Pitfalls of Pop Astrology and Negative Definitions

Pop Astrology

Frank Clifford and Tony Howard talk about some of the pitfalls of pop astrology when it comes to compatibility prescriptions. In addition they discuss negative definitions such as fall and detriment and how real life experience complicates our understanding of those planetary placements.

Pitfalls of Pop Astrology and Negative Definitions Transcript

TH: Well, hello and welcome to this episode of The Astrology University Podcast, and I’m joined today by Frank Clifford. Hey, Frank.

Frank Clifford: Hi there, Tony. How are you doing?

TH: Great, it’s good to have you here. And Frank runs the London School of Astrology which is now also online, so be sure to check that out. And Frank and I are gonna talk a little bit about… We’re gonna talk about a few different things. We’re gonna talk about compatibility and also planets being in certain signs and houses, and some things that get said, and how we might be able to work with them.

Frank, you and I were just having this conversation casually, and what’s one of the things that gets you going when people talk about compatibility? We were talking about the example of people will hear, “Oh, a Cancer person can’t work with a Libra person.”

FC: Yes. Well, it’s some deeply ingrained, because I think from the early books that people pick up, whether it’s some Linda Goodman’s Relationship Signs or the Love Signs book that she did in the ’70s, people have that idea that certain signs can’t work together. And of course, certain signs work together in our own charts all the time and they manifest in different ways. So, if you’ve got a square on your chart between the sun and moon, maybe between Libra and Capricorn, that’s something that you’re born to work through, born to work with.

So, I have a lot of bees in my bonnet about how final these classifications can be. So, it can be frustrating to hear that. And also, one of the things that we do when we’re learning Astrology from the very beginning is that we find out the signs and the moon signs… Some signs, moon signs, ascendant signs of the people that we like, the people that we dated and we’re no longer dating, and we come up with an idea that, “Oh, it’s because they have the moon in Capricorn that we didn’t get on,” or “I’ll never date another moon in Sagittarius, ’cause they’re not faithful.”

FC: And I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding these comments and they’re always popping up on Facebook where people are saying, “Well, where do you see this in the chart?” Not can you see faithfulness in the chart, it’s more, which sign is the most unfaithful, and then people have these opinions.

TH: All of them. The answer is all of them.

FC: All and none of them, yes. A lot of what I do and what you’re doing as well through Astrology University is getting people to look at those things again and try to find a useful way forward, to actually say something to a client, or to a friend, when we look at their charts. That’s not final the only way that you can see this. And so, it’s frustrating, but it’s a particular mindset and I’m hoping that most of the people who’ve got that on their mind aren’t seeing clients and saying that to them. I’m really hoping that the clients are seeing astrologers who are thoughtful and careful of what they say, honest, of course, and ethical, but not these simple ideas of what works and what doesn’t.

And we’re not just talking Synastry, we’re talking natal charts as well. So, we got a planet in the eighth house or the 12th or the sixth, etcetera, with however you believe, whatever the reason is you have a birth chart, whether you believe you signed up for it, or is accumulation of karma, or it’s just happening as you’re born, there’s gotta be a way to work reasonably with your placement. I believe people signed up for their charts and they signed up to have that experience, so why would you want to avoid that or classify that as strong, weak, wrong, right, that sorta thing.

So, it’s a strange mentality, but it’s a very fixed type of mentality sometimes.

TH: Yeah. Well, it’s also, whether you signed up for it or not, it’s what you have to work with, so why not learn how to work with it? I think, in defense of some of what gets said and part of what you’re talking about has been going on a long time with astrology. And one of the reasons why I think we make these generalizations and we create these bumper sticker one-liners that get tossed about, and now they’re just tossed about all over the Internet and online and in astrology apps, because those kind of environments are more suited to short form communication, short sentences, short paragraphs.

Astrology is complicated, and if we’re trying to deliver astrology to the general public, we need to speak a language they can understand, and we find ourself distilling things down to these short phrases when it’s actually more suited to a longer conversation that you could have in a reading, like you were saying, with a professional astrologer who had some good ethics and a lot of training.

But because of the nature of the Internet, blogs, and even podcasts, we find ourselves having to maybe over-distill some of these concepts down, and then before you know it, somebody has heard, if you’re an Aries you should never date a Capricorn.

And then also, what you were saying is important on a personal level, in our own experience, especially if we’re not astrologers, our limited experience of astrology, we have that one experience with somebody who’s a Capricorn and we assume that all Capricorns are like that is really just what that person is doing. You were talking about the concept of working with the energy in your chart and that’s just how that person was working with their chart and the choices that they made. But another person, even with that same chart, might be completely different.

FC: Absolutely, because we’re brought up with people who have their own charts, their own emphasis, their own issues with parents who had their own chart. So, we’re constantly in an environment that’s not isolated, where we just become a particular type of tree based on the seed. It doesn’t work like that. Certain parts of us get watered more, some of them gets put in… They get put in the shade, that sorta thing.

And I think speaking of Linda Goodman, I remember in one of the introductions to her book, I think it may be in the Sun Signs book, and now people joining astrology don’t really know her book. And yet when I began astrology over 30 years ago, that was what everybody read and that’s what introduced them to astrology, very often.

And she says it’s like, your sun sign’s like saying, “You’re an American.” It gives people a particular idea, and your moon or your ascendant might then be, “Well, you’re an American, but you’re from Texas.” And it makes it more specific to people. But then, you go to Texas and there are millions of different types of Texans, of course. But I always remember that analogy simply because it’s easy to categorize and we will need to get a grasp on what Saturn might be in the chart, or by transit or what a Aries might be or a Virgo might be. But it’s just the beginning, it’s the first label, and everything else is what the discovery is, that’s so exciting about astrology.

Astrology is also simple and complex. There’s a simplicity to it where we’re more complicated than our birth chart, because you could look at 10 people with Venus in Virgo and you’ll get 10 different experiences. They’ll all have that quality of Virgo in some way that’s been brought out, pushed down, expanded upon, whatever it might be, but there’s that to think about.

But also, we’re complex, but astrology has 500 ways of telling us maybe 50 characteristics of who we are. So, when somebody says, “Oh, you’re stubborn.” People might immediately think, “Oh Taurus.” But they could think of… And now, I could give them another 10 different placements that I’ve seen with people that are particularly stubborn or difficult, not that stubborn is necessarily difficult.

So, in some ways, human nature is more complex and astrology is a language that has in its complexity, has an ability to describe in many, many different ways, who we are, and get to that fine… That conundrum of, you’re stubborn or you’re creative, etcetera.

So, it works in both ways, there’s a simplicity about it and we’re complex, and then we have a minimal number of characteristics and reactions. I might be possessive, I might be mean with my money and then, the chart has many, many different ways of suggesting how that might be seen in the horoscope.

TH: And I think one of the amazing things about astrology is that if you do open up your understanding of astrology, astrology can handle the complexity, right? It can handle the complexity of us, humans and our human experience. I like to think too of… You know, you were just describing a situation where you can kind of… If somebody is presented a difficulty or a problem to you that they’re describing, and you can see where that might be in the chart, but that same signature can also tell you how they could work with it or how they could respond to it differently, right?

If they’re coming to you with a problem and they’re asking for help with that problem, and then you locate that in the chart, that energetic in the chart that might be behind that problem, that same energetic could have the solution to it.

FC: Well, yes. See, the solution is always in the difficulty, in the issue, isn’t it? And that’s what we do. But just branding somebody, having a weak Venus or ineffectual or ineffective Mercury or whatever it might be, it’s interesting as you say, it works well in a bite-size Twitter world, but we’re not all twits or twitters.

Astrology should be as beautiful as the people that you’re looking at, and it should be as inspiring as it can be, because life is… It’s tough, it’s complex, but at the heart of what we all do, we want to live and we want to experience our lives and become what we feel we would want to be. And that never really goes, whatever you bury it under and however many people you put before your own, or their needs before your own, when astrology is part of revealing that.

TH: Definitely. Well, speaking of planets in certain signs and planets blending together, we’re gonna be co-teaching a course and then Karen Hamaker Zondag is gonna be preparing a lesson for this course as well, coming up in June, called Chart Synthesis 101, and it’s about Planet Sign and House Blends, which students often have trouble with. You were talking about, in your own chart you might see some of these same blends that you’ve read are challenging or difficult or you have this planet and then you read that it’s in detriment or fall, or somebody tells you that planet’s in a weak house or something like that and you’re just learning astrology.

And even if you don’t know what a planet in detriment means or why we say that it’s in detriment, because there’s something interesting behind that, it doesn’t sound like a good word, right? It sounds like a, oh, something you might not want, right? But these dynamics can be in your own chart too, not just when you’re blending with other people.

And so, when students start blending planet signs in the houses, that alone is confusing, but when you start adding in some of these ideas, it becomes especially difficult and challenging. What are some of the first steps that you recommend people take, when they’re starting to try to blend planet signs and houses?

FC: Ah, interesting. I always say, “Study as many charts as possible.” Instead of thinking I’m reading the Virgo is X, Y and Z, thinking the moon in this sign means this, have a look, print out the charts of the people you’re closest to, the people you know well, people you admire on television that you have a biography at home with, all those sorts of things. Print their charts out and look to try and see in the chart, what it is you know about them?

So, maybe somebody that’s been married six, seven times, the chart may not give you an indication of that, but you understand a personality trait in the chart. And look for that, look for what people have in common. You might think, “Well, these two people in my life are both quite similar in some way. It might be that they were both very driven to achieve or very materialistic.” Where is that in their chart?

You’ll learn a lot more from that by seeking out what you already know about somebody looking in the chart rather than just rubber stamping what you think you know. “So all Taureans are this or moon in Scorpios are that,” etcetera. And that’s probably the first place to start is, have a wide variety of charts of people you know well.

And I always say this, I learned astrology with the biography in one hand and a chart in the other, and I was always keen to understand that. I never started with that mental narrow mindset of, oh, the sixth house is a bad house, or the 12th house is weak. That never occurred to me and it doesn’t… Well, apart from anything, it doesn’t work. And whenever I hear that, I hear that somebody thinks that Mars and Libra is weak or in detriment as it’s classified. I wanna show them half a dozen people I know in the public realm or people I know, and say, “Look, this is a very interesting constructive way to use that Mars and Libra, so understand that.”

I think, we need to be careful of the judgments that we make or the pre-judgments. Astrology is full of many, many different prejudices that naturally filter down. So, houses are an interesting one, planets in detriment, in exaltation, etcetera. You have to look at anybody who’s succeeded, and you’ll realize, they’re using all the different energies of their chart in interesting ways.

It’s never about a placement, it’s about the courage to work with that placement, it’s about the courage to understand who you are, the courage to get a bit of self-knowledge through astrology or to some other means, to take your life beyond your fears, anxieties, neuroses. The difficulty is that when somebody speaks about a so-called negative placement, they might be talking about your Saturn, or a square in your chart, or planet in the eighth house.

It’s like having an antenna or a sensor. Anything that you worry about yourself or you’re judgemental about yourself, you will meet an astrologer who repeats that, or you’re looking a book online and you think, “Oh, that’s the reason why I don’t trust.” And you think, “Seriously? That placement is the reason why you don’t trust?” It’s ridiculous, it’s such a ridiculous connection.

That placement represents an aspect of who you are that you’ve been working with, and if you’re not working with it constructively and end up being distrustful of different situations, go back and work on that placement. It’s not the cause, it’s not the reason, it’s not the full stop, the period point, as they say in America, it’s not that. So, we’ve got to undo a lot of that left brain thinking in terms of just this plus this equals that. It just doesn’t… It doesn’t work.

TH: And what you’re saying is, touching on a big idea that we could have a longer conversation about, but not today, but just about how we humans of… It’s easier to look outside us for the cause of the problem than to go inside. And if you work with astrology, astrology always draws you back inside. It always draws you back to your natal chart. And that’s where you can do really creative and even we could say alchemical work with yourself.

FC: Absolutely. But the problem is, if you’re listening to somebody who’s identifying that part of your chart as negative, when you go back in, it becomes the reason for the problem rather than an opportunity to explore it and go further. So, what can I do…

TH: Right, yeah. You can still turn inside and still have that same approach, like, as if it’s fixed and there’s nothing you can do about it.

FC: So, you need a solution and astrology is about providing insights and helping the person discover or rediscover solutions to their energies, their Mars energy, their Mercury energy. I said this at UAC a couple of years ago and I put this in, and I thought, “Oh, this sounds fun,” and I wrote on the bottom, I said, “The only debility is an astrologer’s inability to think outside the box and to be able to… Their inability to think of something constructive to say about that placement.”

TH: That’s a great point. So good, Frank.

FC: And I heard a talk at UAC and from a very intelligent astrologer and she basically had an opportunity… It was Mars and Saturn, and it was either stress and pain, or depression. And I put my hand up and I said, “Are there any other options to this Mars and Saturn?”

Because I thought, you’re so bright, you’re so intelligent, you’re really articulate, and you’re saying this bullshit, this nonsense in the chart. And I was amazed, I was taken aback and I thought, this astrology is full of so many brilliant minds. You think of the Darbys and Lynns and the Melanies and Brian Clarkes, and the Demetras, all the people that we work with and we see, brilliant minds, and then yet, there’s something that almost imprisons or handicaps us.

And if you’ve got a Mercury retrograde in your natal chart, the last thing that you want is to read something that says, you’re mentally backward, or slow, or you’ll never get it. Because we as astrologers have an opportunity to get people to truly explore a whole spectrum, a whole range of possibility in their charts and in their lives, in their energies and personalities. And if we can’t do that, we need to just shut up and leave other people to do it, or just go back to the research and the books and learn. So, whenever I hear stupidity in that sense, I want to send them a whole list of charts of people who are doing something amazing with that placement.

TH: Yeah, me too. That’s a great point that you made earlier too, is making me think about how, when we start learning astrology a lot of us get exposed to cookbook astrology books which are great.

They’re an important part of your learning, because you have to learn what the different archetypes and symbols might mean. And the fact is that Mars in each of the 12 signs is very different. And so, you have to kinda figure out what those differences might be so that you can describe it and understand it, and so you can recognize it.

But then, you have to look at charts, like you said. And if you do look at a lot of charts, a lot of those limited definitions of how something might express, they don’t hold up. They don’t hold up, like you said. Like, for every situation where somebody’s describing a planet in a weak house or whatever, or a detriment, you can find examples of that looking like it’s working out pretty well for them, right? Or that it’s the source of their most creative gift to the world.

FC: Yes. You never know what people do with their charts, you don’t know. From their chart, you don’t know what work they’ve done, what they’ve created with it, you really don’t. You can pretend you do or you can be one of those people that say, “I have an 80% success rate with prediction,” or some sort of nonsense like that.

And really, we don’t know when the person arrives what they’ve done with that, and what opportunities they’ve had to express that. We did this a while ago, we had a… We don’t have many mass murderers in England, it’s not on the news very often. When there is one, it becomes big news.

And some years ago, as Uranus moved into Aries, there was a man who went off and just lost his cool, shot his twin brother, went down on a rampage and killed people. And it was a very… Derrick Bird, his name was. And I commissioned four or five different people to write articles on him. And the sort of very fixed mindset came back and explained from the chart why he was a mass murderer, completely forgetting that he had a twin brother born a couple of minutes apart, who actually died by his brother’s hand rather than instigated anything.

And all I wanna say to people sometimes is, yes, that Mars-Saturn worked very well for this person, it can work well for you. But put it… Have somebody born at that same moment in Sudan, Ethiopia, where they’ve got 80% of the population living just on survival mode, they’re not gonna have an opportunity to experience that or to use that in the same sort of way.

So, there was 101 other factors that come into how we work with our charts. And if you… We’re privileged few, this is a first world problem, moaning about our charts and thinking about astrology, because most of the population don’t have the opportunity, even have an insight into that aspect of our subject.

TH: Yeah, if you’re concerned with survival, then that’s what’s gonna take up all your time. So yeah, I think that that’s a great example you used, and I think one of the differences might be, if you’re talking about the articles that you had people write, or the analysis they did of that chart, it’s the difference between saying, Uranus made him do that and saying, this is what he did. This is how he used his Uranus, or his Uranus transit, or the Uranus square in his chart, or whether, or whatever it is.

FC: Yes. There’s a big difference and that’s the idea of the fatedness of your birth chart that once you’ve got a birth chart, you can’t change it. You can progress it, you can pretend, you can move it into a different house if you don’t like your sun in the 12th, stick it in the first if you want, find something that makes you feel better, or you can just deal with what you’ve got.

I had a student the other night, we were talking about solar returns and the idea of setting a chart up for the place of birth, each solar return, the postal address, or exactly where they are in that moment. And her question was, what if you’ve got a so-called awful placement in your chart? And what about going somewhere else and having a solar return to make the most of it somewhere else in a different house with a different thing?

And I thought, well, what could be so bad in the chart? Well, sun in the eighth, sun in the 12th? If I had a very heavy solar return with 12th house emphasis, that would be indication of what to do that year rather than run away from it. I’m not afraid of the eighth house. I’m not afraid of having Mercury retrograde in the sky at any point. It’s a bizarre way of thinking, it’s a fear or scare tactics sometimes. The idea that the sixth house is weak, tell the Gauquelins that who discovered just the opposite.

And I talk to astrologers, traditional astrologers sometimes about this as well and they say, “Well, there everything with the Gauquelin work when they’ve found that the cadent houses were the strongest, strongest indicators of character, there will be the ninth, the 12th, particularly, and then the third and the sixth. When you had Mars there, it really indicated a strong Mars-like personality.

Traditional astrologers tell me, “Well, it was rounded off to the hour, so maybe the planet was really in the first instead of the 12th.” And what’s amazing, what they don’t know usually is that Francoise Gauquelin who survived her husband by many years, when she heard that criticism, she went back to the hospital records in France and other places where they did it and she did another test.

Because the people they were looking at, their birth times were rounded off to the nearest half hour, or hour, or 15 minutes. But in the hospital, they were rounded off to the minute. It’s just that somebody in the birth registry just tightened it… If it was 3:04, they wrote 3 o’clock… They just rounded it off. And she went back and did hundreds of hours more research into that area, and still found there wasn’t a difference with that.

So, people are always looking to discredit certain theories, etcetera, as I am in a way, here, trying to say, Look, look at it, study it, look at it in real life, don’t look at it in textbooks. We were talking a bit about Darby earlier, and Darby has a great quote, I hope she doesn’t mind me saying it, but when a lot of these books that have been dug up over the years or found and translated are rich historical records of astrology.

But Darby turned to me once and she said, “Well, what if that astrologer was an asshole and his book survived? What if he was like the one in that community where they’re like, “Oh my God, he’s published a book and he doesn’t know anything?” And yet his book was the one to be rediscovered and survive?” And that really made me laugh, because there’s a lot to be said for history, but we have amazing people in the 21st century doing brilliant work with clients, with students, and that’s where I’m gonna go, I’m gonna read that stuff rather than something that was applied to a society 300, 400, 500, 800 years ago.

Interesting material, but doesn’t really relate to where we are now, and I’d rather listen to a number of other modern people talking, who see clients.

TH: Yeah. Well, thanks for that, Frank. I think that the ancient material’s interesting. I guess, the way I feel about it is just that… I have a stack of astrology books so high that I’ll never read all the ones that I’m really enamored with or interested in, so adding in all of the books from the last few hundred years is… I don’t see how I could ever get to all of them.

I understand why they’re important, of course, but I also understand how they could be intriguing, because there’s a part of us that wants there to be an answer, right? One of the reasons why people say really definitive things about the chart or they practice astrology that way is because they want surety and certainty in their life. Well, unfortunately, that’s not what life delivers. Life delivers constant change and growth.

But I understand the impulse, and as part of that, it’d be pretty easy to imagine that, what if there was just the one magic book that had the magic technique and the magic answer and we just haven’t found it and translated it yet? And so, I get the desire and the drive to see that. And also, honestly, I’ve heard Demetra George teach and she does a beautiful job of showing how there are parts of our tradition that were kind of lost in translation and how beautiful they are and how well-constructed they are, and how we say these things in modern astrology without realizing the elaborate construction behind it, right? Without really understanding where that comes from, so I think there’s real value in learning from these ancient books from that perspective as well.

FC: I agree. I think it’s important to know your history. I think it’s important in that sense to understand that the so-called “bad houses” are because they don’t speak directly by aspect to the ascendant or the first house. Knowing that is interesting. Classifying it is having something you can’t escape and it’s awful, ’cause we have a chart that we can’t escape, it’s there from the moment we’re born, and somebody telling me the placement’s negative or won’t achieve anything. That doesn’t work for me, but the history of it is interesting. It’s how it’s then translated to be for natal astrology.

And you know, I teach electional astrology, I love electional astrology, and I realize that the simplicity of, if somebody wants to go into a lawsuit, the simplicity of electing a strong Mars and a strong Jupiter, perhaps in different things, or a strong Mercury for a particular reason, making sure that it’s in a place with trines rather than difficult aspects, making sure that it’s in a sign that does the job you want it to do or does a job that is a mercurial job, if it’s a mercurial pursuit.

These are all important things. In human experience, we’re far more complicated, and we don’t have… An election may last, maybe for a company that lasts a few years or a job application that results in something that we want, but a human being is a 40, 50, 80, 100-year experiment that continues to grow and develop and to use new aspects of who you are. So, the idea that you are just fated to have one position that’s bad or in detriment or something, just sounds very narrow.

TH: Definitely. Yeah, I love electional astrology as well, and talking about it gets us into that territory, in that gray area. But even those charts that we might… This is… We should do an electional podcast, Frank, because that’s a super fun topic. But even those charts… It’s famously impossible to get the most perfect chart, right, for the outcome that you want because, everything is complicated.

But even if you do find some of those placements that you’re really looking for to support that outcome, those are just like anyone’s birth chart. They depend on how you use them, how you show up, the energy that you put in, and what you do with it. So you do get the job offer. How do you show up with that job? How do you show up at work? What do you do with the job once you have it, in other words? That first chart can say something about that too, so fascinating.

FC: You know, you could pick a perfect time, you and I could apply for the NBA to get a job there. It could be the perfect election, but I’m not seven feet, 10 inches, or something, you know?

So it’s not… I could find a perfect moment, but not have the perfect circumstances that would get it for me, or I could apply to be the next American Idol at a perfect election time, but can’t sing.

TH: Yeah. That would be a problem, that would be a problem.

FC: Well it probably would be.

TH: And I would predict that you would not get on to the show.

FC: Well, I probably would and it would be a major embarrassment, [laughter] that sort of thing rather than anything else, so it would be… Yeah. So, it’s interesting, but elections and horary the original main use of astrology hundreds of years ago, it’s still there and we can use it, but we have to look at natal charts differently, because it’s where we’re work of art and we’re in process.

TH: I love that, yeah. We’re work of art and we’re in process, I love that. That’s a good note to end on for today, Frank. And if you would like to learn more about Frank and his work, visit the London School of Astrology online. Frank is also one of our instructors at Astrology University, of course. And Frank, you’re gonna be doing… We mentioned the course that we have coming up on June 2nd, and it’s a four-week course on chart synthesis. It’s the first in a series on chart synthesis where we’re teaching how to start blending planet signs and houses.

But also in June, you’re gonna be a busy guy. You’re gonna be doing a webinar on June 6th for us. This is gonna bring in some of these electional ideas that you’re talking about with your webinar, The Astrology of Lotteries, Gambling and Winning. That’ll be a really fun one.

FC: Yes.

TH: Although, I don’t know how many people can actually visit casinos right now.

FC: No, I’m not encouraging people to spend money as well.

TH: Right, exactly, yeah.

FC: But it’s interesting to watch. So we’re gonna have some fun looking at what to look at, looking at the charts of people who won a lot of money. But also, when I do it, when I have some fun, it’s understanding the symbolism in front of you as well.

And you know, if you’re on a very Pisces day, gravitate towards the machines or the situations or the numbers that are Piscean or Neptunian. So, it’s gonna be about that, it’s gonna be some fun. Yeah, people can gamble online, but again, I wouldn’t recommend that. The more you gamble, the more you lose, really, that’s why they give you like a 97% or 94% rate on these machines, because the more you play, eventually, they’ll recoup whatever you might win. So that’s part of the instruction in June, and I think I’m doing a midheaven IC floating… Yeah, I think that’s in June as well, is it?

TH: June 20th, The Floating MC/IC Axis. So you work with equal houses. Whole sign houses are really popular these days. And in both of those house systems, the MC and IC can float, meaning, it might not be the start of the 10th house, like it is in all the other house systems. So, you’re gonna tell us how you work with that and interpret it.

And then, you’ll be joined by Kelly Surtees who uses whole sign houses, and she’s gonna describe how she works with and interprets it. And spoiler alert, they’re probably pretty similar, because you’re basically adding in, you’re seeing the meaning and the fact that it’s still the MC, but it’s in the ninth house, and how do you weave those houses together, right?

FC: Yeah. We’re gonna have some fun with that, yeah.

TH: So it’ll be a really fun webinar. And it’s a topic that can confounds students for a good reason, especially, if they got exposed to a different house system first and then discover equal houses. So, tune in for that on June 20th, and we’ll have a fun time with that. And Frank, thanks so much for being with us today. I can’t wait for the next podcast. We’ll have to do electionals next, that’ll be fun.

FC: Thanks for inviting me.

TH: Thanks, Frank.

FC: Bye, bye.

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Helen Marie

As someone with Sun, Venus, Mars, and Pluto in fall, and Saturn in detriment, and apparently even the nodes in their ‘opposite’ signs, i appreciate you taking the time to dispel these old stories about ‘negative’ placements. My own perspective on it is as follows: that the qualities of many of these ‘fall’ or detriment placements are simply not validated by society in the same way that the qualities of the exalted and dignified placements are. And by “society” i refer specifically to patriarchal society and capitalism, especially when it comes to traditional gender norms and expectations. All of the planets in fall or detriment have an element of “outside of society” or “rewriting the rules” about them, and that’s usually only seen as a “bad” thing by those who are stuck within society and conforming to the rules!

Take Venus in Virgo versus the exalted Venus in Pisces, for example. Both Virgo and Pisces are feminine signs, but from the perspective of a man (i.e. male author of historic astrology rulebooks), when it comes to being on the receiving end of a woman (i.e person who is tasked with expressing the qualities of Venus), i expect he would favour the accepting, sympathetic, nurturing, and beautifully dreamy, squishy nature of a Venus in Pisces. But, from the perspective of a woman, Venus is Virgo is a pretty useful sign! It has its downsides of course, as anything does, but it’s the ideal placement for ‘sorting the wheat from the chaff’ in matters of the heart – or art, as is often the case with this placement.

Similarly, Mars in Cancer versus Mars in Capricorn: For a man (i.e person traditionally tasked with expressing the Mars energy), a placement in Cancer could be difficult when applied in typically masculine domains involving primarily physical strength. Yet Mars in Cancer is its own superpower – just not in the ways that patriarchal capitalism would define “power”, or even usefulness or “productivity”. Remove the gender norms and expectations tho, and a person with Mars in Cancer can, as if by magic, intuit, defend, and nurture an idea into existence… Like an oyster with a pearl. An output that is valuable, treasured, rare… Yet the systems of the past millennia have valorised and rewarded “hard work” – the visible, the tangible, the pragmatic, block-by-block processes of creation, requiring the exploitation of the masculine bodies, muscles, bones, and sacrifice of those below you on the hierarchy… The nature Capricorn (in its worst expression) in the capitalist system… so is it any wonder that Mars is exalted in Capricorn and not in Cancer?

Much of the polarised negative/positive labelling of dignified/detriment, fall/exalt reflect as much, if not more, about the values of the societies, authors, and epochs that generated them. As society evolves, as gender norms and expectations are discarded, and as the nature of work, value, productivity, and survival continue to change, i hope that we see these terms reassessed and reimagined to reflect the essence of the signs and planets themselves – without the dusty old layers of added meaning which are no longer as relevant, or applicable, as they once were.

PS. Having inadvertently quoted Patti Smith, i had to look up her chart: Mercury in fall; Saturn (Rx) and Venus in detriment… outside of society! 🙂

Astrology University

Thanks for sharing this Helen. And I love Patti Smith! She also has Mars and Mercury out of bounds. Take care.

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