Archives for posts with tag: Birth Chart

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.

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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For more about readings, go to www.blackhatastrology.com  or email me at chris@blackhatastrology.com. Thank you!

 

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. 

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.

 

varonofrogvd1

Vice and Virtue. Long ago, people used these words to describe the flaws and strengths, the good and bad qualities of those around them. But times change, and the words Vice and Virtue have largely fallen out of favor, which is probably a good thing. They still have a use, however, and we can use astrology to figure out what that use might be.

The fastest way to do that is by taking a look what used to be called The Seven Sins and the Seven Virtues. Here’s what it looks like:

Planet:                 Virtue                        Vice

Sun                        Faith                        Pride

Moon                    Hope                        Greed

Mercury                Prudence                Envy

Venus                   Charity                     Lust

Mars                     Courage                   Wrath

Jupiter                  Temperance           Gluttony

Saturn                   Justice                      Sloth

Before I start, it’s important to put aside the religious connotation of these terms. Most of us have indulged in a fair amount of vice during our lives, so there’s no reason to rain on anybody else’s parade. What’s useful here is to look at the planets as symbolizing potentials – both good and bad potentials. For instance, at its best, Mars will symbolize courage, fortitude, right action; at its worst, we will see anger, vengence, cruelty, and so on. In a chart, those qualities are expressed through the sign of Mars, as well as its position and its relationship to other planets. We all know people in whom anger is a chief characteristic; it has, almost in a literal sense, captured the person’s personality.

In a natal chart, we will see this in different ways. For instance, here’s Sylvia Plath’s chart:

Sylvia Plath

Mars (in hot Leo) squared to Mercury (in deep Scorpio): the mind and tongue will be sharp, cutting, there will be impatience, nervous tension.

Or go back to Donald Trump’s chart from last week.

Donald Trump

Mars (again in Leo) right on the Ascendant. He’ll force himself (Mars) into the world in a dramatic (Leo) style. Both Mars and Leo are hot and dry in their qualities. What is Trump best known for? Telling people that they’re fired!

Now here’s the interesting part. If there was no free will, we would be prisoners of our nature, but we are not. The chart indicates the potential but not the outcome. Energy and qualities – which is what the planets are – can be re-directed, reformed if you will, when you see them clearly within yourself. Because, while it can be very gratifying to occasionally indulge in our vices, it’s not a great long-term strategy. And that’s not because of some soppy religious idea of “it’s better to be virtuous”. It’s more that to indulge in the worst nature of our planets is to deny or block other opportunities, potentials and paths.

 

 

parameter

With his orange face, orange hair and smokin’  tagline – YOU’RE FIRED! – I wondered how much elemental fire we would actually find in the chart of “The Donald.” Turns out, there’s quite a bit, but also a great deal more, which is why we’re going to take a look at the natal chart of America’s most visible and ridiculous tycoon. Here’s the chart, followed by a quick read.

Donald Trump

If you’ve been reading the newsletter over the past couple of years, you’ll recall the importance of temperament. It is considered to be a permanent and largely unchangeable aspect of ourselves. The best description I’ve ever heard of it is also the simplest: temperament is the cloth from which we’re cut. Think of the essential difference between a silk skirt and a wool skirt. They have a different essence, a different materiality.

In Trump’s chart, the main temperament is choleric (hot & dry), thus: controlling, dictating, forceful. But there is a secondary temperament, which is sanguine (hot & wet), thus: persuasive, energetic, engaging.

While most of us associate Trump more with the choleric characteristics, it’s undeniable that he can talk up a storm. And it makes sense that there would be a sanguine side to a person who’s written a book called “The Art of the Deal”. Fact is, you can’t make a deal without being able to talk a good game.

Next, the Ascendant and its ruler. Here we see Leo rising. Leo: the lion, the king, royalty, the person who wants attention. And before we even look at the Ascendant ruler, which is the Sun, check out what’s right on the Ascendant: Mars, planet of war, of action (right side, marked with an exclamation point).  A critical placement – and one he shares with Beyonce – fiery Mars right on fiery Ascendant suggests someone who burns with a lot of passion.

Moving to the Sun (ruler of the Ascendant and marked at the top of the chart) and the Moon in Sagittarius (another fire sign, marked at the bottom of the chart), we have a combination that suggests a drive to be influential, to make their opinions and ideas known.

Strongest planet in the chart? Without a doubt, it’s Mars, whose placement on the Ascendant gives it a lot of force and suggests someone who is ready for a challenge. But that Ascendant becomes even more important and powerful when we realize it is conjunct the fixed star, Regulus.  What does Regulus symbolize? Named by Copernicus (yes, that old guy Copernicus!) it means “little king” and is associated with ambition. When well-aspected as it is, it will “raise the person to high positions in life and denotes successful activity, prominence and wealth”. Maybe it’s not surprise that when he was a kid, his brothers and sisters called Trump “the Great I Am”!

another-baby

The idea that astrology can be useful in questions of fertility is both an interesting one and a very old one. As far back as the 17th century, astrologers have attempted to answer or provide assistance to issues about fertility. For the skeptical, the first question would obviously be: how would this work? In some ways, the theory is rather simple. For hundreds of years, the signs of the zodiac have been divided very loosely into those that are fruitful (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces & sometimes Taurus), barren (Gemini, Leo & Virgo) and the rest of the signs are somewhere in between. Please note: this has nothing to do with your Sun sign. We are looking here at the sign that is on the cusp of the 5th house, which rules children. So we look at that sign and any planets placed in the 5th house. Moon in Pisces in the 5th? Very fertile. Saturn in Gemini in the 5th? Not so much.

Along with looking at the ruler of the sign on the 5th house cusp, we also look at the Moon’s sign and placement. And on top of that, we look at any close aspects to the Moon. A trine from Jupiter (abundance) would be generally favorable, while a square from Saturn (limitation) may suggest difficult.

There’s much more, of course, but the point here, is that you have to look at the entire chart. Just as importantly, you have to keep in mind that the chart factors become more important in situations when a woman is having difficulty conceiving. For instance, if a 22 year-old woman approached me for a fertility chart before they she tried to conceive I would to decline to assess the chart. Why? Because there’s no reason to. You look at the chart when there are difficulties, or there has been a history of not being able to conceive.

Please note: because of the interest around this post, I now have a separate page for the topic of astrology and fertility.