|By Charlotte Benson|
Interview on November 5, 2009
Charlotte Benson: Thanks for making time to reveal a little about yourself, and about your life as a Jyotishi, Dennis. You are one of the busiest people I know – managing a full time consulting business, teaching Jyotish, and being a hands-on Dad to a large family! How did you get started on the Jyotish path?
|Dennis Flaherty: I became interested in the world of Astrology when I was 15 years old, with the only books available to me at that time – which were those of Evangeline Adams.|
I then advanced to the works of authors of humanistic Astrology, when I was 18 – 19 years old. I began my formal study of Astrology, in the greater Boston area, in 1968 or 1969.
Because of certain configurations in my chart, I am interested in philosophy and Astrology.
Charlotte: Sounds like a wonderful yoga in your chart.
Dennis: Yes – a Saraswati yoga in my 9th house. This gives me interest in Theology, Epistemology, Etymology and Musical theory. I’m an Irish tenor!
Charlotte: Oh – how fun – I did not know that about you, Dennis!
Dennis: Yeah, I was even contemplating a career in music – such is the nature of Saraswati yogas. They have to do with the inspired word - which is poetry, which is shruti – which is what I do in Astrology; and of course music – well enough to inspire people. Hopefully, as astrologers, we make the chart come alive, in an inspiring manner – that is shruti – “that which is heard.” The oral tradition.
I really have to credit two people for my early interest in Vedic Astrology. James Braha, who was a Western astrologer, who wrote “Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer”, about 1986. This book was very foundational and comprehensible to the Western astrologer. I always credit James for this. And I always credit the works of Dr. B.V. Raman, who is very much the Grandfather of modern Vedic Astrology. He made it very comprehensible; he clarified controversial issues, such as Kuja Dosha, and I very much like how he reinterpreted ancient Vedic Astrology in a modern light.
Charlotte: Absolutely – I revere both of those brilliant men, too. I refer to at least one of James Braha’s books every day. So – then you got active in organizing the presentation of Vedic Astrology here in the West, in collaboration with another Dennis.
Dennis: Yes, I met Dennis Harness at UAC (the United Astrology Conference) in 1991. We sat down next to each other, at a meeting to discuss the foundation of Kepler University, and became fast friends. He invited me to be a speaker at the First International Symposium, in San Rafael, California, in 1992. And then I became one of the original seven founders of the American Council of Vedic Astrology, in June of 1995. And from then on, Dennis Harness, David Frawley, Jim Kelleher, and myself co-sponsored the International Symposiums on Vedic Astrology, until the formation of the ACVA, in March of 2000, who then took over the conferences.
As do many of the Western astrologers who came into Vedic Astrology, I describe myself as a “Neo-Vedic” astrologer, because I’m interpreting the ancient Astrology in a modern, contemporary light – and I use the outer planets. And I also use certain techniques that I have found to be valid, from Western Astrology – using the sidereal Zodiac, of course.
Charlotte: That’s interesting – like what techniques?
Dennis: The progressed lunation cycle, and tradtional progressions, and directions in the sidereal zodiac. I was a big fan of Cyril Fagan, a famous Irish Sidereal astrologer. And then I pioneered my trademark work on Jyotish Locality – which is the art of re-location utilizing the Vedic chart. Modern people relocate –ancient people didn’t. So Jyotish Locality is the Jyotish interpretation of these modern maps – in which we use right ascension, and declination, which totally side-steps the Tropical vs. Sidereal debate. So the astrolocality maps pioneered by the late Jim Lewis, are as valid from a sidereal perspective, as they are from a tropical perspective. This pioneering research first appeared in my article in The Mountain Astrologer in August of 1997, over 12 years ago and has been reprinted in Martin Davis’ excellent book “From Here to There: An Astrologer’s Guide to Astromapping”.
Charlotte: And it appears on your website – which is a goldmine of brilliant articles with substantial information. www.vedicsciences.com
Dennis: My website is the essence of research work, and my contributions to astrological community – being a Neo-Vedic astrologer – utilizing contemporary tools for the needs of the times. My practice is the same as most astrologers, but I have a specialty in Jyotishlocality, because of my aforesaid research. Depending on what dasa cycle clients are running, and what karmas they’re experiencing, I very much utilize Astro-Locality as an upaye – a remedy, as some things can change by space, as well as time.
I also have an emphasis on “Dharma and Right Vocation.” This is a challenging issue- one of the silver linings of a difficult economy. As the delusion of acquisition falls away, people really take a closer look at their vocational path, and purpose, and what makes them happy. So, since the economic downturn, many people are questioning Right Vocation. My article on Dharma and Right Vocation is republished on my website from the November 1993 Mountain Astrologer.
My clients are from all walks of life; some celebrities and performers like many of my peers. It’s exciting to watch the success of some musical albums that have been released using the timing of Astrology. But, for most of us practicing jyotishis, the excitement is the personal satisfaction of helping people work through their personal issues regarding purpose and meaning.
Charlotte: That is really inspiring, Dennis. It sounds to me like you are perfectly in your own Swa-Dharma, in your consulting work. Is that an attribution of your lovely Saraswati yoga?
Dennis: Yes, and my lord of the 5th is involved so my twin daughters are engaged in dance and music. They recently played Salt and Pepper in the musical Beauty and the Beast!
Charlotte: Wow – congratulations!
Dennis: That’s my dharma. I trained to be a teacher. I like to inspire my children, I like to inspire my students; and hopefully, through my writings, I will inspire my community.
Charlotte: Well – you have certainly done that! Through both your writing, and your lecturing. Thinking back on how cultured and broad-based your references are, I can see your Saraswati yoga at work. Is Saraswati the reason you have earned your very dignified and rare Jyotish titles?
|Dennis: Several of my colleagues and myself in the United States were honored by Dr. B.V. Raman, and the ICAS, the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences, for our writings, educational symposiums and contributions to the Vedic astrological community in the west.|
I received a letter in March of 1994 from I.C.A.S. bestowing the title “Jyotish Kovid”, and then received the title ”Jyotish Vachaspati” in June of 1996. The American College of Vedic Astrology honored me with the Jyotish Navaratna Award in September of 2005.
Charlotte: Wow! That's huge - very impressive. About that same time, you and Dennis Harness co-sponsored that amazing conference, "Sacred Astrology Symposium", in Seattle, which was the first, as far as I know, East-West Astrology conference.
Dennis: Yes - that was successful, and one of the things that it did was to establish a dialogue between East and West astrologers. As we know, Jyotisha is the Science of Light. A few people still persist in searching for what they call the “right” Astrology. To these few I like to mention one of my favorite conundrums in physics. The scientific principles of light responds to two theories: wave theory, and particle theory. It expresses itself according to both theories. There isn’t just one “right” theory of why light illuminates. Eastern / Western; Tropical / Sidereal. I have always found that good astrologers, irrespective of the system that they use, get the same illuminative results.
Charlotte: Of course, that makes perfect sense. If one really knows any symbol system, and is consistent with it, one will be able to derive true information from it. Speaking of true information, I’ve heard that you’re sponsoring another Symposium next year. What are your plans for another gathering?
Dennis: We’re going to present the International Symposium on Vedic Sciences, next summer, 2010, from June 17th – June 21st,. This will feature senior people from the Jyotish community, from the Yoga and the Ayurveda community. Our key-note speaker will be Dr.B.V.Raman’s daughter, Gayatri Devi Vasudev, who will be coming from Bangalore, India, to join us. She is the editor of “Modern Astrology” magazine. Having four daughters myself, I am so honored to bring to the U.S. the daughter of the Grandfather of modern Vedic Astrology.
Charlotte: That is going to be a real blessing to have her appear in person. I’ve met her – she’s an amazing lady, and a brilliant Jyotishi – no wonder why.
Dennis: Yes, it’s fascinating. I’ve observed that, even though Jyotish is traditionally a male-lineage, I’ve observed that the majority of our students and practitioners are women. I’ve graduated around 27 of my women students from the ACVA over the years, and I’ve only graduated about three men! All the daughters of Daksha Prajapati, father of the Nakshatras.
Charlotte: That’s poetical! But, back to a practical question, where is the conference being held?
Dennis: In the greater Seattle area, where I live.
Charlotte: I’m looking forward to being there. That will be so interesting to have access to masters from all the Vedic Sciences in one venue. And to hear Gayatri Devi Vasudev – she is a living treasure! But in the meantime, we’ll be able to learn more about Mangal – in your ACVA webinar on Saturday, December 12. Sign-up at http://www.acvaonline.org/webinars_01.php
Dennis: I’m calling the webinar: “Mars, Self-Determinism in the Cult of Speed.” It’s about the effects of the up-coming perigee of Mars, retrograde in the sign of its debilitation. It’ll be about the good, and bad, and the ugly of Mars. You know, Mars has four arms. Three of them hold weapons, but one grants the boon of Self-determinism.
Charlotte: “Fore-warned is four-armed”. Thank you, Dennis, for so much great information, in this conversation, and through the years. See you on the webinar.
Dennis Flaherty's Bio
Dennis holds degrees in English and Sociology from the University of Massachusetts. In the last decade he has been recognized by his peers with the following honors. He is one of six original recipients of the esteemed Jyotish Kovid (1994) title and Jyotish Vachaspati (1996) title awarded by the late B.V. Raman, the modern Grand Father of Vedic Astrology, through the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences. He was further awarded the Jyotish Navaratna title (2005) by the American College of Vedic Astrology for his outstanding service in the field of Vedic Astrology. Dennis is one of eight original founding board members of the American Council of Vedic Astrology (ACVA) in 1993 and one of the original six founding members of the American College of Vedic Astrology. He has served four terms as President of the Washington State Astrological Association (WSAA) and four terms on the board of the Association for Astrological Networking (AFAN), and, was the first elected President Emeritus of the Council of Vedic Astrologers. Dennis now serves the astrological community on the advisory committees of both the AFAN and the ACVA.
Dennis Flaherty's consultation contact information:
NW Institute of Vedic Sciences
Web Site: www.vedicsciences.com
Charlotte Benson (Jyoti Devi)
Diplomate: AFA, NCGR, ISAR
Executive Director, American College of Vedic Astrology, Inc.
President, Arizona Society of Astrologers, Inc.
Phoenix, AZ USA.