Archives for posts with tag: Circumstances

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


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. 

In last week’s newsletter, I discussed the potential long-term impact of the Uranus/Pluto square. And I promised to talk a little bit about strategies for coping with these tensions. It’s important to note that the Uranus/Pluto transit can affect people in a couple of ways, but first an explanation.

While all of us feel ourselves to be the center of the universe, the fact is that we are only the center of our own universe. We contain within us cycles of time, our own personal cycles reflected by the chart, but we are also part of many other larger cycles. This can be a hard concept to grasp, so let’s try an analogy. Take an ecosystem. The flora and fauna all have self-interest, so to speak, in surviving and propagating. But they are also critically dependent on the other living creatures around them, as well as local conditions such as the weather. They not only have cycles of their own, but they’re connected to the larger and smaller cycles around them. This is, of course, what is both beautiful and challenging about astrology. We carry a design within us, but that design is moving, changing. But we are also part of other, larger designs, that are also moving and changing.

So, the Uranus/Pluto square that I’ve been talking about over the past weeks has an impact on all of us. BUT, it may have a larger or smaller affect depending on how Uranus or Pluto are placed and what other planets are in aspect to them. Consider the natal chart of a client below:

The woman has Uranus in Cancer squared and opposed to the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Saturn (all circled). If we project this chart against the current chart of Uranus/Pluto, we see the tensions of the natal chart picked up and highlighted. For this woman, the current configuration brings very significant tensions and potential chages because the Uranus, which is already charged in her chart, comes to a hard relationsip with itself and other planets in her natal chart. And, not surprisingly, she’s having a hard time.

So what can she do? The advice I give her, and I strongly believe in its value, is that we can choose to live mechanically or consciously. You can’t escape your chart, nor can you escape the cycles large and small that surround you – but you can actively and deliberately use such situations to develop yourself.

The question was simple and to the point: “I’ve just discovered that a long-time friend may have been keeping a secret from me. Can you provide some insight?”

With Virgo on the cusp of the 11th house, we have Mercury as the friend. In Pisces, Mercury is confused and not likely to be trustworthy; with it conjunct to Jupiter (expansion) we can say that Mercury is very confused. The client is Venus, just leaving Pisces, now in Aries, where it is impulsive and with a trine to Mars in Leo at the top of the chart, perhaps ready for conflict. With the so many planets in the 5th house, we can venture that this is over a creative or love issue. (But then, aren’t most things?) My suggestion to the client was that, while a slash-and-burn approach may feel good, it was not likely to forward the situation, particularly with Venus in direct opposition with Saturn. Rather, it’s probably best for the client to attempt to learn the whole story, which means sorting through a lot of chaotic information (Mercury in Pisces). Which is what she did. And while she wasn’t happy with what she learned, it did teach her a lesson on assuming the reliability of friends.

A client contacted me with a relationship question. She and the young man had been together for about a year when he announced that he wanted out of the relationship. She wanted to know if he would be back. As always, chart and answer can be found below.

So what’s going on? With Capricorn rising, the young woman is signified by Saturn; Cancer on the 7th house makes the Moon the significator of her boyfriend. Saturn (the client) is in Libra, where it’s very strong: she feels good about herself. How does she feel about him? Not that strongly, as the Moon (boyfriend) only has weak strength.

As for him, he loves her (Moon in Capricorn is ruled by Saturn) but is miserable (Moon is in its detriment). Can we venture a guess about the relationship? I would say he feels dominated by her or is not receiving what he needs from her. He wants to, but he doesn’t. Hence, the packed suitcase. And while she is sorrowful about his leaving, the chart suggests her attachment to him is not terribly strong. In fact, the strong role of Venus (in Scorpio!) in the chart, which has rulership over every planet in some way, suggests there is some element of control at play. Perhaps he’s fleeing from that (Moon departing the 1st house, which signifies her). When I wrote all this in my answer, she only replied that “there’s a lot of truth in that”. As for the eventual outcome, she never mentioned it again.

“People are too complicated to take seriously.”

~ Overheard

(photo from the insanely entertaining site:

“If you wish to meet yourself, observe your thoughts and reactions under unusual circumstances.”

 ~ Idries Shah

I have not seen “A Dangerous Method” the David Cronenberg film that depicts the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Maybe the problem is that I’ve been exposed to the trailer so relentlessly over the past few months that it feels like I’ve already watched the movie at least two or three times.

From the preview, it’s clear that the men’s friendship gets tested when Jung succumbs to temptation and begins sleeping with a patient, played by Keira Knightley, who is both mad and gorgeous, which is always a deadly concotion. This leads to scenes of Freud expressing strong disapproval while Jung alternates between guilt – “I can’t believe I’m having sex with a patient!” – and bliss – “I can’t believe I’m having sex with Keira Knightley!” While I doubt that it happens, I thought there should be a point in the film where Jung defends himself to Freud by using the line from an old country-western tune: “If loving her is wrong, I don’t want to be right …”

Anyway, here’s one thing you probably won’t learn in the movie: Jung was a big believer in astrology; so big that he actually examined the birth charts of some of his patients to gain insight into their issues. In fact, Jung dedicates an entire
chapter to astrological research in his book “Synchronicity”. About astrology, Jung has written:

“Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I’ve been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope
sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand.”

One of Jung’s best known works is “Psychological Types”, published in 1921. In it Jung set forth his theory of types, delineating two basic attitudes – extroversion and introversion – and four essential functions: sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking. Anyone familiar with traditional astrology will recognize the underlying structure of temperament theory at work in his formulation, a source that Jung both confirms and then brushes aside, saying that “temperament hardly rates as a psychological typology since the temperaments are scarely more than psychophysical colorings”.

That statement seems a little disingenuous when you consider that temperament theory has about a 2000 year old history. Now, I’ve written about temperament before, but it was a while ago, so here’s a quick recap:

The universe, and everything in it including human beings, is comprised of four basic qualities: hot, cold, wet & dry. If that seems like an odd or abstract concept, consider the following statements:

She has a dry wit.
He needs to cool off.
His brother needs to dry out.
I’m all fired up.
He can be cold-hearted.
She’s hot in those red high-heels.
She got cold feet and didn’t show up.
He’s a little wet behind the ears.
She gave me the cold shoulder.

We can see the four qualities at work in all kinds of places. Take music: Salsa music would be hot & wet, rap music would be hot & dry while the music of someone like Philip Glass is cool and dry. The same ideas can be applied to food or fashion.

And here’s one final thought: introversion and extraversion are already built into the elements. Hot & wet are extraverted qualities because they connect things – think of Spring and Summer with their warmth and rain. In contrast, cold and dry tend
to be introverted – think of Fall & Winter, when life becomes more internal and restive.

The combination of the qualities – hot, cold, wet & dry – lead to the temperaments. About which we’ll talk in the next edition of the newsletter and on this blog.