Yin and yang

Sun and Moon ~ Man and Woman?

The older Uranian Astrology repeatedly says Sun is Man, Moon is Woman. People predictably and inevitably tend to view things from a limited human perspective, often with a great deal of anthropomorphism, projection, prejudice, and value judgments. Granted that even with efforts to move to a more universal perspective, each person will still see through the limited lens of their consciousness and perspective; yet such efforts are worthwhile. One of the most valuable things that some indigenous cultures such as the Native American offer is a perceptual and conceptual framework to move beyond "species chauvinism" in humble efforts to set aside the personal human perspective as much as possible and learn to engage with other beings and universal energies. Our traditional western human minds are very greedy and controlling ~ convincing your mind to soften and step back, to be willing let go of control, which is very different from losing control, is the hardest part. But the efforts to do so are rewarding beyond belief.

For a moment, let's try to set aside the human agenda and cultural filters and consider a more universal and neutral perspective, then come back to the human part. It works well to get a foundation of understanding on the symbolic archetypal level, and from there move forward to application and manifestation. Is the Moon a woman or a man? No. The Moon is a moon. The issue is not man/woman or male/female, but the more subtle concepts of masculine and feminine, which refer to two different kinds of energy and movement. Very simply stated, the nature of the "masculine" is "up and out, expansive". The nature of the "feminine" is "down and in, consolidating".

Let's first consider the elements, which are wonderful manifestations of universal energy. Sadly, many people rarely experience the elements in unfettered expression. The water they know comes out of a faucet, the air is stagnant and polluted; where they walk the earth is covered with concrete, and the fire they see is when they flick their lighters to light a cigarette... there is no life to any of them. Consider the full living range of expression of these glorious energies, from their gentle healing ways to their full wrathful, destructive expressions. Water may be a gentle nourishing rain, or a playful stream, or a magnificent and glorious waterfall, or it may be torrential downpours that cause deep erosion, or tidal waves and storms... Air may be a playful cooling breeze, or it may be a tornado, or anything in between. Earth can be our nourishing mother growing our food, solid and dependable beneath our feet, or it can quake and tremble, the upheaval destroying so much. Fire can be soft candlelight, or heat to cook our food, or be a warming crackling fire in our fireplace on a winter's eve, or it can be a raging forest fire devouring everything in its path.

As astrologers, we have been taught that water and earth are the feminine elements, and fire and air are the masculine elements. So what exactly does that mean? Consider that the movement and intent of water and earth is always down and in, unless they are interacting with some expression of fire and/or air. Please be aware that the elements all do interact with each other in a myriad of ways... but in simple expression, earth likes to consolidate and settle, water always seeks to move down and in. Air as the most mutable element will go in every direction but will often rise, and fire is the only element that always rises... both will take every opportunity to expand to the fullest. We see fire and water as the exemplars of the masculine and feminine of the elements, because they are the most uncompromising in these energy expressions.

Now consider the Sun and Moon. All the planetary energies are archetypal beings, and therefore cannot and should not be fully understood or contained by our limited human minds. They are multidimensional and multifaceted in expression. We can see how they play astrologically, or in the Kabbalah, or read their stories in myth, which can shed much light and perspective on them, yet don't be too eager to read the mythology as the astrology. Most cultures do attribute solar energy to the masculine, and lunar energy to the feminine, but that is not so in at least some applications in Tibetan Buddhist practices, in which the solar channel (on the right side in women, and the left side in men) correlates to the feminine, and the opposite lunar channel correlates to the masculine.

The Sun is a star, it shines unconditionally - its nature is Fire. In fact, all fire and life on this physical dimension derives from the Sun. Air is also allied with the Sun and its solar winds, etc. The energy of the Sun is up and out, expansive, electric ~ it is an expression of masculine energy, plain and simple. The Moon is also a bringer of light (which can be seen as a 5th element, but that's beyond the scope of what we are talking about now), but the Moon is reflective, responsive, magnetic ~ the energy movement of what the Moon deals with is consolidation, down and in. Whereas fire and air are strongly allied to the Sun, earth and water are strongly allied to the Moon. Not only water rises and falls with the tides daily; the earth also rises and falls a few inches each day with its own tide cycle.

The dance of the Sun and Moon can reveal much to us. While they are utterly different in nature, there is in intimate interrelationship and equity and balance between them. The Sun is enormous, and everything in the solar system revolves around it. The Moon is small, and revolves around the Earth that she serves. Yet with this difference in function, nature and size, they both appear to be the same size to us, and both have the capacity to eclipse the other, again thru completely different forms of syzygy. Here is a demonstration in how different beings can be so different, yet manifest with equality. Good lesson for us!

The best image of polarity and the dance between the opposites is the Chinese yin/yang symbol, the "S" within a circle, one part black, the other white, each with a drop of the opposite color/being in the heart of it. This shows that each contains the opposite, they are not separate, but highly interrelated. The figure also suggests movement, the energy of it is dynamic, not static. While the Sun radiates outward, it draws everything to it like the Moon does. And the Moon still expresses outwardly in her own manner as well. They are the exemplars of the energies -- note that they are the only two planetary beings with only one of the three component symbols as its glyph -- the Sun is the circle of spirit, the Moon the crescent of receptivity. All other planets have at least two of the three components, the third being the cross of matter/manifestation. Yet even these exemplars of energy contain elements of the other.

Now we are prepared to get back to the human element in all this. First let's start by taking a look at these human suits we wear. Can we see any evidence that a man's body has a tendency toward "up and out, expansion", and women's toward "down and in, consolidation"? The most obvious is of course sexually. A man's sexual organs do in fact move up and out, expansively, and a woman's down and in, in consolidation. But there is more -- a man's body has a center of gravity in his shoulders, to better enable him to move and express outwardly, while a woman has a center of gravity in her hips, grounded, downward in movement.

Another contrast that is much more subtle, brings in musical mathematical and harmonic proportion. There is much overlap of the principles of music with astrology, such as the fact that the planets are spaced out from the Sun in the same proportion as the musical harmonic overtone series... there is a strong relationship to the Golden Mean which derives from the fifth harmonic. The Earth and sister planet Venus do a dance that traces a golden mean pentagram in the cosmos, and all of us have the golden mean proportion in our hands, arms, bodies. But men's bodies also have the mathematical proportion that sounds musically as a major third -- sounds like the first line of "Doe a deer"... sing it out loud; see how it sounds. As an ascending major interval, the sound is bright, up and out. Woman's bodies have the mathematical proportion that sounds musically as a minor third -- the first two notes of Greensleeves, "*What child* is this..." -- Sing that one. The second note is an ascending minor third, which is lower, darker and rich, the energy is down and in, the sound is lovely, enchanting, magical... so our bodies do in fact embody the pure principles of "masculine" and "feminine" in several ways.

But let's move to the beings in these bodies -- all of us have all the signs and all the planets in us, and there are many "feminine" essences in male bodies and "masculine" essences in female bodies. There is much diversity and complexity -- also as evidenced by how creative humans can get with that sexual expression. We all do well to integrate and balance the whole spectrum of all the planets, signs and elements within us. We are all whole universes within ourselves, yet interrelated and interconnected to every other being.

That said, yes, there is a reason why the Sun is associated with men, and the Moon with women, but now we know how to get there leaving the judgments and cultural filters out of it.

++ © Janis Page, 1999. Updated 2007 ++