Therese Hamilton

Part 2

Polarity and Signs of the Zodiac

In Part 1 I pointed out that the Moon relates to our social and reacting side while the Sun focuses more on inner resources. It would be a mistake, however, to say that the Sun is self-centered in a way that could be called selfish. Being centered within oneself is not the same as being selfish. The Moon may appear to be more generous than the Sun because it will worry about the opinions of others and look to others for approval. Society will then make a judgement in favor of the friendly Moon and against the centered Sun.

This brings us to the subject of sign polarity in the sidereal zodiac. In the Tropical zodiac the odd (male) signs generally have a better reputation than the even (female) signs, simply because the male signs appear to be more friendly and outgoing. Perhaps the most difficult adjustment for any tropical astrologer who wants to try out the sidereal zodiac is the mental transition to a completely new concept of polarity. Suddenly the extroverted male signs become even signs—lunar and feminine, while the more inwardly focused female signs become odd signs—solar or masculine.

I think the best way to grasp this Uranian type shift is to look at some traditional male and female preferences and behavior. Before everyone screams “sexist!,” I’d like to ask how many of you have visited a computer repair shop staffed entirely by women. How many men do you know who can take hours chatting with a friend about relationships? How many women spend an entire day tinkering in the garage with various tools and projects? How many women participate in the new and dangerous ?extreme sports,’ using bikes, skateboards and high ramps? How many men spend a day at the mall trying on clothes for fun and relaxation? How many all-female Sunday afternoon football parties have you been to?

Much as we’d like to pretend that differences between the sexes are minimal, those differences are still there. And there’s nothing wrong with the fact that there are differences. The earth is peopled with two genders, after all. So far only one of these genders is capable of bearing children. I think that because we live in a comparatively aware, technological culture, we too easily become oblivious to the masses of men and women in less developed countries who still conform quite closely to gender prototypes.

John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, on and off the best seller lists for several years, hit a worldwide nerve with its down-to-earth descriptions of the differences between men and women. The book describes how each gender perceives and acts, how men and women respond to life situations, and how they should treat each other to avoid hurt feelings or out-and-out war and divorce. As such, the book is a useful tool for understanding the polarity of the sidereal zodiac signs.

Men and the Two Zodiacs

The general polarity interpretation according to Tropical astrologers is that the masculine signs (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius) are outgoing and interested on what is outside themselves. Their main focus is on experiences and people external to themselves. The Tropical feminine signs (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces) are more likely to rely on their own resources.. In the sidereal zodiac, these meanings are reversed. Let’s look at how John Gray (and other social scientists) describe the two genders. We can begin with a summary of Gray’s description of Life on Mars:

The actions of men are geared toward developing power and skills. Men are achievement oriented—they want to be competent and efficient in what they do. Self-satisfaction and a sense of power come from personal success and accomplishment.

Men are interested in news, weather, sports, objects, gadgets, technology. Men easily become preoccupied with problem solving. If a man can’t solve his problem, he’ll involve himself in the physical world to forget it: play a game, race a car, climb a mountain.

We can ask what signs have the reputation for being practical and competent in the material sense? The tropical Earth signs should come to mind, whose lords are Venus, Mercury and Saturn. But men’s preferences and motivation as described by John Grey and social scientists sound more like the masculine planets—Mars, Sun, and Jupiter. These planets are the lords of the three sidereal male signs—Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Let’s look at some textbook phrases for the tropical earth signs, and see why we might apply them to the Aries triad--the sidereal signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius instead.

Tropical Taurus: stable, consistent, persistent; concentrated energies, at home in the physical world; disinclined to be sociable. Sidereally we’re talking about Aries, a sign traditionally ruled by Mars, and also a sign where the Sun is exalted. Mars is probably the planet that is most comfortable with the physical world; Mars can be very persistent and stubborn when it wants to be. The concept of male polarity takes care of the lack of motivation to be sociable, and the exalted Sun easily concentrates and consolidates its energies.

Tropical Virgo: As sidereal Leo, this sign is very content to involve itself in its chosen work. As a sign of male polarity, the quality of creative work is much more important than praise and approval from others.

Tropical Capricorn is associated with the father complex. It wants to be effective in whatever it does. Capricorn is related to authority, implementing the rules of society, big business and government.

The attributes of this sign belong to sidereal Sagittarius. The ruler of Sagittarius, Jupiter was the father of the Gods who wrote the rule book for everyone else. As a sign of male polarity, Sagittarius is concerned with measures that can be practically applied in the real world. This sign is also extremely good at mobilizing its energies in the chosen direction to achieve the desired goal.

The Aries triad of signs can be said to be the most “male” of all the signs. Though the Tropical water signs (sidereal Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) have an inward focus of self motivation, two of these sidereal signs (Gemini and Aquarius) are ruled by neutral planets—Mercury and Saturn. The third sign (Libra) is the exaltation of Saturn, but is ruled by the feminine Venus. Only the sidereal Aries triad is 'all masculine.'

John Grey also describes how men solve their problems:

A man under stress or working on a problem will become very quiet, retreat to his cave and tune out the world. He will focus one-pointedly on his problem until it is solved. Asking someone else for help shows how weak and incompetent he is. If you offer him advice, he feels humiliated. A man wants to achieve his objectives by himself. His motto is “I can do it myself!

These traits don’t resemble the masculine signs in the Tropical zodiac. But they do sound somewhat like the Tropical earth and water signs, which can be quite uncommunicative and internalized. Tropical Cancer (sidereal Gemini) can be moody and sensitive; Tropical Scorpio (sidereal Libra) is called secretive and sometimes anti-social; Tropical Pisces (sidereal Aquarius) can get lost within itself. These signs are certainly not “feminine” in the sense that social scientists would define the term. They’re much more likely to be internally focused than to look outside themselves for help and inspiration.

Finding Women in the Zodiac

Now let’s look at John Gray’s view of Life on Venus:

Women are preoccupied with relationships, and like to anticipate the needs of others. They enjoy being helped by others and want to help other people themselves. A woman doesn’t mind admitting that she feels confused and helpless. Women are happy when they have people who love them to share their feelings with. If a woman gives advice and suggestions, it shows she cares. Women generally like to nurture relationships, and try to live together in community and cooperation.

In general, women enjoy talking. A woman under stress tends to get more and more overwhelmed and emotionally distraught. She finds release in talking about her problems with family or friends, and will often ask advice on how she should act.

To astrologers this sounds like the Moon and Venus, the two feminine planets. But, if we look at the Tropical zodiac, we find that the sharing, communicative signs are the masculine fire and air signs:

Tropical Gemini is often an avid conversationalist, is curious about the world, sociable and friendly. This sign overlays sidereal Taurus, ruled by Venus and also the Moon’s exaltation sign. The Moon and Venus are sociable and friendly. As a sign, Taurus traditionally rules the throat and tongue used in speech.

Tropical Libra is very accommodating and sociable. It can see many sides to a problem or event, and is said to need others to define itself. Tropical Libra overlays sidereal Virgo. Sociability and the ability to accommodate others are traditional feminine traits. As the lord of Virgo, effervescent Mercury is communicative, mutable and many-sided.

Tropical Aquarius is said to thrive on social interaction, is gregarious, and is prone to identify with a group external to itself. Sidereal Capricorn lies beneath this tropical sign. Here again we have the feminine appreciation of social interaction and the ability to identify with those outside itself. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the democrat and the great leveler. Mars, the planet of group action (and a lord of the feminine water triplicity in ancient times), is exalted in Capricorn.

The tropical fire signs (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius) overlay the sidereal signs of Cancer, Scorpio Pisces. These signs are said to act impulsively from the feelings of the moment, and are very prone to change. Tropical fire signs are very expressive in relationships and constantly seek outside stimulation to keep life interesting.

These traits belong to the sidereal Cancer triad--Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. These signs belong to the feminine polarity, and we see that the typical traits of tropical fire—acting from feelings, being at home with change, very expressive in relationships—all belong to the feminine gender. Of course, anyone who has many planets in these sidereal signs in the natal chart will express this type of energy. The point is that action from feelings and the concept of change belong to the Moon rather than the Sun. This is a key point of any discussion on gender preferences and behavior.

Fixidity, Change and Gender

John Gray also emphasizes what could be called the static/dynamic principle in relation to men and women. This is better described as tending to remain in one place (comfortable with habits) or welcoming change. Women are very much at home with change and diversity, which can be shown in many ways. For example, women often enjoy changing their clothing or hair styles to suit their feelings. Men are much more likely to wear “uniforms” to show their status and position in the world. Over a period of many years men’s clothing styles remain basically the same. Men in general don’t possess women’s natural affinity for change; a man looking forward to a coming change in life may experience anxiety and feelings of insecurity. However, a man with many planets in the sidereal earth or water signs and with a prominent Moon is likely to take change comfortably in stride.

Wrapping Up Polarity

Social scientists have documented women’s enjoyment of social interaction and the exchange of conversation. Women focus more on relationships and in general are the caretakers of society. Women are more likely to crave togetherness and friendship with others. Men are more comfortable with the physical world. They value autonomy and a certain conformity in their social roles. They identify with success, prestige and power. The favorite roles of men all take a certain determination and concentration of energy. If we had to list the predominate traits of the two sexes in a table, it might look something like this (remembering that Male equates with Solar and Female with the Moon:


As Expressed in Alternate Male and Female Signs

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Male Traits:

Female Traits:

Focus on self as the power center

Concentrated, one-pointed

Sustaining, firm, resistant

Autonomous, self-motivated

Tendency to look outside the self for advice and verification

Ephemeral, variable, changing

Flexible, pliable (willing to change)

Interacts, makes connections, shares

Indeed, the findings of western social scientists seem to agree with the traditional definition of sign polarity found in the Indian texts: The even or female signs are said to be “soft” or yielding. Masculine signs are said to be firm or “cruel.” The meaning of this seems to be that the male signs are relatively inflexible and firm compared to the more adaptable female signs. Perhaps if we can remember some of the basic distinctions between the sexes, it isn’t too big a mental bite to re- think our astrological concepts of male and female signs in the sidereal zodiac.

© 2004 East-West Publishing, Therese Hamilton; all rights reserved

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