Saturday 22 February 2014

Lunar Love

by Adam Elenbaas

Ask just about anybody you meet what their “sign” is and they will immediately say, “I’m a (fill in the blank).” Of course they will be referring to their Sun sign. Why does this happen? How did the Sun sign become more important than the Moon sign? Why do people identify with their solar qualities rather than their lunar qualities? And when it comes to love and romance shouldn’t there be a lunar pick-up line, “Hey there, so what’s your Moon sign baby?”

Entire books have been written on the subject of modern patriarchy, machismo, and the rampant suppression of the feminine. But we can’t stop there and just blame the ignored Moon sign on the “men.” It’s not enough to say that it’s the fault of men that the Moon sign isn’t equally appreciated. For a deeper understanding of the popularity of the Sun sign we need to explore, and reflect more deeply upon, the symbolism of the Sun and the Moon.

Moon Symbolism versus Sun Symbolism

From the Moon’s point of view, the feminine and the masculine are equal and complementary opposites. As Joseph Campbell writes in his volume on Occidental Mythology, “the Moon, waxing and waning, sloughing its shadow and again waxing, is the celestial sign.” The simple emotional truth beyond this mythological Moon poetry is fairly simple: our Moon sign represents our time-bound, mortal, and biologically enmeshed self-hood. Our most simple sense of “at homeness” in the universe, therefore, starts with our Moon sign.

By contrast the Sun sign represents something altogether different. The solar, like the unchanging face of the Sun, stands as an absolute in and of itself. It stands beyond the reflecting, changing, and rhythmic dance of the Moon. The Sun also animates and perpetuates life, whereas the Moon fosters, integrates, and forms life. We revolve around the Sun, whereas the Moon revolves around us. The light of the Moon is reflecting the Sun, and yet without the presence of the Moon the earth would spin on its axis in a mere eight hours, taking away the perfect rhythm of dark and light and making life as we know it impossible.


Why Do We Only Care About Sun Signs?

So why don’t the Sun and the Moon get along with each other more in people’s consciousness? And why do we only care about each other’s Sun signs? Well, esoterically over the years the complex symbolism of the Sun and the Moon have often been pitted against one another in terms of a conflicting relationship between dualism (the waxing and waning of the Moon), and oneness (the unchanging face of the Sun). From this point of view the Moon represents the mortal and temporal self, the ego, and its fixation (at worst, damnation) on the wheel of time. The Sun represents getting off the wheel of reincarnation, getting off the wheel of time, and following a higher destiny into the great beyond, into the timeless and changeless void or bliss of enlightenment.

Solar religions, from this general point of view, all have the same, singular goal or focus in mind—to transcend. This “transcendence game” can play itself out through asceticism, spiritual practices or disciplines, personal-creative callings, a hero’s journey, or the general quest for personal destiny and freedom. There is no problem with this, of course. We need this solar activity to help us grow upward, and each one of us has a Sun sign in our chart that can tell us a great deal about where we will find that personal journey of transcendence.


The Problem with the Quest for Transcendence

The problem comes when we forget that this solar desire “to transcend” is generally a deeply personal and sometimes alienating quest. For its purposes, the Sun sign journey must see the outside, interdependent, cyclically lunar world as a dualistic distraction, a projection of its own mind, and at worst, a lusty demon or an evil temptress. For the Sun sign portion of our psyche it is naturally much harder to remember the co-equal and opposite “everything is already perfect and eternal” world of the Moon sign.

At this point in history it seems safe to say that even our best spiritual philosophies, eastern and mystical or western and monotheistic alike, place too great an emphasis on the quest for transcendence. We ask someone about their Sun sign because we’re all interested in each other’s individuality. We’re each very concerned with our personal quest. But if the Sun is by nature more personal and less “dependent,” compared to the Moon, then wouldn’t it be at least equally important to ask about someone’s “Moon” sign when considering a relationship, which is by nature more of a “dependent” situation?


Three Good Reasons to Love by the Moon

So, now that we have taken a moment to contextualize our understanding of the currently underrated “Moon sign” phenomenon, let’s map out some solid reasons to consider Moon sign compatibility with your lover or your next hot date. Then let’s talk about some simple guidelines for interpreting what makes for the most harmonious Moon sign synastry!


1. Bio-Rhythm

Because the Moo refers to an inherent knowledge of the union between the opposites (light and dark), it is naturally more androgynous. Similarly, when we feel at “home” we generally do not feel pressured by the task of our sexual or gender identity. Being at a home is a place where we can take off the masks of the opposites and simply “exist.” Think of that place in your life where you can finally throw off the pressures of your work, your “focus,” and your social identity and simply relax.

This “safe place” looks a little different for each of us, and interestingly enough, depending upon the Moon’s house and sign placement in a birth chart, this sense of an androgynous “at homeness” can even exist in more fiery, creative, and social dimensions (think of a Sagittarius Moon in the Eleventh House, for example!). Regardless, if your relationship does not share the common language of rest, androgyny, and “at homeness” you might find the relationship to be constant work. You may have trouble synching up into a rhythm together. Our Moon signs are like maps to understanding the kinds of rhythms we need in order to work and grow in equal balance with our need to rest and integrate.

Since it could be said, from a karmic or evolutionary point of view, that the purpose of each and every relationship we ever get into is to help us grow (notice how solar this point of view is, always helping us to maintain that sense of the importance of our personal quest!), then it is critical that we share a common, non-goal-oriented, resting and cooperative Moon space. Again, perhaps somewhat ironically, our Moon synastry can still engage signs and houses that will involve traditional “work.”

For example, I have a Capricorn Moon in the Ninth House, and my girlfriend has a Taurus Moon in the Eleventh House. We operate a home-based Yoga Studio, Apothecary, and Astrology School. For the two of us, our work is very peaceful, cooperative, and nurturing because we have excellent Moon sign synastry. Similarly, many clients I counsel who are in the creative or artistic fields will share Leo or Fifth House Moons in their partnerships. So don’t let people tell you that just because the Moon sign represents nourishment and “at homeness” that it is not capable of being productive. In fact, many people who find their truest callings in life work just as much from their Moon sign as their Sun sign. After all, could there be anything better than receiving rest, relaxation, and nourishment while doing your work? Enough said!

2. Healthy Families Make Waves, not War

It’s vital that relationships clash. That’s how we grow. But, in equal proportion, we need times of organically-arising peace and nourishment. Moon sign synastry points toward a shared area of rest and relaxation that will tend to reappear, as rhythmically and organically (meaning you don’t have to try to make it happen) as the tides. Families with children especially need this nourishment pattern, and if couples want to start a family, and keep their family together, then Moon sign synastry is of the utmost importance.

Let’s explore this through an example. Dad has a Scorpio Moon in the Fourth House. Mom has a Leo Moon in the Seventh House. Mom’s Moon sign is going to continually generate periods of social self-expression. She might enjoy light-hearted, creative friendships, and she may enjoy getting dressed up to kill and going out to be social. This is how she receives that “I’m at home and all is well in the universe” feeling that she must get in order to be healthy.

Dad, on the other hand, is going to continually generate long and deep periods of emotional depth and intensity at home. He might need long periods of isolated brooding or emotional exploring. He might need long and deeply affectionate or fused and highly catalytic sexual encounters with his wife. This is how he receives his nourishment.

On some days, maybe Mom drags Dad out, and he spends the evening enduring the social torture of a night out. Maybe he admires Mom all night—as she shines and he hides—and then she compromises and stays up into the wee hours of the night making love or sharing deep emotions. On the other hand, maybe Mom stays in with Dad and withstands the social isolation for the sake of Dad. If they know how important the other’s needs are, there is no reason this marriage couldn’t work. However, in my experience, this natural Moon square (from Scorpio to Leo) is probably not going to work out very well, if at all, in the long run.

After a while, Dad will hate that Mom is more socially outgoing than deeply rooted in the home space, and Mom vice versa, and the two will continue getting their Moon needs fulfilled, but they will do so with a lingering sense of resentment for each other. Why? Because the Moon doesn’t like it when its desire for rest and nourishment doesn’t happen organically, and the most basic need of a relationship is to share this “at homeness” feeling together rather than apart. It is a basic need for each of us that is as simple as the newborn’s reflex to nurse at its mother’s breasts. When someone tries to take this away from us, it makes us deeply crabby and emotional.

In the meantime, their children, who will balance Mom and Dad as much as Mom and Dad balance each other in the family dynamic, may have entirely different Moon needs. How can Mom and Dad create that “at home” feeling for their children (which also may not be very easy), when Mom and Dad’s lunar needs are already clashing?

3. Spiritual Compatibility

We’ve already mentioned that everyone has their own hero’s journey to find through their Sun sign. It’s not like the personal solar quest should be ignored in synastry. And yet, having good Moon sign synastry means that you share a common base throughout your personal/spiritual quest. I remember what one woman said during a session I did with her and her husband earlier this summer (paraphrased):

“I used to be very evangelical about yoga, and I got into traveling and I was reading everything I could about transcendental meditation. Tom was into woodworking, like always, and he would learn new things and get excited about completing new woodworking projects, and for the longest time I couldn’t see any of what he was doing as spiritual. Not like yoga and meditation anyway. But as time wore on and we kept coming back to the same basic places—we both enjoy walking and hiking and birdwatching and talking—I let go of wanting Tom to be anything more than what he is. He doesn’t have to be just like me anymore. And what we share despite our differences is what I’ve called home now for something like the past forty years. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Our Sun signs will take us on the most amazing personal journeys, and yet, we will always come back to the familiarity and nourishment of our homey Moon sign. Think of the people you love in your life no matter what. Does it matter if they share all of your personal concerns and ambitions? Probably not. And that’s what family is after all! Family, at its best, is like a resting place of acceptance and love. So while it may be important to share some commonality in our Sun sign’s quest, it’s safe to say that it’s at least equally important that we share Moon sign compatibility too!


Three Moon Sign Synastry Tips

Okay, so now that we have a few good reasons to consider Moon sign synastry as equally important to Sun sign synastry, let’s look at some general interpretive guidelines.

1. Ask and Feel

Before you analyze the chart, stop and ask yourself this question, “Does my partnership feature periods of getting along, enjoying one another peacefully and finding ourselves in a relaxed space?” If the answer is no, then you will probably find some element of Moon disparity. If the answer is yes (and remember we’re not necessarily talking about sexual explosiveness or romantic fireworks with Moon signs), then you probably display some element of Moon sign compatibility.

Moon sign synastry is complex. It might involve progressed Moon placements. It might involve house, rather than sign, synastry, and it might involve multiple planetary aspects or the influence of a current planetary transit to one or both of your Moon signs. Therefore the simplest way to get in touch with Moon sign synastry is to get in touch with your own feelings. Does the relationship feature rhythmic periods of easy and soft feelings between the two of you? The answer should be simple and heartfelt. This is the best place to start!

2. Elemental Synastry

Water and Earth signs get along with each other, and Air and Fire signs get along with each other. This is not to say that Moon sign synastry is not possible outside of these rules, but it is to say that there is a higher likelihood of two people synching up with each other when the elements of their Moon signs harmonize together.

Water is emotional and Earth practical (to be general here). Water will want closeness, intimacy, depth of feeling, and fusion. Earth may not be as into it, but they will hold space for it. Earth will demonstrate patience and support for the needs of water, just like a canyon holds the earth. Over time, the water generally erodes the tougher surfaces of the earth. The earth has a hard time changing; it’s generally slower, and water helps it along by provoking movement in a gentle and supportive way.

The quintessential example is the Cancer and Taurus relationship. Cancer Moon people will have a need for nourishment and intimacy. Taurus needs to be self-possessed and surrounded by people who see their value (which helps them to self-possess). Cancer will value the Taurus, and Taurus will hold space for Cancer’s neediness. Over time Cancer will help Taurus change into something more empathetic, and Taurus will help Cancer shift into something less needy. The exchange is soft, generally easy, and mutually supportive.

Air and Fire get along with each other similarly. Air needs to dissociate, shift perspectives, relate to objectively, and consider rather than “act upon.” Fire, on the other hand, needs to act, to animate, to force, to will, to express, and to know beyond reason. Over time Air helps Fire to be more considerate and thoughtful, and hence more effective, while Fire helps Air to be more decisive and initiative. The relationship is generally more masculine, meaning it is more active or “yang” in nature, but it is no less harmonious.

The classic example might be a Gemini and an Aries relationship. An Aries Moon might be compelled into actions and impulses without question, whereas a Gemini might consider everything and have a hard time acting upon a thought. The Aries fire will be provided with an abundance of opportunities for action because of Gemini’s plethora of ideas. Gemini will be provided with an abundance of material for thought and consideration as Aries continually animates and acts from impulse. The two will temper each other over time and the exchange will generally feel easy and mutually beneficial.

Let’s mix up signs from these examples now and show how poor elemental synastry can play out. What about an Aries Moon sign with a Taurus Moon sign?

In this example, the Aries desire for action is contrasted by Taurus’ need for self-possession. Aries will continually act out, with very little concern for the stabilizing of their own identity (at least not in an earthy, grounded sense), whereas the Taurus will generally resist, with the force of a Bull, the constant explosiveness of Aries. The two signs do not share elemental synastry and therefore the teaching is much more difficult. It’s likely that the two will simply butt heads, fight, and call each other selfish until they are blue in the face. How unhelpful could this be, considering what our Moon signs are built to do for us—namely give us rest, integration, and nourishment?

3. Look at Sign/House and Aspect Placements Too

A Ninth House Moon, regardless of what sign it is in, may share something constructive with a Sagittarian Moon—similarly all the way around the zodiac. There are multiple factors that we must consider when looking at Moon sign synastry. Another example: a Moon/Venus contact in Aries may share easiness with a first house Taurus Moon. The Venus/Aries/Taurus/ connection is being highlighted in a complex way, which may actually lead to an unusual but nonetheless effective synastry!

Astrology has many different ways of combining seemingly disparate energies into cohesive harmonies. A Sixth House Aquarius Moon and a Virgo Moon might share more than you might think just by looking at the sign/element qualities. The trick is to observe what your relationship seems to share effortlessly, and then creatively look for it in the Moon sign synastry of the chart. Of course, keep in mind that if you and your partner are greatly struggling to create an organic and peaceful resting place together, then doing a lot of acrobatic Moon sign interpreting may not help anything and could, in fact, become another excuse standing in the way of a healthy breakup.

The Moon Sign in Conclusion

Take note of what puts you at ease, of where you feel most at home and at rest. Take note of your partner’s version of what feels like home and rest. Be deliberate about sharing in each other’s home spaces/needs with respect, but also do not be willing to compromise your own needs if it is leading you into constant stress and conflict.

Sex is exciting, romance should be sizzling, and your personal/spiritual journey for transcendence (the Sun) is of the utmost importance. But remember, from the motherly Moon’s contrasting point of view, there is nothing to do, nowhere to go, and only the here and now to embrace for as long as you both shall live. So it’s probably a good idea to share this home space with your partner rather than having to fight or struggle for it!