Synastry Studies: The Fixed Cross and the Urge to Merge (Part Two)

Please read Part One of this piece here.

The one thing that is guaranteed to surprise students is when you tell them that there is more than one Venus/Mars polarity in the chart. Sometimes I tell them what it is, and sometimes I’m Virgo-cruel enough to ask them to go find it. After they sweat for a bit my Neptune wins out and I give in. We forget that Scorpio is also ruled by Mars.

The legitimacy of old rulerships is something that makes itself known strongly when you study progressions and the progressed chart. The outer planets don’t move very much by progression, but it’s very clear that the old rulers are representative of those outer planet positions, especially when it comes to house rulerships. It’s as if the outer planet has a more intimate, knowable, personal face in the guise of the old ruler. When Neptune is prominent in a progressed chart, it’s often transits or progressions to and from Jupiter that reflect it. With Uranus, it’s Saturn. And with Pluto, it’s Mars.

The Pluto/Mars pairing is particularly strong. It is stated both in the works of Alice Bailey and of Jeffrey Wolf Green that Mars is Pluto’s servant–that he instigates Plutonian reform on this earthly plane. This is because both Mars and Pluto have a connection to the 8th house via Scorpio. The archetypal link between sex and death is representative of the combination of these energies. Pluto destroys the ego in the service of something greater, but first you need an active ego to destroy, and that’s where Mars comes in. Mars is the desirous one, and Pluto sits in the shadows and waits.

The Aries/Libra, 1st house, 7th house polarity is all about relating. There is “I” and “other.” We interconnect. We learn to find the I in We and the We in I. We balance our individual needs with the needs of someone else. It’s all very airy and polite.

The knock-down dirty, burn and merge urge is not what the Aries/Libra polarity is all about. Neither is it about the 1st and 7th houses. When things get nasty in the first and seventh houses (and I mean nasty in the old-fashioned, bad sense) it’s usually about problems with individual desire conflicting with the need to relate; about lack of self-knowledge and unacknowledged projections. That’s a different thing entirely from what we find just one house over.

The second, extremely powerful, Venus/Mars polarity is between the second and eighth houses. Taurus versus Scorpio–the original unmovable object meeting the irresistible force. The second house is about what we own, instinctively, unconsciously, and is how we identify our most primitive Self. It’s what we cling to in a crisis. The eighth house embodies that crisis. What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to lose? What are you willing to die for? In the eighth house we have to un-moor ourselves from our possessions (including our identity) in order to connect more deeply with ‘other’–we cannot connect deeply with ‘other’ and remain unchanged by the encounter. So yes, the eighth house really embodies a kind of little death. A death that allows us to be reborn.

The second/eighth house polarity becomes vastly important in synastry, because without an easy flow between these houses we are incapable of the kind of intimacy that sustains relationship. The secret of Pluto, and the gift of most successful long-term relationships, is that they have the ability to continually renew themselves. They can do this because they habitually burn away what is not essential–once that is gone we are allowed to find the font of the Source, which allows continued renewal. It is clear that this font can’t be found behind a wall of defensiveness–that is the Scorpio energy that stings itself with its own venom. The only way to true intimacy is to tear down our ego-created walls and give ourselves over to it completely. The essence of the Taurus Venus is worship–we worship what we truly value and vow to maintain it. It is the true meaning of the word ‘husband’–to take care. The Mars in Scorpio mode, used properly (and I dont mean Mars in the sign Scorpio but Mars as co-ruler of the eighth house) bravely shows us how to bare ourselves in order to be more than ourselves. We risk our ownership, and we test, and we go to some dark places on the adventure, but we come back with the secret to eternal life. We return from our journey with something that can never be taken away.

An imbalance or blockage in either of these houses will cause glitches both in our sexual functioning and in our ability to relate. Too much emphasis on the second house and we may not find it easy to step out into the unknown territory of merging with another. We may cling to what we know, or build fears for ourselves out of a projection of our eighth house energies. An emphasis on the eighth house without a strong second house to back it up means that we will not know what we bring to the table in terms of relationships, and may believe we come empty-handed. If our early influences have mishandled the second house energies and our self-esteem has been trounced, we may set ourselves up for relationships that recreate the painful situations of our youth in our partnerships. If we have been abandoned, neglected or abused, we may choose partners who who do the same to us, because the pain equates with love in our psyche. This is doubly true if an outer planet (or Chiron) is involved, because the outer planets take away in a house something that by rights should have belonged to us. If Neptune is involved with the second house, we may never feel secure in our possessions, talents and resources, always standing on shifting sands. If Uranus is involved, we may never get over the shock of having our security shot out from under us. Pluto there means having anything at all requires a life and death struggle, which we may very well lose. Outer planets in the eighth house directly affect our ability to share ourselves. With Neptune in the eighth, we may throw up illusions and deceptions that prevent us from connecting, though we may want to do so very badly (where Neptune is, there is always a longing). We may also be too naive in terms of judging partners, and that naivete may cause us to get stomped into the ground a time or two. With Uranus there, we may find it difficult to get out of our minds and into our hearts–Uranus can cause a detachment from intimate situations and we may avoid them altogether. Or we can have an on-again, off-again cycle of intimacy, falling into intense fascinations that break suddenly and cause us to avoid encounters until the next cycle begins. Pluto is right at home in the eighth house, and very powerful there. People with Pluto in the eighth have a tendency to use relationships to test their own power. Intense, passionate attachments can deteriorate into wars over who has the control in the relationship and who has the most power to break free of it. They will be attracted to partners who will burn away the dross of the ego and ultimately connect them to the core Self that cannot be destroyed. An outer planet in the eighth house, no matter which one, will attract situations where our encounters (including our sexual encounters) with others test both our own resources and the resources of the partnership. The outer planets force us to take the higher road of spirit, wherever they fall. If we cling to the lesser, we die a little death, particularly where the eighth house is concerned.

Ultimately, to relate successfully, the second house and the eighth house have to learn to work together. If we have difficult positions there, they may be alleviated if the rulers of the second and eighth houses are connected in some way, even through hard aspect. But the biggest wrench to relating often comes from the fifth house, which squares this crucial opposition. We will explore this next time.