Understanding Relationships With Astrology
I’ve always thought of astrology as a wonderful tool which is multi-faceted. One of its better uses is in understanding relationships, and I don’t just mean lover-partner relationships, but all relationships. Life is composed of relationships starting with birth, our mother, and whoever aids our entrance, and ending with whomever helps or forces us to exit. The journey between is unique to each of us, but the guidepost of astrology certainly can enrich our awareness and understanding of what it’s ultimately all about.
This is an introductory article to a series I’ve planned starting with Aries this month and ending with Pisces in 2013. I’ll be exploring how we can relate to each archetype in turn. I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve gleaned not just from my own personal life’s experiences, but as a professional astrologer with a background in psychology these past 38 years.
People use astrology for so many reasons, but I wish more would use it to gain understanding of why they’re drawn to certain types of people and not others, and why they get embroiled in often disappointing and tragic relationships. In this age of ‘quick fixes’ which modern medicine and pharmaceuticals have conditioned us to expect, there is less pull towards self-reflection except when people decide to seek help through long-term therapy. Astrologers are seldom used for a valuable service they can render in the art of perceiving patterns which draw people again and again into the same dilemmas and predicaments that never seem to change even after ‘changing partners’. People tend to want to know when their ‘dream will come true’ and when ‘things will change’ rather than what is it about me that attracts these same circumstances into my life over and over again?
Most people don’t ask ‘why’.
However, I have, over my long years of practice, had some special clients who asked to look at their primary relationships, starting with their parents, so that they could gain greater understanding of themselves and what shaped them psychologically and thus how they could become whole in themselves and have fulfilling future relationships. We’ve explored parents, siblings, past lovers and partners, even bosses and employees until they saw clearly for themselves their own patterns. Self-realization always leads to change in relationships for there-in lies the mirror: I am you and you are me.
What, then, are some of the tools from astrology that you can use when trying to fathom some of your most profound and often difficult relationships?
Astrology is comprised of planets in four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. This is a basic, underlying theme in relationships often. Which major combinations are at work? A Fire/Earth relationship is going to have a different dynamic from a Fire/Water relationship. To understand this more deeply the astrologer must do a careful analysis of which element is dominate or weak in each person, and then look at how they combine between the two people. This will show amazing insights. If, for example, a person lacks a certain element, they will almost invariably be drawn to that element in relationship with all the ensuing problems that it may bring even though the driving force is towards wholeness through the mirror of seeming opposites. The classic compatibles are earth with water (Yin), and fire with air (Yang), but too much Yin is passive, and too much Yang is combative, therefore Fire often seeks out Earth and vice versa, just as Air and Water are often drawn to each other.
Astrology is comprised of planets in three modes: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. These modes also show patterns in people with compensatory attractions to those of a different pattern. Since there are four elements and three modes interlacing through the twelve signs of the zodiac, we have compounded the variety and number of combinations possible. Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, & Capricorn) like action and are the doers of the zodiac. This would explain why sometimes seemingly incompatible signs by element, such as Aries and Cancer, might become partners because one type takes action in one sphere, while the other takes action in a different sphere so that together they function as a whole. Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) will be drawn to each other because they like power, but they may eventually lock horns in power struggles over the same mode that seemed so irresistible for both initially. Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) adapt fairly well to each other even though together they make lack the determination and stamina necessary for survival. Of course, if one has enough fixed or cardinal energy to balance things out, the relationship can work.
If all of this is starting to sound like cooking, it is! Relationships, like a good recipe, need certain basic ingredients and then a pinch of this, and a squirt of that. But the secret ingredient; the most important ingredient of all is—–the love of the cooks and the love of cooking together! Again, the formula may look perfect, but if that certain indefinable something isn’t there, it may not come out right. (Speaking of cookbooks, check out Lobster for Leos, Cookies for Capricorns by Sabra Ricci. This is a lively froth of a book with some delicious gourmet recipes and dietary tips for each sign.)
This theme of free will versus fate was brought home just the other day when I was talking with an old client/friend over the phone who often explores his relationships with me through the use of chart comparisons. He quoted that wise saying from an ancient sage: “The stars impel, rather than compel”. Tis true. A birth map can not tell us the level of consciousness. It can show us where emphasis lies in terms of qualities of energy (signs), kinds of energies (planets), patterns of energy (Element/Mode combinations), and areas of life experience (houses) where energies are most likely going to be expended, but it can not tell us the character of that individual. Character; that is the quality which is forged through choice and free will. Each soul, irregardless of circumstances, gets to choose how they will respond to whatever life brings to them, and that is ultimately what builds character strength or character flaws. So astrology has its limitations. As Liz Greene, that great astrologer/psychologist, states in her book Star Signs for Lovers, “You’ll attract people and situations which resonate to your substance. If you are conscious, you can change. If you don’t know about it, then you’re fated, but not by the stars. By yourself mate.”
Or to put it another way quoting Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
I think it’s important that we establish this clearly in our consciousness before continuing on with possible tools we can use with the knowledge of astrology. Here are a few more:
The twelve sun signs combined with the twelve ascendants basically give us 144 combinations of different types of individuals. Combine yours with another individual’s and you have a fantastic array of possibilities. This is why the time of birth is so important to know, because the Ascendant/Descendant axis gives us the path of relationship from Self to Other. A Scorpio Ascendant with Taurus Descendant is looking for something quite different in relationships from a Gemini Ascendant with Sagittarius on the Descendant. You’ve got to factor this formula in to the equation when analyzing propensities.
The Sun is symbolic of energy. A Leo Sun type gets their fuel from Fire. So what happens if they’re with a Cancer? They simply do not get refueled by the Water source of that sign. Sun signs either fuel each other, or they don’t; this is very basic and elementary. Some people can get ‘fueled’ elsewhere from their primary partnership, but some can’t. In other cultures where marriage and love were not necessarily synonymous a man could have a mistress, for example. (But what about the wife also having a lover??) His wife might serve the function of partner while the mistress refueled him, and all was acceptable within the social milieu of that culture. Where monogamy is the cultural norm, this is more problematic obviously. I doubt any research has been done to show statistical evidence for divorce based on irreconcilable differences between incompatible Sun-signs, though it would be interesting to see if there was any correlation. While Fire is drawn to Earth often for grounding, Earth eventually can put out the spark for Fire and Earth can feel insecure after years of wasted pipe dreams with Fire. While Water can eventually feel unsupported by Airs cool aloofness, Air can also feel dragged down by Water’s endless emotional turbulence.
Sun/Moon Relationships show another kind of vital link between two individuals. Carl Jung did a study which showed that some of the best marriages were composed of Sun/Moon conjunctions. It’s the obvious alchemical union of Solar/Lunar archetypes. It is true that when these two are conjoining each other or in harmony by either trine or sextile, that union is more likely to be compatible for the long haul. The Moon plays a tremendous role in almost all relationships because it is the indicator of emotional need in the birth map. If one’s needs are not fulfilled there is truly a lack of nourishment in the relationship. The Moon is also one’s comfort zone, and harsh contacts from one person to the other’s Moon can feel terrible and over time wear one down and deplete the Lunar person.
Moon/Saturn Relationships are studied especially in parent/child relationships. Saturn is representative of boundaries, discipline, and responsibility. Does the parent’s Saturn provide enough, too little, or too harsh a relationship with the child’s Moon. This combination gives much insight into initial relationship dynamics for the child and is also good to know for the parent in understanding their own child.
If all parents would carefully study the charts of their children and look at how their energies either blend or conflict with each child, they would have a true guidance system in better parenting which meets the individual needs of each child.
Venus/Mars, Moon/Mars, and Venus/Moon combinations are keys to lover harmony or disharmony once the initial attraction phase is over. Again, the principles are the same. Do the elements harmonize between the two, or create eventual friction? Do they even connect? If they don’t actually connect at all, the dynamic won’t last, so even square aspects are potentially promising depending on how the conflicts are used. One of the most problematical aspects between lovers/partners is the Mars square Mars aspect. I’ve seen even conscious people eventually break apart under the strain of this dynamic which puts them at odds with each other in the long run. One of the best sexual combinations between lovers is actually the Moon/Mars connections, because the Moon is one’s response ability to Mars sexual drive.
Mercury combinations with each other and the other planets are so important for all relationships. There is even a good book on just that: Mercury Method Of Chart Comparison by the late Lois M. Rodden. If you can’t communicate, how can you sustain a positive connection with each other? From an Airy perspective, nothing would be more miserable than living with someone you couldn’t communicate with. So Mercury to Mercury is important as is Mercury to Sun, Moon, Venus, and even Jupiter in personal relationships. Good Mercury/Saturn connections are vital for teacher/student relationships but how often does anyone look to see whether their teacher has what they need in that department?
Generational indicators include the transpersonal planets and how they inter-act with another’s energies, including their transpersonal planets. The generation of Pluto in Cancer, which numbers in the millions upon millions due to the length Pluto was in that sign (nearly 30 years) shows a certain unconscious bent which often translates in this modern world as control for security reasons. A younger generation with Pluto in Libra may have a difficult time with such control because their unconscious drive is towards equality. All three transpersonal planets (Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus) create multiple combinations which often translate as the ‘generational gaps’ playing themselves out in today’s world. Pluto, especially, is creating the seeming effect of speeding things up because it literally has been moving through certain signs quickly as it swung closer to the Sun (perihelion) in its elliptical orbit. We now have six different Pluto generations living together in Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, and now Capricorn. Oi vey! Quite frankly, in my humble opinion, it’s the Pluto in Cancer generation still in leadership positions such as the Supreme Court, dictatorships, and CEOs of multi-national corporations that are holding up the works with their penchant for fear-based controls and maintaining their own security at all costs. Next follows the Pluto in Leo generation who never want to grow old and endlessly self-indulge!
From all this you’re beginning to see how useful astrology can truly be in the comprehension of all of our relationships. I haven’t covered business/professional relationships, healer/patient relationships, boss/employee relationships, lawyer/client relationships, etc. etc. They all have key ingredients necessary for success or failure quite frankly. I remember well looking at my relationship with a certain lawyer and realizing, too late, why he couldn’t help me. His Jupiter did absolutely nothing for me; while mine did everything for him (he made a lot of money off of me!).
I look forward to my next article on ‘Relating to Aries’. We’ll explore the archetype of Aries and then look at the different possible combinations with that sign as well as the shadow elements that can creep in to compound and complicate matters.
The goal, of course, is for each of us to understand ourselves well enough to be able to relate to all of the other signs/archetypes with a modicum of success, even if certain signs are a greater challenge towards harmony than other signs. So have fun with this, dear reader. It’s a fascinating study.