This column will be a regular feature for at least 5 more issues. Several people have requested more discussion of some of the basics of the Dobyns approach to astrology. This article (and later ones) will take each of the planets in a specific house and delineate some of the possibilities. It is not intended as a complete coverage—but as examples to illustrate the principles of psychological interpretation. Obviously, it will be limited, as I will cover only planets (and asteroids) in houses, ignoring signs and aspects to other planets which further modify the picture.
Beginning with the first house of the chart—Letter One of our astrological alphabet—we think of identity, spontaneous action, one’s natural way of being and expressing, freedom, independence, doing one’s own thing. If we put Mars in the First House, we expect a strong sense of personal freedom, independence, and often a “loner” tendency. There is often physical energy which may go into sports or other activities. If backed up by other factors, we look for self-confidence, a natural ease of action and expression for what one wants. If too emphasized, there may be impulsiveness or a self-centered disregard for others. The sense of identity is very personal: “I am me,” not based on other role models.
With Venus in the First, there is an identification with sensuality and beauty. The person may be physically attractive. S/He often has artistic talent, or at least a strong feeling for and some ability to create beauty. The individual is oriented towards comfort and enjoyment. Such a person may be strongly into eating, drinking, sex or other sensual pleasures, or money and material possessions. Other people often find them attractive and easy to be with. If Letter Two is over-emphasized, people may expect the world to always be beautiful, that everything should flow easily and comfortably. It can be somewhat passive. Generally, people with this placement (depending on sign, aspects, etc.) are comfortable with themselves and like themselves as well as enjoying the material world.
When Mercury falls in the First House, people are very identified with their minds. Their primary focus is on their ability to think, learn, and communicate. Depending on signs, aspects, etc., this may be an easy, expressive flow or a more serious, productive focus. There is an innate curiosity and desire to learn about everything. They can be quite talkative (especially if Mercury falls in an air or fire sign). A sibling or other collateral relative may be a role-model (Mercury as natural ruler of the Third House).
An individual with the Moon in the First usually has the mother (or mother figure) as a strong role model—positive or negative. If positive, s/he admires and imitates the mother figure. If negative, s/he does the opposite of how s/he perceived the mother figure. This is a natural square, indicating a mother figure with a freedom-closeness dilemma. And the individual, as well, has to learn to integrate her/his need for independence with the need for a close, warm, emotional relationship. There is a focus on dependency and nurturance. The person may overdo either end or both. Mood swings may occur with the Fire-Water blend. This is an identification with the mothering role, but always with some space and freedom.
The Sun in the First House symbolizes people with strong needs to feel proud of themselves. Such individuals are very identified with their ego needs for attention, approval, love and admiration. If they are handling it, they generally seem dynamic, magnetic, exciting, charismatic energetic—the star quality. If they are too ego-vulnerable, they may be insecure, too dependent on an emotional response from others. Depending on other factors, this may manifest as grandiosity and an overbearing quality or withdrawal for fear of not getting the approval.
Ceres in the First again suggests the mother figure as a role model. Work is also an important part of the person’s identity. There is a practical, functional approach to life, but a little danger of the critical, analytical energy being channeled into self-criticism—picking the self apart. The individual must feel useful and productive. The nurturing urge is again important.
Vesta in the First symbolizes people who find their identity through work. They pour intense energy and drive into their work, and often are quite successful. There is the danger of the work taking so much emphasis, that personal relationships suffer. The person may not have time for the emotional side of life, or feel estranged or alienated from others. There is also the potential of severe self-criticism, much more than with Ceres. These people must be producing and accomplishing in their lives. Otherwise, they will pick at themselves, and may eventually have health repercussions, when unhappy with their work.
Pallas in the First puts an emphasis on peer relationships. It can be cooperative, but this is also a highly competitive placement. The person may be quite willing to fight for equality in relationships. This is a natural opposition, so people feel strongly the Self-Other polarity. Balancing one’s own wants, needs, desires with those of an equal other is a challenge for integration. An artistic sense is likely and physical beauty possible. Partnership is a part of the identity and the person is more likely to be married, living together, or involved than alone. Some of the relationship emphasis may be expressed through counseling, consulting, etc.
Juno in the First traditionally puts a bit more emphasis on marriage—a legal commitment. Again, there is an artistic sense and the possibility of physical attractiveness. There is the competitive drive. And the individual is still working on the Aries-Libra opposition of action vs. reaction; self vs. other. Part of the identity is found through partnership.
Pluto in the First is concerned with knowing and understanding one’s own psyche on the deepest levels. There is often a penetrating approach, disregarding superficials, digging beneath the surface which may manifest as an interest in depth psychotherapy, the occult, detective work, archaeology, etc. There is an intensity and passion and the potential of emotional explosions with this Fire-Water mixture. Self-mastery is generally learned through the relationship with a mate: sharing the physical world with another human being. This can be felt as a struggle between the need to be intensely involved in a relationship and the need for introspection and probing one’s own depths. There is an urge for power and control which, on the positive side, helps one towards the path of the adept. On the negative side, such people may be power-hungry, manipulative, controlling (especially emotionally), jealous, possessive, and secretive. (All of the latter are attempts to keep control of the situation or other person, rather than the self.)
Jupiter in the First House is a natural questing urge. The person is identified with the search for truth—whether s/he seeks it in education, science, religion, travel, etc. Some people adopt the missionary position: “I’ve found the Truth; it’s the only truth; come world, accept it!” Some are perennial searchers, constantly restless, looking for more knowledge and understanding. There is an innate reach for perfection and the answers. (God is a role-model.) This can manifest as “I SHOULD be perfect and know all the answers—the meaning of life!” or “I am perfect, and the world should provide for me because I am so charming, witty, charismatic, etc.” (the social butterfly side of Sagittarius).
Saturn in the First House is another identification with work—the need to feel responsible, productive, effective, etc. There can also be strong self criticism here. A father figure is generally a role model—positive or negative. This is another natural square: the confrontation of self-will with the limits of one’s will. Positively, these people are very effective steam-rollers (but don’t get in the way!) Negatively, we can get over-drive or self-blocking. Overdrive is the person who has to run it all, resists delegating any authority, feels responsible for everything—either from guilt, from feeling no one else will do it right, feeling responsible, or feeling that maintaining control and the power position is the only way to be safe. The self-blocking side happens with people who stop themselves before they start. They are convinced failure is inevitable, so they don’t even try. They are convinced the power of the world, or authority figures, or their conscience is going to get them anyway. People who don’t try to escape consequences, who operate within realistic limits—not overreaching, but neither stopping themselves from what is possible—have no problems with Saturn.
Those of us who have Uranus in the First House are very identified with being unique, an individual. We don’t want to feel like anyone else. We may rebel just for the sake of rebellion, or just so we won’t be “predictable.” There is generally a strong sense of the equality of all humankind. We may be involved with humanitarian causes. We often are original and inventive. We may also be erratic and eccentric. There is a focus on the new—on change and going beyond any limits. (I mention my placements because all of us see the world from our own perspective. As astrologers, we need to try to be aware of our own biases, so we don’t project them too much on our clients. Often, an astrologer’s biases become clearer when we know his/her natal chart. So I’m letting you know my placements in case it helps anyone spot my blind spots, since I believe we all have them.) There is a strong sense of personal freedom and resistance to any constraints. Obviously, if any of this is over-done, it could be negative.
People with Neptune in the First are identified with the search for the beautiful dream—infinite love and beauty. Generally this manifests in three roles: artist, savior, or victim (which can include martyr). People with Neptune placed here may play one, two, or all three roles simultaneously or sequentially. There is generally a strong artistic sense (whether or nor the talent is used) and may be physical beauty as well. If overdone, people may have a hard time facing the ugliness of the world, or their perceived ugliness as they age, etc. Saviors can be involved in a variety of helping-healing activities. If they save too much, however, they risk becoming unappreciated martyrs—people who do TOO much for the people they want to save. Victims have given up on life, and are seeking an easy route to the beautiful dream—pills, alcohol, etc. There is also here a search for perfection—for the emotional absolute. People may put on rose-colored glasses and tell themselves they have found it (usually in some sort of escapism), or they may demand perfection from themselves (an impossible task, of course). Neptune’s perfection is a spiritual, loving, beautiful, harmonious, flowing sort. Such people can turn into martyrs by always trying to create harmony, love, etc., by expecting themselves to be able to please everyone, be deciding, “If anyone gets hurt, it will be me.” If they merge the sense of self into a cause which will make the world more beautiful or perfect, they are generally better off. Because of their focus on the infinite, these people sometimes appear misty, difficult to understand or mysterious.
Anyone familiar with the Dobyns astrological alphabet concept knows that the signs ruled by these planets carry a similar theme. They symbolize a common way of being in the world. However, the planet is always strongest. Pisces in the First is a similar theme (1-12) to Neptune in the First, but not as emphatic.
With the Second House of the horoscope, we move on to Letter Two of our astrological alphabet. Letter Two symbolizes our capacity to enjoy the physical world—eating, drinking, smoking, sex, money, material possessions, and physical beauty. This is our sensuality, our ability to find pleasure in the material world. Sensuality, indulgence, security, staying with the status quo, being comfortable and easy-going or stubborn and immovable are all a part of Letter Two.
With Mars in the Second House, there is often an active pursuit of beauty or sensuality. The person is identified with the material world, and with pleasure. There is the potential of strong self-indulgence—in terms of eating, drinking, sex, etc.—any sensual pleasures. The feeling for beauty is often expressed in an active way—through dance, gymnastics, figure skating, etc. where fire movement combines with an artistic sense. There may be impulsive spending of money or possessions as well as an active pursuit of material pleasures. The major focus is on doing what one enjoys.
(To illustrate the differences of the astrological alphabet, consider Mars in the Second vs. Venus is the First—both are One-Two combinations. We expect an active, assertive approach to finding and enjoying pleasures and sensuality with Mars in the Second. Venus in the First is still very sensual, but much more likely to be passive, laid-back, interested in comfort—not making waves.)
Venus in the Second is extra strong in its own House—an emphasis of beauty and sensual pleasures. This is a security-oriented combination, that may be passive and expect others to provide (monetary) security. There is generally artistic talent—particularly in terms of sculpture, pottery, gardening—activities which involve the sense of touch and are concrete, but music is also very possible. People with this placement generally can be quite comfortable, settled and easy-going, but may be too stable and rooted for their own good. Because of their desire to always have beauty and comfort, they may have trouble dealing with strife. There is a strong attraction to sweetness and beauty in life.
When Mercury falls in the Second, there may be good manual dexterity as a part of the artistic talent. The person’s mind is somewhat concrete—oriented towards the real, physical world. There is a desire to carry through, to finish, to be rooted in mental activities. There is much more tenacity than with Mercury alone. The mind is generally a source of pleasure. Money and material possessions may be earned through the mind. Siblings may be sensual, artistic, stubborn, and/or a source of pleasure. People with this placement generally enjoy communicating and try to be clear and make people comfortable with their communications. They often learn best through experiencing—feeling—something.
People with the Moon in the Second are tremendously security-oriented. They are the most likely to overdo the sensuality trip, because physical indulgence can become a way to feel safe, secure, etc., so they may overdo to the point of pathology. They are extremely likely to collect and cling to money and material possessions. The mother figure is generally seen as oriented towards material security—either very stable, dependable, possibly artistic or indulgent and self-centered, into her own hedonistic pursuits. The person is likely to experience mothering and to mother others in terms of sensuality and material goods. This combination usually touches and needs to be touched.
Sun in the Second ties the ego to material possessions. People may fall into “keeping up with the Joneses”—measuring their self-worth in terms of their money and material possessions. They often have luxurious tastes. There may be a lot of creative artistic talent, particularly in terms of the performing arts. There is often a lot of passion and sensuality. With the natural square, the individual feels a security vs. risk pull of how much to stay with the past, the safe and secure vs. going out into the world, taking a chance, making a gamble. This will reflect in their handling of money and the material world.
Vesta in the Second may be a key to artistic work. There is a strong streak of pragmatism and practicality. The work must involve some kind of concrete product or outcome. There is often strong enjoyment of the work, or work that in some way deals with pleasure or gives pleasure to others, or working with money, possessions, etc. There may be a conflict between (puritanical) Vesta and the (indulgent) Second House. Some people feel they must work hard for everything they earn or feel they don’t really deserve to enjoy life sensually.
With Ceres in the Second, there is again the image of a stable, sensual or artistic or indulgent mother figure. Generally there is a pleasure bond between mother and child. Often, again, we have work involving artistic talent or money and material possessions. There is a practical, thrifty attitude to making and saving money. Nurturing focuses on fulfilling physical needs.
Juno or Pallas in the Second House emphasizes artistic talent and the possibility of making money through partnerships (including counseling, consulting, etc.). The attraction is towards a partner who is attractive, comfortable, dependable, sensual, and easy to enjoy and be with. The person may choose partners who will provide materially for him/her or partners who expect to be provided for.
Pluto in the Second House is a natural opposition. People with this placement generally have an internal struggle between over-indulgence sensually and over-control. They may swing between over-eating and dieting, sex vs. celibacy, smoking and not smoking, etc. They can go from extremes of indulgence to extremes of asceticism. They are likely to choose partners who will help them play out this polarity and may have power struggles over spending vs. saving, indulgence vs. control in a lot of sensual areas. Such people sometimes hang on too long to money, partners, sensual pleasures, etc.
Jupiter in the Second may turn money, sensuality or possessions into God. The person may see the material, sensual world as an ultimate value and attempt to amass great amounts of money, or over-indulge materially. Their faith may be placed in comfort, in feeling good. They are more likely to have conservative beliefs. They may place a high value on beauty. They may collect books or spend a great deal on study or travel. They are often quite generous to others materially, because they have the faith they can always get more.
Saturn in the Second often symbolizes insecurity around possessions and sensuality. These people are most likely to hang on to what they have got. They are most likely to feel “poor” or struggling, even though outside observers would consider them very well off. An artistic or security-oriented profession is possible. There is a good likelihood of the person enjoying their work. They may inhibit their own capacity for sensual pleasure through puritanical values, or a feeling of not deserving to enjoy themselves. They often feel they must “earn” every penny they get and every pleasure they enjoy.
Uranus in the Second is another natural square which feels very strongly the security vs. risk dilemma. People may be erratic around earning and spending money. They may choose a profession in which the income is undependable and unpredictable. They may shift from a sensual to an intellectual approach to life. They are likely to feel torn between their staid, conventional side vs. their unusual, rebellious side. They often get a lot of pleasure from humanitarian causes, unusual interests (e.g. astrology) and all kinds of “New Age” activities. Their artistic expression is likely to be unique.
Neptune in the Second is strongly artistic, very oriented towards beauty. This is another combination which tends to be passive—expecting life to be like a beautiful dream, always comfortable, flowing, harmonious. Such people may be very unrealistic around money—just daydreaming or fantasizing about it, falling prey to con-men (and women), or assuming the universe will provide—they don’t have to do anything. They may try to save other people materially (and become victims of sob-stories) or expect other people to save them. They may be too idealistic in this area. Their strong feeling for beauty and urge to improve the world may earn enough for them. If integrated their ideals find a concrete outlet in the world.
I hope this gives some idea and examples of the use of the astrological alphabet in terms of house foundations. Next two houses in the Virgo issue.