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Foundations of Vedic Astrology Course

Foundations of Vedic Astrology

10 week course designed to give students the basic skills for reading charts. By the end of the program student will have a solid foundation to be able to read charts for friends and family, and have a much deeper understanding of their own chart and their own self.

Course Includes:

  • 4 hours of live one-to-one readings or mentorship with Mike Holliday.
  • 10 live group classes with PDF text book for the course:
    “Foundations of Vedic Astrology” by Mike Holliday
  • 10 recorded classes with PDF text book
    “Philosophy of the planets for Energy Workers”
  • 10% off the Nakshatra Project.

Live classes go from Sept 24  to  Nov 26 .
Recordings of each class will also be made available.
9am pacific time.

Cost $420 USD
Sign up with a friend and it’s just $300  each.

We will consider many chart examples, some selected by students, as we go over the fundamental concepts of Vedic Astrology, Ayurveda, Yoga & Tantra. Although the focus of this course will be on the technical side of astrology, we will have much opportunity to discuss the philosophical, mythological, and theoretical sides of this great science that is actually the culmination of all traditional sciences.    

We will go over the foundational principles over and over again building on them as we go along: Health and diagnostics; education, career, earning potential, psychological health, spiritual path, skills, beliefs, dreams. We will gain an understanding of every part of life: body, mind and soul.We will take a deep look at relationships, relationship karma, skills, mundane matching and synastry.  We learn the science of mantra, how to recommend  common and creative remedial measures like gem stone, sacrifice, personal deities, and other ways we can connect people spiritual and energetic undercurrent of life. We will discuss various cycles of energy, universal cycles & personal cycles that allow us to predict the future.

Why learn Vedic Astrology? I have studied philosophy and esoteric topics my whole life including western astrology. But when I found Vedic astrology seamlessly connected to Ayurveda, Yoga & Tantra I found system that allowed me to more deeply understand myself and this world we live in. Astrology can change your life by challenging and changing your perspective.

Who should learn Vedic astrology? I certainly think that even the general population could do with more knowledge of astrology, astrology is a subject for the most curious and sincere seekers of truth and light: scientists, philosophers, psychologist, any of those who appreciate mind games and intellectual exercise. On the other hand, you’ll get no where in astrology if you are not connected to inspiration; the great spirit who illumines new and novel ideas.


“Mike is a true teacher of Yoga, Tantra & Philosophy. His peers are not the the yoga teachers on Instagram but the Monks & Sadhus of Varanasi.” — Shiva (computer engineer)

“I’ve been going to astrologers and tarot readers all over the world for over 20 years and have not met anyone who can make as accurate prediction as you.” — Anthony (professional psychic)

“There’s an authenticity to your readings and classes and the messages between us; like it just me and you. You see me. And your passion for knowledge, to know Ultimate Reality, as you say; your humility, just a simple Baba. My wise friend, my busy friend.” — Elena (Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine)

I think the best testament to my classes, readings and coaching sessions is that people come back again and again. My business runs mostly from word of mouth rather than social media.   

Instructor: Mike Holliday is a Master of Vedic Astrologer who has been studying out of Varanasi for over 15 years where he lives with his astrology teacher, Sanjay Tripathi, and next door to  the legendary Trika translator, Mark Dyczkowski.  Mike has taught and lectured on philosophy, astrology, pilgrimage and mysticism all over the world.  He has guided thousands of people, illuminating the path ahead, sharing sage advice and inspiring them to reach for the beyond.   As practitioner and independent scholar of Kashmiri Shaivism and the Vedic Sciences. has been writing and teaching about philosophy, mysticism, travel and pilgrimage for over 30 years.

Contact me for more information or book a free 20 minute consultation to discuss learning or coaching opportunities.


The Basics of Vedic Astrology

Three points to study your chart: 1. Planets in the signs. 2. Planets in the houses. 3. Ruler of a house in another house.

If you’re looking at the north indian chart. The houses always follow the same counter-clockwise order with the 1st house in the top middle. The number you see in each house tells you what sign is in the house.

In this example, Scorpio, the 8th sign, is in the 1st house; Sagittarius, the 9th sign, is in the 2nd house etc…

We have to know what signs each planet rules so that we know which house the planet rules in your chart.

In the example, shown Mars rules the 1st house & the 6th house because he rules Aries & Scorpio.

Jupiter rules Sagittarius & Pisces so he rules the 2nd & 5th house in this example; and he’s in the 7th house.

Signs ruled by the planets:
1. Aries – Mars
2. Taurus – Venus
3. Gemini – Mercury
4. Cancer – Moon
5. Leo – Sun
6. Virgo – Mercury
7. Libra – Venus
8. Scorpio – Mars
9. Sagittarius – Jupiter
10. Capricorn – Saturn
11. Aquarius – Saturn
12. Pisces – Jupiter


The trine lords, 1st, 5th & 9th house lords are always working for your benefit in some way. Developing these houses is one of the first steps for using astrology for personal development.

1st house is our personality, our identity, our physical form. During 1st house lord periods we feel like ourselves, and we develop our personality of body in some way. We are on our path and of course this is typically a good period of positive development.

The 5th house is our intelligence, our mantra, our spiritual practice, whatever we put our whole heart into, our children, creativity students. Developing this will illuminate all areas of life. Periods of the 5th lord bring some fun to life and make our heart skip a beat and allows us to get caught up in the theatre of life.

The 9tb house is our higher wisdom, our fath, our spiritual belief and the ultimate core of our dharmic path, the moral compass that underlies everything we’re actually doing in the active,  karmic, 10th house. Luck seems to shine on us in periods of the 9th lord. We are in the right place at the tight time. We get an epiphanies, and some wisdom dawns on us.

Typically, anything we do to develop or highlight these areas of life will benefit all areas of our life.

It’s from these three houses we recommend stones, constitutional tonics, mantras, temples, gods, myths, stories, icons to follow. Topics of higher study, Phd, pilgrimage.

All that is most suspicious in life is contained in these three house.

The 1st house has some impurity because it’s also one of the Kendra, four middle houses 1st, 4th, 7th & 10th. which are inside the kund. But next to the 1st, 5th & 9th; these other four are the second best house in the chart.

The 3rd, 6th, 8th and 12th houses are all tough houses. Debts, losses, sudden reversals of fortune, illness, accusation, desire, getting bogged down in details, objects, while losing connection with higher meaning and missing the essence. Bad luck seems to reign in period of these lords.

Many special yogas, combinations and specific circumstances can defy these general rules.

Owners of good houses in good houses will give really good results, especially if there are two of them together. But the luck of a good house will be lost if it’s in a bad house. But owners of bad houses do really good in a bad house but can spoil the results of a good house.


It should be mentioned that the 2nd & 7th house are trying to kill you. Family & partner will drain the life force you have for your personal projects for their own good.

The 3rd, 6th, 7th & 11th houses are sin houses mostly dealing with our desires, anger and greed. The 7th house, representing our marriage partner seems suggest that we are damned if we do (get married) and damned if we don’t. But most astrologers agree that having a good partner in life to share our karma with typically has a net positive effect on life.

There are really only two things that are worthy of being at the centre of our lives: God or children. If your life is not revolving around one if these, you might want to reconsider your priorities.

So, as I mentioned earlier, if we want to boost our luck, we focus on improving and strengthening the 1st, 5th or 9th houses. But we can also release ourselves from some of our suffering by focusing in the 6th and 12th house. I have always found it interesting that the two main houses of moksha are two of the most difficult areas of life. Because after all, we all want moksha right? Wrong! We all say we want moksha, but few of us are actually prepared for it when it comes. We get freedom when some binding or attachment ceases. This typically comes through lose. You want to be free from your partner, but you don’t feel very good when they dump you. Wanna be free from your job: how does unemployment feel? Moksha is good in theory but few of us readily embrace it when it comes.

The trick of dealing with these negative houses is doing it freely, by our own choice rather than waiting for life to take aw at everything that means something to us. This is the lesson of Bhagavad Gita: selfless service and charity.

The 6th house is especially important in this. 6th house shows where our animosity is directed d where it comes from. If we accept this natural imbalance in life then we can step out of the circle of accusations and blame. Of course sometimes we do need to hire a lawyer to clear our name, but most of these patty arguments can just be dropped. We do our best and then turn the other cheek when it’s not good enough. Thank you for admonishing me. I’ll do better next time. Like Dylan used to sing “everybody has got to serve somebody.” so just serve, do your duty and keep your mouth shut. You’ll never get any appreciation from the 6th house: no thank you, no remitance, no care. The fruit from your action is not in your hands, so why worry.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer standard astrology readings, deep self knowledge sessions and mentorships for budding astrologers.

Foundational Concepts & Philosophy for Vedic Astrologers

Introduction to Parashara astrology

Vedic astrology is called the supreme limb of the vedas, what are the 6 limbs of the vedas?

      1. Kalpa: (Hands) Ritual
      2. Jyotisha: (Eyes) Astrology/astronomy
      3. Nirukta: (Ears) Etymology – the roots of words
      4. Chandah: (Legs) Metre – Number of syllables in a line
      5. Sikaha (Nose) Phonetics
      6. Vyakaranam (Face) Grammar – Panini

Three main divisions of Jyotish: 

      1. Hora: movement of the planets and the meaning of that movement
      2. Samhita: Technical manuals for doing or building things in right relation to the planets. Also details how to read signs & omens. (precursor to astrology)\
      3. Ganita: Mathematics. Trigonometry, algebra, geometry, ect

Lineage of 18 Sages

Surya, Pitamahah, Vyasa, Vashishta, Atree, Parashara, Kashyapa, Narada, Garga, Marichi, Manu, Angira, Lomasha, Paulisha, Chayavan, Yavana, Bringu, Saunaka.

Parashara: Grew up with his grandfather after his father was killed by a demon. Grandfather was a great rishi named Vashishta. Parashara sought revenge for his father’s death by seeking to kill all the demons with a special worship for the purpose. Eventually he was told that it was his father’s karma to be killed that way and he was only going to make new karmas for himself if he continued his deadly worship. 

In addition to this Hora shastra, Parashara is known to have compiled several sections of the vedas. His son, Ved Vyasa, is famous for having composed the Purana which made the knowledge of the Vedas accessible to common people. Vyasa is the product of a somewhat controversial union between Parashara the daughter of a boat man (or fisherman). She was operating the ferry to cross the river. She was known as Matsyagandha (stink of fish). Parashara’s desire for her overwhelmed him. He promised to mask their union as well as allow her to retain her virginity after the union. He also took away her fragrance and gave her a divine fragrance.

There was a dispute between Parashara and Brigu which caused Parashara to curse Brigu’s method as capable of predicting the past with accuracy, but not the future.   

Qualities of a student

      1. Should be a good person, honour their teachers and elders, speak the truth and be god fearing.
      2. We should not teach an unwilling student, an atheist, or a crafty person. 


      1. Creator and sustainer of the universe
      2. Endowed with the 3 gunas: Sattva, rajas, tamas
      3. Creates and administers with ¼ of his body: perceptible aspect

Mahavishnu + Shri Shakti = Vishnu (the sustainer}

Mahavishnu + Bhoo Shakti = Brahma (the creator)

Mahavishnu + Neela Shakti = Shiva (the destroyer)

GOD = Generator + Operator + Destroyer

  1. ¾ of his body is filled with divine nectar: imperceptible. The aspect of Vishnu can only be known by philosophers of maturity when they know the essence of things.
  2. Jeevatma amsha: The portion (amsha) which is mostly human
  3. Paramatam amsha: The portion of reality that has a preponderance of divinity. 

Six schools of Orthodox Philosophy

      1. Sankya: Dualistic, rational, atheistic
      2. Yoga: sankya + theism
      3. Nyaya: realism, analytics, logic
      4. Vaisheshika: Nyaya + atomism + naturalism
      5. Purva Mimamsa: Ritualism
      6. Vedanta (uttar mimamasa): Upanishads. Vedanta also has six limbs.

Theistic Philosophies (Tantras & Agamas): Kashmiri Shaivism is said to bring together not only the tantra under a single system or framework of philosophy, but to also incorporate the wisdom of vedic and upanishad corpus of texts. 

      1. Pashupata: forest naturalism 
      2. Shaiva: sankya + shiva/shakti worship (theism)
      3. Pratyabhijna: recognition
      4. Panini: grammar
      5. Rasgshvara: alchemy

Maya: the material cause that brings to fruition what is waiting to manifest. It does this by putting limits on unlimited potentiality. 

      1. Raga: attachment
      2. Vidya: limits knowledge
      3. Kaala: limits time
      4. Kalaa: limits power
      5. Niyati: necesity (cause and effect)

Malas: 3 self imposed limitations

      1. Anava mala: Desire. Sense of finitude
      2. Mayiya mala: Knowledge. Ontological division
      3. Karma mala: Impurity of action. Action being the cause of transmigratory existence

Karma: four kinds of karma 

      1. Sanchita: Accumulated karma of lifetimes (most fated)
      2. Parabdha: Current life karma
      3. Kriyamana: The free will to act in the moment
      4. Agama: ability to make choices not which will affect our future (most free willed)

Also keep in mind the three divisions of karma: 

      1. Fixed: (unchangable)
      2. Fixed – Non fixed: (we have minimal power to change this)
      3. Non-fixed: (we are capable of choosing our karma in the moment or makinging long term effort in order positively affect our future karma)

The 36 Tattva of Tantra 

“The individual experient also, in whom citi or consciousness is contracted, has the universe (as his body) in a contracted form.” ~Shiva Sutra~

“The Sun is the soul of Kalapurusha; the Moon, his mind; Mars, his strength; Mercury, his speech; Jupiter, his knowledge and happiness; Venus, his sexual love; and Saturn, his misery.” ~Jataka Desh Marga. Shloka 34~

“The 12 signs beginning from Aries are respectively the head, face, arms, heart, stomach, hips, space below the navel, the private parts, thighs, knees, ankles and feet of Kalapurusha.” ~Parashara, 4/4~

Self knowledge, the equal of universal knowledge in most of India, it is one of the most prized areas of knowledge. Various sciences and systems have been created just for this purpose. One of the oldest branches of knowledge in India is called Samkya and was compiled by a sage named Kapila. This is a dualist and materialist branch of knowledge that sought to map out and empirically categorize the various elements of material existence that allow us to have this human experience. Kapila can be credited with the arrangement of the lower 25 tattva from purusha and prakriti to fire, earth, air, water, and ether. Non-dualist looked at this and thought that something was clearly missing since all this matter is inert, insentient and incapable of the complexity that we see in life. So, the sages looked deeper and eventually expanded the categories of tattvas to include several higher elements that connect us to a divine well-spring of power that infuses matter with sentience. These higher tattva reflect the lower, just as Shakti is said to be a reflection of Shiva, and yin a reflection of yang. The interplay between each of the tattva as well as that between the microcosmos and macrocosms is dynamic, relative, and eternal.     

“As the world is inside, so it is outside.” ~Manduka Upanishad~    

The tattva are the cornerstone of most of the Indian sciences and philosophies: Ayurveda, the Science of Life, or what we would consider the health sciences; Jyotish, the Science of Light, otherwise known as Vedic Astrology, which, in times not so long past would have include all of the natural sciences; as well as Yoga, Tantra and the various spiritual sciences, which we might today categorize as psychology. Of course, anyone wishing to follow any of the paths of knowledge laid out in India should have at least a cursory knowledge of these tattwa. Since maya is essentially both this world that we must deal with as well as what abilities we have to deal with it, I have given a detailed outline of maya separately below the tattva. 

The 36 Tattva:  

The Macrocosmic & Microcosmic Existence of Man and the Universe


“…. Then he unfolds Himself in the totality of manifestations viz., principles (tattvas), worlds (bhuvanas), entities (bhaavas) and their respective experients that are only a solidified form of Cit-rasa [the juice of universal consciousness].” ~Pratyabhijnaahrdayam, Sutra 4~


Shiva Tattvas: Pure tattva 

Divine or blessed tattva: what they call citshakti or mahamaya. 

  1. Shiva Tattva

 Shiva is infamous for the performance of five functions in a cycle. One full rotation thru this cycle constitutes a movement of spanda: 

        1. Nigraha: act of self limitation/contraction. 
        2. Srsti: act of self manifestation of the world. 
        3. Sthiti: preservation of the world. 
        4. Samhara: absorption/withdrawal of worldly manifestation. 
        5. Anugraha: revelation or dispensation of grace. 


  1. Shakti Tattva 

Shakti is known for her five modes of expression. Shakti is herself the power of Shiva:

        1. Cit-shakti: conscious force; works thru Shiva.
        2. Ananda-shakti: power as bliss; works thru Shakti.
        3. Iccha-shakti: power as will; works thru Sadashiva. 
        4. Jnana-shakti: power as knowledge; works thru Ishwara.
        5. Kriya-shakti: spontaneous action as power; works thru Shuddhavidya.   

3.  Sadashiva: Unity 

4.  Ishwara: Unity in division

5.  Shuddhavidya : Division

Vidya Tattvas:

The tattwas which obscure true knowledge and bind us to our bodily existence 

  1. Maya:  and her five kanchukas (klosha/coverings): 
  2. Kalaa: limits power. 
  3. Vidya: limits knowledge.
  4. Raga: limits fullness.  
  5. Kaala: experience of time/change. 
  6. Niyati: experience of cause and effect. 


Atma Tattvas: Elements of the Individual Soul 

  1. Purusha (Iccha, will. The individual soul, the subject): at the place and time of our birth, the individual soul, complete with the karmic qualities of eons of time, meets with nature (prakriti) and there is the birth of an embodied soul.
  2. Prakriti (Kriya, spontaneous activity. The creatrix, the object): Prakriti provides Purusha with everything he needs for enjoyment. The physical body along with the senses of knowledge of powers of action. Prakriti is made up of the three gunas (kapha, vatta, pitta). 

Instruments of Cognition (Chitta or Antar-karana):  

 14.  Buddhi: (Intelligence) Buddhi is the abode of vital energy prana-shakti. It is the contracted  power of jnana-shakti. From here it flows through the different parts of the body via the nadis (the  meridians, channels and collaterals). This is the locus of every human experience.

“The emergence of the vital breath marks the submergence of the blissful awareness which is the repose of consciousness enjoys of its own nature” (Stanzas on Vibration 372). “The vital breath is essentially a state of consciousness which manifests as the movement of two breaths – prana and apana.” 

Five kinds of Prana-vayu (movements of prana): (for more on this topic)

      1. Prana: exhaled breath. Vital breath moves outward from the body, rests in the external object and then returns to the body. Sun. It’s considered receptive like the sense organs.
      2. Apaana: inhaled breath. moves downward. Moon. In Ayurveda they say move downward and outward. Like for the elimination of bodily waste. 
      3. Samaana: According to Ayurveda, it moves inwards, spinning towards a centre point like meditation. In the waking and dream state, pranaapana is active, however in states of deep-sleep samaana (the Equalizing breath) balances the inhalation and exhalation. They call it” the equinox.”
      4. Udaana: The Ascending breath. According to Ayurveda, it moves outwards, like speech, sound, and the limbs of the body. 
      5. Vyaana: expansion in all directions radiating from the navel outward in all directions. Often considered as the nadis energy system similar to the meridians of Chinese Medicine.       

15. Ahamkara (Ego/ I-sense): Instrument of rationality. Supervises/controls organs of knowledge and action. This is who we generally think we are when our awareness is not wandering down with our senses.   

16. Manas: Mind the material cause of events. Whatever is in the mind will reach out to its object, rest there, and withdraw again.

These last 20 Tattva connect us with the external world. Senses of Knowledge (Tattva 17-21) Senses of Action (22-26) Subtle Elements (27-31) Gross Elements (32-36) 

The Bhuta Planetary Ruler

(not part of Tattvas)

The Tanmatra Jnana Indriyas Karma Indriyas
Earth Mercury Odour Smelling Excretion
Water Venus (Moon) Flavour Tasting Pleasure
Fire Mars (Sun) Form/Colour Seeing Locomotion
Air Saturn Feel Touching Touch
Ether Jupiter Sound Hearing Speech

Extra Notes on Maya 

“Maayaa is the lack of discernment of the principles beginning with Kalaa.” “The principles (that obscure the individual soul) form a group that ranges from Kalaa to Earth. (They are called) “principles” tattva because the entire universe is pervaded by them. Kalaa is said to be (the individual soul’s) limited power of action.”  ~Aphorisms of Shiva 3/3 ~

“The more consciousness is freed from the impurity (mala) the more the light of the self is revealed.” ~Kashmir Shaivism p 377~

“He who is deprived of his power by the forces of obscuration (kalaa), and a victim of the powers arising from the mass of sounds (shabdarashi) is called a fettered soul.”  ~Stanzas on Vibration 45~

Maya is essentially the ground beneath our feet. Many traditions debase it by calling it illusion, but this is not entirely correct. Maya is not the truth, but it’s also not different from truth. If the whole of god, the whole of this universe, is within each speck of his dust, then maya is surely divine. In any case, it’s all we have to work with, negating it is not an option and ignoring the fundamental connection we have with it on both a material and divine level is not the key to advancing beyond where we are now. The key is just the opposite, it’s in attuning our self to maya; understanding it and learning the rules before we learn how to break them. “As within, so without,” so anything we do to understand ourselves or the world will be beneficial; there are no limits to spiritual knowledge since any knowledge that helps to bring the macrocosms and microcosmos in tune is spiritual knowledge. Knowledge is vast, the purpose is one. Replacing ignorance (ajnana) with knowledge (jnana) is the main prescription of Shaivism as well as most other spiritual paths. 

The impurities are due to the five coverings (kanchukas) and two types of ignorance (ajnana): 

    1. Paurusha ajnana: the innate ignorance regarding the truth of the self. 
    2. Bauddha ajnana: ignorance of the buddhi. We consider the subtle body and the gross body to be the self on account of what they call ashuddha vikalpas (ideation or thought constructs, irrational or psychological thought). 

There are three kinds of impurities (mala) of which maya is one with five parts. Those three impurities are: 

    1.  Anava mala: The root impurity. “The impurity of individuality.” (Aphorisms p15) This occurs in the first moment after Shiva self contracts to take manifestation in (and of) the universe.  Our true power becomes obscured by the notions of subject and object and of existence and non-existence.  This occurs at Sadashiva level. There are two kinds of root impurity 
          1.  Impurity which veils knowledge of divine awareness, but leaves     freedom of action intact. This is the human condition as we know it. 
          2. Impurity which leaves knowledge of divine awareness, but veils ability    to act freely. This is the condition of those gods or energies which do not descend thru maya.
    2. Mayiya mala: The impurity of maya and the five coverings (kanchuka). This    gives us our gross and subtle bodies by measuring out or filtering the various    divine attributes. This impurity brings about the sense of duality, robs us of all    sense of divinity and makes us oblivious to our true nature. The five Kanchukas (coverings/sheaths/klesha): Kalaa: limits power; Vidya: limits knowledge; Raga: limits fullness; Kaala: experience of time and change; Niyati: experience of cause and effect.
    3. Karma Mala: provides us with our physical body which is essentially a collective of residual impressions designed to carry out certain activities. Once karma mala defiles the jiva (the limited soul before it has taken a body), embodied individuals (humans) are then created (born, made manifest). This is where the whole microcosms above comes together to give us our individual characteristics and life as we know it.