Gender Old

Gender NewI received a number of interesting comments following last week’s newsletter, both on the mother/daughter compatibility reading and on the piece about the chart for the United States. One reader, a woman who I know well, took mild and bemused exception to my use of the recent book,“The End of Men and the Rise of Women” to ask “what would be wrong with a utopia run by women?”

To begin with, I’m not sure what utopia actually looks like or if Utopia is possible here in this world. But more importantly, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of gender superiority in almost any form. Is replacing “Father Knows Best” with “Mother Knows Best” really the answer?

Now, if you’re wondering what this has to do with astrology, consider the following: if you’ve received a reading from me, you know I ask for three pieces of information:

  •      Date of birth
  •      Time of birth
  •      Place of birth

Please note: I don’t ask whether you’re a man or a woman. And if you’re thinking that I can tell by your name, that’s not always true. The important fact is, it doesn’t matter to me. The chart represents a map, a pattern, a set of needs looking to be met, searching for expression. Gender becomes critical to the extent that it is largely a cultural overlay. Conversations with white women in their 20’s are very different from those with African-American women in their 20’s, and so on. Equality, to me, means that both men and women have the same chance to maximize their potentials. That’s why readings tend to be discussions between the client and myself, rather than declarations by me about the client.

All that said, one of the challenges of being a person, male or female, is that we tend to get stuck in certain patterns of behavior or responses to the world. For instance, Saturn badly placed in a chart can suggest issues around the father or around authority. Soon, like a well trod path through the woods, this issue becomes dominant as a theme, as a way of looking at yourself. But there are other themes in the chart, symbolized by other planets. So the question may become: how do I activate those other planets? How do I find other patterns within myself that are more rewarding?

For instance, with an absence of fire in the chart, there may come an absence of motivation. The reasons are elemental in the strict sense of the word. If there’s not enough heat, enough fire, nothing happens. A cooking analogy will explain this: if you want to bake bread, the oven has to be a certain temperature; if it’s only lukewarm, there’s no transformation. How does a person who lacks fire, get it? You have to recognize the situation first and go from there. In more traditional astrology, a person lacking fire may have been given hotter foods to eat, or encouraged to engage in activities such as martial arts or something akin to that to bring more fire to the temperament. Or, finally, they may gain the necessary degree of fire but seeking a partner who is strongly choleric.

These are, obviously, large questions that over time will have an extraordinary impact on the shape of a person’s life. So returning somewhere close to where I started this piece: the question of gender can’t be escaped: the cultural and familial matrix that a person is born into will encourage some needs and discourage others in both sexes. But from the perspective of astrology, my interest and my role is to make sure the people who come to me for readings – women or men – are able to do the most with what they have.