When an astrologer who follows the usual type of practice looks at a birth-chart, she tells or writes to her client, "Because your Sun or Moon is in this or that sign of the zodiac or house, because you have this or that aspect between this or that planet, you are such a type of person." In so doing the astrologer reads in the chart a number of characteristic features which depict what the person is.
In these articles, I am taking quite a different approach to the study of a birth-chart, for I seek to help you to find from your birth-chart how you can best be what you are intended to be. In other words, I am taking the attitude that your birth-chart as a whole tells what you should develop into as an individual — thus, the purpose of your existence on earth. The chart does not primarily describe what you are, but indicates the solution of your basic problems; it shows what you need, and by "you," I mean here you as an individual self, not the mass of physical and psychological tendencies which you have inherited from your ancestors and society.
You, as an individual self, are intended to use these inherited tendencies. You are born in a particular family and nation and you are subjected from birth to the impacts of a particular social, religious and cultural tradition because this inheritance and early social environment are necessary for you to develop certain faculties or powers and to achieve certain things. Your being born in a particular place, at a particular time and in a particular family has a purpose. From the point of view of your true self, nothing in the world — health, wealth, love or success included — really means very much unless you can realize, understand and consciously work toward this purpose. All these things acquire meaning in terms of this purpose: that is, in terms of the individual self, you.
Your birth-chart should, therefore, be considered as a general formula telling you how you can best use the energies of the human nature you have inherited.
You inherited this human nature at the moment of your first breath, when you began to assert yourself as an independent self able to control (very little at first, then gradually more and more) a human body and all that goes with it.
You then found out gradually by your constant attempts at using your body and its organs, and from the reactions of your environment to your own acts, what this human nature was over which you were meant to gain control. Gradually, this led, through the years of childhood and youth, to the establishment of your own personality; you became a particular person with characteristic features and abilities.
To most people, it seems very easy to say, "I am Peter, or Jane" — or whatever one's name is. Yet if you ask members of a group, in school or in some meeting, to stand up in front of everyone and to say simply and definitely, "I am Peter," you might be surprised by the results. Many people — whether children in their teens or adults — when thus put on the spot, fumble, feel terribly shy, mumble their names, giggle or throw the name at you as if they wanted to hit you.
They know very well, of course, that they are Peter or Jane; but especially if taken by surprise and confronted with onlookers, they find it very hard to make a clear, unequivocal, definite, unemotional statement. The way they say, "I am Peter, or Jane," the intonation of their voice, the way their arms or legs are held, the expression of their eyes will reveal a great deal of the psychological peculiarities of their personalities.
It is not enough to feel within one's self or in relation to one's family intimates, "I am this or that person." What this person is has to become exteriorized and presented to others. It has to stand on its own feet and to make its impact upon the outer world of society. "I am Peter"; "I am Jane" — this has to be known and experienced by other people, by potential friends or foes, lovers or strangers.
You have to state what you are and, above all, who you are, for the world is won over not so much by the "what" as by the "who." It is the way you release the power of your personality which will "sell" you to the world, make people smile at you or avoid you, hate and fear you.
"Who are you?" the world asks. You will answer this question not only by saying your name, but by your bearing and personal attitude, including your posture and all habitual mannerisms. Your ever-repeated problem is how to answer in such a manner that you may be able to act out what you truly are as an individual I and to fulfill the purpose of your life on earth, without harm to others or to your I self.
It is an everyday problem, for you never can tell whom you will meet or what new and unexpected situation will demand of you a statement of your own self and your own purpose. Many, indeed, when this occurs are found to be without distinct self and without definite or convincing purpose. People will tell you that they must "express themselves". Yet if you confront them unexpectedly with the challenge to state simply and clearly who is that self which needs expression and for what purpose this expression is needed, you will find very often that the answer given either is very vague and without individual character or that it is given without real conviction.
Of course, there are schools and methods of training which are planned to give you the kind of assurance displayed by high-pressure salesmen or broadly smiling and baby-kissing politicians! But these standardized techniques of self-projection should not deceive anyone. They project no real self but only a mask of assurance hammering out blatant statements behind which the individual human soul is imprisoned, starving and weak.
To act out what you truly are as an individual — this should be the essence of life in a really democratic society. To make it possible for you — more, to expect it of you — is the one purpose of democracy, even though a too often forgotten purpose! This means that you have established your personality on the ground which you have deliberately chosen, as an individual; that you have found your true home. Having found it, you can use it as a base of operation, act out what you are, then at will withdraw and regather strength and act again in your community. Thus, people will know you as you are; they will experience you in and through your actions and your creations, which will be truly the exteriorization of your individual selfhood and the release of your characteristic vitality and power.
However, this is not all. As you release your energies, the result may be a constructive creative activity or it may mean also destruction. It may mean freedom and growth or enslavement and sickness — to others and to yourself as well. It is not enough to seek to act out what you are as an individual; you must permeate your actions with the quality of harmlessness. Harmlessness is non-violence; it is the substance of peace and of a love that is true — and not only a form of possessiveness and of clinging in fear. You must express what you are and manifest in your creations your vision and your dreams; but in so doing, you must also beware lest there come harm to others and injury to your body and your psyche or soul.
A great many actions performed by individuals eager to release their energies hurt others and, directly or indirectly, the individuals themselves. The egocentric person takes no thought of what his actions will do to others; he acts explosively and blindly, under the compulsion of feelings of pride, anger or lust; beyond these "three gates of hell" there stands fear, the root of all sins and all evils. Actually, the individual does not act; it is the energies of human nature which burst forth, as steam from a boiler. With this fact, we reach the very center of the problem we are discussing.
When a man says, "I am angry," then proceeds to act angrily and in so doing hurts someone — and himself by reaction — what has usually happened is that anger was aroused in his mind or soul by the sight of some disturbing occurrence. This feeling of anger releases from various glands of the body (particularly from the adrenals) powerful chemicals which race through the blood and produce an emotion accompanied by some muscular action — the fist hits something or someone or the vocal organs shout insults, etc.
Emotion means "moving out." In the emotion of anger, violence moves out of the body and spreads all around the angry person. In the emotion of lust, a passionate craving of the body and the desire nature reaches out for someone who is expected to satisfy the craving. But in such and similar instances of emotional outgoing, the whole individual person is usually not involved. The true "I" is not really acting himself out; he is like a weak king forced by an aroused mob to give his reluctant sanction to some popular deed of violence. Anger is the aroused mob; the mob controls the king, who stands powerless — or is busy somewhere else.
A man says, "I am angry." But he ought to say rather, "Anger has overcome me." He, the true individual "I", has abdicated to the emotional impulse produced by a compulsive feeling and a sudden release of glandular hormones. He is not "master in his own home"; he is not an integrated person acting from the center outward. It is human nature that acts, not the individual self. The action is not "true" to the self and the purpose of the self; neither is it, in most cases, harmless because what we usually call human nature operates compulsively in terms of instincts which have no regard for any value except organic satisfaction, self-defense and self-aggrandizement.
It is true that there are individuals who are powerfully integrated and yet who deliberately perform actions which are destructive and harmful to others; but such basically evil individuals are more rare than people think. In most cases, violence and harm come out of personalities who are overcome by compulsive desires or fears; they are weak, unbalanced individuals. They have been hurt, oppressed, thwarted; and the hurt compels them to hurt others. What they need is, first, to work steadily toward inner harmony and integration; then, to set definite safeguards which would stop sudden emotional impulses from running wild or would lead them into other and constructive channels.
The Fourth and Fifth Houses
If we translate these remarks into astrological terminology, we shall see that the problems here stated concern primarily the fourth and the fifth houses of the birth-chart. The fourth house represents not only the physical home, but that more or less integrated whole which is called the "personality." The personality is the internal "home" of the individual self. In the fourth house, this self, which has come into manifestation with the first breath and in the natal first house, becomes a concrete, organized personality with some sort of roots or center of stability. It is no longer only "I am," but "I am Peter Smith," conditioned by heredity and by the environment he has grown in.
The fourth house is the field of feelings because a man feels according to the kind of personality he has become stabilized into. The feelings may be consistent and well organized according to individually recognized and assimilated values and ethical-social principles; they may also be very inconsistent, changeful, uncoordinated — and over them, the true self may have very little control.
As the feelings are, so will the emotions tend to be unless disturbances or obstacles intervene between what the person feels and what sweeps through the body and soul as an "emotional impulse" as a result of the feeling. A man may meet a beautiful girl and he may feel love for her; yet he may not be able to experience the full emotion of love, either because of some psychological complex (mother complex, for instance) or of some serious glandular deficiency. If he cannot experience fully this emotion, then either he will not act toward the girl as a would-be lover or he will act in an awkward, perhaps aggressive, violent and sadistic manner, as if he were challenging his own inability to experience love emotionally.
These are parts of the great complexities of human nature and human character, and these complexities provide endless materials for the novelist and dramatist — also for newspaper headlines and criminal courts! Astrology can help us to understand better such psychological intricacies and to meet more wisely our own emotional problems. But such a help should be presented with the utmost care only, for the matters at stake are very elusive and subtle and the world of man's feelings and — emotions cannot be placed into set classifications, astrological or otherwise.
The Fifth House Cusp
The zodiacal sign found at the cusp of the fifth house of the birth-chart (calculated for the exact moment of the first breath) is to be considered an indication of the type of self-expression through which your real self can best act out what it is and its true purpose of destiny. The position of the planet which rules this zodiacal sign will show, besides, the main field of operation in which this self-expression will best be focused or what will mainly condition it. If there are planets (also the Moon's nodes and the Part of Fortune) in the fifth house, added indications will be given as to the character and quality of your attempts at expressing yourself — thus, indications concerning your emotional nature and the influences acting upon it.
These indication do not refer to what needs to happen, but to what is there for you, the self, to use. They do not represent Fate, but rather opportunities for realizing and exteriorizing your inner genius. If an architect is asked to build a house in the Siberian forest, it does not mean very much to say that Fate compels him to use wood as the main building material. We should say instead that he was born in Siberia in order to demonstrate what he can do (as an architect) with the use of wood. If he passes his time bemoaning the fact that he cannot make a marble house, instead of imagining new and beautiful ways of using the wood of the forest, he certainly does not add to his stature or fame as a man and as an architect. Marble could perhaps be imported under certain conditions; but then money would be required as well as special workmen, etc.
The zodiacal sign on the cusp of the fifth house is the most basic indication of what is available in this life, naturally and spontaneously, as materials for creative individual self-expression. You must learn to use these materials, first and foremost; later on, other things may be added.