Vedic astrology can spark spiritual, emotional and physical well-being for Western North Carolinians today, according to local practitioners Channing Ayers, David (Risi) Waterman and Ryan Kurczak.
An ancient practice that is sister to yoga and Ayurveda, Vedic astrology is not an instrument of fortunetelling, says Kurczak, founder of Asheville Vedic Astrology. Rather, he explains, the practice leads to self-realization or moksha, which translates to liberation.
Vedic astrology is the “the eye of the Vedas,” he continues. The spiritual art is “meant to give you the capacity to live in harmony with your unique expression of God on this planet. They call astrology the prajna devi, which is the question to the gods, because you drop the ego and say, ‘Hey, maybe I don’t know what I’m doing.’”
In this way, the practice cuts right to the point, to the most sincere questions that arise in life, Kurczak says.
“Foremost, [Vedic astrology] is concerned with our soul, the eternal part of ourselves,” says Waterman. “Our birth chart is a mirror of our soul and its particular incarnation. In our stars, we see the growth and evolution of our inner being from life to life.”
But a question remains, Waterman continues: What do we do with that information?
“Like any genuine healing modality or tool, [Vedic astrology] is ultimately about helping the person be guided from their own heart,” he says. According to the teachings, each of us can do this by coming into balance with the planetary phenomena and energies represented in our charts.
“If you could just teach people about the highest form of each of the planets, then they don’t need to go to an astrologer at all, because they can just ask themselves, ‘Am I embodying this?’ And if they are, then they are working with that planet well,” Kurczak says.
As Waterman says, “Each planet is a teaching, [and] through integrating within ourselves the energies represented by the planets, we regain our true wholeness. Each planet, therefore, represents a door to liberation, [and] if we do not understand the energy of a planet within us, it will bind and lead us into sorrow and conflict.”
There are many differences between Vedic and the commonly recognized Western astrology — primarily Vedic’s use of remedial measures or practical applications for harmonizing with planetary influences, and its dashas, which illuminate time by dictating the various chapters of one’s life.
The remedial measures could be thought of as a doctor’s prescription for making planets happy, local practitioners explain.
“Your chart has all the planets, and they all have a fuel tank or amount of energy,” Kurczak says. “One may have a completely full fuel tank, and the other may have low fuel. And if you know which one has low energy, then by adding a remedial, like a gemstone or mantra or by doing service to that planet, you can proactively fill it back up.”
In the ancient Vedic texts, there are hundreds of mantras, says Ayers, who works with Kurczak at Asheville Vedic Astrology. Some of them use Sanskrit words for each planet in order to harmonize with the audible vibration of the planet’s name.
Other methods include wearing gemstones on certain fingers and/or certain days to heighten their effects. Ayers, who makes jewelry, says, “The gemstones are fascinating because there are seven basic crystal structures and seven basic planets.” In Vedic astrology, the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are considered to represent transformational energies rather than rulerships like the other planets, she says. “Each of the seven gemstones aligns with a planet.”
Vedic astrology should be a recognized spiritual science, says Waterman. Through “reflecting the universe itself, Vedic astrology can be used to examine all domains of life,” he says. “From it we can learn about our health, wealth, career and relationships as well as our material, mental and spiritual manifestations.”
There are many areas where astrology aids and “speaks to” physical health and well-being. “Many astrologers in India have practiced Ayurveda and many vaidyas [throughout history]. Ayurvedic doctors have been astrologers,” says Waterman. “Both systems work well to supplement each other, but [Vedic astrology] is a much subtler healing science than any form of physical medicine.”
How does astrology have anything to do with health?
Vedic astrologers can “figure out your basic health, longevity and disease tendencies by looking at your birth chart,” says Waterman.
Kurczak says you can see a lot of this aspect in the first, sixth and eighth houses of a birth chart, which relate to the body, health, disease and longevity.
“In no way, shape or form are we medical diagnosing,” Ayers says. “But your physical, emotional and spiritual experiences are all represented in the chart, and this can be helpful in showing areas to look out for in health, as well as what health practices will be supportive.”
A chart shows “which planets have the power to cause disease, what kind of diseases are likely to occur, what parts of the body are likely to be affected and when these problems are likely to occur,” says Waterman.
In this way, for example, Vedic astrology “would be appropriate in seeing if someone will benefit from things like raw-food fasting or a radiation treatment,” says Kurczak.
Waterman says that such suggestions come through looking at the elemental energies of the planets — earth, water, fire and air — in different signs. “By understanding our relationship to these energies, we can learn how to increase or decrease our intake of such forces in order to maintain our physical and emotional health.”
In that sense, astrology can be a preventive or alternative medicine.
“The biggest gift of [Vedic astrology] is that it can help you be more healthy, more present, and more aligned with the cycles and what is going on,” says Ayers.
She experienced this firsthand at a younger age. Her mother, also an astrologer, predicted that Ayers might get into a car accident. “I ended up getting into [one] during that time period,” she says, “which further sparked my interest and study of astrology.”
“There are certain blind spots that we all have,” says Kurczak, “because we’re drunk on our karma.” Vedic astrologers believe that you can start to see into and dissolve the blind spots through working with the remedials and cultivating self-understanding.
“If I could put every astrologer out of business, I would,” says Kurczak, “because I really just want people to figure out who they are, but we can’t do that. People want to have reasons for things.
“When you’re speaking to a dreamer, you have to speak the language of dream,” he adds.
“We are living in a time when the skills that are taught are not about how to be more aligned,” Ayers says, “which may be why there is a resurgence of interest in [Vedic astrology], because it is time for us to start beginning to be more healthy — and overall more healthy on the planet.”
Waterman says, “Vedic astrology recognizes the validity of all four aims of life, and [it’s] oriented to facilitate us in the attainment of each of them. …. Yet, the first three — enjoyment, wealth and career — are made subordinate to the last, spiritual liberation.”
That’s “the primary and essential goal for all human beings for all life. The other [goals] are useful as a means to an end, but not as an end in themselves,” Waterman says. “Vedic astrology is designed to guide one to the point of self-realization.”
In short, through the remedial practices and harmonizing of planetary influences, these Vedic astrologers suggest that we can bring ourselves back into harmony with nature and through that process realize the most fundamental aspect of our being.
Ayers says that we’re “trying to do everything to align, to bring into consciousness, and meet the divine halfway, in every way.”