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M. E. Arthur

Beginning Astrology: Prelude to the Planets
Element, Gender, Modality, and Orientation


Before we venture into learning the planets and seeing just how they add individuality to our makeup, we need to grasp the basis of some of the characteristics that will influence those planets in our charts.

In a way it is like studying genetics, looking for certain traits that might appear, how they might manifest or lay dormant waiting for just the right moment to express them selves. It is learning to project which qualities will be dominant and which will be recessive, only being activated when they come into contact with outside influences such as transits(planets crossing the paths of our natal charts) or through our relationships with others.

The Elements are always trine to each other. Similar elements are easy to relate to and to understand.

Fire (Aries, Leo, And Sagittarius)signs are fun to be with, their enthusiasm is contagious, but few besides a fellow fire can ever hope to keep up with these volatile types. They bore easily and are always in need of activity or adventure.

Air (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius) is the mental realm, the part that expresses ideas. Air signs seek to bond socially and intellectually. Easily grasping concepts and knowledge, they are witty and intelligent conversationalists.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn) signs are practical, stable and grounded. They long for and usually attain security. Their relationships and commitments tend to be long term and responsible.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) is nurturing, invasive, jealous, protective, and loving. It can run the gamut from cool and aloof, calm and warm, or be as wild and passionate as the angry sea. Run by emotion and instinct, water is seldom boring, but more often than not, difficult.

Polarities (also called genders) are not only alternating on the chart but are also opposite each other. They are referred to as male and female or positive and negative. The female or negative signs (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces) are said to be more intuitive, emotional, and right brained. All Earth and Water signs are considered feminine or negative. The male or positive signs (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius) are more aggressive, outwardly expressive, and analytical. All Fire and Air signs are considered male or positive. Neither is better than the other, with both polarities necessary for a well balanced individual.

A Modality demonstrates the role taken by the sign. There are three modalities, Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable.

Cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) starts things and keeps them going. It is very active.

Fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) provides stability and endurance to the personality.

Mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) is the one who is adaptable. Mutable signs are the ones who can and will change no matter what the circumstance. They are the survivors and the diplomats of the Zodiac, well suited for any situation that might befall them.

Orientations are Personal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal. Simple definitions are all that are needed here. Personal houses (first, second, third, and fourth) and planets (the Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) are how you deal with your sense of self, what you want and what you project. Interpersonal (fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth houses)(Sun and Pluto) is how we deal with others and those things we attract to ourselves. The Transpersonals, (ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth houses; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) although really some of the most important influences in our lives, don't usually come into play until our later years. These are said to deal with our relationship to the world or the Universe, but I do believe they show us how we respond to circumstances in which we find ourselves. They tend to symbolize a need to change or move on from where we are comfortable.

Once we learn and understand these traits, even if it takes a while to grasp the meanings and nuances of the planets, we can execute a very satisfactory reading, even as a novice.

© 1999 Mary E. Arthur All rights reserved.

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