How do the stars actually affect me?

There’s something funny happening in the astrology world. As “new age” ideas become popular, more and more people seem to be subscribing to the idea that the planets affect their daily life. The infamous mercury retrograde has become a buzzword that signals dangerous times ahead! But as more people take note of the sky, something not so encouraging is happening too. We’re going back to astrology as a fatalistic tool. This means the stars as the ultimate determines of our fate. In astrology the moon is connected to women, so then a full moon that brings every woman howling to her knees because, well she’s a woman right?

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No quite. This is why astrology is an art and not a science. Putting enough of beaker X into beaker Y won’t always produce a standard result. This is because astrology is personal to you. Everyone has a different astrology chat based on their time, date and location of birth – even the chart of twins born minutes apart can be dramatically different.

Back in the day, astrology used to be considered a hard science. Even though it was highly respected, I don’t think it would be good to go back to the those days. And this is because astrology is not a science. Seeing it as a science means requiring it to provide standardised results for everyone.

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 We’ve already had our astrological revolution where that kind of thinking was transformed. In the old days astrology charts were doom predictors, in which certain placements had your mum eyeing you suspiciously from birth. It was all too much, something had to change. And so, humanistic astrology was born. This came with the idea that your chart showed psychological tendencies and potentials which could be enhanced by the careful nurturing of your astrologer. Free will was also allowed back in the picture. Guiding your parenting skills based on this knowledge could help your child side step their pitfalls and really blossom into something special.

So what’s going on with astrology lovers in the present day? Why has the prescription of doom and gloom returned? Well in short, it’s because most people only know bits and bobs about astrology, even though most would love to know more. Real astrology is a complex mission to learn, and sometimes we astrologers forget that when we throw out one single bit of information, understandably, most people will take it on board in isolation. To really understand astrology it is still as complex as it has always been, it’s only the labelling that has changed. The only way to solve this problem is to get more information out there.

But where does that leave you catching up on your favourite moon ritual? You’ll be forgiven if you don’t want to dedicate years of your life to learning this art just so you “really get it” when the next new moon rolls around.

The answer is simple: see it as an energy. And then reflect on what that actually means for you. Full moons bring things to a climax, which can be intense and disorienting. But not if you have been working on those issues for the past couple of weeks. In that case it becomes more like a relief – like the opening night of your event going really well. It’s the prep before that mattered, but all that becomes clear in the moment.

Whenever you read something astrological, think for a second – how does that relate to me? If mercury retrograde makes people more inwardly focused, a foggy brain might be a sign that you’re in desperate need of some introspection. While this doesn’t have the same instant gratification of just blaming the planets for your weird day, it does mean that you’ll actually get some personal benefits from knowing a bit more about what’s happening in the sky. The planets won’t be your puppeteers, but your supporters and best friends.

We’re moving in a great direction right now, with real astrology becoming more mainstream but we’ve got some work to do. Let’s start the revolution by keeping astrology as a tool for change.

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Star/Sun Signs: Your Higher Purpose

We all grow up knowing our ‘star sign’. It is always holds a spot in a newspaper, and it’s ingrained in the memory of even the most sceptical critic. Yet oddly enough, the first thing you realise when you first learn astrology is that you are more than just your star sign. This sign which dominated your understanding of astrology suddenly becomes one of many different and complex elements to understand. When you first have your chart read it is a like a torch has been shone into your life; your behaviour becomes meaningful and a full picture of your personality comes out. Suddenly astrology becomes an important and applicable psychological tool.

This is why many astrologers and astrology enthusiasts resent ‘star’ or Sun signs for the shallow picture they paint. As an astrologer myself, I have seen how Sun signs have often held back a positive conception of astrology, making it appear much more reductionist and arbitrary, as I discussed in my article ‘Why Astrology?’.When you know that astrology tells you so much more, it is frustrating to see everyone judge it on such a basic level.

That is why it may come as a surprise to many when I say that your ‘star’ or Sun sign, whilst one of many factors, is still the most important and influential part of your chart. No matter what your rising sign is or the house where you find your Sun, the actual sign sets the attitude which will dominate your life. While you are more than just your sun sign, it is the core of your identity– whether you accept it or not.

Think of your personality as a painting. If the houses are represented by a different colour, then a lot of blues or purples and a lack of pinks will tell you where your focus lies. If the planets and their aspects are represented by the objects in the image then again you will see which bits draw the most focus. The house of your Sun has a special role as the brush in which everything is painted. It taints every area of the painting with its own distinctive style. However, it is your Sun sign which represents the actual painter.

Deep down it is all our little differences and details that make us who we are. It is what makes us individual. It is also true that you’ll feel your Sun’s house, and Moon’s sign/house on a much deeper level. But being one of 12 zodiac signs is what gives us a grander sense of connection. Often, thinking on a broader and more general scale allows us to connect with others. The more we get caught up in details, the easier it is to feel our differences from one another. It is like belonging to a culture—it grounds us and serves as the set up from which we can grow. It shapes our values, while allowing us to work out which ones we want to keep, and which ones need to go. However more so than this it sets a higher purpose—it brings order and meaning to the house of our Sun. Throughout your chart it is always the sign which first sets the scene. It sets the tone and attitude, while the planets bring different energies.

Though some people find it difficult to associate with their ‘star’ or Sun sign, this is really representative of a deeper issue in which they do not feel proud of themselves for who they naturally are. Family, early environments and society can often favour and value certain kinds of people and see them as more successful contributions to society. This is why Pisceans and Librans often find it harder to really know themselves. Initially a lot of their natural traits are regarded as too dreamy and sensitive, or other-oriented and co-dependent to be acceptable. They do not naturally fit in with a more dominant and work oriented larger social order. However, repressing your natural sun sign can have a much worse effect.

While Sun sign astrology has its downfalls as a simplified version of a complex art, it has remained relevant for so long for a reason. It shouldn’t be the only thing we know when we think of astrology, but we should all find a way to be proud of our own star sign. The more we can embrace it, the more we can find value in the way that we naturally are. Deferring to the Sun’s house alone robs us of the higher purpose we bring to those activities. Maybe sometimes it’s not so bad to generalise after all.


Why are Sagittarius and Pisces incompatible?

I’ve written this post in honour of Saturn in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces, but I’ve taken a slightly different approach. With big events like these it can be easy to miss some basic questions which actually help us to understand what’s really going on. In this case the basic question is WHY exactly does Sagittarius square Pisces?

“Why are Sagittarius and Pisces incompatible?” My friend asked, “Is it because of some sort of Jupiter-as-ruler rivalry? Because I can see loads of similarities between them: I think they go well together.”

Normally when you think of sun sign astrology, the answer is simple: one is fire and one is water- and fire and water don’t go. But if you look at the natal chart, the answer is actually mathematical.

“Because they square one other,” I replied. “A square is like similar energies but a different expression. Not a complete contrast but more like the energies are operating on different levels so it’s hard to merge them. Actually in an equal house chart, Pisces always squares Sagittarius because they’re 90 degrees apart. It’s a mutable thing.”

I think this is something beautiful in the natal wheel that’s easy to forget. The circular nature of the chart reveals as many secrets as the planets and signs. In the circle 90 degrees is a square aspect, two energies intimately locked in a battle for expression. There’s no easy flow but they can work together. See Pisces squares Sagittarius, but it also squares Gemini. And it directly opposes Virgo. Looking at the circular chart, each mutable sign squares the previous and the next, and opposes the one 180 degrees away. This is the same for any modality group.


It’s a philosophical thing

In astrology the signs can be interpreted as philosophical concepts, the philosophy of the sky. The mutable signs all deal with mutable energy, but they express it in different ways. Similarly they deal with ‘mutable’ philosophical concepts. Believe it or not (it’s your Piscean choice), but all these things are in constant change- that’s why they’re mutable. Gemini is knowledge and facts, Sagittarius is truth and meaning, Pisces is belief and perception, and Virgo is reality and order. But let’s not forget their slightly difficult relationship to each other. What does it actually mean to square, or oppose, something? It doesn’t mean the existence of one thing cancels out the other; in fact when it comes to oppositions they can be almost mutually exclusive and just exist in their own right. Let’s have a look.

Say you believe (Pisces) in the afterlife and its true (Sagittarius), it does exist. You can’t reliably collect facts (Gemini) to prove it because you have to die first, and the afterlife is technically not real (Virgo) because reality is something tangible. So here we see that mutable signs can work together, in this case Sagittarius and Pisces. But they can also contradict each other and be incompatible. But this incompatibility doesn’t actually undermine the validity of any other concept. This is how oppositions can be challenging.

You may have noticed that in Astro-philosophy, facts and reality are actually mutable concepts and not fixed as some people might believe. That’s because facts, though seemingly set in themselves, have to be collected to draw a conclusion. And the conclusion can alter depending on how many facts you collect. Ask anyone with strong Gemini in their charts – their opinion is so changeable because they are always learning new things every day!

Let me give you another example to explain what I mean- I’m not a scientist so let’s not take everything here too literally. Imagine a town where the population is 160,000. Say we take a random sample of 125,000 people and ask them whether they like chocolate. If 60,000 people say they like chocolate, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that about half the population of the town probably like chocolate, as the sample size is relatively large (I’m assuming they would make this kind of conclusion!). But say we then sample all 160,000 people, and still only 60,000 like chocolate. We’re now down to 38% of the population liking chocolate and so consequently our conclusion has changed! And people’s preferences could change over time too with different experiences.

We could keep trying to collect more and more facts to get the perfect conclusion, but ultimately we can’t keep this Gemini-like behaviour up forever as nothing would get done. Remember air is mental, but it is also passive- we need some fire action to move forward now! At some point we need to stop collecting and start concluding to get any real results.

So now we have to use our subjective perception (Pisces) of how many facts (Gemini) make something true (Sagittarius) before you can come to a conclusion about reality (Virgo). Consequently our truth is always dependant on experience. And remember, all those elements are equally important. If we only collected facts and never drew any conclusions, the facts have no real meaning; if we keep coming up with truths without ever checking to see if our truths match up with the world, our truths would be meaningless too. So in one sense, even though they can both exist in their own right, oppositions give meaning to the opposite sign by providing balance to the other’s pursuits by demanding an alternative action.

As I mentioned earlier, many secrets can be found in the natal wheel itself. To remove one corner of the wheel is to ruin its perfect circular shape – it no longer represents the flow of life. Similarly, if say Gemini is on the ascendant and starts the natal chart: to never progress beyond that to Virgoean, Sagittarian and Piscean experiences is to stay undeveloped and immature. The natal wheel works because it is a wheel (and not ever described merely as a circle). It is always spinning, always moving, like the astrological months we move through.

Though we live in a world where Gemini-type knowledge seems to be most respected, the other mutable concepts are equally valid to our experience of being human; which is what mutable energies really represent. They encompass the changeability of humans, our shadow sides and fundamentally unstable nature. No one stays the same forever; all experiences impact and change us.

So back to the original question: why are Pisces and Sagittarius incompatible if they both represent expressions of our humanity? Well the answer  is – they’re not. Well, not necessarily, but they can be because they have a tricky relationship – a square. If we cast our mind back to the beginning we’ll remember my description of a square between mutable signs. Both energies might be similar, but they operate on different levels which makes them hard to merge. They’re in conflict in a different way to Sagittarius and Gemini. They do not balance each other, but to get from Sagittarius to Gemini on our mutable journey we must pass through the midpoint of Pisces. So their relationship is important, as Pisces plays an important step. But what does this mean for Sagittarius and Pisces? Well we have to look at the concepts that these signs represent.

There is tension here because Sagittarius, though moving away from purely tangible ideas, still operates through the realm of the mind, with grand ideas learned through experience. Whilst the energy of Pisces, though also working on a grand scale, operates purely on the unseen, unconscious and collective levels: where personal experience is second to things known on an intuitive basis. The two can come to the same conclusion, but not without compromise to the purity of what the other represents. This is in essence the root of the square; learning compromise.

As we can see, by taking into account the action and creativity of fire, the emotion of water, the thought of air, and the logic of earth, astrology is an amazing philosophy of life. Not only providing planets, signs and aspects which can be used to represent in a simple form the vast complexities of human experience; it also reflects our existence back into the universe which created us, and we all know we are made of stars.


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