On The False Binary of Masculine & Feminine in Astrology

The content of this post was originally published in a series of tweets in response to this post:

What I’m about to share here is actually something I’ve been thinking about for the past several months. It has to do with how each planet (save the Sun and Moon which are lights) rule two signs each.

In the past I have understood this as representing the binary of masculinity and femininity. But what I understand now is that the previously understood division of each planet into two natures described as masculine and feminine is actually a poor attempt at articulating that each planet contains a circular, rather than polar (read: binary) embodiment of a principle.

For example, Mars can be understood through the expressions of Aries and Scorpio. At first glance this appears to be articulating a binary, where Aries is masculine and Scorpio is feminine.

Here are two visuals which might help you understand what I am articulating.

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This also relates to the concept of an objective form or social construct where a pattern of form is observed and from that observed pattern is created a construct. The construct is now separate from the form from which it was inspired by. And now the forms which inspired the construct are forced to conform to (read: change their form and take the shape of) that construct.

You can understand this as relating to any noun used to describe or define a human. Every single one is a construct. From boy, girl, woman, man, family, teacher, preacher, doctor, teenager, woman, adult, elder, etc. Each began as an observation of form from which a construct was created.

So I think the issue here with the terms masculine and feminine, and how they are often used as euphemisms for gender has to do with the fact that it is difficult for us to think outside of binaries. Forms (which is what zodiac signs are) appear to “naturally” manifest as these binaries when in fact they only wear the clothes of the binaries.

Astrology can be helpful when we understand each planet in the ways that I’ve described before. In the case of mars, there isn’t a binary of masculine vs feminine correlating to Aries vs Scorpio. There is a circular spectrum with much overlap, Which brings me to my last point.

The binaries of gender and our obsession with classifying things in those terms has concealed some deep wisdom that astrology offers us. This is why I prefer to use the terms diurnal or yang for “masculine” and nocturnal or yin for “feminine.”

The wisdom that astrology has to offer us says that no planet, no sign, no house, and no aspect can ever be understood in isolation. All you will ever get from observing a single planet etc. is a glimpse of what it actually speaks to.

Elsewhere I have said that sidereal astrology is the study of relationships. There is no separate topic called ‘relationship astrology’. When we are examining the birth chart we are examining relationships between planets. And planets are people first, and zodiac signs point us to planets.

For example, this means that when you examine Mars in your birth chart, even if you have no Aries placements or Scorpio placements, Mars contains the forms of expression we understand as Aries or Scorpio. What does this really mean? Each expression of a planet that we observe in the forms of the zodiac signs are wholly contained in each planet.

Mars in a birth chart always contains both (Aries) personal boundaries + physical capacity for movement + the enforcing of the personal will AND (Scorpio) drive for biological self preservation as observed via the nervous system and its relationship with the rest of the body + other people’s bodies.

However, the form of how, in this example, Mars is expressed is where the social construct comes in. So in some ways the zodiac signs are the social construct, they are the form the planets take on via how they are socialized in relationships and community.

I want to add that the problem has never been with the social construct. Constructs are how we organize society. The problem is with how the constructs are used to create hierarchies of power. And how power redefines constructs as a means to its own self preservation.

For example, ‘mother’ is a social construct. I have no problem with ‘mother’. It is an accurate descriptor of the role I play in certain contexts. I have a problem with how identifying with and taking on this role situates me in terms of who and what I have access to in society.

A Bazi (Chinese Astrology) Primer

INTRO

Chinese cosmology is a cohesive philosophy that undergirds every aspect of Chinese culture and society. This primer is by no means meant to be a comprehensive treatment of Chinese cosmology. It is, however, meant to serve as an introductory guide to Bazi which is Chinese Astrology, or Four Pillars.

Bazi is Chinese Astrology, this is an introductory primer

Note: When casting your Bazi chart, you must convert your birth time to solar time. You can use this calculator to convert it. Here is a calculator you can use to plot your Bazi chart for you. It is very easy to make a mistake in this process. At some point I may create a guide on how to plot your Bazi chart. For now, you can use the tools I’ve linked above.

MING MEANS FATE, OR LUCK

Chinese cosmology has a holistic conception of “ming”, or fate/destiny. There are 3 kinds of fate of luck: heaven luck, earth luck, and man luck. These are hierarchical and define both the possibilities and  impossibilities in a person’s life.

All 3 notions of fate, or luck, are beholden to time:

  • Heaven luck is astrology, how celestial phenomena occurring at specified times correlate to affairs on earth and the lives of men;
  • Earth luck is feng shui, the art of scheduling and positioning. It is the orientation of one’s self and life in relationship to the flow of qi (life force or energy);
  • Man luck is how one understands, respects, and works with or against their heaven and earth luck.

WU XING: FIVE PHASES OF QI

Essential to each of these studies of fate is “wu xing” which is the five elements (stages, phases, etc). The five elements are:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water

Each of the five elements takes to forms, a yin form and a yang form giving us 10 primary presentations of qi. Each of these yin/yang forms of qi governs a season. Each season is comprised of 3 animal signs which are earthly manifestations of the qi/element that governs each season. Earth governs the periods between each of the seasons. See figure 1.

Figure 1

5 Elements in Yin/Yang

 

Each element interacts with every other element in several defined relationships. But the most important interactions between elements are the production cycle and the controlling cycle. Be careful not to assume that relationships is better than the other. Context is everything. When we discover the flow of your chart we will come to understand which relationships are most important to support that flow.

 

Figure 2

The Productions & Controlling Cycle of the 5 Elements

ANATOMY OF A BAZI CHART

Bazi means eight characters. The eight characters in your Chinese astrology chart are divided into two groups. The Heavenly Stems and the Earthly Branches. The Heavenly Stems are the pure qi, the five elements in their yin or yang forms. The Earthly Branches are the 12 animals (see Figure 1).

There are four pillars in your Bazi chart. The year pillar, month pillar, day pillar, and hour pillar.

  • Year pillar is grandparents and extended family members, it is your family background and upbringing.
  • Month pillar represents the parents or siblings, employment.
  • Day pillar is the self, spouse, home.
  • Hour pillar is children, aspiration, career.

Each pillar has one heavenly stem at the top, and one earthly branch on the bottom. Each part of the chart is identified in terms of its pillar and whether it’s a stem or a branch. See figure 3.

Figure 3

Sample Bazi Chart

The two most important parts of a Bazi chart are the day stem and the month branch. The day stem is called the daymaster, and the month branch is the season of birth.

Once the daymaster is identified each of the other elements can be identified as well.

  • The daymaster (and its yin or yang counterpart) is the self (friends/enemies, peers, audience). It produces output.
  • The element that the daymaster produces is output (ideas, work ethic, talents, children in the chart of women). It produces wealth.
  • The element that output produces is wealth (assets, father, spouse or partner in the chart of men) it produces influence.
  • The element that wealth produces is officer (authority, superiors, spouse or partner in the chart of women, children in the chart of men). It produces resource.
  • The element that the officer produces is resource (mother, family support and upbringing, education, helpful people). It produces the self.

 

IDENTIFYING YOUR FLOW

The flow of a Bazi chart originates with the daymaster and the season. The daymaster can be rooted or not rooted in the season. That means the animal in the earthly branch of the month pillar can be the same as or produce the element in the heavenly stem of the day pillar.

For example, Yi (Yin Wood) daymaster born in Spring (Wood season) or Winter (Water season) is rooted because the element of the season in the month branch matches the element of the day stem. Yi is rooted in Winter because the Water of Winter produces Wood. Yi (Yin Wood). Yi (Yin Wood) born in any other season is not rooted.

Whether or not the daymaster is rooted in the month branch determines the flow of the chart. The flow defines which elements are favorable and which elements are unfavorable to a chart. This is a complicated task that requires an understanding of how the stems and branches interact with each other. That is beyond the scope of this primer.

LUCK PILLARS

The Bazi chart and its flow determine the heaven luck you were born with. The annual and 10 (personal) year luck pillars determines when that flow is supported, disrupted or blocked.

Every 10 years, your personal luck pillar changes. Then you enter a new time period with a different focus. See figure 4.

Figure 4

10 Year Luck Pillar for Yi Wood daymaster born Mao Spring

Each year the annual luck pillar changes. It interacts with both your Bazi chart and your personal luck pillar to support, disrupt, or block the flow that your personal luck pillar adjusts every 10 years.

It is this part we focus on in the Bazi – Chinese Astrology Reading.