"We are born at a given moment in a given place, and like vintage years of wine we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born."
This article considers a way of categorising the zodiacal signs into their
outgoing and indrawing expression.
One of the three main ways to classify the signs of the zodiac is by gender - (the other two being by element and by quality). In the past, the genders were generally referred to as positive and negative. Nowadays, these particular terms are used less and less, as they tend to suggest good and bad, or ease and difficulty, which of course is not so. The designation into masculine and feminine is now more commonly applied.
The main function of this categorisation is to differentiate between the outer- and inner-directed inclination of a planetary influence in a given sign. It suggests two possible modes of behaviour and expression. This can perhaps be most clearly seen as the differing reactions and responses to the occurrences and particulars of life incarnate.
The positive, male principle corresponds to an outgoing vital approach, and mainly affects action. The primary need here is for outward assertive activity and so there is an emphasis on channelling the energies into the exterior world, and the experiences therein. This is a self-expressive, dynamic influence, with an orientation towards the objective world and the future. The development of the outer life is a strong focus. Action is a key word - souls here tend to throw themselves into situations and actively seek to 'do'. They are desirous of the new, and willing to take a few risks in order to make of life what they will. These are the fighters as they see the physical plane as something to be directed and commanded.
When these signs are accentuated, a speculative, explorative quality can be evident. Positive signs are fundamentally extrovert, and will choose active ways of dealing with life. When faced with a problem or difficulty, the natural impulse is to solve it through direct intervention and positive action. A resolute attitude tends to be adopted and so people here can express themselves fully on whatever line may be theirs. The perspective towards circumstances and events in their environment usually tends towards being direct, emphatic and confident. Thus, control of external matters is sought by employing intelligence and aiming for advancement.
The negative, female principle corresponds to a receptive, indrawn approach and mainly affects character. The primary need here is for concentration on the inner life and personal reactions, and so there is an emphasis on channelling the energies into the interior world of feelings and sensations. This is a self-repressive, passive influence with an orientation towards the subjective world and the past. The development of the inner world is thus a strong focus. Understanding is a key word. Souls here tend to think and ponder on things before actually doing anything. They prefer the known and familiar, and so might not always attempt the new. These are the yielders, as they incline to see the physical plane as something to be carefully scrutinised.
When these signs are accentuated, a protective, reserved quality can be evident. Negative signs are fundamentally introvert, and will choose a more quiescent route. When faced with a problem or difficulty, the natural impulse is to solve it through reflection before practical implementation. A fatalistic attitude tends to be adopted and so people here can attract experiences rather than initiating them. The perspective towards circumstances and events in the outer environment usually tends towards being non-resistant and resigned. Instead of seeking to change exterior circumstances, or striving to improve them, they can be merely endured or accepted.
"The main function of this categorisation is to differentiate between the outer- and inner-directed inclination of a planetary influence in a given sign."
Signs of the fire and air elements are said to be masculine. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius therefore tend to greet life in a relatively unconstrained manner, being predominantly concerned with external matters and objective considerations. Those of earth and water are said to be feminine. Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces encounter life from more of an internal perspective, being predominantly concerned with the subjective world of perception, response and feeling rather than with outer manifestation.
There is a natural affinity between air and fire, and between earth and water, as they rule opposing signs and houses. For example, Gemini rules the third (air) and Sagittarius the ninth (fire). Both are concerned with actively seeking to gain knowledge in the outer world - on local and universal levels respectively. With of Virgo (earth) and Pisces (water), there is a concentration on establishing the inner qualities of service towards self and others in the sixth, and in the twelfth towards the universe as a whole.
Taking the seven traditional planets, each has an outward and inward expression.
The Sun and the Moon can be seen as complementary sides of the same individualising principle. The Sun represents the spirit, the infinite self, whilst the Moon portrays the personality and the consciousness of the present incarnation. The outward expression of this principle can be seen in Leo (ruled by the Sun). This is the sign of the will, of power, creativity, self-expression and passion. Cancer (ruled by the Moon) on the other hand, is concerned with the feelings and emotions, with nurturance, sensitivity, receptivity and security.
Mercury, often referred to as the planet of mind, denotes the principles of intelligence, communication and the mental processes. Its outward manifestation can be seen through the sign of Gemini, by gathering facts and information, and passing on the knowledge so gained to others. The inner manifestation, through the discriminative sign of Virgo, inwardly digests all that has been learnt, and seeks practical means and ways of employing wisdom in the service of self and of others.
Venus exemplifies the principles of harmony and beauty. This is exercised outwardly in the urge to form loving and compatible relationships, symbolised in the sign of Libra. The inner impulse for aesthetic appreciation and establishing a strong value system is shown in the sign of Taurus.
Mars, the planet of energy, desire and motivation rules the signs of Aries and Scorpio. These principles are directed outwards through the Arian qualities of drive, enterprise, initiating different projects, and generally pioneering the new. Inwardly they are expressed through Scorpio through intensity, often searching out what lies beneath the obvious, and by exploring the hidden depths of self and of the metaphysical realms.
Jupiter is the planet of expansion, of growth, and of the accumulation of experience. Outwardly Sagittarius seeks this through what is termed higher learning - education, philosophy, religion and travel, to name but a few. It constantly aims for distant goals and horizons in the material, mental and spiritual spheres. Pisces on the other hand, as the inward expansive principle, seeks development through imagination. This is the dreamer of dreams - where life is centred not in the practicalities of everyday life, but on the boundless inner worlds.
Saturn symbolises the principles of structure, of consolidation, and of control. The masculine impulse of this principle can be seen in Aquarius. Here, the outer morality is accentuated in a social context, and directed towards groups associations and causes, asserting as it does, humanitarian and altruistic ideals. Conversely, Capricorn is concerned with personal inner discipline and morality. It is the sign par excellence of caution, order, discipline, and of establishing and maintaining the highest possible standards.
In a general sense, the natal horoscope is considered positive if masculine signs predominate, and negative if there is a preponderance of feminine signs. The gender of the Angles too have to be taken into consideration, especially the Ascendant, as this signifies the outer expression of the personality and inner motivation.
This article was first published in the Astrological Journal 'Altair' in February 2004.
Each house is essentially ruled by a particular sign, (Aries/first, Taurus/second etc.), yet can be accidentally ruled by another sign falling on the cusp. Planets too are placed in certain houses. The Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto are considered to be masculine planets, whilst the Moon, Venus and Neptune feminine planets. Mercury can exhibit both principles, whilst Saturn is more of a synthesis of them. All have a gender to be taken into consideration.
It is through studying the especial combination in a given chart that a great deal of valuable information can be gleaned as to the ease or otherwise of expressing the full measure of the potential life experiences suggested. If there is a sharp conflict within a house, either by rulership and/or by the planets contained within it, then tensions can arise. However, it must be taken into account that entire compatibility could lead to inertia - a lack of motivation to develop and cultivate the possibilities inferred. A certain amount of tension can be a good and positive thing as it leads to growth and advancement - urging the soul to push its limits and to accept and meet the challenges of life incarnate. As always, the goal is co-ordination and integration, to resolve any perceived differences and difficulties, and to learn to synthesise opposing influences so as to live as full and meaningful a life as possible.