The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 246, titled:
With Chris Brennan and astrologer Darby Costello
Episode originally released on March 9, 2020
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released October 27, 2021
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CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This is Episode 246. And in this episode, I’ll be talking to astrologer Darby Costello about the astrology of the four elements earth, air, fire and water. Hey Darby, welcome to the show.
DARBY COSTELLO: Thank you, Chris. It’s nice to be here. It’s nice to see you.
CB: Yeah, I’m excited to do this episode with you. I’ve been wanting to do an episode on the four elements for quite a while now. And last year I discovered that your books on the subject or your book on the subject which was initially a series of lectures that you did in the mid-90s on the four elements was recently republished just last year in 2019, right?
DC: Yeah, it was. Tony Howard did it. He republished them beautifully, I think, I love what he’s done with them.
CB: Yeah, I love the new covers.
DC: Aren’t they lovely?
CB: Volume one is titled Water and Fire: The Astrological Elements Book One. And then the other one is Earth and Air: The Astrological Elements Book Two by Raven Dreams publication. So, this is originally the publication that you did in the mid-1990s for the Center for Psychological Astrology press, right?
DC: And that’s what they looked like then hardbound with gold letters. Yeah, Liz’s publication, Liz’s publishing house. Yeah.
CB: And you had an interesting story behind that because she kind of encouraged you to publish those books?
DC: Yeah, because I had tried, I’d been living in Africa, and I came here and everybody had published books, and I couldn’t write. I just couldn’t. I tried and tried and tried. And she said, “I’m starting a publishing company. And I’d like you to write a book for me.” And I said, “Oh, I can’t. I can’t. I don’t know how.” And she just said, “Oh, do it for me.” And I really liked her. So I said, “Okay.” That was it. It allowed me to step out of myself. And then I said, “Oh, what am I going to do it on? I don’t know.” And the first one she said, “We’re always talking about the Progressed Moon, do it on that.” And so that was the first one that I did. And then I got into it. And I really enjoyed the fashioning of sentences slowly, and there were transcripts originally. But again, I said to her, but I just babble and talk and talk and talk. As you can tell, I don’t have punctuation. And she said, “Well take the transcript and then reshape it.” And so in a way, it’s a conversation between me and somebody I call audience. And sometimes it is the audience. But sometimes it’s just a conversation that almost I’m having with myself in some way, a dialogue between myself and someone else. And so in the end, they were very satisfying to do. And, of course, I love the elements and always have. I’ve always been in love with them right since the beginning.
CB: And that’s something I love about the Center for Psychological those old publications is that they’re transcripts or dialogues which makes me think of reading some of these old ancient Greek texts like Plato or something which are written in the form of dialogues. Yeah, so just to introduce you to my audience, for anybody that’s not familiar with your work, what’s your background in astrology? Or when did you start? How did you get into it?
Darby Costello: I did a degree at a catholic university in America in philosophy, psychology, and theology. And I was going to go on to do a master’s and onwards as one did kind of thing. But I went to California, and it was the ‘60s and I sat around with some people then we as we did in the 60s, and somebody started talking about astrology. And I sat with some guy, I don’t remember. And we sat there for nine hours trying to figure out how to draw up a chart. We just sat at that table. And at the end, we figured it out. And at some point, I went back to Massachusetts because I said, “This is really interesting.” They were talking about it really interesting. And he said, “But in Massachusetts, you’ll find the best teachers. So go back there.” And so I did. I went back and I think I went back in 1968. And in ‘69, I started and I didn’t realize that I was going to do that. I still thought maybe I could just have it as a little hobby. But, I read Dane Rudhyar’s Pulse of Life, it was called. I think it was renamed or something. And I sat in a field, I think it was in New Hampshire, I sat in a field and I read the book. And I went back into the group of people I was staying with weeping because I knew I couldn’t go on in ordinary conventional world. I had to study astrology. And then I found Isabel Hickey, and Frances Sakoian, and Louis Acker and got obsessed, meantime, making money by working in the psychiatry department at MIT. So it was an interesting mix and I became completely obsessed and completely in love in ‘69 and ’70.
CB: So you’re from Boston originally and–
DC: Near Boston.
CB: Near Boston. In 1968, 1969 is when astrology has just exploded. And there’s a ton of people from your generation that were born people born in like the 1940s that are all getting into it at that same time. And you find yourself actually in a hotspot for astrology at the time because you mentioned Isabel Hickey and she was one of the major astrologers. It seems like a number of major astrologers ended up studying under her or being coming into contact with her at different points in some way.
DC: Yeah, she was… I went back to Boston and I knew a couple of people. And I said, “I need a job, a bicycle, and a roommate who’s interested in astrology because I’m here to study astrology.” And my friend said, “Oh, I work at MIT and I’m leaving to go off to California. So take my job if the head psychiatrist likes you and you can have my bicycle.” And then she introduced me to a young astrologer. And somebody got me an appointment with Isabel Hickey. I remember it was $10. It cost $10. And she looked at my chart and said, “You should be an astrologer.” And I thought, “Oh.” Because other people in California had said that I thought, “Is that what they all say? Good heavens, what is this about?” And she said, but she was respectable and she said, “But, I’m not teaching in the summer. So go to Frances Sakoian and Louis Acker in the summer and then come to me in September.” And what I didn’t know is they weren’t friends, but what she was doing was keeping me there. And so I went to Frances and Louis, and then I started with her in September and had them all for a period of time. What you would do is you’d come into the basement or wherever it was, and you’d sit down and you’d say prayers. And one of the things I remember she said, “You were all in Atlantis and you didn’t pay attention. Now when you learn astrology now, you pay attention. You’re very responsive when you pay attention. And you don’t let that happen again.” And whether she was speaking metaphorically or literally, I don’t know. But I remember having a sense of responsibility that was so powerful about how we would use this and how we were there to guide people in a particular way. I was young, but it was very powerful. They gave us a spirit, a sense of our own connection to something that we had great responsibility and had to be very, very responsible to the people whose charts we looked at.
CB: Sure, so that’s a specific stream of modern astrology of the Isabel Hickey school, the Frances Sakoian, and Louis Acker who also read very popular books on astrology around that time. But then you’re also getting into Rudhyar and through Rudhyar, of course, there’s a lot of influence from Jung and then you gravitate or move more towards psychological astrology, right?
DC: Well, I didn’t know what I was doing really, I mean, I had a psychological background in one way. But I went to Africa after I finished, after I’d been studying for a year and a half, I went to Africa and stayed there for 12 years. And was living with tribal healers for most of that time and working with them recording and transcribing their stuff. And one of the first people I met was a Jungian, a person passionate about Jung. She ended up going and becoming a Jungian analyst in Zurich. But at the time, she just loved Jung. And so we read Jung together the whole time. And I don’t know that I’d really gotten into him until I met her and then I really got into it. I didn’t know, I was just doing charts, and I was using a lot of reincarnational ideas because Isabel had that very, very strongly. But over time because I was doing charts for people, everyone, anyone who asked me, over time I stopped using the reincarnational imagery and I started using psychological imagery more but almost of my own kind, not a specific this kind of psychology, just from all of the things I’d read and was reading, yeah. And then I read Liz books arrived down there. And I started reading those and I started thinking, this person is really interesting. And when I came up here, I ended up being part of the CPA once it got going. So that was lovely.
CB: So once you moved to the UK or moved to London, you eventually got integrated into the Center for Psychological Astrology?
DC: Once it started, Howard and I in Boston were very close. I think he and my sister were roommates or something. We were all hanging out together and he–
CB: Howard Sasportas?
DC: Howard Sasportas. And so while we were studying, Natalie, my roommate and I, he came over and hung around and we just had long conversations, a lot of conversations. And when I left and went to Africa, he wrote it in a book. So, I’m not saying anything he would mind. But he said, “Those conversations have been really interesting. I’m going to England and I’m going to study astrology.” And he came over and really studied it with the faculty and everything. And then he and Liz became friends. And so I think it might be through him that I met her when I came over once, and we sat and talked for hours and hours. And when I eventually came over for good in ‘71, sorry in ’83, I went to Africa in ’71, in ’83 after a while, I contacted her again and we started talking again. And then when they started the school together, they invited me to join.
CB: That’s interesting because didn’t she study briefly under Isabella Hickey as well? So you could have crossed paths, but just didn’t back in Boston.
DC: She did a year. I think she was there a year earlier than me, a year or two earlier, then she went to California. But, I never saw her in California, I never met her there. So, we were all hanging around in the same streams. But some of us met and others didn’t. And I remember reading her books and thinking this person has hit something and it was like reading… For me when I read Dane Rudhyar, I wept with the beauty of it. And when I read her, I had chills with how she was talking. It was like this conversation, this language I understand so well. She speaks it so beautifully. In those days, we each developed our own version of things, you know? And we didn’t have something we were downloading a particular– We were just reading everything we could, and experimenting and playing with everyone. And every time you– I still do every single time I watch someone on TV, I look up their charts. If I read about someone in the paper, I look up their charts. If I meet someone, I have a conversation with them, I get their date of birth. It’s just an automatic thing that started then and carried on.
CB: Sure. So eventually in the ’90s, you decided to focus on the elements at some point and you present… It started out as like a series of lectures or something on the elements, right?
DC: That’s right. Yeah, Liz would say each or Howard either one of them would say whoever no, Juliet, Juliet was the administrator, Juliet Sharman-Burke. And she was the administrator. And then she would say, “Okay, what are you going to do? What do you want to do? “And each year, each semester, we’d decide what we wanted to do. And I don’t know, after the Moon, I think again, it was like, I just love the elements. They fascinated me. And so I thought when she said, “You want to write another book?” I thought, “Yeah.” And I put water and fire together because for some reason water and fire seemed they’re so not alike, but they are alike in a particular way, an imaginal way to me. And earth and air seem more of the same… I don’t know quite how to say it. They seem to me right together. Water and fire have images, and they come from feeling and passion. And so I had to put water and fire together. And it was interesting because water I think took me three months to write. Oh no, sorry. Fire took me three months to write. And I can’t remember water. And I can’t remember air. But earth took me a year to write. Because I thought I can’t write the same thing everybody writes about earth, and I had to go to a place that I knew earth in another way. But it took me a year because it took so long to articulate what I was seeing when I was in earth whereas fire just went tada.
CB: I love that. Brilliant. And one of the things I like is that you really tried to go back to some of the early sources and maybe that’s where we could start is in early Greek philosophy and pre-Socratic philosophies circa the sixth and fifth century BCE. That’s really where the story of the elements at least in the Western tradition kind of begins more or less right with different philosophers trying to posit that there’s some underlying principle or some principle underlying the universe.
DC: Yeah. Slightly this is sounds like I’m deviating, but I’m not. I work with historical cycles a lot. And in the fifth century BC, for a period of time, I think it’s 444 to 428 or something. Oh, sorry. I can’t… But anyway, it’s that period. Pluto’s in Capricorn and Neptune is in Pisces. So when I started looking at these historical periods, Pluto in Capricorn, Neptune in Pisces six times in the last 3,000 years, when I got to that period, there was Empedocles. And I don’t think it’s before him. You know, what I love about each of these periods is the way that we’ve seen things collectively together, it’s starting to break down or melt down or collapse, and a new articulate, a new way of seeing collectively is arising somehow. And in this period, there’s Anaxagoras and he says “nous”. Everything is “nous” all up from the gods down to the stones is this word he uses mind or something, whatever you want to call it, and he gets in trouble so much that he’s going to be executed for heresy. Pericles saves him and then he has to leave town, and then he learns to square the circle and all of that. But at the same time, Empedocles is saying this, that everything is fire, earth, air and water. And these four roots of… And I think he says all mortal things. I don’t think he says immortal things, I think it’s all mortal things, he says, are separated and articulated by neikos, strife, let us say, and blended and brought together by philia by love. So love and strife, you can use those two words, are the ones that move them all around in different relationships to each other. Now he doesn’t get into trouble whereas Anaxagoras does. And I think it’s because he behaved as if he was very eccentric. And he didn’t act like, “I am a philosopher, and I am teaching you things, you are learning things. I am from the Pythagorean tradition and we take ourselves seriously.” He acted really strange. And so he got away with it. And how is it that he said these four things and they went so powerfully, they just went down through history and everyone after them talked about them. I think it’s Plato who said who called them elements like letters, letters or something.
CB: Yeah, so Empedocles is calling them like roots. But then eventually, Plato takes over the idea from Empedocles and starts calling them elements using the same word that’s used to refer to a letter of the alphabet because a letter is like the smallest component that makes up words and sentences.
DC: That’s interesting. Yeah. I think I know more about Empedocles’ work on it than I know about Plato’s. I mean, I just because we’ve been talking about this for a few days, I thought, “Oh, I must look at Plato.” But I didn’t have a chance somehow. So, I don’t know what else he said about them as much as I do about Empedocles is clearer for me somehow.
CB: Sure, we’ll stick with Empedocles for a little bit. So Empedocles is taking over some ideas from the earlier pre-Socratics that you’re talking about. So there’s Thales who says that everything is water, the principle underlying everything is water. And there’s Anaximenes who says it’s air, and there’s Heraclitus that says it’s fire. But then Empedocles comes in and says, no, there’s four underlying principles, and these four roots are earth, air, fire and water. And they are, like you said, continuously being articulated by these two opposing qualities of love that brings things together and strife that pulls things apart.
DC: Yes, and what I like, I read that… I don’t know where I read this again it’s a while ago, but that strife separates and articulates them. I think that’s really interesting because the… And love or philia brings them together and blends them. I like the notion of that articulation. And I don’t know if that’s in one of his fragments. It might be because we get his fragments periodically Empedocles. Is he the one that then brought in earth because I don’t remember anyone before that saying earth? Did he add earth do you think?
CB: Yeah, I think so. At least the other major ones were just water, air, and fire. So maybe Empedocles was the one bringing in that fourth.
DC: Yeah. And I think in other cultures that we’re coming in too, but again, I get interested in something and I’ve just started looking at that. I think other cultures were talking about there’s fire, earth, air, and water and then something else as well a fifth element as well…
CB: I think in Chinese medicine, they have wood and metal or something like that. But this is one of the instances where certainly in the Western tradition and in terms of Western horoscopic astrology, this is one of the areas where it was definitely influenced in a very specific way by Greek philosophy and some of the trends within Greek philosophy in the first few centuries BCE.
DC: Yes. And then it goes down and later it gets mixed up with the temperaments as well, caught up. And I mean, what happened is, I mean, I don’t like boxing things and putting them in boxes. So, oh, you are air therefore you are sanguine. Somehow I like the notion of them together dancing together in a way, but that you are this because your Sun is that, I can’t do that somehow.
CB: Yeah. So let’s get there then in terms of talking about the qualities because that will bring us through the rest of the history. So Plato takes over the idea and he talks about it in the Timaeus, and he associates the elements with geometrical shapes and specifically interesting the shape of a triangle, which is interesting because somebody later took that idea of the elements being associated with triangles and applied that to the zodiac to each of the triangles or the triplicities which are the groups of signs into four sets of three.
DC: Yes. And who does that? Somebody specifically does that who says Aries, Leo, Sag, fire but I can’t remember. Is it Porphyry? Is it later like that that there literally… Or Galens or somebody is it?
CB: Yeah, I think what happened actually because I published a paper in 2012 where I think I was the first person to ever point this out to show how the four elements came to be assigned to the signs of the zodiac because that’s one of the mysteries is that not all authors did assign the elements the signs of the zodiac. Let me share a diagram just so people watching the video version know what we’re talking about. So, this is the traditional for basically most of the past 2,000 years these are the assignments where you have the three fire signs which are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, the earth signs which are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, the air signs which are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and then the four water signs of the water triplicity as it’s called which is Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. So some ancient Hellenistic authors or Greek authors basically who wrote in Greek during the time of the Roman Empire, some of them start mentioning this scheme like Vettius Valens mentions it and Rhetorius of Egypt mentions it, but other famous authors like Claudius Ptolemy don’t mention it.
DC: No, not at all. Yeah, it’s interesting.
CB: But I think I was able to trace it back through this paper on the planetary joys to whoever came up with the triplicity rulership scheme, which is an alternative system for assigning rulers over certain signs of the zodiac. Whoever came up with that scheme seems to have introduced this association. So the title of the paper that I wrote on this was The Planetary Joys and the Origins of the Significations of the Houses and Triplicities. It’s too complicated to get into here. But it probably means that sometime around the first century BCE there was a hermetic text that first came up with these assignments and proposed them. And some astrologers incorporated the concept and embraced it and other astrologers were kind of standoff-ish and didn’t incorporate it. But eventually after the medieval period, it became a universal commonly accepted concept.
DC: Yes. And it’s really interesting. Once it’s in you, it’s hard not to see it that way. I remember, where was I? It was in Joburg. Maybe it was early days of being in Johannesburg in the ’70s. And I remember walking down the street with a guy and he had six planets in fire he told me. He had three in Sagittarius and two in Leo and one in Aries. And I remember and he was talking and talking, he was telling me about things. And I remember feeling that fire so powerfully. And then later in the evening, I spent time with a woman and she had something like five or four or five planets in water, and I remember just the difference of the feeling. And I remember thinking about that fire. I don’t remember anything about him except the feeling. I know I was in Durban. I was visiting someone in Durban. I can remember walking on the street, and I remember thinking, “If you have all that fire, you must find a way to bring it down.” I remember thinking that he’s got to be able to bring it down, and I worried for him because there was so much passion and so much vision and so much… What I think about fire is that Henry Corbin, he talks about the imaginal plane. And at the highest level, for me fire is the connecting to that imaginal plane which is beyond air. Air articulates it if it can. But it’s as close as you can get to that which is beyond the density of time and space. And I remember those six planets in fire and being worried about him because I thought how is he going to bring it down to be able to manifest it in something that is, I don’t know, denser in some way? And then the evening being with that water person, the feelings when I left I felt as though I had been in the ocean for hours and hours. And I loved the difference of the feeling of the two. And she felt safer to me even though she was very depressed for some of it, but she was so there with herself in a particular way. And so I’ve always thought when you have a lot of one, the work is how you how you bring it into, how you connect it up with something else whether comfortably or uncomfortably so that you’re not just in that plane, in that dimension somehow. They feel like dimensions to me in some way.
CB: True. So, I guess what the concept is if you’re trying to explain it to somebody is that there’s a commonality or a similarity between these groupings of three signs of the zodiac and that they have this underlying quality or what was the term that you just used?
DC: I said a dimension.
CB: A dimension, yeah.
DC: An energy field, they’re like different energy fields in a way, well, especially when you’re talking about fire. As soon as you say fire, I think of an energy field. But there are different dimensions of reality that express themselves in what I lately call the density of time and space. And fire seems the closest to beyond that density so that if you think of somebody like Teresa of Avila, she’s got Sun conjunct Uranus in Aries in the first house and Venus in Pisces in the 12th. And the combination of that fire and water took her to places that she almost would rather not have gone. They were so unconventional that I say, they took her to these other places of ecstasy. And I think fire can take you to these places of ecstasy because they touch that space beyond, but then you have to find how to how to live here with that when you have lots of fire or when people have lots of fire. I’m thinking of a friend of mine in Joburg and he’s got 1 2 3 4 5, five or six planets in fire. And when he phones or when we speak to each other and we still do after being away for however, it’s 40 years or something now, but we still speak, I have to wait for the first 10 minutes for him to tell me all and then we can have a conversation somehow. And I love the places he goes.
CB: Right, because fire can come alive very quickly and burn up and become very bright, but then it can also kind of burn out quickly if it’s not fed or sustained continuously. Its inherent tendency is to flare up quickly and burn bright and then to die out quickly.
DC: Yes, and also it gets so close to that other space and coming back down into the density like the world is in a very transitional disturbed space at the moment. So at the moment he’s talking about he’s not– And he keeps saying why don’t people, why don’t people, and why don’t people live at this level of beauty and joy and he finds it so difficult the crawling density of all these planets in earth that we’re having to deal with somehow. But he’s a painter and a wonderful painter and that keeps him sane. He can bring the vision down with his paint. And I think when you have fire you’ve got to have a place to be able to manifest that which you… You have to bring it somewhere through earth perhaps or through air, and I’m not sure through water. I think they’re very similar and that they have to be connected to something else to function in a way that’s okay if I put it that way. Because they take you to a place that’s so not rational and practical.
CB: Okay, so that actually might connect with so two other things in terms of just the historical development of all of this. So after Plato, we get Aristotle. And Aristotle introduces some notions. One of them that’s kind of relevant to something you were saying is the idea of natural place, where he said that each of the elements has an inherent natural motion and an inherent natural tendency either to move upwards or to move downwards. And that those are the primary things that the elements do in terms of part of their inherent qualities. And that’s kind of interesting in terms of what you’re just saying because fire is the one that has the tendency to rise up the highest to the upper most portions of the cosmos, whereas air also rises up, but it then settles just below fire. Earth falls, it’s the densest, and it falls towards the bottom of the cosmos or the center of the cosmos. And then water also falls downwards, but it rests just above earth because it’s slightly less dense.
DC: Yes. And it’s interesting because if I look at those like that, I immediately think air almost has to articulate fire or seeks to articulate fire perhaps.
CB: What do you mean by articulate?
DC: I think of air as always trying to understand things, trying to find words for things, trying to communicate with things, trying to make it like… Fire comes in images, I think, and air seeks, as far as I understand, the words to articulate the images somehow. And if I look at water and earth, it’s a similar thing but on a different level. What were you going to say?
CB: Yes, it’s almost like fire and earth set up the two extremes, but then air is acting as an intermediary between the realm of fire and the more grounded or solid, tangible world of water and earth, whereas water to some extent is also acting as an intermediary between earth and the other two elements.
DC: It was just as you put them there I thought it’s like, I suppose I’m using old fashioned words and I haven’t got new ones for it, but fire is like listening to the spirit of things, and air tries to articulate that or express it or describe it or something, and water has a feeling of this it touches again something beyond time and space. It touches into something the soul of things, and then it’s expressed through or it mixes with earth in a particular way and things are created and made literally. So it’s like the water is the soul of the earth and the fire is the spirit of the air in some way. And that’s why I think they’re similar. Not similar, sorry, wrong, but they’re these other dimensions. And they need to be expressed through one through air easily and one through earth easily because what does water do with those feelings? I’m very close to water people. And then I’ll say, but what are you feeling? And it’s always like it takes time to be able to express what they’re feeling. So you have to go inward to get there somewhere. Water does not easily express that which is fundamental to it, this is sort of constantly changing. And when it gets too stuck, when it’s not changing all the time, it gets stagnant. So but how does it come to terms with it? So water and fire in a way are more difficult if I can put it that way, they have to find ways to express themselves.
CB: Right. One of the things that’s interesting also about this and maybe we should briefly digress on is just the idea of what we’re talking about here is these archetypal qualities. And this really goes back to the very idea of what an archetype is as an overarching principle that’s existing underneath reality or maybe above reality on some level, but that then lots of sub-concepts are actually being derived from, and I can’t think of any broader archetype than the elements and these four fundamental principles or qualities or roots.
DC: Roots, yes. It’s really interesting roots, isn’t it? Yeah. I mean, I just said something, I said fire and water, it’s more difficult. I don’t mean that if you have planets in fire and water, it’s harder. But I mean they have to find places through which to express. Whereas it seems to me earth and air naturally do it. It’s the articulation, one in material things like this and the other in the words that you and I are using. It’s a natural thing to make sense of them in a sense, but fire and water have to… It’s almost as if they, what is it? They have to come through something in a way. Yeah, I am going too far in my head.
CB: How do you usually define an archetype? Or what’s your conceptualization of an archetype?
DC: I know I thought about that earlier because I thought we’re going to talk about archetypes, god.
CB: I mean you tend to be more influenced by the Jungian school in terms of that conceptualization of archetypes on some level, right? Is that true?
DC: Probably, but it’s a long, long time now since I’ve been reading that. I’ve been away from it in a way. And I might be wrong about this, but are the archetypes… Earlier when we’re speaking I thought, “Do I really know what an archetype is anymore?” It’s like a form of some kind that we all recognize. I’ve lived in other cultures, very deeply in other cultures, and there were certain things that were absolutely we recognized like beauty. And we may have had different ideas about beauty, but we knew when somebody said that’s beautiful, everyone knew that we were talking about something universal and at an imaginal level. So, I suppose to me an archetype is something that it’s… What do I say? It’s that which we all shape differently through culture, but there’s certain forms that are part of our inner imaginal world, or no, part of our collective imaginal world.
CB: Sure, or even to give a more less abstract example, even like a tree I think is a really common example. Like that there is such thing as a tree or like the essence of a tree in our mind on some level, but the specifics of what different trees look like, may be different but they all share some sort of commonality if you’re talking about the concept of a tree.
DC: Oh, that’s interesting. I also like gods, deity. That’s even more natural almost like you know everyone knows what that means, but how they specify that and whether they like it or not, you know nowadays the religion of atheism is quite big at the moment in our culture anyway. But everyone knows what you’re talking about when you talk about the gods or deity or, yeah. So but something as practical or as material as a tree and yet something as far away as a god, those are archetypes. So archetypes are the form of things or something.
CB: Right, so the ultimate underlying, not abstract, but sort of conceptual form that exists above something underlying all of the particular things that are manifestations of that form in the material world. So and I guess the point of that was just that, I think there’s no broader… The archetype of the elements when you start getting into elements, it seems like you’re getting into really high-level archetypes of trying to take everything back to four fundamental qualities or principles from which you derive just innumerable other specific manifestations. But that can also be one of the challenges sometimes in talking about the elements is they can be so fundamental or some so primary as archetypes that it can be difficult to articulate that because it can be so broad in what it’s explaining, what it’s covering.
DC: Yes, because if you say anything too specific, it almost doesn’t… I want to say earth signs are fundamentally practical. And then I think is that true? But an air sign can be practical in another kind of way. But it’s hard not to automatically think earth when you’ve got earth signs, it’s practical, there’s a natural practicality. So, this morning in the garden, we have a communal garden, and on Monday morning a group of us in the community go there and keep it quite beautiful. And we were talking about what’s going on in the world, the virus. And I know all their charts, they don’t know what that means, but I know their charts. And I was listening to the earth sign being irritated by everybody going on and on about this, this, just deal with it. It’s fine, just deal with it. And the water sign saying I’m not sure it’s sort of… So each of them feeling differently or expressing different tones about a collective thing. And then the fire sign making a joke about it so we’d stop talking about it, and just to get us out of there with his Aries-Moon, he just said, “Okay,” and he said something funny. And we all went off into a different direction. And so when you know the fundamental elements of people’s charts, you don’t have to remember the degrees or the aspects. You can hear the element talking. And it’s very satisfying, I think, to hear that. Rather than saying what it is, you can listen to it or watch it. And it’s good to know it about the people close to you because when you’re fiery and airy and you want your earthy watery partner to tell you what they’re feeling, you have to know that they have to take time to do that. And when the fiery airy person is saying what they’re feeling, the earth and water has to know how to slow them down so that you can have a communication. So they’re very useful just as background information, I think.
CB: Sure. So both in terms of like self-reflection and understanding oneself and some of the overarching archetypal qualities that might manifest more prominently in your own life, but also an understanding as an access point for understanding other people and what their motivations or tendencies might be.
DC: Yes, exactly. Yeah. And it’s a sense not an analysis. It’s not like, “Ah, he is doing that, because it’s a…” You can get it as a… It’s like looking at a tree or looking at birds, they’re both different and they’re… Listening to a water person and then listening to a fire person on the phone, two totally different energy. And it helps to be less judgmental when you have that sense of who they are. I’m always fascinated when I meet people, and I’ll say, “Your friend or your somebody, what’s their chart now?” “Oh, I don’t know, I never look at people close to me.” And I think how do you navigate without knowing these things so that when they do something, you can see where they’re coming from in a sense rather than having a notion yourself about how they should be somehow. Yeah.
CB: Right. So let’s back up a little bit and get into more of the underlying qualities and talk about some of the core principles underlying each element which maybe then we can apply to more specific delineations. One of the things that Aristotle did that was really useful is he said that because the elements are creating the perceptible bodies and like the world around us that they should relate to one of the senses, and the sense that he ended up focusing on was the sense of touch. And he ended up associating these four different qualities with each of the elements which were the sense of hot, cold, wet, and dry. And there’s a little bit of an issue because his views actually may have changed during the course of his lifetime. And by the time he died, some of his assignments were changed up a little bit by his primary student and the guy that took over for his school, Theophrastus, and the Stoics and the hermetic philosophers also followed these reassigned qualities. But those qualities are basically as follows where it assigns the quality of hot to fire.
DC: That makes sense.
CB: It puts fire in opposition to air, where it assigns in the Stoic and the hermetic system the quality of cold like when you blow on something in order to cool it down or imagine blowing out a fire or blowing out a candle, for example. And water was given the primary quality of being wet or being moist which is pretty straightforward.
DC: Yeah, those two fire and water are pretty straight. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. And then earth is given an opposition to water, the primary quality of being dry or drying things. So this then gets assigned very literally. So this is already in Stoic philosophy by the third and fourth century BCE, but then somebody in the first century BCE when they were creating the different components of what we associate with Western astrology and with birth charts, they took these assignments and then they literally put the signs of the zodiac in order so that the fire signs would be on the opposite side of the zodiac wheel from the air signs and the water signs would be on the opposite side of the zodiac wheel from the water signs of the earth signs opposite water signs. So what you end up with then is the fire signs such as Aries, Leo and Sagittarius which are hot are all opposite to the air signs which are cold, so air is Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. And then all of the earth signs which are dry are opposite to water signs which are wet, so like Taurus is opposite to Scorpio, Virgo is opposite to Pisces, and so on and so forth. So, it creates this natural tensions between the signs where they have each sign has its element with its quality. But then you have an opposing element with an opposing quality directly in opposition to it.
DC: Oh, interesting. It just strikes me now without noticing I was saying how my natural inclination is that air expresses fire more easily than any other sign does. And earth expresses water or connects with it or works with it more easily than any other and I’m just noticing this. I wonder if it comes because they’re opposite each other. And they seem to communicate with each other more naturally in a way. I don’t know about the hot and dry and all of that, I’m not sure about that. But the earth and water, fire and air makes perfect sense.
CB: And there was actually some like the second century astrologer Vettius Valens says something very similar about this oppositional quality actually being helpful to each of the elements in some way. And I’m trying to find that quote really quickly. Yeah, actually, I’ll skip over that because I’m having some noise issues in the background. But there’s a notion that Valens talks about of water helping to make earth less dry and therefore making it fertile so that you can grow things in the soil.
DC: That’s lovely, absolutely lovely.
CB: And earth giving form to water because water tends to be very formless and tends to just adapt completely to whatever environment it is so that it can just spread out completely so that it’s spread too thin. But if you put it in a container made of earth like let’s say a bowl, then water is suddenly shaped and given form. So even though they have opposing oppositional qualities that are almost the antithesis of each other, they can be helpful in that way in helping to give each other form and to give qualities that are actually useful to each other through that rather than necessarily harmful.
DC: Opposite, yeah. And also I was just thinking and this is because I was working on fire, earth, and water again recently when I was doing the webinars. And when I came to water, it struck me that all water tends to go, no matter where it starts, it always ends up in the sea. It struck me it’s always seeking unity of some kind. And I thought about the three water signs too, in their own way each seeking unity in different ways somehow. But once it gets to the sea, it then goes back up and then comes back down somewhere else and then seeks… It’s always looking for… I’d never thought of that before, and I couldn’t think of any other element that is seeking unity in that way. It was a new idea in some way. And the pain of being watery and not being able to get that unity, sometimes the unity is with an idea, but sometimes it’s with a group or a person or a god, whatever it is. But it’s that wanting to go back to something almost, it’s always like wanting to go back to something in a way. And it comes down through the earth. And how does he say about air? Because I loved that articulation of earth with water, but how does he say air does with fire? Do you remember?
CB: So I don’t have the exact quote. But I summarized it on page 264 of my book where I gave sort of a summary of what Valens says and what I wrote there was in my book Hellenistic Astrology.
DC: Yeah, I’ve got it over there.
CB: He says that fire and air intermingle with each other since they both rise upwards. And in the process of doing so, fire which is hot is supported by the more mild temperature of the air which is cold while at the same time the air is warmed up by the heat of fire so that it does not become overly cold or frigid. So what he’s saying is they’re making each other more temperate. And temperance is in some authors like Ptolemy is actually their basic definition of something that’s positive and constructive versus something that is negative and destructive is that extremes can be unstable whereas that which is temperate can be more stable and more conducive towards maintaining something in the long term.
DC: Yes, and you wouldn’t think of fire on its own as temperate in any way ever. So, yeah. But when those, I almost want to say images. I think of fire on three levels I suppose. I think of the imaginal plane as the highest plane that Henry Corbin talks about, then the imagination and then fantasy. And they’re like three different levels of where one can go with the fiery part of oneself. And they’re probably most easily articulated, most easily expressed through air. And yet I’ve known when I see a combination of fire and earth very strong, I always am interested because in Africa I knew some people, different people with it. And when it’s creative, it’s amazing. Because it has to take this image and make something out of it in the earth. And so a lot of the people I knew in the bush, the houses they built for themselves were extraordinary. And they would tell you from one season to the next, I’m now going to do this and this and this, and then you’d see them do it in a way that was extraordinary. But it’s not a comfortable, easy combination, fire and earth. But the creation of it is absolutely wonderful. And the understanding of somebody with fire and water it’s again not comfortable. But if they’re conscious and working with themselves, their ability to understand something about life that goes beyond the neat little clean little way we’d like life to be, they’ve felt everything and experienced so much that is not on these rational levels somehow. So I always find the uncomfortable things are the most interesting. They’re just a drag if you want to be comfortable somehow.
CB: Right, so let me see what… I’m trying to think if we should touch on other underlying qualities for each of the four elements and what their primary natures are or if we should focus on, I don’t know, contrasting the signs of the zodiac in order to try to approach the elements and what they mean in the context of the actual signs. Do you have a feeling? Like, for example, we could talk about earth, for example, being a very tangible quality, whereas you were talking about water and its tendency to unify things and to bring things together.
DC: To seek unity, yeah, I was thinking about the water, it’s hard to get away from… It’s harder to get away from a water parent if you put it that way. Because the water, the Cancerian will create a container in which they want their family to stay. You know, there’s that unity thing and it’s hard to get away. So I always think of Cancerians as creating containers in which you will feel familiar, I’m not going to say safe necessarily, but familiar. And sometimes people don’t want to get away from the familiar because it’s scary somehow. And then, but Scorpio is a whole different thing. It’s hard to get away as well. But it’s hard to get away because your connection is so hidden and real that the Scorpio connection is at that place where you are most, I almost want to say vulnerable, but it might not be the right word. I don’t think that’s… Where you are most hidden, I always think of it as where the completely hidden part of yourself that the Scorpio touches in one way or another. And if you leave, you’ll never, you won’t be seen at that level for good or for bad, and it’s hard to get away. And then with Pisces, you want to get away, you don’t want to get away, you want to get away, you don’t. The feeling of being accepted, not seen necessarily, but accepted utterly is the ultimate of Pisces planets when it’s working. It’s like you’re utterly absolutely accepted and seen for whatever you are. And so there’s this sense of being, I suppose, your whole self is caught up when you’re connected deeply to water people. It’s almost as if the part of you again, it’s part of you that’s hidden, whereas if you take fire, it’s the part of you that manifests that’s loved, not the part that’s hidden. So you’re sitting with a water sign and you’re held in a particular place, and you’re sitting with a fire sign and you go together to a particular place.
CB: Right. So water tends to envelop whatever it’s around and to conform to it. I guess that’s one of the underlying principles or qualities is in enveloping but also the sort of conforming or adapting. It’s adaptable.
DC: Ah, that’s interesting.
CB: Like, I’m trying to think of an example of that, like, if you have like a bucket of water and you like drop something in it, the water will be displaced and will like sort of move around and conform to whatever that thing is.
DC: I don’t know of that. I just think what I’m saying is that when you are close to water, it touches something in you that is unworded and unseen, and it touches it at a level that when you leave your left, the feeling it’s like you can be abandoned almost because you’ve been touched and seen, experienced so deeply that it’s hard to leave, and I would say with Cancerian the container. But it’s hard to leave that atmosphere of being seen so deeply in a way that other people don’t see you. So I don’t know about the conforming, I just know you’re touched in a particular way that’s very, very private, I think, with water. Yeah. Whereas if you think of air, you have conversations, you connect, you share, but at a such a different level. The water level, there’s no words for unless it’s planetary.
CB: Yeah. So it’s almost like there’s an emotional component to water and it’s connecting of things. Whereas there’s more of an emotional or let’s say a feeling way of connecting things through water. Whereas with air, it’s also something that’s conveying something but it’s conveying more like information or ideas or thoughts or words, so it’s also got that sense of conveying something but doing it in a colder sense, which is more of an intellectual sense rather than in a feeling sense.
DC: I would say a cooler sense if I put it that way rather than colder because colder immediately made me have a judgment about that, but it’s cooler. And it’s like I’m just thinking in the morning the air signs telling us what exhibitions we must go to on Friday because we’re going to an exhibition on Friday at the British Museum, there’s an exhibition of Troy. No, no, but you must go here and you must go there. And yes, yes, have you been and have you been and have you been? And you said the word information, it’s sharing and expressing information whereas the water, it’s connecting, touching something. And often, it’s touching something that was part of you as a child because there’s something about memory in water as well. And so it touches something very deep. And that goes back to before you had words. And sometimes it’s painful and sometimes it’s beautiful, but it’s touches that, whereas air is touching now, the possibilities right now, what’s going on now. It’s right here and it’s cool. Yeah.
CB: I like that as water being that which is without words whereas air is much more worded.
DC: I mean, Proust, of course, I used him. I was looking at my books because we were talking last week, and I used Proust whom I loved. I only read the whole of the first volume, but I didn’t read all of them. But his whole thing about memory, he got me into understanding something about it that water takes you back to pre-verbal. Well, he didn’t say that, of course, but I’m just… To the time when you were nothing but feeling, nothing just feeling and safety, safety and feeling were everything it is about. And so a water person either brings you into that place of safety or makes you feel very unsafe, but makes you feel. And the difficulty in our culture is feeling is you’re supposed to be fine all the time. So it’s difficult. You have to have places. I always say to my water clients, you must have time where you feel all the emotions that came through the day so that you can sleep well, so that you must give yourself space to go through the feelings and let them go back to the ocean somehow. Otherwise, they build up and build up and the smallest thing can have a storm just because there’s been too much feeling unreflected somehow, something about reflection and water as well, it requires reflection.
CB: I like that reflection. Okay, that’s another good keyword. So contrasting all of this with air which tends to be more intellectual which really comes out. I’m thinking of different ways that people express nurturing because this is where this comes out often in astrology is how people with, let’s say, a lot of water sign placements might relate to you if you come to them with a problem in maybe being more empathetic or having an ability to emote or just be there be present with you on an emotional level versus, let’s say, you’re talking to somebody with a lot of air sign placements and they might have a tendency to try to intellectualize your emotional thing.
Darby Costello. To understand you, yeah, help you understand you. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, yesterday, I was going through something and I spoke to two people, and they said, “How are you?” And the earth sign tried to help me what to do so I could feel better.
CB: Okay, so they tried to give you like a practical advice for what you should do?
DC: Exactly. And I ended up going, “Uh,” even though I love this person. And the Aquarian, but with lots of water, just said, “Aw, aw.” And afterwards, I said, “How do you manage not to try and help me understand?” And she said, “I learned that from you a very long time ago, it doesn’t work.” So what she’d done is she’d gone straight into her water self to listen to me moaning. And then by the end of the conversation, we were laughing about things and enjoying ourselves. And that’s what I love about that water, you can go there and then you can come out and go somewhere else. But I think you have to be able to have the courage in a culture that doesn’t honor emotions in the same way as some other cultures do to be able to dare to feel the feelings so that you can have compassion and perhaps compassion has to do with water.
CB: Compassion as a water trait , I could see that. And something we didn’t mention which also comes from the Stoic theories is that earth and water are more “passive elements” whereas fire and air are supposed to be more active elements which you might in a modern sense associate with introversion versus extroversion perhaps if that’s applicable.
DC: Yeah, I don’t know if that’s… I’d have to think about that introversion and extroversion. But I think that’s probably true. Because an air person who’s in a group of people and doesn’t have a good conversation will probably suffer more than an earth person. If the food is good and the atmosphere is good, they’re okay more about it. Not just the Sun I’m talking, I’m talking about a lot of planets. And so I think air needs the communication somehow and the contact. And so if I’m dealing with it with airy people who are shy because of other things, I’m always thinking about how to help them learn to articulate themselves in a way that they can be in communication with other people. Because if other things get in the way of that ability to communicate, that’s very hard. Those air planets are about communication as far as I can see. There was a quote I used to have on my diaries, and it was the depth is on the surface. I think it’s Yeats that says it. I think somebody said it to me years ago, and I just loved it, having planets in Gemini, I loved that you can have a total… I love having a totally superficial conversation in a queue at the airport. And yet when we get to the thing, we’ve actually talked about things that were deeper by talking about things on the surface and the combination of that. And there’s something about each of the signs like Gemini talk about anything. The only crime really for a Gemini is for somebody to bore you, go on and on, talk at you rather than with you. But Libra has to learn to, it’s different. It’s almost like it has to learn the dance of communication, not to give itself totally to the other person, to learn how to go back and forth. And once it learns that, it’s very satisfying. And I always think of Aquarians that like if an Aquarian is feeling edgy or agitated, all I have to do is go down to the shop, have a conversation with a stranger behind the counter, come back home, and it’s okay. The need to be amongst people that you haven’t had a conversation with much before or who’s out there. There are three levels of conversation or interaction, let’s say. I don’t know. Do you think they always need to be learning things? I’m not sure of all three of them.
CB: Yeah, potentially. But maybe in different areas like Gemini is more like learning facts or learning small discrete things and communicating them specially.
DC: Or languages.
CB: Yeah, languages. I have several friends that have the Moon in Gemini and they have a way with languages and I’m always very much jealous of their ability to pick up new languages or learn languages easily as a result of that. There’s that component with Gemini. With Libra, it seems like it’s more social and learning social cues and being masters of social cues in some ways, whereas Aquarius I often think of Saturn as the traditional ruler and their ability where they can sometimes excel at like community organizing or organizing a group of people around the same message or around a similar ideal or goal.
DC: And also, the Aquarian thing, I think I’m again going back in time, probably about 40 years ago or something, and a young Aquarian said to me at a gathering of people the Sun or something said to me, “You know what I’d like?” And I said, “What?” He said, “I would like at some point to speak at least one sentence or one conversation with every single person on the earth.” And I went twing! The love of the other, the one out there, and you’re right, of course, it’s about the community as well. And with lots of planets in Aquarius, it’s often easier with strangers or with people in the community than it is with intimates, the need to have air, to be able to breathe beyond the home. It’s so not water in that sense.
CB: Sure. So, it’s social. And one of the things that’s interesting about all of these is you can also get a much clearer idea of some of them by contrasting it with the opposite. Aquarius as the opposite sign to Leo and the air sign of Aquarius and its social tendencies versus Leo as a fire sign and its creative tendencies but also its focus more intensely on the self as its primary locus or reference point as opposed to maybe Aquarius which is more focused on the community of others.
DC: Yes. It’s interesting because I had a WhatsApp conversation with somebody in another country, a younger person, and she had a difficulty with somebody. She’s a Leo with Moon in Aquarius. And she [unintelligible] this person hadn’t done the right thing. And she said to me, “Please…,” So, I just wrote a few words about how that person might be feeling in the community because of X, Y and Z and she wrote back immediately, I mean the next day because she’s in another time zone, and wrote back and said, “I got it. Thank you. I got it.” And I’ve noticed that with her, the Leo thing is very strong. If this is the right way and this is the good way and I think of Leo is the fire in the center of the hut. These wonderful African huts, they were quite big and in the middle was a fire. And I think of Leo like when the fire is the right height, everyone is illuminated. But if the fire is too low, everyone’s cold. And if the fire is all about me, me, me, too high, everyone disappears. But when a Leo has the right illumination, their heart is in the room, everyone is illuminated in some way. But her fire had gotten too hot somehow and then giving her reasons of why this person might be up, the air took it and then she came back and was fine again. And it’s hard that combination, I think, because one is so here, this is the way it is, and the other is constantly needing to be attentive to all of the people in the community somehow. But when it works, it works. Of course, like these oppositions when it suddenly works, it works beautifully because then she could give her heart again, you know? Yeah.
CB: Yeah, I like that. And also fire naturally when well-maintained at like an okay level naturally attracts people around it and people naturally congregate around it so that it becomes the locus or the center of attention just as a result of being itself or expressing itself naturally.
DC: Yeah, absolutely. And particularly Leo, I don’t know why for me it is the center of the… I can’t remember the word we used to use for it a lot back then. Anyway, it’s the center of the round home somehow. But Sagittarius is interesting. It took me a long time, I suppose, to get… Sagittarius is a whole different thing because it’s on its way. I mean, I think of it as the philosopher, the lover of wisdom trying to understand something, but it’s also the priest and that which is sensing that which is beyond the density of time and space and trying to bring it down. And the difficulty is when it stands on a high horse and knows and preaches and everything. But when it doesn’t do that, it brings you into contact with that which is beyond your understanding and operates as the, I say, the priest , the mediator between the invisible eternal and the density of time and space. And something about Sagittarius in general, it’s visionary, I suppose. And there’s something about it that’s quite… I think of them as that you can take a balloon and push it under the water, but as soon as you take your hands off, it’ll always come up. They come back up easily. They do have a philosophical something happening inside. What does my friend say? Oh, there’s some cliche. I’ve got a friend and he’s got five planets in Sag or four planets in Sag, and he’s always coming up with these sentences to keep you going somehow in an amusing way which is also lovely. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. I’m trying to think then, so Sagittarius as a fire sign is opposite to Gemini as an air sign and the way that they contrast because Gemini can be much better at just conveying information and talking and sometimes even talking on a surface level whereas Sagittarius seems like it’s more focused on big picture type things.
DC: Yeah. And Gemini gives the information and Sagittarius turns it into something that has meaning one way or another whether you like the meaning or agree with the meaning or not, that’s a whole other thing. But it’s been there. It’s on its way there. It’s been there. It’s going there. And Gemini is here in the neighborhood. I suppose now I’m suddenly seeing them in terms of the houses, I’m seeing third house, ninth house, so the neighborhood, the neighbors for the third house. I’m connecting up the Gemini with the third house and on my way in a ship somewhere else or a plane somewhere else. And only Gemini without, I suppose that maybe there’s something about when you have a lot of planets in one sign, you almost have to go to the other place to keep yourself balanced in a way even if you don’t have planets in that other sign. So, a Gemini who doesn’t look for meaning ever, not such a good thing and a Sagittarius who has these ideas but isn’t about communicating.
CB: Right, like the philosopher that goes off in the woods to meditate for like 40 years but never comes back to share what they found.
DC: Exactly, yeah, yeah. Maybe the alternatives, the opposites are there to be the bringer back or something or the bringer into. I always think of oppositions they really do have to do with struggles with other people where squares really are struggles with yourself somehow. But the oppositions, they are like having a conversation with the other element and it keeps you sane, perhaps. Yeah.
CB: Yeah, I like that. Nowhere is that clearer than with like the first house seventh house axis where you have your rising sign and you have the element that dominates your own personality and tendencies and characteristics, but then you have the seventh house and the sign on the Descendant with its opposing elemental quality that dominates your relationships or sometimes the types of individuals that either you are attracted towards or attract towards you.
DC: Yes, I like that opposition too because I keep thinking I must do something on the Ascendant-Descendant axis just because I want to get back into thinking about it. Because you have no idea what other people see, I think, with the Ascendant. You have to really work to see what it is other people see. So often, you don’t know why people either like you or don’t like you because that first house it’s there. But I think of the seventh house as the way you set up your drawing room, if I use English language as a way of saying it, or the living room or whatever you want to call it. And people who come in to that place and can be there, then you can communicate with them, whether you get intimate with them or not depends on what happens in the eighth house, whether you go through the door on the other side of the room. But the seventh house seems to be the way people come next to you and that’s what they feel, that seventh house energy. It’s how you’ve set it up in some way. And it’s the opposite. It’s there to teach you something about how to be yourself and other, yourself and other, yourself and other, not just yourself and not just other. Yeah, hard to learn but important.
CB: Yeah. And it raises a question I sometimes still wonder about, which is how much those qualities in the seventh house like, let’s say, especially if a person doesn’t have any planets in the seventh house, how much are those qualities that are already inherent in the individual versus how much are those qualities that the individual may lack but may import into their life? There’s one of those common concepts that astrologers have in modern astrology about if you have an excess of elements in one set of signs or more importantly, if you have a deficiency or a lack of elements, planets in certain elements, then you might import or draw people into your life that have those placements or have that element dominant in their chart in order to somehow balance out things in your own life.
DC: Absolutely, I agree completely. I’ve seen that again and again with couples, very little of this, a lot of that. Like a relationship, no matter how long it is, there’s always that which you have to struggle with. It’s part of the whole nature of it. It keeps you sensitive to each other, the differences again and again. When I was young, I’d see it and I’d think, how are these people going to, you know? And now there’s nothing that I see that I know can’t work if the people in there are wanting it or willing for it to somehow. Anything can work. There’s no aspect that you can’t have this in a couple, you can’t have this opposition. And you’ve just said something that makes me think about something, when there’s nothing of an element in the chart, no water or no fire or no earth or no air and when there’s one because people often say… A friend of mine said years ago and it was the first time she said “Oh, I have nothing on earth.” I said, “You’ve got Pluto in Virgo.” She said, “Oh, that doesn’t count. It’s an outer planet.” I said it’s incredibly… And I started watching. And when you have nothing in a sign, it’s interesting. My experience is that either you’re very good at that element and it happens naturally or you’re not going to draw. It’s extreme. I know people with no earth who are hopeless, and I know people with no earth who I don’t know how they do it. It’s not the way everyone else does, but the way they build gardens or homes are just absolutely beautiful. So, there’s that. And when you have one planet in a sign, no matter whether it’s personal or impersonal, that planet has a huge voice. I say it this way. It’s like having one son and nine daughters or one daughter and nine sons. That one, it doesn’t show up all the time but when it does, it’s got so much power. So, I don’t think nothing or one is the same, and I think whether it’s personal or transpersonal doesn’t matter. It’s still going to have its voice if there’s one. Yeah.
CB: Okay, interesting. I like that. And so that brings up other placements like if you have seventh house placements, one of the ones that’s always interesting to me is when like the Sun is in the seventh house and sometimes the person tends to find their own identity through relationships and sometimes, especially initially in relationships taking on sometimes too much or going to extremes, the identity of adopting what their partner likes and that becomes part of their personal identity or adopting elements of their partner’s personality before eventually balancing things out and finding themselves again, eventually. So that’s probably tied up in some of this dynamic with the elemental qualities involved in those signs.
DC: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because I have several friends in different countries who have planets in the seventh house and all of the ones I know are on their own. I’m talking about people in their 60s and 70s now. And all of them at some point were in relationship. And I asked one of them the other day, and she’s got three or four planets in Taurus in the seventh house. And I said, “How do you have these planets in the seventh house?” Because I’ve known her 40 years or something, so we’ve talked a bit. And she said, “I didn’t know I gave myself away too much when I was young to other people. And one day I learned that I had to have a relationship with myself.” And so that relationship has become very important. And she has friends who adore her and she loves her friends, but she loves closing the door and going inside and she’s back in relationship with herself. And she’s a yoga teacher, so her relationship with four planets in Taurus. And so her relationship is with the body that she is. And then I thought about the other ones and they have incredibly developed relationships with themselves, which surprises me, because I would think with all those planets in the seventh, they’d always be in relationship to others. But the ones that I’ve known have found a way to be in relationship with themselves. And she’s got chances to be in sexual relationship with other people, but she says, “No, friendships are wonderful and sometimes partnerships and teaching are wonderful, but my relationship is with this here, this.” And I thought that was interesting. It’s still about relationship, but it’s with the one she says is herself.
CB: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I love that.
DC: Isn’t that interesting? So surprising, yeah.
CB: Let’s see. We’ve touched on Aquarius-Leo, we’ve touched on Gemini-Sagittarius and then also, of course–
CB: Oh yeah, that’s a good one.
DC: That’s a good one for now.
CB: Yeah, that’s one’s been super highlighted in terms of the transits lately. We have the water sign Cancer and we have the earth sign Capricorn.
DC: Yeah. Yeah. I think of Capricorn as creating the structure in which the Cancerian energy can have children. I think of the Cancerian energy as the cave where the people are kept safe and the Capricorn is the structure that holds the community together somehow and they are so necessary for each other somehow. But the Capricorn thing for me everything, it’s about holding the world together so that the vulnerable people, the babies can be safe and can grow. And now with all these planets in Capricorn, everything is so unsafe. And I’ve never ever in all the years I’ve been doing charts had people ask me again and again, do you think I’ll be safe? Will I be safe? Will my son be safe? Will my daughter be safe? Will we be safe? Will we get our mortgage? The safety thing is huge at the moment because the Capricorn world is not keeping us safe. It’s breaking apart and reshaping itself in some way. It’s a period in history. Nobody’s doing it on purpose. It’s a historical moment. But the sense of when Capricorn doesn’t have this automatic just making it work, quietly making it work, yikes, it’s so uncomfortable. It’s almost like the child is unsafe in some way in each person. And then they get angry and resentful and all of the things that everyone is getting.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I like that the idea of Capricorn creating this structure, a Saturn-ruled earth sign and the tangibility of it, but also the forward momentum and the tendency to build things that are concrete versus Cancer being more of a water sign ruled by the Moon and the more internalized or like nurturing tendencies of that, especially as a water sign.
DC: Yes, yes, yes. I mean, you can’t have a mother and child unless you have a system in the community that makes sure they’re okay. I suppose first and seventh and fourth and 10th are so obvious, aren’t they? Maybe because they’re the quadrant somewhere. But I suppose all of them are obvious if you start looking at them, how they are necessary to each other. I love Capricorns, but it’s how to get them to come back to the absolutely personal small self rather than just being in that have to, should, must self. They’re necessary for each other to go back and forth again. Even if you have planets in Capricorn, even if you don’t have them in Cancer, you still have to go back to stay whole to the small self and see who it is and then come back into the world again. Yeah.
CB: Okay. One of the things that’s interesting, I always think about the Saturn-ruled signs, but especially maybe Capricorn is the critical tendency of Saturn and a tendency to reject or exclude things in some ways, whereas Cancer is very much the opposite tendency because it tends to be much more inclusive and much more trying to bring things or people together in some ways.
DC: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s really interesting. And that you can see the judgment in Capricorn. It’s harder to see it in Aquarius, but it’s still there. I know a friend of mine is Aquarius says, “Remember, I know.” And in the judgment is when people don’t behave properly in the best sense according to their own ideals cause Aquarius is very much about an ideal of how people should behave that Saturn is so. You can see it so clearly in Aquarius. I grew up in America as an astrologer, and therefore the Aquarius was Uranus and the Scorpio was Pluto and I didn’t have any of those other ones. When I came to this country, I was shocked. And now of course, I see the Jupiter, Mars and Saturn as fundamentally descriptive of Pisces, of Scorpio, and of Aquarius. But it took me a long time. And the first time I went to a lecture and they were talking about it, I thought, “What are they talking about? This is nonsense,” coming from America in the ‘60s where we didn’t have any of that. Yeah.
CB: Yeah, that transition with the modern versus traditional rulerships has been a really stark thing back and forth over the past few decades with Western astrology.
DC: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s been nice that that’s come in, all that history and to be able to put them together or to see, it’s like seeing another dimension of something and it’s so obvious once you see it. I think of, let’s say, the Pluto and Neptune and Uranus as some kind of field that those signs can tap into or tap into a collective field in which they naturally tap into, but then they come back down into their own, I want to say personal rulership, but that’s not the right word, is it? Traditional rulership, yeah. That’s right word, yeah.
CB: Sure, so that’s Cancer and Capricorn. Other ones are like Pisces and Virgo as another combination of earth versus water signs.
DC: Yes, they are so necessary to each other, aren’t they? But then of course, I’m very close to someone who’s a Pisces with Moon in Virgo.
CB: I feel like Virgo is the most practical of the earth signs that I use. I don’t know if that’s going too far because obviously Capricorn would really want to compete for that position, but Virgo… And when we say practical, sometimes we are talking about like the day to day needs and the small necessities to keep things going in a very tangible way.
DC: Yes. And things can be fixed. I mean, it is Mercury, isn’t it? It’s literally day to day and it’s not like Taurus can build a house and the Capricorn can hold the world together or not at the moment, but in general, make it work the structure. But the Virgo keeps it going from day to day, keeps it going. I remember I was in South Africa when I started doing charts for a living, and the sixth house was always about servants, always. When I came to this country, I didn’t know what to do with the sixth house. When people had planets there, they didn’t have servants, the people who came to me. And then I thought of the sixth house as the kitchen, the place where the food is made, where things happen, where you go and talk and you’re there. And I think of it as in London, we have this on the tube, it says “Mind the gap”, mind the gap between the train and the platform sometimes and I think of that as the sixth house. It’s where you mind the gap between the imaginal being incarnated in the animal body. And if the imaginal being handles well the animal body in which they are incarnated, then they’re healthy. But if there’s a gap between the imaginal being out there and the animal body, then it’s difficult. And then there’s something called ill health, let us say. Having some of this sixth is different, but Virgos seem to go back and forth. That’s why they’re so practical. The idea and how it works, the idea and how it works. We need to have that, okay, this is how it works. I agree with you, I think it’s the most day down to earth on and on practical sign of all in the in the zodiac. Must be nice to have planets there.
CB: I was thinking like the maintenance person is a good example of a Virgo type thing, which is somebody that might be like a jack of all trades or that’s good at the day-to-day details of what it takes to maintain or to fix something. And Virgo tends to be because it’s ruled by Mercury, again, more focused on small or local things as opposed to Pisces ruled by at least traditionally by Jupiter, which tends to be more far ranging or like big things.
DC: Yes. And also, things that are out there that I always think of the compassion of Pisces and it’s not necessarily to the people right there with you, but it’s out there. It happens to the beggars. It just happens somewhere. It appears. It rises and falls in some way. It comes and goes. And the Pisces, it’s almost like it serves on a level that’s invisible quite often and therefore it doesn’t get back the ego recognition that some of the other signs do or in our age that is so popular because what it does, it does almost literally behind the scenes or invisibly somehow.
CB: Right, like that idea of having compassion, Pisces would be like compassion for the poor or for, let’s say, the homeless or other broader things like that where they’re motivated to almost social causes but through an underlying sense of compassion.
DC: Yeah, I think so. I had a client in Africa that I learned something about Pisces and I still remember it because it was so surprising or shocking. I don’t know. To me, he was quite old, but I was young. He could have been in his 40s. And he had come from Canada and he’d left his wife of 20 years or something. And he told me a story about why he had and he had lots of planets in Pisces. And he said she had been complaining about the house and she didn’t like it and didn’t like it and didn’t like it. So, one day he went out and he bought another house. And one day at breakfast she was complaining about the house, and he said, “It’s okay. We’re selling this house and I bought another house.” And she said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Well, I’ve sold this house or I’m on the verge of selling this house and I bought another house because you don’t like it.” And she said, “What are you talking about? I like this house.” And he got up and he went upstairs and he packed his bag and he went to the airport and he left her. And he said, “I’ve been doing things forever for her and she never saw it.” So, I remember after that to any Pisces, I would say, “You have to learn to let people know you’re giving to them because often people don’t know because you’re giving in a way that isn’t seen and so you’ve got to be able to learn to express it somehow. Otherwise, you’ll feel resentful and over time just disappear.” And I think that’s Pisces whereas I don’t think Virgo does that. I think it also serves, but it’s more edgy so it’s more likely to let you know, it’s more articulate because it’s I suppose Mercury like that, and the two together are about service on all levels.
CB: Sure. Yeah, that makes sense. But it’s more clear because Virgo also has that tendency to serve or to be helpful or to want to give things. But yeah, you’re right, sometimes it can be more clear what the transactional nature is of it whereas it’s less clear sometimes with Pisces.
DC: Yes, and you cannot notice that the Pisces has been just doing this stuff. I mean, I went away with somebody and she had a Mercury and Venus in Pisces and she was an Aries and I had to keep watching because I knew those Pisces planets and I knew that she’d be doing stuff and nobody would notice. So I paid attention to noticing somehow. And then after we had a conversation and she said it was true that she would do things and she did it in such a way nobody noticed and then she’d feel awful somehow. I suppose we all have to learn to express who we are in a way that others can get it, otherwise we get very misunderstood, hurt, isolated, all of that.
CB: Maybe part of it is that for Virgo the currency is material, but for Pisces the currency is more emotional in some way.
DC: Absolutely. Yeah, it does things that touch a part of you that you don’t even know necessarily as longing or needing something. Yeah.
CB: But then that’s hard to quantify, which might be an issue for all of the water signs is a difficulty quantifying that.
DC: In a culture that thinks everybody should be fine all the time, absolutely fine. Yes, it’s difficult. I think it is more difficult perhaps for water than any other sign in our culture because in our culture, you have to be fine and if you’ve got water planets, everything rises and falls and it connects to things that are much earlier and you’re having to weave other collective feelings, your feelings, childhood feelings all the time and so the need to have a self-reflective space isn’t more important than any other sign, but it is very important, I think. Otherwise, you can get so unseen perhaps as a way of saying. I mean the real self unseen. Self-reflection is probably important, yeah.
CB: That brings me to one we could touch on at this point which is Scorpio and Taurus.
DC: That’s where I was going too in my mind. That’s interesting.
CB: Okay, because you were talking about like compassion as being one of the primary things that definitely unifies Pisces and even Cancer to a certain extent but that’s also true, but less a little bit more obscure with Scorpio and there was like a wordplay in my mind where compassion in Scorpio part of that is like passion as one of the keywords that is related but maybe more connected with Scorpio in some ways.
DC: Yes, the Mars thing partly, Mars in Scorpio. I have an image for I suppose Mars in Scorpio rather than Scorpio itself because I worked with someone in Africa who had Mars in Scorpio. And it’s like you don’t see it at all, the Mars and Scorpio, it’s totally friendly and peaceful and never gets angry and everything. And then one day, something gets it and then like a shark comes up and you never forget it. And then it goes down and back very calm again. And I’ve always thought of it that way, it’s survival. But it doesn’t show because perhaps, I don’t know, it’s water. It’s so surprising to me. And the thing about the Scorpio for me is if we look at compassion, the essence of Scorpio is that without meaning to or meaning to depending on self-reflection, it knows, I want to say, the part in the other person that either needs to be renovated or eliminated if I put it that way. That it hits the very survival thing in the other person. And it doesn’t know it quite often, it’s not conscious or it isn’t thinking. And when it gets upset or hurt, and other people often don’t know that it gets upset or hurt, when they do, it comes out and you’re just ha and without knowing it, it’s attacked the survival thing in you, the most sensitive part of yourself. And so I think it’s one of those signs that really has to get to know itself because it doesn’t know it’s water. It doesn’t know what it’s hitting when it does that. And once it does know, it’s very healing. It’s extraordinary because it can touch something that is so hidden and needs to be brought out in another person, and so I think of detectives and psychotherapists.
CB: Maybe it’s like the water that seeps into cracks and therefore knows where the weaknesses and the imperfections lie, but then that information can be used for good or for bad depending on whatever the other circumstances are.
DC: Yeah. And I think it’s important with planets in Scorpio to perhaps, again, to know oneself really because otherwise you have no idea how that’s going to come out and what it’s going to hit somehow. Because if it does it with, let us say, with compassion, it touches something that needs to be either transformed or eliminated in the system. And it can happen, I’m thinking of a very close friend of mine, Schofield, he can come in this room and he’ll say that chair is in the wrong place, and he’s right. It even operates on that level. There’s something that doesn’t work here. What is it? And over time, I’ve learned to hear when he does that somehow. So it has a killer edge, but it can also utterly transform. It’s one of those signs that needs to probably understand itself or its own effect on other people more than other signs, and then it has the ability to transform itself and others. And it is so opposite to Taurus, isn’t it?
CB: Yeah, I was just thinking about Taurus as the opposing sign as also a fixed sign but an earth sign ruled by Venus as opposite to Scorpio, which is traditionally ruled by Mars, a water sign. And these two more than some of the other signs kind of make me think of this concept that’s become really popular over the past few years, but it’s actually not that recent, but it’s the idea of the five love languages. Are you familiar with this?
DC: No, I’m not.
CB: It’s just this idea that different people have different… It’s from this book from 1992 by somebody named Gary Chapman, but it’s become really trendy it seems like in the past few years. But they say that there’s five ways to express and experience love that they call love languages. And these are words of affirmation is number one, acts of service is number two, number three is receiving gifts, number four is quality time, and number five is physical touch. And the idea is that different people have a tendency where they have their own personal love language and sometimes their love language may be the same as or may differ from their partners, but that somehow by learning that that you can learn what feels better to the other person and therefore create a better relationship. But some of these are like already invoking some of the keywords that we found in some of these different combinations. The idea of words of affirmation or acts of service, for example, on the Virgo-Pisces level axis perhaps, but then when we get to Taurus and Scorpio, I think we get into the two of these, one of them is like receiving gifts, and the other is physical touch. Because it seems like Taurus and Scorpio, Taurus especially because it’s an earth sign tends to be more about physical things like that which is physical and that which is tangible as an expression of love or affection.
DC: And the thing about receiving gifts is interesting because somebody taught me once, I’d given a lecture and they came up and said nice things, and I said, “Oh, thanks.” And my friend said, “No. When somebody offers you a gift like that, you listen.” I was just learning to lecture and I said, “You got to help me learn how.” And that’s what she criticized because she said, “She gave you a gift. She praised you and you didn’t accept her gift.” So, when somebody says something nice to you, you listen. It’s a gift she’s giving.” And I thought that was very powerful. But I’m interested in the Scorpio of receiving gifts, is it?
CB: Yeah, I’m not sure. It’s either because I can definitely see Taurus for receiving gifts. I could see Scorpio certainly as physical touch. But then there’s certainly like an interplay between those two as like Mars and Venus ruled signs and the interchange, I could see both of those as being applicable in some way. Yeah, let’s see what else. Taurus as an earth sign ruled by Venus and the physical, we’ve used the words like practical very much for other earth signs like Capricorn and Virgo. And there’s certainly like a practical quality to Taurus, but there’s also more of a material quality than any of the other signs in some sense.
DC: In Taurus? It’s really interesting, Taurus seems to me above all things to want peace and just comfort. Let’s just be happy together. And intensity is the last thing it wants. And whether Scorpio wants it or not, it gets there through an intensity. It’s alive through intense concentration, through intense interaction. And it’s not necessarily comfortable whereas Taurus is all about comfort. And Scorpio even if it has other things in it, it is not about comfort. It’s about something that hits the very fundamental something and transforms it in some way. I always think of it as one of those waterfalls, whitewater rapids. It can go peaceful for a period of time, but suddenly, there has to be this intense interaction for it to be doing what it is natural, whereas Taurus is exactly the opposite, let’s just have a really quiet time. And yet the two have a dynamic between them because if you only had this kind of perfectly fine and no volcanoes, nothing would ever change. And if you only had volcanoes and storms, nothing would ever settle. So, they’re very fundamental to interactions, aren’t they, to relationship because you need that going farther than is comfortable for intimacy.
CB: Depth of emotion?
DC: Absolutely, yeah. And for Taurus, you need the steadiness and you get used to the person and you have habits. But to get to the Scorpio place of rebirth, you have to go through something to get there, whereas with Taurus you just stay there and be there and yet they’re so powerful in their… It’s such different like Aries, Libra, Mars and Venus, Taurus, Scorpio, Venus and Mars, both about relationships really. And to have intimacy, you have to get very vulnerable so that you can be betrayed. You can’t have intimacy unless betrayal is possible if I’m saying it properly. Whereas Taurus isn’t about that, it’s about something that you get used to and steady and yet both are necessary for life or for relationship to keep moving in some way, to stay alive.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that brings up an interesting point that we haven’t focused on too much, but just that both Taurus and Scorpio are fixed signs and that’s always going to be something that these oppositions share in common, is the same quadruplicity. So Aries and Libra are also Mars and Venus ruled signs and also have that oppositional quality of elements of fire and air, but they’re both cardinal signs, so there might ultimately be something that the signs share in common in the way that they approach things, which might be the basis of their reconciliation or their ability to reconcile with one another like Scorpio and Taurus both being fixed signs, for example.
DC: Yes. That’s the thing that makes them in spite of the fact of being so opposite, it’s the thing they both get because when you’re in Taurus and you stay, you’re not going to run around. Once you’re there, you’re there. And once you’re loyal as a Scorpio, you’re going to be loyal. And if you’re not, it’s like a death. And so I think you’re right, and Aries and Libra, they’re so opposite but they’re both cardinals, so they understand something about the constant moving in a way. That’s interesting. And then they’re mutables, of course.
CB: That makes me think because in Aristotle when he introduced the qualities, that was part of the way that he introduced them was the idea that the elements could turn into one another through the underlying qualities and that the ones that shared some similar element could turn into each other more readily, so maybe this is the astrological equivalent of that which is that we have these opposing elements with each of the signs, but they have the ability perhaps more easily to either transmute and turn into each other or at least to find balance because they share that similarity and the same quadruplicity, not to mention being the same polarity or the same gender, whatever you want to call it, either masculine or feminine or positive or negative or what have you.
DC: Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. Because if you take say, when a Taurus gets angry, it’s Scorpio. They don’t do it often. In general, if there are lots of planets in Taurus, it’s not their energy, that’s not what they’re going to do. But when it happens, everything changes. It stays that way. And when a Scorpio decides to stay, they stay no matter what. So, there is a kind of-
CB: Which can be like… With Taurus, I think about one of my favorite examples of fixed sign heavy placements is George Martin, the author of the fantasy books that became popular recently, which I’m drawing a blank on their name, Game of Thrones. He has Taurus rising and his ruler of the Ascendant is Venus, which is in Leo. And he has such a dominance of fixed sign placements that he has been writing, he’s a writer, but he has been writing on the same computer that he got way back in like 1992 or something like that and he doesn’t want to change because that system works for him, so he just keeps writing on the same computer for three decades even though it’s probably less easy or less safe in terms of backing things up. He found something that works for him so he sticks with it. And that’s like a good example of a Taurus, once you find something you stick with it where you’re comfortable. With Scorpio, you have a similar thing in terms of fixity, but it makes me think of like emotionally sticking with something or an emotion that sticks with you and stays and is permanent and that can sometimes be even a negative emotion like holding a grudge or something like that or like crossing somebody who then holds a grudge for like 30 years, which would be a fixed sign thing, but it’s more of a water thing where it’s something that sticks with you that’s more emotional in nature.
DC: Yes. It’s interesting when you’re talking about fixity really is fixed, isn’t it? I mean, it is in Leo and Aquarius, but it’s so obvious in Taurus and Scorpio.
CB: Yeah, it has a more tangible quality in some ways.
DC: Yeah. Yeah, it’s almost like the first four are the elemental of, and then each set after are variations on the theme of the first Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and then Leo, Virgo, Libra and their variations almost on the theme of the primary ones of the first four.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s something I keep going back to as well, and I think that’s really clear in modern astrology in the way that modern astrologers articulate the elements that they’re often all based on the first four signs, especially and I’ve been trying to understand if that’s really the primary way to approach it conceptually or how that works out exactly. Like Cancer, for example, often being the way that astrologers almost archetypally approach all of the water signs. Is that what you’re saying?
DC: Yes, yes. I don’t know. The simplest way to describe water, fire is Aries. The simplest way to describe earth is Taurus, like that. And then you do them again and you articulate them in a new way and then the most sophisticated way of all you might say, the most complex way of all when you get to Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Then there it’s almost like more than fire, earth, air and water. I mean it is still fire, earth, air and water, but it’s not as primary as Aries is. Each one is more developed. When I get to the last ones, I want to say sophisticated in a way because they are about out there.
CB: Maybe it has to do with the fact that the first four have to deal with personal planets like inner planets like Mars in Aries, then Venus in Taurus, then Mercury in Gemini and then the Moon in Cancer. Obviously, you still then go through another set of personal planets with the next, which is the Sun in Leo, Mercury in Virgo, Venus in Libra, and then Mars in Scorpio. But then after that, you start getting just all outer planets.
DC: Yeah, maybe, yeah. Yeah, there’s something else that came and went in one of those sentences. Anyway, maybe it’ll come back. I don’t know.
CB: Are there any pairs that we completely skipped over? I’m trying to think.
DC: There is Taurus, Gemini, Sag, Cancer, Leo.
CB: We did Taurus-Scorpio, Gemini-Sag, Cancer-Capricorn, definitely. Did we start with Leo and Aquarius?
DC: I think we did.
CB: Okay. Did we do Aries and Libra? A little bit, yeah.
DC: Oh, yes, I wanted to say something about Aries, though. When I was doing fire originally, I remember having difficulty with Aries because I thought of fire as images. And I said to my Aries, do you live by… My Aries friends didn’t, but the image and the action are one with Aries. So, they don’t have an image that then leads them to something, they and the image come together, it’s so Martian. They move with it. And it’s almost not even there necessarily. They don’t even operate from images. Whereas I think the Leos and Sagittarius’s, they do. Well, let’s say Sagittarius’s images is not quite the right word, but a sense of something, meaning, you know? But in Aries, I kept seeing it as image and I thought they move from something. And I called it sperm energy because it was the first sign and it was pure Mars, just go and go and go and when you get to the creation, something dies. You disappear, and then the creation happens. And then once that happens, you have to go again. And I always thought in those years where I was operating in terms of reincarnation, if I have another incarnation here, I want to be an Aries. Because I’ve known Aries in their 90s and they still have that absolute energy of yes, go somehow. And it is pure life just coming in. It’s so alive. And then opposite is okay, now we learn the dance, now we learn how to move. And everyone is like that to have a relationship of any kind, you have to know how to be this self and to honor the other, and to be this self and to honor the other, back and forth.
CB: Right. So Libra is the not just oppositional quality, but the contrast of not just what pushing forward on oneself, I’m trying to think of how to articulate that and what Libra as an air sign brings to Mars or how it opposes it in some way.
DC: It’s interesting. I’ve gone off slightly because I suddenly had an image and I remember thinking that Libra has… Am I seeing it clearly? Let me just see. Yeah, yeah. I was thinking of it as Moon in Libra, that’s right. I learned it from somebody who was in his 80s, he was fabulous. And I watched him and I noticed that and I said, frogs have two sets of eyelids and one is the ordinary kind and another is an invisible, they come over when they’re underwater. And I thought, “Oh, that’s Moon in Libra.” And maybe it’s Libra in general because when things get too intense on the outside, this other set of eyelids comes across and something in them goes quiet and disappears a bit. And then when things settle down, they come out again. Whereas Aries is out there, it’s alive when it can come out there. And this Libra energy is alive when the dance is happening. It’s not me, it’s not you, it’s the dance itself somehow. But I always think of that with my friend, he got this other set of eyelids when anything got too intense and when conflict was around and then he disappeared for a while and then come back when it became quiet again, when it became harmonious again, when it became appropriate, when things were appropriate again. Yeah.
CB: One of the things that’s interesting about Libra though is even though it’s a Venus-ruled sign, it can sometimes be in acting as a counterbalance against Mars. It can push back just as hard and it can be just as oppositional or sometimes like contrarian is an interesting tendency with Libra. For some reason, I sometimes run into I feel like a lot of skeptics who have heavy Libra placements that will push back on an idea and that in it of itself becomes what defines them in some way and I often wonder if it’s through the Libra in the air placements cooling off the fire placement represented by the almost like singularity of Aries.
DC: Oh, that’s interesting. I must look. I must look and see. I always think of Libra as the in love with the good, the true and the beautiful according to their own standards, and so if you’re expressing something that isn’t according to their idea of the good, the true and the beautiful, Venus has a temper too. She’s not only a kind of gentle little creature. She knows what she wants and she knows what she likes. Do you remember what she says to Helen when Helen doesn’t want to go back to Paris at some point? And she said, “But it’s war and I’m causing so much trouble.” And she says, “You know I have loved you above all and you have the beauty because of that. Deny me or don’t do what I say and you will find out what it’s like to have my hate.” That was in the Iliad. And I was shocked by that when I read it and I thought it’s true that Venus… And both Venus signs, they’re both opposed by Mars in both cases, so there is something of the opposite that can come in when in the Libra case, the good, the true and the beautiful is being betrayed, when the ideal of how things work, let’s say, is being betrayed. And I suppose from the Taurus point of view, when someone’s trying to take away the comfort and safety, it comes up very, very powerfully in both of those. That’s interesting, yeah.
CB: Right. I’m trying to think if there’s anything. Obviously, we also have like the social component, which is component of all the air signs, Libra is where it comes out even more as the plurality or two rather than just one as the first opposition between those two which we already saw with Leo versus Aquarius, but we get a similar dynamic with Aries and Libra but a more of a just you versus me type situation especially or you versus I in relationships.
DC: Yes. And Leo is more me versus us, I think. Yeah, me versus the group somehow rather than me versus you. Yeah. And it’s interesting that both the Mars and Venus ones are the first two and then that’s it. They’re done. Yeah, and then they’re done. Whereas the mutables are everywhere, you know?
CB: Maybe that takes us back to and maybe that’s part of the paradigm going back to Empedocles and the idea of these four elements and then being brought together and pushed apart through these principles of love and strife because that’s exactly what Venus and Mars are. We have Venus, which is the idea of love and unity and bringing things together and Mars, which is strife and separating things or pulling things apart, so maybe those four signs then as being the starting point set up the paradigm for the rest of the elements.
DC: That’s interesting. And also, in any relationship, if you get to a point where there’s no strife, you lose something. There has to be the otherness. It’s almost like you have to know where you don’t to keep it alive in some way. And so couples who end up just being little aardvark and munchkin and they go along and they turn into mush in some way, whereas when they stay edgy at some level, it’s almost like life still carries on in some way. There’s almost a need for them to be opposite on so many different levels, Mars and Venus. And I suppose Jupiter and Mercury, the same that the facts and the information have to turn into meaning. Otherwise, they’re endless and boring and nothing happens. But if it’s all about meaning, there’s no communication anymore, there’s no interaction. So they really do include each other, don’t they? And you can’t have the Leo heart center unless there are people around it. Otherwise, the Leo can’t be the Leo.
CB: Right. Or what’s the point of building everything or building the house or skyscraper or something with Capricorn if you don’t have people in there to live in it and to create a home?
DC: Absolutely. Exactly the same, yeah. Interesting.
CB: I like that, perfect.
DC: We should probably stop at 7:30.
CB: Yeah, I think we’re getting towards the end of this. So thanks a lot for joining me for this today. This is a very fun free-flowing conversation and we didn’t really plan this like a lot. We both prepared a bit, but this went really well. You’ve actually done, in addition to your two books on this, you actually I wanted to mention recently did a series of webinars for MISPA the Mercury Internet School of Astrology, where you did a full webinar lecture on each of the elements, right?
DC: Yes, I did. Yeah, I enjoyed it hugely. I mean, I started looking at my books again when you started talking about this, but I think when I did my fire, earth, air and water with MISPA, I don’t even think I looked at the books at that. I just went into the new version of what I was seeing somehow. And it’s so satisfying again and again to go back to the same things that you haven’t in a while because you’ve got more experience and you’re seeing it in a new way, and the planets have moved, so you’re seeing things in a different way as well. But I really enjoyed working doing those element webinars for John MISPA. Yeah.
CB: Brilliant. Well, I’ll put links to the books on the description page for this episode on theastrologypodcast.com website and also below the YouTube video, and I’ll also put links to where people can check out those webinars that you did on each of the elements. And you have a website, which is just darbycostello.co.uk, and I’ll also link to that. Do you have anything coming up or what are you working on now over the next year?
DC: I’m doing things for MISPA and for Astrology University, little bits of things as I go along. And am I traveling? I’ve been traveling so much. Oh, yes, I’m going to that one in America. Are you going to that one in America?
CB: The ISAR conference? Yeah, in Denver.
DC: That’s the next big thing, I think. And I’m going to Germany in early July and giving a weekend there. I often do in Hamburg every few years, and I’ll be in Berlin as well working a bit. And otherwise, and the faculty of course, I’ll be at the Summer School at the faculty teaching.
CB: This summer?
DC: Yeah, this summer. I don’t know. I’d have to think. They’re probably on my website. If I can’t remember what they are, they’re probably on my website. Yeah.
CB: Okay. Well, yeah, I’ll link people to that. But they can do just a Google search for you just darbycostello.co.uk and they’ll find your website with links to all of your classes and webinars and upcoming schedule and everything. Awesome. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today for this. I really appreciate it.
DC: It was a real pleasure. I really enjoyed it. We did travel, didn’t we? Various places, in spite of the fact that there are five planets in Earth. And is it three in water today? Yeah, we managed to get fire and air going as well.
CB: Yeah, we got a Moon in Gemini which helped out, and yeah, this was good. Thanks for joining me today, and thanks everyone for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast and we’ll see you again next time.
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