Table of Contents  First 9 10 11 Last

Meanderings East and West

Exploring the Connection between Astrology and Yoga

Responding to Stress

There are 4 basic responses so stress: paralysis, aggression, greed and movement. When paralysis is our predominant response to stress, we become "scared stiff". We get frightened or upset to the point where we can no longer function. If aggression is our pattern, we lash out at the source of stress. Either we destroy the stress or destroy ourselves in our attempt to maintain control. When greed predominates, we respond to stress by consuming. This gives rise to eating disorders, substance abuse, compulsive shopping, hoarding, etc. When movement is our predominant pattern, we bite our nails, squirm and fidget. We pace the floor and twitch. We run away if possible.

The Four TriplicitiesAstrologers identify these four responses with the Four Elements - along with their corresponding constellations and the planets which rule them. Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio have a watery nature. Individuals with an emphasis in Water signs will tend to respond to stress with fright and immobility. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are Fire signs. People with a Fire emphasis will likely respond to stress with aggression. An emphasis in the Earth signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn suggests an acquisitive or greedy response. Those with an Air emphasis - Gemini, Libra, Aquarius - are more likely respond through restlessness or uncontrolled movement.

When we say "emphasis", what do we mean ? More than Sun-sign Astrology, certainly. If that alone comprised the art, the subject wouldn't even be interesting, never mind rewarding.

Astrologers further subdivide these 4 elements, according to Three Modalities: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. Cardinal signs are active. They initiate. Cardinal Fire is the most aggressive: Aries. Fixed signs are stabile. Fixed Earth - Taurus - exhibits the most greed. Mutable signs are changeable. Therefore Mutable Air, or Gemini, exhibits the greatest restlessness. Pisces, the Mutable Water sign, is the most sensitive, impressionable and fearful.

Stress from Prominent Planets and Aspects

StressHow we respond to stress may also be determined by other factors in the chart, not just sign placement and the balance of elements. Someone with many Squares may habitually react to stress with anger and aggression, even if all their planets are in watery signs like Cancer and Pisces. That is because the Square aspect has the nature of Fire or Mars. Having a lot of squares is stressful in itself.

People with Moon conjunct Neptune on an angle may react to stress with fear and paralysis, even if they have 10 planets in Aries. That is because the Moon and Neptune have a watery nature: when they combine, the effect of excess water can outshine other considerations like the elements, signs, etc.

Astrological analysis requires us to do more than just memorize delineations from a book: we have to look for chart patterns. They are made up of strong points, weak points, balances and imbalances.

You're One in a Zillion

The Scales of LibraWe all present a unique mixture of symbolic forces: nobody is 100% anything - fortunately ! As we mature, greater self-awareness helps us work with our deeply programmed responses. To the degree that we function predominantly on the superficial levels of awareness, we are at the mercy of Stress.

To borrow a term from Buddhist psychology: fear, greed, aggression and restlessness are the samsaric or confused expressions of the Four Elements. In their enlightened expressions, fear becomes compassion, greed becomes generosity, aggression becomes enthusiasm and restlessness becomes intelligence. In Kriya Yoga, we refer to these as balanced forces.

As we activate and balance the forces within, we evolve spiritually. The circumstances of life may not change entirely, but our interpretation of them, our reaction to them, is softened. Our attitude towards life becomes more wholesome, when our energies - the Elements within - become more balanced. Once our energies become more balanced, our experiences become more fulfilling. This process takes time: more than one lifetime !

Moon and Cancer: Tender and Fertile

One of the most sensitive signs is Cancer. Ruled by the Moon, it is the primary symbol of Water in the chart. The Moon's influence depends largely upon its connection with the planets and houses - and also by how full it is at the moment of birth.

According to The Astrologer's Handbook by Sakoian and Acker,

"The key phrase for Cancer is "I Feel"... Cancers possess highly developed protective and defensive instincts, which are aimed at material and domestic security....

The crab shell, Cancer's symbol, represents the crust of armor which hides extreme sensitivity and shyness, as well as physical and psychological vulnerability."

"Cancers protect themselves from the possibility of emotional hurt by withdrawing and finding their emotional security in solitude. This tendency is unfortunate, because of their powerful need for home and children."

Full Moon births, while considered unstable by Western authors, are looked upon as auspicious and fortunate by Indian authors. When the Moon is full, it brings abundance and fruitfulness to whatever house it occupies. Even a bright Moon is good: a few days before or after the Full Moon, when it is large in size. Being born on a bright Moon, makes one more Lunar, no matter the Rising sign, the Moon-sign, or the Sun sign.

The affairs signified by house inhabited by a bright Moon, becomes a source of good fortune and comfort in life, a blessing. Even more so, for those born at night: at the moment of a nocturnal birth, the Moon is visible in the heavens, high in the chart.

Lunar Cycles: the Past is the Future

Lunar PhasesThe Moon is the primary symbol of change, of cyclical affairs. Recurring patterns. Automatic responses. The traditional way of doing things. Thus it relates to ones roots, to one's family - especially on the Mother's side. While Solar energy is all about the future and shiny new shoes, Lunar energy prefers an old pair of slippers, well-worn and cozy. The Moon is all about Gemuetlichkeit. Lunar people relate to their heritage, to their tribe, to their customs, food, religion and values. They work to preserve them.

Lunar societies are traditional, tied to the land and Nature, often matriarchal. Their primary mythological symbol is the Great Mother, the Goddess. They call their nation the Mother Land, not the Father Land. The Moon shows the instinctive, intuitive side our mind, which for most people, operates below the level of conscious control.

The phases of the Moon embody the variations of balance between Yin and Yang energies during each month. The ancients considered that the Moon holds its nectar in the horns of the Crescent, which reaches fullness at the full Moon - the point of greatest illumination. It pours out the nectar and becomes empty by the end of the month. It is the symbol of fertility and fruitfulness. The light of the Moon is considered cooling and mild - as opposed to the Sun, which is burning and drying. The Moon is a benefic, the Sun, a minor malefic. Almanacs advise farmers to plant when the Moon is on the increase, not on the decrease.

Cancer Rising

Prince Andrew Marilyn Monroe Meryl Streep Al Pacino Alex Haley Luciano Pavarotti

People born when the sidereal constellation Cancer is rising, often have round or fleshy features and a tender or sensitive gaze. Their prominent watery eyes reveal a look of caring and convey a sense of genuine personal interest. Above we see Prince Andrew, Marilyn Monroe, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Alex Haley and Luciano Pavarotti.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Robert Downey Jr Horoscope

Robert Downey JrRobert Downey Jr. is a movie star who, like many others in the Arts, has struggled with substance abuse. Painters, poets, jazz greats: it's not easy being a sensitive soul on this planet. Such individuals often respond to the challenges of life through escapism, drugs and alcohol. Predictably, the horoscopes of many film stars, musicians and artists have a strong influence of Water signs and planets: Moon, Neptune, Cancer, Pisces, Twelfth House, etc.

Water promotes our ability to feel, to sense directly, without the interference of intellect. It lets us sympathize and care. It lets us attune to subtle realms - but not without a price. Compared to others, many "Water people" spend an inordinate amount of time in... Recovery.

Mr. Downey's chart has Cancer rising. Cancer and its planet the Moon are the primary symbols of Water in anybody's horoscope - but in his chart, they happen to be the most influence symbols of all. Furthermore, his Moon is high in the chart, denoting fame and prominence within society. More importantly, it's conjunct Jupiter - and opposed by Neptune. Being in the Tenth House already makes the Moon important in the chart, but a conjunction with Jupiter acts like a magnifying glass: the Moon becomes an even more important symbol. An opposition from Neptune, is something else entirely.

Moon tightly opposed by Neptune, is like having Moon in Pisces. When planets are between houses (see Chapter 3), they become unstable, afflicted. As we pointed out in the previous chapter, Neptune can be troublesome: it can bring confusion and paralysis. Aspecting the chart lord, it softens one's sense of identity. It makes one a chameleon. Neptune's influence is perfect for a career in acting: the native can freely change persona. However, when Neptune's influence is too strong, one can lose one's identity altogether - and one often tries to lose it.

In its higher expression, Neptune erodes the ego and puts in into the service of Higher Mind. Unselfish Love, generosity, inspiration. In its lower expression, one becomes a slave or servant. Indifference, resignation, dependence on others. The influence of Pisces corresponds to monasteries, hospitals, religious orders and other anonymous societies like prisons and the armed forces: when you enter, they assign you a new name - or a number.

Mr. Downey has Sun and Venus in Pisces. And Mercury in Pisces. And his Moon is "like" it's in Pisces. That's a lot of Water ! Moon high in the chart: more of same !

His Venus is in Pisces, where it is exalted - very powerful - and at the moment of birth it was moving at 99% of its maximum forward speed. It is conjunct the Sun by both longitude and declination. Just add more Pisces, more water, more sensitivity, to our assessment. Mercury is in Pisces, where it is fallen. These symbols are great for an actor or a poet - but they can also promote confusion or disorientation - especially since Mercury rules Virgo, the native's Third House - which corresponds to the mind. These patterns are classic indicators of artistic talent - and - susceptibility to substance abuse. They come bundled together, the two sides of a double-edged sword.

Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr as Iron ManAs we mentioned above, nobody is 100% anything. If we were, we wouldn't last very long in this world.

Were Cancer Rising and a prominent Moon the only symbol we knew, the chart would suggest a career involving the general public, women, children, homes, property, food and real estate. Mr. Downey's Moon is in Aries, so those indications are less probable: Aries has little to do with such matters.

Aries as the Tenth House suggests more of a pioneering career, an adventurous life, or a life of leadership. Whatever else we know, it's likely that this person will not go through life un-noticed. It can bring a career in sports or the military: some kind of traditionally masculine, energetic role is a natural fit. In recent years, he has portrayed just such a role: a comic-book super-hero that is man + machine: perfect ! Why merely drive a motorcycle, when you can be one ?

Speaking of Aries, look at that Second House: Mars, Uranus, Pluto in the Fire sign Leo. That's a lot of Fire - and a powerful Second House combination. We've seen several other charts where a powerful Second and Eleventh House brings wealth and fulfillment. Rahu exalted in Taurus and Venus (ruler of Eleventh House) exalted, make that a certainty. Money is never far away. But...

Proceed With Caution

Danger ExplosivesCombine that Mars/Uranus/Pluto conjunction with Moon in Aries and the chart denotes someone with an excitable nature. Rebellious, quick tempered. Explosive.

This triple conjunction is opposed by Saturn, whose nature is just the opposite: confinement, constriction, restraint. Look out: this person might be self-destructive, certainly "wound too tight" as they say. The issue is: when do I explode and when do I just... smolder ?

The Father: Ninth House

In Indian astrology, the father is symbolized by the Ninth house, not the Tenth as suggested in the West. Robert's father - Robert Downey Senior - is an actor, writer, producer, cinematographer and director of underground films - which all sound more like Pisces than Aries, don't you think ? But don't take someone else's word for it: What does your research show ?

Table of Contents  First 9 10 11 Last