Archives for category: Feminine

angelina-jolieHow we react, how we respond to the pressures of the world is, in many ways, a strong indicator of our quality of life. Why? Because it is through our reactions that we navigate and  negotiate with the world.  Are our reactions emotional or mental, rash or confused, thoughtful or inarticulate, hysterical or passive, generous or selfish?

In looking at a chart, there is no single feature that gives us an idea of how a person might react in a situation, though there are candidates. The modes – cardinal, fixed and mutable – can be helpful if one of these is highlighted in a chart. The elements can also be helpful. Imagine you’re about to be attacked by a bear. If you’re of a fiery nature, you’ll probably counter-attack.  If you’re earthy you’ll stand your ground. If you’re airy, you’ll be trying to quickly figure a way out. If you’re watery, you’ll likely cry!

But all that aside, we typically look at the Moon to get a baseline measurement of  how we react. As the fastest moving planet, its very nature suggests change and thus gives us a clue to our reaction time. But looking only at the Moon’s sign can be misleading. The placement of the Moon in the chart, along with aspects to it can exaggerate or inhibit a person’s mode of reaction.

Before examining a chart, let me be clear why I think this topic has some importance. As I mentioned earlier, in my experience our reactions to the world constitute a high percentage of our quality of life. For most of us, this gets “fixed” in our personalities early on. But if the goal of astrology is to help you understand yourself, then seeing how you react is a very valuable tool in improving the quality of your existence.

The good news is that there’s plenty of opportunity, even without a reading, to understand how you react. All of us, every day, are in situations that demand reactions and responses. Spend a few minutes reviewing these before you go to sleep at night and you’ll start to form a clear picture of how you react. As to why you react in a certain manner, I think there is limited value in dwelling on that, at least at the beginning. Let’s be honest: we all think our reactions are appropriate all the time. And even when we admit they’re not, we can come up with some very good reasons. So, think less about why. More useful, probably, is to think about how could your reaction have been different. Do you have a range of reactions? Are you in control of them or do they control you?

Jolie Planets

As for a chart, let’s look at Angeline Jolie for some insight. Her Moon is in Aries – “forceful, positive, masterful, independent, self-reliant” – according to the first book I grabbed off my shelves. Consider her recent handling of her preventive double mastectomy. Whatever you think of her decision – and I can’t imagine the difficulty in facing such a choice – she used all the features of her Moon in Aries to do so. And with that Moon at the top of her chart, she did it publicly. And please note that not only is it at the top of the chart, but it’s conjunct both Jupiter and Mars. Her reactions are big (Jupiter) and aggressive (Mars).  According to her doctor, “she knew always that in her philanthropic core she couldn’t keep this a secret and be who she is.”

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3 Bacall

If you want to get an idea of how differently astronomers and astrologers view the universe, consider the following description of the planet Venus from NASA’s website:

“Venus is a dim world of intense heat and volcanic activity. Similar in structure and size to Earth, Venus’ thick, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway “greenhouse effect.” The scorched world has temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Glimpses below the clouds reveal volcanoes and deformed mountains.”

Now consider the astrological view of Venus:

“Venus is the most luminous planet in the earth’s sky, symbolizing beauty, grace, and relationship. It also represents Love, both in the carnal aspect and in its divine manifestation. The negative side of Venus – when it is badly placed in a chart – suggests laziness, extravagance, bad company, superficiality and a precoccupation with appearances.

Clearly, two very different points of view are at work here. The question is: which is right? To me, the answer is both. While I have no way of verifying the truthfulness of NASA’s data, I do believe that their data is correct. That said, I admit that it’s not terribly meaningful or relevant to me. But I’m also interested in what NASA doesn’t provide on their site, or at least I couldn’t find it there. Look at the image below.


It is the design of the relationship, as seen from above in space, that Venus and Earth make together as they circle around the Sun over an 8 year period.

To my eyes, this graphic is beautiful and speaks to the astrological symbology of Venus given above. One of the interesting things in astrology is how often a strong Venus is highlighted in a person’s chart, either by sign, house or aspect. While this is anecdotal, in my own experience in doing readings, I’ve seen several women named Venus with unusually strong placements of that planet in their charts. In a couple of cases, they were actually stylists (beauty=Venus).

So what’s my point? Simply this: the existence of scientific knowledge does not and should not diminish the power of our symbols. In the words of the 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell:

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

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.