to the potential inherent in formlessness. Gandanta is a precarious gap that opens three times round the zodiac, where one third of the twelve signs (corresponding to the four elements) and one third of the twenty-seven nakshatras  (corresponding to the nine grahas who rule them) culminate at the same point. Mercury retrogrades each time this year over the gandanta degrees. His gandanta crossing in April appears more dangerous than the one In August, which occurs over the Cancer-Leo gandanta under more benign conditions generally. 

Pushan the nurturer serves as the deity for Revati, which carries the Shakti of nourishment. As a caretaker of animals, Pushan protects the cattle of the gods and generally looks after everyone in transition, travellers as well as migrants of all types, lost souls, displaced populations, nomads and herds of animals. His husbandry secures prosperity, security, and nourishment for the Three Worlds—according to their differing needs. In his spiritual capacity, Pushan serves as shepherd leading souls from life to after life to rebirth. In that sense, his role is fundamental to the cosmic order. Any or all of these matters could be hurt from this eclipse. Since food shortages are already a problem in certain parts of the world, they could worsen, exacerbating hunger and poverty. Nourishment in the broadest sense will be hurt, both literal in the form of physical sustenance and metaphoric in terms of the wholesome emotional, mental and sensorial food the soul needs to flourish.  

With all grahas except Ketu occupying three signs in the CSP chart, Shula Yoga forms, which indicates the tendency to strike out aggressively. “Shula” refers to a kind of sharp weapon, like a dart, lance or spear. It recalls the pointed tip of Lord Shiva’s trident, a weapon used to kill demons, which symbolises as well creation, preservation and destruction. With the three signs all adjacent to each other, the chart forms a particular symmetry, significant as a kind of omen. Four grahas in watery Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, are flanked on either side by two planets each: Mercury and Jupiter in fiery Aries and Saturn and Mars in airy Aquarius. Saturn aspects Mercury and Jupiter by graha dristi, and all four grahas aspect each other by rashi dristi. These aspects bind the energy of those grahas into a kind of knot, a tight ball or pressure cooker round the four in Pisces. It signifies condensed matter contracted and ready to explode. The whole compressed configuration falls directly opposite Ketu, who is alone in Virgo, in the nakshatra of Hasta. 


Ketu in Virgo and Rahu in Pisces are in reverse position, residing in signs not harmonious with their natures. Ketu has an affinity for ethereal, otherworldly Pisces, whereas Rahu has an affinity for the discernment and acuity of Virgo. For all of 2024, this disconnect will exacerbate their tendency as Nodes to create shadow and confusion, sudden change, storms, otherworldly insight, as well as delusion. Virgo is a sign of order, where earth is refined and selected for optimal purpose. Ketu in that realm brings chaos. His nakshatra placement adds confluence to potential breakdowns resulting from minds unhinged from reality. Savitar the Sun deity rules Hasta. When he is eclipsed, shadows obscure truth. The clarity, righteousness and cosmic harmony Savitar represents become blurred.

Pisces is a subtle place of diffusive, expanded consciousness. Rahu brings to it momentum. For certain charts (and when intention is directed to purity) this transit could enhance deeper sadhana. But for other charts, the obsessive desire and material focus of Rahu could lead to darker practices—things like black magic and criminality. For the world, these clashing energies will create more distortion and delusion. With Mercury retrograde moving into debilitation in Pisces and reaching the eclipse degree on 16 April, volatility in matters of business, finance and communication are likely, with lots of uncertainty about what’s coming next. Since this is devotional Pisces, religious organisations may also experience upheavals. 


Since during late March, April and May, the solar eclipse degree gets triggered by numerous planets crossing over it, you can except turbulence during this period. It will manifest in private lives according to the particulars of individual charts; and in the world, it will create upheaval, instability, and potential disasters. The specific planet in transit becomes empowered with the aftershocks of the eclipse then targets his effect—usually something startling and sudden—according to his intrinsic nature. The complete list of transits is as follows below. Notice that Mercury, because of his retrograde cycle, crosses that degree point three times. Communications, judgement, calculations and discernment will most certainly be hurt. 

21 March- Mercury at 25° Pisces

16 April – Mercury Retrograde at 25° Pisces

20-21 April – Venus at 25° Pisces 

5 May – Mercury at 25° Pisces 

26 May – Mars at 25° Pisces

However, the universe never denies us a hidden jewel somewhere. Venus transits Pisces, his sign of exaltation, from 31 March until 24 April. His benefic influence will serve as a mitigating factor for all the confusion and potential for violence otherwise indicated. Though combust for part of that time and so weak for his usual gifts of luxury and sensory pleasure, his higher spiritual qualities will be enhanced by his proximity to the sattvic light of the Sun. Worshipping Lakshmi (or whatever form of the Goddess you resonate with most profoundly) can only help for a smooth passage through this rocky period around the eclipse. Benefits will flow not just to you personally, but outwards to your larger circle as well as—potentially—to the entire world. Never underestimate the power of devotion to the Divine. 

On a very positive note for many, Jupiter moves into Taurus on 2 May, a real highlight for 2024.  As the greatest benefic, Jupiter’s brilliant light is purely sattvic. He supports higher knowledge, justice, truth, brotherhood, generosity, optimism and expansion. In the fixed earth sign of Taurus, he brings abundance and prosperity, a welcome relief countering the challenges otherwise indicated. His movement into Taurus coincides with the growing season, light increasing, flowers blossoming, vegetation lush and plentiful. Agriculture could benefit from this transit, as well as everything to do with abundance and material comfort. Then on May 19th, Venus enters Taurus, his own sign, so coming into strength and forming a conjunction with Jupiter. The two brahmins of the zodiac coming together augments the auspiciousness, a lovely prospect for most of May and June. This glorious energy reaches a crescendo on May 23rd, when Jupiter and Venus in Taurus form an exact conjunction opposite a beautiful Full Moon in the deva nakshatra of Anuradha. The spiritual rather than material gifts of Jupiter and Venus will manifest prominently, since both grahas are combust the Sun. 

Though on June 13th Venus leaves Taurus, on that same day Jupiter moves from Krittika into Rohini, the Moon’s favourite nakshatra, a very auspicious place for laying foundations of all kinds. Rohini supports agriculture, planting trees, building homes, everything to do with permanence and structure. Its Shakti is the power of growth and its deity is Brahma or Prajapati, the creator. Jupiter in Rohini will promote creativity, art, music and dance as well as passion and desire. May and June appear to be the sweetest months ahead, particularly late May and early June, with some very auspicious energy aligning with the expansive light of early summer. Though by all means enjoy yourself, indulge in some pampering to treat your senses, but do so with a degree of prudence. Challenging karma remains a backdrop throughout 2024, even as sublime alignments will form against it.   

With nothing ever clearly black or white, even June embodies these opposing influences. On 1 June Mars transits into Aries, where he remains until 13 July.  Once again Mars comes into great strength, entering his own sign of chara fire shortly after crossing over the eclipse degree of 25° Pisces. Throughout his sojourn in Aries, he receives a strong aspect from Saturn. Though not as dangerous as the Saturn-Mars conjunction that occurs with the solar eclipse, this aspect will augment the potential for conflict once again. Even though Saturn exerts a restraining energy, he also irritates and agitates Mars, who can be quite explosive, particularly in the hot impulsive medium of Aries. Then on 1 July, Saturn turns retrograde, and so becomes stronger for everything he indicates. Mars receives that stronger Saturnine aspect for the first half of July, until he transits into Taurus and forms a conjunction with Jupiter, which is exact on August 14th. Jupiter and Mars are friends who complement each other, especially when aligned with righteous purpose. Yet Mars will also be aspecting Mercury retrograde in Leo, who is moving back into gandanta, again a treacherous crossing, which could once again disrupt the affairs of Mercury. 


Thus, from late June into September, the alignments look variable, volatility and challenge loom, although not as severe as what the eclipse of April portends. At the same time, luminous alignments of grace offer mitigation and the possibility of good fortune as well. From 25 August until 18 September, Venus becomes weak in Virgo, his sign of debilitation or fall, a regular occurrence that the particulars of other planets can diminish or augment. This year, Jupiter from Taurus aspects Venus in Virgo. Since Jupiter rules Pisces, Venus’s sign of exaltation, this aspect lifts Venus, reversing much of his weakness.  

Then right before the Autumnal Equinox, on September 18th, a Partial Lunar Eclipse occurs. Moon resides in Pisces with Rahu, opposite Sun in Virgo with Ketu and Venus. Concurrently, Sun forms a parivartana yoga (exchange) with Mercury in Leo, adding strength to Mercury who is exalted in Virgo, as well as more support to Venus. Full Moon energy enhances this lovely configuration, just as Venus at 29°42’ of Virgo is about to move into his home sign of Libra, a moment of grace as autumn approaches. At the same time, Mars’s aspect from Gemini onto Virgo adds a fiery impetus . . .  for something. Once again, the karma is mixed, with specific outcomes undeterminable, except for the element of surprise.

That just might be the takeaway theme for the months ahead. Something quite unexpected could happen. These are times of massive change and upheaval. The old rules do not apply. War, hunger, oppression, terrorism and personal tragedies are creating unspeakable suffering for so many right now—even as I sit here writing, gazing out my window upon the exquisite blue expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. She is Chandra’s domain, and I know her many moods. When a cold fierce Mistral blows off the South of France, her waves crash like towers against the rocky coast. Under the summer sun, her tranquil turquoise waters barely lap against the hot sand of her beaches—and swimming to Corsica feels almost possible. 

Chandra governs these extremes, which belong to the cycles of Shakti Manifest. During these times of conflict, change and uncertainty, it is to Shakti, to Divine Mother (of whom Chandra is merely one amongst Her myriad expressions) that our sadhana is best directed. Font of infinite compassion yet with the strength to conquer demons, it is Her guidance, fortitude and vision we need most at this time. And in spite of all the horror of the present moment, it serves well to recall—and to trust—words spoken long ago by one who embodied Her wisdom, the great English mystic of the 14th century, Julian of Norwich, who also lived through turbulent times. 

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”