Spotlight: Mary Stevenson
by Colleen M. Quinn
If you ask Mary Stevenson what’s the most important thing she’s taken from her work as a Vedic astrologer, she will tell you that it’s the power of knowledge. “Knowledge is liberating. With it, you know what you need to do,” she says. Located in Boulder, Colorado, Stevenson’s work in Vedic astrology has been a unique experience for both herself and her clients.
Stevenson became interested in astrology during the 1980s because, she says, “I wanted to understand my own life. I wanted to know why [things] happened.” For a time she lightly studied Western astrology, but soon became immersed in Vedic astrology realizing that it was in this teaching she found her answers.
Stevenson pursued the practice of Vedic astrology with ardor. She completed two International teacher training courses, one in 1990 in Hawaii and the other in 1993 in Almeria, Spain. In her fifteen years of experience as a Vedic Astrologer, Stevenson has also examined thousands of charts. She has worked for several spiritual masters and has taught beginning classes in Vedic astrology, but these days she prefers to focus on individual people in need of her work.
Vedic astrology has a rich history, and while it has its roots in India, it predates Hinduism. According to Stevenson, Vedic astrology is an ancient practice and science that is Jyotish, which is a Sanskrit word with several meanings, including “the study of light,” “made of light,” and “the light of God.” These meanings refer to Vedic astrology as a science that examines the relationship between nature, humanity, and the cosmos.
It’s important to keep in mind that Vedic astrology is quite different from Western astrology, which is a more familiar system to most people. The difference, though, between these two systems is their view and use of the zodiac. Vedic astrologers use the sidereal zodiac, while Western astrologers implement the tropical zodiac. The difference between the two is significant.
The tropical zodiac is called the “moveable” zodiac because the actual position of the stars in the sky changes over the years in relation to the zodiac’s signs. In contrast, the sidereal or “fixed” zodiac is based more closely on the stars’ celestial positions, and therefore the signs of the sidereal zodiac match up more often with the sign that is actually in the sky. The difference between these two zodiacs continues to change over time due to the Earth’s precession, and is called the Ayanamsh.
The collection of planets and heavenly bodies that are studied in Vedic astrology is also unique. It consists of the Sun and the Moon, the classical planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), as well as two celestial points, Rahu and Ketu, which are the ascending and descending lunar nodes, or points in the Moon’s path that cross the ecliptic. The positions of these objects in astrological houses are charted in a birth chart, which Stevenson calls the “blueprints for life.” Each house signifies a part of the body and mind, while planets represent their own qualities interacting within these houses. Readings of these celestial elements throughout the years can also offer further insight into a person’s life and very being.
According to Stevenson, there are three main elements which are of the utmost importance in reading a person’s astrological chart. The first is the ascendant sign, which is the sign that is rising in the east at the time of a persons’ birth. A new sign rises about every two hours, so the exact time of birth is necessary in constructing a person’s birth chart. Because this ascendant constellation determines a person’s astrological sign, many people are one sign different in Vedic astrology when compared to their Western astrological sign.
The positions of the Sun and Moon are also important because they fall under certain signs as well. It is quite common for someone to have three different signs incorporated into their chart. Stevenson says this is because a person is more complex than just one sign, and this is taken into account in Vedic astrology. “It’s part of the tapestry of your life,” she says, “It’s an integrated system of understanding. That’s why there’s more than one sign.”
Another important component are dashas, or the planetary cycles that occur throughout time. “Dashas give a flavor to what happens,” Stevenson explains, “A dasha shows what is coming, things like karma. You know when sometimes things go great for you and sometimes they don’t? It’s influenced by dashas.” These planetary cycles can last for anywhere from several years to two decades, and depending on which planets rule the dasha, these can be times of good or bad fortune. For example, a dasha ruled by Ketu will generally be a time characterized by adverse situations.
A chart in Vedic astrology, whether it examines the time of birth or a specific period of life, focuses on events or periods of time that have happened, are happening, or perhaps will happen. But this shouldn’t be confused with future-telling, says Stevenson. Rather, Vedic astrology provides insight into what can happen or periods of time that people can prepare for, or do something about. For Stevenson, this is the beauty of Vedic astrology. “Forewarned is forearmed,” she says. “As astrologers, we empower clients with empowerment. Our job is to avert any danger before it arises.”
Stevenson says that when she sees a potentially troublesome event or time period in a person’s chart, she can simply warn them of what can happen, or she can recommend remedies for them. These “remedial measures,” as she calls them, can be many things: meditation, using beneficial gemstones, employing Ayurveda which is an ancient science of health, or simply leading a healthier lifestyle.
A person’s chart also shows what kinds of health or medical issues may arise throughout the course of their life. Stevenson sees a Vedic astrology reading as preventative treatment: what to look out for and what strengths there are. She believes that charts also give “life lessons” in showing potential or existing health problems. “Then you can learn how to heal,” she says. Her website, http://www.vedicstarcharts.com/, offers more information about her work with charts.
In addition to examining and reading charts, Stevenson does compatibility readings, which are helpful in determining how compatible people are in different kinds of relationships. Whether it’s friendship, a romantic connection, or a business partnership, Stevenson recommends a compatibility reading for everyone in their most important relationships.
Compatibility, Stevenson says, is best explained through the concept of “love languages,” which was developed by Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages. A love language is simply the way in which a person expresses love or affection, and this, of course, is different for everyone. The information about someone that is revealed in a Vedic astrological chart can garner some understanding of what they look for and need in a relationship, as well as what to expect from a partner.
Stevenson says it’s important to know how you and your partner relate to each other. “How you love others is how you want to be loved,” she says. “I can identify creative energies [with a chart], and give the tools to make relationships better. It opens communications and lets the person learn who others really are.”
More recently, Stevenson offers her services in the practice astrocartography. This method utilizes Vedic astrology to find the best location to buy a house, take a trip, start a new job, or meet new people. Things like a person’s personality, needs, and the dashas in their life are taken into account, and thus are used to find an appropriate spot to start anew.
Whatever she may use Vedic astrology for, Stevenson regards the work she does as both essential for her clients and fulfilling for herself. “I feel like I’ve been guided to this healing tool, and I’m grateful for that,” she says. More importantly, she also sees the practical applications of Vedic astrology that can be of service to anyone.
“Knowledge is liberating,” Stevenson says, “You have the will to make of it what you can.
About Colleen Quinn
Colleen Quinn graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Mass Communication. A writer for most of her life, she has been writing for Whisperingtree.net for over two years. In that time, she’s had the opportunity to meet with many practitioners and masters of the healing arts. Using her years of customer service experience and time as an intern reporter, Colleen provides a unique means of expression for each practitioner she meets. She believes that honest interest and open ears are paramount for learning and understanding the world around us. Through her writing, Colleen offers readers a valuable insight into the work of those who are doing so much to help others.
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