Zodiac Wheel

Here Comes the Sun: How the Zodiac speaks Sun Signs

Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde

At the end of 2018 I landed on a way to include the epigram or maxim of words to a sun sign personality. I have always loved the epigram that distills the essence of a lifetime of hard experience  into a few memorable words minted like coins that have currency long after death. There is much to learn from matching up statements to people in history and contemporary life and then checking how characteristic it is of their zodiac sign. Oscar Wilde was master of this form, ensuring his legacy of wit and wisdom is remembered.  His words have an aesthetic style typical of Libra. When he said things like “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it,” he gives permission for us to be liberated from the heavy mental furniture of fixed polarities. It triggers a breeze of light in the mind. As a Libran, he toyed with this skill effortlessly, but for readers the effect is that we glimpse beyond the implied conflict. But Wilde’s sayings depended on dexterous use of technical figures of speech: paralleling, chiasmus, syllepsis, zeugma– these tropes often involving repetitions sudden reversals of what is expected. Thankfully, he had the power to juggle and dazzle.  His Mercury was strong as it ruled the First and Tenth Houses, and resided in the 3rd house of communications, although in the sign of Scorpio which gave it that memorably caustic edge.

Caroline Casey
Caroline Casey

A contemporary version, of Wilde is shamanic-activist-astrologer, Caroline Casey, also Libran, whose speech scatters insights everywhere. Her expert wordsmithery is  liberating, playful and innovative with her Mercury sextile the Moon, Mars and Quintile to Pluto. She proposes for us to find the ‘coyote trickster-redeemer’ within. She calls the planets the ‘backstage gods’ ready to come front of stage at any transit to help move the play along. Only if you invite them to co-create. She said “May the truth of animism eclipse the hubris of humanism” reminding us to include flora and fauna into the equation as everything is alive. Again she spins Wildean elements of balance and surprise in her words with attention to aesthetics, so it must be the Sun conjunct Neptune that explains the purple hair.

As for most well known words, Shakespeare was Taurus, and Taurus rules art, and he is the most quoted person after the Bible. After Shakespeare, the only living person among the top ten -that includes Marx, Lenin, Shakespeare, Aristotle, the Bible, Plato, Freud, Hegel and Cicero -is Noam Chomsky, a crunchy intellectual Sagittarian, a linguist, theorist and scathing political commentator. All of this is so quintessentially Sagittarian.  But in terms of humour, the prize goes to Wilde as the most quoted person ever. He is way above his rivals, including  fellow Irishman, George Bernard Shaw who was a Leo. So my question was clear: what is it that each sun sign native says that reveals the core self, or the core archetype of that zodiac sign? This is not technical astrology, so much as psychological and symbolic interpretation, which seeks to find the story in the logos, and hopefully take advantage of its illuminating effect.

Following a hunch that here be dragons and therefore ‘treasure,’ I combed the lives of personalities for their words that best reflected the characteristics of their sign. It was easy to spot the characteristics of the sun sign in the words of the native. As Casey says “Everyone is speaking Astrology all the time.” Within two or three seconds of sifting through quotes, the natives identify themselves as if wearing a badge declaring their solar imprint. By opening their mouths their and archetype shone through. But I paused to wonder just for the sake of argument, if it would be possible to find natives saying things that are contrary to their natural inclinations- then people could be satisfied that not words people say are code for their sun sign. That’s another study.

The Sun is central but not the main player: we have the Moon, the Ascendant, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and all the backstage crew- plus aspects. Each person is multi-faceted or operating more from a collective self if that is indicated. This is what astrology reveals in ways more complex than any other system of modern psychology which attempts to categorise personality types in mechanical ways. These systems such as the MBTI ( Myers Briggs Type Indicator)– often these are covertly drawn from astrology anyway. But because astrology can never be officially sanctioned in the scientific-medical-education community, that truth is rarely mentioned.

What this Words-to-Zodiac-Sign approach does not mean is that the native is solely defined by that comment but only that it could hint at their basic approach to life and life purpose.  Sun signs are broad strokes, not the finer details.  But also it is fun to do. The details of the chart would offer insight into the actual life events, lived, and other complexes that the native might have indicted by the web of aspects,  i.e. it would flesh out the quote with pen-portraiture. I learned that James Baldwin won a debate speech at Cambridge- his natural eloquence shone through, also that Krishnamurti had a mystic rectangle on the day of his mystical experience under the Pepper Tree in California. And so many other interesting facts emerged. I spent longer on some: Fernando Pessoa, who met with Aleister Crowley, and doing Edward Burne Jones I discovered painted images of all the planets and of Astrologia herself.  There is an art to bringing this together. Too much astro-analysis and you lose sight of the life; too much of the life. and you lose the astrology.

Solar and Lunar Zodiacs
Solar and Lunar Zodiacs mapped together

In Hindu, astrology the signs are called Rasis, and there is none of this symbolic interpretation. They take more note of the Ascendant, the Moon, and Lunar Mansions, and the rulers of the Rasis, and the Sun takes goes quiet on the back seat. This chart shows how the solar zodiac would be sliced up by the Lunar Mansions using sidereal. But I still use the Tropical zodiac. Clearly, each element in the chart is important  but each placement  has its shadow too. There is an interplay of polarities of the tendency of things to thrust forward and the tendency of things to pull back- the Yin and the Yang. A study of Diurnal and Nocturnal charts offers some way to keep the balance. In the technique of Firdaria, in traditional astrology, for example, if the sun  is above the Ascendant, the Sun begins the sequence, but if the Sun is below the Descendant, the Moon starts the process. So the entire life can be ruled by a sequence that depends on whether you were born in the day or at night with the Moon as your team leader or the Sun. So much for twilight.

Another technique is Sect which means a chart is divided into a day and a night team. The Sun Jupiter and Saturn are in the Day team and The Moon, Venus and Mars are in the Night team while Mercury floats across both acting neutral. Day charts and night charts could be significant according to Demetra George (2019). I used this sometimes when it was interesting in in the case of Philip K Dick where  his Sun and Saturn are working beneficially in the day area but his Moon, and Venus there too were not happy as they usually prefer the night area. Western astrology gives precedence to the Sun, using the Tropical seasonal zodiac, but also goes deeper by looking at the Sun-Moon Ascendant as a triad, to see how that triangulates something about the native. Conjunctions and oppositions tell a story that cannot be ignored and these may have nothing at all to do with the Sun.

 

Sun Sign Series Aries Libra
Sun Signs Aries to Libra

For my sun sign series, I started and then thought it would be good to keep going for every sign to complete an entire zodiac wheel. I learned so much from doing this. It is by no means comprehensive and I had to leave out many people I would love to cover in more detail. With a strong Uranus, my inclination is to align with the weirder creatives, the more alternative personalities and the goal is to represent the less represented: mystics, poets, women, black people, gay, or at least on that spectrum like Sylvester who deserves his place in Disco history. The tendency by some astrologers is to focus on Queen Elisabeth I, and Trump and Boris Johnson– and celebrities that the media promotes. Astrology applies to all, even animals, objects and events, not just to those most in the limelight. The reasons astrologers do this are clear: that more people know who those celebrities are and can recognize them. Their charts can be more verified with accurate birth times and so on but my curiosity lead me to these choices, even where there was no birth time where at least the aspects can be studied.

The Magic Thread
‘The Magic Thread’ Richard Idemon (2010)

With all the musicians selected, I re-listened to their music so I was dripping with the moods, tones and inflections of their sound when writing.  Appreciation grows as astrological understanding deepens.  Aquarius astrologer, Richard Idemon started his workshops by saying that the best way to learn astrology is to ‘do an astro-biography and check the chart with the biographical study.. you will refine your astrological skills no end.” He also suggests immersion in the music if it is a musician, and immersion in the novels if it is a writer- this works too. He adds that by choosing people who are dead, we can’t do any damage, but death confers a roundedness to the story. It is more difficult with people who are still alive, as the grande finale has yet to play out.

But the principle is sound that studying biographies alongside natal charts becomes a kind of a two-way instant portal to understanding astrology. The Bio layer and the Astro Layer intertwine like a graph and combine to reveal insights into the workings of time cycles and how they align with life events. Many characteristics become clear and secrets unfold through charting a life event by event, and thus the life-plan of the native is revealed.

But even more than this is if you study astrology using astro-biography for each sign in succession, you learn  another important idea. This is of the progression of polarities inherent in the zodiac, why one sign evolves and yet eclipses the previous sign, why signs 60 degrees apart have more in common than those as the direct next-door neighbours are not always friends. You also begin to tune in more to the seasonal qualities of that sign. Aries the equinox beginning of spring is accompanied by a surge of energy, that settles down into flowering gardens, and grass during Taurus season, and the peak of the summer season we have Leo riding on high.  Scorpio announces the beginning of the darker season  with Samhain or Halloween etc, so each sign begins to make more sense in terms of its timing during the year’s cycle and its contrast to other periods in the cycle. But the Sun in Tropical astrology and in northern hemispheres tends to dominate as we experience the shift and tilt of the earth through the cycle of the seasons much more so than those living near the equator. This idea brings us close to astrological magic and the planetary hours.  Liz Greene said the sun points to our core essence and creativity. Leo is the hero’s journey- the one that tells the story of the entire 12 sign process.

I started and ended with Sagittarius but really it should begin with the zero degree of Aries. I have gone with the 6 + 6 by dividing the year into two parts  usually into the the hemispheres- signs 1-6 and then 7-12,. But another way to categorise the signs are also Idemon’s  method showing a gradual evolution from 1-12: the Personal  Signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer), Social  Signs (Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio)  and Universal Signs (Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) and Social signs in the first half of the year.

Sun Signs Libra to Pisces
Sun signs Libra to Pisces

A little knowledge of basic signs is needed to see how these statements are perfect expressions of the solar layer of the character.

Aries natives Marvin Gaye, Jacques Brel talked of sexual healing, idealism  pioneering your own way to finding destiny through art. Aries is ruled by Mars.

Taurus natives Iggy Pop, Grace Jones and Krishnamurti of simplicity, of perseverance, getting in people’s way and of getting back to basics with zero illusions. Taurus is the first sign to be ruled by Venus.

Gemini natives Morrissey, Walt Whitman and Fernando Pessoa talked with mordant wit of themselves, being double and containing multitudes. Gemini is the first sign to be ruled by Mercury.

Cancer natives  Hedi Slimane, David Hockney and Dr. John Dee talked of memory, taste, fashion and femininity and enduring truth. Cancer is ruled by the Moon.

Leo natives Stanley Kubrick, James Baldwin and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky talked of their personal journey as an odyssey, the power of hatred as opposed to love,  of coming from the heart and soul. Leo is ruled by the Sun itself.

Virgo natives Edward Burne-Jones and Sylvester talked of anti-materialism, taking pains in one’s craft, finding faults in others and waiting for them to catch up. Virgo is the second sign to be ruled by Mercury and is exalted there.

Libra natives  Pedro Almodóvar, Louise Hay and Aleister Crowley talked of aesthetics, interior design  balancing opposites and the importance of relationships. Libra is the second sign to be ruled by Venus.

Scorpio natives  Joaquin Phoenix, Anna Wintour and Jeff Buckley talked of perfectionism, being fierce, growth, love, death and having total commitment to any task. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto.

Sagittarius natives Bruce Lee, Maria Callas, Rainer Maria Rilke, Beethoven and Philip K. Dick talked of Journeys, having Faith, Wisdom, Philosophy and the bending of Reality. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter.

Capricorn natives J.R.R. Tolkein, Joanna Newsom and David Bowie talked of disappointment, having long-term patience, and how to wisely spend old age. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. Bowie even wrote a song just called ‘Time’.

Aquarius natives Virginia Woolf, Yoko Ono and James Dean talked of independence, individuality, togetherness with others, and standing out from the crowd. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus in its modern designation.

Pisces natives Jack Kerouac, Rudolph Nureyev and Lou Reed talked of art, drugs, drink and losing oneself in others, of not having a self at all. Pisces is ruled by Neptune, its modern ruler.

Kathleen Burt 'Archetypes of the Zodiac' (1988)
Kathleen Burt ‘Archetypes of the Zodiac’ (1988)

According to the standard key words of each sign, there is an alignment between the traditional outlook of that sign and what natives born in that sign actually say. Out of the mouths of babes indeed. Astrologer, Alan Leo, who was indeed a Leo with a sunny disposition, emphasised these qualities of the sun in the chart. Few astrologers made this kind of emphasis before him. It started something new to make astrologer more accessible as a way of increasing and encouraging the natural virtues and strengths implicit in the chart. His aim was to reduce the suffering people have at the interface between life and fate, and to increase joy albeit in a Stoical way.  The premise that Character is Destiny is not new as it existed in Greek thought, even Aristotle mentions it ,but Leo wove it into a style of astrology that is popular today. He advocated that the chart was a map to improve the character and thus take charge of your destiny. Joseph Campbell would argue that the sun represents our hero’s journey and it is the archetype of the sign itself. Also, in ‘Archetypes of the Zodiac’ Kathleen Burt’s (1988) Jungian investigations into each sign peels back layers and layers of association with the time, the season, the symbols and into the deeper archetypes. For example in the Winter Solstice there is a lack of light, darkness prevails  and this can bring on a dose of the ‘Winter Blues’ and that fear of ageing and of time passing can be allayed by meditation on the image of a lions face embedded into a Oroborus serpent, would be like contemplating eternity. Similarly, in the height of heat in the summer we may crave to be back in a cool, dark cave and protected from the blazing light.

 

Zodiac Wheel
Zodiac Wheel

John Wadsworth ( 2018) also mentioned that running through this cycle using the zodiac as a medicine wheel. The entire zodiac is a mandala of all the component parts and this vision and personal experience of wholeness and totality is healing-  if you develop each archetype, they become twelve gateways to wholeness within the psyche. This inner roundtable is often fragmented and the parts do not talk to each other.  Each sign can be used as a focus of meditation on its deeper themes, its relation to the changing of the seasons, the agricultural shifts,  whether it is Fire, Earth, Air or Water, Masculine or Feminine, but not polarized into rigid opposites. It is enhanced by tuning in to the time, being more of it while you are in it than being disconnected from the seasonal shifts.

So whether this sun-sign series experiment merely confirmed by expectations, or is the treasure I was looking for, finding a deep patterning of the 12-stage universe that is satisfying, I leave to others to decide. But I would suggest that it does keep you in touch with your personal pilgrimage of the soul and I’d guess further that if you had to sum it up in an epigram, or major statement,  you might very well express it in words that typify the style of your sun sign.

 

© Proteus Astrology, December 30th, 2019.

 

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Kieron is a London-based and trained astrologer at Proteus Astrology on Facebook:

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