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About the Author
Douglas Bloch's recent publication, Healing from Depression: 12 Weeks to a Better Mood, has been acclaimed as "a lifeline to healing." He facilitates ongoing support groups for people who suffer from depression and anxiety.
Read an Excerpt
Astrology for Yourself
A Workbook for Personal Transformation
By Douglas Bloch, Demetra George
NICOLAS-HAYS, INC.Copyright © 1987 Douglas Bloch and Demetra George
All rights reserved.
Introducing the Zodiac
Astrology as a Language of Energy
Astrology is a language, art, and science that studies the relationship between the cycles of celestial bodies and the affairs of people on earth. Derived from the Greek roots astron (star) and logos (word or speech), astrology literally means "star talk." The purpose of learning astrology is to better know and understand ourselves and our place in the cosmos. In the following pages, we are going to take you on a journey of self-discovery that only astrology can provide.
If someone were to ask you to describe astrology, you would most likely think of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, popularly known as the "Sun signs." They are listed in Table 1 along with their symbols and corresponding dates. Beside this table, Figure 1 displays the zodiacal signs arranged in their traditional circle format ("Zodiac" is Greek for "circle of animals").
On an energy level, the signs represent the twelve primary energy fields, the formative principles of the universe, or the archetypal patterns. On a psychological level, the signs correspond to twelve basic personality types; and even more specifically, to the twelve basic psychological needs that each and every human being experiences. Table 2 gives a brief overview of these personality traits.
Although everyone has all twelve of these signs somewhere in their chart, each person was born under a specific "Sun sign." In the following exercise, you will learn to determine your own Sun sign.
Now that you know your Sun sign, how can you understand its meaning? One way is to pick up a mass market pop-astrology book and read the paragraphs on your sign. Unfortunately, besides giving you a very superficial description of your sign, these books do not tell why each sign means what it does.
In the following pages we are going to examine the Zodiac in a much more meaningful way. We are going to discover the building blocks that underlie the Zodiac. These basic principles will provide you with a new and deeper understanding of your Sun sign's attributes.
The Building Blocks of the Zodiac: Element, Polarity, Modality, Orientation
The signs of the Zodiac represent the 12 primary energy patterns of our universe. Each sign, or energy pattern, is a unique combination of the concepts known as polarity, element, and modality.
The Four Elements
Although you may be unaware of it, you are already quite familiar with the astrological language. Consider the following statements:
"He's down to earth."
"She's got her feet on the ground."
"He's as solid as a rock."
"She's all fired up."
"He's too spaced out."
"Her still waters run deep."
You have no doubt used such figures of speech to describe yourself or others at various times. But have you ever pondered their origins? If not, you may be surprised to learn that these and other common expressions are derived from the astrological elements of fire, earth, air and water.
These four elements—Fire-plasma, Air-gases, Earth-solids, and Water-liquids—have been used by all ancient cosmologies (the Greeks, Chinese, Hindus, American Indians, etc.) to describe the basic building blocks of all organic and psychic forms. The symbology of the elements is reflected in the song with the chorus chant of "Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, fire my spirit." Astrologically, the elements depict four distinct personality temperaments that are basic to human nature.
Fire is the identity principle.
Earth is the material substance principle.
Air is the mental principle.
Water is the feeling principle.
It is from these four elements that the twelve signs of the Zodiac are derived. Let us now explore the psychological characteristics of the elements and learn how they are expressed through the signs of the Zodiac. As we describe the elements in detail, you will undoubtedly recognize portraits of yourself, family, friends and coworkers.
The Fire Signs: Identity
Give me a spark of Nature's fire
That's the learning I desire.
The astrological language contains three signs that specifically express the fire principle. They are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
The element of fire corresponds to the active life force, the principle that animates and energizes. Fire represents the energy of spirit. Individuals with an emphasis of fire often express themselves through direct action and inspire others with their visions. Fire seeks to realize its identity.
One of the most important principles of astrology states that any positive principle, when exaggerated, can become negative. Hence, the overly fiery individual can turn assertion into aggression, enthusiasm into fanaticism, or daring into recklessness. Like a fire raging out of control, this person consumes everything in his or tier path.
On the other hand, a person deficient in fire lacks energy, zest, and joie de vivre. These are the people who need three cups of coffee to get them through the day.
The Air Signs: Social and Mental
The Breath of Nature
When great nature sighs we hear the winds
Which, noiseless in themselves
Awaken noises from other beings,
Blowing on them.
From every opening
Loud voices sound. Have you not heard
This rush of tones?
Three signs of the Zodiac personify the qualities of air. They are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
The element of air corresponds to the mental realm of ideas where thoughts become the structures through which energy precipitates and coalesces into form. Air represents the energy of breath. Individuals with an emphasis of air often express themselves by sharing and communicating their ideas to others. Air seeks to make social and intellectual connections.
Too much air produces the "up in the air" or "airhead" individual who cannot ground him- or herself long enough to apply any of his or her marvelous ideas. These people often appear scattered, inconsistent, and indecisive.
Too little air, on the other hand, can lead to a lack of perspective and objectivity in life. Difficulties in learning and poor communication skills may also be the result of a deficiency of this element.
The Earth Signs: Material
That I am a part of the earth my feet know perfectly.
Three signs of the Zodiac embody the traits of earth. They are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.
The element of earth corresponds to the physical realm where objects are perceived directly by the senses as real and tangible. Earth represents the energy that gives form and substance to creation. Individuals with an emphasis of earth often express themselves by mastering the world of common-sense reality, actualizing their dreams, and supplying their basic survival needs. Earth seeks to provide material substance.
Too much earth in the birth chart produces a "stick in the mud"—the person whose overcautious nature and fear of change prevents him or her from taking risks and breaking out of an old rut.
Too little earth, however, creates an "ungrounded" individual who has difficulties coping with the mundane responsibilities of everyday life. When he or she promises that your book will be returned next week, you can expect to see it the following month. The solid earth person, on the other hand, feels obligated to keep commitments and to fulfill responsibilities.
The Water Signs: Emotional & Soul
The highest motive is to be like water.
Water is essential to all living things,
Yet, it demands no pay or recognition
Rather it flows humbly to the lowest levels.
Nothing is weaker than water,
Yet, for overcoming what is hard and strong
Nothing surpasses it.
Three signs that best reflect the watery temperament are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
The element of water corresponds to the emotional realm of feelings where the subtleties of meaning and interrelatedness are perceived. Water represents the energy and power of unconscious forces that motivate us. Individuals with an emphasis of water often express themselves through their sympathy, compassion, and intuitive awareness. Water seeks emotional and soul understanding.
Overly watery people live on an emotional roller coaster. Calm one day, stormy the next, they are forever turbulent. Such individuals need to bring their undisciplined feelings under their conscious control in order to experience inner peace. Moreover, watery folk may perceive themselves as weak, helpless, and needing protection. Hence, they need to transform these feelings of dependency by tapping into their power and inner strength. If you don't think that water can be powerful, visualize a roaring waterfall or an ocean at high tide.
On the other hand, individuals who lack water can easily become cold and unsympathetic. In order to develop their feeling nature, they often form close ties with watery types.
Did you identify with your element's keywords? In most cases, you should. If you didn't, it is because there are sign and element influences in your chart other than the Sun sign that influence personality. You will learn about them when you interpret your chart in Chapter Three.
The Astrological Polarities
Before we leave the four elements, let us consider for a moment how they interact among themselves. If for example, we take the Fire element and ask "What other element is most compatible with or supportive of it?", what might the answer be? What element literally "feeds" the flames of fire and is necessary for the fire's continued existence? The needed element is Air.
On the other hand if you planted a seed in the parched Earth and wanted an element to nourish the soil so that the seed could grow, which would you pick? The answer is Water, of course.
Thus, we see that Fire and Air can be grouped into one category and Earth and Water into another. What distinguishes these categories from one another? Fire-Air signs are more out-going and self-expressive—pouring forth their energies into the world. Their keyword is Freedom.
The Earth-Water signs, on the other hand, are more in-going and self-repressive—magnetizing what they need and conserving their energies within themselves. Their keyword is Security.
This distinction is found in all ancient cosmologies which describe the universe as formed by the interplay of two opposing forces or polarities—Light and Dark, Positive and Negative, etc. The ancient Chinese philosophers called the active, positive energy pole Yang, while the receptive, negatively charged energy pole was named Yin.
The Fire and Air signs correspond to the Yang pole while the Earth and Water signs correspond to the Yin pole as seen in the diagram below.
From now on, we will be using the terms Yin and Yang to describe astrological gender, for they have less perjorative connotations than the traditional descriptive phrases of "masculine/feminine" and "positive/negative."
Table 4 provides some keywords that further describe these two opposite energy impulses.
Exercise 3: My Sun Sign's Polarity
By now, you probably know your Sun sign's polarity. If your Sun sign is fire or air, the sign polarity is YANG. If it is earth or water, then the polarity is YIN. Using this information, complete the following sentences.
Once again, you have learned a little more about yourself. As we stated in the last exercise, your Sun sign will not always describe you perfectly, but in most cases should be fairly accurate.
Note that on the above wheel, the (+) and (-) signs alternate. In addition, the fire and air signs are found opposite each other, as is true with the earth and water signs.
Clearly, the four elements describe four distinct personlity temperaments. Alone, however, they cannot depict the richness and complexity of the astrological language. Consider for example the fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Though the signs comprise a common thread (the fire element), each is a unique strand: Aries is the pioneer, Leo is the performer, and Sagittarius the philosopher. These differences arise because each sign manifests its fiery nature through a distinct mode.
The twelve signs of the Zodiac can be divided into three groups called modes or modalities, each of which contains four signs.
The three modalities, known as cardinal, fixed, and mutable, describe a threefold cyclic process.
The Cardinal phase initiates and generates energy, and corresponds to the signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.
The Fixed phase stabilizes and concentrates energy, and corresponds to the signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.
The Mutable phase adapts and distributes energy, and corresponds to the signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.
The elements and modalities may be distinguished in the following manner:
The elements describe how energy manifests asform.
The modalities depict how energy manifests asmovement —specifically as centrifugal, centripetal, and spiralic patterns.
These patterns can be portrayed through the image of a wheel (Figure 3).
The cardinal phase represents outward, centrifugal motion corresponding to the rim.
The fixed phase symbolizes inward, centripetal motion corresponding to the hub.
The mutable phase describes linking, spiralic motion corresponding to the spokes that join the hub to the rim.
Let us now explore the modalities in greater detail.
The Cardinal Signs: Initiating Action
The cardinal modality is expressed in four signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.
The cardinal signs correspond to centrifugal, radiating energy which moves outward in a definite direction. The essential nature of these signs is to initiate action, start things, get things going.
The person with an exaggeration of the cardinal mode suffers from choosing too many activities and commitments. While these individuals may start a number of projects, they rarely complete them.
With a deficiency of cardinal energy, however, an individual may lack drive, initiative, and the ability to engage in purposeful activity.
The Fixed Signs: Stabilizing Security
The four fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.
Fixed signs correspond to centripetal radiating energy moving inward toward a center. The essential nature of these signs is to preserve and sustain what was started in the cardinal phase. Whereas cardinal signs start projects, fixed signs finish them; the former act, the latter draw action to them.
Fixed signs exhibit persistence, endurance, and fixity of purpose. When overly fixed, however, they become rigid, stubborn, and unyielding. Hence, their problems are usually chronic, requiring a great deal of time and energy to resolve.
Those who are deficient in the fixed influence often lack concentration, stamina, and perseverance.
The Mutable Signs: Adapting to Learning
The four mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.
The mutable signs correspond to spiralic patterns of energy. The essential nature of mutable signs is to take what was initiated in cardinal and stabilized in the fixed phase, and adapt these energies to the changing conditions of time and space.
As the spoke of the wheel links the hub to the rim, the mutable person is the perfect go-between, making contacts and connections wherever he or she travels. Contrary to the fixed predecessor, this individual is flexible and adaptable, thriving on change and variety.
Excessively mutable individuals tend to be overly changeable and restless. Hence, they need to focus on a set direction and avoid dissipating their vital force. Mutable types can be high-strung, prone to worry and periodically suffer from nervous exhaustion. Hence, periods of rest and relaxation are necessary to maintain balance.
The immutable person may be likened to the rigid tree that is toppled by a strong gale. Rather he or she should emulate the willow—gracefully yielding to the howling wind and thereby adapting to the forces of change.
Now that we have described the modalities, read over the element-modality wheel in Figure 4.
In addition, review the keywords for the modalities in Table 5.
Excerpted from Astrology for Yourself by Douglas Bloch, Demetra George. Copyright © 1987 Douglas Bloch and Demetra George. Excerpted by permission of NICOLAS-HAYS, INC..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsFigures in this book,
Tables in this book,
Exercises in this Book,
Introduction: Getting Started,
Part I: Learning the Basics,
Chapter 1: Introducing the Zodiac,
Chapter 2: The Structure of the Birth Chart,
Chapter 3: Writing Your Personality Profile,
Chapter 4: Work Signs and Love Signs,
Part II: Digging Deeper,
Chapter 5: The Birth Chart As a Whole,
Chapter 6: Planetary Patterns,
Chapter 7: The Applications of Astrology,
Chapter 8: Looking Inward,
Appendix A: Keywords for the Signs,
Appendix B: Keywords for the Houses,
Appendix C: Keywords for the Planets,
Appendix D: How to Obtain a Computer Printout of Your Birth Chart,
Appendix E: Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Chart,
Appendix F: A Planetary Ephemeris—Mars-Pluto: 1932-2000,
Appendix G: Progressions,