“Why the rose is the symbol of the love?” asked a friend of a friend during one of the many late night hangouts in when I was in grad school. “Why not orchida?” Behind the general amusement and friendly ribbing this produced, we recognized there was definitely something there. Why indeed?
We are all tuned to the many symbolic images that pervade our world. A room with black and white pictures and framed dog-eared yellowing newspaper clippings, a rich golden satin-smooth dress, the earthy smell stirred up from the arid soil after a flash thunderstorm — these sights and smells are suggestive, because they are symbolic. They may suggest different things to different people, given life by memory and association. A particular song for you could be symbolic of excitement and joy; for me, it may well suggest loss and longing.
Words can be symbolic as well, evoking many possibilities. Consider the word “seduction”. The meaning commonly ascribed to this word is the act of physical seduction. What about the other meanings and nuances: persuasion, inducement, wooing, baiting, and all the related images of drawing one in? “Connecting with another human being, whether between the sheets of your book or the bedsheets, involves some kind of seduction” says Betsy Lerner in her book “The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers.” Seduction is a form of relating, ascribed to Venus, and there are so many different ways in which this can be employed, depending on other factors in the horoscope.
Old astrological programs that ran off the terminal were constrained to print all horoscope entities in plain text. But planets and zodiac signs are not literal entities in the horoscope; the moment you write “Jupiter” instead of drawing its symbol, you have reduced the lively, exuberant Jupiter of mythology and metaphor Jupiter to a literal, inanimate entity of little account. Horoscopes use symbols for the planets and the zodiac signs because each planet and the sign it is in holds the key to an entire metaphorical world, which may be be animated in a myriad of ways in a person’s life.
The symbols, also called glyphs, of planets are made up of various little brushstrokes that each represent an entire world. The Sun is represented by a combination of two brushstrokes, the outer circle of the spirit, and the inner dot of manifestation. The circle without the center is the spirit unmanifest; the dot manifests the spirit in human form, in each one of us, and our journey in this life will need to keep it centered in the Sun. The Sun in each sign then represents a different quality of centering, according to the essential characteristics of the sign.
The Moon’s symbol of the crescent is the sickle of growth, that of Mercury brings together the circle of spirit, the sickle of growth, and the cross of matter. The symbol of Venus brings together the circle of the spirit and the cross of matter, and so on. It is not always easy for everyone to feel the glyph in the flesh, for there is a translation of the printed symbol into something that evokes a feeling, which can then be translated again into a way of being; and there are so many different ways of being.
Cold can be felt in different ways: literally through the weather, or emotionally through lack of warmth in a relationship. A certain chilliness is apparent when someone ignores you; ultimately cold creates distance. But distance creates objectivity, of seeing something for exactly what it is, of lending perspective. But the perspective that is gained with respect to the outside world is also a perspective that is established toward oneself in material form. It is the only way to take me out of my skin and re-establish the connection with the spirit. This is all the work of Saturn, which can by this process bestow wisdom, but that itself requires a realization of the process at a level beyond the literal.
The value of astrology lies in the connection we can make between the way we live our life and the symbolism of the horoscope. Our identity is a fluid concept. We are not what we were twenty or even ten years ago. We can map our current identity to our horoscope, and even so, the symbols in the horoscope can inform us of other identities we may own, other possibilities of being. In fact, it can also tell us when transformations of identity are most likely to occur, and in what direction.