Earth and the Scheme of Things

Understanding the Gaia Factor in Astrology

“When we contemplate the whole globe, flying through space with other stars singing and shining, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”
            —John Muir


On February 22, 2017, NASA made a stunning announcement. The Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first-known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) in orbit around a single star. This system is in the constellation of Aquarius and is about 40 light-years from Earth—relatively close in stellar terms. NASA believes three of these exoplanets may be in the habitable zone where a rocky planet is likely to have water.

In a radical departure from the opinion that “earths” are exceedingly rare, widely held only a decade ago, scientists are now realizing that Earth-like planets are common. This new awareness requires a radical shift in our paradigm relative to our place in the scheme of things. The reality is that the universe is likely teeming with life, and this life may be diverse and “alien” in appearance and nature, or perhaps familiar, if evolution has proven templates of form. The implications are complex and far reaching.

Earth is the only planetary body in our solar system, other than the Moon or dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt, that wasn’t named after a Greek or Roman god or goddess. In Greek mythology the personification of Earth was Gaia, the very first deity. In the beginning Gaia emerged from a primordial void called Chaos and was the creator and great mother of all. Gaia brought forth Ouranus (Uranus) the sky. She mated with him and they had twelve children—the original Titan gods. The sea gods were born from her union with Pontus, the ocean.

In heliocentric (Sun-centered) astrology the view of the sky is from the center of the solar system with the Sun in the middle and Earth as a circling planet interpreted in a similar manner to the other planets. However, most Western astrologers use a geocentric model (Earth-centered) where the Sun becomes a planet in a sign, and the meaning of Earth’s placement is ignored. The Sun’s apparent motion is viewed in the astrological sign it appears to move through, even though we realize this is only a useful convention since Earth’s motion is what causes the appearance.

When the twelve zodiac signs are viewed in a sequential or linear fashion, beginning with Aries and progressing through Pisces, the experience represents an unfolding path and the soul’s journey through time and space to gain experience. This circle of stars is formed by energies that alternate in gender or positive or negative polarity. The nature of the signs develops from a personal, and individual, orientation in Aries to a transpersonal and collective orientation in Pisces, the Fishes, which swim in the cosmic ocean.

A Russian proverb states that every road has two directions, and so it is with the highways we call the signs of the zodiac. The place of Earth is always 180 degrees opposite of the degree and sign of the Sun. If the Sun is in Aries, Earth is in Libra. If the Sun is in Scorpio, Earth is in the opposite sign of Taurus. The two ends of any spectrum are both polarized and complementary. Opposition can denote balance or imbalance, cooperation or conflict, depending on awareness. Between the extremes of black and white lie infinite shades of gray. Between hot and cold are varying degrees of temperature. Lying along the spectrum of wet and dry are degrees of humidity. The qualitative energy of the twelve signs is also six pairs of polarized expression, each operating like a continuum. Seen this way each duo of opposite zodiac signs forms a spectrum of energy with twelve signs and six pairs. Therefore, the sign on the opposite side of the circle of animals is also of opposite elemental polarity: fire-air and earth-water. So it is with Earth and the Sun.

Symbolically, the Sun is always casting light on Earth. This highlights and emphasizes the polarity of the two signs. I believe the symbolic relationship between the Sun and Earth represents a process of reorientation, shifting our awareness from what is familiar to what we must learn to balance the poles. Earth is literally the ground where we stand, while the Sun on the opposite side of the sky, is where we gaze and what we came to learn. Earth is our inner identity, our deep needs, and how we are grounded. The Sun is the path we tread and our outer expression. Astrologically one of the keywords, or ways of understanding the aspect of polarity or opposition, is awareness. When we acknowledge and recognize what confronts or “opposes” us, we begin to understand ourselves through what’s reflected in the mirror of relationship.

Aries and Libra represent the continuum of personal expression. Mars-ruled Aries is the fiery sign of action while Venus-ruled Libra is the airy sign of partnership. Aries initiates and Libra responds. This polarity offers the extremes of domination or acquiescence, leading or following, with the higher ground pointing the way toward partnership and cooperation. As the energy moves back and forth along this continuum, we shift from individual action to joint effort. The goal is the middle ground of taking turns and perceiving strength and talent based on specific situations. With Aries Earth (Libra Sun) the inner urge is to be in charge and number one, so the lesson is to move from an emphasis on “me first” and learn to relate and let others lead. With Libra Earth (Aries Sun) there has been an over emphasis in the past of too much merging with others, resulting in a loss of personal identity. Therefore, the goal is toward more independence and self-sufficiency.

Taurus and Scorpio form the continuum of resources. Earthy Taurus gathers possessions while the deep waters of Scorpio desires intense experiences. This energy moves along the line of what we personally possess to how we spend or invest these resources. Taurus can hoard possessions like a miser while Scorpio can indiscriminately spend their resources for the excitement of it. The goal of this pair is knowing when and what to acquire and how to utilize our energy appropriately on every level. Money is “green” energy and sex is life energy. How we store, keep a savings, or pass the energy on, is the lesson of this polarity. Taurus Earth (Scorpio Sun)—the lesson here is learning to let go of possessions and experience desire with nonattachment. The Buddhist practice of creating intricate sand mandalas and then letting them wash away in the river is an example. Scorpio Earth (Taurus Sun)—this placement must learn to create things that last and have eternal beauty. In this case the energy must be materialized in form and “owned” before it is surrendered.

Gemini and Sagittarius are the continuum of mental exploration. Gemini is perhaps the quintessential air sign, darting mentally and physically in every direction, seeking stimulation. Fiery Sagittarius pulls back his bow and aims his arrow high, often without a target. Gemini tends to explore close at hand while Sagittarius roams far afield. This spectrum explores how we move out of our home base, familiar territory, and into the macrocosm. Do we shoot our arrows just for the fun of it? Synthesis is the key for this pair. Stop, look, and listen might be the motto for both. What is the purpose of the exploration and what is the value of the data collected? Gemini Earth (Sagittarius Sun)—this placement must learn to move from pure curiosity without a purpose to a way to apply knowledge in a practical manner. Sagittarius Earth (Gemini Sun)—here the lesson is to learn to think closer to home and deal with matters that are within the reach of the hands. The motto “think globally, act locally” would be a perfect guide.

Cancer and Capricorn are the continuum of field of influence. This duo contrasts home and family with work and career. Cancer feels the pull of deep roots and heritage while Capricorn strives to climb the heights of power and position. This polarizes the personal domain of hearth and home versus making a mark in field and town. The goal is to understand our personal impact on our world and learning the consequences of our acts. Whether we are the nurturing influence to an Einstein or a Mother Teresa, or whether we go out into the world to make a fortune, this spectrum can teach us the relationship between our base of security and our ability to strive and overcome. Cancer Earth (Capricorn Sun)—there has been too much need for comfort, resulting in a retreat into the “shell.” This must be transformed into the ability to risk climbing the mountain to get a wider view. Capricorn Earth (Cancer Sun)—too much ambition without purpose must be transformed and channeled into taking care of the home front and understanding our base of support.

Leo and Aquarius represent the continuum of personal power. Symbolically, Leo represents the king and Aquarius the kingdom. This pair moves along a spectrum from potentially dogmatic dictatorship through rebellion for its own sake. Leo examines how authority is held and power over others is wielded, while Aquarius examines how we respond to impulses toward individuation and personal freedom. Even monarchs have to obey natural law, and everyone is ultimately subject to some authority. How we deal with authority, whether following orders or directing others, is the domain of this energetic couple. Does an enlightened monarch, or a conscious contributing populace, define Utopia? The goal is true understanding of rulership and the concept of noblesse oblige as well as the role of the enlightened members of a democratic republic. Leo Earth (Aquarius Sun)—a tendency to need a constant spotlight and continuous applause must be transformed into an awareness of group process and community. Aquarius Earth (Leo Sun)—the need for freedom at any price must be transmuted into an understanding that rules are necessary, and a kingdom requires structure and judgment.

Virgo and Pisces are the continuum of assimilation. In the case of practical Virgo, the approach is to inspect the parts, isolating each unique snowflake or grain of sand. At the other extreme, Pisces is immersed in the ocean unaware of the solitary drops of water. Virgo analyzes details through a microscope while Pisces gazes dreamily through a telescope. The goal of this duality is knowing when to differentiate and when to blend. This combination of energies has the potential for a collective experience akin to the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. Is there a collective illusion or the ability to see the naked truth? Virgo Earth (Pisces Sun)—in this case, true compassion is born from the depths of the feeling nature and can be channeled into a form of service. Pisces Earth (Virgo Sun)—with this placement an instinctual tendency to lose a sense of self in an ocean of togetherness must give way to a more objective awareness of the discrete components.

The priceless lesson we can learn from the placement of Earth in our birth charts includes illuminating our blind spots, bringing sunlight into dark places. If we become aware of unconscious motives and instinctual urges, we can gain valuable perspective. Earth moves in a spiraling dance of partnership with the Sun. Depending on the signs involved, the dance may be a tango or a waltz. Learning the steps, and the nature of the partner, can set us free to move to the reciprocal rhythm of the music.


CAPTION: The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. This artist’s concept appeared on the cover of the journal Nature on Feb. 23, 2017. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)



By Julie Loar