Potpourri of Patterns

Maritha Pottenger

Astrology is a very complicated subject, in which each symbol means a number of different things. In an attempt to cope with the complexity of astrology (and life), many people look for recipes. They want to know exactly how much of this and how much of that to mix in. They search for an exact, definitive meaning for each piece of the horoscope. They buy astrological cookbooks which say things like, “Venus in Aquarius is fickle,” ignoring other possible variations. They often look for a “signature” to sum up the whole person.

This desire for creating order out of a chaos of details is commendable. Unfortunately, the end result is often horrendous. Many of the patterns taught in traditional astrology are over simplifications and over generalizations. (See the Virgo 1978 issue of The Mutable Dilemma on quick easy answers that do not work.) However, it is possible to see patterns in a chart. Certain psychological themes are clearly shown in horoscopes.

Anything important in the chart will be said more than once. Major themes are repeated. The astrologer merely has to find what the horoscope says over and over again—in slightly different ways. A very useful basis for spotting themes is the astrological alphabet concept of Dr. Zipporah Dobyns, known affectionately as the Zip Code.

The idea behind the Zip Code is that astrology shows us 12 ways of being in the world, 12 different kinds of energy. Each of these 12 sides of life is symbolized by a planet, the sign it rules, and the house it rules in the natural zodiac. Thus, Mars, Aries, and the First House all symbolize assertive energy, one’s basic identity, spontaneous actions, etc. Venus, Taurus and the Second House are all keys to pleasure from the physical world—through beauty, art, or sensual indulgence (eating, drinking, smoking, sex) or money and material possessions.

The concept of an alphabet is because an “a” is always an a, whether capitalized, in lower case, printed, or in fancy script. We call Mars, Aries and the First House Letter One of our astrological alphabet. Venus, the Second House and Taurus are Letter Two, etc.

This does NOT mean planets, signs and houses are the same. They are not. Planets are the most important. They are power centers, where the action is. Houses and signs modify planets, as adverbs modify verbs in a sentence. Houses are stronger than signs in our experience. (Research by the Gauquelins to date shows clear support for the importance of planets, some support for houses, and —so far—no support for signs.)

What the Zip Code does give is an easy method for spotting patterns in the horoscope. We can see similar messages from a planet, house AND sign. The horoscope is repetitive. Anything important will be said more than once. Perhaps the most obvious repetitive statement in a chart is a stellium. With three or more planets in a sign and/or house, we have three or more statements: “This part of life is important.” Using the astrological alphabet, combinations are a matter of logic. If these two (or more) sides of life are blended together, how will they combine well to reinforce each other, and how will they contradict or battle one another?

As an example, take a stellium in Capricorn in the First House. This is a one-ten (1-10) combination in our alphabet. Letter One (Mars, Aries or First House) symbolizes basic identity, spontaneous actions and energy. Letter Ten (Saturn, Capricorn, or Tenth House) symbolizes career drive, authority and limits. The combination shows an identification with work and career: “I am what I do.” There is the potential for a lot of energy and drive channeled to succeed, to gain a position of power and control. If not handled wisely, this can lead to “over- drive” pushing against the limits of the world. Such people may fight with authority figures, struggle against the laws of time and human laws. They may overreach and feel the consequences of breaking the laws—human or natural law. (If one drives one’s self too hard, one possible consequence is a health breakdown due to stress and pressures.)

Some people will seek power by controlling and disciplining themselves. If this is carried to an extreme, they become “self-blockers.” They stop themselves before they start. They are afraid to try because they fear failure, so they do nothing—and criticize themselves for not measuring up to their own standards for performance.

Over-drivers attempt the impossible and must learn to face and deal with realistic limits. Self blockers are afraid to try the possible and need to learn to risk. Both extremes have unreasonable standards of performance for themselves. A happy medium is demonstrated by those who do all they can, without giving up. Neither do they demand constant perfection from themselves.

Individuals with a strong one-ten emphasis also generally have father or father figure as a role model. That may be positive or negative. They may want to be just like Dad, or just the reverse. But Father is the standard against which they measure themselves.

Father (or person who plays the authority role) is the role-model for handling Martian energy: aggression, identity, action, self-expression. He may do so positively: active, energetic in his pursuit of what he wants. He may over do it: self-centered, aggressive (even violent), impulsive. He may block his Mars: turn his energy against himself and get sick, have trouble asserting himself, etc. Whichever role model Father presents, the individual can learn from it. Parents teach us both what TO do and what NOT to do.

Whether the father or father figure presents a negative or positive role model, the individual still has a choice between over-drive, self-blocking and energetic, realistic achievement. E.g. Three children are born to a self-blocking father. One internalizes anger like Daddy does, and becomes an ill, frustrated self-blocker. A second decides, “I’ll never make Dad’s mistakes!” and becomes a pushy, obnoxious over-driver. A third learns to realistically face the world and do all that she can.

Another three children are born to an over-drive father. One is beaten down by the force of Daddy’s will and aggression. She gives up and goes into self-blocking. Another fights Daddy constantly, growing up to be another over-driver, always in battle with someone or something. The third child learns when to confront and when to retreat. She becomes a high achiever.

Yet another three children are born to a hard-working capable father who accomplishes a great deal. One looks at Dad and says: “I can never be as good as he is!” and gives up, going into self-blocking. A second feels competitive: “I’ll do EVEN MORE than he has!” and goes into life-long over-drive, striving always to do one better than Dad did. The third child learns appropriate behavior from Dad and is a competent, high achiever. Etc. Parents do have an influence. But it is not what parents DO that matters so much as how the children interpret and react to what parents do!

These tendencies hold for patterns other than a stellium. E.g., Saturn in the First House and Mars in the Tenth House are one-ten combinations. So are Saturn in Aries and Mars in Capricorn. Strong Mars-Saturn aspects are another form. So is a ruler of the First in the Tenth, or in Capricorn, or in conjunction with Saturn. Or, a ruler of the Tenth in the First, in Aries, conjuncting Mars or a ruler of the First. Etc. If the one-ten combination is important for an individual, the chart will have several forms of it!

There are a number of other possible combinations in the chart. Always we ask ourselves: What is repeated? And, how will these parts of life tend to combine—both positively and negatively! There are some combinations that tend towards the same area of life. One such is the artistic combination. The artistic letters of our alphabet are 2, 7 and 12. We are talking about Venus, Pallas, Juno, Neptune, Second House, Seventh House, Twelfth House, and Taurus, Libra, Pisces. All of these have to do with beauty—a feeling for beauty, being able to create beauty, being able to sense and appreciate beauty. There is often more of a physical tactile orientation with Letter 2. It tends to be involved with concrete kinds of things, such as pottery, sculpture. Music is also possible. Letter Seven has a visual orientation, a detachment, stepping back and looking at what is created. The graphic and visual arts are likely, including painting, design, interior decorating, architecture, fashion, etc. Letter 12, being mutable, seems the most generalized and flexible. But all three can use any mode of artistic expression.

When these letters back one another up, there is often more talent. For example, Neptune or Venus in each others’ houses or signs is one possibility. Or, a stellium in Taurus in the Twelfth or Seventh House; a Libra stellium in the Second, Twelfth (or Seventh). etc. The planets are the strongest statement, always. So, strong Venus, Neptune, Juno, Pallas aspects can show the ability even if not pointed out by house or sign placements.

Letter 5 may or may not be involved. The Fifth House is creative in general, and may be creative in terms of being a super salesperson, a super teacher, etc. The urge is to pour energy into the world, and receive a response, but it does not have to be artistic creation. It can include a marvelous teacher, an inspirational religious leader, etc. But if you get 2, 7, or 12 involved with Letter 5, then you have the artistic creative blend. Response from others is very important. These individuals are more likely to be in the performing arts, in the public eye. If the artistic letters are elsewhere, you may get the artist in the garret, behind the scenes. If Letter 5 is strongly tied in, then they really want to be noticed, and are ego-vulnerable to the opinions of others concerning their art.

So, you can get a major artistic theme in the chart just by having emphasis on 2, 7 and 12, or two out of the three, or one if it is very strong. The more times it is said, the more important it is. Nothing in astrology is all good or all bad. If not used positively, the beauty letters can be a problem. People may be obsessed with appearance (theirs and/or other people’s). Some people will fall into the victim trap of expecting a beautiful, ideal world without having to work for it. Then they may just be very passive, lazy and do little. They may use drugs, fantasy, sleep, etc. to retreat to a more beautiful (imaginary) world. They may over-value comfort, ease and harmony in their life and have difficulty confronting people and life when all is not lovely.

Another theme you can get is the power themes. This is true for all the fixed letters, particularly 5 and 8, plus 10. Letter 11 is particularly power over ideas. Letter 2 is grounded physically: power over things, sensuality. 5, 8 and 10 are all involved with power over people. Or at least they can be. So there is an orientation towards one-up, one-down kinds of situations. There is a tendency to think in terms of who is on top; who is on the bottom; who is winning; who is losing; am I influencing you; are you influencing me? Etc. Those kinds of feelings are very important when you get emphasis on the power letters. And you have seen it in the traditional dictator placement: Saturn or Pluto in the Tenth. Both are combinations of 5, 8 or 10 with one another.

As before, the power letters are stronger when they reinforce one another. E.g., a stellium of Leo in the Tenth, a stellium of Capricorn in the Fifth, etc. Sun in the Fifth, Eighth or Tenth. And so on. Like everything else, we need to ask, “How is this person handling it?” Are they out there having an impact, being a powerful person in a positive way, in terms of business, politics, running the show? Or, are they abusing the power, manipulating and controlling people?

One possibility here is self-blocking because we have letter ten which can go that way. And letter eight can also be very repressive in terms of over-control. So people who are not handling the power aspect of these letters wisely may not be just abusing it in terms of the world, they may be doing a harsh number on themselves. Things like chronic constipation, where they are turning it against themselves on a physical level, are possible.

If 8 and 10 are strong, it can go into this inhibiting, withdrawing, holding in, kind of process. It may be that the problem with the power is what they are doing to themselves, not what they are doing to the outside world. A strong Tenth House does not guarantee they will be running the show and managing the company. They may be into intense self-blocking. Power and control are just as likely to be over-done against the self as against others.

One interesting sidelight: these letters also appear to be prominent in charts like Uri Geller who can apparently bend metal: using mental power to affect and change the physical world. Zip Dobyns has some charts of metal benders like Uri Geller who has Scorpio in the first. They seem to have 8 and 10 emphases, and also often a prominent Vesta, which she associates with single-minded focus. Of course, all of this can also be abused.

There are a variety of mixtures involving partners. The primary partnership letters are 7 and 8. So we can have partners (7 & 8) mixed with parents (4 & 10). This includes Saturn, Moon, Capricorn, Cancer, Fourth House, Tenth House and rulers mixed with Venus, Pallas, Juno, Pluto, Scorpio, Libra, Seventh and Eighth Houses. If this is a major theme, it will be said more than one way in the chart.

One potential here is parents being like partners. A parent may be very equalitarian, sharing the world with his/her children. Or, there may be a parent with whom the child has a continuing tie. The closeness carries on into adulthood. Or, the parent may try to tie the child to him/her through control, manipulation, etc. The child may be overly attached to the parent, or the parent to the child, making other partnerships difficult.

Another side of this is looking for a parental relationship within a partnership. We can look for mommy or daddy as a partner, or try to play mommy or daddy to our partners. I may expect the other to be stable, responsible, and always take care, nurture and support me. Or, I may attract others who expect this of me. People must learn to take turns. If each partner can care for and nurture the other in her/his areas of strength, there is no problem. As long as they can exchange nurturing energy, they maintain the equality by each taking care of the other SOME of the time. If one partner attempts to play “parent” all the time, keeping all the responsibility and all of the power, eventually the other partner will come to resent having none of the power, or the one playing parent will tire of carrying all the load. Relationships in the Seventh and Eighth are meant to be shared.

Parent/partner mixtures also mean that parents are role models for the partnership. The early parental relationship is likely to be reworked, re-experienced in later partnerships. Whatever one did not work out with parents, will be faced again with partners. This includes re-doing positive as well as negative issues. We may find ourselves saying to a partner: “You’re just like my mother!” or “You act exactly like my father!” The tone of voice may be delighted or furious. The point is, we unconsciously attract partners who will elicit in us the same feelings we had with our parents. Even if our partners do not act exactly as our parents did, we will tend to react to them as we did to our parents. We will face the same issues until we master them. With Letter 4, the issue revolves around nurturance, dependency, unconditional love and security. With Letter 10, issues include responsibility, authority, power, work and control.

The perfect partner mixtures are 9 and 12 mixed with 7 and 8. 9 and 12 are where we look for God, perfection, our ultimate dream, our highest value. One option is never settling down to a partnership, because no human being is perfect enough. Searching and searching, and never being satisfied is a bit more likely with Letter 9, because 9 is basically a freedom letter. On a conscious level, we can say, “No one is good enough.” On an unconscious level, we are glorying in our freedom. But both 9 and 12 can search forever, and never be satisfied.

With Letter 12, the rose colored glasses tendency is slightly more likely, although Letter 9 can also do it. A relationship seems perfect, ideal, our dream-come-true. Six months later, we wake up to reality and see how ugly our “perfect” relationship is. The partner may be idealized, put on a pedestal. Then, we wake up disillusioned, disappointed, and go search for a new idol. We seek Prince or Princess Charming, meeting one disappointment after another. Some people will literally “marry God” with this combination—going into the Church, because no human being measures up.

Another variation is the savior looking for a victim. If there is an emphasis on earth and water, the native may want to be the responsible one. So, they search for partners they can save: alcoholics, drug addicts, etc. In such cases, they play healer/helper in the relationship: a Pygmalion and Galatea script. Such relationships tend not to last. Often the “savior” gets tired of doing all the work. Or, the “victim” becomes resentful of his/her powerless position. The victim may retaliate by leaving, having an affair, or becoming even more of a victim—even harder to save. The problem here, as with parent/partner mixtures, is that equality may be lost.

Nine and twelve are the idealistic letters. With them, we have a vision of perfection and a better world. People may be idealistic, spiritual, artistic, religious. If partners share that idealistic energy, and keep a hold on reality, it does not have to be a problem. They can literally have a marriage “made in heaven.” Each values the other and wants the best, the most beautiful relationship possible. They work to create an ideal partnership, but neither expects the other to be perfect, or to provide a smooth, ideal love alone. Each contributes to the vision.

Another theme is the critical letters mixed with partners. Letters 6 and 10 are looking for the flaws and blemishes. They are into picking things apart, and putting them back together in a more productive way. Here we have efficiency experts. If these are mixed with partnership letters, there is a tendency to look at all the flaws in the partnership. Or, to pick partners who do this. There can be a mutual criticism society—very uncomfortable. People who are always criticizing others are generally self-critical and insecure, anyway.

On a positive level, people with these combinations can be super pragmatists: willing to work at their relationships. They are willing to see what is really there and hang in and struggle with it. They want relationships that last, and are willing to work hard to make them endure.

The danger is turning love relationships into a job: becoming critical judgmental of the relationship, the partner, or the self. Or, the job may be used as an escape from problems in the relationship. Responsibility and power need to be shared. Both partners need to use their practicality and competence. If one leans too much on the other for strength, the imbalance will eventually lead to stress, criticism, and/or closing off. Love may get tied to performance. Both partners need to remember they don’t have to DO anything to be loved. It is enough to BE.

By themselves 9 and 12 mixed with partnership are more likely to feel it is truly beautiful, ideal, or lovely. If the perfectionistic letters are mixed in with the critical letters, the consciousness of the flaws will also be there. There is a strong danger of: “It should be perfect, and look at everything that is wrong!” The critical letters alone may be super pragmatic and practical. So, in a sense, either the critical letters alone or the perfectionistic letters alone are often easier to handle than a combination of the two. However, if blended, this combination gives the vision of what can be, and the practicality and willingness to make it happen in reality!

One can also mix 9 and 12 with children, particularly Letter 5, also Letter 4. The native may see children as perfect, an ultimate dream. Some people will say, “Children are my all-in-all, so I’m having lots of them!” Another may say, “I only want perfect children to bring into a perfect world, raised perfectly, so I’ll have none.” People may idolize and idealize their children, spoiling them, wanting them to have an ideal, easy existence. They may expect perfection from their kids, or attract children who expect/demand perfection from them. Etc. Both parties need to allow one another to be human. (We can play savior/ victim with children as well as with partner!) If the idealism, healing/helping, artistic energy is done by both parties in a positive way, it is less likely to express in negative channels.

Mixing perfectionistic letters with Letter l can be: “I should be perfect. My entire personality should be perfect.” Some people may feel, with this combination, “I am perfect.” This is a bit more likely with Letter 9 than Letter 12, due to the natural fire confidence of Letter 9. Either 9 or 12 mixed with 1 may feel, “The world should do for me, since I am so lovely, charming, wonderful, etc.” Or, “I should do everything right, never make a mistake, have it all together, etc.” Letter 9 is more likely to expect an intellectual perfection—having all the right answers, understanding everything. Letter 12 tends to want emotional perfection, to be spiritual, and loving, and never hurt anyone, save the whole world!

In brief, wherever 9 and 12 are involved in our charts, we are likely to manifest perfectionism. Putting 9 and 12 with 6 and 10 is a “perfect job” combination. I’d wager many astrologers have 9 or 12 involved with work. Many of us are professional saviors, helpers, healers. That is one positive way to handle this combination: channel the drive for perfection into a career that makes the world a better, or more beautiful place. This combination can also be the job hopper—the person who is never satisfied in the work. S/he keeps on looking for the perfect job, with just the right pay, just the right hours, etc.

Another issue besides perfectionism is faith. 9 and 12 have to do with our faith, our sense of purpose, and ultimate meaning in life. People who have a strong Letter 9 or 12 emphasis are very concerned with the question of meaning, purpose, direction. If they do not develop a sense of faith, they confront a lot of anxiety, insecurity. People need two kinds of faith: faith in themselves and faith in others, including a Higher Power. Faith may be over-done in the self: “I can do anything. I am so witty and charming, I can talk myself into and out of any situation.” But faith in the self, if under-done shows in lack of confidence, low self-esteem, not believing enough in one’s self to try. However, we need faith beyond ourselves. If we lack faith in others, the tendency is to carry too much of the load. One must be able to let others do their part. Often, with strong Letters 6 and 10, especially, people feel: “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” The world obliges by giving them more and more to do. They get increasingly burdened. So faith includes trusting in God (the Universe, whatever) and other people to take over and do their share after we have done our part.

Another combination is the obsessive-compulsive letters. These are 6, 8 and 10. Here we get the people who want to know all the details, want everything in its place. They yearn for total order, filing cabinets, organizational kinds of bureaucratic things. Everything is so organized and systematized, and there is not a speck of dust around.

There is a place for obsessive-compulsive energy in the world. Anyone who wants to make it through graduate school needs some of this energy. There are times in life when being organized and thorough is important. The danger here is that people will get into seeing only the pieces and forget the whole. They can lose perspective.

The 6, 8, 10 combinations tend to be very effective and efficient. People are often extremely productive. Since this combination also includes the two critical letters, flaw-finding may also be an issue here. If handled wisely, in appropriate areas, this careful, exact energy can be very useful.

Another way of looking at the chart is in terms of a temporal emphasis. Clearly, all of the twelve sides of life operate in the past, present, and future, but some have more of an emphasis one place or another. Some seem very much NOW letters: what is going on right now? How do I feel? They are focused in everyday reality around us. These include Letters 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7. They are all fairly present-oriented.

By contrast, all three water letters (4, 8, 12) have a past orientation. They assimilate, go back to, try to understand the past. Letter 10 also has to do with Karma, consequences of past actions. We get what we have earned (positive or negative). Letter 12 seems to be dual. It has a past orientation, like all water, sentimental, remembering, etc. But Letter 12 is also strongly visionary, dreaming of a future utopia. I feel the glyph of the two fishes swimming in opposite directions (pulling towards the past, and towards the future) is perfect for Letter 12.

Letter 5, 9 and 11 all have a future thrust. Both 5 and 9 are creative, risk-taking, pushing towards doing more, going beyond what has been done, or known, or understood previously. The Fifth House may not be strongly manifested until after puberty: when the individual is capable of procreation. It often seems people get more into their Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh Houses as they grow older. They may express little of their placement there when young.

One can look for emphases here. Is this person strongly past-oriented? Are they a visionary type? Etc. Many people will be fairly balanced, but some will have strong statements one way or another. One can also consider this in chart comparisons. E.g. Put a strongly past-rooted person with a future-visionary person. The “past” person feels hurt when the “future” person forgets “their” song and their anniversary. The future person is upset when the “past” person shows no interest in dreams and visions of ten years hence, or a very progressive invention. Etc.

We can also look at a chart in terms of communication styles. Mercury or Letter Three combined with Letter 1 or 8 is the aggressive verbal style. Words may be used as weapons. There is often a quick mind, and a quick tongue. Sarcasm, irony, and biting speech are possible. Humor may be at the expense of others around them. Impulsive speech is possible, although more likely with Letter 1 than Letter 8 The quick mind and tongue can be very useful in debates and extemporaneous speaking.

The 3/9 combination can be the foot-in-mouth disease: a person with no tact or diplomacy. They blurt out “the truth” and don’t understand when other people’s feelings are hurt. Again, the mind and tongue are often quick. The may talk too much (verbal diarrhea). The may emphasize truth too much, and need to learn compassion. (If other parts of the chart slow down the fiery quickness, the individual may just manifest perfectionism: wanting to say it “just right.”)

The 3/5 combination is again fire mixed with communication, which often speeds it up. These individuals are ego-involved with their minds and communicative abilities. They want to be proud of what they know and can say. They may go into “showing off” verbally. They may be prone to exaggeration, and tall tales. Fish stories tend to grow, because these people want it to be dramatic and majestic.

An interesting confrontation is to watch a strong 3/5 with a strong 3/10 person. The Mercury/Saturn demands precision, exactitude, and relevance. Mercury (Letter 3) mixed with Earth (Saturn, Vesta, Ceres, Virgo, Capricorn, etc.) demands relevance, meaningfulness. “If it isn’t important and significant, don’t say anything!” Concreteness is valued. Accuracy is demanded. The flights of fancy which sometimes appeal to a Mercury/Sun person would bring out all the critical potential of a Mercury/Saturn.

The more Letter Three is mixed with water and earth, the more reticence is likely. People will value security and safety. They don’t want to be hurt, or hurt others with words. They want words to be useful and serve a purpose. The more fire and air, the more people will talk for the pleasure of the words, for the fun of it. Fire and air are highly expressive, and often feed each other to an excess of extraversion.

The 1/9 combination can be the professional missionary. Here, the search for the truth, can come out as “I have the truth. It is the ONLY truth. My way is the only way.” Anita Bryant and Madelyn O’Hare are two examples. (This is a variation on the 1/9 “I should be—or already am—perfect. Here, the missionaries believe they HAVE arrived. They know what the answers are!) If handled positively, this can be an identification with the truth. People may be perpetual seekers and students, always wanting to learn more, to understand more fully. This tends to be a very restless combination, always seeking to go further.

Another way of looking at a chart is the degree of tactile orientation. 2 and 4 are very touch-oriented. They seek physical sensations and contact. 6 and 10 can be aloof and cool. All air (3, 7, 11—7 less so) can also be detached and intellectual, non-physical. Studies have shown how important touch is to EVERYONE. It is a basic human need, but we all grow up in families and environments where needs may be trained in other directions.

Particularly with children, we can see a need for contact, and make provisions for that in the upbringing. Here, again, it is how the child reacts to parenting that is important. Some children may prefer a lot of physical affection and touching. Others prefer a more detached, intellectual approach. If we understand the individual, we can try to best meet his/her unique needs.

When one has both strong 4 and 2 plus 6 and 10 or a lot of air in a chart, there may be ambivalence. The person often has a strong sensual streak, but may not be sure when or how to express it. They may be too dependent on the physical (2 and 4) or too dependent on the mental (air). Being able to do both, in balance, is important. With 6 and 10 involved, there is often a puritanical streak: “That’s not nice,” or “I don’t deserve to enjoy that.” Etc. The person may have to get past the critical tendencies of 6 and 10 in order to enjoy the physical pleasures of 2 and 4.

Letter 8 is also often ambivalent in this area. Letter 8 can be extremely sensual, sexual, and indulgent where physical gratification is involved. It can go to extremes and abuses in the physical arena. However, Letter 8 also yearns for self-control, and is prone to over- doing this self-control, in terms of wearing a hair shirt and falling into highly ascetic ways. Thus, one can have either extreme with Letter 8: incredible indulgence or amazing self-denial.

Another useful division we find in astrology is into the Personal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal (or universal) spheres of life. The first three signs, houses, and rulers thereof are very personally oriented. “What do I want; what do I enjoy. The emphasis and focus is on the self. Letter 4 can be personal or interpersonal. If into the dependency (baby) side of Letter 4, the person thinks only of his/her own needs, security. If into nurturing with Letter 4, the person is oriented towards establishing close, caring relationships with others.

Letters 5, 7, 8 (and 4) are interpersonal. Here is a one-to-one orientation. The focus is on living, loving, sharing together. Adult relationships are a focus. We learn to relate to others. Letter 6 fits in here in terms of learning to work with others, but lacks the warmth and desire for emotional closeness that is a focus with the others.

Letters 9, 10, 11, and 12 are the transpersonal or universal ones. Here, we relate to the wider world, to the big scene, to society as a whole. Hopefully, people have a balance. We have enough of the personal emphasis to know what we want and go after it. We are able to maintain close relationships and share with other adults. We are concerned with broader issues and societal questions as well.

If almost everything is concentrated on the first three letters, the individual may be intensely self-centered and selfish. They may be very closed-in and self-absorbed. If too much is tied into the interpersonal sphere, other people may be too important. They may be over valued. The person may be involved in things that gratify their relationship need but are not good for themselves or for society in long-range terms. People too transpersonally oriented may just be distant or detached in human terms. They could even seem callous or cool; they are not interested in relating to people on an intimate level, merely as pawns in a wider picture. As with most of life, and the horoscope, we want a balance—all sides.

Another key to themes is element and quality balance in a chart. Here, as elsewhere, one must consider planets and houses as well as occupied signs. It appalls me to hear astrologers talk of a chart as having “no fire” when the First, Fifth and Ninth Houses are loaded. Or, when Sun, Jupiter, Mars are on angles, and/or forming strong aspects to one another. That is fire!

Many charts are relatively balanced in terms of the elements. But some will show over or under emphasis. We have only to think of the strengths and weaknesses of each element. Is there too much fire? Fire’s strength is confidence, enthusiasm, action. So potential dangers with an excess include: rashness, impulsivity, self-centeredness, overweening ambition. Too little fire? There may be timidity, passivity, lack of energy. Too much earth? The person may be overly practical, cold and rational. They may be too concrete in their approach to life—too narrow a focus. Too little earth? Impracticality is a danger. So is a lack of solid accomplishments. The individual may be too caught up in abstractions—too wide a focus.

Is there too much air? People may rationalize and intellectualize everything. They may watch the world go by, but not feel or act with it. Too little air? People may lack the necessary detachment and objectivity. They may have difficulties handling abstractions. Too much water? Such an individual may be too sensitive, empathic, vulnerable. S/he may hold too much inside. Too little water? People may lack sufficient empathy, compassion, sense of connection to all of Life.

Some charts will have two out of four elements strongly emphasized. Finding the Person in the Horoscope by Zip Dobyns covers these options. One need only think of the physical attributes of each to get a good image of these element combinations. Fire and earth make molten lava. (Don’t get in the way!) Fire and water make steam (which can scald you.) Fire and air make hot air. (Fun, but always floating off to a new experience.) Earth and air make dust (They are practical and logical but dry and boring.) Earth and water make mud (responsible, but overly serious). Air and water make mist, fog or vapor (hard to see and hard to grasp: they stay in the head.)

Similarly if a chart emphasizes three out of the four elements, we ask ourselves: “What are the strengths of these three elements, and what are potential problems if they are over-used?” What might be a difficulty from the weaker, fourth element? What qualities are needed from it to balance the other three? Etc.

Qualities are also covered in Dr. Dobyns’ book. The basic interrelationship of the qualities she calls a “dilemma.” Each of us has these three dilemmas (cardinal, fixed, mutable) in our lives and horoscopes (in different strengths and different combinations.) A dilemma is an inner conflict we all must cope with. It indicates two (or more) sides of life that are difficult to do together. One side of our nature wants to do this; another side wants to do that. We cannot do both together, at least not to their fullest extent.

The solution to a dilemma is to do each part in moderation, or to do them at different times, in different places. A classic example is the “Freedom-Closeness Dilemma.” This is shown strongly in the 1-4 corner of the Cardinal Dilemma: First House square Fourth House; Aries square Cancer; Mars versus Moon, etc. Other forms include conflicts between rulers of Letter 1 and Letter 4 in any form. A freedom-closeness ambivalence also shows in Letter 1 opposite Letter 7; 1 quincunx 8; 9 quincunx 4; 11 quincunx 4 and 11 square 8.

The freedom urge is to do our own thing, hang loose, not be tied down. The closeness urge is to be involved, have a close, emotional relationship, to need and be needed. It is difficult to be free and close simultaneously.

In dealing with our dilemmas, we may use (and misuse) several psychological defense mechanisms. One of these is repression, which simply means burying something in the unconscious. This is fine as a temporary measure, to gain time and strength to face what we are burying. But it is not a permanent solution.

If we try not to face it, our unconscious keeps throwing it back at us. We draw people and events into our lives that will force us to face that unacknowledged side of our own nature. E.g., we repress our need for closeness and “all of a sudden” are left with the care of an aged parent, or get tied to a possessive partner, or are heavily tied down by responsibilities to our children, etc. Consciously, we feel hemmed in by life. Unconsciously, we are satisfying our repressed need for closeness.

Anything repressed too long can lead to illness. If we look at the parts of the body involved, we can make good educated guesses about the energy being repressed that needs to be brought into the open and expressed. (Energy does not disappear. If we block its expression externally, we merely turn it inside against ourselves.) E.g. Blocked anger is often not dealing with our freedom needs (Letter One) and can lead to headaches, sinus colds, minor cuts, burns, accidents. We want to be fishing instead of sawing, and cut ourselves with the saw. We want to be reading instead of cooking, and burn ourselves on the stove. .... Etc.

Anything connected to water (by sign, house, planet) may be repressed. So we take an extra look and make sure that we have a place to use that energy positively in our lives. We stay in touch with the inner wisdom and flow of our organism, and don’t block it.

Another defense is projection. Projection is the process whereby we attract other people to express qualities we have not yet faced within ourselves. These qualities may be positive (and often are!) as well as negative. The initial urge of this defense is learning. By seeing someone else manifest what we do not allow in ourselves, we can learn to be comfortable with that energy. Unfortunately, that often does not happen.

Projection tends to generate extremes. The more we deny a side of ourselves, the more we attract an over-dose of that energy in others. We dislike the over-dose, so deny the energy in us even more, leading to a stronger projection with the next person. It can become a vicious circle.

One example of projection can be seen in people who deny their own needs for space, freedom and independence. They become attracted to “free souls.” Their partners never hang around for long; they will not make commitments. The partners are living out all the freedom needs which the people will not admit to having. The more they deny and project their own need for space, the more they will find space forced upon them by the other party, the situation, etc.

If we suspect projection is going on, we need to break the circle. We do this by expressing some of the energy we have been denying. We do NOT become just like the other person. Odds are that they are OVER doing the energy. But we use some of the energy in a positive, fulfilling way. As we do more, they can do less. We both move towards the middle and can start to balance the relationships.

In many ways, a horoscope can be viewed as a map of our projections. We see, through our chart, those people who teach us about a given side of life. If we do not learn it from them, we may project that ability. We see it as “out there,” but not “in here” and fall prey to the extremes mentioned. The houses in the horoscope show most strongly areas where we meet ourselves (and may project). E.g., In the Seventh and Eighth, we may project into partners: “My wife is like that!” “My husband is that way, but not me!” The more we deny the quality (be it freedom, competence, comfort, casualness, fun, etc.) in ourselves, the more we encourage our partner to OVER do that quality! We can also project into children (Fifth House), parents (Fourth and Tenth Houses), siblings (Third House), etc.

Take a good look at your relationships! Is there a pattern? If you find yourself attracting the same kinds of partners, or friends, etc., there is a message there. Learn to do what they are doing for you. And if they are over-doing and abusing the energy, learn to express it positively!

The other defense mechanism which can be misused is displacement. This is much as it sounds: dis- or MIS-placing something from where it normally operates. An example is Hitler who had earth in air houses (e.g. Taurus in the Seventh). He displaced earth’s “manipulation and control” energy to “other people” (Seventh House) rather than using it on things, which are the appropriate arena for earth energy. Basically, displacement is just doing what can be a “right” or appropriate action in a “wrong (inappropriate) time or place. The challenge is merely to find the appropriate time and place. Similarly, there are times to be free and times to be close. If we are always free when others want to be close, and close when others want to be free, we are doing an awful lot of displacement. Etc.

The Cardinal Dilemma faces most strongly freedom versus closeness and dominance versus dependency issues, though these can appear in other forms as well. Strongly cardinal people appear to learn through events. Consciously or unconsciously, they make sure they are always active. They attract events from the world. I call them crisis-oriented people. Hopefully, they grow and evolve through these events. They are learning to balance free, independent action, with closeness including home and family, with an equalitarian, sharing relationship, and with a career and success in the world.

Fixed people are NOT unchanging. They are merely resistant to OUTSIDE influences. They change on their own terms, not on anyone else’s. Power is an issue. Sensuality and shared resources may be a battleground. They are learning to enjoy the physical world without over-indulging; to control themselves without becoming ascetic. They are learning their place in the universe: their right to power in proportion to the rights of others. They are learning to balance a need for stability and security with a need for risk and change.

Mutable people want to know everything about everything and everyone. Their insatiable curiosity and multiple interests and talents may lead to a lack of focus. Perfectionism is often a challenge. The issue of faith in themselves and something Higher is important. They may be torn between quantity knowing versus quality accomplishing. Etc.

All of these dilemmas are covered in Finding the Person. Each highlights a part of our inner nature: showing two or more contradictory parts of life. We each make our own resolution. We may deny, repress and get sick. We may project and meet more and more extremes in the world. We may displace and act inappropriately. Or, we can learn the delicate balancing act of finding an appropriate, healthy, satisfying time and place for each part of our psyche and horoscope. Life is incredibly rich and complex. The horoscope mirrors this with its millions of different combinations. Yet within that vastness of details are certain basic human needs, patterns, and tendencies. The Zip Code helps us to recognize the basic human drives and inner contradictions we all share. Because we are all individuals, each of us must work out our own personal, unique solutions. The horoscope can help us to see the pattern and potential of the whole. It is up to us to make (and re-make each day) the balance appropriate for us personally. As we incorporate more of what we are and can be, we live out fuller expression of all parts of our horoscopes—and lead richer, more satisfying (and more complicated) lives. We lose our simple answers, our blacks and whites. We gain a limitless spectrum of colors and experiences.

Here’s to a richer, fuller life!

Following is a short summary of most of the patterns discussed, with a few additional ones, which I think are self- explanatory. (E.g., We find mechanical skills often with strong contacts between Mercury, Mars, and Uranus—Letters 3, 6, 11 and 1.)

A parenthesis indicates this letter of the alphabet does not fit totally or ONLY in this position. It shows overlap. E.g., Letter 4 is both Personal and Interpersonal, as discussed.

PERSONAL: 1, 2, 3, (4). INTERPERSONAL: (4), 5, (6), 7, 8. TRANSPERSONAL: (6), 9, 10, 11, 12.

PAST: 4, 8, 10, 12. PRESENT: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7. FUTURE: 5, 9, 11, 12.

ARTISTIC: 2, 7, 12. POWER: (2), 5, 8, 10.

WORK: 6, 10. CRITICAL: 6, 10. IDENTITY: 1.


PARTNERS: 7 & 8. PARENTS: 4 & 10.

MECHANICAL ABILITIES: 1, 3, 6, 11 (two or three or four together).

ANXIETY, PHOBIA, FEAR (if not handled positively): 4, 10, 12.






FREEDOM: 1, 9, 11.

CLOSENESS: 4, 5, 7, 8.

SECURITY: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, (12). (EARTH & WATER).

RISK: 1, 3, 5, (7), 9, 11. (FIRE & AIR).





Copyright © 1981 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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