Sexual Orientation and Astrology

Sexual Orientation and Astrology

Episode 79 of the podcast features a discussion with astrologer Christopher Renstrom about the recent debate in the astrological community over whether there are placements in a person’s birth chart that can indicate one’s sexual orientation.

Christopher gave a talk at the second Queer Astrology Conference in 2015 titled “The Problem of the Gay Signature: Unearthing the Queer Archetype in Astrological History and Culture,” and more recently he presented the same talk as a webinar for Rubicon.

For more info about Christopher’s work visit his website www.RulingPlanets.com.

Below you will find the show notes, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode.

Giveaway Prizes for June

This is the first episode of June, and in it I announce the prizes for the giveaway that we are doing for patrons of the show at the end of the month.

The prizes this month include a free one year subscription to The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, and a free pass to the upcoming ISAR astrology conference in California in October. For more details see the giveaway description page for June.

Show Notes

  • Christopher Renstrom gave a talk at the second Queer Astrology Conference in 2015 titled “The Problem of the Gay Signature: Unearthing the Queer Archetype in Astrological History and Culture.”
  • The fundamental question in our discussion is whether homosexuality can be seen in the birth chart?
  • This has become a point of debate in the astrological community, with some astrologers saying yes you can, and others arguing that no you can’t.
  • This is an important but delicate topic, and one that people feel strongly about, for good reasons.
    • Our goal to explore different opinions about the topic, in the same way we’ve explored other topics of debate in the community in the past.
  • The main emphasis of the debate, summarized by Christopher at the end of his QAC lecture:
    • Are some of the conventional “gay astrological signatures” obsolete and irrelevant now?
    • Or do they actually still work, but just need some serious tweaking?
  • Those that say “no, there are no signatures” object to the underlying implication that used to be present in many astrological texts that the signature(s) would show up either because there was something “wrong” about homosexuality or because they viewed it as something “weird” or “deviant”.
    • Some objectors liken it to the question of whether you can see gender in a birth chart, or whether you can see race, which astrologers generally agree you can’t.
  • Those that say “yes, you can see it in a chart” argue that many aspects of our character, desires, and other proclivities can be described in the birth chart, and it would be odd if this area wasn’t addressed or was somehow off limits.
  • Some who object feel that it can’t be seen because then it would implicitly acknowledge or accept a heteronormative viewpoint, which they reject.
    • Others might see a natal signature for homosexuality as confirming arguments that it being gay is something you are born with from birth, rather than a choice.
  • Some object by saying that sometimes “gay” or “straight” is not always a clear distinction.
    • The Kinsey scale posits more of a sexual spectrum than a binary, either/or situation.
    • Some people have straight and gay relationships at different points in their life.
    • Some are strictly one way for many years, but later decide to go a different way.
    • The general point is that the idea of a signature may be too simplistic because somethings things are more complicated.
  • Some object by saying that the search for a signature in itself is implicitly homophobic, and that it presupposes that it is abnormal in some way.
    • Historically this may have been true for the most part, but it is not a given that everyone who is curious about this topic and attempts to look at it empirically is homophobic.
  • Traditional (ancient) technical approaches to the topic:
    • There is no one “signature.” Many different possible considerations.
    • Surprisingly more nuanced than one would expect, especially compared to the somewhat simplistic statements of some of the modern astrologers on this topic.
    • Different techniques for studying different things.
    • Renstrom points out that ancient texts also include a number of other things like signatures for eunuchs, hermaphrodites, celibates, lustful types, etc. It wasn’t just centered on homosexuality, but it was more about a broad spectrum of different ways that sexuality and gender could be expressed.
  • The general issue with the “signature” in ancient times is that they were tied into ancient social norms and traditional gender roles.
    • The issue in modern times is similar, but with more emphasis on social norms and deviating from them (Uranus), as well as a more simplistic technical approach.
  • Ptolemy’s primary treatment of the subject is in Tetrabiblos, 3, 15:
    • Focuses on the Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mars.
    • Problems occur when there is imbalance, and too many placements in zodiacal signs of one gender.
    • The ideal situation is for a balance in one’s placements: Sun in masculine sign, Moon in a feminine sign.
    • Too many in the same gender of the native and the native was thought to become hyper-sexual in their own gender inclinations.
    • Too many in the signs of the opposite gender as their own and they transgress gender and sexual norms.
    • Connected with traditional gender roles and values.
    • Comes up again in Tetrabiblos, 4, 5, on sexual union.
    • Other treatments in Dorotheus, Manetho, Valens, Firmicus, and others.
  • Signatures in modern astrology:
    • Tend to focus on the outer planets, especially Uranus.
  • By the 1960s and 70s homosexuality often came to be associated with Uranus in the chart, and Uranus contacts with other planets like Venus or Mars.
    • Christopher points out that this association may have developed through non-astrological means first, and was then transferred to the astrological community.
    • Uranus came to indicate something odd, unique, or against the norm about the native’s sexuality.
    • If this is or was a relevant significator, the question becomes whether Uranus, which generally indicates things that are odd or unique in general, would continue to indicate homosexuality as it becomes more normalized in modern society.
      • As society becomes more accepting in the future, can it really be signified by Uranus if it’s not that “weird” anymore?
      • Astrology always works within the bounds of its host culture.
      • Theoretically that would make this signature temporally and culturally relative.
    • Or does the fact that homosexuals only account for portion of the population (10%±) and is therefore non-standard mean that Uranus would still be relevant?
      • Could still indicate “different” or “non-standard” or not quite the norm, even if that does not mean to deviant or weird?
    • Uranus indicates something “different”, but is that difference always necessarily going to be homosexuality, or might there be other differences in sexuality that it could be indicating?
      • Therefore is Uranus perhaps not always sufficient as an indicator?
  • One of the recurring points is that it is almost risky to make any statements about gender and sexual orientation on some level, since any statements made will partially be products of the mindset of the astrologer, and whatever the prevailing ideas and theories are that they have subscribed to at the time.
    • Are those theories always going to be objectively true, or are they only culturally or temporally relevant at that point in time?
    • Especially in recent times it seems like views have been changing so much that it almost seems difficult to make statements now that won’t seem incredibly dated in a few decades, as demonstrated by some of the texts from the 1960s and 70s.
  • Things that are related issues that we couldn’t get to:
    • (We ran into a technical issue with the recording software towards the end of the discussion that forced us to have to wrap things up sooner than expected. There were also some topics that were related but beyond the scope of what we felt we could cover in a single episode.)
    • Are transgender issues tied in with or are they unrelated to astrological signatures for homosexuality?
    • Recent suggestions about rejecting gender-based distinctions in astrology altogether.
    • The broader issue of gender and relationship astrology in general.
      • Are delineations different for men and women, or should they be the same? For example, is Venus more descriptive of relationships for men and Mars for women?
  • Concluding remarks:
    • The point of this discussion was to raise the issue and talk about a number of different facets of the debates surrounding it.
    • It is such a vast topic, that it is hard to do justice to it in a reasonable time period.
    • Instead of arriving at hard and fast conclusions we hope that this helps to start a discussion, and encourage the listener to think about the issue.

 

Listen to This Episode

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Comments

  1. Thanks for covering this topic so thoroughly and thoughtfully. It was most interesting to hear the history of this subject. I’m glad mythology was mentioned too. The story about the people looking for their “other half” was the inspiration for the song “Origin of Love” in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

    I was aware of the Uranus association with homosexuality but I hadn’t heard about the association with having too many signs in the gender opposite one’s own. I am female born and Neptune and Mars are the only planets I have in feminine signs. All of my other planets (including my rising) are in masculine signs (most are in Aquarius). Interestingly, I have an endocrine disorder where my body produces too much testosterone so I have to take T blockers daily. I identify as gender fluid and bi.

  2. Cat Javor says:

    An excellent episode! Really informative, thought provoking and sensitive. Well done both. X

  3. Abigail says:

    Good show! Such an interesting topic.
    I don’t think it’s fair to say that searching for a signature for homosexuality or any kind of sexual preference is inherently homophobic. For better or for worse, people who are into astrology tend to look for *everything* in the stars, even down to clothing preferences or bad hair days! (I’m guilty of that at least. Haha) Also, there has to be a distinction made between “a trait” and “our judgment of that trait.” While I can appreciate and understand the question “why do you want to know?” and the justifiable suspicion behind that question, at some point someone has to be objective. There either is or there isn’t a way to tell something about someone’s sexuality from their birth chart. If there is a way, *how much* can we tell, and *what are the boundaries* for what we can do with that information? (For example, does it show a trait that is very hard wired or does some element of choice influence how that is expressed?)
    I’d have liked to hear more about the actual specific astrological techniques Ptolemy et al actually used. Whether they “judged” the native for having these traits or not, it would be interesting to know what the chart elements were. There’s no better way to test it out than to actually apply the technique to lots and lots of charts and see what you can conclude.

    Another interesting thing to consider is that in Ancient Greece, men having a woman to procreate with and a man to have more “honorable” sex with (a form of bisexuality) was the expected norm. If sexuality is as hard wired as we sometimes think, how is it that thousands and thousands of people were bisexual then, whereas a small percentage of people claim to be bisexual today? This tells me that sexuality is at least partly –perhaps largely– affected by cultural expectations. Perhaps if it were strictly up to nature, most people would actually be bisexual or fluid, but we are programmed to be attracted to the opposite gender. I’m just speculating here. But it would put the whole idea of finding sexuality in the birth chart in a different light.

  4. Enlightening show Chris & Christopher. Thank you for this.
    It was amazing to me in understanding aspects of myself in regard to masculine / feminine placements of my planets. Also in regard to my Uranus, Venus & Moon. I’m not gay and yet this was super helpful in better understanding myself and others.
    What a gift you give us Chris with your in-depth podcasts!

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