Lord Shiva has a central yet complex role in Vedic astrology, associated with a number of planetary energies, though he has specific planetary associations. We will explore these from my years of research in Vedic texts and Shaivite Yoga.
Shiva and the Sun and Moon
Shiva’s connections to the Sun are powerful and profound. He is the Pratyadhi-Devata, the third level or ultimate Devata of the Sun, afterSurya as the Devata and Agni as the Adhidevata. Shiva represents the pure transcendent light or Prakasha behind all other forms of light in the universe, manifest and unmanifest, which is discussed in detail in Shaivite philosophy. The Sun as the Self (Atman, Purusha) indicates our transcendent Shiva nature, the supreme light, not just the luminary of our solar system. At the sacred mountain of Arunachala in Tamil Nadu, where Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi stayed, Shiva is associated with the rising Sun.
Shiva of the trinity of great Cosmic Devatas governing the Sun and the movement of time specifically represents the transformative and destructive aspect of solar energy, as compared with Vishnu as the preserver and Brahma as the creator
Yet Shiva is often looked upon as a Moon deity with his connection with the night, the unknown, the magical and mysterious. In India and its temples Shiva is usually worshipped on Mondays. He is related particularly with the waning Moon, just before it becomes new. Shiva wears the crescent Moon on his head.
Mahahivaratri, the great night of Shiva, is marked by the last visible crescent of the waning Moon, which symbolizes Shiva’s power over the mind in the early hours of the morning. The Moon as Soma indicates Shiva’s ecstatic nature.
Here we must recognize the two aspects of Shiva energy. His fiery or Rudra form has a solar energy and associated with Agni as fire and purification. His softer peace-giving energy as Shankara is more lunar in nature, associated with Soma, which he holds the healing power of the plants. These are the two aspects of Ayurvedic treatment as reduction and tonification, removing toxins and doshas, on one hand, and promoting rejuvenation (rasayana) on the other.
The Moon is more commonly related to Shiva’s consorts and Shakti forms. These include Ma Kali, Durga and Uma Parvati, which all relate to different phases of the Moon and have their astrological correspondences on different levels.
Shiva and the Planets
Shiva’s second son Skanda (after Ganesha) is the main Devata for the planet Mars and is associated with Agni or Fire, like Shiva himself. Shiva’s solar and fire energy is reflected through Mars and Skanda. He is the son of Shiva as the leader of the army of the Devas, destroying the demons born of time and ignorance. Skanda is known as Subrahmanya, Kartikkeya and Murugan and is portrayed as a Shaivite ascetic. He is sometimes related to the youthful Dakshinamurti form of Shiva.
As the deity of time overall (Kala), Shiva is related to Saturn, which as the slowest moving among the major planets governs over longer time periods and is the great karmic reckoner. Saturn appears in Vedic astrology with aspects of Shiva’s symbolism, like his trident, and like Shiva grants peace to those who accept his disciplined guidance. Shiva as Shankara and Shani both reflect the root sound Sham that provides peace.
Shiva has an association with Venus or Shukra, which few know about, which he has the power to control, as Venus appears either as a morning or evening star not far from the Sun, which absorbs it back into himself. Solar Shiva and Venus relate to ecstasy, transformation, death and rebirth.
As the lord of the serpents or transformative/lightning energies in the universe (Ahipati, Nageshvara), Shiva rules over Rahu and Ketu, the two lunar nodes, and the dramatic eclipses they are associated with. Shiva can drink poison and not be affected by it.
Rahu’s negative astral energies that disturb the mind and make us psychically vulnerable are nothing to him, for whom the mind is but a shadow. Ketu in particular indicates Moksha, liberation of consciousness granted by Shiva. It also indicates his third eye.
Shiva and the Nakshatras
Shiva is associated with a number of Nakshatras, which is a significant study in its own right that I will detail elsewhere. Most important are Mrigashiras (23 20 Taurus – 06 40 Gemini), which is Shiva’s Soma form, and Ardra (06 40 – 20 00 Gemini), which is his Rudra form. These mark the region of Orion, which overall relates to Shiva as the deity of death and immortality, and the Gemini point opposite the Galactic Center in Sagittarius. Nearby Krittika (26 40 Aries – 10 00 Taurus), the Pleiades, as ruled by Agni connects to Shiva’s fire energy as well.
Shiva has connections with many other Nakshatras, notably Jyeshta (16 40 – 30 00 Scorpio), where his ruling power comes forth. Vedic deities in the sphere of Rudra (the Atmosphere) rule over many Nakshatras.
- Ashwini (00-13 20 Aries), with the twin Ashvins called Rudras.
- Bharani (13 20-26 40 Aries), with Yama, the death of death and asceticism, as a form of Shiva.
- Aslesha (16:40 – 30 00 Cancer), with the Nagas ruling over it.
- Swati (06 40 – 20 00 Libra) related to his Vayu form.
- Purva Bhadra (20 00 Aquarius – 03 20 Pisces) with Aja Ekapad as a form of Rudra. Uttara Bhadra (03 20 Pisces – 16 40 Pisces) with Ahir Budhnya, the serpent of the depths.
Though Shravana (10 00 – 23 20 Capricorn) is ruled by Vishnu, its month is sacred overall and involves the worship of Shiva as well.
Shiva as Mahakala, the Lord of Time
Overall Shiva as Mahakala, the great deity of time, Shiva rules over eternity as well as all the planets from which various time cycles emerge. Ganesha, his first son, is the Devata of Vedic astrology overall and rules over the dispensation of Karma. The Mahakala Shiva Linga in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, near the Tropic of Capricorn, was traditionally the main center of Vedic astronomical calculations for India as a whole.
As Mrityunjaya, the one who conquers death, Shiva takes us beyond death and sorrow. As the supreme Yogi and Adi Nath he is the ultimate guru. As Omkara Shiva is the basis of all the universal forces of time. However we wish to look at him in terms of Vedic astrology, Shiva is the essence of all.
Om Namah Shivaya!