Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Astrology of Independence

© 2014 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

In Celebration of Independence Day in the USA

Gestalt Prayer
 © Frederick (Fritz) Perls

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to
live up to your expectations,
and you are not in this world to
live up to mine.
You are you,
and I am I;
and if by chance
we find each other,
it's beautiful.

A really savvy mom I knew many years ago once told me, “I realized when my sons were just babies that I was training them, bit by bit, to leave home.” Never mind that she was a Sagittarius and would be more keenly aware of the joys of leaving the nest. This is still a remarkable realization for someone not far from the glow of early motherhood.

As we celebrate the 238th birthday of the United States of America on a holiday called Independence Day, I thought it would be interesting to look at the quality of independence—so revered by Americans—how we find it in an astrology chart and to consider its importance to us as individuals. But before we jump in, I think Americans have to remember that our values about individuality and independence are not globally accepted as a good thing. It’s really enlightening to see ourselves from others’ points of view. That’s why my husband likes watching news from the BBC or any country other than our own.

The vast majority of Radical Virgo readers are American, but let’s start with the one way others see us that we share.  In An Adventure in American Culture and Values, an international student guide to the USA, individuality is at the top of a list of major US American values. Single-family, individual, separate homes are one way this is expressed even in our urban planning. We are rewarded as kids for being goal-oriented and not too clingy to family. “Going away to college” has long been considered the norm and ideal for making the first big break from mom’s apron strings.

Like all continuums in life, the one that starts with Dependence and ends with Independence is a pathway we traverse, back and forth, through our entire existence on Planet Earth. We have to find where we fit between its two extremes. And, of course, where we reside on the road between Commune and Single Family Dwelling may vary during our lives. Our natal astrology charts will reflect our basic independence orientation. Aquarians might be happy living in an individual pod on the Planet Far Out, as long as everybody got together for group fun and games now ‘n’ then. The most typical Cancer might be happy never to leave home in the first place.

Let’s look at the signs, planets and houses most associated with “being independent.” Look at your own chart to determine your personal emphasis. The idea of this exercise is to see the level of independence your birth chart calls for—and to find out if you’re answering the call. Does your life match your birth chart’s wiring on this issue?

“In my humble opinion” rules what follows, and I’d be happy to hear your ideas in the Comment. (For another view, here’s a Top 5 Most Independent Signs list.)

Independent Signs

Aries.  It’s the opposite of Libra, the relationship sign. We joke about Aries being “me first” and literally being first whenever possible. Pioneers and trailblazers tend to travel alone—or at least at the front of the pack, far from the others left in the Ram’s wake of charging forward.

Virgo.  Virgos are known for being self-contained. See The Radical Virgo, the article after which this blog is named. In the sign of Virgo, an individual learns self-reliance and the inner wholeness that can lead to having his or her whole self to give in the next sign, Libra.

Scorpio.  Scorps can “go either way” when it comes to the issue of independence.  They are often fine with long periods of isolation, and when they partner, they tend to focus (obsess?) on one partner deeply. Their quiet introspection, and on the darker side, their sometimes brooding nature does not court frivolous attachment. Not only do they often go it alone for extended periods; they very selective in the company they keep—in some ways, even outdoing Virgos. (Would-be suitors, be prepared to fill out an invisible application form.)

Sagittarius. You’d think with all the travel, talking and philosophizing that they do, Sagges would be the poster people for interaction. They are but their mantra is, “Don’t fence me in.” I know one Sag who took over 20 years to say yes (finally) to her fiancé’s proposal. (Talk about a patient man.) This individual requires a lot of freedom in relationship, as do all the “independent” signs.
When a person is in relationship because they want to be instead of because they think they should be; when he or she finally says yes to a long-term commitment, it’s momentous.

Aquarius. Often cited as the archetypal independent sign, Aquarius is often too busy with issues of society to get too close to individuals. Not to mention, with Uranus as its ruler, Aquarius is about as predictable and constant in relationships as lightning in a summer storm. Changeability is deeply woven into the Aquarian nature, and like Sag, Aquarius does not like fences or “shoulds.” On the other hand, when Aquarius—or any of the more independent signs—is there because they want to be and aren’t pressured to commit until they’re ready, they can ultimately thrive in relationship and learn to relish interdependence.

"Independent” Planets

While each of the “independent signs” has a ruling planet, there are other planets that get into the act when they have a lot of emphasis in a chart. If you have a lot of aspects to any of these planets, it increases your I.Q. (Independence Quotient).

Sun.  “I gotta be me” is the Sun’s tagline, and taken to an extreme, very Solar people can be self-centered. A Solar emphasis can keep a native isolated at the hub of his/her personal solar system, to the point of not needing anyone’s help or input, thank you. In this case, the Sun-emphasized chart can speak to a need for a lot of independence—and perhaps being “too independent.”

Mercury.  Mercury is one of those “can go either way” planets when it comes to independence. Mercurial people think a lot, which is a solo activity—but they love to communicate, which takes others. However, there can also be a danger with many aspects to Mercury of talking more than connecting, a potential distancing strategy.

Jupiter. The grand gestures of the Jupiterian person can be as distancing in a certain way as the verbosity of an overly Mercurial type. Gifts and huge kindnesses often leave the recipient feeling beholden to the giver, even if that is not the conscious intent of the Jupiter person. This creates a certain distance and discomfort. (How will I ever repay him or her? What is really expected of me?) Always being the giver leaves a person in a psychologically superior position. They don’t have to have the humility of thanking someone kindly nor the possible appearance of needing help. They can view themselves as strong and never needy. If you’ve got lots of Jupiter or even a good Jupiter trine going like I have, look at how your generosity can be a sign of over-independence, especially if you rarely allow yourself to receive.

Chiron.  Since Chiron is my area of expertise, I thought I should comment that the same thing can go for always being the teacher/healer as it is for Sagittarians who are always the giver. After all, Chiron and Sag are both centaurs! (Some say the same centaur, but that’s another conversation.) If you have a lot of Chiron aspects, look to see if you are using your healing and counseling skills to create I/Thou distances between yourself and others. Do you really enjoy being the centaur, healer or teacher on the mountain—or would you prefer to be more down to earth in peer relationships where sharing each other’s gifts occurs in a more egalitarian flow?  Food for thought …

Uranus.  As the ruler of Aquarius, of course numerous aspects to Uranus will impact your Indy Quotient. It’s hard to find fellow unicorns so far out on the leading edge, and this loneliness tends to be a life-long challenge. It’s not that Uranians don’t want friends; they love friends. However, finding friends that really understand them can be quite a quest.

It’s not surprising that the entire Independence/ Dependence conundrum is contained within the essence of Uranus and the sign it rules, Aquarius. Uniqueness is the ultimate form of independence. When we regard independence highly, we have to find our way to allow others to do their own thing while we do ours. Solving this interpersonal puzzle is why The Gestalt Prayer was so popular in the 1970s when Pluto was conjunct Uranus and our relationship to both of these powers was being transfigured.

Pluto.  Which, speaking of, brings us, finally, to Pluto. If you’re like me, one of the astrologer/astrology students who is still laughing over the “demotion” of Pluto from the status of planet to dwarf planet, you’re laughing not to cry over the irony. Like all the outer planets, Pluto is potent—and if I had to name only one that’s the most powerful in its effects, I’d have to say Pluto. Pluto is the power you will not win against. Pluto is about joining your small will to the bigger will—some would say God’s Will or Universal Will.

Unfortunately, we experience Pluto most in its negative archetype. We have plenty of cultural icons to fill the role. There’s Darth Vader in Star Wars. In Harry Potter, it’s He Who Must Not Be Named (but I’m Uranian, so I’ll say it—Voldemort—ducking lightning). On The Sopranos, it was Tony Soprano. They may have had their minions over whom they had power, but did any of these guys have any true, close friends?

Power may be the ultimate aphrodisiac, but in the end there’s no one to do it with but yourself. That is when power is one-way. The ultimate Plutonian lesson is to harness The Force and the power of good—and to help everyone find that power within themselves.

If you are very Plutonian, how are you harnessing your power? Does your power frighten? Put off? Plutonian independence can come more from isolation due to the difficulty others have being in your energy field without a lead vest. (A Plutonian who transmits fierce energy probably has not yet come to terms with his or her own issues of power abuse, usually as a victim.) This chart emphasis calls for the ultimate inner work to find your rightful place on the Dependence-Independence gamut. That involves finding your own positive power and empowering others to live in their own light. When those lights blend the fireworks are amazing—the kind we’d ooh and aah over any 4th of July. Some positive Plutonian empowerment figures are Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and a host of other celebrities who have overcome power abuse of various kinds.

On Independent Houses

When working with the astrological alphabet of planets in signs and houses to make sense and sentences out of horoscopes, I think the houses are generally neutral on the Dependence/Independence scale with a few of exceptions. A very emphasized 1st house can indicate strong need for independence, just as a strongly emphasized 4th or 7th can mean a strong need for relatedness. Some houses can lend themselves to independence by over-emphasis not in and of themselves—but by how you live in them. For instances, if you’re obsessed with money and have a crowded 2nd, you may shut out relatedness for the pursuit of wealth. Same thing with workaholism in the 6th house of work or the 10th of career. On the other hand, if you’re wired for relationship, you could be a team player and do the activities of these houses with others. However, the four angles and their house pairs do have Dependence and Independence built into their oppositions—1st/7th and 4th/10th.

Putting it All Together

If you look at your chart through the lens of your Indy Quotient, the next question is whether the way you’re living your life fits with your dependence or independence needs. Sometimes life just isn’t working, a general malaise you can’t quite name. The “cure” can be something as simple as realizing the mismatch between your life as it is now and your actual needs.

Even if you only learn from this review of your own independence factors that you’re living your dream—and isn’t “the American Dream” what we celebrate every 4th of July?—it’s worthy of waving a few sparklers for the wonderful freedoms we have to live our lives in the main however we want. To live in a country where we can decide how independent to be—or not to be—is a gift as precious as life itself.

And, of course, the chart of our country also reflects the puzzle of the Dependence to Independence continuum—Venus, Jupiter, Sun and Mercury in Cancer, Aquarius Moon and Sag Rising.[1]

Click chart to enlarge

Happy Independence Day—and Happy Independence Day every day, as much of it as you want or need.


Photo Credits: US Flag and Fireworks © romantiche -; Alone on Own Planet © prihodkosvetlana -


[1] The  Sagittarius Rising or “Sibley” chart of the USA is the most popular among astrologers, but it’s not by any means the only one advocated. Search “astrology charts USA” to learn about some of the interesting alternatives.


Mads Elung-Jensen said...

Happy Independence Day, Joyce.

I read your post yesterday and meditated a bit the day through, while my Moon took its monthly trip through my 12th house, visiting my Pluto and Uranus who reside so deeply hidden on its way.

I had a dream about a year ago, where I left my apartment and walked a very hard asphalted way and ended in a wonderful new home where everything was furnished with brown velvet, even the walls.

It seemes now clear that I had changed my life and now the walk remained to the place where having changed my life I could now live my change.

My achilles heel (or one of them) with Neptune in my 2nd house is my very nebulous relation to material values, and I have while walking that asphalted road had to ask for financial help not once but so many times, without any hope or possiblity that I would be able to pay back, like I would do myself.

Every time has been confronting a moster of fear that I might risk a no, which also has happened (but only once) when the request would not seem appropriate or it was a thing that they would not or could not givt.

But otherwise I have been so generously supported by my inner circle and also like Blanche depended on the kindness of strangers.

This past month I have also been confronted with so many friends and significant (perhaps) one time encounters with suffering people who claimed they cherish their independency more than anything.

And the remaining question is of course to what purpose do I use our so difficultly achieved independence.

It surely cannot be an aim in itself but a means to with I am able to give myself freely without the codependency that I often earlier experienced as part of the package.

Forcing myself to trust that I be helped and allowing myself to be dependent has to me been the real way to live my change and be truly independent. Strange and wonderful.

Joyce Mason said...

Mads, you are so right on about how too much independence is not necessarily a good thing. Thanks for sharing your experience from the laboratory of your life. I am still learning my right relationship with this wonderful quality that works best in just the right amount. I think it's a bit harder for us in the US, as this value is touted right up there with Mom and apple pie--another metaphor for our Cancer/Sag/Aquarian chart and our struggle with the Big I. Bless you for your personal (and European) perspective!

Maybe we need to have an Interdependence Day, which seems to me to be the happy medium.