Someone you know?

Are your holiday gatherings family fun or a family feud?  Does everyone get along or does getting together usually result in a fight between two or more members?  Do you dread the holidays because it means another obligatory dysfunctional gathering with some of the people you like least in the entire world?  If you're still reading then I assume you can relate, and if so, you're not alone.

It's no wonder that the suicide rate goes up over the holidays.  If there's anything that triggers depression and frustration it's an annual reminder that your family doesn't fit the pretty holiday picture everyone would like to be a part of.  Every year you try again and every year it turns out the same, saturated with arguments, disagreements, jealousies, gossiping, back-biting, anger and you promising yourself you'll never be in the same room with those people (or one particular someone) again.  Deep down, you know you love them, but in the reality of getting along it simply doesn't happen.  Someone's buttons get pushed, whether they're yours or someone else's, and it's all downhill from there.

Believe me, as the mother of six grown children, each of whom has a strong personality, I know that scenario well.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.  As a parent, nothing would make me happier than to have the people I love the most all together having a good time.  I've made various attempts to make it happen but somehow it never turns out as planned.  It hurts, but I've finally learned to accept the fact that my children don't care about each other like I care about them.  It institutes nothing but stress and misery on their part for me to try and have them together so I just need to deal with it and see them separately, or at least make sure certain individuals aren't forced to be in the same room just to make me happy.  After all, if they're not happy, neither am I.  So I concede.

Of course as an astrologer I understand the problem better than most, at least logically.  Emotionally, not so much.  As an only child myself I had this romanticized view of a large family that clearly involved a strong element of Neptunian delusion.  Letting it go via a Gemini Moon is possible but still difficult.  Interestingly enough there are usually clear ties between the charts of children and their parents.  Sun signs, ascendants, Moon signs and planetary placements typically tie together in interesting ways.  For example, both my parents were Virgos and I have a Virgo Ascendant.  My Mars is in the same sign and degree as that of my father, my mother's Mars is three degrees behind that.  That ought to tell you something about my birth family right there.  It certainly explained a lot to me.  There are similar links between my chart and my children's, some favorable, some not.  There are partile trines and various conjunctions and I, also, get along better with some than others.  The synastry between them varies, as it would with any individuals.

It's fascinating that there seems to be more than astrology involved in this ongoing contention.  My mother had three sisters and they all fought well into ripe old age.  In birth order, my mother was the third born and got along best with her youngest sister, the fourth.  She fought the most with the second born and was never really that close to the eldest.  In fact, my mother was not even on speaking terms with her second born sister when that sister died suddenly.  Can you spell G-U-I-L-T?  Interestingly enough my four daughters follow a similar pattern.  On their father's side, his uncles had a family Thanksgiving tradition of engaging in a fist fight in the front yard; it would have been inside except when it came to blows their mother (his grandmother) threw them out of the house.  Thus, it appears my children were not endowed with peaceful or harmonious DNA, either.

However, this disharmony is also visible astrologically.  The signs do not all "get along" as you would expect.  In general, they will get along with their own kind i.e. sign (usually, but not always, of course) and those that share the same element.  For example, Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius); Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn); Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) and Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces).  Some elements get along better than others as well, like they do in nature.  Fire and Air are usually reasonably compatible and Earth and Water tend to get along.  Looking at that metaphorically, Fire can't burn without Air while Air is warmed by Fire.  Water nourishes the Earth and Earth stabilizes Water.  (More metaphorical views  of the elements can be found here.)  This also applies to Moon signs since the Moon rules your emotional nature.  And sometimes Fire and Air can cause an explosion, so even then there are no guarantees, but as a general rule it seems to work.

The sign nextdoor, or the one on either side of yours, often isn't such a good match.  They form an aspect known as a semisextile which usually indicates friction or an annoyance.  This aspect can also indicate an opportunity in disguise that will take effort to achieve but is there nonetheless.  This is often not too noticeable when you're one-on-one.  You make some concessions, ignore a few traits that you find irritating and manage to get along.  However, if you get caught in the squeeze between two people who surround your sign on either side you are likely to feel like the odd man out.  The ones on either side are going to be of the Fire/Air or Earth/Water variety and more than likely leave you in that uncomfortable gap thinking, "So what am I, chopped liver?"

Then there's the modalities, or quadruplicities as they're known officially in astrological circles.  These are the Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn); Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius); and Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces).  These signs form a square between each other which is tension, pure and simple.  In some respects they are too much alike.  Cardinal signs want to call the shots, Fixed signs aren't going to change anytime soon and Mutable signs may accept change more readily but usually are so different otherwise there's not much to build upon.

Of course this is all over-simplified, but if you think of how the element and modality of those in your family match up with yours you may discover an "Aha!" or two along the way.  There can be mitigating features in your charts such as Moon and ascendant compatibility that smooth things out a bit or even vice versa, meaning compatible signs can likewise be disturbed by other placements.  However, at the most basic, core level these affinities hold quite true without getting into the specific personality traits of the different signs.  So does that mean it's impossible to get along with certain people and not worth trying?  Not necessarily.  If there's a desire to get along, especially if both parties can maintain a good sense of humor,  sometimes understanding how the other person is programmed can build additional tolerance.  For example, when that person strays into annoying behavior rather than getting angry you can simply point it out by saying something that isn't judgmental such as "You are such a Taurus!"

Many years ago when I was a manager at NASA I had a staff meeting one time that illustrated these differences.  I gave provided an overview of the characteristics of the signs, elements and modalities during which there was a lot of head-nodding in agreement, then gave everyone color-coded sticky notes for their element and had them each gather in one of the corners of the room.  After that I had the Fire and Air people and Earth and Water people get together on opposite sides of the conference table.  At that point one of my supervisors made the observation that everyone in her group was on the other side.  It was both amusing and revelatory at the same time.  Then we did the same things with modalities.  To make a long story short, there was increased understanding that day how everyone is programmed differently at birth and that simply can't be changed.  Everyone went back to their cube, put up their sticky notes in a prominent place, and somehow managed to get along better for a long time after that as they accepted each other's differences with a greater depth of understanding.

So, it might be worth it to try a similar exercise with your family.  It probably won't solve all your problems but it may at least highlight the fact that people can't help who and what they are.  Understanding that other family members aren't going to change and that there's a good chance they don't deliberately push your buttons or set out to piss you off may make the difference between outright war and peaceful coexistence.  If you really want to quantify it, I offer a "Family Dynamics Package" that looks at the synastry between the charts of family members in detail for a cost that turns out to be quite a bargain when you consider what they would cost individually.  That's my contribution toward peace on Earth and good will toward men.  Especially those to whom you happen to be related. 

Merry Christmas.  May the New Year bring you and yours the love, understanding and abundance you seek through gaining a glimpse of the divine in everyone.  Yes, everyone.

Compatibility Central International Academy of Astrology

Signology 101

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