Chapter One: Beyond the Sun Signs
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
"ODE: INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY"
The sun signs are our first introduction to astrology. We realize immediately that there is a profound simplicity and wisdom in the sequence of twelve zodiac signs, despite our logical resistance to the fact that we are categorical and predictable. As if by osmosis we gradually learn this ancient set of symbols and their qualities, especially if we are interested in relationship, in our feelings, in why we do what we do, or why others do what they do. In time we learn the qualities of our own sun sign and also the meaning of the other signs. It even seems that signs other than our own are relevant to us. We wonder why this is the case.
The qualities of the twelve signs resonate with us on some deep level. We read that Leos are proud and self-centered or that Aquarians are idealistic and join groups, and we nod our heads in assent without really knowing why. What is not made clear is that the Sun is symbolically the father, the masculine principle, vitality, consciousness, and objectivity. The sun signs really tell us only about the masculine qualities and the equivalent parts of us that derive from our father, our father figures, or the masculine influences in our lives. Where can we discover the symbols that signify our feminine side and our emotional life? To do so, we must explore the Moon, our mother, our feelings, our values, and the feminine principle in the same sequence of twelve signs. The twelve astrological signs are types that apply to the Moon and the other planets.
The sun signs are places in the cycle of the solar year, which is why we associate them with our birthday. The sequence of their twelve values has a seasonal and a symbolic coherence. It is logical that the summer sign Leo is warmer and more outgoing than the winter sign Capricorn, which is more reserved and introverted. The reasons are obvious and simply explain when in the seasonal cycle we are born. By extending the logic of sun signs that we have already learned to the other planets, we bring a new richness of relationship to the familiar.
What are the zodiac signs and what do they mean? The zodiac is a ring of constellations functioning as a 360° measuring circle against which the Sun, Moon, and planets move through the heavens. By convention, measurement starts with the Spring Equinox around March 21 each year, when day is exactly equal to night. The yearly cycle of nature starts with Aries in the spring and proceeds through to Pisces at the end of winter, before the process starts over again. The signs are also a metaphor for the psychological stages that we experience in life. They also correspond to the twelve houses of the horoscope. The fact that they are a process rather than random associations is important.
The twelve signs are associated with body parts and organs. Aries is the head and brain; Taurus the neck, throat, and ears; Gemini the shoulders, arms, and lungs; Cancer the breast and stomach; Leo the spine and heart; Virgo the abdomen and the intestines; Libra the solar plexus and colon; Scorpio the sexual organs and reproductive system; Sagittarius the thighs and sciatic nerves; Capricorn the knees and skeletal system; Aquarius the ankles and sympathetic nervous system; and Pisces the feet and lymphatic system. When we have planets in a sign, we often experience health strengths, weaknesses, or specific physical traits in the equivalent body parts or organs. For example, we might have a mole or scar on the area of our body that corresponds to the sign of our Sun or Moon or Mars. I have Sun in the sign Leo and was born with a mole on the Leo (dorsal) part of my spine. The Taurean Sigmund Freud died of throat cancer. Our health and potential for illness work through the dominant signs in our horoscope.
The art of astrology is in the interpretation and integration of zodiac signs, the planets, and the aspect relationships between them. Astrological interpretation requires vision, wisdom, understanding, and, most important, the ability to look within ourselves, to question why we do what we do and how we do it, and to consider deeply the implications of our actions. While we ostensibly learn astrology to help others, our study must begin with our own life, explored in depth. Of course, it is always easier to see others more clearly than we can see ourselves. The more honest and penetrating we are with our own life and ourselves, the more effective and valuable our relationship will be to others.
Figure 1.2 below shows a horoscope like the one you can receive for buying this book. The various components of the horoscope wheel are shown together with the chapters in the book that allow you to interpret them. We will follow this sequence to learn about astrology and to create your life process.
The sun signs in a newspaper or magazine are presented as unrelated to each other, but they have an internal logic because of their location around the circle, which has its own internal geometry, such as triangles and squares. The zodiac signifies a cycle of soul growth and experience. The Natural Zodiac, or World Horoscope, has the First House equivalent to Aries, the Second House to Taurus, etc., around the circle. The signs are divisions in space and qualities of life, while the houses are divisions in time and phases of life. The signs tell us about the qualities, and the houses tell us about timings. The twelve numbered houses step counterclockwise from the Ascendant (Asc) on the left of the circle, marking our progress through life. We will use this important sequence as a temporal map of our life in time.
Each season starts with equinoxes and solstices that are cardinal signs (Aries = spring, Cancer = summer, Libra = autumn, and Capricorn = winter). The fixed signs maintain the middle of each season (Taurus = mid-spring, Leo = mid-summer, Scorpio = mid-autumn, and Aquarius = mid-winter). The mutable signs end each season and are transitional to the next quadrants (Gemini = spring to summer, Virgo = summer to autumn, Sagittarius = autumn to winter, and Pisces = winter to spring). These three modes help us understand how the signs act. The cardinal signs are initiatory and originate behavior; the fixed signs are permanent and stable, and maintain behavior; and the mutable signs are changeable and unstable and modify behavior, within each of the four seasons.
We divide the twelve signs into four elements: fire, earth, air, and water. The elements are principles of action in the world. The psychologist Carl Jung related them to the four psychological functions: Fire is intuition, earth is sensation, air is thinking, and water is feeling. They correspond to Plato's four bodies, where fire is the spiritual body, earth is the physical body, air is the mental body, and water is the emotional body. They correlate with the modern view of the world as seen by physicists, in which fire is energy, earth is the particle nature of matter, water is the wave nature of matter, and air is the complementarity between particle and wave. The fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are energetic, intuitive, and hot. The earth signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are physical, sensitive, and substantial. The air signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are mental, thinking, and mobile. The water signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are emotional, feeling, and fluid.
On the horoscope form you receive from newvisionastrology.com you will see on the lower right a grid that shows the element and mode distribution of the nine planets, the Ascendant, and the Midheaven. You can see at a glance which element dominates and which ones are less strong. The distribution may be very meaningful because it shows us the qualities with which we are most comfortable, and the ones for which we must compensate. When we lack an element we often seek that quality in others. If we lack fire, we are attracted to fire-sign types as partners, friends, associates, or even our children. Figure 1.4 shows the distribution for Oprah Winfrey, who lacks the grounding element earth, but compensates with her communicative air.
When we discover the dominant element and mode -- as, in Oprah's case, air and fixed -- we can surmise that she functions much like the fixed air sign Aquarius, the sign of idealism, eccentric yet popular communication, and networking. She is a perfect figure for our Aquarian Age.
Planets in each sign partake of the mode and element of the sign in which they reside, which qualifies how they act and which part of our psychology they signify. The signs are behavioral lenses that modify how we see the planets. For example, when the Moon is in Virgo, describing our mother and our feelings, the mutable mode will make our feelings about her and our emotions changeable and dualistic, while the element earth will make our feelings more realistic and substantial. We will therefore tend to classify and organize our emotional life as if it were something tangible.
The box "The Zodiac Signs" presents the signs in their natural sequence, related to the qualities derived from their times in the year, together with their traditional meanings. These meanings apply not only to sun signs, but to other planets as well.
THE ZODIAC SIGNS
Aries the Ram
Cardinal, Masculine, Fire Sign
March 21 to April 20
Ruled by Mars
Germinating time; unfolding energy. Adventure; daring; impatience; the personality. Aries is pure spirit and energy, leading onward and bringing joy and irresistible will to everything that they do. Aries people are often pioneers or inventors, certainly seeking adventure in their lives. Aries is self-assertive and initiatory, directed energy, and independent without foresight.
Taurus the Bull
Fixed, Feminine, Earth Sign
April 20 to May 21
Ruled by Venus
Invigoration and strengthening; form creation; preservation. Physical world; matter; fertility; security; finances; stewardship; form; endurance. Taurus is pure substance or undifferentiated matter, receiving the initiatory energy of Aries and stabilizing and grounding it in the physical world and the body. Taurus creates permanence and often builds structures that manifest a materialistic worldview, all the while acting with patience and attention to nature and animals. It is our property, money, and possessions.
Gemini the Twins
Mutable, Masculine, Air Sign
May 21 to June 22
Ruled by Mercury
Diversity; multiplication; vitality; adaptability. Instinctive mind; imitation; communication; duality; versatility; mobility; facility. Gemini is instinctive self-expression and communication in all its forms, the energy of Aries applied to Taurean matter, producing movement and change. Gemini observes, connects, modifies, gathers, and ranges over short distances to accumulate experience and pass it on to others in face-to-face sibling relationships. It is pure intelligence, facility, and verbal skills.
Cancer the Crab
Cardinal, Feminine, Water Sign
June 22 to July 23
Ruled by the Moon
Mothering; fecundation; fertilization. Feeling; emotions; mother; home and family; the unconscious; dreams; protective urge. Cancer is our emotional response to communication and the primary relationships of Gemini, acting through the parents and especially the mother, the family, and home life. Cancer protects, nurtures, conserves, and identifies with origins and roots, dissolving differences, and possesses through guilt.
Leo the Lion
Fixed, Masculine, Fire Sign
July 23 to August 24
Ruled by the Sun
Ripening; summer heat; full energy; extroversion; harvest. Self-expression; personal love; games; pleasure; ruling; vanity; arrogance. Leo goes beyond the family to exteriorize the Self into the world through education, game-playing, selfish love, and pure creativity. Leo shows and tells, is proud of achievement, seeks admiration, and radiates love and support for others.
Virgo the Virgin
Mutable, Feminine, Earth Sign
August 24 to September 23
Ruled by Mercury
Ripe fruit; orderly storage and collection; selection. Discrimination; work; perfectionism; health and hygiene; analysis; prudence; diet. Virgo is differentiated matter, critical and analytical of spirit, refining and narrowing matter with mind. Virgo organizes, purifies, and creates structures compounded of details and techniques. Virgo chooses, serves, maintains health, teaches secondary education, and works.
Libra the Balance
Cardinal, Masculine, Air Sign
September 23 to October 24
Ruled by Venus
Balance and adjustment; thanksgiving; social equilibration. Partnership; marriage; public relations; enemies; persuasion; sublimation; yielding. Libra is ideal relationships, the marriage of opposites, attempting to achieve balance and justice, and being willing to sublimate to make it work. Libra adjusts, equilibrates, and encourages a more harmonious environment, and takes these relationships into the outer world.
Scorpio the Scorpion
Fixed, Feminine, Water Sign
October 24 to November 23
Ruled by Mars and Pluto
Vegetation death; seed life; survival; endurance. Death and regeneration; passion; separation; others; losses; inheritance; metaphysical. Scorpio is deep and hidden emotional power used for either regeneration or destruction, even self-destruction. It is separate from others, internally alone and isolated, detached even unto death. Scorpio controls and directs emotions, experiences backlashes of tension, and carries intense inner passion and sexuality.
Sagittarius the Centaur
Mutable, Masculine, Fire Sign
November 23 to December 22
Ruled by Jupiter
Hibernation; advent; inner life; meditation; expansion. Realization; higher mind; religion and philosophy; sport; freedom; long journeys; action; rebirth. Sagittarius is initiation into the universal through philosophy, psychology, and illumination. Sagittarius explores life abroad as within, aspires to broaden perspectives, searches for inner meaning, and understands through beliefs and religion.
Capricorn the Goat
Cardinal, Feminine, Earth Sign
December 22 to January 20
Ruled by Saturn
Preservation; patience; reality; self-concentration. Perfected matter; ego objectives; organization; power; success; society; government. Capricorn is perfected matter, crystallizing the material into outer structures such as government and business, expressing the father principle of control and utility. Capricorn organizes and confines, defines and limits, suppresses, conserves, and shows integrity.
Aquarius the Waterbearer
Fixed, Masculine, Air Sign
January 20 to February 19
Ruled by Saturn and Uranus
Waiting; fasting; Lent; observation; planning; abstraction. Social consciousness; humanitarian; collective; progressive; cold; altruism; utopian. Aquarius is universal yet detached relationship expressing social ideals in groups, organizations, and movements. Aquarius understands through wisdom, is eccentric in its understanding and use of knowledge, networks and propagandizes to further its worldviews.
Pisces the Fishes
Mutable, Feminine, Water Sign
February 19 to March 21
Ruled by Jupiter and Neptune
Swelling seed; purifying rain; serenity; potential. Sensitivity; receptivity; self-sacrifice; psychic; karma; seclusion; hospital; dreaming. Pisces is the dissolution of boundaries, dependent emotional attachments, compassionate and passive to the will of others, subservient to fate. Pisces decays and brings chaos, resolves inner issues through meditation and spirituality, is self-sacrificial and unbound by structures.
Six of the signs are single signs and six are double signs. The single signs are Aries, Taurus, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, and Capricorn, whose images are centralized, strong, singular, and refer to specific unambiguous traits. Aries the Ram is initiatory and single-minded. Taurus the Bull is stable and secure. Leo the Lion is strong, powerful, and dominant. Virgo the Virgin is naive, critical, and discriminatory. Scorpio the Scorpion is self-contained, potent, and secretive. Capricorn the Goat is tenacious, tough, and independent.
The double signs are Gemini, Cancer, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius, and Pisces. They are dualistic in their images, qualities, and personifications. They usually describe multiple personifications or dualistic concepts, and occasionally both. For example, when the Moon is in a double sign we tend to have two mothers, or there may be a duality between our mother and grandmother or an adoption, in which there is a "real" mother and an adoptive mother. Their symbols reflect their dynamics. Gemini the Twins is a mirror-image left-right split around the vertical axis, which is imitative, reflective, and indicative of sibling relationships, yet connected above and below. Cancer is two emotional values -- a conscious feeling above an unconscious feeling -- and the claws spiral or rotate and show changing emotions. Libra the Scales is a weighing and reciprocation of left to right, relating self with others, with the scales as an intermediary mechanism, indicative of the counterbalancing in ideological relationships. Sagittarius the Centaur is a split or reconciliation of a lower, horse-like influence that is athletic, outdoor, sensual, and materialistic, and the upper archer who directs us to higher philosophical, religious, or psychological matters. Aquarius the Waterbearer is two snakes swimming in parallel but opposite directions, one above the other, and is unconscious thoughts that counterpoint unconscious words and acts, and vice versa. Pisces the Fishes are two emotions swimming in opposite directions, yet tethered together at the tail, describing conflicting but interconnected feelings: One feeling seeks consciousness above, while the opposing tendency is to seek secrecy and dive deeper within. In three of these double signs the halves are attached to each other, and Cancer, Libra and Aquarius have separate halves. Often such elementary clues hidden in the form of the zodiac symbols contain interpretive data of great use. It helps to know that Aquarians are often thinking the exact opposite of what they say or that Cancers often harbor the opposite feelings to those they express outwardly.
The valuable understanding of the zodiac signs that we already possess can be a useful starting point to learn astrology as a guide for self-development.
To traditional astrologers the horoscope is an imprint of our life that comes into being, fully formed, at the birth moment. Although the Sun, Moon, and other eight planets each reside in one of the twelve numbered houses representing archetypal ways of being and personality types, astrologers rarely use this sequence for interpretation. Indeed, some virtually ignore the houses as interpretive qualities. They assume that all our traits come into being at birth, which is clearly not the case, because we gradually unfold, change, evolve, and are affected by our environment.
The houses in the daily cycle correspond to the zodiac signs in the yearly cycle, although they are not associated with specific times in life. Although they are numbered, they are seen as abstract or even mythic principles correlated with the signs rather than as a sequence of stages.
The new vision is that we order our life as we live it -- in a sequence of development stages from conception through birth, childhood, and maturity and on to old age and death. The sequence of the twelve houses organizes our life pattern. By dating the time periods of the houses, the sequence of developmental stages correspond to the original meanings of the houses. The house times in childhood correspond to the stages of childhood development described by French developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.
Our time scale grades the sequence of unfolding around the periphery of the horoscope from conception to old age. When we include the planets, they show us when in life each planet (and its personifications) comes into being, beginning with our mother and father coming together to conceive us. The house divisions unfold in a logarithmic sequence that correlates to our perception of the passage of time. Our time sense changes throughout life, accelerating as we age.
This time scale corresponds to the numbered houses in the Natural Zodiac. We use our own horoscope to identify the sequence of life events that forms us, see which planets carry the influences, and determine how they influence us. This is a sequential and cyclical model for creating and modifying the stories that compose our life in time. The horoscope shows the sequence of events of our entire life. After birth, the Sun, the Moon, and the planets continue their cycles around the horoscope, triggering off life events and their memories, again and again. We have many opportunities to work with our past patterns; by using the time scale we can know when they are likely to happen again.
The dating system is unique, easy to understand, and straightforward to use. If we cannot determine the astrological influence when a given planet registered, as a learning "trigger" we can try to remember what happened at that age and who transmitted the influence. One thing we can be sure of is that both mechanism and carrier are a part of us. We will track and clarify each stage of our astrological life process with case histories and stories, together with personal observations and unfolding insights that lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves.
As we age, our time sense changes dramatically, accelerating faster and faster. This phenomenon is "biological time," and it is an essential part of knowing who we are and how we develop through life. It also allows us to date events in our life, reflecting more accurately their relative value and their places in the hierarchy of our life.
The eight planets, the Sun, and the Moon are our cast of characters in life and within the psyche. The Sun is our father, male partners, and the masculine principle within; the Moon is our mother, female partners, and the feminine principle within. The five personal planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are those close to us, brothers and sisters, children and friends, teachers, relatives, and those with whom we form close bonds. The outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which move slowly through the zodiac signs (in approximately seven, twelve, and twenty-two years, respectively), characterize our relationship to our generation's consciousness. The astrological signs in which planets fall qualifies their influence as though they are lenses that affect our vision of the planet. For example, Venus in Aries may be our self-assertive sister, while Saturn in Virgo could be our critical or discriminative grandmother. Each planet corresponds with one or more significant people in our life, beginning with mother and father, helping us to recognize their role in our life, and then to find their influence within us. Even when parental figures are absent, the same symbols describe their surrogates. In this way, we begin to understand the formative influences through which we bring our life into being.
Once we learn with whom the planets correlate and the qualities they express in us, we can begin to see how the signs modify each of the planets in our horoscope and reflect their character. If the Moon at our birth is in the reserved, controlling, and perfectionist sign of Capricorn, then women permeate our emotional life with inhibition and controlling principles or critical insight and ambition that define how we feel about ourselves.
The planets signify influences that form our attitudes and beliefs and that unfold throughout our life process, and we gradually internalize them as we develop and age. They are what form us and frame what we are and who we become. It is possible through them to discover the origins of the mechanisms of our relationships with others, our ability to love and be loved, our potential and how to enable it to unfold, and the qualities we carry within that will provide us with a solid core of meaning and being in life.
The aspect pattern in the center of the horoscope connects planets to each other in a web of dynamic relationships that are either harmonious or tense. They also link events at various stages of our life together to form constellations of meaning that define more complex patterns. The aspects link events that take place at different times and connect components of the self together in quite specific ways.
The geometric relationship between the Sun and the Moon in our horoscope reflects the relationship between our father and our mother. The understanding that ensues from attempting to reconstruct and understand our parents' relationship guides us from within, in resonance with our deepest self. The patterns and dynamics of conception and gestation from our parents' viewpoints describe our sexuality and relationships, as well as their higher octave in our creativity. When we can combine the male and female aspects of our own nature, despite their differences and tensions, our creative life is also nurtured. We must learn to include both sides into a whole that works, just as our parents were able to create us, whatever the difficulties in relationship they may have had. We must learn to see our patterns as they were created by the past and then let them go in being in the present.
Copyright © 2002 by A.T. Mann