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WOODRUFF ON ASTROLOGY - SUMMER 2022
BY FREDERICK WOODRUFF
WOODRUFF ON ASTROLOGY | WOODRUFF ON ASTROLOGY | WOODRUFF ON ASTROLOGY | WOODRUFF ON ASTROLOGY | WOODRUFF ON ASTROLOGY
SUN SIGN ASTROLOGY -
- the kind where you say, “I’m a Virgo. My boyfriend’s a Sagittarius”—is a fairly recent phenomenon. It began in the 20th century and has dominated the imagination of popular culture ever since. But why? Doesn’t it seem nonsensical to claim that the entire global population can be divided into 12 different typologies that share a common set of traits?
My friend, the late great British astrologer Jonathan Cainer once explained it this way: He suggested that we consider the signs of the Zodiac as symbols, or totems, for 12 different tribes on planet Earth. Depending on what season we are born—the month and the day—we each fall into an ‘atmospheric’ pattern—depending on the Earth’s relationship to the Sun at that particular time.
Astrologically the Sun represents the heart—the unifying center—of our being. Just as all life on Earth is dependent on the Sun’s radiance, so too, our psychology is sustained by the solar mainframe that connects us to the entire solar system—a dynamo of cosmic creativity. As the ancient alchemical saying goes: "As above, so below. As without, so within."
It’s fascinating to me—someone who has worked with Sun signs for over 40 years—that despite how trite or superficial they may read, the Sun signs represent, at a deeper level, what each of us inherently strive to become.
The astrological Sun relates to essence, the ultimate nature of a thing. And that’s an expression that is constantly developing within each of us. We aren’t born with our complete solar matrix in place. We evolve into its promise and potential.
The Sun is the center of the horoscope—a point of gravity that gathers to it all of the seemingly disparate parts of our nature, as represented by the rest of the birth chart. It is a cohesive wholeness that comprises our unique story.
In the Northern hemisphere, at the solstice on June 21, the Sun is at maximum strength. To celebrate summer (and the Sun), I want to highlight each sign’s central impetus in this quarter’s Corridor column.
Here are my impressions of each sign’s essential expressions. Remember, these are not ‘etched in stone’ directives but intimations of what each Sun sign might contribute to the cosmos and its evolutionary process.
ARIES (MAR 21-APR 20): A continual clarification of goals, inspired by an intuitive need to confront the improbable. To free oneself (or others) from what has become antiquated or confining. Aries keywords are often associated with the season of spring, which is convenient in the Northern hemisphere, but what is primary (re a seasonal affiliation) is the radical shift in mood and tenor that the spring (coming out of winter) and autumn (from the summer) connotes. The world is deliberately upset at these seasonal junctures, and the shock is necessary to move everything in nature onward. Contemplate the gifts of the natal Mars position in the birth chart, and consider those qualities as tools for forging your path into uncharted experiences. More than any other sign in the Zodiac, the Aries individual needs resistance to be inspired. This prompts their Martian drive to push past resistance and show the world something never seen before.
TAURUS (APR 21-MAY 21): As one of the four power signs of the Zodiac, it benefits the Tauri to admit and then foster his or her necessity for power. This is a tricky admission for the bull’s inclination to maintain a placid, easygoing demeanor will sometimes push the power drive into the unconscious. Hidden desires can form complexes that are then played out in the world of projection and transference, where outside forces confound the sign. Again, give credence to the ability to manage and work with power, whatever its form. The clearest definition I’ve ever encountered comes from the Jungian author James Hillman, who defined power simply as ‘the ability to take care of business.’ Like all earth signs (Virgo and Capricorn) the Taurus individual must create things, must see tangible results to feel complete, to leave a mark. And finally, the question of beauty is critical. What is Taurus doing to foster qualities that give pleasure to the senses? What are they creating that displays and celebrates beauty?
GEMINI (MAY 22-JUN 21): Our world disparately needs a Gemini corrective. Our current obsession with multi-tasking and information glut has driven most of us into a stupor. What’s gone missing is the satisfaction that accompanies understanding. Of all the signs, Gemini has the keenest skill for doing several actions simultaneously, reveling in the Mercurial ability to solve seemingly contradictory predicaments and then celebrate the outcome. Finding an area of life that can benefit from this skill is imperative. This quality of awareness is intimated in the Butterfly Effect, a palpable sense of registering how one specific thing in life is connected to everything else in the world. Through comprehending the particular one enters into the All or the Totality. But the twins’ 'two birds with one stone' talent develops over time. And requires a sophistication that hones the mind’s fascination with diversity. It must move beyond titillation and distraction—diversity for diversity’s sake—and into the realm of mastery, professorship, authorial command, or any expression that requires study and dedication.
CANCER (JUN 22-JUL 22): Exhausted images of moms fretting over their children in a kitchen stocked with gurgling pots of soup and baked cookies are offered up as touchstones for this sign—but these cliches trivialize the essence of Cancer. This is one of the most potent forces in the Zodiac. Astrologer Debbi Kempton-Smith rightfully declares Cancer the most powerful of the twelve signs. As she puts it: “Without love and food, life could not go on.” But Cancerian food is a kind of psychic nurturance, not items from the refrigerator. And the love they offer is not always personal but a channeling of the demiurge that keeps creativity developing and displaying its riches. I often suggest to my Cancer clients that they make a firm commitement to this drive. There is nothing sadder than a Cancer who is not involved in with the process of bringing forth, mentoring, steering, guiding, or imbuing. This type of relationship is critical and must be risked for a sense of purpose in life. Offspring is, of course, one hell of a miracle to bring forth, but for those not so inclined, love must find an outside element to inspire, something beyond the purely procreative.
LEO (JUL 23-AUG 23): There’s nothing like the Sun, as Shakespeare told us. And for that reason, there’s nothing quite like a Leo. Whereas all of the other Zodiacal signs have planetary ‘rulers’ (or a lunar affiliation, if you’re a Cancer), Leo’s cosmic companion is a star—our life-sustaining, solar system-governing Sun. Without light, you couldn’t be reading this. Without solar infusions, your mind would be a lump. The Sun as center is a sensation that can’t help but impact Leo. But it’s a fantastic paradox and occasional burden. Why? Because the constantly reappearing question on Leo’s mind becomes “Who am I?” Of course, all of us, regardless of our Sun sign, have this question pinging around our heads, but for Leo, the question possesses their heart, too. And nothing short of a revelation, in the form of an ongoing odyssey, allows them to rest. And so the quest is everything. Too, the question of identity constantly finds new ways to reform and inform Leo’s consciousness. Acceptance must be reached with this compulsion. And the admission that a single answer won’t suffice. Like the Sun itself, a continual process of regeneration is at work. Eventually, the lion realizes that she, herself, is the creative project that inspires her the most.
VIRGO (AUG 24-SEP 23): It is a trick of perception that creates the subject-object, inside-outside dichotomy in life. A neurological condition that fuels the anxiety we associate with living. Virgo is the most sphinx-like sign of the Zodiac and involves a keen cleverness that worms its way into the middle of any dichotomy--a nuanced region where subject and object, inside and outside, disappear. The Virgo toolbox involves conventional Mercurial gifts like logic and the command of techniques. But also secret doctrines—metaphysical laws, letters, and rituals that have been handed down to humankind from
the beginning of time. Competence (rather than the cliched notion of perfection) is a crucial keyword for this sign. To specialize imparts a quality of focused self-reliance, an attribute that will sustain Virgo throughout his lifetime and shore up his innately shy nature. Virgo is a solitary sign, and its alignment to the middle path requires solitude and quiet. This does not mean that Virgo is to live free of relationships but to remember that deliberate time-outs revitalize their inner sanctum. Silence is a necessity for healthy relations on all levels.
LIBRA (SEP 24-OCT 23): The Sun’s mission is to establish harmony, not perfection; a just-so arrangement where all of the given components (within a body or system) have their place and optimal mode of expression. Given this sign’s pull towards cooperation and kinship, you’d think they’d be a natural for meeting everything and everyone halfway. But all of the cardinal signs (of which Libra is one) are committed to developing unique ideas and philosophies. And this drive, combined with the desire for partnering or finding support from the environment, can freeze Libra into indecision. The quickest way to galvanize this sign is to introduce a stimulus, preferably something or someone to oppose. It is through the via negativa (not this, not that) that Libra more readily defines what it is for. I often recommend that Libras collaborate. The sign isn’t inclined toward solitary thinking and benefits more from the creative exchange that flows between people who combine forces; even better if this involves introducing new ideas or solutions into the culture. A final note to set the scales in motion: Like Taurus, Libra must be surrounded by beauty. Beauty will instantly, by resonance, set them humming.
SCORPIO (OCT 24th-NOV 22nd): What’s inside the egg? Or better yet: What’s inside the yolk? What’s beneath the facade? Is there life after death? Is there life during life? Questions like this inspire Scorpio’s spirit of inquiry and the tenacious drive that compels it. Because our culture considers the topics that enliven Scorpio as taboo—too subversive or controversial—there is often little support for their passions in the formative years. This stimulates the sign’s love of autonomy, where the opinion of others doesn’t count for much. Scorpios forge their courage by regularly engaging with experiences most of us would avoid. I’m not suggesting that they court trouble, but this is a Sun sign that thrives when confronting the harsh realities of life. I often recommend that sluggish Scorpios get out and place themselves in jobs or situations that fainthearted folks would avoid. With transiting Pluto’s ongoing eroding away of traditional infrastructures and traditions within our culture, this is Scorpio’s Zeitgeist. Their moment to demonstrate how to celebrate deconstruction while building something new simultaneously. To allow uncertainty to touch us when we feel most vulnerable. And then, once the moment has passed, to get on with living—on route to the next riddle.
SAGITTARIUS (NOV 23rd-DEC 21st): Think of “god.” Whatever your conception, get a good feel for it. Now pretend that the word “god” doesn’t exist—no concept has been created for that feeling, impulse, or longing—that intimation that a higher power arranges the universe. This is the same intuition that Sagittarius lives with constantly. Lazy centaurs invest in religion because it gives them a ready-made conceptual field to play within. While adventuresome Sadges dare to formulate a unique philosophy that’s displayed in their inherent optimism towards life. This mirrors what quantum theorist Max Planck believed when he wrote that “science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature [because] we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” Like all of the mutable signs, Sagittarius (like Gemini, Virgo, and Pisces) has two distinct phases in their life. The rambunctious horse half usually dominates their youth and sets them off on all sorts of mythic adventures. And then comes the human side, where they explore the “god” question with the benefit of their hard-won wisdom.
CAPRICORN (DEC 22nd-JAN 20th): If you’ve bumped into a Capricorn who has gone limp, and has lost their joie de vivre, ask them if they are too merged with other people. The Capricorn's mission is to forge a sharply defined identity, unique unto themselves and (usually) independent of others. Like Leo, Capricorns are on a “who am I quest?”, but unlike Leo, they must answer the call by making their mark in the world of things. By creating a lasting legacy. If you’ve ever been around a Capricorn child, you’ll probably come away with that classic exclamation of, “What an old soul.” These kids are often like miniature adults by the time they’re five or six years old. This relates to Saturn as the key planet associated with their sign. A no-nonsense attitude that longs to get to the heart of a matter quickly to solve their drive to build a better widget, write a better book or grow their own business. Leaving a bequest is crucial to this sign. And finding ways to honor commitment and methodical approaches is key to their success and happiness.
AQUARIUS (JAN 21st-FEB 19th): Aquarians have an uncanny prescience about them, something akin to the passion that goads a scientist to persevere with the sometimes impossible riddles that she must solve to forge a breakthrough. The pressing question: How are their gifts best utilized? Like Libra, the Aquarian must have a social outlet to support his or her quest. This is a sign that isn’t good at going it alone. They rarely prosper in isolation, although the paradoxical axiom often rings true: The Aquarian loves humanity—the concept of brother and sisterhood—but they don’t care much for people. The emotional and often irrational moments within intimate relationships can wreak havoc with Aquarius. Their innate gift is for maneuvering the many rather than the singular. Whenever I’m working with an Aquarian who feels uninspired, I immediately ask him what he’s doing to foster friendship. The rules and laws of friendship offer a safe harbor for the Aquarian’s social instinct, the same drive that we all share to gather around a watering hole, in pairs or groups.
PISCES (FEB 20th-MAR 20th): Think about Albert Einstein’s hair. A wonderful Piscean symbol, and Einstein was a quintessential Pisces. He mastered the art of closing the divide between the rational and the seemingly irrational creative spirit, the scientific and the imaginal world that we associate with art. One fish for each pastime. And I’d imagine working the wheels of that process, day and night would do that to your hair. To fully comprehend the Pisces style or function, you must travel to the East and study the paradoxical art of what the Taoists call wu wei. As the opposite sign of Virgo, specialization and one-pointed attention can be detrimental to the Piscean spirit; their mind needs permission to drift, float, and imagine. Variety is critical in their quest to explore the great ocean of life’s possibilities—experimenting, tasting, and evaluating. And then bringing back their discoveries and insights to share and perhaps soothe the rest of us. We could all learn from Pisces’ compassionate spirit, they are hyper-attuned to injustice and suffering, and through science or art (or both), they must develop ways to elevate discord and make the world a beautiful place for all Earthlings.
Frederick Woodruff’s career as a professional astrologer spans four decades. Artists, writers, and creatively motivated folks consult with him regularly to better comprehend the cycles that define their unique narratives.
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