In Vedic astrology, a Kala Sarpa pattern is formed when all of the visible grahas are restricted to one half of the zodiac as divided by the axis of the lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu. Roughly one in eight of all horoscopes, or 12.5%, reveals the pattern.
There are four classes of Kala Sarpa, subject to the “perfection” of the pattern. In Class 1, each node sits alone in a sign, while the seven visible grahas are spread out on one side of the nodal axis, leaving none among the five intervening signs unoccupied. In Class 2, the nodes remain alone, but some of the grahas bunch up in one or more signs, leaving one or more intervening signs empty. In Class 3, one or both of the nodes may be joined by a graha in the same sign, but none of those grahas lie outside the degree of the nodal axis. In Class 4, one or more grahas may associate with either node, and lie outside the degree of the nodal axis, and yet must remain within the same sign as either node. As soon as a graha strays beyond the sign of a node and into the “unoccupied” half of the horoscope, Kala Sarpa ceases to exist.
Why do we care? In jyotish, a Kala Sarpa configuration is deemed to be something of a magnifying lens, or amplifier, of whatever else already exists in that particular horoscope. As a consequence, a Kala Sarpa pattern has the potential to make some aspects of its native “larger than life.” But it’s a sword that swings both ways. A Kala Sarpa pattern can be either a yoga (a union of positive elements), or a dosha (a bundle of afflictions.) As a consequence, people with Kala Sarpa patterns run the gamut from the famous to the infamous, from the gifted to the twisted, and so on.
While researching these patterns for my book Kala Sarpa, I analyzed almost 800 horoscopes that met the conditions of formation. Among those were 18 astrologers whose names are well-known in our field. Although eight of those are living, and for privacy concerns will not be discussed here, they’re all familiar names to us, and all have achieved some noteworthy measure of success in the field of astrology. Of those who are now deceased, it may be instructive to take a quick look at each in turn. And as goes the old adage, age before beauty…
Johannes Morinus (23 February 1583 – 8 November 1656)
Morinus, aka Morin de Villefranche, was a French astrologer, some of whose prestigious clients included the Medici family and Louis XIII, and for 20 years he was in the exclusive service of Cardinal Richelieu, the architect of France’s most illustrious period. Morin’s great contribution to astrology was his interpretation and expansion of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, published in Latin as Astrologia Gallica. In the 1970s, Zoltan Mason and a translator published Astrosynthesis, the 21st book of Morin’s larger magnum opus, on how to synthesize the analysis of any horoscope, a work that is still highly instructive to modern astrologers.
Morin’s horoscope features a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein Mars associates with Ketu in Gemini, yet lies well outside the 09o24’ line of the nodal axis. The outstanding feature of his horoscope is a massive six-graha Pravrajya yoga in 11th house Aquarius. As lord of both the 10th and 11th houses, Saturn achieves great dignity in its own sign, avoids serious combustion, and is the dispositor of the entire cluster. No less than six Dharma-Karma Adhipati yogas are formed by the kendra and trikona lords in this cluster. Professional acclaim, influential social connections and patronage are just a few of the themes thus invoked. His horoscope also features a relatively rare (3% frequency) pattern called Mahabhagya yoga that makes him something of a patriarchal figure – a man born during daylight hours, with each of his ascendant, Sun and Moon in male signs. Here the nodal axis running through the 3rd/9th houses exemplifies both his early studies in physics (3rd house) and philosophy (9th house), as well as his seminal writing and publication of Astrologia Gallica.
Alfred Witte (2 March 1878 – 4 August 1941)
Witte was an innovative German astrologer who founded the Hamburg School and the system of Uranian Astrology, which eventually adopted the use of eight hypothetical planets called the Trans-Neptunians. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the field was his development of the midpoint method and the graphical planetary structures which Reinhold Ebertin, one of his early students, later integrated into Cosmobiology. Witte was employed as a land surveyor for the Department of Public Works, but after Hitler effectively banned the practice of astrology, Witte was investigated by the Gestapo. Fearing repercussions for his family, he committed suicide.
Witte’s horoscope also has a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein Jupiter associates with Rahu in Capricorn, yet lies well outside the 29o15’ line of the nodal axis. The outstanding feature of his horoscope is a substantive five-graha Pravrajya yoga in 6th house Aquarius. As lord of both the 5th and 6th houses, Saturn is swa-rashi, avoids serious combustion, and is dispositor of the entire cluster. Intellectual prowess and technical mastery of his metier are just a few of the themes suggested by this placement. Multiple Dharma-Karma Adhipati yogas formed by the association of kendra and trikona lords in the 6th house indicate something of a technocrat at heart, and yet a powerful Mars in the 8th house exemplifies his deep passion for all things occult. The nodal axis running through the 5th/11th houses exemplifies his intellectual rigor (5th house) as well as his organizational work in creating astrological communities (11th house) in the day. His lagnesh Mercury in graha yuddha (planetary war within one degree) with Venus, and his 12th lord Sun in the 6th with Saturn are signatures of potential self-harm or suicide.
Marc Edmund Jones (1 October 1888 – 5 March 1980)
Jones has been called the dean of American astrology, and is remembered as a leader of a movement to reformulate the study of astrology. Today he’s best known for his work on horoscopic patterns and the Sabian symbols. Prior to becoming an astrologer, he had been a prolific and successful screenwriter for Hollywood, and worked in that profession for many years. A lifelong study of astrology, the Kabbalah, philosophy, and spiritualism resulted in his writing 20 books over the course of his lifetime. As a result, he was a popular teacher and lecturer throughout the USA.
Jones’s horoscope illustrates a Class 3 Kala Sarpa wherein the Moon and Saturn associate with Rahu in Cancer, yet lie well within the 04o24’ line of the nodal axis. The Moon and Venus are swa-rashi in kendras, whereby Venus forms one of the illustrious Pancha Mahapurusha yogas, ie, Malavya yoga. This is the signature of an artistic type, and reflects both his early screenwriting success and his later development of horoscopic patterns. Mars is also swa-rashi in the 2nd house, where it associates with 3rd lord Jupiter, a configuration common to authors and public speakers alike. A unique feature of his horoscope is a Viparita Raja yoga, wherein 8th lord Venus and 12th lord Mercury associate in the lagna. This is the astrological equivalent of a mathematical rule wherein multiplying two negative numbers renders a positive product. So long as one of the pair (here, Venus) is strong, and neither is influenced by any other positive house lord, the individual is deeply attracted to occult and mystic subjects, and can make his name and/or fame from such devotion. Here the nodal axis running through the 4th/10th houses exemplifies both his educational (4th house) work and his professional (10th house) status.
Robert DeLuce 24 August 1877 – 3 May 1964)
DeLuce was originally a mining engineer, but came to be regarded as a pioneer of American astrology on the strength of his authority in Vedic astrology. The publication of his influential work, Constellational Astrology According to the Hindu System, in 1963 gave many a western astrologer their first introduction to the intricacies of the Vedic system, including its major/minor time periods (dashas and bhuktis) and the many harmonic charts used in the Vedic system, concepts that only became familiar to astrologers several decades later.
DeLuce’s horoscope has a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein the Sun associates with Ketu in Leo while the Moon, Mars and Saturn associate with Rahu in Aquarius. All four grahas lie outside the 09o20’ line of the nodal axis. In this horoscope, a remarkable four grahas are swa-rashi – the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Here the nodal axis runs through the 2nd/8th houses, where it also engages with the dignified lords of those same two houses, the Sun and Saturn, respectively. Lagnesh Moon is full in the 8th house, where it associates with its dispositor Saturn, forming just one of four Dharma-Karma Adhipati yogas in this cluster, along with a strong Chandra-Mangala yoga. This particular pattern engaging the 2nd/8th lords and houses invokes a powerful theme of esoteric/occult knowledge sourced from foreign origins via a tradition of oral transmission.
Louis de Wohl (24 January 1903 – 2 June 1961)
De Wohl was a German-born author who wrote over 20 novels, many of which later became movies. Disenchanted by the rise of Nazism, he immigrated to England, where he was subsequently recruited by Britain’s MI5 to work as an astrologer for the duration of WW2. His intelligence value lay in his connections with Karl Ernst Krafft, the German astrologer employed by Dr Goebbels. Thus, his role was to anticipate for MI5 how Krafft was likely advising Hitler with astrology. In addition, he devised “black ops” propaganda for use against the Nazis, forging astrological magazines for air-drop into Germany, featuring dire predictions to hopefully erode military and public morale. For a time, he was sent to America to contribute to astrological magazines and newspapers which at the time were favoring articles by astrologers sympathetic to Nazi Germany. After the war, he resumed writing novels.
De Wohl’s horoscope has a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein Mars associates with Rahu in Virgo, yet lies outside the 27o25’ line of the nodal axis. His horoscope features a four-graha Pravrajya yoga in the 7th house wherein its lord Saturn disposes the cluster but is in mixed dignity, being swa-rashi with digbala but also seriously combust. Despite this cluster holding so much potential, no Dharma-Karma Adhipati nor Dhana yogas are formed in the 7th house, because the requisite trikona lords (Moon, Mars, Jupiter) are all “unattached” in other parts of the horoscope. However, Saturn forms one of the esteemed Pancha Mahapurusha yogas, ie, Sasha yoga, while the Sun and Mercury form a Budhaditya yoga, one of the marks of a critical mind. Here the nodal axis runs through the 3rd/9th houses, reflecting his life-long successful writing/publishing career. His writing skills are highlighted by his 5th lord Mars in association with Rahu in the 3rd house.
Olivia Barclay (12 December 1919 – 1 April 2001)
Barclay was a British astrologer who almost singlehandedly revived traditional astrology. While studying astrology in the Sixties, she found the pop psychology element unsatisfactory, and turned to horary. After obtaining an original copy of William Lilly’s Christian Astrology, she had it reprinted and thereby elevated horary astrology from obscure occultism to mainstream practice. She founded the Qualified Horary Practitioner course and wrote Horary Astrology Rediscovered, subsequently receiving a Regulus award for her contributions to astrology. Thanks to her advocacy of Lilly and traditional astrology, many contemporary astrologers consider her the godmother of modern horary practice, whose rigor is grounded in solid rules and techniques. Aside from astrology, she earned her living in design and painting. She loved games, amusements and parties, and once invented an astrological board game, of which unfortunately only the board itself has survived.
Barclay’s horoscope has a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein the Sun and Mercury associate with Rahu exalted in Scorpio, yet lie outside the 00o39’ line of the nodal axis. Her horoscope features benefics Jupiter and Venus in the kendras, one exalted and the other swa-rashi, thus creating two of the illustrious Pancha Mahapurusha yogas, ie, Hamsa and Malavya, respectively. This is the mark of a functional Brahmin – a teacher, consultant, and custodian of culture, history or sacred knowledge. The Parivartana yoga involving mutual reception between Mars and Mercury in the 3rd and 5th houses, respectively, is a powerful testimony to her technical, writing and teaching skills. Here the nodal axis runs through the 5th/11th houses, where it highlights the Budhaditya yoga in the 5th, the sum of which reflects her devotion to the study of classical texts, as well as her being held in high esteem among her peers.
John Addey (15 June 1920 – 27 March 1982)
Addey was a British astrologer, a theorist who researched and developed the modern system of harmonics. His book Harmonics in Astrology was subsequently included in the Diploma curriculum for the Faculty of Astrological Studies. In his youth, Addey was an accomplished athlete in track and field, football, cricket, rowing and riding. At age 23 he was stricken overnight by ankylosing spondylitis, a kind of acute rheumatism that ultimately rendered him a cripple with a calcified spine, capable of walking only with the aid of canes. Raised as a Quaker and a pacifist, he eventually joined a mystery school and embraced a life of mathematics, mysticism, and philosophy.
Addey’s horoscope is a rare Class 1 Kala Sarpa wherein Rahu and Ketu stand alone in their respective signs, while the seven visible grahas are spread across the five intervening signs between nodes, leaving none vacant. In Addey’s chart all of the natural benefics (Mercury, Jupiter, Venus) are in signs of dignity, effectively creating a Saraswati yoga, the mark of an intellectual or learned person. In addition, Jupiter’s exaltation in a kendra creates one of the Pancha Mahapurusha yogas, ie, Hamsa yoga. His lagnesh Moon is in mixed dignity, being both exalted and dark, and it’s perhaps the latter condition, while afflicted by an exact aspect from Saturn, that explains his physical infirmity. Here the nodal axis runs through the 4th/10th houses, reflecting his lifelong interests in education and social reform.
[Although none of the horoscopes in this article feature a Class 2 Kala Sarpa, we can illustrate one with the use of Addey’s chart. If he’d been born just four days later, the Moon would have moved on to Cancer, while Venus would have crossed into Gemini. That would have left Taurus devoid of occupants, and with an empty sign among the five intervening signs between nodes, would have rendered this a Class 2 Kala Sarpa.]
Zipporah Dobyns (26 August 1921 – 7 June 2003)
Dobyns was an American astrologer, ordained minister and clinical psychologist. She was the author of many books and a researcher on asteroids. Well respected in the field, she was the winner of two Regulus awards, one in 1992 for education, and another in 1995 for discovery and innovation. By the turn of the century, Dobyns was world-renowned, having lectured throughout America and in 16 countries abroad. Two of her four children subsequently went on to become professional astrologers as well.
Dobyn’s horoscope has a Class 3 Kala Sarpa wherein Jupiter and Saturn associate with Rahu in Virgo, yet both lie inside the 27o37’ line of the nodal axis. As lords of the 9th and 10th houses, respectively, Jupiter and Saturn thus form a Raja yoga. Her horoscope also features a swa-rashi Sun in the 5th house which combines with Mercury to form a powerful Budhaditya yoga, a signature for critical thinking. Meanwhile, a Parivartana yoga via sign exchange between the Moon and Venus in the 2nd and 4th houses, respectively, is indicative of her active authorship and public speaking in the fields of education and psychology. Here the nodal axis runs through the 6th/12th houses, reflecting her clinical work, as well as some of her own health challenges.
Richard Idemon (8 February 1938 – 22 February 1987)
Idemon was an American astrologer who counseled, taught and lectured on psychotherapy and Jungian psychology for astrologers from 1969 onwards. He was an entertaining and dynamic speaker who in the 1980s partnered with astrologers Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas at the London-based Center for Psychological Astrology to conduct international conferences. Aside from public speaking and teaching, he was also a part-time actor. Idemon was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, and subsequently committed suicide in 1987.
Idemon’s horoscope has a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein the Moon associates with Ketu in Taurus, yet lies outside the 9o08’ line of the nodal axis. His horoscope features a robust four-graha Pravrajya yoga in the 5th house that includes kendra lords Mercury and Jupiter forming multiple Dharma-Karma Adhipati yogas with trikona lord Venus, reflecting a passionate pursuit of creativity, drama, education, and romance. Indeed, Idemon’s horoscope is literally brimming with passion combinations, one of the most significant being the Parivartana yoga between 5th lord Saturn and 7th lord Jupiter, a pattern that can provoke multiple yet ephemeral relationships. His horoscope also features a Viparita Raja yoga involving 6th lord Saturn and 8th lord Mars in the 7th house where neither is influenced by a non-trik graha, and Saturn enjoys strength from being both digbala and swa-nakshatra. Unfortunately, this is a mixed blessing, invoking both positive and negative consequences regarding partnerships. His nodal axis runs through the 3rd/9th houses, reflecting both his artistic and philosophical interests.
Alan Oken (28 March 1944 – 5 March 2022)
Oken was an American astrologer who achieved international status, thanks both to the dozen books he published (notably, the compilation Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology) and the fact that he could lecture in five different languages. In addition, he wrote hundreds of articles for Dell Horoscope and many other national and international journals of the day. He was the Director of The Wisdom School in Santa Fe, NM, and was affiliated with other institutes of esoteric studies, both in Australia and Portugal. Aside from his devotion to astrology, he was a life-long student of the work and teachings of the Tibetan master, Djwhal Khul.
Oken’s horoscope has a Class 4 Kala Sarpa wherein Jupiter associates with Rahu in Cancer, yet lies outside the 10o26’ line of the nodal axis. His angular Moon and Venus constitute the signature of an artistic temperament, while the Parivartana yoga between his 4th lord Saturn and 7th lord Venus suggests fruitful partnerships and collaborations in the fields of education and psychology. The Moon and Saturn, as lords of the 9th and 4th, wherein both are dignified by exaltation and digbala, respectively, form a strong Raja yoga. The Sun and Mercury in the 5th house form Budhaditya yoga, the mark of a critical thinker. His nodal axis running through the 3rd and 9th houses reflects both his literary skills and his lifelong devotion to spiritual teachings, the latter being all the more auspicious given the bright (retrograde) and exalted Jupiter in the 9th house.
The Kala Sarpa pattern has long been regarded by jyotishis with a mixture of awe and anxiety, thanks to its capacity for generating productive yoga or destructive dosha, depending upon the disposition of other grahas in the horoscope. However, its basic function is to act as a magnifying lens to amplify whatever else already exists in the horoscope, positive or negative. Thus, it has the potential to give the native something of an archetypal quality.
The frequency of occurrence in the general population for any of these four categories of Kala Sarpa is: Class 1 (0.3%), Class 2 (2.2%), Class 3 (3.8%), Class 4 (6.5%). Due to rounding, the overall likelihood of finding any category of Kala Sarpa in the general population is 12.5%, or one client in eight.
As we saw in these ten horoscopes of astrologers, the presence of a Kala Sarpa arguably optimized one or more salient features of their horoscopes, and elevated them to a stature that secured their place in the history of astrology.
Alan Annand is a Vedic astrologer, palmist and author. He’s a graduate of the British Faculty of Astrological Studies and was for many years their sole tutor for students in USA and Canada. After being introduced to jyotish, he was certified by the American College of Vedic Astrology, and went on to enjoy advanced instruction from Hart de Fouw. Aside from consulting and tutoring, he has long been a professional writer, straddling the corporate and creative worlds. His New Age Noir crime novels feature an astrologer protagonist whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.” His books on Vedic astrology — Kala Sarpa, Parivartana Yoga, and Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1-3 — have been praised for the quality of their research and writing. His latest book — Kama Yoga: Love, Marriage & Sexuality in Jyotish — can be found on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Annand/e/B0052MM0PO