Layering — An Astrological Technique

Layering is the name I’ve adopted for a phenomenon involving a stacking of bhava (house) symbolism that occurs when multiple places are taken as a lagna or 1st bhava. Very often most astrologers read strictly from the ascendant but ancient forms of astrology advised reading from other points as well, thereby opening the symbolism of the chart into a kind of multi-dimensional crystal wherein various angles become observable instead of just one.

It is extremely common in Jyotish to read from both the lagna and the position of the moon (chandra lagna) and even the sun (surya lagna), arudha or pada lagna, karakamsa and navamsa lagna. The Jyotish classic BPHS even recommends studying the chart from at least 3 other special lagnas and possibly more (though I don’t remember at this point!). Finally Jyotishis will often look at specific houses from the planets for specific topics, such as the 5th from Jupiter for children, the 9th from Jupiter for Gurus or religious beliefs, the 9th from the Sun for the father, the 4th from the Moon for the mother/manas, the 12th from Saturn for losses and imprisonment, the 12th from Ketu for moksha. These are always analyzed alongside the normal houses and significators. In Hellenistic astrological texts great emphasis was placed by some astrologers on reading the chart from the lot of fortune.

Whatever one’s preferred methodology is, layering can be made use of via bhavas and even via planets, lots and other derived bhavas, padas etc.

The manner in which I currently utilize the technique is to view the a chart from the lagna, chandra lagna and surya lagna and then see how they intersect. We’ll use this transit chart below as an example:


Lets start with the lagna itself. It is the first bhava so we mark it as I. Next from the moon we see it is the 3rd bhava so we mark it now as I/III. From the sun it is the 5th bhava so we mark it as I/III/V. We also note that it is the sign Leo, which is naturally the 5th house. So here the layering suggests that regarding this person’s identity, body, Spirit and self generally there is an additional influence of 3rd and 5th bhava factors. Both the 1st and 5th are dharma houses while the 3rd is a kama house, so we have a strengthening of the dharma principle. However we also should note that the 5th is always secondarily considered the 3rd from the 3rd and therefore functions as a bhava that can reinforce 3rd house principles. This is overall an auspicious combination for the lagna because even though the 3rd is considered mildly malefic it forms a more wholesome combination with the 5th bhava influence. This might symbolize an individual who is hungry for knowledge, very independent thinker, desirous of renown or honors, and/or liable to be given to taking risks, partying or indulging in entertainments and being very headstrong or always trying to tackle obstacles and commit valiant acts. This is heavily reinforced by the sun’s exalted position in the 9th bhava with exalted Mars in aspect to both the sun and the lagna.

Now we can begin with the moon instead. We find that it’s layering gives I/XI/III. The moon is also in Gemini, the 3rd sign of kalapurusha, thus reinforcing the 3rd house theme. This gives a strong kama nature for the native and might manifest in the form of very high ideals and hopes. The presence of rahu adds a disruptive quality to the whole situation as well as a revolutionary energy. It all comes to together to imply that the person is very hopeful, aiming high in life, desiring great and perhaps unconventional or revolutionary things to the point of near fanaticism and possessed of great drive to accomplish their goals/visions.

Relative to the Sun we find the layers of I/IX/XI. Again the dharma principle is emphasized etc. and in all three lagnas so are the kama bhavas. So we have a mixture of kama and dharma influences predominating in this hypothetical person’s chart on their character directly. This means that basically the person feels it is their mission to obtain what they desire, or that enjoyments make them who they are etc. Notice as well that the lords of these three lagnas are also interacting together as well, for Mercury, lording over chandra lagna is conjoined the sun, lord of the lagna and then Mars, who lords over surya lagna, is aspecting the sun/Mercury in his own sign and aspecting the lagna via his special 8th aspect.

This technique can be used for virtually every bhava in order to get a very quick but accurate birds eye view of the quality of that area of life, relative to any one of these three lagnas.

A Note on these Three Lagnas

Generally speaking all three lagnas yield cogent information about a person’s life, but each is subtly different from the other. Some consider that the lagna encompasses all three areas but is primarily related to the body and the ahamkara (I-sense), the moon primarily to manas (the mind) and the sun to the causal body which is basically the higher mind/wisdom body (vijnanamaya kosha) and the bliss sheath (anandamaya kosha). While I agree with this I also take it with a huge grain of salt. In general the lagna is the most neutral principle of the three points, referring to things generally, while the lunar lagna refers to the impact things in life exert upon us (thereby making it a passive principle) and the solar lagna symbolizes what we give to the world and how we alter or affect the stuff of life (the active principle). Regardless all three refer to life experiences in general and in any situation all are present, which is why this technique is very useful as it shows the interaction of what is (lagna), how it affects us (chandra) and how we affect it (surya).

Other ways to employ the technique:

Taking the 10th bhava we will get the following layering: X/XII/II. We find that Jupiter owns the 12th bhava from the sun which is also the 8th bhava and the 10th from the moon. Jupiter casts a full aspect into the 12th house, where he would be exalted if he were so placed, and he casts a full aspect into the 10th house wherein Venus is placed. He also aspects the 2nd bhava. Thus via Jupiter’s aspect we note that the XII/II/X influence upon the 10th is reiterated, along with additional moksha/challenging themes because he is owning the 8th bhava from the lagna. This may seem like a lot to follow but as you practice the technique you’ll find it is very easy to see all of this.

The challenging part is to delineate what this actually means and this can really only be done in the context of the entire chart. One simple deduction would be that there might well be loss of position and career due to women, sex and entertainments. On a more positive note, since that is a well placed and strong Venus who also rules the 10th, it could mean a career wherein the native helps people recover lost valuable items or money or a person who works as a mediator especially for couples divorcing. Notice that Jupiter is also placed in the 10th from the sun and rules the 12th from the same. We might say he exerts an VIII/X/XII influence, which actually makes him largely malefic, even though relative to the lagna of Leo is considered more benefic than malefic by the normal rules of judgement. But his malefic nature is increased due to his being placed in the 6th bhava with two strong malefics and possessing no benefic intervention to help him out. His only real strength is that he is vargottama in the navamsa. In his guise as a disruptive planet he is also the lord of Ketu, another significator for the 12th bhava and he has possesses very weak dig bala. To bring in even more layering (it can go on forever if we are not careful!) he owns the 12th from Saturn, also considered a challenging house.

These derived houses from the planets, such as the 12th from Saturn, can help us focalize our judgements when things are uncertain. Take the case of the 5th bhava here, already afflicted by Ketu. It is also the 7th from the moon and the 9th from the sun. The 7th is a neutral house, while the 9th and 5th are considered generally auspicious, but due to its being the 12th from Saturn and afflicted by Ketu, we find that these auspicious factors are overridden or at least greatly weakened. We also find that the moon casts a full aspect to the bhava, and the moon is the 12th lord, thus reinforcing the 12th house theme of loss, expenses and depletion of the things signified by the 5th bhava (children, past life merits, mantras, prayers, ritual practice, creativity and confidence). But we can also apply these same themes to this bhava relative to the moon (7th), thus showing losses and interferences in marriage and partnership, and the themes relative to its position from the sun (9th bhava), revealing a lack of direction, purpose, an absence of the father or guru figures and so on. Generally the sun in the 9th house can reveal a person who is so independent in their thinking that they do not listen to their preceptors and teachers, and our analysis of the 9th from the sun reveals more about this, perhaps even the subtle psychological reasons behind why this might be the case etc. Again notice Mars rules the 8th from the sun and sits with the 8th lord in the 6th house and aspects the Sun itself!

We could go on forever with this technique. The key point we wish to make clear at the end of our demonstration here is that it is not a replacement for the normal methods of chart delineation, but it is to be used in tandem with them as a mechanism for reinforcing one’s understanding of the chart. It clearly can allow us to dive much deeper into all factors of the chart and thus can yield us with insights regarding the native’s psychology (samskaras and vasanas) and more. It is my sincere hope that this is a useful technique for other astrologers. Namaste.



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