Relocational Astrology: how place of residence affects life outcomes
Relocational astrology is an exciting and relatively new field of Western astrology. It is also known as astrocartography, a term coined by the late American astrologer Jim Lewis, who first systematized its insights. Relocational asrology asks the question: what would my life be like if I was born at the same time but in another place? Obviously, we can’t change the time or place we were born, since our birth charts are ours forever. But many astrologers have noticed that fortunes seem partially connected to place, as if our horoscope changes as we change our geographical coodinates.
This technique is based on the assumption that planets near the angles (Ascendant, Descendant, MC, IC) and in kendra houses are stronger and exhibit their influence in our lives more readily than if they are placed other houses. By changing our location, we change the zodiacal position of the angles. That’s because all the planets rise and set every day as the Earth rotates on its axis. So we know that at the time of your birth, Jupiter, the planet of luck and good fortune, was rising somewhere in the world, even if it wasn’t rising where you were born. The beauty of relocational astrology is that we can determine where Jupiter was angular in the world, and then activate some of its favourable energy by travelling to that place.
Different planets on the angles can bring about different karmic consequences. Someone born with Saturn rising, for example, may experience slow progress in life and display a conservative, guarded, or isolated nature. Upon moving to another place where, say, Venus is rising, the native may have more Venusian-type experiences. They may become more social, or more interested in the arts, while love and financial affairs turn out more favourably. Of course, planets do not only express their natural significations. Saturn can be favourable depending on its strength and how it is aspected natally. Moving to a place that has that kind of Saturn may produce very good results. Likewise, a Venus that is heavily afflicted would probably create love and money problems if the native chose to move to a place where Venus was angular.
My research shows that many of basic ideas of relocational astrology can also be integrated for use in Vedic astrology. Certainly, angular planets have a consistent meaning in both systems. One difference, however, is that planetary strength is evaluated differently. For example, planets that have connections to the dussthana (6,8,12) houses either by placement or rulership are imbued with a potential for harm. Relocating to places where these planets became angular is made more problematic. If they are natural benefics and well aspected and are otherwise strong, however, then their natal malefic associations may be neutralized. A 12th house natal Venus therefore needn’t cause harm if it becomes angular in a relocated chart. If it is in Taurus, for example, and receives no aspects from malefics, it may only produce events and situations that draw on the positive significations of the 12th such as spiritual enlightenment, sexual pleasure, and success in charitable work.
Case study: Deepak Chopra
The chart of ultra-successful doctor, writer, and alternative healer Deepak Chopra illustrates some of these ideas well. However much location may have assisted Chopra’s rise to success, it’s important to note at the outset that his natal chart was strong to begin with. He has 4 planets in the favourable 9th house of higher knowledge and many of them form strong yogas. 9th lord Venus exchanges with 10th lord Mars showing career success, 11th lord Jupiter in the 9th showing gains from higher knowledge,
10th lord Mars conjoins 5th lord Mercury in the 9th showing fortunate results in philosophical and spiritual activities. 1st lord Saturn is placed in the 6th house of health and healing. It is aspected closely by 10th house Ketu, showing an unusual ability with healing. Chopra’s interest in alternative therapies and Ayurveda can be linked to this aspect. Also, Saturn’s dispositor Moon is placed in the 8th house representing hidden or secret knowledge. This is another clue that Chopra’s medical career would tend towards new age and alternative therapies. [For South Indian charts, please see bottom of this page]
The Moon generally doesn’t do well in the 8th , however, and so we would expect some problems here, especially since it is with deceptive Neptune. Certainly, Chopra has had his share of mainstream critics and detractors who have questioned his integrity and honesty. There has also been embarrassment (an 8th house matter) arising from a conflict of interest suit that went to court.
Chopra moved to Boston in 1968 to attend medical school. He stayed on afterwards there to begin practicing conventional Western medicine, evenutally becoming chief of staff of the New England Memorial Hospital. We can see from his relocated chart that his Moon is now in the angular first house. Natally, his Moon ruled the 6th house of health and now that has moved front and centre to the ascendant, an appropriate placement given his occupation. His 6th house natal Saturn has now moved to the 11th house where it aspects the 1st house. This again supports the notion that Boston would be a place where he would practice medicine. Interestingly, Saturn now rules the 6th of health so it exerts its medical influence by both rulership and natal house placement. In this way, the natal placement and rulerships are carried over into the relocated chart where they have to be interpreted alongside the rulerships of the new chart. Chopra’s career success in Boston may be seen through the Mercury-Mars conjunction making a close Western trine aspect to the MC within just two degrees. Angularity therefore includes both planets in conjunction to angles and in close aspect. What is noteworthy here is that Mars is carrying 10th house energy with it since it ruled the 10th house natally, while Mercury in the relocated chart rules the 1st and 10th houses hence its aspect to the MC provides an enormous boost to fame and fortune for Chopra in Boston.
Over time Chopra became more interested in traditional Ayurvedic and alternative healing modalities and in the 1990s moved to California, near San Diego. As we can see, this is also a favourable location for him. Note that the 6th lord Saturn of health has gone to the 12th house, representing foreign or spiritual enlightenment. This reflects Chopra’s growing interest in the mind-body connection and the self-help movement’s role in promoting the idea that physical wellness is closely tied to spiritual health. Recall also that this is the same Saturn that was placed in his natal 6th house which pointed to his original interest in healing in the first place. Rahu and Uranus are now placed in the angular 10th house of career very close to the MC. Both of these planets are associated with unconventional or unusual practices. This is consistent with Chopra’s trailblazing efforts to increase the popularity and respect for alternative medicine including the ancient system of Ayurveda from his native India.
The Limits of Relocational Astrology
Relocational astrology is a wonderful tool to help us live our lives more fruitfully. Knowing if certain places are more advantageous to us can be very useful when we are faced with crucial life choices for education, career, travel or emigration. Nonetheless, I think it’s important to remember that relocation is not a panacea. It cannot make an ordinary chart extraordinary, and it cannot make persistent life problems suddenly disappear like magic.
We are born with a natal chart that leaves an indelible karmic stamp upon us. If things look bad astrologically because transiting Saturn is bearing down on your Moon while you’re running a dasha of an afflicted planet, you can't suddenly pick up and move to another city or country and expect to be wildly happy and successful. What you can hope for, however, is to minimize the potential for losses or unhappiness or maximize your opportunities when your chart already indicates that an auspicious time is at hand. To my mind, that still makes relocational astrology important and worthwhile. You just have to be realistic about what it can do. I think the mistake many relocational astrologers make is to focus solely on place at the expense of what is actually happening in the timed part of the horoscope. In so far as they are trying to accentuate the positive for the sake of the client, this is understandable. Still, I fear that too many people have unreasonable expectations about what moving to a new location can do.
Relocational astrology is a bit like having an extra set of clothes, or ideally a whole wardrobe. It allows for greater adaptability for the changing cosmic "weather". If you only have a t-shirt and shorts, you may feel very uncomfortable when the temperature dips below freezing. Relocational astrology can provide you with a metaphorical sweater or warm coat that makes life more bearable. As we know, nobody can change the weather but there’s a lot to be said for being able to adapt to its vicissitudes.