Archives for posts with tag: Angelina Jolie

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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the-desperate-man-self-portrait courbet-1845

One of the most common questions I get from people seeking readings is why they don’t identify with their Sun signs. “I don’t feel like a Pisces,” a woman said to me recently, and certainly she was not typically a Pisces type. And this is the drawback of only looking at the Sun sign: it’s a piece of the puzzle, a significant piece to be sure and in some charts the most important piece, but not always.

One thing to realize is that every Sign is ruled by a Planet. And the placement of that planet is just one of the important considerations in how much or how little you feel like your sign. That’s why we look at all the planets, where they are and how they relate to each other. Going back to something I’ve written about in the past: the chart represents levels of behavior, of being. This is why there are contradictions in our characters and behaviors.

For instance, Moon in Cancer wants to nurture. Sun in Aries wants to go out and conquer. How do those conflicting needs get resolved? Is there a comprise? Is one chosen over the other? So with Aries ruled by Mars, we would look to where Mars is in the chart. Strong? Weak? Connected to the Sun or to the Moon, or neither?

Remember: planets can be described as needs. Growing up in your particular family, is one need much more rewarded than the other? The way the planets fit – not just the Sun sign – but all of them together starts to give us a portrait. Too many conflicting needs may leave you uanble to act with certainty or confidence. Not enough inner conflict and you may lack motivation to do much.

In addition, the relative strength of other planets may take center stage over the Sun sign. A strongly placed Venus or Jupiter – for instance, on an angle of the chart – may give it precedence over the Sun sign. But let’s use an example, and to do so we’ll use one of my favorites: the chart of Angelina Jolie below.

  Jolie Planets

Jolie is a Gemini: Sun and Mercury are in Gemini. Mercury rules Gemini, which should give her strong mental qualities. She should be diverse in her interests and her approach, if we’re looking at it strictly from a Sun sign perspective. And with her humanitarian work, interest in directing and so on, that certainly seems to be the case.

But what we know her for is her beauty and her roles in which she projects herself as a person of powerful action. In the chart, we see that in two places: Venus right on the Ascendant (marked on the left side of the chart) and Mars, Moon and Jupiter in Aries (fighting, headstrong, force) at the top of the chart (also marked). The Gemini signature is there, but there’s a way where it is subsumed by the Moon, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. She described herself once as someone who gets what she wants. That’s not a Gemini statement, that’s an Aries statement, and the placement of those three planets at the Midheaven (career, public exposure) testifies to those needs.

Summing it up: the question of why you do or don’t feel like your Sun sign is a complicated one. And there may be a very good reason why you don’t.


Ready, set, go. Death comes in threes.  

Me, myself and IBeginning, middle and end. 

Father, mother, child. Win, place & show.

As you can probably gather from the small sampling of phrases above, the expression and use of the number three is widespread and appears to find its way into all aspects of life, from sports to religion. (I once worked for a provably mad marketing guru who loved to scream “It’s always THREE!!!”, which was his second favorite statement after “It’s not your fault that you’re STUPID!!!”)

But I digress. Symbolically, the number three has a mystical significance. In his fine book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe,” Michael S. Schneider writes “wherever there are three, as the three knights, three musketeers, three wise men, or three wishes, there is thoroughness, rebirth, transformation, and success.”

Not surprisingly, the number three plays a significant, but in many ways, overlooked role in astrology. There are, of course, the three modes: cardinal, fixed and mutable, which symbolize the process of initiating, consolidating and changing. In a chart, the three most important points are the Ascendant (1), the Sun (2) and the Moon (3). So important are these points that a pretty clear picture of a person can often be gathered simply by examining the relationship of these three points in a chart. In my experience, most people are familiar with their Sun sign, but many fewer know the sign of their Moon and only a very small percentage know the sign of their Ascendant.

But it’s the Ascendant that plays a very large role in a chart. It’s the reason that the time of birth is asked for. The degree of the Ascendant changes approximately every four minutes, which means that it moves through all 360 degrees every single day. (In fact, I’ve been told and have read that in Vedic (Indian) astrology, people will refer to their “sign” as their Ascendant, not as the Sun sign.)

When examining a chart, we look to see if the Ascendant, Sun and Moon are compatible, by mode and by element. Can they see each other, by which I mean, are they in aspect? If an analogy will help, imagine a stool with three legs. If the lengths of the legs are relatively even – if they work together well – then we can expect a stable personality. But if the legs are not even in length – if the points are in conflict with each other – then we can anticipate challenges with the personality, challenges knowing what they want or how to proceed. There’s an inherent imbalance that must be overcome or dealt with. Is that necessarily bad? No.Tension can be good, as it leads to development. But too much tension, too much imbalance, can delay development. Just as not enough tension can lead to a lack of development.

To take this out of the abstract realm, let’s look at a chart. If you’ve been reading the newsletter for a while, we’ll take a look at an old friend, Angelina Jolie, whose chart is below.

To make this exercise easier, I’ve stripped everything out of Jolie’s chart but the three points under consideration: the Cancer Ascendant (circled), the Gemini Sun (triangle) and the Aries Moon (square).

Ascendant is Cancer rising. The Ascendant represents the projection to the world and also symbolizes the body. With Cancer, there may be a tendency to self-centeredness alternating with an urge to merge with others. It also suggests a strong degree of self-protection. Venus (beauty) sitting almost exactly on the cusp is a fitting placement for a woman who is still probably best known for her beauty, despite a range of accomplishments.

Moon in Aries in the 10th house. Here the Moon takes on even more significance because it rules the Ascendant. The Moon in the 10th house desires to be highly visible and as it’s in Aries the desire is to be assertive, even violently so about her needs. (Recall Jolie’s strange and public relationship with Billy Bob Thornton.) Those needs are played out in public (10th house, career). Consider the accompanying picture of Jolie at the Academy Awards, which essentially says I dare you not to look at me!

Finally, the Sun in Gemini wants variety. It wants to be doing more than one thing, it’s uncomfortable being defined in a single way. Which is consistent with Jolie’s acting, directing and philanthropic activities, all of which are played out publicly – as the Moon is in a supportive aspect to the Sun.

So there you have it: with three points in the chart and a handful of keywords, we have a rather accurate description of an individual. But, you might ask, surely there are others, born with similar placements, who do not have the high-powered, high-profile life that Jolie does. What about that? From doing charts, I can answer that by saying that there are many people out there, with the same qualities as Angelina, doing equally extraordinary things who are well-known – visible, if you will – to the members of their community, their circle of colleagues and their friends.

For those of you who wish to learn more about the myriad expressions of the number “three”, go to Mike Eck’s fine website Plenty to look at there, and while you’re poking around, you can read Alan Dundes’s famous essay “The Number Three in American Culture”