The Ideal Interpretations Of The Twelve Signs
Astrology is based on nature, its cycles, and elements. Beginning at the far left point on the zodiac, the ascendant, we have Spring for the first quarter of the circle. With the second quarter comes Summer. The third quarter takes us into Fall, and the fourth is linked to Winter. If you think of what each season produces in our world, you will have the quality of the meaning and the type of activities involved in those quarters.
Fire and air are considered male; earth and water are looked upon as female. Male and female are the Yin and Yang of the whole.
Spring is a new beginning with the sign of Aries, the ram, spontaneous and bursting out with the energy that has been stored in the previous winter. It is the return of warmth to the land and, therefore, is in the element of fire. Fire is one of four elements most American and European astrologers use. (The Chinese use five elements and give them different names.) Fire is known as “cardinal” because it motivates action, as do all the leading signs in each quarter. Notice that fire which requires air to burn, is always opposite an air sign. Polar opposites complete one another. Earth and water are also opposite signs and complete one another.
The second sign in spring is Taurus, sign of the bull. It involves the fundamental values and the need to validate ourselves in some way. It is the element of earth, the maintenance and sustenance of material existence. Taurus occurs, as do all “fixed” signs, in the middle of its quarter of the zodiac. Fixed signs keep things steady and hold them as they are.
The third sign of Spring is Gemini, the twins, and is the element of air. Air is invisible, detected only by the results of its movement, and, in Gemini, “mutable”. A mutable sign represents changes from one condition to another. It is seen in the thoughts of a man and a woman when they are going to have a baby.
Cardinality, fixedness, and mutability proceed in that order through all the quarters. The second quarter, Summer, begins with Cancer, the crab, which is cardinal water. Some people think the crab, because of its ability to hold tight, is a good icon for the mother who nurtures and protects her child or stifles it by holding it too tightly and never knowing when to let go.
Following Cancer is the sign of Leo, the lion, symbol of the father or leader, and fixed fire. He is ideally the preserving and loving leader of his family or community. On a more basic level, the lion waits for the females to catch his food and sleeps a great deal. As in all cases with the signs and planets, the quality of behavior starts with egoism which focuses on the self and develops as the entity moves toward altruism, the unselfish concern not only for self but for the general welfare.
Virgo, the virgin, is mutable earth. This is the time of change when the labor of bringing in the harvest is occurring and preparation is made for the future. The only reason I can think of for calling it “the virgin” is because virgin priestesses blessed the harvest. In the far past, the term, virgin priestess, meant unmarried, belonging to the temple and not to a man. Virgo represents labor for oneself and service to others.
The houses of the lower half of the zodiac are concerned with the more personal functions such as the will to exist and get what we value, communication with others in our immediate surroundings, the need to be nurtured by mother and protected by the father, and learning to work. It is this base upon which we build our life. These houses will forever retain the “flavor” of the signs that naturally occur there every Spring. As the carousel of signs appears to turn clockwise with time, the signs that appear in each house change. The function of each house is modified by the quality of each new sign that occupies it.
For instance, as Aries adds its highly spirited, spontaneous, impulsive will to the second house which is steady, and has fixed values, the effect will tend to shake up second house affairs, and Taurus values may try to steady Aries. It is also likely to be a somewhat uncomfortable pairing. By combining the functions of the house with the quality of the visiting sign, you can come closer to an understanding of the effects you experience during that time. It is this combining of signs, houses and planets overlaying the individual chart that tells the astrologer how the individual is currently handling his or her life.
“Remember, each of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water have three modalities or behaviors, Cardinal, which gets things going, Fixed, which builds the form and maintains it, and Mutable which sums up experience and prepares for changes.”
Libra and the seventh house represent the first major step into maturity for the soul. Libra is the cardinal sign of air, the mental faculty. It is called “The Balance,” and its symbolic form is the balance scale. Both sides can be seen and weighed, so it is significant of judgement . The concept of balance is also appropriate because here we begin to consider the other person to be as important as ourselves. This is why the seventh house is looked upon as the house of marriage or partnerships.
This is the season of Fall when all the shades of green in the Spring and Summer turn into all the different shades of red and yellow. The accent is no longer on production of material forms. Now, the importance shifts to taking in all the experiences of Spring and Summer, using what we need immediately, storing what we want to keep and returing the rest to the land. We make judgements based on our experience and choose what we think may work better for us.
If you did not have roots, you could move in mind, word or deed whenever and wherever you wanted.
In the eighth house and Scorpio, we become aware of the need to merge with our choice of another and actually become one with them. We can intimately know the other person that is behind the mask we call the personality.
The word mystic relates in general to the hidden side of existence or whatever lies behind the material forms of life. Scorpio is of the element of water, feelings or emotions, and is a fixed sign. It is said to relate to the whole course of life from birth to death and regeneration, the continuous evolvement of coming to know the essence of what we are.
Mars has traditionally been the ruler of Scorpio, but Pluto, symbolized by the phoenix which represents psychology, evolution and transcendence, is now recognized as its higher symbol.
The phoenix is found in Egyptian mythology. It was a beautiful lone bird which lived in the desert 500 to 600 years and then consumed itself in fire where it burned off all of itself that was worthless. It then rose from the ashes to start another long life. It is a symbol of immortality and consistent transcendence.
In Sagittarius and the ninth house, we begin to recognize patterns in the world. We discover systems of thought and procedures that yield to us understanding of the ways in which we function. Our consciousness expands. Philosophy and science are developed here. Sagittarius is the mutable sign of the element of fire. It’s symbol, the centaur, relates to the concept that, at this point, humans have risen halfway out of the purely animal state in which form controls function and are becoming ready for the last stage of development in which the physical senses give us useful input but no longer control us.
With the onset of Winter, all that we have developed, passing through the previous nine signs, is drawn up into our being. Skills, knowledge, creativity, self-discipline and self-control, responsibility and the ability to persevere combine to allow us to create structures for the benefit of our society. We call these structures careers, businesses or our destiny. It is to these things that the tenth house and Capricorn relate.
Capricorn is the cardinal sign of earth, the element of forms or material. Creation of these forms is the most developed aspect of the earth element, whether it be the magnificence of Michael Jordan’s basketball career or the beauty of Pavarotti’s tenor voice. I think of singers, Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston and Celine Dionne and actors, Albert Finney and Meryl Streep.
We must recognize the contributions of diplomacy and leadership of Henry Kissenger and Nelson Mandela and the inspired leadership of Desmond Tutu. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Mary Cassatt and Georgia O’Keefe have piqued our senses, adding beauty and inspiration to our lives, as have writers such as Toni Morrison, William Goldman and Maya Angelou. What kind of world would we have without people like Mother Theresa and Princess Diana who have left great systems that will continue in the compassionate service to others.
We must also honor the millions of business people who devote themselves to good products at fair prices and good service and who give back to those in need of assistance. This list is too long and not long enough. It is only a tiny sample of all the people who are role models for all the unique achievements of individual human beings. It is these achievements, whether celebrated by vast numbers of people or known only to a few, to which the tenth house and Capricorn can relate.
The Eleventh house and Aquarius relate to the manifestation of the fully developed human being. Aquarius is of the element of air which has to do with the mental faculties and is fixed. Here, all human resources are used to achieve hopes, wishes and goals for the well being and progress of all living creatures.
The symbol for Aquarius is the Water Bearer and is signified by the drawing of two waves, one above the other. Since Aquarius is an air sign, the appearance of what seems to be water in the symbols is confusing. What we see pouring out of the water bearer’s jar and the waves of the written symbol are the pure energies of the life force. It can best be likened to the energy that flows through the body’s meridians and can be accessed at the acupuncture points. Symbolically this energy flow is often referred to as the river of life.
Aquarius gives us people who are involved in the progress of humanity, people such as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Aquarians tend to be very individual and liberated in mind and actions. These qualities and a desire to be a friend to humanity are their primary focus. They know where we have been, but their main concern is where we are going. Because of this, they are usually about 50 years ahead of society.
This state of mind tends towards impartiality which discomforts those who want to be special. The developed Aquarian is aware of this and strives never to take away from others the self esteem they derive from what they can and have achieved. Giving what is needed most today, they have a better possibility of nudging people towards future goals. They can be loyal to the end, unconditionally loving and joyous when their friends are successful.
And so we come to the culmination of our journey through the experience of life, the mutable sign of Pisces which is of the water element and the twelfth house. Two yoked fish is the symbol of Pisces. They are facing in opposite directions, but they are joined together. This symbol, history tells us, was also the symbol of Christianity.
The fully developed Piscean is totally aware of the unique individuality that lies within him/her and is no longer dependent on material conformation of her/his being and its value. The material manifestation of Pisces is institutions, large groups of people brought together to be treated or cared for. Hospitals, orphanages, prisons, nursing homes and schools are examples of this. Interestingly, the opposite sign, Virgo, which relates to service to others and health concerns, is necessary to the work of such institutions.
This ideal Piscean swims with the flow of the life force, is connected to all life and therefore has knowledge of what is transpiring in others. It is this innate awareness that gives Pisces what we call its intuitive nature. It is the end of winter and all life’s experiences have been broken down into the basic elements and absorbed. We are prepared for the coming change, whatever it may be.
If I weren’t so busy seeking the positive and avoiding the negative, I could be superlative.
I have purposely attempted to identify the ideal interpretations of the twelve signs. First, I believe in accentuating the positive, and, second, I believe that in doing so it then becomes easier to see how the ideal can be corrupted by false ego or egoism, which is the tendency to be self-centered or to consider only oneself and one’s own interests.
What we see in a natal chart represents the potentials of our life, not the given. I think we are given one cycle of Saturn, approximately twenty-eight years that it takes to return back to its natal position, to figure out what we are coping with and then three to five more years to choose how we want to handle it. We have the opportunity to reconsider our choices about every twenty-eight years, but it seems to become more difficult. The second chance seems to coincide with what we call the mid-life crisis. The third opportunity in the eighties may yield only regret for lost opportunities, but it can still be a step in the correct direction. It is, of course, not necessary to wait for Saturn’s returns. The choice can be made at any moment to seek self-knowledge instead of egocentricity.
Flaws that show up in the first six houses and signs of our chart can impede our efforts to accomplish our goals in the last six houses and signs. When we feel, for instance, a great urge to create social changes to benefit our fellow humans but still have problems with knowing what it really takes to serve others, our efforts will fall short of our intentions. Unfortunately, it is also true that the desire for fame and glory in the world can make of us either a user or one who is used, a dominator or one who is dominated. Each pair of two opposite experiences are bound together. It seems that we are destined to know both sides of experience in order to find our way to our goals.