Archives for posts with tag: Astrology

AngelicHierarchies_Fludd

A client recently asked if there was any relationship between astrology and religion. The short answer is, surprisingly: Yes. The relationship between astrology and religion – and I’m speaking here of the Western religions– is that they are based on a similar idea: there is no god, but God, the Unique, the One, the Source from which everything in the universe comes forth.

In ancient astrology, the universe was conceived to be a hierarchy. If we look at the famous hermetic illustration of Robert Fludd, we see God at the top and then a ring of concentric circles ending with Earth. Symbolically, the chart suggests a series of correspondences, of relationships, of gradations and refinements of Being. This isn’t as abstract as it sounds. Consider, for instance, the Catholic Church: it is headed by the Pope and underneath is a hierarchy: Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Laity. (The analogy breaks down, of course, as the Pope is considered infallible but that’s sheer sophistry and arrogance: only God is perfect.)

From the point of view of Fludd’s diagram, salvation, or grace, is accomplished through ascent: we must rise back to our common Source, God. To fall from our current position in the universe is dangerous: in one sense, we are already far away from God; to fall further is to flirt with non-existence.

Despite some similarity of conception, enormous differences exist between astrology and religion regarding the path back to God. Religion, at least as it’s currently practiced, requires believing and doing certain things for which the believer is rewarded. In contrast, the astrological approach requires that you Know Yourself. The chart, through the distribution and relationship of the planets, gives or should give insight into the basic nature of the individual. By knowing your nature, you have a perspective of your strengths and weaknesses, a perspective which can be used as a compass, so to speak, to guide you. To quote Fludd:

“As for man, there is such a wonderful treasure hidden in him that wise men have esteemed that the perfect wisdom of this world consisteth in knowledge of a man’s Self, namely to find out that secret mystery which doth lurk within him. For man is said to be the centre of every creature and for that cause he is called Microcosmos, centrum et miraculum mundi, containing in himself the properties of all creatures, as well celestial as terrestrial.”

Hiding 2

Maybe the only thing that is as hard as understanding yourself, is understanding another person. Of course, that’s what make relationships both exciting and maddening: as we get to know a partner, we begin to see and learn about different sides of ourselves.

In my practice, I get a lot of relationship questions, most of them around the topic of “Do we fit?” The woman who purchased this particular reading, had a different question: why is he hiding from me? 

Hiding

Look at the chart: she is represented by the planets circled on the left side of the chart, six of them in Aries. The boyfriend is symbolized by Venus in Pisces, which is circled. Unfortunately, the answer is very clear: he feels overwhelmed by her and simply cannot deal with her demands. Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter in Aries represents an enormous amount of force and demand that his Venus in Pisces is not able to deal with. So he withdraws, he becomes distant, he disappears.

Has he always been like this, I asked, or has your behavior towards him changed of late?

She answered that she had always been the stronger one in the relationship, but currently she wanted him to make a decision about their future and that she had been very upfront about that. I wrote back that, at least from the look of the chart, she has been a little too upfront and that her behavior was either driving him away or scaring him. “But I’m impatient,” she replied.  Yes, with SIX planets in Aries she probably was impatient.

And here’s where things become interesting, at least from the point of astrology. Is she with him because she likes being in control? Will that make her happy in a long-term relationship? Or does she want him to be more forceful and take more control? But what if that’s not who he is or what he wants? Because at the end of the day, she – and all of us – have to know what our needs are and how they fit with our partners.

20120803Vallotton, Felix

“I’m an Aries. Would I get along with a Scorpio?” Such a question is common for any astrologer, and if he or she is wise, it should be answered in the manner of a lawyer: “It depends.”

What it depends on, of course, is the rest of the chart. If you transpose the question into other terms – “I’m Filipino, he’s American, will we get along?” – you’ll immediately see what I mean. Nothing is easy, because people are complicated!  So let me make a few observations about signs. Let’s start by taking a good look at the chart wheel.

astrology-wheel

In general, here’s the way it works. The key to compatibility, to some degree, relies on the elements: fire, earth, air & water. Combine fire and water and what do you get? Steam! Fire is hot & dry, while water is cold & wet: in other words, they are not compatible. However, fire and air are compatible – fire is fed by air. Or, if you will, take water and earth, where there is a relationship of nurturing, channeling, etc. Looking at the chart, start with your sign and any sign two houses a way will indicate some potential compatibilty. For instance, Aries (fire) has a connection with both Gemini and Aquarius (air signs).

So, let’s go back to our first example: fire and water. Does that mean that, say Leo (fire) & Cancer (water) could never get along? In this case, we’re now not talking about comptability anymore, but we’re looking at balance. A strongly Leo personality may need a relationship with someone with some water in their chart. It tempers (as in temperament) their fiery qualities.

In contrast, take Aries (fire) and Libra (air). Now I’ve said that fire and air have some compatibility, but when you look at the chart, you see that they’re opposed to each other. Once again, there’s potentially a balancing factor here: the self-assertion of the Aries is tempered by the Libra desire for balance.

And before we look at a few keywords for the signs, let me mention the relationships between signs of the same element. Potentially they’re good. For instance, Scorpio and Cancer – both water signs – should have a certain flow between them: they connect on an elemental level. However, that can be less true of two fire types, say Aries and Sagittarius. Here there’s a kinship through the elements, but the element itself – fire – can lead to conflict.

So, this all seems complicated. But keep in mind, that individuals are complicated. All of these elemental energies are in essence dancing inside of us, but they are also dancing between us. We’re all made of patterns and qualities that, even within ourselves, don’t necessarily fit. Which is why I’m going to provide a few words for each sign below. These relate most strongly to the Sun sign, but much depends on where the Sun is placed in your chart. So if you read these and don’t relate, remember that the individual chart is the blueprint.

Aries: I act, I do, I start

Taurus: I possess, I build, I produce

Gemini: I think, I connect, I question

Cancer: I feel, I establish, I protect

Leo: I will, I create, I express

Virgo: I analyze, I serve, I perfect

Libra: I balance, I relate, I harmonize

Scorpio: I desire, I probe, I reveal

Sagittarius: I understand, I explore, I aspire

Capricorn: I use, I achieve, I persevere

Aquarius: I know, I experiment, I objectify

Pisces: I intuit, I imagine, I escape

I offer a variety of readings: personal, relationship, questions answered, and so on. Please contact me at chris@blackhatastrology.com for more information.

astrology antique chart

If you look carefully at the image above, it will quickly be apparent that that the zodiac, the planets and their relationships form a mandala, which, by definition, is a symbolic or geometric figure representing the universe. Within the figure, we see that each of the original planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn – are used with two signs, while the Sun & Moon, placed in the 4th and 5th house, are used once. But look at their descriptions: the Moon is associated with security and the Sun with creativity.

We can all find reasons why that might be so, but to me the first explanation is that we need both: we need to be secure to be creative and vice-versa. Only here, I would alter or expand the meaning of the word creative. Creativity is not about doing a watercolor or learning a musical instrument; it is, rather, the growth, the creation of the Self. And for many of us – and I include myself – that is not an easy process. If you look at the mandala again, you can see that there are many potential layers to who we are. Walking through the figure, a narrative emerges: we need all these qualities: appearance (our bodies), acquisition (what surrounds us, both tangibly and non-tangibly, communication (how we interact), security (are we safe, do we feel safe) and so on.

Readers of this newsletter know that I’m always cautioning about the overuse of Sun signs, but they have their role. One is to use them as ideas for meditation – and in this case, I don’t necessarily mean sitting in a cross-legged in a dark room with candles. We can – and we do – meditate all the time: when we’re at work, on the bus, with our families, basically everywhere. Unfortunately, most of it is wasted on worry, anger, fear, indignation and a hundred other fleeting states of emotion. So instead of dwelling on negative states, try using some of the themes below to think about yourself, your life and what you want to do. Keep in mind, as well, that because your Sun sign is only a small factor of your chart, you may feel a great deal of kinship with the sign under which you’re born.

Aries – positive: self-assertion, enthusiasm, the direct approach; negative: hurried, inconsiderate, conceit

Taurus – positive: building and maintaining a secure structure; negative: greed, stubbornness, a ponderous approach to the world

Gemini – positive: flexibility, communication take center stage; negative: disorganization, emotionally restless 

Cancer – positive: nurturing, sensitive; negative: timid, tends to withdraw

Leo – positive: generous, optimistic, independent; negative: dislike of routine, overlooks the details

Virgo – positive: service, methodical, down-to-earth; negative: critical, inhibited, overly reliant on formalities

Libra – positive: diplomatic, able to creat harmonies; negative: indecisive, problems with self-assertion

Scorpio – positive: strong, determination, powerful insight; negative: dependent on recognition, secretive, manipulative

Sagittarius – positive: independent, generous, searching; negative: righteousness, superficiality

Capricorn – positive: practical, disciplined, patient; negative: mistrusting, joyless, cold

Aquarius – positive: original, imaginative, broad perspective; negative: overly detached, misses emotional clues

Pisces – positive: flexibility, adaptive, versatile; negative: boundaries, difficulty with self-assertion and goals

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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I’m located in the Chicago area and give readings in-person and by Skype. For more information about readings, go to the front page of this website, or send me an email: chris@blackhatastrology.com.

Relationship Chart

Every relationship is a different reality. When two people come together, it’s almost as if a new universe is born. A relationship chart shows our connections and disconnections, where we fit and where we don’t, and gives perspective where there previously may have only been hurt, confusion or misunderstanding.

The chart shown below was requested  by a young woman in Singapore. If you look carefully, there are two charts: hers is on the inside and her boyfriend’s chart is on the outside.

With the Sun in Aries (in brackets) and the Moon, Mercury and Jupiter (also in brackets) in Pisces, her power is a little divided. While the Sun in Aries gives her some fire, she’s sensitive and intuitive underneath, largely due to all those planets in a water sign (Pisces).

On the other hand, he tends to run a little hot, with Sun, Moon and Venus (all circled) in fire signs. So to some extent they complement each other: he warms her up, she cools him down. But crucial to the relationship is the fact that both of their Suns are in fire signs: his in Leo and hers in Aries, and they are in a tight supportive relationship. Despite temperamental differences, there is a way where they get each other. This is again reinforced by the supporting aspect between his Moon and her Sun, both in fire signs.

But temperamental differences can also lead to conflict, or at the least misunderstanding. Saturn is problematic in both charts, as it falls on sensitive points. With his Saturn opposite her Venus, there is a danger of his becoming overly controlling or restrictive to her. This was a concern, as the young woman was an artist and she felt his restriction in the form of disapproval from him. In addition, his fiery temperament caused him to become impatient with her slower, more meditative way of doing things.

How big were these obstacles? Among other suggestions, I told her that she needed to talk to him about his impatience and his tendency to want to force her to do things how and when he wanted. For her part, she needed to take a stronger stand against his demands without becoming emotionally hurt through the interaction.  Last time I heard from her, she wrote “we’re still together, still growing, still working at it. But I feel like I understand him and myself a little better.”

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One of the most interesting uses of astrology is the delineation of family relationships. When people ask for compatibility charts, they rarely pertain to parents or siblings. Yet, such charts can be instructive, in part for the realization that family members are, on some level, simply other people.  By saying that, I’m not diminishing the ties of family but simply pointing out that there can be essential and painful differences between people who share the same blood. “Is it wrong not to like my sister?” a client once asked.  “If it helps,” I told her, “she probably doesn’t like you either. There’s simply no compatibility between your charts. Stop worrying about it.”

In some astrological circles, it’s believed that people choose their families on some mystical/psychic/soul level. I’m not much a believer in that idea and certainly over the years my clients seem to absolutely hate it. “Trust me, of all the parents on earth, I wouldn’t have chosen those two,” is how a woman put it to me once.

That said, family dynamics are interesting even on a wider basis than comparing the charts of two family members. Without a doubt, astrological themes seem to run through some families. This often centers around particular signs that appear regularly over generations. By saying this I don’t mean that the individual charts are similar; what I mean is that a certain sign or placement gets emphasised. Where it becomes interesting is when you see the chart of an individual who does not share any of the family themes. For instance, in a family full of Cancer themes, suddenly a child with no Cancer but a powerful Aries shows up. In conversation, this usually comes out as “I’m the black sheep in my family” and they are.

In astrological practice, here’s what it looks like. The first chart is the daughter, followed by the chart of the mother and then the two charts together. What jumps out pretty quickly in the daughter’s chart is Aries, with Sun and Moon both in Aries, close to the ascendant. This is a powerful placement, a me-first position. To her credit, the daughter has admitted “I was a tigress as a kid”. In contrast, her mother has a lot of water in her chart. Moon in Pisces, Mercury and Venus in Scorpio.

When you look at the two charts together, there are oppositions and squares (conflict) everywhere

Mother_Daughter

Daughter’s Sun & Moon opposite Mother’s Sun

Daughter’s Sun & Moon square Mother’s Mars & Saturn

There is relief between the two charts, with the Daughter’s Moon in Pisces conjunct the Mother’s Venus in Pisces, but that’s about as good as it gets. The temperamental mismatch was and continues to be hard on both.

So, what can we take away from this. There’s an inherent temperamental difference between the client and her mother. This DOES NOT MEAN THEY DON’T LOVE EACH OTHER. What it does mean is that their tendencies and patterns of behavior are at odds. They’re not TRYING to cause friction, but they do because they are who they are. In this case, for this client, that realization was liberating to a certain extent. For her, seeing their differences made the conflict less personal. On a certain level, she saw them as distinct, separate individuals from herself. Not an easy thing to do nor to remember. Relationships – whether they’re parents, siblings, spouse, business partners, friends or the guy behind the counter at the coffee shop – are complicated. And they cannot be otherwise.

 

Saying-No

With thousands of charts and consultations to look back on, there are certain key issues that many, many people seem to struggle with. If I had to identify one of the top three it would be the difficulty people have with saying the word “NO”.

Why is that? I think there are lots of reasons. One is that NO feels prohibitive and we live in a culture where denial of any kind feels akin to an infringement of personal rights. Consider all the messages around consensus, such as “Getting to Yes,” or it’s “It’s a Win/Win situation” or “Don’t take NO for an answer”. In other words, there appears to be a rather powerful subconscious message that saying NO is somehow wrong. But common sense would suggest otherwise, which leads to quote that I particularly like:

“A NO that is constructive is a thousand times better than a YES that is not.”

So how do we know the difference and what does it have to do with astrology? The fact is that you can’t know what is constructive or destructive if you don’t know yourself, if you don’t know what your interests are, if you don’t know what you want. In general, clarity of Self tends to reduce confusion about when and why to say NO. But it’s important to understand the social constructions around the topic: because NO is perceived as prohibitive and negative, many of us are uncomfortable saying it (as well as uncomfortable hearing it) and start avoiding the word. And this confusion cuts across every relationship and circumstance: partners, friends, families, co-workers, etc.

In regards to a natal chart, there are lots of ways this difficulty with NO can develop. For example, it can be a temperament issue, like an excess of water in the chart making you too flexible, unable to take a stand. You may be willing, or simply unable to stop yourself, from giving up too much power. Here’s another scenario: you may be deeply divided about what you want. If your Sun is in Aries and your Moon is in Pisces, the internal dialog may alternate between “It’s all about me. No, wait, it’s all about you.” That’s a lot of tension to carry and potentially leads to behavior that is self-defeating, or that sends mixed messages.

So the need to know yourself is the prerequisite to knowing when and where to say NO. But it doesn’t address the issue of learning how to say NO.

To begin, let me propose a handy rule:

Start with a small NO.

If you’re having difficulty with NO, begin by becoming comfortable using NO in situations where the stakes are not high. Why is that? Because you’re basically building a muscle. If you didn’t work out for a long time, you wouldn’t being with a hundred pound weight, you’d start with a weight that was within the range of your strength and work your way up. The same with NO. Use it in situations that are fairly easy. Like, NO, I don’t want to go there to eat. Or NO, that’s not how I want to spend the afternoon. Basically, you’re looking for any situation where the pushback is not likely to be significant or forceful. Which brings us to the second rule of learning to say NO:

You don’t need a reason.

The fact is, a lot of people become stuck or defensive when their NO is challenged. But in reality, you don’t actually need a reason not want to do something. You don’t need a reason that the other party likes, understands, agrees with or any other reaction they might give. Keep in mind, if you’re having difficulty saying NO, then you’re likely to lose force by explaining your NO. This is again, by the way, the reason you start small. You want to become comfortable saying the word and you want it to mean something. To go back to last week’s quotation:

“A NO that is constructive is a thousand times better than a YES that is not.”

If you know what you want, if you know where you’re going, if you know what is in your best interests, then saying NO is not destructive. But the critical issue is knowing yourself. 

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Saturday night I had cocktails and dinner with two of my favorite characters: my nephew and his girlfriend. At one point, the topic turned to the iconic Patti Smith and later on I was wondering what her chart might look like. She was born, of all places, in Chicago, which surprised me as I so associate her with New York City. The chart is below. Let’s walk through it a little bit.

Patti Smith

Before I start, I have to say that one of the things I’ve always found interesting about Smith is the odd blend of sensitivity with a very down-to earth sensibility. Reading her book, she is entirely, almost brutally forthright about her strengths and weaknesses.

Not surprisingly, the chart is loaded with interesting placements. In the brackets on the left side, we see the Sun and Mars conjunct in Capricorn. That’s about as down-to-earth as you can get: there’s a practicality with Capricorn, as well as a high potential for self-discipline and ambition. With Mars in Capricorn – which Smith shares with Lady Gaga along with the Sagittarius ascendant – the energy will be bold, forceful, self-reliant and so on. It’s sometimes said about Capricorn that work is the most important thing in their lives and one might say that Patti Smith has worked very hard at being Patti Smith.

But what about the sensitivity? The Moon in Pisces (bottom of the chart in brackets) is highly sensitive, perceptive and intuitive. That Moon makes a very strong aspect to both Venus & Jupiter (both circled in the upper left of the chart) in Scorpio, which lends a passionate, aggressive quality to her emotional nature. And then of course, the Moon is also in touch with Mercury – communication, thinking – in prophetic Sagittarius on the Ascendant. With this placement, we might say: “Smith sees and reaches for things that others don’t know are there”.

Certainly there’s more, but much of it is nuance and largely repeats the main themes: the balance of the practical and the poetic. Or as Smith herself has said: “In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”

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As long-time readers of the newsletter know, a chart can not only be cast for a person, but for a country, a question, even an event. So this week, we’re going to take a look at the opening of Baz Luhrmann’s much anticipated version of the Fitzgerald classic, “The Great Gatsby”. How is this done? The film had its public premiere in Los Angeles last Thursday night (May 9, 2013) at 10:00pm. The chart is below, with a few relevant placements marked.

 Gatsby

As we’ve done in the past, we’ll simply examine the placements of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and its ruler. The question we want to keep in mind is: what can be expected from this movie? In a word: EXCESS! Cast your eye to the lower right of the chart where the exclamation point is. That’s the 5th house. What is the 5th house? The house of creativity. What is in the 5th house? Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Mars, all in Taurus. Now, one of the characteristics of Taurus is sensuality, so we can expect that the film will be sensuous and creative to the extreme, with 4 planets sitting in the sign and house.

Going further, we look at the ruler of Taurus, which is Venus and that planet has just entered Gemini. Finally, we look at the Ascendant – Sagittarius – and its ruler, Jupiter, which, like Venus, is also in Gemini. So out of the 7 major planets in a chart, 6 of them are in Taurus and Gemini. Can we craft a statement, using a few keywords for these planets and signs? How about:

The movie is an expansive (Sagittarius) excessive (Jupiter) projection of sensuality (Taurus with 4 planets) that never stops moving (Jupiter in Gemini) but is ultimately divided in its feelings (Venus in Gemini).

Now here’s a paragraph from the New York Times review by A.O. Scott:

“The result is less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence.”

Did I pick through a lot of revies to find this one? No, it was my first choice. Are there are other statements that could be made from the planetary placements? Sure, but given the excess of Taurus and Gemini the chart for the release and the general perception of the critics, this all seems pretty accurate.