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An Astropoetic Approach to the Elements

originally published in The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2011


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A beginning student of astrology is often taught to memorize keywords and astrological principles as though reading a birthchart were merely a matter of decoding its symbolism in a linear left-brained fashion.  Only sometime later does the student discover that the real practice of astrology is a more intuitive exercise using left-brained knowledge as a springboard into unknown territory.  In this decidedly more right-brained arena, the meaning of a birthchart reveals itself not in pre-packaged cookbook formulas, but more poetically, through a web of analogies, metaphors, puns, figures of speech, subjective associations and images that make intuitive, if not rational sense – within the context of a specific life.


In 2004, I coined the term “astropoetics” to describe an approach to astrology that considers the symbolism of the birthchart from this more intuitive, subjective, image-oriented perspective (1).  Rather than interpret the birthchart in definitive terms, an astropoetic practitioner seeks to cultivate an exploratory relationship to it that yields multiple levels of subjective meaning over time, compounded and nuanced as his or her own life experience contributes a steady stream of new information. 


Most immediately, this relationship evolves by observation of the moment through an astrological lens.  The images that arise by way of such observation are often far richer in their metaphorical implications that any amount of speculative interpretation could be for the same reason that fairy tales, dreams and myths have more to say than their merely literal interpretation would allow.  Within the astropoetic worldview, the birthchart provides a coherent framework for observation, but what you observe often transcends standard interpretive practice.


The habits of astropoetic observation must be cultivated within a framework that honors traditional astrological principles.  But the process itself often yields insight that goes beyond tradition.  Ultimately, the personal wisdom derived through an astropoetic relationship to the birthchart is sourced at a level of knowing that cannot be articulated in any preconceived idea or formula. 


Meanwhile, to cultivate habits of astropoetic observation, the student can begin with a simple intuitive and self-evident relationship to the symbolism.  Nowhere within the lexicon of the astrological language is this intuitive level of understanding more accessible than with the four elements.  In this article, I will demonstrate the astropoetic approach to astrology, using the four elements as a focus. 


Approaching the Elements Through the Senses


The elements are easily approached on the intuitive level, in no small measure, because they are sensory in nature.  We can see, hear, touch, taste and smell them, and these primal experiences automatically trigger a response on other levels of being – emotional, psychological, and metaphorical – each of which yields additional layers of intuitive meaning.  You do not need to think very hard to arrive at these additional layers of meaning. You need only observe your internal process and its external reflection as you walk through the sensory door, and let the appropriate analogies suggest themselves. 


The sensory nature of the elements was recognized as early as the 6th century BCE, beginning with the work of Empedocles, who ascribed the well-known dimensions of hot and cold, and wet and dry to the elements.  According to this early scheme, fire is considered to be hot and dry; air is hot and moist (wet); water is cold and wet; and earth is cold and dry.  On the basis of these simple designations, it becomes possible to develop a rudimentary astropoetic understanding of the elements built on intuitive associations.


Wherever fire is emphasized in a birthchart, either natally or by transit or progression, it will in some way generate heat and dryness.  In common parlance, when someone is at the top of their game, successful, confident, creative, dynamic, sexy and/or charismatic, we say they are “hot.”  An angry person is considered to be “hot under the collar.” Fiery people can be overly serious, appearing to those less focused to be “dry,” and when they are locked into their obsessions, life can often appear to be “cut and dried.”  Over time, intensity, conflict, and opposition can lead to “burn-out” and creativity can “run dry.”


These sensory metaphors and others like them may be observed in the life of anyone with a chart in which fire is emphasized – through a preponderance of planets in fire signs, or an angular Sun or Mars, or at times with aspects between these two fire planets and Jupiter, Uranus, and/or Pluto.  The same metaphors may also describe a chapter in the life of someone undergoing a temporary increase in fire – with the progressed Sun or Moon moving through a fire sign; transiting Sun or Mars crossing an angle of the natal chart, and so on.


In a similar way, charts that have a preponderance of planets in air signs, or an angular Mercury or Uranus, or a Uranus transit to the Sun or Moon may experience air’s warmth and moisture.  A “warm” person is someone who is friendly, sociable, open to relationship – attributes often typical of an air personality.   If you think of warm air rising, then someone with high air may seek to “rise above” their circumstances, or seek a “bird’s eye view,” or possibly “take on airs” of superiority.  At its best, air can use both warmth and moisture to “soften up” the opposition, and effectively “air” its ideas or grievances.  When less effective, air people may be seen to be “full of hot air” or “airy fairy” in their opinions. 


Charts that have a preponderance of planets in water, a prominent Moon, Neptune conjunct Sun or Moon, or the progressed Moon or transiting Neptune on an angle of the natal chart – among other possibilities – may experience water’s cold wetness.  A high water person might be quite “stormy” in the moody flux of his emotions, or “in over his head,” or “drowning” in the cold sorrow of a divorce or the death of a loved one.  Faced with the challenge of succeeding in a heartless world, the water person might feel challenged to “sink or swim.”  A former student with high water, who was nobly inspired to adopt two emotionally handicapped daughters, soon found herself in the “deep end of the pool” when their complex behavior problems became overwhelmingly stressful.


Charts with strong earth or a Sun-Saturn square, or anyone in the midst of a Saturn transit to the Sun – among other possibilities emphasizing earth – might find themselves in the midst of experiences that felt cold and/or dry.  Often earth people can be pragmatic, rational and focused on the “cold, hard” facts.  When taken to an extreme, such people can be experienced as “cold and calculating,” or victims of “dull and dry” routines. With a high earth chart, Ted Williams, the talented hitter for the Boston Red Sox, was notorious for turning a “cold shoulder” to his fans while “stonewalling” the media with “dry” acerbic wit.


Going Beyond Empedocles


These are all common expressions that recognize the intuitive relationship between the elements and the most common sensory attributes with which we associate them.  But within the astropoetic mindset, we need not stop at hot and cold, wet and dry.  Each of the elements has other sensory attributes that can also have metaphorical correlates in the experience of those who in some way have those elements emphasized in their charts.


Fire, for example, is not just hot and dry, but can also evoke other sensory experiences.  Within the realm of sight, fire can illuminate, sparkle, glow, or flare; within the realm of sound, fire sizzles, crackles, and roars; in a tactile sense, it can warm, burn or char; as taste, fire is pungent, spicy, and sometimes the cause of “heartburn”; when smelled, its aroma is often burnt, smoky, or caustic.  Each of these sensory experiences of fire – and others you might want to add to your own list – then becomes a source of metaphor in an astrological situation in which fire is emphasized.  


Jimi Hendrix, considered by some to be the greatest guitarist of all time, rose to “meteoric” fame with The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966, but was dead 3 albums and 4 years later at the ripe old age of 27.  Aside from his “flashy” musical virtuosity, Hendrix was known for the use of “crackling” feedback and distortion; “burning” his guitar on stage; dressing “flamboyantly”; and frequently opening a concert with his signature song, “Fire.”  Each of these fiery attributes of Hendrix’s music, stage presence, and career – experienced directly as sensory expressions of fire – can be understood as astropoetic descriptions of his fiery chart with Sagittarius rising, and Mercury/Sun/Venus in Sagittarius trine Pluto in Leo.


Similar to the way in which we expanded our sensory awareness of fire, we can do the same for the other elements.  Air is not just warm and moist, but also invisible and transparent; still, howling, or breathless; breezy, windy, gusty, or caressing; refreshing, stale, or fragrant.  Beyond Empedocles’ designation, air can be not just warm, but also cold – brisk, biting, chilling – as in high air Truman Capote’s disturbing novel about murder in Kansas – In Cold Blood.  Air can also be not just moist, but dry – as in acerbic wit, unimaginative literalism, or matter-of-fact indifference.


During a dance performance amidst a lightning storm, a friend and former student with Moon in Gemini and 3 other planets in air signs experienced an astropoetic moment as “the wind . . . ‘blasted’ through the open windows ‘billowing’ curtains and filling me with energy. . . . I felt ‘huge’ across the shoulders and tall. . . . Inspired by the storm, I gave a performance beyond my ability."  This extraordinary performance took place as transiting Uranus was forming a retrograde station in Aquarius in his 10th house, quincunx his natal Sun in the 5th house.


Beyond wet and cold, water can be flowing, cascading or gushing; gurgling, surging, or crashing (like ocean waves); soothing, pounding (as in a torrential rain), or cleansing; refreshing, diluting, or suffocating.  The high water actor, Bruce Lee, considered by many to be the most influential martial artist of the 20th century, advised his students to be “formless... shapeless, like water.”  High water musician Miles Davis pioneered a watery style of music, a kind of “lyrical meandering” within a “pool” of notes called modal jazz.  In a tragic astropoetic moment, my sister’s former fiancé – with high water in his natal chart – drowned in a diving accident, when his oxygen tank proved to be filled with carbon dioxide.  At the time, there was a new Moon plus three other planets in Cancer in his watery 8th house (with Cancer on the cusp and a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Cancer inside).


On the sensory level, earth can look solid, inert, and formidable (as in a mountain to be climbed); contribute to a muffled, dull, or thunderous sound; feel gritty, heavy, or silty; taste metallic or astringent or bitter; and smell fertile, fetid (as in night soil), or even romantic – as noted by at least two comments on a Facebook page devoted to “The Smell of Wet Soil” (2). Obviously, the sensory experiences we associate with the elements are somewhat subjective, and can – from an astropoetic perspective – be all the more poignant because of it.


The solid, immobile intransigence of earth can be seen in George Wallace (Sun, Saturn and Venus in Virgo) – governor of Alabama during the civil rights era, who is famous for his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” during which he personally attempted to block the admittance of two black students into the University of Alabama.  Wallace seemed to associate earth with its unyielding nature on the sensory level, and with defiance on the emotional, as verbalized in his famous statement during this incident: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever ‘trod this earth,’ I draw ‘the line in the dust’ and toss the gauntlet before the ‘feet’ of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” (3).  This astropoetic moment occurred on June 11, 1963, as transiting Mars and Uranus were both conjunct Wallace’s tight natal Sun/Saturn conjunction in early Virgo.  Later, while campaigning for his third failed bid at the presidency in 1972, Wallace was shot and became “paralyzed” from the waist down in another astropoetic moment making tangible the sensory dimension of his intransigent earth.


The Emotional Correlates of the Elements


A second dimension of an astropoetic approach to the elements can be found in their emotional tone.  As with our senses, our emotions often yield an immediate understanding of something, even when we can’t articulate exactly what it is we feel.  When we correlate our emotions with their astrological referents, we have an intuitive language to better understand both our feelings and the chart that reflects their expression.  Nowhere is this easier to do than with the elements, each with its own distinct nexus of emotions.


As with the sensory dimension of the elements, their emotional dimension also has historical precedence. The concept of the four elements – introduced by Empedocles and further developed by Aristotle and others – gradually evolved to encompass a much broader medical and psychological profile.  Circa 460 BCE, the concept was adopted by Hippocrates, and discussed in terms of the four humors: sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic.


The four humors gradually became a key tool in early medical diagnosis, which by the 2nd century BCE, was thoroughly integrated with astrology, thanks largely to the seminal work, Prognostication of Disease by Astrology, written by Galen of Pergamon. Eventually, the four humors were associated not just with physiological predispositions, but also proto-psychological profiles.  Sanguine (or air) types were thought to be buoyant and enthusiastic.  Choleric (or fire) types were irascible, impulsive, and angry.  Melancholic (or earth) types were sad, serious, and nervous.  Phlegmatic (water) types were indolent and lethargic (4). 


Such keyword descriptions are, of course, condensed from voluminous discussions, which engaged early medical physicians the same way more sophisticated systems of typology encompassed by the MMPI, California Psychological Inventory, Myers-Briggs or other more contemporary psychological tests do today.  The problem with these, and all typologies, is that they fail to take into account the complexity of a living, evolving soul, which will in some way encompass all four types, emphasizing one or the other at various levels and in various situations.  Many hybrid situations are also possible, in which two or more humors combine to produce some not so easily categorized synthesis.  Nonetheless, it is possible – as these early philosopher-physicians demonstrated – to assign various emotions and psychological attributes to each of the four elements, with the understanding that how the emotions are expressed in any given moment will be a function of a complex set of variables.


More simply, and aside from their association with the four humors, emotions can also be assigned to the elements astropoetically by extending their sensory correlates as metaphors.


EARTH:  If, for example, we consider earth to be heavy, then earth can also be associated with “heavy” emotions: depression, despair, regret, guilt, and self-recrimination.  The solid, inert, compact, self-contained nature of earth lends itself to emotions that are introverted, dark, bitter, suffocating, and slow to mutate.  At other times, the stability of earth can contribute to positive feelings such as contentment, serenity, and peace; while the rich fertility of earth can correlate with enjoyment, a sense of abundance, and well being.


Consider in this regard, the high earth author Virginia Woolf (with 6 planets in earth signs, and Sun square Saturn in Taurus), one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century.  Woolf suffered from periodic mood swings, severe depression, and suicidal tendencies all her life, despite her prodigious literary output.  Her emotional difficulties started in 1895 at age 13, when her mother suddenly died – as transiting Saturn began its 2-year sojourn opposed her natal 4-planet Taurus stellium. By the time Saturn had completed this transit, her half-sister was also dead.  Finally, in 1904 her father died – when transiting Saturn was square her Taurus stellium – and she was institutionalized for a nervous breakdown.  On the day of her suicide – March 28, 1941 – transiting Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus were all moving through her Taurus stellium, while transiting Mars and Neptune were trine it from Capricorn and Virgo respectively, thus tipping her already earthy chart into overload and excess.  To commit suicide, Woolf put on a “heavy” overcoat, filled its pocket with “stones” and walked into the river to drown. 


WATER:  Water, in general, is associated with emotion, that is to say, the movement of feelings into some form of expression that provides or at least begs for relief – particularly through the shedding of water, i.e. tears of grief, sorrow, regret, loneliness, and despair.  Water can be moody and tumultuous, as an emotional reflection of the sensory experience of wet and stormy weather.  In contrast to earth emotions, difficult water emotions tend to be more fluid, bittersweet in offering release in the midst of pain, often cathartic and accompanied by melodrama.  At the positive end of the spectrum, the soothing, cleansing and refreshing aspect of water lends itself to emotions like forgiveness, compassion, empathy, caring, and love.


Although his time of birth is in some dispute, high water Nelson Mandela (Sun in Cancer, Moon in Scorpio (5), plus 2 other planets in water signs) fits the profile.  Mandela is famous for his resistance to the apartheid regime in South Africa, his 27 years imprisonment, and his reemergence to reunite his country as its first black president.  Despite his imprisonment, he held no animosity toward his captors, and worked tirelessly to promote forgiveness, reconciliation and unity between blacks and whites. Although Mandela was no saint, he does epitomize water at its best, embodying the spirit of forgiveness, compassion, and cooperation across lines of difference.  


FIRE:  Not surprisingly, fire emotions are at the hot end of the spectrum: anger, outrage, temper, aggression, competitiveness, and passion.  When fire sparkles or glows, it can correlate with pride, radiant vitality, joy, charisma, and/or flamboyance.  Fire’s shine can be narcissistic; its expansive roar, bombastic; its brightness, illuminating and inspirational. In general, fire emotions are hot, fast, volatile, expansive, intense, hypnotic, and dramatic – all in keeping with similar or identical sensory characteristics.


Contrast Mandela’s watery style with that of fiery dictators like Napoleon Bonaparte (Sun and Mercury in Leo); Benito Mussolini (Sun and Mercury in Leo); Josef Stalin (Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Aries, and 2 other planets in fire signs); Nikita Khrushchev (Sun and Mercury in Aries); Fidel Castro (Sun, Mercury and Neptune in Leo); Che Guevara (4 planets in fire signs); and Cesar Chavez (Sun and Uranus in Aries, Neptune in Leo). 


Fidel Castro, whose omnipresent cigar makes an apt astropoetic symbol for fire, epitomizes the proud confident bravado of this element.  While being carted off to prison in the wake of an early failed coup against Batista, he said, “I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled – it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it...” (6)  


Cold War Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushschev is famous for an astropoetic moment depicting fire’s angry aggression called the Shoe Incident, in which he began pounding the table in front of him with his shoe during a Filipino delegate’s speech denouncing Soviet foreign policy.  The Shoe Incident took place on October 12, 1960 as transiting Jupiter and Uranus were forming a grand fire trine to Khrushchev’s natal Sun in Aries. Later in speaking about a similar incident, Khrushchev said, “I decided to add a little more heat. I took off my shoe and pounded it on desk so that our protest would be louder" (7).


At the other end of the high fire spectrum are the philanthropists – those who give generously of themselves and their money.  Generosity, in this regard, can be understood as an emotional correlate to fire’s expansive warmth on the sensory level.  Pierre Omidyar, founder of Ebay, and the world’s top philanthropist (8) has Leo rising, Moon in Sagittarius (regardless of time), and 3 other planets in fire signs.  Seventh on the list is Bill Gates (Moon in Aries and 2 other planets in fire signs), known for his business savvy and aggressive competitiveness as well as his philanthropy – and his wife Melinda (chart unknown).  Bill (Sun plus 3 other planets in Leo) and Hillary Clinton (at least 4 planets in fire signs (9)) are thirteenth, both charismatic masters of the “bully pulpit.”


AIR:  In many ways, air is the least emotional of all the elements, often associated more with mental than emotional processes.  Yet, to the extent that mental processes – such as beliefs, thoughts, and self-concepts – influence emotions, then air also contributes greatly to emotion in its more cognitive dimension. In contrast to the heaviness of earth, air is light, giving rising to light-heartedness, optimism, and casual friendliness.  Air’s mobility can make it restless, discontent, scattered or disoriented.  When the movement of air becomes windy, gusty, or tempestuous on the sensory level, it can be accompanied by cerebral emotions that are agitated, worried, or anxious.


Air is embodied astropoetically by the character Mary Poppins in the 1964 movie of the same name – played by Libra Sun actress Julie Andrews.  The movie begins with an airy image of the main character perched on a cloud high above London.  Mary Poppins descends to earth in response to an ad for a “fun, kind-hearted and caring” nanny, when the ad is thrown into a fireplace, and its ashes “drift up” the chimney to Mary Poppin’s “cloud”.  As their nanny, Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical “airborne adventures”, including a tea party “in mid-air”, and a memorable “flight over the rooftops” of London with her talking umbrella as a vehicle.  Andrews made this movie – which launched her film career – as her progressed Sun was completing its passage through her natal Mercury-Uranus opposition (conjunct Mercury and opposed Uranus).  Mercury and Uranus are both quite airy; Mercury rules Andrews 10th house of career, while Uranus rules her 6th house of work.


Going Deeper Into the Astropoetic Imagery


Knowing the sensory and emotional correlates to the elements gives us an intuitive language that we can take with us into any life experience in which a given element is emphasized.  We do not need to memorize these correlations; instead we need only allow our sensory and emotional experience of the elements to extend into the realm of analogies, metaphors, puns, figures of speech, idioms, slang expressions, and free associations, as we observe our lives for astropoetic moments.  Out of a simple intuitive awareness of the elements can come unexpected insights into the deeper psychological dynamics being triggered in the moment.  Perhaps an example from my own life will illustrate this possibility.


With Moon in Gemini, Neptune in Libra, and Jupiter – the ruler of my chart – in Aquarius, I can be considered to have a fairly high level of air in my natal chart.  Currently my progressed Sun is moving through Aquarius, and progressed Mars and Venus have joined Jupiter and Neptune in air signs.    Since February, 2009, transiting Pluto has been moving in and out of opposition to my natal Uranus – one of the quintessential air planets in any chart – in my 7th (air) house.  In November, 2009, transiting Saturn began squaring my natal Uranus, off and on, from the early degrees of Libra.  In July, 2010, transiting Jupiter began squaring my natal Uranus from the opposite end in Aries, soon to be replaced by transiting Uranus in May, 2011, thus completing my personal version of the infamous cardinal grand cross – and more to the point in relation to this article, greatly increasing the level of air blowing through my chart.


On May 8, 2009 (shortly after the beginning of my Pluto transit to Uranus, as a full Moon was completing a grand cardinal cross to this transit), all this air came into powerful astropoetic focus when an unprecedented inland hurricane or derechio blew through my neighborhood (10).  In less than 20 minutes, 70-90 MPH winds had knocked down hundreds of large trees within the 1000-acre land cooperative where I live.  It took 20 of us 2 days to chain saw our way out to the nearest paved road 2 miles away; we were without electricity for the next week, and without landline phones for the next 3 weeks.  It is perhaps superfluous to say, but I had never witnessed anything like this storm, and I was completely “blown away.”


In the immediate aftermath of the storm, I became “scattered” and “disoriented” as my previous life was thrown “up in the air” and my familiar routines were replaced by the necessity for cleaning up the debris. With trees “blown down” everywhere around me, the storm made me feel claustrophobic, and I felt a psychic need to clear some “space” so that I could “breathe” again.


This lack of “room to breathe” was not unfamiliar to me.  All my life I had been working to create a life of autonomy, freedom from unnecessary restraint, and “space” to live as I pleased with as little compromise as possible.  Through a long and winding road, this quest had led me to this quiet little writer’s retreat off the  beaten path, where the air is clean, and I have plenty of room – both physically and mentally to stretch out and hear myself think.  But now, in the wake of this storm, I once again felt myself to be “fighting for my breath.”


This familiar fight began at age 3, when I was playing king of the mountain on a pile of ashes in my grandfather’s backyard.  Somehow I had managed to make it to the top of the pile (I also have a lot of fire in my chart), but then literally stopped breathing when the older kids in the neighborhood ganged up on me and stuffed ashes in my mouth.  I nearly choked to death, contracted pneumonia, and in the days ahead struggled to learn how to breathe more easily in a world I often felt was filled with danger. In my natal chart, I have Saturn/Mars in Virgo (mutable earth = ashes) square air planet Mercury.  At the time of the incident, transiting Jupiter in air sign Gemini was triggering this natal square.


In the days after the storm, what had previously been a quiet little backwoods retreat where I could easily focus on my work, suddenly became filled with the constant “buzzing” of chain saws.  As my neighbors and I worked to salvage the marketable timber that had fallen, the relentless activity added to my sense of claustrophobia, and became an ongoing distraction to the book I was writing. 


In addition, the necessity for dealing with the acreage we held in common as a land cooperative, required a great “airing” of views, and in the end, served to underscore our differences.  I spent the next 6 months “airing my grievances,” and in the process, became increasingly isolated and alienated from my neighbors.  The whole process came to a head at our annual meeting in October, 2009, when I experienced a symbolic re-enactment of the ash pile incident.  I tried to speak my truth, but was shut down by hostile resistance from my neighbors (Uranus rules the 3rd (air) house of neighbors in my chart), who collectively managed to momentarily knock “the wind out of my sails.”


By the time transiting Pluto completed its first partile opposition to my natal Uranus in January, 2010, I was beginning to feel increasingly “restless” and alienated from other land cooperative members, who seemed unwilling to hear what I had to say.  I felt as though I had lost my “voice” (air moving across the vocal cords) and had become “invisible” (a metaphor for the transparency of air).


When transiting Pluto was again within a degree of partile opposition to my natal Uranus, in June, 2010, I had a dream in which I was led to a desert somewhere to my south, where I was being taught to read a fragile sandstone oracle in which images appeared when “the wind” blew across its face.  In contemplating this dream, it has become clear to me that it was time, or would soon be time, to leave this place for a drier climate (one that is more sparsely populated, a bit farther off the beaten path, where I can once have space to think, and feel, and write with less distraction). 


As of this moment, I do not know where this “fresh breeze” will take me, but I feel excited about the possibility of “airing out” my life, and feeling the “winds of change” blow through it.  Thinking about this brings a “sigh of relief.”  Who knows but that one day in the foreseeable future, I may “catch the wind,” vanish in “thin air” and re-emerge elsewhere “free as a bird”.  At the very least, the astropoetic possibilities that have emerged during this time of intensified air, seem to be moving me in that direction, and “leaning into the wind”, I am “inspired” to “set my sails” for new horizons and more “breezy” climes.


In writing this section of my article I have belabored these airy metaphors to make my point.  In real life, this conclusion has evolved slowly over the course of 15 months, and is still very much “in mid flight”.  Taking an astropoetic approach to my current dilemma, however, it has been possible to gradually feel my way into greater understanding by simply observing my sensory and emotional responses to events reflecting the shifting elemental dynamics of my birthchart.  These elemental dynamics are often a matter of two or more elements interacting with each other – a complex topic beyond the scope of this article.  Meanwhile, as I have hopefully been able to demonstrate, sensing and feeling your way into an intuitive relationship with the elements is a good first step toward letting your chart breathe with fresh astropoetic insight.




1) A more complete outline of astropoetic principles can be found on my web site at

2) Facebook, “The Smell of Wet Soil,” –

3) Wallace, George. Inaugural Speech (1963), “Wallace Quotes,” PBS.  Retrieved August 11, 2010. 

4) Lehman, J. Lee. Classical Astrology for Modern Living: From Ptolemy to Psychology and Back Again. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Whitford Press, 1996, p 41.

5) Nelson Mandela’s birth information is considered “Dirty Data” by the Rodden Rating system.  However, regardless of what time of day Mandela was born, his Moon would still be in Scorpio.  Similarly, other examples with DD ratings that I have used in this article – Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro – maintain stable elemental distributions, regardless of what time of day they were born.

6) Tabío, Pedro Álvarez, Translator, “History Will Absolve Me,” Castro Internet Archive.  Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, Cuba, 1975. Retrieved August 11, 2010.

7) Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev. Vol. III: Statesman, Penn State Press, 2007, p. 269.  Quoted in “Shoe-banging incident,” Wikipedia.  Retrieved August 11, 2010.

8) McGee, Suzanne. “The 25 Best Givers,” Barron’s Online, November 30, 2009.  Retrieved August 11, 2010.

9) Hillary Clinton’s birth data is in some dispute, and rated DD by the Rodden Rating system.  Regardless of the time of her birth, however, she has at least 4 planets in fire signs.  If she were born toward the end of the day, it is possible that her Moon would also be in Aries. 

10) Snider, Dave. “May 8, 2009 Derecho and Tornado Event,” KY3, May 27, 2009. Retrieved August 11, 2010.



Julie Andrews – 6:00 AM GDT, October 1, 1935, Walton on Thames, England, Rodden Rating B (Bio/autobiography)


Napoleon Bonaparte – 11:30 AM LMT, August 15, 1769, Ajaccio, Corsica, Rodden Rating A (From memory)


Truman Capote – 3:00 PM CST, September 30, 1924, New Orleans, LA, Rodden Rating B (Bio/autobiography)


Fidel Castro – 2:00 AM EST, August 13, 1926, Colonia Biran, Cuba, Rodden Rating DD (Conflicting/unverified)


Cesar Chavez – 3:00 PM PST, March 31, 1927, Yuma, AZ, Rodden Rating AA (BC/BR in hand)


Bill Clinton – 8:51 AM CST, August 19, 1946, Hope, AR, Rodden Rating A (From memory)


Hillary Clinton – 8:02 AM CST, October 26, 1947, Chicago, IL, Rodden Rating DD (Conflicting/unverified)

Miles Davis – 5:00 AM CST, May 26, 1926, Alton, Illinois, Rodden Rating AA (Quoted BC/BR)


Bill Gates – 10:00 PM PST, October 28, 1955, Seattle, WA, Rodden Rating A (From memory)


Che Guevara – 3:05 AM AST, May 14, 1928, Rosario, Argentina, Rodden Rating B (Bio/autobiography)

Jimi Hendrix – 10:15 AM PWT, November 27, 1942, Seattle, Washington, Rodden Rating AA (Quoted BC/BR)


Nikita Khrushchev – 12:30 PM LMT, April 15, 1894, Kursk, Russia, Rodden Rating DD (Conflicting/unverified)

Bruce Lee – 7:12 AM PST, November 27, 1940, San Francisco, California, Rodden Rating AA (Quoted BC/BR)


Nelson Mandela – 2:54 PM EET, July 18, 1918, Umtata, South Africa, Rodden Rating DD (Conflicting/unverified)


Benito Mussolini – 1:10 PM GMT, July 29, 1883, Dovia Il Predappio, Italy, Rodden Rating AA (Quoted BC/BR)


Pierre Omidyar – 8:30 AM MET, June 21, 1967, Paris, France, Rodden Rating AA (Quoted BC/BR)


Joseph Stalin – 12:00 PM LMT, December 18, 1878, Gori, Russia, Rodden Rating DD (Conflicting/unverified)


George Wallace – 3:30 AM CWT, August 25, 1919, Clio, AL, Rodden Rating A (From memory)


Ted Williams – 12:20 PM PWT, August 30, 1918, San Diego, CA, Rodden Rating AA (quoted BC/BR)


Virginia Woolf – 12:15 PM GMT, January 25, 1882, London, England, Rodden Rating A (From memory)

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