On Feminism and Astrology

The article below was written in late 1996/early 1997. I’m a lot older and so is my daughter. But, the need to acknowledge both masculine and feminine as equal and powerful is our only way to wholeness.

Every once in a while (usually when she’s not getting what she wants) my daughter will remind me that “you are turning into your mother.” There was a time, not so long ago, that the very thought of that happening would make me cringe. Perhaps it is a function of my increasing age (45 on my last birthday) and, hopefully, wisdom that I now look upon that as a compliment. More than a compliment, it is comforting — it is as it should be. And, I don’t need to come back with a quick response to my daughter’s chiding — I know I will have the last laugh because some day, she will realize, much to her surprise, that she has become me.

I grew up in a very female household. My father was the only man and he essentially revered all the women in the household — me, my mother and her mother. I realize now how fortunate I was to grow up in a home where women were treated well. My own mother worked, probably earned more than my father for much of their marriage and, yet, I never got the sense that she made him feel any less masculine. She wasn’t typical of the women of her generation — she didn’t ask for permission to do this or that; they would discuss things and reach consensus. So, when the early feminists began to make waves, the whole idea seemed superfluous to her. My mother was quite amused at women demanding equal rights. She thought that the idea of demanding equality was ridiculous; it is a matter of self-esteem — that if you honor and respect yourself, you will be treated that way.

Even with those words of wisdom, I thought she was missing the point. Women were treated unfairly and even abused in our culture. They were second class citizens and men were to blame. I became a charter subscriber to Ms., an early member of N.O.W. and I stopped wearing a bra. She warned me that my breasts were too big to go bra-less and that I’d be sorry one day when they sagged. I told her she was a victim of her environment and she needed “consciousness-raising.” She laughed and reminded me that I came from a long line of strong and independent women and that someday I would understand that neither bras nor men were the problem.

It took awhile but she was right. And, it was the study of astrology that finally provided me with a rich understanding of the words masculine and feminine, active and passive, positive and negative, yang and yin, sun and moon. And, it was astrology that taught me to accept and realize that those opposing forces were equally powerful — one was not better than the other. At first, I was offended that the feminine signs were also called negative — it was a knee-jerk reaction. It says in Genesis that God (who has no gender) created the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night. This does not mean that the sun is better than the moon (sorry, you Leos out there); they are equally powerful and have their own unique purpose. Our culture just hasn’t placed much value on the feminine things, the things that belong to the night. But, hopefully that is all changing.

As Pluto went through Libra, the distinctions between men’s and women’s roles began to blur. Because of the high divorce rate during those years, many women were forced to toughen up, to be aggressive and to compete with men in the workplace. Men also had to deal with the havoc Pluto wrought on their relationships. Men, too, became single parents and had to learn how to comfort their children as well as cook the bacon they brought home. Married or unmarried, men were urged to develop their feminine side and to talk about their feelings while women went through assertiveness-training and started getting jobs that traditionally belonged to men. Thus, the transit of Pluto through Libra seeded the possibility to achieve spiritual wholeness through understanding and honoring the masculine and the feminine as equally important and powerful.

Pluto moved into Scorpio and, in some ways, the gulf between men and women, especially the single ones, seemed to broaden. It became increasingly apparent that there was real economic fallout from divorce and it was easy to blame each other for monetary woes. AIDS brought the sexual revolution to a jolting halt and forced men to look at their own sexuality as they buried brothers and friends. The sexual and economic realities seemed to further fuel an already malignant distrust between the genders. Man-bashing became a sport wherever women congregated, while men’s violence against women escalated.

With Pluto in Sagittarius, there is a resurgence of a belief in angels, those glorious entities that unite the masculine and feminine. Perhaps this is symbolic of our being able to honor and value both the masculine and feminine as equally powerful and important. Women who have mastered independence and self-reliance now are beginning to reconnect with the real power of the feminine that they hold inside — the ability to be nurturing, intuitive and loving. Perhaps, women have made it to the so-called man’s world so that they can contribute the very special spiritual gifts that they have to offer. And, a man in touch with his inner self is also empowered by the same spiritual joy of finding wholeness. What’s more, these men are realizing that understanding their emotional side has not weakened them but rather fostered their achievement and success in the things of the world.

After 30 years (18 of them in astrology), feminism has new meaning for me. It has little do to with who does the dishes and everything to do with acknowledging and valuing the spiritual and emotional side of both women and men. To be a feminist means also to respect the masculine; nowhere in nature does one exist without the other. My hope for my daughter and son is that they will appreciate the importance and power of both the masculine and feminine and understand that the future is about men and women enabling each other on the road to wholeness.