As Within, So Without: Your Challenge in Relationships
In February 2000, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I often joke that if I had known as much astrology then as I know now, I never would have married anyone. There’s no chart perfect enough and no compatibility smooth enough to please the astrologer’s eye. I’ve come to understand after more than 20 years of reading horoscopes that no one is attracted to perfection. We’re much more likely to be drawn to our most challenging life issues. The astrological maxim states, “As above, so below,” but even more primary in relationships is its continuation, “as within, so without.” This means that, whatever your hardest aspect or toughest planetary pattern, your significant other will bring it home to you.
One of the first principles of natal horoscope interpretation I learned is that “we always go toward our squares.” The chart shows, through the planets involved in hard aspect, where we will focus our life’s energy. Over the years, I have found this to be true as I have watched the horoscopes of friends and clients – the writer with Mercury square Saturn, the spiritual seeker with Neptune on an angle, the computer engineer with the strong Uranus squares, and the kindergarten teacher with Saturn in the 5th house of children with hard aspects to a line-up of personal planets.
It’s much the same in relationships. Find the worst aspect in your own chart. Fall in love with someone. Then check that person’s chart. You’ll see that your beloved’s worst aspect is the perfect match for your own. Or try this: List the TV and movie actors you find yourself compelled to watch, the ones who you “just know” are your soul mates. Find their birth data – even just the day and year. Do they mirror your pattern? Or does the character they play symbolically fit the pattern? For example, if you believe that you could help Star Trek’s Mr. Spock to find his feminine side or that the love of a good woman could be the key to android Commander Data’s emotion chip, you’re probably an Aquarius stellium (“I’m here to help”) with a tough Saturn (“He’s not cold, he’s just misunderstood”).
But why? Why aren’t we attracted to the most perfectly loving, devoted, and harmonious mate? Anyone who has studied horoscopes of family and friends should know that there’s plenty of variety but no perfection. “Almost everything that happens in this life is a result of energies activating from the past,” explains my guru, Goswami Kriyananda.1 One of the key points I’ve learned in my 25 years of study with Kriyananda is that, according to the law of karma, who we are today is a creation of our own will in actions, words, and strong intentions from the past. Therefore, each individual is still subject to the forces put into play in previous lifetimes. In our present life, these manifest as strong inclinations and natural preferences. In karmic astrology, these proclivities are symbolized by the planets in house, sign, and aspect. The karmic forces magnetize us to people who match up with our planetary patterns, so that the past is played out again and again.
The law of karma suggests that, as incarnating souls, we choose our parents, and they are the first in our lives to play out these patterns. Their modeled behaviors and our responses can either help us to grow or embed us deeper into our emotional comfort zone. The good news is: Once the patterns are understood, we can begin to make a positive and creative impact on our future, using these same natal planetary forces.
Like Kriyananda, I combine Western astrology with the meditation techniques of the Kriya Yoga lineage, Patanjali’s Ashtanga yoga, and the philosophy of the ancient Hindu spiritual texts. Because we believe that “the everyday life is the spiritual life,” our most important lessons and personal work are found in our everyday lives. In this article, I will demonstrate two ways to look at the natal horoscope, using the chart of Elizabeth Taylor, to examine shared aspects in her marriages, and the charts of President and Mrs. Clinton, to consider elemental imbalances. Finally, I’ll invite you to use the yoga technique of reflection for greater understanding of your relationships, and I will provide some planet-related suggestions for improved partnerships, based on my experience as a practicing astrologer.
When Partners Share Corresponding Aspects
Synastry has many components, such as basic attraction (the physical characteristics we look for in others) and essential compatibility, like communication styles and similar values and interests. I believe that one of the main factors that hook us into long-term relationships is similar hard aspects. We are magnetized to others who play out our aspects on life’s stage. The drama is performed again and again with people of comparable personality and behavior type, until we find balance and insight.
Sometimes the patterns are subtle and harder to recognize, but in much-married Elizabeth Taylor’s horoscope the patterns are obvious. Her natal chart has two distinctive line-ups: The first is Sun, Mercury, and Mars in Pisces opposed Neptune in Virgo; the second is Venus conjunct Uranus in Aries.
Wherever Neptune is located in our horoscope is where we have our biggest blind spot. With Sun and Mars involved, we know that Elizabeth Taylor’s blind spot was with the men in her life – the tendency to project her ideal image onto another person, along with a denial of the severity and consequences of Neptune issues like addiction, and a Piscean bond of boundless empathy (which is called “codependence” when it is out of balance).
When Elizabeth Taylor married her first husband, hotel heir Nicky Hilton, she was an 18-year-old virgin, cocooned from practical matters by her parents and the “princess” lifestyle of a movie star in the studio system. She was totally unaware that she was entering a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with an alcoholic, heroin addict, and compulsive gambler.
Her second husband, Michael Wilding, had Venus and Sun in Leo opposed Uranus, to match Taylor’s Venus-Uranus conjunction, plus a wide, out-of-sign Sun conjunct Neptune. Venus-Uranus individuals are internally restless and easily bored in relationships, so they subconsciously choose fascinating but inappropriate partners. Wilding was charming, 20 years her senior, and a classic Shakespearean actor from England. He was not an alcoholic, but he did have a secret: He had epilepsy, a seizure disorder, which was unknown to his movie fans. Taylor’s pursuit of Wilding had romantic drama, but she became bored with him after they married. Not long thereafter, Taylor took up with Michael Todd, and the divorce and marriage routine took place again.
Michael Todd is an astrologer’s nightmare. He was born at home. Neither the time nor the date were recorded. His family’s best estimate, according to his biography, was that he was born within a couple of days of June 22, 1907. Even with that scarce information, you still can look in the ephemeris and see that Todd would fit both the Uranus and Neptune patterns with Mars conjunct Uranus in Capricorn opposing Jupiter conjunct Neptune in Cancer that week. Todd’s death in a plane crash, after only 15 months of marriage, leaving Elizabeth Taylor with a new baby, symbolically fits her Venus-Uranus (unexpected relationship separations) aspect.
Taylor had socialized with married couple Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher during her Michael Wilding and Michael Todd days. Eddie Fisher has Venus conjunct Neptune in the late degrees of Leo squaring Mars in early Gemini. The symbols suggest that Fisher could easily fall for the illusion of a damsel-in-distress (Venus conjunct Neptune), played by the widowed Taylor, saved by the knight-in-shining-armor (Mars). Fisher’s aspects correspond to Taylor’s Sun-Mars conjunction opposed Neptune, signifying that each met the other’s criteria for the perfect fantasy partner. Taylor and Fisher started their adulterous romance secretly (Neptune), which eventually led to the scandalous Fisher-Reynolds divorce and the Fisher-Taylor marriage.
The scenario reversed and duplicated itself when the then-married Taylor met Richard Burton on the set of the epic movie Cleopatra. Burton was a heavy drinker, whom Taylor married, divorced, remarried, and divorced again. He had his Neptune pattern with the Sun conjunct Saturn in Scorpio square Neptune in Leo. The smoldering passion these two actors brought to Cleopatra, their first movie together – with its themes of love addiction, infidelity, and betrayal of ideals – was symbolically more romantic and appealing than the screaming drunks they later mirrored in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
John Warner’s official Senate biography gives his birth date but never mentions his marriage to Taylor. He also has the signature Sun opposed Neptune in his chart. Taylor’s last husband Larry Fortensky (they were wed in 1991 and divorced in 1997) was a truck driver and recovering alcoholic whom she met while they were both in treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic. Even without knowing his birth data, we see Taylor’s Neptune pattern at work.
The point is not that Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands acted out her horoscope (which they did), but that the problems were hers to begin with. She herself spent 35 years addicted to painkillers, sleeping pills, and booze, besides struggling with the ups and downs of an eating disorder. Only later in her life did she appear to have insight into her mistakes. Even with the wisdom she gained from the addiction recovery program she attended, the forces within her played out. The program recommends that newly recovering addicts refrain from forming new relationships for a year, but Taylor was married to Fortensky within nine months (Venus-Uranus in Aries again).
Learning from Experience (or Not)
Why did Taylor continue to make the same mistakes? Why does it take so long to gain experience in relationships? Does having astrological advice help? Not always. One client told me ten years into our relationship that her husband had a drinking problem and she thought he might be an alcoholic. Her tightest natal aspect is Sun square Neptune. Recently, she’s been working on a project with a talented local artist. She’s been warned by his family and friends that he’s temperamental, a womanizer, and has a problem with alcohol. She tells me they just don’t understand him like she does, and she thinks she’s in love. I’ve told her both subtly and straight out that there’s a problem here, and I strongly recommended that she attend Al-Anon meetings (the twelve-step group for the family and friends of alcoholics). She nods in agreement, then continues on about what a fascinating person this guy is and wants me to look at his chart again so she can change herself to please him.
But who am I to judge relationships and the needs they fulfill? I’ve learned over the years that we’re drawn to others because of what we need to learn. I believe that “soul mates” are people who get together to share important information about what they’ve learned in life. If someone falls into your patterns, that does not make the person bad, or even wrong. Your significant other is not your enemy. These people are your teachers. Parents often have kids that mirror their patterns, and aware parents know they have something to offer their children from their own experience. Conjunctions, squares, and oppositions are not problems, per se. They are energy. The people we are involved with in close relationships can teach us how to use our energy differently.
Elements and Qualities: Power Partnerships Find the Balance
Strong aspect alignment is not the only factor in the relationship challenge. More subtle patterns magnetize people to each other. Dominance and lack in element and quality (modalities) are the first things I look at in synastry. We are attracted to people who share our element and quality dominance, but we are unconsciously drawn to others who have strengths that match what we lack.
These people bring what we need into our lives. Unfortunately, these are also the people we are least likely to understand. To observe this in a basic way in your own horoscope, simply count the planets in each element and quality (no angles, nodes, or asteroids).3
Some horoscopes are more balanced in element and quality; other charts are more extreme. For example, President and Mrs. Clinton share a strong fire element and fixed quality, indicating their passion, persistence, and determination. However, Bill Clinton’s horoscope has no planets in water signs (click here for chart). People who lack water in their charts have difficulty understanding and expressing emotion. Hillary Clinton has three planets in her Sun sign, Scorpio, plus the Moon in Pisces, which tells us that she is intuitive, sensitive, and empathic beneath her businesslike facade (click here for chart). Hillary becomes the partner who acts out and manifests emotionality on behalf of both partners. I suspect that their personal dynamic is quite different from anything they might reveal in public.
Hillary has no planets in earth signs. The President’s Moon in Taurus is his only earth element and must provide grounding for them both. Bill dominates in the air element (with Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune in Libra, plus Uranus in Gemini), so he is an excellent speechmaker and debater. (According to Hillary Clinton’s biography on the Lois Rodden AstroDatabank Web site: “She told friends that no other man met her standards of likeability and intellectual power.”)
Hillary also lacks the cardinal quality of initiative, having only Neptune in Libra. Bill has four cardinal planets (the stellium in Libra). When Hillary met her future husband, she was an activist and political strategist in her own right with a strong desire to make her mark on the world,4 but Bill had the cardinal force of leadership, ambition, and activation, with the goal of becoming President of the United States. Bill lacks mutability, which he gains through Hillary (Moon in Pisces, Jupiter in Sagittarius, Uranus and Ascendant in Gemini). The partnership benefits of her mutability are shown in part as she adapts to his goals: moving with him to Arkansas early in his political career and sublimating her own career goals (until her New York Senate race) to become a more traditional First Lady. These differences in pattern of element and quality give rise to their tremendous strength as a couple, demonstrated by their determination to achieve the presidency.
From Without to Within
The value of examining the most challenging aspects and imbalances in our horoscopes is not merely to improve our astrological skills of analysis or interpretation. The primary purpose for learning about “as within, so without” is to move from observation of external relationships and horoscope patterns to healing and rebalancing on the internal level. The following suggestions will help you to take stock of your outer and inner life and know where to begin to make changes so that you can create more harmonious partnerships in the future.
Examine the possibility that your most challenging aspect or planetary pattern has been played out with parents, siblings, friends, and romantic interests. One important part of learning something new is reflection, a way of gently but persistently thinking about a topic during a specific amount of quiet time. Ask yourself questions like:
• Who outside myself most exemplifies this aspect?
• What is the nature of my relationship with this person now? What was it like in the past? Am I growing and evolving in this relationship?
• Why are we together?
• Can I see how my choices and behaviors affect (or have affected) these relationships?
• What do I really want from a relationship? What does my horoscope say about that?
Fix Yourself First
Just as there is variety but no perfection in horoscopes, there can be love and companionship but no happily-ever-after in relationships. However, even folks with very difficult horoscopes can have healthy, successful relationships if they can accept that relationships require work. I think of it like gardening: You need seeds, soil, nourishment, water, and maintenance to grow something of beauty.
The key to optimal relationships is to fix yourself first. Here are some thoughts that might be helpful for accomplishing this:
If the Sun is involved in your challenging conjunction, square, or opposition pattern, look at your connection with your father and his behavior patterns, as demonstrated in his interactions with you and with the world at large. Heal and understand the relationship with your father (psychologically, if real-world resolution is not possible).
If the Moon is part of your pattern, pay attention to your relationship to your mother. Explore your prenatal history, if possible; your birth myth (what your parents tell you about the day you were born); and your own early childhood. Make sure your relationship with your mother is healed (internally, at least).
If Mercury is involved, understand that what you say, both internally and externally, is powerful and creative. If you always think or say, “Women are no good” or “Men always leave me,” you are asking for what you don’t want. Say what you do want, for example: “I deserve positive, healthy, loving relationships in my life.” Mercury is often the triggering agent of aspects. What you say to others, especially those closest to you, sets off the planetary pattern. Think before you speak.
If Venus is a component, get in touch with your feminine side. Pay attention to your attitudes toward women, and raise your consciousness about women’s role in relationships. Bringing beauty into your environment (via flowers, art, music) can be balancing to Venus. Observe what satisfies you about your own relationships; find examples of relationships you admire, and contemplate how those are accomplished. The ability to love unselfishly is the highest spiritual goal attainable.
If Mars is a factor, study the yoga principle of nonviolence. Apply this principle to your life. Nonviolence is not just the obvious – physically refraining from hitting someone – but also includes avoiding verbal harshness, sarcasm, and cruelty in speech. Ultimately, forgive and let go of past resentments, so that even your mind can be released from violent thoughts. Consider the perspective of the theories of reincarnation suggesting that people who might have been battlefield enemies in a past life may be a married couple today.
If you are considering Jupiter as part of your challenge, first make sure that your personal finances are in order. Happy Jupiter inharmoniously aspected can indicate impulse spending, misplaced generosity, and expanding debt. Chronic money quarrels can ruin relationships. Second, question whether your desire for freedom confounds your desire for commitment.
In hard aspect to personal planets, Saturn can bring low self-esteem, negative thinking, inability to nurture oneself, or the fear of expressing love. These aspects can symbolize depression on both an emotional and physiological level. Remember that relationships are not a cure for depression. Other people cannot obliterate your feelings of loss, lack, and limitation. If you feed yourself positivity through affirmation and imagery, if you pat yourself on the back and nurture yourself, you will begin to attract more positive, supportive people in your life. Saturn solutions require work, and sometimes that work involves physical or mental health practitioners. You are worth the effort.
With Uranus, find ways to honor your creativity and originality without being self-destructive. Let go of the craving for chaos. Julia Cameron has a section on “crazymakers” in her book, The Artist’s Way, that is recommended reading for people with strong but inharmonious Uranus aspects. According to Cameron, crazymakers break deals, destroy schedules, expect special treatment, blame everyone except themselves, and just generally create drama. “If you are involved in a tortured tango with a crazymaker, stop dancing to his/her tune,” says Cameron. “Pick up a book on codependency or get yourself to a twelve-step program for relationship addiction.”5
People with hard Neptune aspects project a strange glamour of perfection on the other; however, when their object of affection turns into a real, live human being, they feel overwhelming disappointment. Figure out fast that Earth is not the realm of perfection, and learn to accept people with all their flaws. Acknowledge that first impressions, no matter how intuitive, will not give you the whole story. There’s always important hidden information that you will only find out over time. If you are in a relationship with someone who has a problem with alcohol, drugs, gambling, compulsive overeating, or is the adult child of alcoholic or seriously dysfunctional parents – or if you yourself struggle with any of these addictions – twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) can help you to begin the process of recovery.
With Pluto in the configuration, strive for self-control, not to control others. This is possible only when you realize that you are not in charge and that others are not there to bend to your will. However, if you don’t claim your Pluto power, others will come into your life and beat you up with it. The obsessive nature of Pluto in hard aspect makes you feel as powerless as a charmed snake when Mr. or Ms. “looks-so-good-but-treats-me-so-bad” comes to town.
Learn to say no.
Whatever your aspects may be, get counseling or attend relationship workshops, if necessary. Consult a professional astrologer to gain insights into yourself and your compatibility patterns. The best thing about knowing astrology is the perspective you gain when your significant other hits that ouchy point. That’s your point of awakened self-awareness. “Oh!” you say to yourself, “her Mars-Pluto is activating my Mars-Pluto again. She wants to fight.” Or, “He’s speaking from his Mercury-Saturn’s point of view, and it’s making my inner child’s Moon-Saturn feel bad, like when Mom used to yell at me.”
At a moment like this, use whatever techniques are effective for you to facilitate change: taking deep breaths, shifting your viewpoint, rewriting the script, changing your response, setting boundaries, not responding with verbal violence, asking for what you want, silently chanting your mantra, or repeating your affirmations.
Face your challenges, reclaim your hard aspects, honor and respect all elements and qualities, and remember that you can create positive, healthy, loving relationships in your life. In You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay offers a superb vision in the following affirmation:
“Deep at the center of my being, there is an infinite well of love
I now allow this love to flow to the surface.
It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness,
my very being, and radiates out from me in all directions
and returns to me multiplied.
The more love I use and give, the more I have to give.
The supply is endless ….
I only attract loving people in my world,
for they are a mirror of what I am.”(6)
Chart Data and Sources
Elizabeth Taylor, February 27, 1932; 2:00 a.m. UT; Golders Green, England (51°N34’, 0°W12’); A: from mother’s memory, as reported in her biography, My Daughter Elizabeth. (Other sources list birth time as 2:30 a.m.; Lois Rodden’s AstroDatabank uses 2:15 a.m. as a compromise between the two previous times.)
Accurate birth times are unavailable for all but one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands. Birth dates are as follows:
Michael Wilding, July 23, 1912; as given in Donald Spoto, A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor, New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
Michael Todd, estimated as June 22, 1907; from Michael Todd, Jr., and Susan McCarthy Todd, A Valuable Property: The Life Story of Michael Todd, New York: Arbor House, 1983.
Eddie Fisher, August 10, 1928; 7:42 a.m. EDT; Philadelphia, PA (39ûN57’, 75ûW09’); AA: birth certificate.
Richard Burton, November 10, 1925; 3:00 p.m. GMT; Pontrhydyfen, Wales (52ûN17’, 03ûW51’); DD: conflicting birth times, according to Lois Rodden’s AstroDatabank.
John Warner, February 18, 1927; from official Senate biography: www.senate.gov/
Bill Clinton, August 19, 1946; 8:51 a.m. CST; Hope, AR (33°N40’, 93°W36’); A: from mother’s memory.
Hillary Clinton, October 26, 1947; 8:00 p.m. CST; Chicago, IL (41°N52’, 87°W39’); DD: conflicting birth times. (Both her quoted birth time of 8:00 p.m. and the early morning birth time mentioned in a Chicago Sun-Times article would still have the Moon in Pisces for the purposes of adding up planetary elements and qualities.)
References and Notes
1. Goswami Kriyananda, The Laws of Karma, Temple of Kriya Yoga, 1995, p. 4. Goswami Kriyananda is both a flame carrier in the Kriya Yoga lineage and a master astrologer in the Western tradition. He has been teaching and counseling for more than 40 years. He is the founder and spiritual preceptor of the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago (Temple of Kriya Yoga, 2414 N. Kedzie, Chicago, IL 60647; phone 773-342-4600; www.yogakriya.org).
2. See Kriyananda, The Laws of Karma, pp. 8-11, for a detailed description of the soul’s incarnation process.
3. There are many systems for weighting the values of the planets when adding up the elements and qualities. The Ascendant and Midheaven are often included. For the purposes of this article, the simplest system is preferred.
4. Roger Morris, Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1996, pp. 140-141.
5. Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Perigee Books, 1992, p. 49.
6. Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life, Santa Monica, CA: Hay House, 1984, pp. 106-107.
© Marcia Sacks – all rights reserved
About the Author
Marcia Sacks is a professional astrologer with more than 25 years of experience, specializing in karmic astrology. She is a disciple of Goswami Kriyananda at the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago and was ordained Swami K. Adinadananda in 1979 after seminary graduation. She teaches meditation and astrology in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.