It is an obvious fact that some humans have a more difficult time of it here in this life than others. We have devised all kinds of systems and philosophies, scientific and not-so-scientific explanations for this phenomenon to try to explain why and how this is so, and consequently what to do about it. We all know people (or you yourself may even be one) who live a charmed life: material wealth, good looks, upbeat, friendly personality, make friends easily, charming, gracious: in other words, practically perfect in nearly every way. Mary Poppins aside, most of us love these people whom we know and admire, respect and possibly envy a teeny little bit. Some of us may even go so far as to dream of what it would be like to be in this person’s shoes, have their life, experience their joys (though not sorrows, because we think they most likely don’t have many). Though we fantasize and try to imagine having a fantastic, perfect life like our ideal friend, when we look in the mirror we only see our own familiar face, and realize that, like it or not, we are stuck with ourselves. We have no choice but to live our own life, and deal with our own unique set of challenges and joys bestowed upon us at birth.
My friend has a fascinating book about astrology, called Key Words for Astrology, by Hajo Banzhaf and Anna Haebler. This book has detailed, yet concise, descriptions of every possible combination of stars and planets and houses which determine, amazingly accurately, just what kind of human being we are and our tendencies in all the various aspects of our lives. For those of you who aren’t that familiar with the study of astrology, I urge you to delve a bit and you too will find out how uncanny it really is, and how the stars’ positions in the heavens at the moment of your birth has defined you from that moment on, and will determine much of how you live your life.
In Banzhaf and Haebler’s book, they have cleverly constructed archetypal images to help us get a quick sense of what this or that particular combination of zodiacal elements feels like. Here are some examples: if a woman has her moon in Pisces, they present these images: The Anxious or Shy Child, The Self Sacrificing Mother, The Nymph, and also the Shaky Individual, The Mysterious Person, and the Helpless One. If a man has his Mars in Scorpio, the archetypes are The Destroyer, The Black Knight, and also the Sadist or the Hangman. Then they write about different aspects of the Sun; for example, if your Sun is in correlation with Venus, the archetypes are either the Master and the Muse, or in shadow form, The Beau and the Flatterer. If the Sun is in Mars, it is The Courageous King and his General, or The Tyrant and His Torturer. A Venus-Mars aspect would be The Graceful Lady and The Conqueror, and in shadow, The Whore and the Brute. This book is fascinating for not only all of the intricate explanations, but also because it gives these kind of snapshots of our personalities, depending on what is going on in our astrological chart.
The upshot of all this is, although it is of course true that we do have freedom of choice and will as beings in a human form, and we do have control over our thoughts, it is also quite true that we come pre-programmed into our lives and much of our personality traits are, if not totally out of our control, then at least exceedingly difficult to fundamentally change. This means that there are real reasons, besides just incredible good luck, that our ideal, nearly perfect friend is the way she or he is, and real reasons why we are not so fortunate. In one way, this is relieving news, that it isn’t all my fault that I am terrible with money or unlucky in love or rather explosive when I get upset. We don’t get to choose our personalities, all we can really do is our best to modify and hone them, polish our flaws through a lot of practice, and hope we will become more like our ideal self one fine day. People can, and do, change, thank Goodness!
My own astrological chart has the following: Sun in Gemini, Moon in Scorpio, and my ascendant, meaning the constellation which was on the eastern horizon when I was brought into this world, is in Leo. This means, according to the book, that I have the propensity to be either a strong, fascinating, powerful mother, or on a bad day, the horrible, evil witch. As a Gemini sun sign, my purpose in life is ‘differentiating lies from truth through constant doubt.” I have a clever mind, but I am fickle by nature, can play the Philosopher on a good day, and the Superficial Individual on a not so good one. My Leo ascendant means that I feel that I am the Privileged Individual, carrying exuberant joy for living, as well as being a braggart at times, haughty and overbearing, and condescending. My feeling towards life: It is worth living. Those who know me quite well, especially my immediate family members, would most certainly agree that I possess these qualities, both the positive and the not so positive! Ooh, the braggart and superficial parts of me aren’t so nice, and neither is the Evil Witch. But if I am really honest with myself, I have to admit that I certainly have shown these parts of my personality to others on occasion. It is good to know yourself! I may not like my Evil Witch, but just knowing that she does reside inside my psyche along with the Strong, Fascinating Mother whom I prefer to be, is helpful information to have.
Today I had to struggle with my own jealousy at the way my friend was waxing at length as to our mutual friend’s admirable qualities: wonderful, clever, dedicated, intelligent, beautiful, together, caring, nurturing, and a dozen other positive adjectives she used to describe her. Afterward, I went out to the vegetable garden and dug in the dark soil, feeling distinctly “less than” wonderful as I compared myself to Amazing, Dazzling Her. My astrology just doesn’t compare, not to mention my life. Face it, Leigh, I told myself, you will never be that kind of person, you don’t have it in you to be practically perfect. And yet. I still love myself, and know that I too am a good person, loving, kind, with a beautiful spirit and I am beloved to my family and friends. But not every minute of every day. When the Evil Witch appears, Look out! I might have to chop your head off if you are in my way and I am in an especially foul mood. But I am improving with age, you could say. I only chop heads off once in a long while now, compared with years ago when I probably indulged my Evil Witch much more often (apologies to my former husband). You have to work with what you have, right?
My friends just became grandparents this week. I was there with her when she received the phone call from their son to say their baby had finally arrived, two weeks after its due date, on the 4th of May, at 3:21 am. It really made me think: a brand new human has come into the world with an entire, complex set of blueprints which will determine to a large extent her life, her friends, how she behaves around her family, her temperament, how she will learn in school, what her interests will be, the kind of person she will marry, which work she will choose, if she will be materially wealthy or not, and a whole host of other things. This tiny being, just born, and from that moment on, so much of her future is already determined, at least in principle. It makes me feel that in a certain way, we are like puppets on a string. The question is, who is the Puppeteer? Are we ourselves, in some magical, mysterious way that we cannot fathom while in physical form, our very own Puppeteer, who has determined ahead of being born what we come here to Earth to accomplish, who we will be this time, what our mission is, and perhaps how we will carry it out? I surely don’t have any answers, but isn’t it fascinating to ask the questions and ponder the possibilities?