Talk about love and invariably the conversation comes around to “chemistry.” With this one you had incredible sex, but absolutely nothing to talk about when you got out of bed; with the other one there was all that stuff you had in common, but you just weren’t hot for them; and then there was the one that made you have all those feelings, but they turned out to not feel them back, at least not to the same degree, or at the same time, or in the same way, or you wanted to cuddle at home and they wanted to be out partying all night, or you couldn’t get along with each other’s friends, or parents or ex’s, or animals. It’s enough to make you think about taking vows…and then you innocently cross eyes with a stranger, and before you can blink, you’re back on the roller coaster all over again…which brings us back to the subject of chemistry: Just what is it that makes two people click? Do opposites really attract, and why is it that the very thing you find most exotic and alluring about a person at the beginning is the same thing that drives you crazy in the end? Should you look for someone more like yourself, more your own age, race, educational background, income level, political bent, spiritual beliefs, sexual preferences, or does too much compatibility lead to boredom? What is the right chemistry? Is there really someone that fits with you, or is it like some gigantic smorgasbord where you just go on tasting one thing after another until eventually you just throw up?
Whether you’re talking “top” or “bottom,” male or female, yang or yin, active or passive, extrovert or introvert, it all comes down to energy. Absolutely everything in the universe can be perceived as an extraordinary dance of energy. Astrology is an ancient and coherent system for discussing energy. Each of the planets represents a very specific “constellation” of energies that correspond to human psychological processes. Therefore, by coming to understand one’s own chart, one can come to know what one’s essential “chemistry” or vibration is all about, making the search for a suitable partner not such a shot in the dark. By combining the charts of two people in a relationship, (or three, four, five, etc.) we can gain an appreciation for the rhythm of the relationship as an entity unto itself-apart from either of the individuals themselves-which is why 1+1=3. It’s like having a map in a foreign city: It makes maneuvering infinitely easier.
Astrology, like energy, begins with polarity. Everything can be divided into two basic categories: Yang (Masculine) and Yin (Feminine). The fire and air signs are masculine (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and the earth and water signs are feminine (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). No, that does not mean that if you are fire or air you are always a “top,” or that if you’re earth or water you’re always a “bottom.” If only it were that simple. It does mean that, in general, fire and air signs are extroverted and expressive, while earth and water signs are more introverted and self-repressive. Most of us are combinations of elements, with usually a predominance of signs toward one pole or the other.
Each element corresponds to a specific mode of consciousness. Fire is intuition, Air is cognition, or thinking, Earth is sensation, and Water is feeling. It then follows just as fire requires air and earth requires water, that each element is attracted to its own kind or to its complement. However, variety is the spice of life, and thinking types have been known to be intrigued by feeling types, just as intuiting types have been turned on by sensing types, and this is where the fun begins, because while opposites invariably do attract, they sometimes also repel–particularly when they discover that they are just too different from one another to make it work-which should provide you with your first clue about relationship success: There needs to be just the right amount of “spice” balanced with the right amount of resonance. Too much “spice” and what’s hot and heavy today will burn out by tomorrow; too much resonance and you might just as well clone yourself-which, come to think of it, sounds just about right to me. From the energetic perspective, it’s all about “feeding your energy field:”–just the right amount of familiar energy to nourish you peppered with a touch of something different to keep you interested and on your toes. Of course, one person’s food is another person’s fodder.
This is where those pocket astrology guides that tell you who you’re compatible with based on your Sun Sign are basically worthless. Each chart has nine other planets aside from the Sun-four of which are at least of equal importance–which explains why the person that turns you on (Mars) is not necessarily the person you come to love (Venus), or the person that understands you (Mercury) won’t necessarily make you feel all warm and cozy (Moon)–all the more reason to marvel at the miracle of two people actually finding a good fit, and why it often feels so mysteriously “fated.”
Each of the five personal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars) has jurisdiction over a different realm of the conscious mind, and while we may approach them separately for the purposes of discussion, they must really be understood as a whole. The Sun describes our life’s purpose and the way in which we may most powerfully go about manifesting it. It is a journey that requires commitment, with invariable ups and downs along the way, but it is our personal path to self-realization. Therefore, from the perspective of relationship, the Sun sign is crucially important, as it shows us our most fundamental goals and ambitions. This does not mean that the Sun of one person must necessarily be compatible with the Sun of the other-although this is ideal. It does imply that the energy of each person’s Sun must be fed in some way by one of the ten planets of the other person’s chart for a mutually supportive union.
The Moon shows what we need to feel safe, how we act when we are most unconsciously ourselves-particularly at home. It’s what we need on the most basic level to feel alive. Fire signs need to feel themselves the center of ever-changing adventures, Air signs require intellectual and social stimulation, Earth signs need material stability and Water signs require constant emotional sharing. If the Moon in one chart is not energetically fed by the energies of the partner, that person will never feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable and open with the other person-describing an arrangement where living together would not be advisable. On the other hand, many relationships based on Moon sign compatibility alone survive long past the point when the passion has subsided specifically because they feel so comfortable and safe together. Therefore, in considering long-term commitments, the Moon is equally important to the Sun.
Mercury shows how we communicate. We all share information differently based on the element in which Mercury is found. It goes without saying that breakdowns in communication can sabotage even the most stable of relationship, so once again, the “mantra” is energetic compatibility. Too much stimulation and we end up becoming over excited mentally by the other person, leading to confrontation and fatigue; too little, and we end up falling asleep. Often relationships that begin on a purely sexual level peter out because of mental incompatibility and boredom-the bodies have connected but the minds have not. Was it Bette Midler who said that the mind was the most erotic organ in the body?
Venus describes what we value most in ourselves and in others and how we express affection. Fire signs value passion and energy; they can barely contain their need to proclaim undying love, while Air signs are cool, preferring conversation to embarrassing demonstrations; Earth signs value things and are fond of receiving tokens of affection, while Water signs value unspoken emotion sharing-compassion and nurturing over drama or things. It is quite common for two people’s Venus’ to stimulate one another powerfully, and for them to fall madly in love, but for the rest of the chart to be incompatible, leaving them wondering how things could go so horribly wrong when they were feeling so wonderfully right. Relationships based solely on Venus, without the support of the other planets, are the source of a constant stream of country & western ballads that basically tell the same tragic love story over and over again, and for which we seem to be endlessly and hopelessly enthralled.
Mars describes how we go about getting what we want. It also reveals our sexual preferences-it’s the “antennae” of the whole “chemistry experiment.” When we lust after someone we’ve just met, this is Mars becoming suddenly activated. It’s the physical component of love whereas Venus is the emotional. Without a good Mars connection, two people can feel safe with one another and even love each other, but they will never be drawn together physically. As mentioned earlier, connections based solely on Mars never get from the groin to the heart. As with the other planets, the element that Mars is in describes the way you get turned on. Fire signs do it spontaneously when they are having fun, Air does it obliquely when they are intellectually engaged, Earth does it gradually, often with gifts, and Water does it only when they feel safe via gestures of nurturing.
That leaves the other five planets–Saturn Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto-which have more to do with the unconscious realm of experience, and which when involved with any of the personal planets, “contaminate” their energies with all of the complexes and obsessions that love is inevitably heir to. They are responsible for making people fear intimacy, idealize love, need space, and become co-dependent and obsessive, and they require that we do some work on the particular aspect of our psyche that is affected-usually in the form of challenging and often confounding relationships that drive us into endless late-night conversations with friends or weekly appointments with a therapist.
An entire branch of Astrology, called Synastry, is involved with analyzing how the planets of one chart affect and influence the planets of another. It reveals quite accurately how each person is affected by the other-where there is resonance and where there is tension. This can be especially useful in doing couples counseling, as it names the issues that are so often difficult to articulate between two people, and offers ways of resolving conflicts. It can also determine if the relationship is worth salvaging in the first place, from the perspective of whether both people are being energetically nurtured and supported by the union. A good way to tell if that is not the case is when you feel drained after being with someone. It means that their energy is not right for yours-regardless of whatever else they might make you feel.
A second method of relationship analysis involves creating a Composite Chart-a third chart that is a combination of two or more charts. This third chart is actually a map or blueprint of the relationship itself. It reveals how the union will unfold in time-the seasons of love, if you will. This can be useful when a relationship is facing a difficult challenge. Not only will the composite Chart be able to describe the precise nature of the challenge, it will also reveal how long it will endure-crucial when the “ship” is heading into rough seas. By giving a wider perspective, the Composite Chart can help both parties understand where the relationship is going, as well as reminding them of the basis upon which it was originally created.
Of course, the ultimate choice of whether to stay or to leave must remain with the clients. Quite often two people come together to continue something that has begun and was left unfinished in a past life, and even though they may ultimately not be energetically compatible, there is purpose and value in the growth that results from their meeting again. Astrology can only provide a context for understanding the energies that they themselves have summoned in coming together in present time, as well as hinting at the possible course of the relationship .In the end, it is but a tool, an approximation for measuring the immeasurable, that will never completely predict or explain the great mystery of two people finding in one another a vision of the god that dwells within their respective hearts.