Archives for posts with tag: Relationships

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? 


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.


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

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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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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. 

2. Wild Grape_41_61 (JLT)

In regards to your chart, one idea that is worth thinking about is the difference between growth and development. The reason I bring this up is that some people have the idea that they have qualities within them that will naturally grow, but that’s only true up to a point and in a certain way.

From my own perspective, growth is a process that more or less happens by itself. Beginning with our physical bodies, all kinds of changes take place in the first 17 or 18 years of life that are not willed by us in anyway. The same can be said of adulthood: we take jobs, find partners, grow old but in certain ways it just happens, it’s part of the flow of our lives.

Development, to me suggests, something entirely different, something conscious, and in readings I try to bring this idea forward. If, just for a broad example, you suffer from difficulty in relating to others, then you have to see that in yourself consistently and from a bunch of different perspectives and try to change. A person’s chart for the upcoming year can be helpful in that regard because it can suggest an opportunity or a need to change. Take the well-known and often dreaded Saturn return.

Saturn Example

By any standard of assessment, this is a difficult chart. Both the Sun and Venus are in opposition to Saturn and the Moon is square to it. Making matters worse, both Venus and the Moon are poorly placed by sign. I can pretty much close my eyes, grab a book from my library and find interpretations of these aspects that will make your hair turn white:

* Sun/Saturn: lack of self-confidence, fear of failure

* Moon/Saturn: emotionally withdrawn, lonely

* Venus/Saturn: difficulty making contact, relationships with a large age difference

So, a Saturn return in this case has the potential to set all of this dark material into motion. UNLESS, the individual can acknowledge and recognize these feelings, has not surrendered to them and is willing to do the hard work of actively working

against them. In the present example, I saw the client at their Saturn return and she was a mess. Most of the consultation revolved around the issues I just mentioned. Seven years later, when Saturn moved to a conjunction with the Moon and a square to the Sun and Venus (all difficult aspects) things were better. She had come out of some of the awful restriction that was making her life difficult.

When I saw her recently, with Saturn halfway through the return cycle, she had achieved a fair portion of happiness. She was still weighed down, but there was some release from her burdens. And in large part, it was due to the fact that 14 years ago, she could accept the difficult situation that she was in and was willing to work on herself.

Now, I’m using an extreme example here, but the lesson I’m trying to get across is simple. Development, while difficult, is very worthwhile. And to do it, You have to take the long view of yourself. And to take the long view, you have to see yourself, the good and the bad, the positive and the negative and be willing and flexible enough to change.

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“He/she is so complicated” is a statement I’ve heard a number of times while doing relationship readings, but as I pointed out last week, we’re all complex – in our needs, our reactions, our expectations and our assumptions. To take that even further, we are very often mysteries: even to ourselves. That wouldn’t be the worst state of existence except that our lack of knowledge of ourselves will, sooner or later, interfere or unravel nearly any relationship.

This is most easily glimpsed in extreme charts.  For instance, an abundance of fire in the chart will often result in a person who has a checklist when it comes to relationships. Everything has to be done at their speed or by the clock. An absence of fire can show up in a chart as a lack of drive. Motivation may be low, or the ability to bring force into a situation is missing. This can be particularly true if there is little fire in the chart and Mars is weak.

An over-abundance of earth in the chart can lead to a person getting bogged down, or to becoming narrow or too cautious. If unbalanced, the need for acquisition can take over. The absence of earth can result in a person who is “out of their body” on some level. Or, on a larger level, a person who is simply ungrounded, for whom building a structure of some kind is immensely challenging.

An excess of air in the chart will sometimes lead to someone who is overly rational or theoretical. There can be a sense of abstraction around such individuals. The lack of air, on the other hand, suggests an inability to see the bigger picture (an aerial view, so to speak) or unable to see themselves objectively. Perspective can suffer.

When water is the predominant element there is a strong need for emotional security as well as high sensitivity. There can be a feeling of vulnerability, as well as the desire to withdraw or be secretive. The lack of water can show up as the inability to empathise, to know how others may be feeling. It also can lead to a person who doesn’t know what their feelings are.

Bringing this back to relationships, it’s easy to see how an excess or lack of elements can lead to imbalance, not only within the individual, but in their relationships.  Even without a chart, much can be gained by looking at the above descriptions and thinking about how they may relate either to yourself or your partner.  Relationships begin with you.


Despite the fact that Valentine’s Day is almost exactly 6 months away, I thought it might be interesting to give a few thoughts on how astrology deals with that most interesting of topics – relationships.

Most books on relationships – or love astrology, as it’s often described – begin and end with Sun signs, but that’s not really the best place to start. While the Sun sign can say something about a person, consider the other six planets strictly in terms of relationships:

Moon: emotion

Mercury: communication

Venus: relation

Mars: action

Jupiter: expansion

Saturn: structure

If we only take those basic words and apply them to our partners, it’s immediately clear that there is plenty of opportunity for friction and miscommunication.  A person who feels strong, passionate emotions (Moon in Aries, for instance) may get frustrated in combination with someone whose need or tendency is to be analytic (Moon or Mercury in Virgo, as an example) in regards to emotions. When you consider all the possible combinations of the planets in the twelve signs, it’s no wonder problems arise.

But planets are not the only way astrology approaches relationships. It appears, and even psychologists are giving a lot more attention to this, that temperament has a lot to do with our interaction with the world and others. The easiest way to begin grasping temperament is to think of it as  our inherent nature. In other words, we’re born with it;  it is the cloth from which we’re cut.

Looking at the elements in astrology can give us a clue to temperament. In the list below, the words in paranthesis refer to the older Greek descriptions:

Fire (choleric) – strong willed, impatient, reactive

Earth (melancholic) – deliberate, analytic, patient, reserved

Air (sanguine) – cheerful, extroverted, even-tempered

Water (phlegmatic) – receptive, resistant, self-contented

Looking at the above list (which is by no means exhaustive), we can see that a person who is primarily choleric may have inherent communication problems with someone who is melancholic. When impatience meets deliberation somebody is bound to become frustrated.

Fortunately, we don’t often meet pure temperament types in the world; most people have a primary temperament and a secondary temperament. This is less confusing than it sounds. We all know people who seem to have limitless patience but then suddenly explode in anger: melancholic/choleric.

Back to astrology, the idea of temperament can play a strong role in relationships. Very often, people seek a partner who complements or balances them. Someone who is chronically impatient may very well need to be with a person who is more deliberate in their nature. To understand how these dynamics work, we look at the charts. At the end of the day, the fact is that we are all complicated individuals – why would our relationships not be complicated as well?

While doing readings at Dose Market last weekend, a woman sat down and asked: What happens when people don’t know what time they’re born?

It’s a good question. And the answer is that the astrologer then has to take what he does know – the date of birth and place of birth – and try, through trial and error to figure out the time of birth. It’s important because the time determines the degree of the Ascendant, also known as the rising sign. In ancient astrology, the Ascendant was sometimes called the “helm,” because it was believed to be so important that it served as a guide for a person’s life.

To illustrate the difficulty, I’ve chosen a person we’re all very familiar with – Tom Cruise – but whose birth time has never been published or discovered. If you look on the web, the charts that are posted for Cruise use noon as the time of birth, which is the standard astrological convention when you don’t know the real time.

Before I talk about how I chose this particular time, let me just add that: FIGURING THIS OUT IS VERY DIFFICULT. There are 12 signs and 360 potential degrees to choose from, so there’s a lot of pushing and pulling the planets around the chart to see where they may work the best. Of some help is the fact that while the Moon moves at around 13 degrees per day, the degrees of the rest planets are stable. It’s just the houses and where the signs fall that we’re trying to determine. That said, below is the chart with a birth time that I’ve landed on for the actor.

So why, out of all the twelve signs, did I choose this particular time, which gives the actor Libra as the ascendant? First of all, remember that every sign has a ruling planet and for Libra that planet is Venus. When we look at Venus’ placement, we find it in Leo, which makes a lot of sense regarding Cruise’s “star quality”. Quite simply, whether you like him or not, he shines, and with both Venus and the Moon in Leo, he shines a lot. By using Libra as the ascendant, his Venus and Moon are suddenly in the 10th house, the midheaven, the most visible placement in the chart. Does that make Libra the only candidate? Not at all. I also considered Scorpio, for his secretive qualities, as well as Leo, for the qualities I’ve already mentioned. But in the end, Libra is the sign that best puts Cruise’s star potential in the chart position in which it has the most potential for fulfillment.

One thing that must be said about the chart is that there is a lot of power. Moon and Venus in Leo, the most dramatic and royal of signs: enormous needs for attention,  love and respect. A sense of drama is high: remember Cruise jumping up and down on the couch during the Oprah show? Venus, also in Leo, reinforces the need of the Moon and adds a magnetic quality. With the placement of both high in the chart – due to the Libra ascendant – these needs are played out dramatically in the world, in full view, so to speak. With Mercury in Gemini, we can anticipate a high degree of verbosity, there are a lot of ideas being tossed around in his head. As the chart stands, both Venus and Mercury make supporting aspects to the Ascendant: the image is everything and everything that is done protects the image. Speaking of protection, the Sun in Cancer adds both a layer of protection – think of the crab – and a sensitivity. In combination with the Leo Moon: enormous pride. There’s more that could be said, of course. But let’s look at the Cruise’s natal chart for the time I’ve calculated it against his chart for the current year.

What stands out here is Saturn (circled) almost exactly on the Ascendant and opposite the 7th house of relationship. Saturn on the Ascendant in any given year points to difficulty, a restriction, a loss, a reality check for the individual, a category in which being left by your wife belongs. How will Cruise deal with it? His Ascendant for the year is in Scorpio, a sign well known for its skill in rejuvenation, self-healing and resurrection. In other words, don’t worry too much about Tom: he’s going to be fine.

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.