THE WORDS OF A BROKEN HEART

I can’t believe you’ve left me, you’ve spurned me
I can’t live without you (I won’t live without you . . .)
Please take me back
I love you so much, you have to love me
My heart is aching, I can’t breathe, I can’t walk, the sadness is crushing me
I am so alone
Life can’t be this cruel and unfair
See my misery and make things right
You are all that matters, you are beautiful, you are the one
The one you’ve lost can still be seen, roaming the earth and maybe in the company of someone else.
I am nothing without you
Only you can make me happy

And the song goes on.
The pain of lost love is a terrible thing; it’s devastating and it can have lasting consequences. But if you look at the lyric, is there a whole lot in it that concerns the well-being of the other person? Not really. It seems to be all about the “me”, not the “you”. The you may in fact be doing alright, may not be suffering much, but that isn’t the me’s concern here.


When you think about it, falling in love isn’t all about the joy of giving.
There’s quite a bit of getting going on.
Winning a great new partner carries a lot of benefits, many of them very satisfying
to the receiver. Benefits like: the other person’s attention, their admiration, the feeling of being important to someone, of being exciting, of being wanted sexually, the sense of being a scintillating member of society’s crème. These are boons to the ego, every one, even though they’re accompanied by a delight in giving to the other person. And there are other blessings that come with new love: the feeling of coming home, of being supported, the sense of having a plan, having a future, having hope; the sudden immunity from loneliness. It isn’t surprising that losing all these things would crush one’s spirit.

Unless one is the perp. The one who chooses to lose all these things. Then it might not hurt as much.
Now there’s an odd turn of events. Why would someone choose to throw all this bounty away, breaking the other person’s heart in the process? Let’s ask the guy sitting a couple of stools down at the bar, the one who has a way of bringing things down to simple terms, like who gains and who loses. He has wavy blond hair, tired eyes, and a rumpled blue windbreaker. He’s whiling away an hour with some peanuts and a beer; he doesn’t act like he’s paying attention but he is. “Bar Guy, why would a person, let’s say a dude, throw away all the advantages and pleasures of . . . ” “I heard you the first time,” Bar Guy says. “Look at it this way.
Maybe the dude wasn’t getting all these goodies anymore. The heartbreaker no longer had so much to lose; in fact, he felt he had a raw deal, or not the deal he wanted.”

That’s a good point, friend. The guy was still the expediter of his lover’s dreams, but his own dreams weren’t coming true anymore. When love is in balance, when it’s win-win, all is well. There’s a level playing field, power is evenly distributed, and both people feel like they are benefiting—like they are lucky to have the other. But that can change and things can get out of whack.

And here I have to say: Bar Guy, you didn’t get it exactly right. What happens is not that the future heartbreaker (let’s call him HB) isn’t getting goodies anymore—not exactly. It’s more that HB is starting
to withhold goodies like admiration and attention, and that makes his partner (call her V) want them even more. Why is he withholding them? Because he has too much power in the relationship. V has slipped, either because HB seized too much power—he wanted it and he took it—or because his waning interest gave him an accidental advantage, not one he was purposely seeking. Or she slipped because she gave him too much power, by not standing up to him or, sadly, by admiring him too much.
“Yeah, but he still isn’t getting the goodies he used to,” Bar Guy says, cracking a peanut shell. “Now that she demoted herself, he doesn’t want her admiration anymore.”

Okay, that’s true too. When a person stops valuing their partner as highly, they stop wanting that partner’s gifts, and they start withholding their own, and that just makes the partner more desperate to get what used to be forthcoming. That creates neediness, which feeds on itself until the deprived partner starts to lose her self-sufficiency.

So HB begins to perceive V as a losing proposition.
So HB breaks up the relationship and V gets a broken heart.
Exactly this happened to me some years ago. I was the victim, I lost my footing and became needy and unsure, and I got my heart broken. I walked the city and howled at the moon, and thought if only she could see my misery, she would take me back. At one point I considered leaping out of the back seat of a moving car. I even started writing love songs.

And while I still thought I had a chance to get her back, my misery was unabated. It just wouldn’t let go.
I walked past her house, thinking she would see me in the night and relent. I called her. I showed up at
places where I knew she went. I was the star of my own huge drama and I did get to be with her a few more times and came tantalizingly close to being restored. Or so it seemed: really I think she just didn’t
know what to do with me.

“Misery is a choice,” Bar Guy says. “Look at the toddler who starts screaming when his mother comes into the room. He was fine a minute ago but now he needs to manipulate her. Or look at my ex-wife and me. We’re all upset and can’t even speak to each other—then the phone rings and we’re normal with whoever is calling.”

Sorry, I won’t agree that I chose that misery, that heartache. But I will admit one thing. Once I accepted for sure that I could never win her back, my personal drama did ratchet down a few notches. When I could no longer imagine her as my audience, I turned off the stage lights and left the theater, went back to the everyday world.

I went back. But I wasn’t the same. And it wasn’t till years later that I realized what the true damage had been. My broken heart eventually passed, it got better. But I had other problems, and they were big. They were set to affect my attempts at romance for years to come. Later in Part One I will explore those kinds of longer-term problems, how to recognize them and vanquish them in order to get to a real love.
But first a practical question demands some answers. When you first find yourself with a broken heart, how do you deal with it? My long-term answer will be found in Part Two of this book, on “Unlocking The Lessons of the Relationship.” When you learn the lessons of a failed relationship, that helps you more than anything else to get over it and trade hurt for understanding. That is what will lead you towards a better relationship and thereby restore your optimism.

Which still leaves the immediate wall of pain that seems to be collapsing upon you. It’s time for those first-aid measures I mentioned before.

THE COMPATIONATE PERPETRATOR

A note to the perpetrator

• You can’t be the bad guy and the good guy at the same time. So be the bad guy. Accept the role you’ve cast yourself in.
• Let the other person hate you and resent you. Let them call you every bad thing: mean, base, unloving, idiotic, a cad and a loser, a liar and a worm. They have a right to see you that way. You hurt them and disappointed them. You walked.
• Stay away. Even if you are tempted to give comfort, to defend your action, to assuage your own loneliness. To be “just friends”.
• You will find that the playing field is somewhat leveled by what you’ve done. Knowledge is power, and now you’ve let the other person know the truth about your feelings, and about their prospects with you. Now they can see clearly—if you let them. The information you were withholding gave you an advantage; now you’ve lost it. That’s the price you pay. Don’t try to get it back.
• The person you’ve dumped will now have a chance to get over you and maybe find someone they’ll be happier with. You may not like the sound of this; but it’s your job to suck it up and let it be. You can now be replaced; in time you will be. This is another consequence of your action, so live with it.
• You have now become part of that person’s past. You’re going to fade into history. So fade.


On-again, off-again breakups. When these precepts are violated, as in the case of Compassionate Bob, what often happens is an onagain, off-again breakup. A couple, after all, have been each other’s main companions, and they have more to offer each other than any third person can. And now that they’ve given up on winning it all, the stakes are lower, so it’s not so scary. The worst has already happened . . .
It’s tough being by yourself when you’re used to someone else always being around. So when loneliness or boredom kicks in, one person or the other gets on the phone, and the backsliding begins.

The feeling is: we’re not trying for true love anymore, we have nothing to lose, and I feel like some pizza and TV. And I don’t like eating pizza alone.

What really tangles things up is when you involve your friends in your breakup. In the case of Compassionate boy, girl had given a running report to her best confidante Jill, and even before him dumped her, the two women had agreed that things were not okay with him. He was a user and a narcissist; he didn’t really care about her. Then he did break it off, and Jill supported her in the decision to be strong and deal with being dumped. By this time the other woman had invested a lot of time and empathy into her’s situation,
and into the negative verdict on the relationship. Even the other woman’s husband had gotten involved. All three agreed that things with him would never have been right, that him was bad news, that it was a mercy he had broken off with her, that now she could move on and find someone better.

Then Girl let Boy lure her back. Jill and Larry experienced this as a betrayal. They weren’t able to do a 180 with all their beliefs and suddenly think bad Bob was a good guy. They felt as if she had been toying with them, manipulating them to take a position just so she could try it out. Were they supposed to be jerked around like puppets every time she changed her mind? They had helped her find the truth and now she was abandoning it. Eventually they were proven right, but their relationship with her was now added to
the casualty total.

I hope that this little tour of the warning signs of a breakup, and the tangled ethics that a wannabe leaver has to pass through, may have put some perspective on your own experience, and helped cast it in less black-and-white terms. These matters are complicated on both sides, and the more you realize that, the more you can avoid reacting in a simplistic way. The discussion of the Perpetrator’s Precepts and on-again, off-again breakups can alert you to how things may have been mishandled, and help you guard against ongoing mistakes.

Having pulled ourselves through the doorway of goodbye, it’s time now to look at what lies outside it. It’s time to take stock of the pain and hurt that lost love inflicts, and the injuries—material and spiritual—that result. A person in this situation is a little like a wounded soldier: in need of diagnosis, first aid, and a move to safety.

Then their condition can be looked at more closely and injuries healed. That way they can live to fight a winning battle next time. (The enemy here is not your once or future partner, but the forces that wreck relationships.) So we’ll start by taking a hard, honest look at what a breakup often makes you feel. There are a bunch of reactions that it can cause, involving denial, hurt, despair, and anger. Sometimes several of them
churn around inside you and take turns surfacing. We’ll get to all of them, but we’ll begin at the top of the list, with something called a broken heart.

FAMILY FACTOR OF BREAKUPS

When you’re first getting to know a new person, there is (or should be) plenty of time to render a negative verdict without feeling too guilty. That’s why I recommend that you exercise this privilege, look for compatibility, and walk away when you discover that it isn’t there.

Walk away early.

Because it will be much harder, later. And one of the reasons for this is that your partner becomes family.
After you’ve lived together for a while, after you’ve met and maybe bonded with each other’s relatives, after you’ve gone through some ups and downs and weathered some rocky miles, you start to feel that you
could no sooner abandon this person than your own parents or your own children. Maybe that basic loyalty is what keeps many couples together through the thin times. They just don’t see it as an option to jettison the other person. So they make the best of things. In the old days, “till death do us part” had this meaning. You have now become my family, flesh of my flesh; you are now instated as part of my nature, closer than blood. Leaving you is unthinkable.


When the padlock of family snicks shut, it just seals in a larger ethical question that faces the would-be breaker-off-er. How can you purposely do something that will make someone else less happy? How
can you administer a blow that will cause pain to someone you care about? This question is easier to deal with—or easier to avoid—if the relationship is causing you more discomfort and pain than him; because
then you can just say, “A little pain on his side is okay if it relieves a lot of pain on mine.”

When that won’t work, a moral searchlight switches on . . .

THE ETHICS OF BREAKUPS

It’s never the right moment to break up It’s an awful thing to say, but once you’ve decided to break up with
your partner, the apparently minor issue of timing can become a huge obstacle. Something always seems to come up, just when you’re finally ready to make your move.

Let’s face it, it’s hard for most of us to play the bad guy; we would almost rather provoke the other person into doing the dirty deed. But if you have to be the perp, you don’t want to compound the felony by hitting your partner when they’re down. Or when they’re happy . . .

So your announcement gets postponed, sometimes for months or even years.

Here are the reasons why you can’t break it off this week:

• His favorite aunt had a heart attack and is in the ICU.
• His high school reunion is coming around.
• Your best friends are celebrating their tenth anniversary.

• Thanksgiving is next week.
• Christmas is in two weeks.
• It’s the Super Bowl.
• Valentine’s Day.
• It’s his birthday tomorrow.
• The family is gathering for Easter.
• He just got the big promotion he’s been working towards.
• He had a really bad day; looks like he may be laid off.
• You had a really bad day and can’t face any more stress.
• The coast is finally clear but things perversely improve between you.

Really, it’s impossible to pick the right moment. There is no moment when a fair-minded referee would say, “Okay, commit your foul now.” There isn’t a morning when you wake up and your partner is standing there in a T-shirt that reads: if you break up with me right now, it won’t hurt me and won’t cause any trouble.

So what do many people do? They just pick any moment and strike. And that looks cold and cruel to the other person and to the world.

Or they wait till a fight erupts, till they’re so mad at the other person that they don’t give a damn. That would take care of it. Or they nurse the impulse, lock it in some inner jewel box, bring it out when they’re annoyed and finger it; it becomes a fantasy that gives relief during the bad times and is almost abandoned during the
good times.

But not quite: there it remains in the box, creating a sort of permanent latent betrayal.

THIRTEEN WARNING SIGNS THAT A RELATIONSHIP IS SOON TO END

After the iceberg hit the Titanic, most passengers didn’t know yet that the ship was going to sink. But there were ominous signs, and the feeling of festivity got just a little hollow. Odd things started happening,
like distant screaming in hallways, an unseemly tipping of the floor, and oh, water underfoot. The musicians kept playing, and fine gentlemen and ladies lifted whisky glasses to their lips, but I’m guessing the single malt didn’t taste quite right.

It’s like that with a failing relationship.
You go through months and months of feeling like maybe it’s going to end, then it does and somehow it feels
like a shock. Or it hits out of the blue— and then you notice all the clues that you missed. This last situation is
worth pausing over: how can an intelligent person be unaware that their primary human is about to break up with them? Well, it could be that the partners are abysmally out of touch; then again it could be that they
are blanketed in rituals, comfortable patterns that make them think they are still close, when all they have is the worn shawl of routine.

You lie in bed at night inventorying which household possessions are yours.


And there’s another possibility: deception. A perfectly alert person can sometimes be fooled by a conniving lover. And that power of deceit is itself a sign, because people who are really in touch with each other can usually tell when the other person is hiding something.

Those doomed months are torture, however they shake out. So let’s take a look around the listing vessel, and with a ghoulish giggle or two, note the awful clues that mark the final slide.

Here are the signs:
1. You feel like crying when the other person is nice to you.
2. The sound of him eating fills you with a homicidal rage.
3. You don’t feel like yourself anymore, when he’s around: your personality feels phony or distorted.
4. You find yourself being bluntly honest, objecting to his quirks that you used to put up with. (Could it be you have nothing left to lose?)
5. You have trouble planning anything for next year (or next month).
6. Your partner thinks he has told you things when he hasn’t. (You’re getting ready for dinner and he says, “That bonus check should be here by Thursday,” and you say “What bonus check?” and he says, “I thought I told you about that . . .” This could mean you are no longer his primary ear.)
7. Your social lives become completely separate.
8. You fight a lot more than usual; or worse than that, you stop fighting completely. (It’s an ominous silence when one person just lets thing slide, no longer wanting to engage with the other about the juicy issues that come up in your life together.)
9. To get away from your partner, you go to a favorite café. As you’re settling down with your latte, you spot him in the corner, cradling his.
10. You are laughing with a good friend one day and you realize you haven’t laughed like that for months or years.
11. It becomes painful for you and your partner to spend time with happy couples (or watch them on the screen).
12. You lie in bed at night inventorying which household possessions are yours. (The food processor? Definitely.)
13. You stop using your partner as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, because you assume he won’t understand.

So many signs, signals, clues. Makes one wonder how anyone could ever be surprised by a breakup.

Interestingly, these warning signs don’t necessarily indicate who is going to break off with whom. Signs 1 and 6 suggest that the “you” 1. There are a number of other signs that I didn’t include here, clues that your partner is cheating. Signs 2, 4 and 10 suggest that “you” will do the leaving. Even with these cases, the more you think about them, the more uncertain they become. And with most of the others, you simply can’t tell who is going to do the nasty deed.

So what determines who does pull the trigger? What provides the impetus to action? This question isn’t as easy as it seems. Every answer just seems to spark a counter example:
• The one who is suffering the most in the relationship breaks it off. Response: but sometimes the other person feels so guilty that they call it quits. Or the reason one person is suffering is that the other person is getting ready to pull away.
• The one who has grown tired of the other, or has fallen out of love, breaks it off. Response: that isn’t always true. The “unrequited” person, who is sick of loving and not being loved back, sick of under-appreciation, may very well have the strength to walk away.
• The one who glimpses a better world, breaks it off to go there.

Now we’re getting somewhere. You are not likely to end a relationship unless you have a vision of the world you’ll be in after the breakup, and you believe that the new world will be better than the one you’re in.

But what if both people feel that way? Then who pulls the trigger?
That’s easy. The one who is having a bad day.
This is our first glimpse of a fact I’ll revisit later—one that carries many lessons and no small comfort.
Things are not as different between the (eventual) dumper and dumpee as one might expect.
It isn’t that easy to tell them apart.

When a relationship is sick or dying, both people often know it, unconsciously or very consciously. So either one could decide to break it off; could declare that they’ve had enough.

THE ASTROLOGICAL HOUSES

One way to put the components of your astrological chart into a real world context is to look at the twelve Houses of the Zodiac.

Each sector of the Zodiac deals with a different aspect of our life. By examining the placement of the Planets and Signs in the various Houses, the image of your 'astrological make up' is further sharpened.
If, for example, your chart finds Uranus, the Planet of Rebellion, in the First House, the House of Self, you may seem a little odd to others because you wear your individuality on the surface.

Technically speaking, to place the Houses within the chart wheel, divide the wheel into twelve equal pie-shaped pieces relating to the Self, the Houses speak to the external world and outer influences.

The First House, at the nine o'clock position, is said to be on the "ascendant", or horizon. One's outward image is largely defined by the planetary placement at the ascendant. For example, if Virgo is on the ascendant in a particular chart, it will add its own flavor and characteristics to the First House.

Directly across from the First House is the Seventh House, at the three o'clock position. This is referred to as the descendant and addresses how we view our relationships with others. The high noon position, at the beginning of the Tenth House, is also occupied by the medium coeli, or MC. Through the MC, we can
glean much about an individual's social status and public persona.


Opposite the MC on the chart wheel is the imum coeli, or IC, located at the six o'clock position, which is also the start of the Fourth House. The IC looks inward and represents childhood, home and family. The ascendant, descendant, MC and IC are also known as the angles of the chart wheel.

Having one's correct birth time available allows for an accurate placement of the Planets in their corresponding Houses when drawing up a chart wheel. This placement adds much texture to the reading -- and meaning -- of an individual's chart. The first piece of this astrological pie begins at the nine o'clock
spot and heads south:
That is the First House.
The Second House begins at the eight o'clock position ... and so on.
The first Sign of the Zodiac, Aries, is the ruler of the First House; Taurus, the second Sign, rules the Second House, and so on around the wheel. Any of the twelve Signs can visit a particular House and add its own characteristics to it, based on time, date and place of birth. It would be correct to infer that the Houses
possess similar traits to the Signs which rule them, as well as taking on traits of each Planet that travels through them. However, while the Signs deal with inner traits and qualities

The First House (House of Self)
The First House is commonly referred to as the House of Self. The cusp of the First House is the home of the Ascendant, the Sign which was rising on the eastern horizon at the precise moment of one's birth. By thinking of this in terms of sunrise and new beginnings, one begins to grasp the concepts of the First
House. The new beginnings here are centered around the individual: the self and the attendant voyage of discovery which defines a person. Who are you? What will you become? How do you realize your best self? The First House speaks to the realization of one's ultimate potential. This process of becoming a unique individual is one of the greatest contributions we make to the world in which we live.

The distinct qualities which we possess are often referred to as personality. The First House addresses the individual, his or her comportment and approach to life. In other words, the sum total of one's being. This is the package we give to the world. The packaging itself, or our outer being, is also governed by the First
House -- think the physical body and the way in which we present ourselves, and in particular, the head and face.

Early childhood is also ruled by the First House. Everything from our earliest steps to our view of the emerging world is considered here. How will we develop? What is our view on life? It all begins at the beginning (the First House) and serves to shape us for all time.

In sum, the First House speaks to the person we are becoming and will become, both internally and externally. It addresses our personality and presentation to the world, our essential qualities,
approach to life, demeanor and basic sensibilities. The inner self and outer body are what the First House is all about.

The First House is ruled by the Sign Aries and the Planet Mars.

The Second House (House of Possessions)
The Second House is commonly referred to as the House of Possessions. While this speaks to that which we own, it's not limited simply to tangible things. We own our feelings and emotions, as well as our inner selves, abilities, needs and wants. When we own up to something, we are in fact claiming ownership of our greatest possession, our self. Using our possessions, including material goods, to maximum advantage is also within the realm of the Second House. Our possessions should enhance our lives and those of others in
addition to fostering a general sense of well-being. This brings forth the concept of value which is key to the Second House. What do we value, both tangibly and intangibly? Why do we value it? Who do we value? What do we really own? What do we want to own? Why? Our effective resolution of these questions is a large part of what the Second House is all about.

Specific possessions covered by the Second House include earned income and our ability to influence it, investments and moveable property (cars, clothing, jewelry and the like). Debt is also part of the equation here, since we own the responsibility to pay our bills. How we view money, the acquisition of wealth (and
debt), financial reversals, savings, budgeting and financial status are all ruled by the Second House.
For those of us who believe that money will set us free, it's interesting to note that this maxim finds a home in the Second House. Personal freedoms as established by financial capability and sensibility are addressed within this House. To a great extent, our possessions and what we do with them help to define us as viable human beings. Taking it a step further, will these material goods help us gain social standing, recognition,
friendship and love? Used properly, they very well might.

Therefore, the goal implicit in one's possessions could be defined as the ability to use those possessions honestly and to our best advantage and for the greater good. If our possessions work for us and those around us, what more could we ask? Well, one more question does come to mind: what goes around
comes around? Sounds about right! The Second House is ruled by the Sign Taurus and the Planet
Venus.

The Third House (House of Communication)
The Third House is commonly referred to as the House of Communication. In this House, much of the communication is going on between the individual and those he or she holds close: brothers and sisters, as well as neighbors. While communication here can be both written and verbal, it also has a conscious quality to it. Think about kindred spirits and mental connections. This serves to highlight the role of intelligence
within the Third House.

Intelligence, as viewed in this realm, is the analytical ability one possesses within his or her environment, specifically a basic grasp of things and a practical sensibility. We use this intelligence to help us work effectively within our world and with those in it. The Third House reminds us that it's okay to use our
conscious skills, as well as a more reflective intelligence, in order to make our way. A symbiotic relationship with those we hold close is also part of the plan. Let's not forget that our minds are powerful, quick and dexterous. Some things will be wellthought out, others nearly automatic. Maximizing our sum potential is the key.

Early education, effectively teaching us how to think and communicate, is also covered by the Third House, as are short trips. Again, the proximate nature of travel speaks to the intimate nature of the Third House: those we know well, in our environment, keeping that environment tight.

Harnessing our intelligence and sharing it effectively with others is the essence of the Third House. How do we best state our case with others, often those we love the most? Will our actions be true to our environment, and our planet, for all time? This brings to the fore emerging forms of intelligence-gathering, such as computers. Will they make or break communication as we know it? The questions posed by the Third House can be answered by listening to that House: think, process, share.

The Third House is ruled by the Sign Gemini and the Planet Mercury.

The Fourth House (House of Family and Home)
The Fourth House is commonly referred to as the House of Home. When we think of home, we think of that place where we put down our roots. We lay our foundation and plant ourselves firmly into the Earth, as it were. One day, we will return to that very same Earth. The Fourth House brings things full circle by
also addressing old age, endings and our final resting place.

Much of the emphasis of the Fourth House, however, is on the concept of home. By laying down roots, we make a home for ourselves, or more specifically, the self. It's worth noting that in addition to the external home (all the bricks and mortar around us), we have really brought the essential self home. 'I'm home.'
The words themselves have a peaceful ring to them. The self is now centered, grounded, one and at peace with the Earth. We seek to come home both physically and psychically, for ourselves and for those we love. By creating home, we create a meeting place, a sanctuary, a sacred place for ourselves and for others.

In our home, we integrate the self with all that has come before us and helped to shape what we are today. We create a domestic space which comforts and nurtures us and serves to keep safe those we love. Also important here are family history, cultural and societal norms, and ways of being. All of these are ruled by the Fourth House, as are our ancestry, roots and heritage. These qualities are brought 'home' through us and
integrated into the place we call home.

Helping to create the home we make are our parents, for it is they who greatly nurture and shape our being. Therefore, the Fourth House can also be thought of as the House of the Mother, the Parent or the Nurturer.
Looking at things from a strictly tangible point of view, we can see that the Fourth House also encompasses physical structures (houses) and real estate.

The Fourth House represents family, history and traditions. All of these contribute to the process of becoming a true, actualized and individualized self. This is how we come home.
The Fourth House is ruled by the Sign Cancer and the Moon.

The Fifth House (House of Pleasure)
The Fifth House is commonly referred to as the House of Pleasure. Oftentimes, pleasure is the result of a creative act. The simple act of creating is, essentially, giving of oneself and making something -- making another? Yes, the Fifth House does speak to procreation and children, but it also addresses the creation of art and culture. The creative life is one from which we can derive much personal pleasure and self-satisfaction. Do I like this? Does it make me feel good? Does it bring me pleasure? The answers therein are the domain of the Fifth House.

Taking this pleasure principle a step further, one can give it a more human face, even two faces. Romance and romantic affairs, both emotional pleasures, are within the realm of the Fifth House. Emotional satisfaction can be gained in many ways, and yet another way addressed by this House is gambling. While this implies a financial risk, it can also be viewed as the willingness to take a risk -- on love, with money or in life. A gut
risk in the hopes of a pleasurable outcome is how the Fifth House sees it. This House is actually quite rich with pleasures since it also lords over fun, games and hobbies. Life is more than just being or doing, it also includes finding -- finding the pleasure in the acts in which we engage.

Children as a source of pleasure are also important in the Fifth House. This brings us back to creativity, since through our children, we create an extension of ourselves and then watch it grow. Giving our children all the good we had (and have), and then some, is certainly a pleasurable pursuit. How will this manifest itself? What form of pleasure and emotional release is best for our children? Music, dance, theater, art, science,
literature -- these fancies are for them and for us. Play for the purpose of emotional enrichment and pure pleasure is what the Fifth House is all about.

The Fifth House is ruled by the Sign Leo and the Sun.

The Sixth House (House of Health)
The Sixth House is commonly referred to as the House of Health. Implicit in maintaining good health is the ability to cope in the face of adversity, and this theme rings truest in the Sixth House. As human beings, we naturally have shortcomings. What will we do with them? How will we react in the face of a personal
crisis? Crises, illnesses and reversals of fortune are all part of our Earthly trek. How we confront these situations and deal with the lessons they invariably teach us helps to define the person we become.

Our fears may hold us back, but if we can meet them head-on and come out stronger on the other side, we may learn the valuable lesson of service or what our life's work should be.

Work and service are central to the Sixth House. The focus here is on employment (employers and employees), training, those who serve us (along with those we serve) and those who depend on us. Keeping ourselves strong throughout these efforts is also important here, which is why this House further focuses on health (good and bad), diet, fitness and hygiene.

Essential to the work we do in life is the work we do on our self. Duty, responsibility and personal growth all contribute to the creation of a fully-realized being. We work for others as well as for ourselves; we are at service to those who need us, including our own being. There will be times when crises of health or faith
will stand in the way of our best self. At those times, we must endeavor to heal ourselves (again, the focus of this House is on health) so that we can return to the work of realizing our sum potential, of serving our world.
The Sixth House also addresses the daily dailiness of life: what will I wear today? Do I need a haircut? Has the dog been fed?

These simple matters keep our engines humming and enable us to do the more important work of our choosing. It's a patchwork quilt: the ability to serve others in health and through work which is both valuable and fulfilling.

The Sixth House is ruled by the Sign Virgo and the Planet Mercury.

The Seventh House (House of Partnerships)
The Seventh House is commonly referred to as the House of Partnership. With this House, we see a shift away from the self toward another -- a partner. By cooperating with and relating to another we unite for the purpose of achieving something.

Purpose is important to the Seventh House -- the act of accomplishing something great or small for the self, the partnership and even society as a whole. In uniting with another, we also become a more valuable member of our world: we make a contribution, one small cog in the wheel of life. We have purpose. Cooperation and partnership help to expedite our purpose in life.

Through a partnership, we fill out our essential being. Suddenly, we see ourselves in context. Through a partnership in which we work, play, love and/or create, we are fully formed and completed. The other half helps to make us whole. Ultimately, how we relate to others will help to define the success we have as a human being and as a member of humankind.

The Seventh House shows us that partnerships can take many forms: marriage, business relationships, contracts, legalities, negotiations and agreements. We will cooperate to a greater or lesser extent in these varied partnerships. The quality of that cooperation, in essence how we relate to the other, is key to the
Seventh House. Why do we choose this partnership? Is it for love or money? Practical reasons? Social considerations? There are many reasons for uniting with another. We may choose to fill voids we see in ourselves. We may simply want the company and companionship of another. The partnerships we form say a
great deal about ourselves and also serve to teach us much. This House wants us to know that the quality of our partnerships will enhance our lives, make them fuller, more special and better for everyone.

Tensions within a partnership also serve to teach us lessons. For this reason, the Seventh House also focuses on the darker side of our unions. Divorce, lawsuits and treaties all fall within this House. At its worst, a partnership may create enemies -- and on a more global scale, these rifts can deteriorate into war.

It is our reaction to this adversity which will shape the partnerships yet to come.
The Seventh House is ruled by the Sign Libra and the Planet Venus.

The Eighth House (House of Sex)
The Eighth House is commonly referred to as the House of Sex. This House delves into relationships -- interactions with another and how certain aspects of those interactions can take on a more communal nature. It speaks to what our relationships will bring us and how we can get the most out of them.

Returning to this House's emphasis on sex, it's important to note that the French refer to an orgasm as 'le petit mort' or 'the little death.' When we reach that exalted state of communion, we leave a little of ourselves behind -- die a small death. One can also choose to view this as growth, a new beginning, the rebirth
of the soul or a gain for the partnership. The Eighth House is an equal-opportunity House, placing sex, death and rebirth on the same level playing field and acknowledging the viability and importance of all three. We will all experience death and rebirth as part of our lives: failed relationships leading to new ones, career changes, a new hairstyle. We are regenerated and reborn with each new phase and should welcome them.
Shared resources also fall within the Eighth House: inheritance, alimony, taxes, insurance, support from another. Financial support as well as spiritual, emotional and physical support are addressed by this House. While our relationships share many of the aforementioned things, they also have their own dynamics and grow from within (we grow through our sexuality as well as through other more tangible means). That said, much as our relationships are expansive, they also have certain constraints, many which are placed on them by society. Again, taxes, alimony and the joint nature of assets come to mind. Yes, with every opportunity we have, we may face a restriction along with it. Once again, death and rebirth.

In keeping with the transforming nature of this House, rituals are highlighted. Every group has its own way of peering in and looking deep into the soul and the past, if only to get a sense of what we truly are. What quality will our rituals take on? Exalted states or metamorphoses? What secrets do we keep and why?
How we manage our interactions, relationships and rituals is important to the Eighth House -- will we be honest, effective and responsible? Will the riches generated by our relationships benefit the group (company, humankind) as a whole? Our legacies are key to this House: how we conduct ourselves now, and how that will play out for all time.

The Eighth House is ruled by the Sign Scorpio and the Planets Mars and Pluto.

The Ninth House (House of Philosophy)
The Ninth House is commonly referred to as the House of Philosophy. In keeping with that theme, it's our search for meaning which is the focal point here. By virtue of exploring our world, we start to grasp everything that is available to us. It all boils down to understanding: understanding that which we see
and feel and probing further in the hopes of realizing true meaning.

Through higher education, we have the hope of understanding concepts and theories which will enhance our world. Whether it's philosophy or psychology, the Ninth House reminds us that we are on a voyage of discovery. Along that road, we will come faceto- face with our ideals and further shape the ethics by which we live. Another approach to clearer meaning and understanding of that which we see, and more importantly, that which we do not see, is through religion. Understanding and accepting that which
is greater than us and our world is key to the Ninth House.

Sadly, we might not always be humble in the face of what we have. A concrete understanding of the possibilities in life may well lead to ruthless ambition and greed and an over-expansion of the self. To face these demons most effectively in society, we institute laws. These laws provide for the orderly and positive
growth of that society. In much the same way, philosophy and religion help add focus and purpose to a productive society. How members of a society relate, and knowing and respecting the laws by which they live, are core tenets of the Ninth House.

The way in which we expand our inner and outer lives is also addressed by the Ninth House. Travel and interaction with other peoples and cultures are a means to this end. Our dreams, those which illustrate our past as well as those which speak to future events, also help to mold our being and our relationships.

Taking this a step further, psychics as the bearers of relevant information also come into play.
Additionally, the Ninth House addresses publishing and multinational ventures such as import/export businesses. This House also has a multigenerational view, taking into account grandchildren, as well as in-laws. At the end of the day, however, the Ninth House is best described as philosophically inclined in the search for meaning and truth.

The Ninth House is ruled by the Sign Sagittarius and the Planet Jupiter.

The Tenth House (House of Social Status)
The Tenth House is commonly referred to as the House of Social Status. It is about the place we have attained in our social (or work/career) grouping and in society as a whole. Think status, the authority it conveys, and consequently, the role we take in our community. It also speaks to any promotions we
receive, any fame we may have or will come to have and the types of business and social activities in which we partake. With respect to achievement, this House focuses on how we see ourselves and how the community as a whole sees us (and our efforts). Through this House, we work on manifesting ourselves.
Vocation is important in the Tenth House. What role will we choose and how will we best fill it? How much do we want to achieve? Career, professional goals, ambition and motivation all come into play here. In a more practical context, employers and their rules are covered here, as are any other organizations
(specifically the government) which have the ability to rule over us. Along with our life's work comes the challenge of ruling over others, although there will generally be someone who lords over us.

The prestige and social status we accrue by virtue of our careers and vocations can be seen, intangibly, in the form of ego gratification. How we manage this is addressed by the Tenth House. It may be most difficult to tire of financial rewards in our consumerist society; surprisingly, ego massage may grow old more quickly.

The question of how we will manage these gifts, and the status that comes along with them, is important to this House. Will we use our power to truly help society, or will we be willful and reckless? Not all of us are cut out for grand scale social success or equipped to help society significantly. It's also worth noting
that many of our successes are achieved with the aid of society, not in a vacuum.

The relationship of the individual to a group and to society is also highlighted in the Tenth House. To improve things and to make an impact, we must feel a real kinship to the cause; a fervent resolve to change things is necessary. In this way, we will achieve that social status which is truly worthwhile. Lastly, in keeping with its focus on rulers, the Tenth House addresses the father, who is generally the more authoritarian parent.

The Tenth House is ruled by the Sign Capricorn and the Planet Saturn.

The Eleventh House (House of Friendships) 
The Eleventh House is commonly referred to as the House of Friends. Through our friends, we find strength in numbers -- we see the power of the collective, the group. Groups addressed by this House include clubs, organizations, social groups, networking organizations and professional associations. The focus here is on the activities we undertake within these groups, how we make a difference and as a result, how we grow and
actualize our true selves. Further, it's the group, by virtue of its collective strength, which helps to define what we as individuals will do.

As we grow, we have more opportunities and possibilities available to us, and the Eleventh House addresses these. Our interactions and efforts are in keeping with our priorities in life; these interactions have the ability to enhance our lives. A labor of love? Yes, in many ways. Through our friends and group activities we add substance and meaning to our lives and to society.

The Eleventh House also speaks to destiny -- in simple terms, our hopes and dreams, what we desire and what we want to achieve. Our creative vision is highlighted, the simple act of working toward our maximal selves. The power of collective creation, as well as the creative sparks generated by the group, are also important to this House. By banding together, we can create so much more.

In joining with our friends, we not only accomplish a great deal, but we can also enjoy the fruits of our labor. The Eleventh House also addresses the kind of friend we are: what do we do for others? How do we view our friends? How do they view us? It is our basic character which, to a great extent, defines the friends and groups we choose. Oftentimes, we work with our friends toward a greater good and in the hope of improving society. This is our philanthropic side coming to the fore, the ability to selflessly and eagerly help
others. It is also our humanity manifesting itself most effectively.

At times, we may upset the proverbial apple cart, but the sum total of our efforts should be to look at the end result. If that's good, then the process of getting there, for better or for worse, is worthwhile. Lastly, the Eleventh House also governs stepchildren, foster children and adopted children. The Eleventh House is ruled by the Sign Aquarius and the Planets Saturn and Uranus.

The Twelfth House (House of Subconscious)
The Twelfth House is commonly referred to as the House of the Unconscious. The unconscious state can help engender our successes, as well as assist us in coping with our failures.

Success vs. failure: do we consciously confront our lives or subconsciously sweep things under the proverbial rug? This House might more aptly be called the House of Reckoning, since it is in the Twelfth that we review what we have been (and done) and decide where we go from there. Along with these unconscious musings, we also deliberate on strengths and weaknesses which are hidden from public view.

Our subconscious works hard on our behalf, trying to make sense of our lives. This shadow play is slow and long, and often fraught with fear and pain. It is in this context that we are confronted with our sorrows, suffering and the secrets we keep from ourselves and from others. Ultimately, we are also confronted with our fate: karma. Here we meet up with the results of everything we have done. This further puts the focus
on repressed agendas and restraint. What have we wrought with in our lives? This is a key question of the Twelfth House, and we will deal with it both consciously and unconsciously. Will the answers compel us to be transformed or reborn? This is another cornerstone of the Twelfth House -- the manner in which we
move forward.

We can learn much from the unconscious. In its most noble manifestation, we will be prompted to be charitable. If we learn our lessons, both past and present, we are also better equipped to move forward. The Twelfth House compels us to seek closure in a spiritual way as an aid to positive growth.

The last House of the zodiac also recognizes that we can feel bound in life -- stuck and confined. For this reason, this House rules jails, hospitals, institutions, asylums and any space that inhibits freedom. More gloominess in the Twelfth comes in the form of danger, secret enemies and clandestine affairs. Beware!
While some may decry the Twelfth House as the garbage bin of the zodiac, it's really an unfair term. Ultimately, this House is the champion of positive transformations. It is here that we stand on the precipice and determine how we will proceed. By visiting the unconscious and meeting with the past, we begin to glean what the future will bring.

The Twelfth House is ruled by the Sign Pisces and the Planets Jupiter and Neptune.

THREE QUALITIES IN ASTROLOGY

The three Qualities defined in Astrology are, after the Elements, the second major classification that defines the nature of the Signs. The Qualities assign the Signs into Quadruplicities, groups of four Signs each that reflect the three common modes of Signs.

Signs that are 90 degrees apart or opposite each other -- 180 degrees, also known as Signs in Polarity -- have the same Quality. The Signs that belong to the same Quality generally do not function smoothly together, despite their likeness -- or perhaps because of them. They are often uneasy with one another, but those in polarity complement each other, even though tension sometimes exists between them.

Within an astrological chart, the Quality describes a person's attitudes in life and the way they approach projects. The three Qualities are Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable.

The Cardinal Signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.

These four Signs are the initiators of the Zodiac. Their common characteristics include action and drive; they have initiative and strong motivation. On a team, Cardinal Signs are the people who come up with ideas and get the project moving, but they are not very good at completion and follow-through. The Cardinal Houses are the First, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth; if a chart has a number of Planets in these Houses, the chart is weighted toward Cardinal energy.


The Fixed Signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. These four Signs are the members of the Zodiac who dedicate themselves to seeing projects through to completion. Their common characteristics include determination and persistence; they are stable and self-reliant. On a team, Fixed Signs are the people who keep a project going and see it through to the end, but they can also be stubborn and inflexible. The Fixed Houses are Second, Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh; if a chart has a number of Planets in these Houses, the chart is weighted toward Fixed energy.

The Mutable Signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

These four Signs are the flexible members of the Zodiac, happy to fill an assigned role. Their common characteristics include adaptability and changeability; they are flexible and versatile. On a team, Mutable Signs adapt easily to changing conditions, and they don't have a particular agenda. They can, however, be
wishy-washy or inconsistent. The Mutable Houses are Third, Sixth, Ninth and Twelfth; if a chart has a number of Planets in these Houses, the chart is weighted toward Mutable energy.

Many people don't realize how important the Elements and Qualities are in true Astrology. It's the combination of Elements and Qualities that makes the Signs what they are; they combine in twelve distinct ways, one for each Sign.


Sign                            Quality                              Element
Aries                         Cardinal                                 Fire
Taurus                          Fixed                                 Earth
Gemini                        Mutable                                 Air
Cancer                       Cardinal                               Water
Leo                              Fixed                                    Fire
Virgo                         Mutable                                  Earth
Libra                          Cardinal                                   Air
Scorpio                        Fixed                                  Water
Sagittarius                   Mutable                                  Fire
Capricorn                   Cardinal                                 Earth
Aquarius                       Fixed                                     Air
Pisces                        Mutable                                  Water


Cardinal
A Cardinal Quality is attached to the Signs Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. The Cardinal Houses are the First, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth; if an astrological chart shows a preponderance of Planets in these Houses, its energy is weighted toward cardinality.

Cardinal Signs are the initiators of the Zodiac. They are also found at key jumping-off points on the chart wheel, specifically the Ascendant, Medium Coeli (M.C. or Midheaven), Descendant and Imum Coeli (I.C.). Individuals possessing a Cardinal Quality like to get things going. They are active, quick and ambitious. Many projects get started, thanks to Cardinal initiative, although a good deal of them are never finished.

That's because Cardinal folks are much fonder of starting things than finishing them.

You won't find a Cardinal person slacking off. These people are full of vim and vigor and possess a drive and ambition that is unmistakable. Enthusiasm and a zest for life fill the Cardinal individual. Some might perceive this rampant energy as domineering, and, at times, it can be. Cardinal people can easily forget about the rest of the pack when they are busily focusing on their own endeavors. Even so, their energetic spirit
often wins the day.

Cardinal folks are clever and want to win. They love to start things, and whether they finish them or not, there's always a lot going on. Nay sayers who find thesm to be too self-centered will simply have to watch (and marvel) as they speed by!

Fixed
A Fixed Quality is attached to the Signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. The Fixed Houses are the Second, Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh; if an astrological chart shows a preponderance of Planets in these Houses, its energy is weighted toward fixity. Fixed Signs understand that steadiness is the key. Those
influenced by this Quality are happy to forge ahead with their projects, calmly working away until they have achieved their objectives. This is no struggle for Fixed folks, rather it's what makes them tick. These individuals are stable, determined and resolute. They want to get to the finish line and have the persistence and ability to concentrate, characteristics which will get them there.

There is no lack of confidence in Fixed individuals. Self-reliance could be a Fixed person's middle name. Those possessed of a Fixed nature are powerful, yet purposeful. There are no wasted motions here: Fixed folks move patiently and steadily toward their goals. They are also steady and reliable and always
remember those who helped them out. Conversely, those born under a Fixed Sign can at times be stubborn, my-way-or-the highway folks. They may have a tendency to get stuck in their ways and to believe that they are always right.

Those influenced by a Fixed Quality are determined, reliable and persistent. They have great strength, and strength of purpose, and love to get the job done. So what if they refuse to budge? They get results.

Mutable
A Mutable Quality is attached to the Signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. The Mutable Houses are the Third, Sixth, Ninth and Twelfth; if a horoscope shows a preponderance of Planets in these Houses, its energy is weighted toward mutability.

Mutable Signs know how to go with the flow. They are adaptable and flexible and can change their form of expression to whatever a situation requires. Standing their ground is of little import to Mutable folks. These people would much rather conform to the norm, so long as their doing so will help the greater good. Luckily, Mutable individuals are versatile and find it quite easy to change. Consider them the chameleons of the
Zodiac, since they can take on varied personae.

Mutable people are blessed with a tremendous resourcefulness. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!
They know how to squeeze that last drop of juice and make things better in the process. Those influenced by a Mutable Quality in their horoscope also enjoy learning, play fair and are diplomatic and well-liked by others. To their further credit, they are sharp, sympathetic and can see (via a sixth sense?) the essential elements of a situation. At times, however, their desire to please everyone can get them into hot water. They may come across as wishy-washy, inconsistent and downright duplicitous. All this in the name of aiming to please!

The beauty of mutability is that those possessing it are flexible, versatile and highly resourceful. These folks are quick to help others and are selfless in the process. While they may occasionally stretch themselves to the breaking point, they know how to bounce back.

THE FOUR SIGNS OF ASTROLOGY

Fire
The Element of Fire is associated with the Signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, and it also rules the First, Fifth and Ninth Houses. As one would expect, those graced by Fire are fiery, indeed. They are enthusiastic and sometimes larger than life. Just like a fire that is left untended, however, Fire Signs can burn out of control.
Ouch! It's best to tend those embers.

A Fire Sign is also an indicator of creativity. This Element manifests itself in creative and unique ways, and those in its glow are also wonderfully courageous, lively spirits. Those influenced by a Fire Sign are self-sufficient, spontaneous and possess a tremendous zest for life.

It also stands to reason that a combustible Fire Signer would be ardent in the game of love. Yes, these are the sexiest Signs of the Zodiac, knowing they are the cat's meow and climbing ever higher in the name of love. To their credit, those touched by Fire are often an inspiration to others, certainly for their adherence to
solid moral and religious ideals.



If there's a flip side to the Element of Fire, it can be that those who bear its will can be overly strident in getting their way. Call it bossy, even. These folks can come across rather forcefully.

Selfishness and an overdeveloped ego can also be seen as part of a fiery individual's shadowy side.
Fire Signs are strong, self-assured, creative and fun. When they get too hot to touch, though, it may be a good idea to stand baxk!

Earth
The Element of Earth is attached to the Signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, and it also rules the Second, Sixth and Tenth Houses. All the earthy metaphors are appropriate here: salt of the Earth, feet firmly planted on the ground and so forth. Those graced by an Earth Sign in their horoscope are practical, grounded and dependable. These folks aren't taking big risks, much preferring a sure thing.

Much like the Elements are considered the building blocks in nature, Earth Signs are the builders of the zodiac. To these Signs, creation is a tangible proposition. Whether it's building jobs or homes, or creating comfortable rooms within that home through the acquisition of possessions, Earth Signers are about
all what is solid around us. Those influenced by this Element feel best once they have accumulated a goodly number of worldly possessions. The risk inherent in this, however, is that these individuals may become greedy and far too materialistic.

The Element of Earth also confers a sense of duty, responsibility and reliability to those in its sphere. These are the people you can count on to be there when you need them. Those influenced by Earth also tend toward caution and conservatism, in both desire and approach. That said, they are sensualists, certainly in
that they appreciate a good meal and fine wine better than anyone else.

The logical mind of an Earth Signer is always appreciated. In keeping with this measured approach, these folks also display considerable recuperative powers. On the flip side of things, however, those supported by Earth may be so caught up in their objectives that they might overlook the feelings of others. It is a big picture, after all, but these folks may be more concerned with the finish line than the journey they are taking.
Earth Signs are dependable, practical and conservative, yet fairly materialistic. They have their feet on the ground but their eyes on the prize.

Air
The Element of Air is attached to the Signs Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. It also rules the Third, Seventh and Eleventh Houses. It is rarefied air which usually surrounds those graced by this Element, as this is the marker of the intellectual. Airy people are smart thinkers and handle abstract reasoning well. They love to analyze, synthesize and probe. Do you have a dilemma? Hand it over to an Air Sign and watch them go to work.

Air Signs are also about communication. These individuals want to get the word out, and it's not likely to be fluff. They are alert, curious and perceptive. The world as seen by an Air Sign will be an interesting one, as their analysis and subsequent explanation (hopefully in terms we can understand) will indicate. Those influenced by Air are inventive and clever. They see all sides of the equation and are able to glean the best approach. Balance is important to these airy folk.

So, are Air Signers fresh as a summer breeze or howling like the wind? Probably both, depending on when you catch them. While these folks are often cool, calm and collected, they can turn cold if their equilibrium is upset. A word to the wise: there's little upside in baiting an Air Sign.

Another plus with Air is that it manifests itself in a most humane way. Those influenced by Air can truly wear another's shoes, as it were. They are objective, cooperative and really want to help make a better world. There's no prejudice with these folks, just a bright and shiny idealism which can accomplish much.
Air Signs are communicative, intellectual, clever and fair. They can blow hot and cold, though, so beware of a chilly draft!

Water
The Element of Water is associated with the Signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, and it also rules the Fourth, Eighth and Twelfth Houses. The watery words flow with this Element: fluid, flowing, wavering. These terms can easily apply to an individual's emotions, which are exactly the realm in which Water exerts its influence.

Water Signs are intuitive, sensitive and feel more intensely than the rest. They are emotional and nurturing and, like a river, run deep. How things feel is what matters to these folks, and they base their actions on sense, rather than on logic or intellect.

Water is also about compassion and understanding, since the receptive talents of these individuals are remarkably high. Water Sign people can take in the feelings of others, process them, and put forth a plan or solution that will be conscientious to all. Those graced by Water love to take their sense of the world and
translate it into the artistic. They desire aesthetic beauty -- and for everyone to be happy as a result of that beauty. Much like still water can become stagnant, however, an inactive Water Sign person is not a Water Sign person at their best. Water Signs feel most fulfilled when they are helping others, and they do so in an enchanting, considerate and even romantic way. The flip side of this dreamy Water world is the tendency of these individuals to brood. Water Signs are susceptible to mood swings, and, at their worst, they could become self-indulgent, controlling and hostage to a fantasy world. This also brings up the ability of these folks to see things more clearly than others.

Call it psychic, if you will.

Water Signs are emotional, empathetic, receptive and feel things deeply. Alternately calm like the sea or possessing the force of a torrential rain, the emotions brought forth by this Element are
plentiful, indeed.

THE SIGNS OF ZODIAC

There are two classifications of the Signs of the Zodiac --Elements and Qualities -- and they each refer to core human characteristics. The Elements, which are also known as Triplicities (as in groupings of three), speak to the basic nature and temperament of a Sign, whereas Qualities address their manner of expression.

The Elements (Fire, Earth, Air and Water) are based on ancient Greek philosophy. The ancients took it back to square one, the building blocks of life: the solid earth upon which we stand, the running water we use as a resource, the air we breathe and the fire which keeps us warm and aids in the creation of additional
resources. It's easy to see a kinship to science in this elemental plan.

With the individual in mind, the Greeks started philosophizing a bit. In this scenario, the body is considered earthy, feelings are fluid, thoughts often airy and activity animated and energetic. As Astrology developed, the ancients attached these elemental characteristics to the Signs, seeing as how it made sense to place a watery label on a more emotional sort. Thus evolved the classification of the Signs to their corresponding Elements.

The four Elements and their corresponding Signs are Fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), Earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn), Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and Water (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces). While the Elements in and of themselves help to describe our basic nature, once combined in our overall astrological chart, they help to define us as a whole and complex person.

In looking at an individual's astrological chart, the presence of more Fire Signs may well indicate a fiery, combustible personality. Along the same lines, the absence of Earth Signs would indicate someone who is not very grounded or practical. The presence of a mix of all of the Elements would be a sign of a well-rounded individual.

Each Element reflects a quality of human nature and corresponds with the Suits in both playing cards and the Tarot.

Element                      Keyword                      Suit                 Tarot
Fire                              Physical                     Clubs               Wands
Earth                            Practical                  Diamonds            Coins
Air                              Intellectual                  Spades             Swords
Water                          Emotional                    Hearts               Cups

THE PLANETS IN ASTROLOGY

We look at ten Planets in the study of Astrology, beginning with the Sun and the Moon, also known as luminaries. Additionally, there are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The energy of the Planets influences our everyday lives. That said, it's what we do with this energy that truly matters.

The more recently-recognized Planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) do not dilute the message of the other Planets, they simply add to our spectrum of experience. Many consider Jupiter to be the most benevolent of the Planets, with Venus a close second. The Sun, Moon and Mercury also tend to cast a golden glow. On the flip side of things is Saturn's hard energy, followed by the sharpness of Mars, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

The Planets move at varying speeds, some faster (the Moon) and some slower (Pluto), depending on how close they are to the Sun. The fastest Planets (Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars) are commonly referred to as the inner Planets and speak to the inner self. The social Planets are Jupiter and Saturn, while the
outer Planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) fix their gaze on the external world.

Each of the Planets exerts its most powerful energy over the Sign it rules. This is also referred to as the Sign of its dignity.

There is a second Sign with which each Planet interacts well, known as the Sign of its exaltation. Directly opposite each Planet's Sign of dignity is the Sign of detriment; this Planet's energy is generally unfavorable. Opposite the Sign of exaltation is the Sign of fall; these Planets exhibit a weakened energy. A Planet in its natural House (such as Mars in Aries) is accidentally dignified and strengthened as a result. Perhaps the
most important Planet of all is the one that rules the Ascendant.

For example, those with Virgo on the Ascendant will find that Mercury, as the ruler of Virgo, exerts a considerable influence over their chart.

The movement of the Planets is categorized as stationary, direct or retrograde. A stationary Planet (which will soon be direct or retrograde) brings with it highly-focused and significant energy.

Direct Planets also exert considerable influence. It is the retrograde Planets which serve to mix things up. By appearing to move backward, these Planets generate a diffused and unfocused energy. The message of retrograde Planets will be garbled and less effective as a result.

The Sun: Planet of Self
As the Sun puts forth light, so it brings forth life. This Planet (also known as a luminary and a star) represents the self, one's personality and ego, the spirit and what it is that makes the individual unique. It is our identity and our face to the world. The Sun also speaks to creative ability and the power of the individual to meet the challenges of everyday life. One's natural father, husbands and other male influences are ruled by the Sun, as are children. The Sun's energy is a forceful one, and in its wake comes authority, the ability to lead and an
individual's essence, their core being. Through the will of this Planet, we learn to manifest ourselves in the world.

The Sun is majestic, and in keeping with its regal air, it rules royalty and higher office. This orb also lords over our health and well-being. The Sun's golden glow is a vital life force which imbues us with strength, energy and a will to succeed. It is the Sun which gives strength to the other Planets, which is why this
Planet occupies a key role in Astrology.

The Sun spends about a month visiting each Sign and takes a year to journey through the twelve Signs of the Zodiac. It is masculine energy and rules Leo and the Fifth House.

The Moon: Ruler of the Emotions
Since the Moon is the closest 'Planet' to Earth, this satellite literally zips around the Zodiac, completing its circuit in less than a month. It also touches us more deeply than most Planets.

As the ruler of the tides, it is fitting that the Moon should be the ruler of our emotions. Still waters run deep? Making waves? A wellspring of emotion? Yes, our emotions have long been portrayed in terms of the sea: fluid, momentous, churning from within. Mood swings, instinct, how we feel about things and how
our feelings affect others are all influenced by the Moon. Whereas the Sun gives us our spirit, it's the Moon which gives us our soul.

The Moon is goddess-like in that it symbolizes mother and the relationship between woman and child. This Planet (also known as a luminary) speaks to the women in one's life and their role as nurturer. Fertility, pregnancy and childbirth are also governed by the Moon. We see the Moon casting its silvery glow from our
earliest moments, when we were stroked and caressed by our mother and felt her tender touch.

Our emotions manifest themselves through our being and set the tone for our daily lives. The Moon is party to this continuum, rendering us vital one moment and fragile the next. We're up and down, naughty or nice, and may laugh wildly or cry at will. Through the Moon's energy, we endeavor to reconcile these varied emotions in order to make ourselves complete and one with the world. The Moon also helps us see that which we want, and to use memory and the past as part of this process.

The Moon spends roughly 2 1/2 days in each sign and takes 28 days to circumnavigate the Zodiac. It is feminine energy and rules Cancer and the Fourth House.

Mercury: Planet of Communication
Mercury, much like the winged messenger of the gods, comes in on feather-light wings and commands us to speak.

Communication, intellect and awareness are all within Mercury's domain, as are logic and reasoning, our manner of thinking, and how we create and express our thought processes.

A mercurial nature brings to mind restlessness and motion. Rata- tat-tat -- things happen fast here. Mercury is about a quick wit, quick thinking, possibilities, opinions, reasoning and the ability to rationalize things. Mercurial energy can be good or bad, but it will certainly be energizing! This Planet also prompts us to move
from one thing to the next and to get answers on both a physical and psychological level. Further, Mercury's energy is both dexterous and perceptive.

Mercury is about short trips: a visit to a neighbor or a friend across town, the workaday commute, a weekend getaway. Siblings, and transportation in general, are also within Mercury's realm.
Speaking, writing, books, online communications and learning are all within Mercury's domain. This Planet implores us to express ourselves often -- and well. When Mercury goes retrograde (the appearance of traveling backward), however, our communications will be challenged.

Mercury is never more than 28 degrees from the Sun; it takes about 88 days to complete its orbit of the Sun. It is neither masculine nor feminine energy and assumes the gender of the Sign it is in. It rules both Gemini and Virgo and the Third and Sixth Houses.

Venus: Planet of Love and Money
Venus is all about pleasure, especially pleasure shared with someone else. This Planet concerns itself with love, romance and harmony in our emotional attachments, marriages, friendships and other unions (like business partnerships). Venus is content to spread happiness and tenderness, all the while teaching us how to love and appreciate others and the things that we possess.

We appear attractive -- and we attract others -- thanks to Venus's energy. Socializing with and relating to others are important to this Planet.
Beauty is also strongly associated with Venus. The arts (music, dance, drama and literature, to name a few) and a sense of the aesthetic fall within the ream of Venus. Venus beseeches us to indulge our senses and revel in the beauty of our world. This Planet is inextricably linked to refinement, culture, charm and
grace.

Venus also deals with the pleasure we derive from our possessions. Luxuries (jewelry, paintings, expensive cars), good food and drink, a beautiful home and a sense of refinement all please Venus's interests. This Planet asks us to appreciate the exquisite nature of things. It's a sensual -- though not necessarily sexual -- world as far as Venus is concerned.

Venus takes 225 days to complete its orbit of the zodiac; it is never more than 47 degrees from the Sun. It is a feminine energy and rules both Taurus and Libra and the Second and Seventh Houses.

Mars: Planet of Passion
Mars is the action Planet of the Zodiac. The 'Red Planet,' after all, should be pretty fiery, and Mars does not disappoint. Energy, passion, drive and determination are all right up Mars's alley.
This Planet commands you (and yes, Mars does rule the military) to stand up, be noticed and get things done -- sitting on the sidelines belongs somewhere else in the heavens. Simply put, Mars speaks to the power and confident expression of the individual.

Ambition and competition are also within Mars's realm. Whether it's at work or on the field of play, Mars encourages us to face challenges and to be our best -- or better. Aggression is part of the plan here, although Mars also values courage and honor. Assertion and a daring, fearless nature please this Planet.
It's important to note that Mars's energy can be constructive or destructive. The God of War in ancient times, Mars could be brutally violent. While this energy still emanates from the Planet, it also asks us to harness this force for good. Stamina, ambition and achievement are all part of Mars' mantra.

Mars rules our sexuality and sexual energy, and governs weapons, accidents and surgery (the last two illustrating the yin and yang nature of this Planet). In the end, however, the energy of Mars can be quite useful if used properly.

It takes nearly two years for Mars to complete its orbit through the Zodiac. It is masculine energy and rules both Aries and Scorpio and the First and Eighth Houses.

Jupiter: Planet of Luck
Jupiter is the thinking person's Planet. As the guardian of the abstract mind, this Planet rules higher learning and bestows upon us a yen for exploring ideas, both intellectually and spiritually. Intellectually speaking, Jupiter assists us in formulating our ideology. In the more spiritual realm, Jupiter lords over religions and philosophy. A search for the answers is what Jupiter proposes, and if it means spanning the globe to find
them, well, that's probably why Jupiter also rules long-distance travel. In keeping with this theme, Jupiter compels us to assess our ethical and moral values; it also addresses our sense of optimism.

Luck and good fortune are associated with Jupiter for good reason. This is a kind and benevolent Planet, one which wants us to grow and flourish in a positive way. Jupiter may be judge and jury, but it's mostly an honorable helpmate, seeing to it that we're on the right path. While our success, accomplishments and prosperity are all within Jupiter's realm, this largesse can, at times, deteriorate into laziness and sloth (Jupiter, at its worst, is associated with weight gain!). More often than not, however, Jupiter will guide us down the primrose path.

Leisure time is also one of Jupiter's pastimes. Sports of all kinds, games of chance, and a stroll in the park with the family pet (Jupiter loves animals) are all ruled by this Planet. Finally, Jupiter often presages great wealth, material and otherwise. This is a good friend in the heavens!

It takes Jupiter about twelve years to circle the Zodiac (the Planet visits an average of one Sign a year). It is masculine energy and rules both Sagittarius and Pisces and the Ninth and Twelfth Houses.

Saturn: Planet of Karma
Saturn doesn't make things easy. That's the role of the taskmaster of the Zodiac. Saturn commands us to get to work and to work hard. Discipline and responsibility are important to this Planet, yet if we're eager to conquer the world, that's okay, too.

Much like Father Time, Saturn implores us to look at the clock (its glyph, after all, is the sickle of Chronos, the God of Time). Is there time for everything we want to do, or are there limits? Those limitations are important to Saturn, and we must learn to manage them. Restrictions are the province of this Planet, as is
any form of discipline or delay.

In keeping with the passage of time, Saturn governs old age along with the lessons it teaches us. Learning life's lessons is key to this Planet, in keeping with its role as teacher. The majesty of older age also brings with it a certain sense of tradition, conventionality (our learned patterns of behavior) and wisdom, and Saturn is mindful of these characteristics. This Planet applauds our perseverance and the fact that we've withstood the test of time (yes, time comes up once again). This senior status further brings with it a measure of authority, and Saturn lords over that as well.

Structure, order and the way in which we conduct our affairs are all ruled by this ringed Planet. Contraction and the reining in of assets are also important here. Lastly, Saturn, again in its role as teacher, concerns itself with karma and the lessons which past experiences might bring.

It takes Saturn 28-30 years to complete its orbit of the zodiac. It is masculine energy and rules Capricorn and Aquarius and the Tenth and Eleventh Houses.

Uranus: Planet of Rebellion
The Planet Uranus wasn't discovered until 1781. As one of the outermost Planets, it moves rather slowly through the Zodiac.

The result is that its effect is felt more generationally than individually. Uranus brings with it a new way of looking at things, and its approach is best met with an expanded consciousness.
Originality, inventions, computers, cutting-edge technologies and future events are all ruled by this Planet. Uranus sees no need for the status quo, preferring instead to break with tradition and create a new mold. While the building blocks (science, electricity) are safe here, this Planet would rather focus its gaze on a new world order. To that end, rebellion, revolution, dictators, an autonomous state and free will all fall under the
aegis of this Planet.

No one will ever characterize Uranus as subtle. This is the Planet which coaxes erratic and bizarre behavior and byzantine schemes. A bohemian, utopian society is more in keeping with Uranus's bent, as are humanitarian ideals. Freedom and creativity are important to this Planet; Astrology is also within its realm. Lastly, in keeping with its sudden, sometimes violent and often unexpected manner, Uranus rules earthquakes and other natural disasters.

It takes Uranus 84 years to complete its trip around the zodiac. It is an androgynous energy and rules Aquarius and the Eleventh House. Uranus is considered to be the higher octave of Mercury and the first of the transcendental Planets.

Neptune: Planet of Illusion
Neptune, another of the outer Planets, was discovered in 1846. Its slow orbit around our Zodiac ensures that its effect is generational in nature.

Neptune's glyph is the trident of Poseidon, God of the Seas.

Much about this Planet is fluid (Neptune rules the oceans of the Earth), changeable and illusory in nature. Dreams, illusion, abstract thought and the mysterious are all governed by Neptune. Our spirituality is important to this Planet, and how we harness that energy for our personal betterment. Neptune invites
us to let its energy wash over us and to use a meditative state to gain insights and heightened awareness. Poetry, music and dance are among the trance-like activities which this Planet favors.

Neptune does have its showier side, as it rules movies, television, theater, fashion and all forms of glamour. In essence, Neptune is creating an illusion -- of what is enchanting on the outside and captivating within. Neptune has a mystique which doesn't reveal itself easily. It can be a poser, too, dabbling in flattery -- and subversion.

The shadow side of Neptune is akin to the aging star who cannot make one more curtain. When the lights are low, this Planet plays in a netherworld of drugs, alcohol, trances and hypnosis. Neptunian energy reeks of escapism on its darker days, a sea of delusion, hypochondria and abnormality. Sleep and dreams are also lorded over by this Planet. At the end of the day, Neptune keeps coming at you -- how will you receive it?
It takes Neptune 165 years to complete its whirl around the Zodiac, spending roughly 14 years at each Sign. It is feminine energy and rules Pisces and the Twelfth House. Neptune is known as the higher octave of Venus and is the second of the transcendental Planets.

Pluto: Planet of Power
As the outermost Planet in our solar system, Pluto is also the farthest from the Sun. It has only recently been discovered, having come to light (albeit a dim one) in 1930.

Pluto's energy may be subtle, but its results will hit you like a ton of bricks. This Planet is about transformation, regeneration and rebirth. Things aren't pretty with Pluto, but they do get done.

Pluto says 'out with the old and in with the new,' and we'd better be ready for it. If we're not, this Planet will simply have us wallow in our misery. Pluto asks us to transcend that which we know, redeem ourselves in the process, and come out stronger as a result.

For all that Pluto (re)creates (it also governs the reproductive system), it loves to destroy. This Planet rules destruction, death, obsession, kidnapping, coercion, viruses and waste. That's definitely not pretty. Pluto also governs crime and the underworld, along with many forms of subversive activity (terrorism, dictatorships). This Planet is about all that is secret and undercover, that which is hidden from view. Is this the story
of good vs. evil? Yes.

No one will deny Pluto's power (it rules atomic power, too) and intensity. This Planet's energy is often focused on the masses and what the collective will do. Pluto beseeches the masses to look inward (and to their subconscious) to see what's there. It may be scary, but Pluto doesn't care. This Planet knows how to
push buttons.

It takes Pluto approximately 248 years to complete its orbit around the Zodiac. Due to the eccentricity of its orbit, it takes this Planet between 12 and 31 years to pass through a Sign. It rules Scorpio and the Eighth House. Pluto is the last of the transcendental Planets and is the higher octave of Mars.

My Beautiful Distraction